Wail of the Arab Beggars of the Casbah [excerpt]
. . . The hands of the poor people of the Casbah are long and thin and stretched like the roots of potatoes. The voice of the poor people is frail, they have round eyes and ugly mugs, like Pepe Le Moko's when he's sloshed on the Rue du Regard one rainy day near the Grevin Museum. Now a minute of silence. . . two hours of minutes of silence in memory of those dead of hunger in memory of those dead from the cold in memory of those dead of an overdose of sleep in memory of those dead broke and a stop-right-there; after you; no, you first; no, you in memory as well of the living dead, who are neither too dead nor too alive but nonetheless are living for want of something better. One day I set about counting the poor people in the streets of my Casbah The beggars were enumerating their vermin: fleas, lice, bedbugs with wrapping included. There's only one sun for everybody, for the Americans and for the Cannibals. . . .
From Wail of the Arab Beggars of the Casbah by Ishmael Ait Djafer. Translated by Jack Hirschman. Copyright © 2004 by Jack Hirschman. Published by Curbstone Press. Distributed by Consortium Book Sales & Dist. Reprinted by permission of Curbstone Press. All rights reserved.