A Translation into English of Khalil I. Al-Fuzai’s1 “Reaching the End”2
A youth cannot marry his cousin because her father refuses for economic reasons. This story shows how the Saudi Arabian society connects marriage with wealth, even when it comes to relatives who are obligated culturally to take care of one another. A father is ready to sacrifice his daughter for a rich person, hoping that marriage bargain will improve his economic status. The customs of the society validate that a father can do to his daughter what he sees as good. Also, the norms of the society require a younger relative to obey an older one, even working for him; a person cannot fight back or challenge an elder. Accordingly, the relation between relatives is a relation of traditional and cultural power recognized and imposed by the society.
In this story, the protagonist is colonized physically and mentally: in addition to having been exploited for fifteen years, he believes that his life is secured with his uncle. And hence, “he almost lost his personal independence,” as the story states. He can lose anything as long as his future is granted, for he believes that he is the only heir of his uncle. But after his uncle’s refusal of his proposal, he becomes aware of being marginalized and colonized. He has to struggle and search for his identity after being considered as “a nobody in the world of the living.” Like the protagonist who kills his father in the previous story, the youth of this story “deludes himself that he is brave and that he has to prove it.”
Yet as an oppressed and marginalized person, the main character is neither supposed nor expected to practice oppression. But he thinks of violating his uncle’s daughter’s honor—for no fault except that she is his uncle’s daughter. In a culture that valorizes masculine values, the wretched girl becomes the victim of both her father, who wants to sell her as a commodity for the one who pays more, and of her cousin, who wants to exploit her in order to achieve his goals. Finally, in my translation, some well-known words are kept with their original pronunciation and written in italics to keep the reader aware of the Arabic text.3
KHALIL I. AL-FUZAI (1940- ) is a literary writer from Saudi Arabia. In his writings, he introduced his culture, addressing many social, cultural, and religious issues he saw in his society.
This story was translated from the following Arabic source: Al-Fuzai, Khalil I. Thursday Fair. (سوق الخميس). Taif: Taif Literary Club, 1979: 17-22.
An introduction a reader may need to connect the text to its context.
. . . Every now and then there are few dots found in the source text.
igaal: a cord worn on the headdress.
ghutra: an Arabian headdress worn by men.
Asslamu aleikum: Peace be upon you.
Waleikumu asslam: Peace be upon you, too.
thobe: a gown worn by men.
Copyright (c) 2018 Gassim H. Dohal
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