Flash Fiction: “A Wife’s Diary”

21 February, 2022,
“The Com­pet­i­tive Cou­ple,” acrylic on can­vas, by Alexan­dria, Egypt artist Klay Kassem (cour­tesy of Klay Kassem).


This short-short sto­ry con­sti­tutes the first time The Markaz Review is pub­lish­ing flash fic­tion trans­lat­ed from Ara­bic, but cer­tain­ly it won’t be the last. Hanan Fathi is a writer liv­ing in Egypt and her trans­la­tor, Essam M. Al-Jas­sim, works out of Saudia Arabia.


Hanan Fathi

The Final Page of a Wife’s Diary in Her First Year of Marriage

     In a nut­shell, my hus­band dis­likes all my habits. One minute, he orders me to do some­thing, and the next, he for­bids me. Because I love him, I obey. He observes while I spend hours in my qui­et study, writ­ing poems. He mon­i­tors me when­ev­er I flit briskly from room to room. Some­times he sees me talk­ing to myself, fid­dling with things, or mov­ing items and then for­get­ting where I put them. He rolls his eyes when I hum or sing in the car, when­ev­er I say sil­ly things for the sake of small talk, or if I hug the neigh­bors’ kids the moment I spot them.

     My sched­ule is full of appoint­ments to vis­it my friends.

The Har­vest

     My hus­band tore up my note­books, then bolt­ed the door of my study! He taunt­ed me for the award I received at the poet­ry fes­ti­val, pro­hib­it­ed me from vis­it­ing or receiv­ing friends, and pushed me into a cor­ner when­ev­er we talked. He dashed through the house, mak­ing a mess and scat­ter­ing papers he came across. All I could do was reor­ga­nize in the after­math of his whirlwind.

 The Final Page of a Wife’s Diary in Her Sec­ond Year of Marriage

     I’m start­ing to like the changes in my husband’s behav­ior. I’m try­ing to see things from his per­spec­tive, give him the space he needs, and bestow on him the warmth and love he deserves.

     Odd­ly enough, I felt hap­pi­er when he unlocked my study again and told me he had browsed through my books when I was out of the house. He has start­ed try­ing his hand at writ­ing poetry.

     One day, he nudged my shoul­der when he had fin­ished com­pos­ing fresh lines of poet­ry, hint­ing for me to read it. I read what he had writ­ten, and praised him for his talent.

     Unleash the Mus­es inside you.

     “Mag­nif­i­cent,” I said, and applaud­ed with a smile.

     He edged clos­er to me and kissed me warm­ly. I walked to the kitchen and pre­pared a cup of cof­fee for him, then I low­ered the blinds and let him taste happiness.

     Just the oth­er day he pre­sent­ed me with a gift. It was a series of books that all per­tained to the art of cook­ing, and rais­ing chil­dren. I thanked him and lum­bered heav­i­ly toward the sofa, try­ing not to dis­turb his writ­ing and inspi­ra­tion. I sti­fled my cries of pain as I felt the baby’s kicks, nudges, and punch­es against the con­fines of my womb.

     While I bought clothes for our soon-to-arrive baby, he pur­chased sev­er­al poet­ry books, and books about spir­i­tu­al enlight­en­ment. Upon return­ing home, I set up his office and arranged his pens and papers.

The Sec­ond-Year Harvest

     My hus­band pub­lished his first vol­ume of poet­ry, and I had our first child.

The Final Page of a Wife’s Diary in Her Third Year of Marriage

     My man is sud­den­ly too busy for me. I wish he would sit with me, even just for a few min­utes. I feel alone and depressed. Read­ers’ let­ters and cig­a­rettes are the only dis­trac­tions that occu­py his world. I try to over­come my bore­dom by read­ing cook­books and yet more books on rais­ing a child. He main­tains his soli­tude in his study for hours, read­ing and writ­ing. On the oth­er hand, I do admire the new poems he has created.

     My hus­band nev­er seems to miss out on plans made with friends, or have any­thing to stop him dress­ing, and leav­ing the house as and when he pleas­es. He hums mer­ry tunes as he wends his way down the nar­row alleys. He kids around with the neigh­bors’ chil­dren, remind­ing me of how I used to kiss and hug them. Mean­while, I caress my bel­ly and enjoy the move­ments of our sec­ond baby. In my diary, I jot down the names of my husband’s read­ers and fans.

The Third-Year Harvest

     My hus­band has won the State Prize in Poet­ry. His achieve­ments and awards make me hap­py. I con­grat­u­lat­ed him by giv­ing him the good tid­ings of the arrival of our sec­ond child.


Arab poetEgyptian writerflash fictionmarriage

Hanan Fathi is an award-winning Egyptian poet, novelist and short-story writer. She was born in 1957, in Belqas, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt. In addition to a degree in civil engineering, she holds a B.A. in Arabic language and literature. Many of her works have received significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success. Hanan actively participates in literary conferences and social events.

Essam M. Al-Jassim is a writer and translator based in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia. He taught English for many years at Royal Commission schools in Jubail. Mr. Al-Jassim received his B.A. in foreign languages and education from King Faisal University, Hofuf. His translations have appeared in a variety of print and online literary Arabic and English-language journals.


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Allam Aoudi
Allam Aoudi
7 months ago

A good read.