The Patience Stone
A young woman sits at her husband's bedside, twisting her worry beads, reciting prayers. Once the local hero, renowned for his exploits as a soldier, her husband lies slack-mouthed, emaciated, staring vacantly at the ceiling of a small blue room. Shot in the neck by a fellow soldier after responding violently to a slur on his mother's honour, he has been silenced not by an enemy bullet but a petty squabble. The passage of time is measured out by the sound of his breathing, the slow progress of the drip that keeps him alive and the intermittent calls to prayer that reverberate in the streets outside. Consumed by her vigil and the routine of washing her comatose husband and changing his drip, the woman has sent her two girls to stay with her aunt, and the heavy silence begins to suffocate her. As one day drifts into another, her desperation for any sign of life from her husband becomes acute. Abandoned by her own family and his, is this room to be her final resting place? Even as her mind appears to unravel, so it becomes intensely clear-sighted. Now is her chance - her first ever - to speak without being censored, interrupted and criticised, to spill out the secrets she's kept locked away for so long. Empowered by her husband's silence she steps out of the shadows of convention and repression and begins her confessional.... She comes and goes, in search of food and medicine. Soldiers raid the flat; one of them young, full of bravado though innocent and easily leda In the room she acts out her fantasies and her revenge. But always she comes back to the bedside, to pour out her love and her hate, her sexual desires, even a confession of abuse by her husband's brothers, as though to a 'syngu sabour', the black patience stone of Persian mythology to which you can confess your sins and woes. (It will take them in and finally shatter... leaving you delivered of pain and suffering.) Finally, spurred to new heights of daring, she spills out her most explosive secret. Her husband is not in fact the biological father of his children. The tension is wound up spring-tight and there's an ambivalence about her motives. Does she want her comatose husband finally to rise up and explode like the stonea?
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