512 Words

Calendars of Lost Time

Ahmed Mokhtar

He could not open the car's door. It was his wedding day, and, only a few minutes ago, he had helped his bride into it and returned to bring their luggage, but when he came back he could not find the car keys. She looked at him in wonder, but he signaled to her not to worry, and went back to the house to look for them there.

When he came back to tell her that he could not find them, they had their first baby. His wife was so happy when she saw him, but her happy look soon changed into a reproachful one when he signaled to her that he could not find those keys. She held the baby girl close to the car window for him to look at. Then she was busy breastfeeding her. She signaled to him to try and get into the car so they could eat together. He went searching on the stairways and in the street. The search and the darkness exhausted him. When he came back, they were both asleep. He decided to wait till the morning to start searching again.

The next day, despite his daylight search, he still could not find the keys. He looked at them through the glass. His daughter was playing on the back seat, and his wife was busy doing something else. In the beginning he could not make out what it was was, but when he brought his eyes closer to the glass he saw that they had just had their second baby. The mother just breastfed her, and started combing the elder daughter's hair, which has grown long. The mother smiled when she noticed him, signaled, inquiring about the keys, then resumed combing her daughter's hair.

On the third day came his third girl.

On the fourth day they did not feel his presence until he knocked on the car window's glass. The two elder girls were whispering to each other while secretly peeking at the two cars parked in front of them. He noticed the pair of young men in those two cars. The girls were a little startled when their younger sister shouted, happily recognizing him, but their blush soon disappeared when they remembered who he was.

On the fifth day he noticed another car. He found an auto tinker and brought him to open the door of the car in which the mother sat alone, staring absent-mindedly at the three cars parked in front of her. Inside each of them, one of the girls sat with a young man of her age. The men looked strange to him, but they all greeted him cordially. He noticed that his youngest girl was crying. He signaled to her, asking about the reason for her tears. She pointed to her mother's car.

And when the auto tinker opened the door of the mother's car there was no one inside. While the other three cars were getting ready to leave, he found his wife's handbag. He eagerly opened it and started looking for the girls' names.

Copyright ©1999 Ahmed Mokhtar. All Rights Reserved.

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October, 1999
Issue #42

512 Words