God Dies by the Nile and Other Novels

God Dies by the Nile and Other Novels by Nawal El Saadawi

Book: God Dies by the Nile and Other Novels by Nawal El Saadawi Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nawal El Saadawi
steeped in this crime from the top of his head to the bottom of his heels.’
    The village barber chuckled again. ‘You are really the son of a devil, Sheikh Zahran.’
    â€˜I am the obedient servant of him who gives us our orders.’ He yawned indifferently. ‘In fact, all of us are his obedient servants.’
    â€˜All of us serve God.’
    â€˜What matters is that we are all servants. No matter how high we rise, or how low we fall, the truth is that we are all slaves, serving someone.’
    â€˜We are God’s slaves when it’s time to say our prayers only. But we are the Mayor’s slaves all the time.’
    Sheikh Zahran’s eyes shone as he whispered in the ear of the village barber.
    â€˜Do you know that he does not sleep the night because of Zeinab? I have done my best to convince her but she still refuses.’
    â€˜Kafrawi must be encouraging her to refuse. Do you think he has started to become suspicious?’ queried the village barber.
    The Chief of the Village Guard hastened to refute this possibility.
    â€˜No, absolutely not. Suspicion requires that a man be endowed with a brain that can think. But these peasants! They have no brain, and when they do have one, it’s like the brain of a buffalo. The problem is that after Nefissa left, Kafrawi has no one to help in the house, or work in the fields except Zeinab. I’ve been telling him all the time that the Mayor will give him ten whole pounds for her work, that she will eat and drink in his house, and live in the kind of comfort she could never ever dream of. All she will have to do is sweep and clean the house, and she can go home at the end of the day’s work. But he won’t listen to me. His head is harder than stone.’
    â€˜His daughter Zeinab is just as pig-headed as he is. I’ve done all I can to convince her, explained everything to her in detail, but she’s like a mule,’ said Haj Ismail. ‘I can’t see any advantages to her. There’s not a girl in Kafr El Teen who has not got more manners and more beauty than she has.’
    Sheikh Zahran lowered his voice. ‘He’s got strange tastes where women are concerned, and if he likes a woman he can’tforget her. You know he’s pretty obstinate himself. Once he sets his eyes on a woman he must have her, come what may.’
    Haj Ismail opened his mouth in a big, prolonged yawn. ‘Why not? People like him who live on top of the world, don’t know the word impossible.’
    â€˜They walk over the earth like Gods.’
    â€˜No, Sheikh Zahran, they’re Gods all right but they don’t walk, they ride in cars. Walking is for people like us.’
    â€˜Walking only? You seem to forget that we also sleep on the ground.’
    The Chief of the Village Guard curled himself up under his cloak and closed his eyes. Haj Ismail threw a last quick look at the body lying on the river bank before curling up under his cloak in turn. He murmured in a low voice, ‘What a shame. Elwau was really too young to die.’
    The Chief of the Village Guard heard him and sighed. ‘Our lives are in God’s hands, Haj Ismail.’
    â€˜Yes verily, that’s true. It’s Allah alone who decides when it’s time for us to leave this earth.’
    And so they went to sleep with the firm knowledge that the life of people in Kafr El Teen depended on one God ever-present in their minds. They spent many an evening talking to him in front of the village barber’s shop, or on the terrace of his house overlooking the Nile. They knew that he burned with such a desire for Zeinab that only death could put an end to it. Sooner or later he was going to lay his hands on her, for like all Gods he believed that the impossible did not exist.
    The noise of their snoring rose into the night from under the bank of the river where they had sought shelter. It travelled through the silent night to reach the ears

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