“The Anti-Christ” is the fouth Short Story by Riham Adly I have so far read. I hope fate will allow me to read many more. To me this is among the highest complements one can pay a writer.
“The Anti-Christ” takes place on a cross country bus in Saudia Arabia. The story is structured through the conversation of two preadolescent girls, one is from very traditional Muslim family, one is from a Christian family. In this very perceptive story we see how prejudices are absorbed by the young from their parents. The bus has stopped. The Christian girl is playing with her Barbie. She asks the Muslim girl if she has a Barbie. In the perfect lines below we see that perhaps one day these girls will pass along hatred to their own children.
“Where’s your Barbie, don’t you have one? I saw a Fullah doll in an Abaya just like yours.”
Nourah looked down at her long black sleeves.
“I never liked those. I want one like yours. I like the green T-shirt and the pink skirt.”
“Then why don’t you get one?” Elizabeth cocked an eyebrow.
“Father says I shouldn’t. They’re not good. Like figurines, they can bring in the Djin. Bad creatures we can’t see that could harm us. Harm our soul.”
Elizabeth didn’t say anything, forcing the silence between them.
“What’s your name?” Nourah repeated.
Elizabeth put the doll down. She looked like a student in a math class trying to figure out the square root of 576.
The girls begin a theological disputes stirred by what the Muslim girl’s father felt about Barbie dolls. They become agitated in their espousal of a child’s view of complex theological issues.
“My dad says evil Djin live in the eyes of Barbies and figurines and they are the window of evil, and that we should protect our souls and hearts for when the Antichrist comes.”
“The Antichrist will come at the end of times. Dad calls it the apocalypse. We’re not at the end of times, yet. Dad says there are signs. Some of them have happened, some not yet.”
“Father says we should be prepared, it could be anytime. Says the Antichrist will come and wash our brains, make us follow his evil, but Al Mahdi and Jesus peace be upon him will save us and kill him. He’s a one-eyed monster who doesn’t want us to believe in Allah, only in the one God who has no son and no wife, do we believe. Only Islam will prevail. My father said so.”
“You are wrong!”
As the story winds down, the girls unite in their fear of a man on the bus who they think might be planning to hold them hostage for ransom.
Riham Adly is a creative writing instructor from Gizah, Egypt with several short stories published in online lit magazines such as Page&Spine, The 10 minutes Novelist, Paragraph Planet, Visual Verse, Fictional café, and The HFC Journal. Her short story “The Darker Side of the Moon” won the Makan Award in Egypt and was published in an anthology with the same name. Her stories appeared in Centum Press 1000 voices anthology volume 2 and volume 3. Riham currently hosts her own book club “Rose’s Cairo Book Club” in the American University in Cairo for those few –but existing- bibliophiles. - from The author
FB Author page: https://www.facebook.com/roseinink/
I greatly enjoyed this story. In just a few pages Adly brings to young girls to life on a bus, takes us into the world views of their families through marvelous dialogue. She also elegantly describes the countryside and made me feel I was on the bus.
I hope to follow the work of Riham Adly for many years.
I endorse her work to all lovers of the form