Night Phone-calls ~ هواتف الليل

*Robbery  سرقة

This story is symbol of a country rich in natural resources. Strangers invaded the country and robbed all its resources leaving its people sick with all kinds of incurable diseases, as a result of the use of internationally prohibited weapons.

By Bushra Al-Bustani

Translated by Prof.Wafaa A.Abdulaali, PhD

The people of a remote desert woke up to find their land full of gold bars; they failed to collect or use them. Foreign hands dropped in and collected them…

The gold bars went on piling up. The people of the desert protested against this outrageous theft, so the foreigners severed their hands. With the passage of time, the feature of dismembered limbs entered their genes, and their children were born without hands. Thus, the robbery went on night and day.


استفاق أهل الصحراء النائية فوجدوا أرضهم مليئة بسبائك الذهب، لم يحسنوا جمعها ولا التصرف بها ، جاءت أيدٍ غريبة فجمعتها..

ظلت السبائك تتكاثر.

اعترض أهل الصحراء على هذه السرقة السافرة، فقطع الغرباء أيديهم..

بمرور الأيام انتقلت سمة القطع إلى جينات دمهم، فصاروا يلدون أطفالاً مقطوعي الأذرع ، ولذلك ظل الذهب يسرق ليل نهار..


*The Bride العروس

The story is an image of the disasters inflicted upon the innocents and their effect upon the family. The disappointment of the bride in her born baby who appeared to be a strange creature is beyond description resulting in her loss of faith in herself and the whole life..

By Bushra Al-Bustani, University of Mosul/ Iraq

Translated from Arabic by Prof.Wafaa A. Abdulaali, PhD

A beautiful young bride celebrated her marriage ceremony by beating the drums. She couldn’t believe her own happiness, which everybody shared that day.

Her mother took care to burn incense of African rue every Friday in the girl’s room to ward off envy and to bring her additional blessings.

The bride loved her young husband and cheered him with dreams of mothering a son like the crescent, or a daughter like the full moon.

She gave birth to a baby that was missing both a hand and a leg. They hid the news from her for two weeks, but she grew suspicious and insisted on knowing what had happened.

The doctors met with her father and father-in-law. They explained the disasters of war:  the radiation and destruction caused by the use of banned weapons and the effects they had on an unborn child. She listened to them in bewilderment. But none of this concerned her. She only wanted one thing: to see her son. She wanted the bare truth.

When she learnt the truth, she screamed and lost consciousness.

When she finally awoke, she buried her face in her mother’s breast. She wanted her father’s house. She wanted to stay in her father’s house; she didn’t want to see or hear anything; she only wanted to escape.

A year passed. The crestfallen bride, afflicted by radiation, lives in her father’s house. She keeps the doors of her room closed, seeing nothing and hearing nothing about the war.


العروس الصغيرة الجميلة التي ضربت يوم عرسها الدفوف وقرت الاعين، العروس التي لم تصدق هي سعادتها والتي غبطها الجميع على ما هي فيه.

العروس التي حرصت امها على اشعال الحرمل في غرفتها كل جمعة رقية من الحسد ومجلبة للمزيد من البركة.

العروس التي احبت زوجها الشاب واسعدته بحملها وظلت تحلم بمولود كالهلال او مولودة كالبدر…

انجبت طفلا بلا يد ولا ساق، كتموا عنها الخبر اسبوعين لكن الشك ساورها وبدأت بالاصرار.

حينها اجتمع الأطباء ووالدها ووالد الزوج، وراح الاطباء يشرحون لها كوارث الحرب والاشعاع ومصائب اسلحة الدمار المحرمة وما ينتج عن ذلك من اثار على الجنين، كانت تصغي بحيرة، كل ذلك لا يعنيها، ما يعنيها شيء واحد هو ان ترى ابنها الذي انجبت، انها تريد الحقيقة..

واذ وصلتها الحقيقة.. صرخت وراحت في غيبوبة..

حينما افاقت دفنت راسها في صدر امها: تريد بيت والدها، لا تريد ان ترى او تسمع شيئا، فقط تريد الهرب..

منذ سنة والعروس المنكوبة بالاشعاع في بيت والدها تقفل عليها باب غرفتها لا ترى ولا تسمع اخبار الحرب.

*Bushra Al-Bustani’s collection of short stories and flash fiction is called Hawatif Al-Layl (Night Phone-Calls) was published by Dar Dijla of Amman, Jordan in 2012. The collection contained more than forty short stories, which were written in the period after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Every story is a glimpse into the Iraqi situation in the post-invasion period.

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