The Last Bottle Before the Dawn Prayer

Zeinab Charafeddine  |  The AFAC Novel Writing Program  |  2014  |  Lebanon
Safiyya who left her home during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to fight the enemy with her comrades in arms, faces yet another disappointment at an “Struggle Ceremony” because of a shameless father who is different than the other men, not to say unique among them. He is handsome and repulsive, moral and immoral, brutal and tender, an aggressor and a protector, a poor and a rich man, a patriot and a traitor all at the same time. He is also a womaniser who turns into a homosexual at night and commits incest with his young son, as Safiyya, barely nine years old, sits curled up around herself, watching the scene unfolding in front of her, feeling scared, embarrassed, hurt, but also sensing a twinge of mysterious pleasure which seeks to understand the absurdity of this long night. This is the story of Safiyya who experienced a chronic trauma resulting from the shock she had faced before knowing what sex is. This reality will trace the contours of her personality and make her identify with her father in many aspects of her behaviour, without even realizing it. She breaks several taboos and starts drinking alcohol because she believes it’s a sedative to soothe her long-lasting pain before she descends into addiction.