Omani writer Bashaayer Hibras makes her mark on the “very short story”

Al Majalla shines a spotlight on the Arab youth literary scene by inviting a well-known literary figure to introduce the work of up-and-coming writers

Omani writer Bashaayer Hibras makes her mark on the “very short story”

In her first book of short stories, Shababeek Zayana (The Windows of Zayana), Omani storyteller Bashaayer Hibras makes her contribution to the literary genre known as the “very short story”.

All of her stories, which take up 69 pages, are published in Nizwa magazine, covering a three-story collection, falling under the genre of short story, according to the traditional classification.

What is striking about these stories is their deviations through the adoption of varied techniques such as the flash/the thought, the short scene, the dialogue, or the narrative story that switches in a few lines between different times, composed of certain moments to create the timeline of the story.

The collection — which includes elements of fantasy, surprise and sarcasm — does not veer from real world societal problems and appears, for the most part, to be about the human condition as experienced by women and their volatile relationship with men.

Popular trend

This literary trend seems to have taken off in Arabic literature in the past two decades and was inspired by international storytellers such as Ernest Hemingway, which explored this technique decades back.

This style is not limited to novelists. We also see poets expirmenting with the technique — most notably Baudelaire in the 1960s as well as in the reductionist scene — making what was called ‘storyboards’ that employ sudden or instantaneous storytelling, with which we can differentiate between the “short story” and the “very short story.”

“Very short story” collections often do not have specific forms or characteristics. In fact, many lack structure altogether. It seems, therefore, to be more like a thought or a flash, an opinion or statement, or even a line of poetry.

In this light, Hibras' works appear to be an attempt to keep the narrative feature in a quick and cursory structural form.

The Yellow Stain

She moistened the tip of her shawl with water in the bowl of the cups, and with it she rubbed the yellow stain that was on her husband's chest.

The stain disappeared, as well as the shirt and the husband's chest, neck and face. Turning into a large group of children living in her shawl, which every time she flicked, they fall and run in the alleys.

Bashaayer Hibras

I'm Late

What was he talking about?

About himself all the time.

Were you listening to all of that?

I pretended to be listening.

What did you tell him in return?

He was hardly silent for a minute, until I could tell him that I was late for home.

The Cursed Picture

"This picture is cursed." This is what the mother has been saying since her eldest son brought a picture of his father and hung it in the living room. He and his brothers tried to find out what she meant by this sentence, but she refused to elaborate.

When the morning comes, the handkerchiefs, mops, and everything in the house is hung except the picture of the father. One time, they were eating breakfast, and she said, looking angry: "I hate thick beards. Trim his beard, or else I will smash him with this plate." They brought a ladder, and the eldest of them came up with scissors, he didn't know what to do, nor did his brothers know what to cut in the air.

One day, when they returned from school, they found the father in the photo blindfolded with black tape. She did not wait for them to ask her questions. She said he flirted with her neighbours when they visited her in the morning.

What the boys did not expect was that they found tape on his mouth the next day. They asked her "by God, what was happening?" She said that he would have kissed the housekeeper had it not been for her suddenly entering there. They interrogated the housekeeper, and she shook her head emphatically.

Within two days of the incident, she took the picture off the wall and removed the tape, then put it back where it was, and put a bucket under it.

She called the gardener into the living room and started kissing him. The poor man could not say a word. She commanded him, feeling the thrill of victory: "He will cry a lot today, take the bucket after it is filled, and wash the floor of the house".


My mother was still cleaning the window glass, when suddenly the young man I loved appeared behind it. As I waved at him, she sprayed the glass with liquid, and it spread all over, and then she rubbed his face, jacket, shoes, and long legs with the handkerchief.


After her husband died in a car accident less than a year ago, she got rid of their large bed. She got rid of everything. Even the stench of death, she opened the window for it, and then perfumed the house with the scents of life.

Her neighbour told to her that she loved the double bed, which she did not hesitate to pick up from garbage site. One morning she went into her neighbour's house and smashed the bed with a big hammer, and her husband disappeared forever.

One Man

We are 40 years old and no one has returned from the war. So, my friend and I agreed to marry one man. We will marry the first soldier to come back. But when he came back, his hands were cut off, so I put the wedding ring on her finger, and she put it on mine, while he stood between us and smiled.

The Picture

This is not the first time she has stood in front of her late husband's picture hanging in the living room, but it's the first time she has posed in a short crimson nightgown.

She saw him smiling in the picture and even moving his eyebrows up and down quickly. She is not sure what she saw. But before she went to work, she stood again before him in the black cloak and broad veil, before putting on her veil.

On the workbench, she was occupied thinking about the picture that had turned her face to the wall.

Dad's Shoulder

She did not like the image of my mother resting her head on my father's shoulder. Since she came to our house, she has been trying to remove the picture from the wall.

One morning my mother woke up with a twisted neck, while my father was in the picture without a shoulder.

The Braid

She tied her braid with his dark blue socks and slept. He woke up late for work. He put on one sock and kept looking for the other. Her braid got his attention as he was lowering down his head, looking under the bed.

When she woke up, she found her braid in the jaws of the scissors under the bed.

A Teen Mom

She picked up her doll and went out to the yard after lunch. She sat on the floor by the wall, unbuttoned the front of her dress, and began to breastfeed the doll.

The doll was full, so she carried it rubbing gently on its back. She was filled with joy when she heard it burp. Then she took her inside to sleep.

Abboud, peering at them, burst out laughing while being up on the wall. That was the first time he had burped, and no one told him off.

The Short and the Tall

I was too short to wear a bridal veil, so no one would marry me. I carved a bride on the wall, and some chairs raised me to finish it. In hindsight, I realised I had made a mistake by making it long. My thoughts were all on the top-shelf dishes in the kitchen.

After completing the carving, the bride lifted her veil by herself and then asked me for a kiss, but the damn chairs suddenly disappeared from the room and I fell, while the sculpture kept running on the walls.


A butterfly escapes from her dress every time she puts it on and goes out into the yard. So, she decides to put it back in her closet so that she does not lose any more butterflies.

One morning, I opened the closet and was surprised by the dispersed, dead butterflies in the closet.

The Girls' Hair

Devoting himself to the heads of his three daughters, he tried to braid their hair, and tie their braids with the white school ribbon at the tip.

He was nervous and the yellow bus was getting close. He undoes the strands and restyles them without success.

He remembers the weekend in the public park with the girls, when some women whispered: "The mother's departure is known from the girls' hair."

He tries to go back to the previous page of the book "How to Make Beautiful Braids," but the bus was faster than him, releasing its horn that almost shook the house. The girls came out frightened with their bags, while he waved goodbye to them with the comb in his hand.


I wore a red dress

and a red veil

and red shoes

She almost dyed her hair red

Her mother told her when she was twelve that something was going to explode from within her body, but she did not know where exactly from, and that no one should see it... It was red.


From the collar of my father's shirt comes out

his head

and my head

and my mother's head

and the head of my brother who is crawling

and my sister's head, who is now drawing our heads on the paper.

That is why my father used to say that his neck was heavy, heavier than my mother's belly in which another small head swims.

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