english arabic


My Bleating Sheep


Suha Naimy


Ma-a-a-a-a, Ma-a-a-a-a, MA-A-A-A-A-A… and the bleating gradually escalates until the tune squeaks and the voice screeches where no higher can be attained… Then, a terrifying silence falls… Seconds later, the bleating recaptures its rhythm.

That sheep and I had a tacit communication. Its voice was my expression, calling for rescue, screaming to break walls, urging my capacity to redeem my imprisonment. I would open my eyes and mouth wide, push my vocal cords to the extreme to produce sound, but with no result. I would move and rotate frustrated, angry, and restless; and my friend the sheep bleats.

Look at him, tied to his place with a short cord. Frozen in place, he dreams of life, of pastures, of freshness, of morning light trotting in happily behind that beautifully embedded rock hill in the home village. The frigid half-cemented, half-broken, walls of his cell pull him away from his nostalgic reverie. A rusted half-barrel put in front of his mouth to drink cannot possibly quench his thirst…

Where are the clear running waters of back-home rivers sparkling with sunlight and rhyming with laughter of existence? Ma-a-a-a-a and his loud reach-out mixes with tears, with yearning and longing.

He recollected the day when he was licking water from the spring, and his lips accidentally met the lips of his beloved. Their reflection in the water is still fresh in his memory.

Ma-a-a-a-a a bleating that cuts through the self.

Ma-a-a-a-a the most rebellious sound I have ever heard.

Ma-a-a-a-a would wake me up in the morning, as early as 4 AM. It would accompany me until I leave home for work, echo through me throughout the day, and tuck me to bed as I return back to my niche searching for peace.

My friend’s bleating reminded me of Alfred Lord Tennysson’s:

So runs my dream: but what am I?

An infant crying in the night:

An infant crying for the light:

And with no language but a cry.

What other language can one have while being bordered with bodies and boundaries?

On the 25th of December, an icy silence drowned my body and chilled my soul: No calls in the morning and no lullabies in the evenings, no rebellion, no longing, and no strife. My friend was hushed, and I ceased analyzing, ceased seeking. Now, I bleat. My bleating, however, is different. It has no anger, no frustration, and no passion. It is intermittent and feeble with no aim. Ma-a-a-a-a…

My friend the sheep disappeared. In that phase of unknown dimensions, I wonder if my friend is redeemed from the shadows of thenow” that handcuff and from the enchainments of temporal illusions that cripple? Can he actually Know, or is he still deceived, blinded, soaked by the most cunning games of ‘place and time’? Are there any realities where my friend the sheep is? Is he liberated from the spinning births and deaths? Has he joined any horizoned fields and pristine beauties? Ma-a-a-a-a…


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