:: Article

The Leg

Fiction by Anis Arafai, translated from Arabic to French by Lotfi Nia and in a new translation from French to English by Emma Ramadan. Art by Sarabeth Dunton.

The Leg

– 1 –

In the square they were having their usual meeting him and her.

In the square they were having their usual meeting him and her when suddenly he asked her he for an irrefutable token of love.

In the square they were having their usual meeting him and her when suddenly he asked her he for an irrefutable token of love so she offered him she without hesitating her right leg.

In the square they were having their usual meeting him and her when suddenly he asked her he for an irrefutable token of love so she offered him she without hesitating her artificial right leg for him to keep for an entire week.

She leaves the square on crutches.

He returns to his house with the leg.

 

– 2 –

At home the leg made him happy. It made of him a happy man for an entire week. Happy because it was the leg of the only woman that had bitten into his heart. Happy because it was the only leg that didn’t resemble any other. Happy because it was unique among the legs into which time hadn’t planted its cruel teeth. Happy but happy but happy but happy as if it were truly still a leg. Happy because every night he slid it centimeter by centimeter from the base of the thigh up to the calf out of its nylon stocking and then he crammed it once again centimeter by centimeter into the same stocking. Happy because every night he took his spot at the foot of the leg to paint the nails of its five toes with red but so red that he stopped feeling the need to negotiate with the dog of desire that was barking but barking in him. Happy because every night he pretended it was a slightly hairy and therefore unseemly leg which obliged him to apply and reapply soap then to shave and shave until the black shadow black was cleared away immaculate attaining an all-over whiteness. Happy because he was holding his battlefield launching an assault of whisperings and caresses coming one after another losing their way on the illusory flesh like wagons badly fastened to a train rushing into the prairie no longer responding to the pull of the driver. Happy because every night he quivered once more got one shiver closer to the healing of the leg. Close to making it so that every night life came pulsing back through that mass of silicon. Close to making it so that every night the leg didn’t gripe at the end of a night of all that cutting and irreversible betrayal that we call: amputation.

 

– 3 –

In the square they will have their usual meeting her and him.

In the square they will have their usual meeting her and him and he won’t expect he that she ask him she for an irrefutable token of love.

In the square they will have their usual meeting her and him and he won’t expect he that she ask him she for an irrefutable token of love so he offers her he without hesitating his right leg.

In the square they will have their usual meeting her and him and he won’t expect he that she ask him she for an irrefutable token of love so he offers her he without hesitating his living right leg that he will have cut off with the help of a saw and that he will have put in the refrigerator for an entire week for her to keep forevermore.

He leaves the square on crutches.

She doesn’t know where to go with this leg on her hands.

 

[Inspired by Yasuzo Masumura’s film La Bête aveugle.]

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anis Arafai was born in Casablanca in 1976. Perhaps best known for his short and fiercely experimental works of Arabic-language fiction, he has published nine collections of stories to date and his work has been translated into a number of languages, including a few stories in English translation in Banipal issues 48 and 49.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
Emma Ramadan has a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University and a Masters in Cultural Translation from The American University of Paris. She spent the past year in Marrakech on a Fulbright grant to translate the works of a few Moroccan authors. Her translation of Anne Garréta’s Sphinx was published in 2015 by Deep Vellum and her translation of Anne Parian’s Monospace is forthcoming in the fall of 2015 from La Presse (Fence Books).

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Sarabeth Dunton received her BFA in painting at the University of Michigan in 2006. Her current practice emphasizes drawing as a mode of experience. She finds inspiration in both traditional modes of landscape painting and more contemporary dialogues of abstraction, and uses intuitive processes and a personalized specific style of markmaking to created her works. For her, the act of drawing is a physical chronicle of an intimate relationship with the space in which she works. The work is the physical apprehension of an action, a memory, and an archetypal understanding of how we view and realize landscape. After many years traveling, wandering, and transplanting herself, Sarabeth moved from New Orleans in search of a more diverse and vibrant art scene, landing in Kansas City.
Sarabeth’s work has been shown in New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and internationally in Paros, Greece. She is a co-founder of RAD school, had writing published by a 8 1/2 X 11 press, and has been granted residency fellowships based in Joshua Tree, Ohio, and rural Missouri. Find her on Instagram.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, February 4th, 2016.