The Hat Stand
Whatever happened in the neighborhood, ‘Ubayd was said to be behind it.
Disappearing water pumps and gas cylinders, broken streetlights, and fires in the farmers’ market. The occupation, explosions, the financial crisis, the drop in oil prices, and the civil war.
Even when there was an outbreak of chickenpox among the neighborhood children, they said, “It’s him, it’s him. It’s ‘Ubayd and no one else.”
One day, word spread about the existence of a strange, savage creature that eats the testicles of young boys. Naturally, fingers of accusation were pointed toward ‘Ubayd. Everyone agreed to surround his house, arrest him, and be rid of him for good. He was late hearing about that rumor—at first, people said that it was the Americans who had dropped that savage creature out of one of their war planes in order to frighten the residents—he didn’t have time to flee. So he submitted to his fate and took refuge in a corner of the isolated single room that he lived in on the riverbank.
But when they barged in, they only found a large hat stand crammed into the corner. They hung up their clothes on it and began looking for someone else, someone they could hang the blame on for ‘Ubayd’s disappearance.
Translation from the Arabic