Horny old man / Yemen Observer, 17 Feb 2007
Yemen man's horny dream came true
Saleh, a resident of Shabwa in the Yemen, dreamed so often that he was growing a horn on his head that he came to believe it would come to pass. It was only a question of when. Now aged 102, he recounts how a horn began to sprout on the left side of his head 25 years ago. Since it did not bother him and there were no local medical facilities, he just ignored it. Eventually, it grew into a horn 1ft 8in (50cm) long. His fellow villagers were astounded and assumed it must be painful, but Saleh said they came to realise it was simply “something Allah wanted to happen to show the people that he can do as he desires”. As the horn grew, it became weaker and more difficult for Saleh to manage, especially during sleep. It finally fell off and a second one started growing in its place. Hundreds of people from the Yemen and other Gulf states have come to see Saleh and touch his horn. “I have no idea why Allah chose me,” he said, “but I thank God for his mercy and show of greatness. I only say al-hamdu lillah.”
A poorly wrought limerick
There once was an old man from Yemen
who to Allah prayed for an omen
He plead on his knees
And got, you’ll agree
A scraggly ol’ horn, and amen!
Estaba harta de escuchar a su marido contar y recontar su sueño de los cuernos. Aún así, cuando vio que le asomaban unas puntas en la cabeza calva, la mujer se llevó un susto mayúsculo. Primero sintió temor, no fuera a ser un castigo de Allah por algún pecado inconfeso. Luego le atacó cierta vergüenza. Sabía, gracias a la tele, que en algunas tierras de infieles los cuernos del esposo significan adulterio de la esposa. Menos mal que el bueno de Saleh se pasaba el día leyendo el Corán y no se enteraba de nada. Al final le dio risa ver a su hombre hecho un cabro y hasta agradeció al más Grande por la fila de curiosos que se arremolinaban ante su puerta, monedas en mano, para ver el espectáculo.
The stones felt right in A'doud's calloused hands, some rounded by rain, others jagged like teeth, gathered from the dusty backyard. Still, A'doud was perplexed. So often she prayed to Allah for rest. She'd granted her husband Saleh so many wishes: boy children, a clean house, her own cloudy silence at his joblessness, his whims, his stubborn need to be touched - there, and now..... Horns. The neighbors say he wished for it? How could anyone wish for a horn? Look at him now, glib, so very pleased with himself, as if he'd given birth. All he does is sit on his rump, mad, puffing, his pipe overcoming the slightest scent of flower, of flesh, even.
Stones rattle in the palm of her hand, in her thoughts. The windowglass is streaked, but it's rain, nothing else. A'doud dreams of Mecca, imagines standing at the Devil's Pillar, stones weighing down her hijab. In her mind, the throng pushes her closer to the white head of Iblis, his horns rising out of smokeless fire. At the window: tap, tap. "Dinner?" a devil motions, his skull like a quail's egg, a beak peeking through. She wakes. Her hands push into her pocket. The stones vibrate. And whisper: throw, throw.
Claudia Noguera Penso (Venezuela, 1963)
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