An Excerpt from Laila AlOthman’s Classic ‘Wasmiya Comes Out of the Sea’

Akh… Tomorrow he will return for the net. The forecast called for high tide at three in the morning.             But what if the net is barren, catching only rocks and seaweed? He moves his arms, trying to break through, so that the aura may fall into the sea, to fade away with the waves, and he may find respite from this siege. But he knows very well that silence means despair and despair is evil when it grips a man. From Wasmiya Comes Out of the Sea

By Laila AlOthman

Translated by Layla AlAmmar

Look to the darkened sky… The absent moon…

A star there glistens, like a woman in ecstasy.             He must be obstinate in the face of his loving sea and swallow his song and leave his net until morning. You can also read the excerpt from the award-winning Wasmiya Comes Out of the Sea below. He will feel the fish have abandoned him, and his joy will recede like a tide in his chest, dreams crumbling. He thinks perhaps his voice has not penetrated. A cool breeze blows… Spring has come after the heat and dust storms. He is silent, watchful. Grey clouds scatter like lovers who, though they may quarrel, yet desire closeness.             He stops when no fish emerge to dance. He is alone in the boat… A beastly longing chokes him, and depression’s embrace is sticky. His heart will trill as he draws in his bounty.             The song claws its way out from deep inside him… from the snare of a soul trapped in time, assassinated joys, and he remains, diligent, in pursuit of the sea. The mighty sea stretches before him. It becomes an aura, caging him in like the embrace of a sorceress.             The buoy rocks harder, and he feels the fish flock to the net as though they would burrow into his heart to share this rhapsody and sorrow, to hear his cries and soothe him. Will there be a bounty tonight? This longing, burning embers, that no boredom or repetition can erase. He tears the aura surrounding him, and the music spills forth until the waves break into a dance—serpentine, harmonious. he wonders. And love, like a bird, cheers inside his breast. Perhaps he’ll see a familiar look in the eyes of the fish, or in their bodies a hue he knows, or in their mouths a scent he adores. Her necklace. The notes slide through his chest, their tender echoes move around him. Her ring. Is it to be believed, or will it fail him, as the sea often does? An Excerpt from Laila AlOthman’s Classic ‘Wasmiya Comes Out of the Sea’

One of the film pitches featured during the opening night of the “BILA HUDOOD: Arabic Literature Everywhere” festival was Layla AlAmmar’s pitch of Laila AlOthman’s classic Wasmiya Comes Out of the Sea, with art by Zahra Marwan:

You can — and should — watch AlAmmar’s video pitch on our YouTube channel, along with others from the festival’s first and second nights. Seafoam spits as they churn. Shaking it off, he continues to sing. *

Loneliness expands within him, then radiates outwards. He shudders and flings the thought away, He loathes despair, and he knows this sea, while mighty, is yet giving. Watch the film: Some trinket or keepsake. Perhaps the fish will bring him treasures from the depths. He turns left and right, eyes scanning the water, coming to rest on the red buoy that points to where his net is sunk. He will embrace each fish as though it were his darling. It embraces him each time as though it were the first. He will sniff the mouth of each fish for that aroma he adores. The waves dance.             His song swims, reverberates, plays its part in shaking the sleeping fish and toying with the bobbing buoy.