The Voice and the Hammer

“When dreaming, thought is free, impression fly away to the world of the Infinite and the Absolute.
When dreaming, we meet the way children do.
When dreaming, language pours tales of romance and strips naked before all the angles of view, expecting uncensored narration.
There is no limit, when dreaming, just as there is no limit when visualizing, and at the peak of dream there looms Vision”


I heard her voice in the dark. I thought that I was dreaming. I opened my eyes with difficulty to make sure that I was awake and that the voice came suppressed across one of the walls. I got up from bed and put on my grey suit. Her suppressed begging faded. I contained my anxiety so that she could not ask me to fulfill something beyond my will.
- “Please, all that I want you to do is to pull down this wall…”

I wondered: “To pull down the wall! What a folly! There will be a real disaster if I demolish this wall no matter how futile the act may be.


Hardly had I borne the hammer to attempt a first strike at the wall when I found myself surrounded by those foreign people who cannot communicate in the same language and, consequently, need no explanations on the issue.


- “You don’t need something great. Only three strikes and I am delivered.

I felt embarrassed. I have received a strict education as far as women are concerned. My father used to tell me:
-“You should never let a woman down, no matter what the price !”

My father was a cavalryman and he lost his life as a result of his heroism. He died stabbed in the chest for the sake of a woman who was humiliated by a man.


I glanced at my watch and I saw that time was pressing and I had to go to work before my delay would raise questions. I had put on one shoe when the soft female voice mumbled for the fourth and last time:


-“If you deliver me, you will deliver yourself”.

I have never thought of freedom before. I looked up at the wall and asked:
-“How can I deliver myself?”

Surely, behind the wall there is another room where some woman is undergoing punishment. I shrugged my shoulders and bent down to out on my other shoe.


-“You’re wrong. You believe that the entire world looks like your room”.

I was feeling uneasy. I wished that one of those foreigners would come would come and close that wall forever. I did not need new contradictions in my life. I hurried out of the room, heading for the boulevard, joining the flowing masses of humanity on the pavements, trying to get to work on time. When I arrived at work, I found everybody busily at work. The foreman approached me, smiling as always:


-“Why are you so late?”

I glanced at the watch. It was a little more than half past eight. Cold beads of sweat ran down my forehead and I felt ashamed.


-“You’ll have one day’s work extracted from your salary”.

He smiled again and allowed me in.

* * * *


I went to an area known for selling hammers. We are not allowed to be in such places but I felt a strange need to be there. I found great pleasure at watching hammers and I bought a really big and heavy one. I brought it home with me underneath my coat.


I had hardly been home a moment when the walls surprised me by asking:


-“Have you brought the hammer?”


I tried to evade the question:




There was again that malicious question:


-“Then, what is that underneath your coat?”


I continued evading the question but in vain, as the voice was growing more soft and feminine, more tempting:
-“Only one strike and your whole destiny will change!”


I clutched the hammer underneath my coat. I was silent for a while. Then I saw the wall forming into feminine lips and gently asking:


-“Do you love your job?”


-“Yes, I do”.


-“You’re a liar”.


The voice was so sarcastic that my grip around the hammer handle started to shiver and I was very angry.


-“Why am I a liar?”


-“You’re scared”.


-“I am not”


The voice insisted:


-“You’re nothing but a coward”


I raised the hammer and started pounding at the wall with such force, that I heard her sigh in satisfaction:


-“That’s wonderful. Give me more…”


I continued hammering vehemently at the wall, and the feminine voice burst out laughing, and the laughter grew louder and louder. I was overwhelmed by my own pent-up anger that I lost consciousness of what was going around.


The pounding continued by itself on the wall and I felt myself reduced to a mere tool handled by the hammer.


Finally, the wall yielded and a big opening appeared. At first, I thought it was a cloud. I was unable to make out what was beyond the opening. The voice that had urged me on had entirely disappeared, and there was that absolute silence.


After a moment’s hesitation I went through the opening in the wall , only to face a closed metallic door. I hammered at the door until an old man opened and showed me into a narrow and stifling room. I found another man in a dark suit and a black cap behind a desk.


The old man withdrew to stand among his colleagues while the other man kept examining me. After a while, he said in a harsh voice:


-“You showed a rare bravado and daring…”


I made no reply. He continued:


-“We need you and the likes of you. We are in the process of extinction.”


I dared to ask him:


-“Who are you?”


He exchanged knowing looks with the others and said:


-“We are the Vanguards of the city”


Two men whom I had not noticed before got closer to me and undressed me. They gave me a black suit and a cap. The seated man said:


-“Henceforward, you’ll have to be punctual. I haven’t yet found anybody as skilled at using hammers as you are”.
I asked a tall man with spiky hair standing upright beside me:


-“What are you doing?”


He ignored my question but I heard, instead, the seated man’s voice echoing all around the room:

“Dear friends, we the Vanguards have been humiliated by being marginalized in this city. Our mission is dangerous, but we have to build new values on the ruins of this sinful city, and establish a new regime… A regime that will set us free. So, dear friends, go on your sacred mission…”

We found ourselves shouting enthusiastically, snatching our heavy hammers and walking to the walls to pull them down.


Saïd Ahoubate, is a Moroccan short-story writer, born on 03/09/1951 in El Hadjeb, Morocco. His works include "A Surrealistic Morning" (Short Storiesin Arabic) and he is preparing another book of short stories called "Invisible Faces").


Mohamed Saïd Raïhani is a Moroccan translator, scholar & short-story writer, born on December 23rd 1968 in Ksar El Kébir. His works in Arabic include "The Will of Singularity" (A Semiotic Study on First-names) 2001, "Waiting For the Morning" (Short stories) 2003, "Thus Spoke Santa Lugar-Verde" (Short stories) 2005, "The Season Of Migration to Anywhere" (Short stories) 2006. He will soon publish:"Beyond Writing & Reading” (Testimonies), and "Kais & Juliet" (An E-Love Novel).

"The Voice & the Hammer” is the eleventh narrative text in the "The Moroccan Dream", An Anthology of Moroccan new short story directed by Mohamed Saïd Raïhani.