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Hassan sits behind his wooden box selling cigarettes and matches. In front of him, he sees people struggling to make a living. This scene illustrates what is going on inside the poor boy’s mind. It dramatizes the inability of Hassan to cope with what is going on around him. Yet he has to find a way to earn money and make a living, and this is the reason he is sitting before the station.
As a boy, Hassan is not expected to play such a social role, which is usually managed by adult men. That is why a man asks Hassan, “Do you sell cigarettes?” expecting that he is taking the place of an adult who will be back soon.
Hassan is not the only young person who is in charge of a family in the society, as the story indicates that “there are many people like him scattered in front of this car station.” Particularly during the 70s and early 80s, such a case was common.
Indeed, Hassan has only his mother at home. Imagine if he had brothers and sisters: what would happen to this boy? Hassan’s family is not the typical family in Saudi Arabia; it is hard to find a family with only one child.
Though culturally and traditionally the family is encouraged to have many children, yet it is the society here that grants Hassan's mother no other option but to send her son out so as to assume his dead father’s responsibilities.
In brief, Khalil I. Al-Fuzai manages in this story to criticize the society that creates and enforces traditional and cultural restrictions and at the same time does not provide solutions to the problems of families and individuals like Hassan. Finally, in my translation, some well-known words are kept with their original pronunciation and written in italics to keep the reader aware of the Arabic text.3
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2- This story was translated from the following Arabic source: Al-Fuzai, Khalil I. Thursday Fair. (سوق الخميس). Taif: Taif Literary Club, 1979: 5-10.
3- An introduction a reader may need to connect the text to its context.
4- . . . Every now and then there are few dots found in the source text.
5- abaya: a cloak over the dress; usually thin with different colors for men, and black and thick for women.
6- ghutra: an Arabian headdress worn by men.
7- igaal: a cord worn on the headdress.
8- thobe: a gown worn by men.