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The Time between Places

Stories That Weave In and Out of Egypt and America

Pauline Kaldas

Publication Year: 2010

This collection of twenty stories delves into the lives of Egyptian characters, from those living in Egypt to those who have immigrated to the United States. With subtle and eloquent prose, the complexities of these characters are revealed, opening a door into their intimate struggles with identity and place. We meet people who are tempted by the possibilities of America and others who are tempted by the desire to return home. Some are in the throes of re-creating themselves in the new world while others seem to be embedded in the loss of their homeland. Many of these characters, although physically located in either the United States or Egypt, have lives that embrace both cultures.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Preface

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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

Dream

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p. 2

I. Chance Departures

Phone Call One

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p. 4

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A Game of Chance

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pp. 5-20

Mustafa’s hands worked deftly, his palms flipping the wrapped package over as his fingers intertwined the string to create a series of crisscross patterns that circled around the package and culminated in a tight bow at the center. He handed the package to the customer with a trained smile and received his tip with...

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Cumin and Coreander

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pp. 21-28

The oil splattered as she slipped another falafel patty into the frying pan. One drop stung her cheek and she brushed the pricking sensation by rubbing her shoulder against it. Faten was almost finished. The stuffed cabbage was done, the vegetable tagen needed just a few more minutes in the oven, and the spinach phyllo...

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The Silver Platter

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pp. 29-42

That morning, the sun stretched an orange streak across the sky. Nageh had felt its bright salute against his eyes, causing him to wake a little earlier than usual. He had left the shutters open the previous night, liking the way the full moon pen - etrated through the window, casting a shadow of light across...

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An Encounter

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pp. 43-54

I lived on the third floor of an apartment building across the street from a school I couldn’t see. From my balcony, only the roof of the Mere de Dieu school for girls was visible. It was a gothic brick structure neatly fenced in and further obfuscated by a trail of trees that surrounded the grounds. Afternoons, I would hear the bell...

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Backgammon

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pp. 55-68

My mother tugged at my small hand. She was done negotiating her purchase of the material she was buying to make new living-room curtains. The store was crowded, and we had waited outside for the order. While she looked at the decorated shop window, I watched the two men sitting at a table outside the coffee shop on the corner...

II. Early Arrival

Phone Call Two

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p. 70

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The Top

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pp. 71-79

Light filtered through the thin slats of the closed window blind, creating a pattern of long, narrow stairs on the opposite wall. Shoukry stared at it as he sat at the round linoleum-topped kitchen table waiting for his wife to bring him a cup of coffee and some toast. The pattern shifted...

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The First Lesson

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pp. 81-88

She opened the oven door, her thumb and four fingers working awkwardly in the thick glove meant to protect her from the heat. With her free hand, she tugged at the aluminum foil until it uncovered the roast beef. It sizzled, surrounded by a mosaic of small red potatoes, diagonally cut carrots, and pearl...

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Playground

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pp. 89-92

She had learned the way to school, a footstep pattern she recorded and repeated. Each morning, out the door, turn right, toward the hand you eat with, to the end of the street, then another right to the school building. And come back the same way, taking opposite turns. But at the end of the street, she would stop, uncertain if she had gone...

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Lentils

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pp. 93-100

The second morning after their arrival, Safia woke up looking for lentils. She found onions, garlic, oil, in the kitchen cabinets, and fortunately she had some cumin with her. At the last minute, while they were packing, she came across a small bag of cumin on the kitchen counter. Reluctant to throw it away, she stuck it in the corner...

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Airport

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pp. 101-110

He paced the airport waiting room, his steps marking a path in the carpet between the rows of seats. At first, those sitting down looked up at this man who could not hold his feet still like the rest of them and curb his agitation. After a while, some returned to their own thoughts or families. A few kept their gaze on his coming...

III. Dreams of Return

Phone Call Three

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p. 112

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A Conversation

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pp. 113-120

My hair is gray, and my body has grown into its age. I have settled into myself. No longer the young girl you met, the one who flirted and teased, who wore her black hair like a shield, enticing you to ask for her hand. No longer the one who agreed to wrap herself around you and fly across...

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The Dancer

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pp. 121-128

The belly dancer rotated her hips, a taut wire directing the fluid movement of her bare midriff. Her smile tugged at the corners of her lips to sustain the hint of sincerity. The music from the small band, a keyboard, oud, and tabla, blared through the oversized speakers in the church hall. Long tables crowded against the walls, allowing...

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Aisle Three

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pp. 129-134

She could hold her breath, balance the tightrope traffic of carts until the third aisle of the supermarket. Then, usually by the pasta, her eyes would dart to a stop, and she would be still, looking, looking through shells, twirls, and bows till her gaze bounced back to move her again. Sometimes, if she kept her footing steady...

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Oregano

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pp. 135-140

Someone knocked on the door. It startled me as it always does now. I’ve grown used to being alone, and I have to shake myself to return to the company of others. Days go by and I don’t need to say anything to anyone. Even in the grocery store, people look straight ahead, driving their shopping carts...

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He Had Dreamed of Returning

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pp. 141-158

For twenty years, Hani had imagined his landing back on the land that had given him birth. He saw himself walking the streets with his head held high and his broad shoulders embracing the world that rightfully belonged to him. People would call him Pasha and Ustaz, and he would find the place he had lost. He was fifteen...

IV. The Silence of Memory

Photo Call Four

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p. 160

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Sketches

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pp. 161-178

She struggled with her suitcases, two large ones that had no wheels and a smaller one with a handle. She tucked the handle of the small one into the crook of her elbow so it would be coaxed along with less effort then lifted the other ones. She felt pulled down, the gravity weighing her closer...

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Suitors

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pp. 179-180

Ruffles around my neck fanning my flushed face. I’m tucked into the middle of the room, accentuating the suitor heavily placed in his chair with mirror-shined black leather shoes, pointed stolid. My eyes glaze his contoured belly, pressing out the creases of his shirt, and his head’s singular...

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The Couple

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pp. 181-192

“Makram, come here, I’d like you to meet Gamila, she’s Ramsy and Salwa’s daughter. Gamila, this is Makram. His family just moved to Boston from Ohio. I think you two are about the same age,” she added as if it was an afterthought...

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Bluebird

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pp. 193-200

That morning she glimpsed a bluebird as it flew by the window. She chased it to the next window to see if it had settled on a tree branch so she could catch full view of it. She suspected a nest nearby but had not been able to find it. Sonya’s Saturday morning ritual was to sit on the couch for several hours...

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Silences

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pp. 201-208

My mother’s silences filled our house. They seeped into the walls and crouched in the corners. If you tripped over the hallway rug, they would be lying in wait. If you opened the top kitchen cabinet and reached back for the hidden package of sugar cookies with sprinkles, they would begin...

Photo Call Five

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pp. 209-210

About the Author

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pp. 211-212

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781610754194
E-ISBN-10: 1610754190
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557289247
Print-ISBN-10: 1557289247

Page Count: 220
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 769187857
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Time between Places

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Subject Headings

  • Emmigration and immigration -- Fiction.
  • Egyptians -- United States -- Fiction.
  • Americans -- Egypt -- Fiction.
  • Domestic fiction.
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