The world was still, and Yunus felt alone in existence. He walked along the shore beneath a sky studded with stars. It was his birthday, and he was finally returning home, after his drinking buddies had departed one by one. What was the essence of his solitude? A void and waiting… waiting for what? The end that no one can escape. All he could hope for was that the end be without pain or suffering, as if he were sleeping, roaming the seashore, leafing through a book, listening to one of his favorite symphonies, lost in thought, or recalling memories from his happy past.
When the boys playing ball saw the fancy automobile approach, they stopped their game and fixed their eyes on these strangers visiting their neighborhood.
Shepherded by her husband, Ali Jibran, Tha’ira descended from the Mercedes in front of a dilapidated three-story building. They left the driver in the car to wonder what could have brought them to the most renowned center for Qur’anic healing in the city.
The couple disappeared through the low entrance, which was enveloped in shadowy gloom. Their driver took a deep breath and replaced the cassette of Qur’an recitations by al-Qariti with a cassette of songs by the singer Ali al-Anisi. He pulled a pack of cigarettes from under his seat. With intense satisfaction he began to smoke and sank into delightful daydreams.