Kathryn Silver-Hajo ~ Saturdays At The Souk

(After Chaibia Talal “Souk,” 1990)

Since Fatma and Zaineb turned four­teen, their moth­er let them go to the mar­ket alone. They knew Mama want­ed to rest before mak­ing a big lamb and veg­etable tagine for din­ner and it was a chance for them to slip away from Baba’s rules, Stop hang­ing over the veran­da rail­ing, no TV until home­work is done, and from Mama’s con­stant demands for help in the kitchen. The Souk was a cov­et­ed escape. Strangers pressed into crowd­ed spaces yelling and bar­gain­ing in Arabic, French, Spanish, Berber, the shouts of the shop­keep­ers, “Cucumbers the size of babies’ fin­gers!” “The fresh­est sesame cook­ies in town!” The twins let their scarves slide back on their heads, nav­i­gat­ing the nar­row pas­sage­ways steeped in aro­mas of cin­na­mon, cumin, roast­ing nuts, a waft of don­key dung. Between stops at the butch­er, green­gro­cer, and tea par­lor they walked arm-in-arm, gig­gling when they passed beau­ti­ful boys in long dish­dash­es and shib­shib san­dals, widen­ing their black-lashed eyes, let­ting their glances trail as long as they dared. On the way out, there was that guy with the cam­era, the one who wore his tight shirt open, show­ing his chest, who said they looked like mod­els, want­ed to pho­to­graph them in his stu­dio. His name was Talal. He was a pro­fes­sion­al. Fatma smiled at him, but Zaynab poked her ribs, said let’s go! and they ran laugh­ing and trip­ping past him toward the shel­ter of home. His husky voice trailed after them. I’m here every Saturday, beau­ti­ful girls! Every Saturday.


Kathryn Silver-Hajo writes short fic­tion, long fic­tion, and poet­ry. Her sto­ries and poems appear or are forth­com­ing in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Flash Boulevard, Bending Genres, Cleaver Magazine, Bright Flash Literary Review, Ellipsis Zine, Unbroken Journal, Six Sentences, The Drabble, The Ekphrastic Review, Boston Literary MagazineFlash Fiction Magazine, and Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal.  Read Kathryn’s work at www.kathrynsilverhajo.com and fol­low her on Twitter: @KSilverHajo