Wrangling Neima

I worked on Neima some tonight. Not nearly as much as I would have liked. But I’ve felt sort of in limbo tonight. Well, all day today. I cut the grass earlier today, but I’ve been keenly aware all day that I’m leaving in the morning. Somehow I just didn’t feel like I had any time. Of course, I wasn’t supposed to have any time at home at all. So this one day is a gift. And, well, I got to walk with Neima for a bit.
I have to admit that she intimidates me. I don’t know if this is going in the right direction or not, but it feels right. It’s just that she’s so … intense. Or can be. I’m beginning to ratchet it up some, and I’m wondering if I’m going to have enough energy and will to do her justice. We’ll see, I suppose.
I haven’t finished the latest chapter, but I guess an example is in order.

I turn to face him. His fist swings down upon me. I catch his arm and stop it mid-swing. I twist his wrist. He cries out, surprised, and finds himself upon one knee.

“I will surrender to the police,” I hiss at him, angry, “but I will not go to them as your prisoner.” I come up close to him, force his arm back at an uncomfortable angle, and get close to his face so he can hear me. “You will not prove your manhood by using me any more than your friend did.” I twist his arm until the bones begin to strain. “You listen to me. I know everything about you. I know of the boy you shot in the face. I know of you beating Ma-Ma. Matu. The others. I know how it made you feel.”

“How … how did you …”

“I see all things. I see all evil. I know what you are most ashamed of.”

He cries out, “Allah! Preserve me! You are a demon!”

“Yes,” I hiss at him, the angry words flowing out of me from nowhere. “I am everything you fear, old man. I have tested your faith and found it lacking!”


“You will never,” I shout at him, “raise your fists to a woman in this household! You will respect them!”

“Yes! Yes!”

“And especially,” I twist his arm until I hear the faintest crack of bone, “you will not lay a hand upon my Matu!”

Tears stream down his cheeks. “Allah! Allah! Do not kill me.”

I release his arm. He sinks to the floor, clutching it. He stares at me through eyes full of tears. It is no longer anger. No longer fear. Astonishment. Bewilderment. My heart breaks. What have I done? What has happened to me? Where did this come from? My waking days are like my dreams. I don’t know what’s real anymore. Who I am. How can I hurt poor Pa-Pa like this? But I think of the images. Matu shrinking away from him. Holding up her arms to protect her head from his blows. I still feel his rage swelling within him at her insolence in defending herself.

No. He deserves more than this. But not from me.

“Allah may forgive you,” I tell him. “I will not.”

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