“The widow secretly writes letters” by Tareq Imam

This article is also available in: Italiano

An Egyptian widow, now at the end of her life, chooses to spend the last days of her life in her native land, where she will discover a new side of herself

Before starting: a special thanks to the translator Barbara Benini, who gave us this book and “Utopia” by Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq. It has been a unique pleasure that we hope to see in the future.

The widow secretly writes letters

The only thing that really mattered to her was keeping secret. He feared that this constant coming and going in his house aroused some suspicion. The number of female students had quickly increased, the rooms of her apartment increasingly looked like classrooms, crowded with young lovers, who filled the corridor with tears of pain. Fearing the scandal, the girls also demanded maximum secrecy since the opposite would unequivocally mark the end for all of them.

Delicious idea

The book will take us to experience the last years of Malak, a former professor, now a widow, who has chosen to spend the last moments of her life in her native land, far from Cairo. Having no children, the lady will find herself, initially reluctantly, to repeat the young people of the place, with whom, however, she will develop a unique relationship due to the sharing of her passion: letters. Malak, in addition to the classic study, will strive to provide the best possible love letters for his students, thus trying to give peace to remorse for what he had never had the courage to say.

widow

The idea is delicious and will lead us to tiptoe into the life of the protagonist, managing to observe some aspects of the Egyptian rural soul that are obscure to most, but not less interesting. Even the characterization of the character is best done in a book that reaches about 50 pages.

The risks of being short

Writing a little, however, it is very easy that a few pages are enough to make the final decidedly more “cloudy”. While for 3 quarters of the text we will live in this even comfortable and familiar atmosphere, everything will change towards the end, when most of the “puzzles” present at the beginning of the book will surface. From that moment, in fact, Malak will realize that the end is getting closer, starting to unite his feeling more and more with the reality that surrounds him, reaching the zenith during the last pages of the book.

widow
Tareq Imam

The problem is that, from a “standard” reading, there are two endings that are not very clear, leaving the reader with a slight sense of incompleteness due to a lack of understanding. However, the text is interesting, it is told very well, the combination of the few pages and this lack of final clarity, however, did not make me appreciate it as much as Utopia, which instead was an illuminating discovery.

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