I looked at my wristwatch. Was it time for a surprise trip, or nearing an appointment? I approached one of the coffee shop’s customers and peered at the cup of black coffee and the glass of water—at the time, it would’ve cost the Ministry of Interior Affairs forty billion to quench the citizens’ thirst. This was therefore the most expensive glass of water I never drank!
I walk in and find the women there in the large hall. I can hear their soft, melodious voices, which means there is no man around. (More accurately: there is no man doing all the talking.) I instinctively head toward them, like an animal finally encountering its species. I take a seat and wait for my turn. Before I came up to the therapist’s clinic, I had run into Fast Lubna—with the hazel eyes, the kohl always smudged, and the newly blonde hair—outside the entrance. She was on the phone. She was dressed in black leather pants and a black leather jacket. I thought she smiled at me, but she didn’t move the phone slightly away from her ear to give me a warm hug as she would have usually done. She used to dress more normally, less severely, before she adopted this style and dyed her long hair blonde. She surprised me. The transformation of the vast majority of women I know since the eighties of the last century has been toward the hijab and extreme modesty, away from modern clothes.
On May 6th at 7pm EDT, join The Common for the virtual launch of Issue 21! Contributors Aleksandar Hemon, Celeste Mohammed, Abdelaziz Errachidi, and translator Nariman Youssef will join us from all around the world for brief readings, followed by conversation about place, culture, and translation, hosted by the magazine’s editor in chief Jennifer Acker. This event is co-sponsored by the Arts at Amherst Initiative.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email via Amherst College, containing information about joining the event. If you’d like to receive a copy of Issue 21 before the launch party, pre-order the issue here.