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.


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 Saudi writer and translator based in Jubail, 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 writings and translations have appeared in a variety of print and online literary Arabic and English-language journals. He compiled and translated the recently published an anthology of flash fiction Furtive Glimpses: Flash Fiction from The Arab World (2022).

Arab poetEgyptian writerflash fictionmarriage

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