The Rug

Story written by Saad El-Asha on Thursday 3, September 2020

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My first short story in almost two years.

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The Rug Ali and I debated whether the type of mud on our shoes could leave its mark on mother's precious hall rug. We were too poor to have plans for the weekend, so we'd usually spend a Thursday night at grandma's farm, gleaning whatever survived the season of fruits and nuts. Our poverty did not deter my mom from buying a trendy Persian rug that she would only see once or twice upon a summer weekend. My grandma would never notice the thing, let alone realizing how expensive it was. I still believe my mom had reasons to put that fluffy piece of furniture away from home, knowing that her catlike mother couldn't care less about decoration or trends. The dirt road leading to the almond tree was tiring. You would walk almost five kilometers upward to the field, passing the ruins of Roman temples and shepherd shacks. Ali would occasionally teach me a thing or two about botany, being the scientist in the family. But as the quiet and wise youngest member of the family, I had the authority to say what worked best within the home policies – my mother's moods. So when I told him we should simply take our shoes off before entering the house, Ali was for the first time questioning my judgement; we had never taken our shoes off in the hall. In fact, none of us would in this part of the world. Even though I could have argued that the day had been too humid for us to do the usual (using different methods to eliminate all particles of dirt on our shoes), I appealed to something I'd seen in movies: "How long have we been doing this?!" or "When was I ever wrong?!" Naturally, I could not ask, "How long have we been working together?!" unless we would consider getting off my father's way a job. However, that time I failed to comply with my own plans. When Ali was ahead of me untangling the laces of his shoes (leaders are always in the rear), I heard my name. I was not being called. My mom and grandma had been talking about me. I was too late to be informed with the details of how I was the subject of a conversation. I had never heard my name mentioned in a serious discussion: I was eight. I say serious because their voices were calm and earthly, related to the world we lived in, as opposed to creative tactics of how to get rid of mud, how to glean almond fast and easy. I say I failed because I'd walked on into the hall and peeked through the hall into the kitchen where my two grand women were speaking. Mother noticed me as she always had. She paid no attention to my muddy shoes and told me I would spend the summer with my grandma. I do not recall how Ali responded because I'd paid no attention to what he said, but I knew I did not know what to say. As much as I had cherished the cool-clouded afternoons of rural Bayda, my grandmother's buttermilk, and peaceful stray dogs, I did not want to spend a whole summer away from my mother. Who would then tell Ali what to do! (Myself, surely) But most importantly, who would then give my investigating eyes a reason to observe! (Forever, mi madre) But I hemmed and hawed. As she certainly had reasons to buy the rug, mom certainly had reasons to absolve me of my chores for a whole summer. She most certainly had reasons to postpone our daily sitting, where we would watch music clips and sip warm fenugreek drinks. Many years later and a few months after I lost my sight, I came to appreciate her fenugreek drink even more. I would idly ask her what the music clip was about (not without snarky tones) and she would oblige.

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    Nicely done, you should definitely write more stories.
    Thank you, I'll try.
    A very nice slice of life. I like your poetry better, but his is quite pleasant and an easy read. Good job.