أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

(Translated from the Arabic short story of Muna al-Amad.)

She was plain, she knew. Not pretty and plain. But for God’s sake, she was not ugly! Everyday she tries her best to look like a bride for her husband. But the women gossip about her lack of beauty and they even call her ugly. The problem is that every now and then she hears gossip about how plain and ugly she was and how handsome and good-looking her husband was.
Several times she joined a gathering of women and noticed them all go silent and even heard some hushing each other when they see her coming.
Her vice always had been nothing but marrying a good-looking, successful business man who she didn’t deserve. Some women even gossiped about how pitiful it was that he never remarried in those ten years of their marriage. Once behind her back, they accused her of using black magic to keep him tied to her for so long.
It hurt too much hearing all that gossip!
Looking at her reflection in the mirror now, she felt despair seep into her. Why should she wear makeup and make her hair? Because however she tried, she would remain as ugly as ever. She imagined the women in the mirror, mocking her, laughing at her face, her freckles, her little uneven eyes, her pug-nose, her dark complexion…
The eye-liner fell from her fingers. She picked it up and looked again at the mirror…
The women there still mocked her with smug satisfaction. She looked at the clock. Her husband is going to arrive soon.
She jumped up, “woe to you all! You won’t mar my felicity! You won’t spoil my bliss!”
She regained her composure and hummed a song, wearing her makeup and making her hair.
He raised the key to the door but before he could turn it, she opened it and with a sweet sunny smile she playfully fell in deep curtsey, saying “welcome, my lord!”
He chuckled, “thank you, my lady!” and they laughed gaily.
But the gossip still made her uneasy, even uncertain. She knew he considered her beautiful; not ugly that is.
She has succeeded in making him love her. Amiable and tender she always has been. Obedient and compliant at all times. He always seems to be pleased and contented with his life and their relationship. Or was it what she imagined…? Was he being chivalrous…? Or….
Her shoulders sagged with frustration. Uncertainty invaded her resolve. She panicked… was he being nice because he was intending to marry another woman…?
No, no, no.
She chided herself for being so obsessed with the gossip.
But her mind was not resting at ease. The idea kept on worrying her. She spent the night thinking about a way to make certain he didn’t mind her lack of beauty and that her amiability and loving, compassionate nature are enough to grant him the contentment and pleasure a man seeks in his marital life.
She thought for a long time and came up with a plan.
The next day after lunch, she told him tenderly, “the wedding of my friend’s relative is tonight. She has sent me an invitation.”
He interrupted her, “and my dear wife wants to attend it.”
“If my husband lets me.”
He grinned and said, “And if he doesn’t?”
She said pretending to scowl, “she will be angry with him.”
He said chuckling, “does that mean she won’t receive him at the door every noon?”
She said, “well… she would… but with a sulky face.”
He exclaimed, “ooooooh! That is a very terrible penalty!”
He caressed her cheek and said tenderly, “your husband can’t bear that. Your sweet smile at the door takes away all my exhaustion and tension. I feel like a traveler in desert who finds an oasis after hours of thirst.”
His words delighted her extremely. She tilted her head lovingly and asked, “So you will take me to the wedding hall?”
He said, “I shall if God wills. When will you be ready?”
“Is eight o’clock ok with you?”
“Sure.”
At night, when she returned with him from the wedding she deliberately stayed silent for a while; pretending to be thinking. As she expected, he asked, “What’s wrong?”
She said, “I have seen something incredulous.”
“What?”
“The bride is not pretty at all I mean she is…” lowering her voice, she said, “ugly! I wonder how her husband proposed when she is so lacking in looks.”
He said, “God’s will.”
She continued with her confidence sagging, “she is dark.”
He said, “so what?”
She looked at him from the corner of her eyes, “her eyes are small and one is even smaller than the other, and she has freckles!! Isn’t that terrible?”
He frowned with impatience, “what’s wrong with you? You never spoke ill of others!”
She said, “It’s not just me! All the women in there were of the same opinion!… isn’t it strange that she is so lacking in looks and her husband as all the women have been saying, is quite handsome.”
He said tightly, “It’s God’s will, my dear.”
She fell silent until they reached home. He held her hand. “Look at the moon.” He said.
“It’s beautiful!”
“Yes, it is. Because its glow masks its flaws.”
“Flaws?!”
“Cant you see its freckles?”
She looked at the moon again, “oh!” she said, “it’s the first time I notice those dark spots. I always thought the moon was flawless.”
He grinned.
She chewed her lower lip and said, “but the moon doesn’t have a pug-nose…” and with a whisper added, “…like that bride.”
Her heart pounded so hard against her chest. She braced herself to hear him say, “Why don’t you first look at yourself in the mirror before you speak ill of others.” Or may be he would say, “Be grateful to God Almighty that I have been tolerating that face of yours everyday for the last ten years.”
But he didn’t speak at all. Not until they entered the living room,
“I really am not understanding you today! You speak of the woman so ruthlessly. I really wish I hadn’t heard you say all that. Fear God woman! Because I fear that if you don’t, Allah would punish you for it and make you suffer like that bride.”
 http://tasneemrajab89.blogspot.com/2011/06/moon-has-freckles.html

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