House of Six Families

House of Six Families

Publishing House: Madarek Publishing House

Publication Year: 2023

Genre: Short Stories

Number of Pages: 112

Sara Bender Al Jeraisy’s ‘A House of Six Families’ is an evocative collection of short stories that intricately weave the author’s personal experiences and memories within her large family home. Set in the early third millennium, the tales unfold in a close-knit small town, exploring life in a house shared by six families. Themes of cooperation, mischief, and the shared experiences of lengthy days mark their collective lives. These stories are a reflection of everyone and yet no one in particular.

The first chapter sets the tone for the intricate family dynamics. The author describes her childhood home, as a bustling hub accommodating six families, including her own. The house, situated at a busy intersection, faces a walkway and a grocery store. Frequent water cut-offs spark playful yet intense hot water struggles, especially with her short-statured but sharp-tongued cousin. The bathroom designated for their use is directly above the other, sharing the same water pipe. This leads to amusing battles for hot water, with the cousin often enlisting her younger siblings to aid her cause.

Bathroom Slot Bargains: Festive Household Dynamics

During festivities, a household black market emerges, bargaining for prime bathroom slots. Electricity trips, leaving later users showering in darkness or waiting with shampoo-laden heads for power restoration. An exception in the house is her grandparents’ outdoor bathroom, built for convenience during cool summer nights. It lacks the usual bathroom fittings, featuring a simple cement floor and walls of corrugated iron. The lack of a proper door handle is substituted with a perfect peephole, evolving into a playful yet intrusive child’s game.

The author recounts an Eid celebration when she had to surrender to the inevitability of using this outdoor bathroom. Encouraged by her mother to avoid the usual bathroom chaos, the author takes the risk, unaware of privacy and dignity challenges. Carrying her essentials, she sneaks downstairs, hoping to avoid attention. Once inside, she barricades the peephole, only to face a startling invasion of privacy that leaves her exposed and vulnerable.

This incident sparks a heartfelt moment with her initially indifferent grandfather, who takes action upon hearing her plight. The culminating scene, where the grandfather disciplines the boys, brings a sense of justice and closure to the author, highlighting the deep-rooted family values and respect for personal space within the chaotic yet loving environment of ‘A House of Six Families.’

This collection is not just a series of stories; it’s a vivid portrayal of a way of life, reflecting the author’s deep connection with her roots and the intricate web of relationships that define a large family living under one roof. The stories are a testament to the richness of shared experiences, showcasing how each family member’s story is interwoven with that of the others, creating a unique tapestry of life within a shared space.

Read More About Sarah Al-Jareesi

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