A Translation into English of Khalil I. Al-Fuzai’s1 “The Crazy Street”

Gassim H. Dohal

Abstract


This story addresses the issue of assimilating Western values into an eastern society—such assimilation will cause a huge change in the life and values of the society. Saudi Arabian society, like many other traditional societies, has to undergo the change represented in this story—but change may bring problems. Writing this story in the seventies of the twentieth century, Kalil I. Al-Fuzai has predicted this change that the whole region is witnessing nowadays. Whereas an earlier story, “Elapsing Days,” presents homesickness as a challenge for the main character, “The Crazy Street” symbolizes the inevitable change that is taking place in a coastal city. Indeed, coastal cities form good ports for new influence to penetrate the country. Foreigners who work at oilfields live in these coastal cities from which oil is exported. On the other hand, citizens come to these ports to work. They also use these coastal towns and cities for recreation. Hence, new and foreign influence takes place. Al-Fuzai is clear-sighted in his presentation here; cities and towns of a developing country like Saudi Arabia are now witnessing the change. This story explores how social and economic changes bring unexpected developments and startling events into people’s lives. The story depicts three forms of change: First, there is an open, liberal change. Stores are full of customers who witness this change in the society by “delightedly looking at both pretty and ugly girls.” Second, there is a cultural change: “Virtue commits suicide on this street.” In a masculine society, the story shows how some women are willing to attract the attention of the unemployed who are wandering on the street. “Most of the customers are women” who flirt: “winking, backbiting, and using their eyebrows and eyes.” And there are “busty girls whose boobs protrude until they are about to tear the firmly tight clothes that cover them.” Traditionally, women were expected to wear baggy clothes. Third, the change is reflected in the man-woman relationship in the Bedouin society. In the story, a man takes care of children—a woman’s traditional and cultural responsibility—and his wife and sister go shopping. However, the change creates an internal conflict for the natives as this story indicates. The change attracts people, including those coming from the desert; we see Doheiman, the protagonist, comparing the changing city with the village he comes from. It is also worth mentioning that appearance is more important to people than reality; those who cross the street fear that “they [will be] accused of corruption...” even though their concern is not “to destroy [their] values.” Also we see old women try to “escape old age and flee towards youth.” Even though adaptation and change become an inevitable part of the society’s life, Al-Fuzai adds scenes to the story where change may be rejected at a certain point. At the end of the story, Doheiman engages in a conversation with a man he met in the café, but when Doheiman makes indecent remarks about two women who happen to be the man’s wife and sister before knowing who they are, the man’s jealousy influences his behavior: “How do you dare to say these indecent remarks?” Also people do not desire to be accused of “corruption” or trying “to destroy... values.” In short, the story illustrates the inevitable cultural change that any society should witness. Khalil I. Al-Fuzai introduces such change in the form of a street. And because all people, including those coming from the desert, need to use the street, they have to be exposed to this cultural change. Finally, in my translation, some well-known words are kept with their original pronunciation and written in italics to keep the reader aware of the Arabic text.3

Keywords


Khalil al-Fuzai, Saudi, Biopower, short story, The Crazy Street

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijclts.v.6n.4p.1

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