Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Conversation They Never Had

A Short Story

“…..know what to do if they actually do publish it .Wow!! That would be too vicious huh what do you think his reaction will be when he knows how old I am”

“Just shut up. Ok! Shut up.” She said heatedly. “I can’t stand your non sense any more you’re so fuckin’ dramatic. Everything that happens to you is a major event in the course of time. When you write and it gets published, the world is too stupid to understand how deep you are. 

When you write and it doesn’t get published the world is too ignorant and God forbid when you don’t write at all the people of our poor world don’t know what the fuck they’re missing. 

When did everything become about you? When did the world stop and revolved around Mr. Omar Saleh Zakaria huh? Just tell me that much bitch!”

She stopped to catch her breath and also because she was just too angry to be articulate any more. She knew exactly what he was going to say; he was going to comment only on her last sentence and ignore everything else. 

He was either going to say “I know.” or “I know you told me before.”

“I know you told me before.” He said with a smile only she could hear.

“You see! You see what you do!” She cried in an irritated tone she has long gotten used to and which he knows well and finds equally annoying and adorable. 

It is a huge compliment when you infuriate someone to that extent he always thought .It means that at this moment you have their undivided attention which to him is the ultimate goal of human communication. Especially with Maha who rarely gave anyone or anything sufficient attention.

“That’s all it is to you, ‘I know you told me before’. It’s always ‘I know you told me before’.

 It’s like you don’t want to react to anything. You don’t want anything to reach you on the inside, to surprise you with a nasty detail about yourself that you’re too arrogant to admit, so you just presume you know it .

Gosh you’re not even real, man!! You walk around pretending you’re just an average guy (which you are) always reminding yourself that somehow you’re better than everyone else. 

You sit around people pretending you’re interested in what they have to say when on the inside you’re laughing at how stupid or air headed they are. Or, just using what they have to say as information that you can hold with or against them in further conversations.

 Everything is being filed and processed nothing you do is real or genuine. What the fuck! I mean everything is about you and your deep thinking your labeling and pigeon holing. ‘These are my small-minded friends.’ ‘This is a deep thinking session with whomever.’ 

‘These are my coffee shop, middle -of- the- night, until- the –break- of- dawn friends.’ ‘This is Easa, my very pure and naive friend who can’t function without me.’ ‘She is a deep thinker but a poor producer of anything that has meaning.’ ‘You, Maha, are deep and very talented but you need to clean all the filth inside you and be the great thinker you are.’… 

Fuck you! Who the hell do you think you are turning people into files? And for what? For a lousy book you want to write. You use the pains and the traumas of people around you as angles for you’re a bloody novel you’re too scared to even start writing. 

And why is that? Because of course if a novel is honored enough to be written by you it has to be the most original ,unexpected ,astounding piece of literary shit that ever existed .Isn’t that so Mr. Naguib Mahfouz ? 

And your pitch? A book about the life of the great Omar; the experiences of a man and his fucking surroundings and how he ,with his inflated ego, views others and judges them according to his own unattainable fucking standards.

I can’t stand you! I really really can’t. You think you’re the only one with experiences? You think you’re the only one that suffered in this life? Oh and speaking of suffering what exactly did you suffer huh? I mean aside from your dead Mariam whom you treated like shit when you were a teenager and didn’t even know what love was. 

Ok she’s dead and that’s sad. Get over your self man she probably would’ve realized what an annoying person you really were and left anyway. Other than that what else did you suffer? Of course you suffer every time you try to produce a piece of art. 

You suffer because you live in a shallow world that is too capitalistic to understand your avant guard aspirations. Who the hell do you think you are to call people shallow? Who are you to call me a cute and crazy with a prospect of a brain? 

Of course it’s only cute, huh, not beautiful because of course I don’t fit that category according to your beauty standards. But I should be thankful altogether; I mean come on! You still respect my brain. What more would I want? 

After all, I am the only girl that really makes you laugh! Oh yeah of course that’s part of being cute, so I guess my category is cute- crazy -nobody friend with a prospect of a brain who ,by some miracle, is worthy of your precious attention. 

God! You’re just an ugly fat guy yourself. You’re too self conscious and know very well you don’t stand a chance in any competition .So; you play it safe, you stay out of the game and play the role of the judge. Instead of actually living life you choose to write about it .

Instead of standing on a solid ground and getting your shoes dirty with reality’s dust you just stay in your intellectual ivory tower looking down on people and feeling sorry for how stupid they are. Instead of actually sitting down and writing a book you’re too busy thinking how original it’s going to be and how important it is to make it something that no one has ever done before. 

Do you know how unoriginal trying to be original is shit! Do you know how boring trying to be unique is? Why don’t you just write the fuckin’ book? Just write it. Take the risk of it turning out to be bad, to be shitty at least then you would’ve done it really done it. 

I mean really man! When was the last time you had any real sentiment towards someone? When was the last time you stopped being a hypocrite even to yourself? Of course that doesn’t apply to me; no, I’m one of the lucky ones. 

I was actually honored with your approval; naturally at the beginning I was a no body what is it that you said? “a broken microphone in a studio” but oh I’m not that now am I I’m your “partner” I’m the lucky one that gets to know how you think and what it is you’re really thinking about and how you view others including me ,oh wow! 

And how you view me .I’m the lucky one that got to understand and possibly know you because of course, according to your genius self and your secret and valuable “sources of wisdom”, there is a difference between understanding someone and knowing them. Still, I have the honor of understanding you and I’m on my way to knowing you. Wow! I’m just so over- fuckin’-whelmed well, fuck you!

She stopped. Maha suddenly realized how harsh she’s spoken and for how long. Again, she knew exactly what Omar was going to say. “Are you finished?” he’d say and comment on one point, just one. At that moment Maha wondered which one he was going to pick to retaliate. 

She knew he was going to comment on her unprecedented use of the “f” word in spite of the fact that all of them were directly targeted at him. It was typical of him to criticize the mere use of the word; be it a way for Maha to express her anger or just a fill in word when Maha didn’t know the exact word for something or like today when she just battered him with it . 

Whichever way he was going to comment on “Fuck”.He didn’t disappoint her.

“Are you finished?” he said without a smile and a serious deep look on his face only she could hear. “Are you finished with your ‘Fuck’ words” his voice was getting sharper with each syllable and the tone of his voice; that, she’s never heard before. “Is this ‘cool’? 

You know when you keep saying ‘fuck you fuck you’ do you think it makes your argument any stronger?” She wasn’t about to run out of words now that he actually spoke. “Is that all you’re going to comment on?! Gosh this is typical Omar I can’t stand...”

“..’You’ ‘Oh! Omar I can’t stand you, I’m so tired of you, fuck you Omar’. Isn’t that what you want to say?” Ok, now she was really thrown back he was on the go and after what she said nothing was going to stop him.

 “So what do you want me to say huh? That you’re right about everything you said? That I’m a fake person that is too scared to live life and instead chooses to watch it? That I’m too scared to interact with people so I sit down and file and judge them? What else? Let’s see ...” .The sarcasm in his voice was bitter and scary, very scary.

“..Oh that I’m an ‘ugly fat guy myself’. Well , fine you’re right let’s say you’re right about everything you said and that I am actually as terrible as you made me sound , I just have one question for you Maha ; Haven’t you ever asked yourself why you know what you know about me so well?

 How is it that you know how think and the way I really view people as accurately as you do? And while I know you’re smart that’s not the reason why you know so much about me. 

Nor is it that I let you because if you know me at all, and you do, you’ll know that I DO NOT let anyone get under my skin nor pick my brains; not the way you do. So; answer my question ‘partner’ how could you know all of this so well .

Tell me.” he wasn’t shouting but he was sharp. “What’s the matter did you swallow your filthy long tongue Maha, answer the question!”


“Ok, I’ll answer it for you .The reason why you know me as well as you do and have all those accurate callous words to attack me with is that you my friend are exactly the same! 

You are guilty of every sin you accuse me of. You too are fake you too are too scared to really live life but instead of writing about it like me you pretend that you’re actually living it!”


“Don’t what me you know exactly what I mean. Yes, you’re an actor too. I act smarter than everyone and lie about it so that they don’t know I look down upon them. But you! You’re worse you act stupider than everyone else to hide how smart you actually are so that they don’t really know you look down upon them. 

Can’t we see we both play the same game in a different conduct? You talk about filing and pigeon holing like you don’t do the same, like it’s not the same with everyone. Yes, miss genius everybody does that we’re nothing but labels to ourselves and the rest of the world. 

You are a number of different labels to a number of different people you’re a ‘daughter’ ,’friend’, ‘partner’ , ‘nobody’, ‘bitch’ shall I go on with the labels? That’s just how it is, but you! Typical you, have to blame the world for what it is, me for who I am and most of all yourself for who you are! 

Why can’t you admit you’re just like me? You hide behind your ‘I’m so dumb and shallow’ cover the same way I hide in my ivory intellectual tower. You hang around people pretending to be interested in who they really are the same way I do.

You, too, think you’re too smart for everyone. The difference is, unlike you, I admit it to myself. You ridiculously convince yourself that you are interested in others for whom they , that you’re actually down to earth and that your human interaction actually means something to you more than it does to me BULL SHIT and you know it!

 If you stop and think about it miss Maha you’ll see that we’re both actors on the outside, but only you are an actor on the inside as well. I agree that it is horrible having to act all time around people but tell me this; how horrible is it having to act around yourself?

“Omar, shut up you know what you just said is not true. I’m too fucked up to even try to act or lie to myself” She spoke in a tone of voice even she hasn’t heard before. That’s another thing she hates; he makes her think too much about her tone, her gestures he just makes her more conscious of what she does and it is so irritating.

Why can’t you admit that we’re two of a kind and that all what you were saying to me,
you were actually saying to yourself!! In a way you have to thank me; for the first time in your life you get to yell at yourself out loud because you know you can see yourself in me and it scares you! It does!”

“Do you want to know what else scares you to death?” Oh God! She is not ready for this. “You’re scared because you know I know how talented you are. I know it and it eats you up alive that I keep reminding you of how talented you are and what a waste you’re making of it. You judge me because I sit around thinking of my book instead of writing it. 

How many books have you thought about? How much longer are you willing to suppress those thoughts? Better still, when are you going to take the responsibility for what was given to you ,which personally I don’t think you deserve since you choose to live so uselessly . You’re telling me to just write my fuckin’ book. What about you; what have you written?

“I’m not a….”

“Don’t give me that ‘I’m not a writer’ shit. You know you are. I know you are. Who are you fooling here?! You think that by saying that you’re not a writer you’re being modest is that it? My dear that’s not modesty that’s just stupidity it’s like winning the lottery and refusing to admit that you’re rich. 

Being rich doesn’t make you a better person it just makes you rich. By the same notion, being able to write doesn’t make you a better person it just makes you a writer. Of course you choose to deceive yourself and deceive others by the absurd idea that you do use what has been given to you; you know English and you teach it; you’re passing the torch to another generation. 

Sometimes you actually believe that lie it comforts you and makes you feel that your life is not a waste after all, but let me tell you that it is my friend. You get up everyday and you’re only using fifteen percent of your mental effort in a job you personally admitted to me you find hypocritical.

“Teaching is….”

“Yeah yeah, teaching is a great job it’s a noble cause…” I know that and I agree I just don’t agree that this is what you’re made for.”

“Oh and you know what I’m made for, bitch?”

“There’s no need to be rude, I know and you know you were made for something a lot bigger you’re too scared to admit it, fine. Just don’t go around calling me fake. You’re fake too. Am I not right?”

He was right. At this very moment more than any other she really needed to see him she wanted to slap him more than anything she just wanted to hear that smack of her palms against his chubby face. Nobody is allowed to know her that well nobody. 

Oh and he did more than this; he brought a mirror and forced her to look. She hated him for judging her and for being right to do so. She hated so many things about him mostly the things they had in common. He was right. She is talented. He wrote because wanted to write. She wrote because she needed to. 

He couldn’t start because he was too busy thinking. She couldn’t start because she was too frightened to even think about it.

“You know what why don’t you just leave me alone ok. Just wait and see if they’re going to publish that obscene article of yours. 

Your ‘wall shattering’ reply to a guy that didn’t even insult you. You should thank God a famous critic like that even remembered your name or even bothered to write about you. You just have to act all macho and show him what you got.”





“Maha! What the hell is up with you?”

“What do you mean?” She still had that sharp edgy tone. His voice was somehow different it was no longer sharp and sarcastic it went back to how it was when the conversation started happy and excited about that article he wrote and about the article written in response. He was actually still talking about that when…Oh! 

God! How much did he hear? Did he hear anything? Did he say anything? What the hell happened?
“What do you mean what do I mean ,I’ve been speaking for over fifteen minutes and you have been unbelievably silent and now I’m asking you about what you think his reaction will be when he knows how old I really am and you just tell me ‘…show him what you got’ where the hell did that come from?!”

“What the fuck!” she quickly and aggressively collected herself “nothing, I’m telling you show him what you got so what you’re young. Now you exist on the journalistic map. He admitted that when he wrote this article. Why does it matter how old you are?”

“Hmm, is that what you think?”


“Is that all you’re thinking?” he asked with a smile only she could hear.

“Yes and stop smiling”

“Ok.” He chuckled. “How can you do that? How can you hear me smile?”

“What the fuck Omar? I don’t know. I just can. I told you this a million times before. God!”
“Ok ok! You don’t have to say the ‘F’ word. Why do you say that word so much? Is it ‘cool’ do you think your argument is any stronger?”

“Oh not again!” She was just too exhausted at this point. The vicious conversation they never had really wore her out.


Oh shit! “Well, you keep telling me not to say ‘fuck’ and I like saying it!”

“Oh ok then. So you’re sure you’re ok?”

“Omar what the FU….”

“Ok fine, you were just too quiet that’s all.” He knew that wasn’t all. He knew she was thinking something .Just like she could hear him smile, he could hear her think .

May be he did hear the conversation they never had. May be he did say the things he never said. It didn’t matter because it did happen; she spoke and he answered even if only one of them heard it. 

That was one thing about them; they can have a whole conversation about something they never talked about and that’s what happened and he didn’t have to know about it because he was there in that conversation. Whether or not he knew it was just a formality.

“How’s Casio?” He asked.

“Oh shit it’s almost six. I got to go. We’ll talk later tonight ok.”

“Ok. By the way, I still think you were made for something a lot bigger!”

“What the fu…”

“Bye Maha.”

“Bye!” She said with a confused look only he could hear.

1 comment:

ModestJustice said...

That was really good.
No, no, AMAZING.

I really enjoyed that short story, and if I were much more experienced in being a literary critic (or even an english teacher) I'd ramble on about the universal message hidden within the story "WE'RE ALL FAKE!" and such and such. But to put it simply, nice twist at the end :)