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I Will Try Tomorrow

Mona Ragab

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I Will Try Tomorrow Mona Ragab Barefoot and on tiptoe, I steal away like a thief fleeing with his loot. My notebook, in which my pen has been suspended for ages, is under my arm. The idea has completely captured my imagination. It has become an obsession, and there is nothing left to do but commit it to paper. I’ve been trying to write for several nights, but my weariness and overexertion have prevented me. The pressure of time and innumerable obligations works against me, but I’ve grasped the idea, and it won’t elude me. I’m not going to let this golden opportunity slip through my fingers. No one has noticed me yet—everyone is still asleep. All I have to do is avail myself of this long-awaited opportunity to the utmost. I’ll write the idea quickly and release a waterfall that yearns to inundate the barren land! It’s useless to try to silence the hot hammer that is pounding on the gate of my fortress in order to liberate what is imprisoned behind it. I’ll let the words flow freely, and later I’ll polish them little by little. Nothing matters as much as this moment, which has presented itself to me, when no one asks anything of me, when the silence receives me with open arms, and the white sheets of paper invite me to write. The moment begins now and will continue for a while, but the important thing is to commence. The extremely humid air makes me retrace my steps to the bathroom to wash my face several times. I close the door quietly, afraid that I might awaken somebody, and it causes a squeak that startles me. I rush through the long hallway to snatch an hour before the precious minutes slip away. Finally I get to the study. I open the windows, and a moist dawn breeze brushes my face. The Nile sways to and fro with its silver rays, and green leaves dance on its surface, as yet undisturbed by the fishing boats and the irksome rounds of the river-bus. My imagination paints the picture of a young woman standing at the water’s edge, staring at nothing. I open my notebook and begin to write: “She met him, and he started speaking to her in a tone of voice that electrified her in the midst of the deep silence.” Here it is; the story is born. “She fell in love with him, not knowing how or when . . .” I hear a voice shattering the silence of the unfolding dawn, a cry that is rising higher and higher: “Mama!” I throw the pen away and run in alarm to the bedroom. My little son has awakened and wants his feeding bottle. I prepare it quickly for him, so that he will not make noise, though I know that he likes to drink it very slowly. I wait submissively while I cuddle him tenderly to lull him to sleep. When he finishes his bottle, I put him in his bed and hasten to leave on tiptoe. Then a scream pierces me from the other side of the room. “Mama, I want to drink.” My daughter, who is older, always complains of thirst and cannot bear the intense heat. “Mama, the mosquitoes bit me. Bring me something to soothe the itch.” I quickly calm her down with an ointment that I apply to her legs. “Sit beside me, Mama.” I sit slowly and wearily on the edge of the bed. “Don’t go away, Mama. I had a terrible dream. The pictures of the slain children in Lebanon haunt me. I’m afraid to sleep alone.” “You’re a big girl, sweetie,” I reply. “You’re now seven years old. What will we say to your little brother if he sees you frightened like this?” “But I feel so hot, Mama. I want to get up so we can sit together on the balcony.” With feigned firmness, which I display to achieve my goal of completing what I had begun to write at my desk, I say to her, “No, sweetie. It’s still dawn. Try to get some sleep.” “Then tell me a story so I will fall asleep.” I tell my little girl a story that I forgot I had told her a month ago. Despite her tiredness, she interrupts me angrily. “I want a new story.” I collect my thoughts to tell her a new story. Our voices wake my son, who stands up and begins to jump in his bed. “Mama . . . The ball . . .” He calls out to me to play with him. I fetch him his little ball to play together. Then, in resignation and submission, I put him on the floor to amuse himself as he pleases. The neighbors are awakened by the sounds of our early noise. The milkman arrives, and I go to open the door for him. The garbage man arrives, making a din, and I go to open the door again. I prepare our breakfast, some food for my little boy, and a sandwich for my girl. I postpone writing the story that I had started, and console myself over the loss of yet another opportunity to put pen to paper and bring my idea to fruition. APA 7th Edition (American Psychological Assoc.) Dalya Cohen-Mor. (2005). Arab Women Writers : An Anthology of Short Stories. SUNY Press.

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