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Jameel Al Zahawi, 'Equality in Age'

Jameel Al Zahawi (1863-1936), 'Equality in Age' (translated from the Arabic by Sivar Qazaz)

How many men of sixty have married adolescents,
Their gray hair burning as fire on their heads?

For an unknown term, he does his work with her,

And it might be short, that term,

And the tether of kindness, afterward, is his last concern,
Whether it stretches between them or not.

She married without apprehending her future misery:
Is her husband one of the ogres or a man?

He curses her, not for a sin, then kicks her - 
She bears all his insults.

And after that, he scurries off as an ostrich would to 
His friends, dry inside as dead wood,

Four never enough to satisfy his insatiable hunger,
While, for a wolf, one lamb satiates.

Her family forced her to marry
The rich, coveted, old Sheikh.

In his house, he has wives,
Three, but the Sheikh wished four,

She sleeps with him in the house: as he is
Old as her father, tell us, how is the union made?

In the house, she will live miserable or die depressed.
Death by sorrow is better.

In the house, sorrow, misery, and despair will appear
To her, as ghosts; she will receive disasters as guests.

And she was wedded to the Sheikh, giving as her gift
her misery, a gift he greatly enjoyed.

She begged him, Please, Sheikh, don’t bring me your desire.
You are my father, but even older.

If your gray hair didn’t deter me,
Your ignorance would.

The Sheikh refused to fetter his lust,
Unhappy to leave what he expected.

He puffed angrily, angling his brow,
And grabbed at her as she pushed him away,

Telling her, Asmaa, you are mine by Sharia
And what Sharia makes mine shall obey.

God in heaven made you mine.  He is
Wise and prescribes the right and the wrong.

When she saw there was no one to defend her, preserve her
From the Sheikh, when the Sheikh began to tire,

She lifted a cup, prepared
With poison, and, provoked, gulped it down.




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