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4978 Nights And One Night

by Ghayath al-Madhoun, Fawaz Azem

To Faraj Bayrakdar, who spent 14 years in prison.

is not the number of a secret account, nor is it the result of a third-degree equation. I assure you that it is not an arbitrary number, devoid of wisdom, or the result of a coincidence produced by lottery wheels. It is a sticky number that does not resemble cell phone numbers or license plates.

means the systematic intensification of pain, the essence of the wolf. It means 119 thousand and 466 hours; it means seven million, 169 thousand and 760 minutes; and it also means 430 million, 185 thousand and 600 seconds.

To gain 4979 nights is to miss out on thirteen forbidden women, thirty-seven casual relationships, and two children who have not been born. To gain these 4979 days means to lose 465 thousand and 328 steps in the alleys of old Damascus and miss 114 wakes held in your absence and 31 thousand and 712 bottles of beer, three of which are flat.

It means not to miss the bus 271 times, and not to win the price of a lottery ticket eleven times.

4979 means to miss the World Cup three and a half times, New Year’s Eve fourteen times, and the fall of the Soviet Union once: imagine only once.

4979 means 4978 nights and one night without Scheherazade;

4978 nights and one night only with Schehrayar, Schehrayar whose funeral you also missed.


All artwork is courtesy of Eman Osama.

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