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Our reviewer for the April Challenge:

David Hollywood

David is from Ireland and was once a lawyer who then became a hippy in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He enjoyed thumbing around Europe and going to various rock festivals until finally deciding to give substance to his pastimes. Consequently, David became an international trade consultant and adviser who worked for a number of companies in Western Europe, the USA and then Eastern Europe until finally arriving in Bahrain in 2010. As a founder of some enterprises in Ireland and America David still retains joint ownership of ‘The Wine Appreciation Society’ in Ireland plus ‘The Irish Snail Company’ and a couple of other joint ventures (Bohemian Amphorae and Mayoruna – depending upon what work needs to be done).

During his term in Bahrain David’s most satisfying achievement was to join ‘The Bahrain Writer’s Circle’ and then personally formulate The Second Circle’ poetry group in readiness for what annually became ‘The Colours of Life Poetry Festival’, and as a result finds himself forlornly looking back at a most astonishing event that was populated by the most wonderful troupe of poetry performers he has ever known.

David is the author of ‘Waiting Spaces’ which is an eclectic collection of some of his poems. Plans are also being progressed for the publication of a second assortment. Allied to these is a variety of essays he also expects to see published, as well as three scripts for the stage. David is also a contributor to the bestselling ‘My Beautiful Bahrain’ and ‘More of My Beautiful Bahrain’ plus ‘Poetic Bahrain’. He has also contributed to three separate editions of ‘The Taj Mahal Review’ as their literary critic. David continues to be the in-house poet of ‘Bahrain Confidential’ and consequently enjoys a readership of approximately 100,000 persons a month. He is keen to re-visit his friends and poets in Bahrain and wishes everyone great funalot and smile.

Thank you, David for the detailed and thoughtful reviews you gave our entrants!

The Prompts

  1. Write a story or a scene about one character playing a prank on another. Describe the scene from both characters’ points of view.
  2. You’re walking in an old part of Manama souq when a stocky, red-bearded man beckons you into an alley. He offers you a genie lamp for BD5 and tells you it’s magic… (what happens next)
  3. Pick a book (or magazine) open it on a random page and based on the first full sentence you read… write a story/ blog-post/ a letter/ creative fiction.

We had two entries. They both received wonderfully detailed reviews from David. However, one person decided to withdraw from publication. So this time we are only publishing one story. Well done, Hamad Rajab for writing your first ever story.

Short story based on prompt #2

by Hamad Rajab

A twenty nine year old banker named Ali that works in the National bank of Bahrain was on his usual after work walk to the old Manama market , for his cup of tea. He just left the bank’s premises and started walking to saffron café in the old part of Manama market.

While he was on his way, a strange hand gesture from a stranger caught his attention coming from a dark alley nearby Next clothing shop, he looked towards the alleyway where a man was standing at the end, it was early evening and darkness of the night was settling, the man didn’t appear entirely visible from the distance as the alley way had poor lighting, so Ali turned towards the direction of the alleyway and walked towards the stranger, as he moved closer. The stranger appeared more visible and was doing a luring hand gesture which seemed very disturbing.

When Ali finally came inches close to the stranger, he saw that he had a red beard and was holding a genie lamp that looked similar to the one in the animated movie “Aladdin”. The feeling was strange in Ali’s gut and the whole situation seemed surreal to him, for a second, he had thought he was in some kind of dream but just realized that he just got out of work and was nearly approaching the end of his day.

Ali asked the red-bearded man “why were you waving at me?” He replied saying “My name is Mustafa and I have this magic genie lamp that can fulfill any wish you want which you’ll only pay 5 dinars for.” At this point, Ali stood silently knowing that magic genie lamps never existed and even felt reluctant to believe into the whole idea.

Furthermore, Mustafa saw Ali’s blank reaction and held the genie lamp up abruptly towards him saying “it will grant you three wishes”, Ali still wasn’t moved by what Mustafa was saying, following this strange encounter. Ali walked away from Mustafa feeling confused on why he was doing this childish act, in particular, his way of trying to convince him to buy his so called magic genie lamp.

Ali moved on and headed towards his original destination to drink some tea. Even though, he still didn’t understand Mustafa and never questioned his intentions or even cared. As Ali walked towards AL Khalifa avenue, within sight, he came across a group of laborers leaving their construction site, hence, he crossed the road heading to the leftmost side of the road on the pavement as the construction labors were blocking his path, as he continued walking.

The sun has already set at this point and the call for Maghreb prayer has started. Upon reaching Yateem’s centre junction. Ali turned right and headed towards Yateem mosque to perform the first evening prayer, he finished his ablutions and entered the mosque and saw from the electronic prayer time table that there were ten minutes left for the second call (establishment of prayer). Immediately, he performed the greeting to the mosque prayer and upon finishing, he sat silently for a minute recalling Mustafa and his fictional genie lamp.

The period between the first and second call to prayer is a very blessed time and invocations are not rejected, people say their wishes through invocation (Dua), therefore, Ali seized the moment and expressed his sincere wishes through Dua.

The end

September 2020

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