Trafika Europe 6 - Arabesque

najat el hachmi

surface next to the sink. The fridge just beyond that, also yellowed by time. That is the colour of the kitchen, the colour of the house, the colour of my life here, a bland, soulless yellow, not a single delicate shade, a dull yellow. I stared at everything and felt a bit like Evelyn in The Dubliners , except that nobody is mistreating me. I put the heavy Italian metal coffeepot down, the item Mumna bought one day in the market when it was on special offer and gave to mother knowing she needed one so badly. For a few seconds I told myself I’m not abandoning her as much as I think I am, that, although there’s only me and her, she in fact knows a lot of people who appreciate her and will sympathise with her as they have done before. I started to heat the milk when I

heard mother performing her ablutions in the bathroom. I imagined her wiping water on her arms, up to her elbows, repeating gestures she’d rehearsed so often from childhood that they no longer seemed like a skill she’d honed but something innate, that belonged to her, that was embedded in her character. When the milk began to rise I removed it from the burner and replaced it with the small metal jug of water for the bread. I let it cool slightly as I poured the usual flour into the bowl, at a glance, making a heap and starting to control the amount like mother does, or almost. Of course, I will never bake bread like hers, but she has stopped moaning so much about my lack of knowhow. I make a hole in the middle of the mound of flour and throw in salt and the


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