Original by Ayah Raafat
Translated, from the Arabic, by Essam M. Al-Jassim
Only silence is allowed here. You can cry, shout, and wail, but you do so without uttering a sound.
When I was a little boy, I went with my father to the theme park. He told me to go on the Labyrinth of Fear ride, but I was afraid. I asked him to come with me, but he insisted I go alone. I eventually saw it wasn’t too scary of a maze—only two corridors—but I felt lost inside it. As I made my way through, silent tears rolled down my cheeks. Finally, I found my way and came out, trembling.
“You’ve become a man now,” my father uttered. “Men don’t cry,” he rebuked in a harsh tone.
From that day forward, I knew men never cry.
The next day after school, my father noticed a bruise on my face. When I told him I didn’t hit the boy back, he was enraged. He beat me and warned never to let someone put their hands on me again. But the boys’ hands didn’t stop reaching my face. My father, in turn, struck me repeatedly.
I grew up, and when my father died, I never cried or uttered a sound, I remembered him warning me that men don’t cry. I never had a strong personality. As a child, I was a coward and an anxious young man.
Eventually, I got married and had a son. When he came home from school one day with the same bruise at the same age I did, I shouted, beat, and reproached him just like my father had done to me. I never wanted my son to be like I was; I wanted him to be as strong and brave as my father had been.
I’ll let no one touch him or make him cry, I swore to myself.
“Get dressed. We’re going for a walk,” I told my son and took him to the same theme park my father had taken me to and insisted he go on the Labyrinth of Fear ride alone.
Ayah Raafat is an Egyptian novelist and short story writer. She was born in Mansoura, Dakahlia Governorate and is a graduate of Mansoura University. She obtained her medical degree at Mansoura Faculty of Medicine. She started her successful writing career in 2008. Ayah Raafat published a collection of short stories and two novels. Her novel When The Truth Lies has achieved critical acclaim.
Essam M. Al-Jassim is a Saudi translator. He taught English for many years at Royal Commission schools in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. He received his bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages and Education from King Faisal University, Hofuf. His translations appear in a variety of print and online literary Arabic and English journals.