Alexandria on My Mind
People in the street in Alexandria called her al-tarsha, the deaf woman. Among the Arabs in the marketplace, everyone and everything in her household was known in relation to her: the deaf woman’s father, the deaf woman’s house, maid, bicycle, car, husband. The motorcycle on which she had won an exhibition race on the Corniche in the early 40′s, and which was later sold to a neighbor, continued to be known as the tarsha’s mutusikl. When I was old enough to walk alone on the street, I discovered that I too was known as the tarsha’s son.
Sometimes, on seeing me, street vendors, shopkeepers, or those idling about the cafés would discreetly raise an index finger to their ear. They were talking about my mother. But they might just as easily have pointed at their temples, for many confused the deaf with the insane. She had screamed at nearly all of them, and everyone knew her temper.
About the Author