Glass Enclave
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Sammar did not like the word orientalist. Orientalists were bad people who distorted the image of the Arabs and Islam. Something from school history or literature, she could not remember. Maybe modern orientalists were different. Her eyesight was becoming blurred. She felt tired, deflated. The headlights of the cars were too bright, round savage circles crossed by swords.

'Do you think he could one day convert?' Mirages shimmered on the asphalt.

Yasmin snorted. 'That would be professional suicide'.

'Why?'

'Because no one will take him seriously after that. What would he be? Another ex-hippie gone off to join some weird cult. Worse than a weird cult, the religion of terrorists and fanatics. That's how it would be seen. He's got enough critics as it is, those who think he is too liberal, those who would even accuse him of being a traitor just by telling the truth about another culture'.

'A traitor to what?'

'To the West. You know, the idea that West is best'.

'But you can never tell about people', said Sammar, 'look at this uncle of his...'

'Are you hoping he would convert so you could marry him?'

'Don't be silly, I was just wondering'. She breathed in and out as if it was an effort. Her eyes ached, her nose ached. Washing the mugs was a mistake, senseless behaviour. 'I was just wondering because he knows so much about Islam...'

'This annoys him'.

'What annoys him?'

'That Muslims expect him to convert just because he knows so much about Islam'.

They had reached Sammar's place by then. She could hardly open her eyes to put the key in the lock, light was a source of suffering. And a headache, pain greater than childbirth. Inside, she wanted to hit her head against something to dislodge what was inside. Sleep, which came so easily in this hospital room, in layers and hours, would not come now. The silence, the absence of pain would not come. Ya Allah, Ya Arham El-Rahimeen. When sleep finally came it was desperate unconsciousness. She woke up clear, weightless, full of calm. She thought she must have had something between a migraine and a fit.



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