The Fall of the Imam

The Fall of the Imam by Nawal El Saadawi Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Fall of the Imam by Nawal El Saadawi Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nawal El Saadawi
Tags: Fiction, Literary, General
celebrations and keeps shooting glances at my harem.
    My new wife has studied Political Science overseas. She has a theory about the art of ruling, about the art of taming men. She said to me, ‘Hold your stick in the middle and refrain from hitting out with it all the time. Pat people over the shoulder like a mother sometimes, and at other times beat down with it hard on the head. Remember you and I will distribute roles between the two of us. If you hit hard I will arrive with an angel’s smile upon my face. But if you forgive or compromise I will raise the stick high up, or pull on the reins until the bit cuts deep into the mouth.’
    I said to her, ‘You take care of the opposition and of Hizb al-Shaitan.’
    ‘I will tame the men,’ she said. ‘A man is like a child, even if he lifts the flag of rebellion high up to the sky. But woman is the reptile. Woman is the snake, even if she wraps a veil around her face and joins the ranks of Hizb Allah.’
    ‘But my enemies are all men,’ said I. ‘Ever since we were children they have nurtured hatred for me deep in their hearts. Amongst the women I have only two enemies. An old woman whom I put aside with my old clothes and other things from bygone times, and an illegitimate daughter born out of a moment of rashness and numerous cups of wine.’
    ‘Your old wife has broken wings’, she said, ‘and is no longer able to fly, but your daughter is the real danger, for in her heart she bears an ancient grudge and has decided that sooner or later you must die.’
    ‘But a daughter would never kill her father, even if he rapes her like a wolf,’ said I. ‘She loves me. In her heart of hearts she has always been loyal to me because I am her father.’
    ‘You’, she said, ‘are the one who is in love, the one who stands under the lights, and the lights are blinding your eyes. Look carefully. There she stands, hiding at the back of the crowd, waiting for a chance to strike, to aim at you and kill you in the flicker of an eye.’
    ‘No one will try to kill me other than a member of Hizb al-Shaitan, or a mercenary hired by some secret party, or an enemy sent from a foreign land,’ said I.
    ‘Your enemies are many, Imam, and the higher God helps you to rise, the more numerous they become,’ was her reply. ‘Do not go on to the streets without your bullet-proof vest.’
    ‘God is my bullet-proof vest,’ I told her. ‘He is my only shield and guide. He is my one and only protector in this life.’
    ‘If bullets speak, God alone will not be enough,’ she said, looking me straight in the eye, to which I quickly replied, ‘God have mercy on us for what you have said, woman. You are indeed an infidel and have not removed the cross from where it lies deep in your heart. Do you not trust in Allah’s ability to protect me from all danger?’
    ‘Since the night we consummated our nuptial vows I drove Christ out of my heart and put my trust in you, in Allah and His Prophet,’ she said. ‘I fear for you from your enemies who hide, and I know that to prevent things from happening is better than waiting until it is too late.’
    ‘But I am not going to an encounter with my enemies,’ said I. ‘I am going to meet my beloved people, my dear soldiers whose hearts are overflowing with love for me and with loyalty to our sacred vows. I can hear their voices join in the mighty chorus, “Long live the Imam, give him long life, O God, that he live for ever.” Do you not hear their acclamations rising to the skies, woman?’

The Bodyguard
    The Bodyguard knew nothing about affairs of state, nor of matters related to the Imamate. His functions were well-defined. They consisted of putting on the rubber face which had been made to resemble the features of the Imam, in using props and other things to give him the tall and upright figure which people had so often seen standing high up on platforms surrounded by batteries of microphones, and in making sure that on all public

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