Two Short Stories by Khaled al-Ahdal

This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic)

Artwork by Hajer al-Nahari


It was halfway into the night when a noise cracked through the calm of the old cemetery.

Al-Fayrouzabadi [1] emerged out of his grave irritated by the commotion.

When he asked what was happening, he was told that writers were laying to rest – in a burst of euphoria – the last letter in the Arabic alphabet.

His eyes protruded, color drained from his face, and he hurried back into his grave.

Zabid (May 1996)



Extraordinary Loyalty

The picture of the great leader and theorist was lying on the side of the road, trampled indifferently by passersby.

Suddenly one person stopped and picked it up with panic and disbelief. He began to brush off the dust and kiss it with great devotion, staring at it and crying profusely.

While he was shouting violently, taunting passersby on their ignorance of the leader’s achievements and his service to humanity, he unbuttoned his trousers to urinate on the picture in a rare gesture of veneration. Holding an expression of piety that did not leave his face, he folded the picture, put it his pocket, and walked away.

Sana’a (August 2001)

Photo Courtesy of the author



Khaled Yahya al-Ahdal (b. Zabid, 1965) is a lecturer at the Faculty of Education in Zabid and the head of the Yemeni Writers Union branch in Zabid. He wrote his Masters’ thesis on folk  poetry in Tihama, and his Phd on the structure of discourse  in the  biography of King Saif bin Dhi Yazan. Al-Ahdal is the author of two collections of short stories, The Birth of an Ancient Cemetery,  published in 2000, and The Modern Ghoul, currently under publication. Al-Ahdal is also editor-in-chief of al-Ghara’a Cultural Magazine, published by the Yemeni Writers Union branch in Zabid.


[1] Majid al-Din al-Fayrouzabadi was a prominent  linguist, poet, traditionalist and well-known jurist. Born in Persia, he spent a period of his life in Zabid where he wrote his most known dictionary, The Surrounding Ocean. He died in Zabid in 817AH (1414AD) and was buried in the Sheikh Ismail al-Jabarti Cemetary. It is clear this story refers to the deterioration of Arabic language and its frequent misuse among writers today (editor’s note).

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Khaled Al-Ahdal

was born in Zabid in 1965. He works as a lecturer in the College of Education in Zabid. He wrote his Master’s thesis on popular poetry in Tihama and his doctorate dissertation about the structure of speech in the folktale of King Saif ibn Dhi Yazan. Al-Ahdal is the head of the Yemeni Authors and Writers Union branch in Zabid, and he has two short story collections. The first, The Case of the Birth of an Ancient Cemetery, was published in 2000, and the second is called Modern Ogre.

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