A Translation into English of Khalil I. Al-Fuzai’s1 “Chivalry of the Village”

Gassim H. Dohal


Hameed goes to the city to sell his crops and buy some goods for his wedding. His fate leads him to meet a thief. He beats the thief and is taken to prison. At the beginning of the story, Khalil I. Al-Fuzai paints a living picture, showing how farmers arrange their trips to the city, using donkeys as a means of transportation. The animals are treated without mercy; though living creatures, they are beaten and overloaded: “The donkey may feel the human being’s injustice. Hence it takes the opportunity to drop its load and run away … 3” and “donkeys … shake their heads up and down with each step they take …” as if commenting on their owners’ treatment of them. The story addresses the village-city relationship as well; the city is important for village residents as a marketplace where they can “sell their loads of fruits and crops from their farms …” and buy what they need for their families and neighbors, as shown in both this story and the previous one, “Thursday Fair.” In other stories, like “Wednesday Train,” people go to the city to look for jobs.  In dealing with city customers, experience and advice are important; if the protagonist had not figured out that the customer had disappeared into a mosque and slipped out the other door, he could have waited as long as he wanted and still have left empty-handed. In this case, the advice of Olyan’s mother in “Thursday Fair” is relevant for naïve village youths: “Salesmen of the city are deceitful, so be careful, O Olyan.” The same is true for city customers, as this story shows.  On the other hand, the story demonstrates that one of the main characteristics of rural people is that they are helpful and united, so the author refers to them as if they are one cooperative group.  The country people are also hard workers. Even on his wedding day, Hameed goes to the city to sell the crops of his land. As a countryman, he does not want to bother his friends, and likes to assume his business on his own: “It will be a burden for you to add my things to yours to sell.” In addition, the story refers to a cultural issue: In some Arabian societies, a man cannot see the woman he is going to marry until she becomes his wife—and at that moment, he cannot go back on his word. Usually, a man’s female relatives choose the girl and, if her family accepts the proposal, then the man’s family prepares for the marriage. Hence, it is the judgment of the female relatives that rules in such situations. Sometimes a previous friendship or an earlier acquaintance between the two females may affect the whole story, as we will see in “Wednesday Train.” So, “the bride here to some extent is similar to a watermelon …” for the bridegroom. Hameed uses “watermelon” in his simile because he knows well such a fruit; it is his main produce.  At the end, the story refers to an administrative issue: a cop “takes [Hameed] to the police station.” In the afternoon, all the investigators at the police station are either busy with cases they want to finish before going home, or they have already left their offices, so Hameed must spend the night there, waiting for the next business day before an investigation can take place. Briefly, this story relates that village people are simple and innocent, but when it comes to values they believe in, they do not hesitate to take action.4


Khalil al-Fuzai, Saudi, Short Story, “Chivalry of the Village”

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.9n.3p.74


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