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by Taree
Rated: 13+ · Assignment · Death · #1979800
A while ago , my class was about fatalism in lit. and we were told to make an adaptation..
-Please write an adaptation of “The Appointment in Samarra”

“The Appointment in Samarra”
(as retold by W. Somerset Maugham [1933])

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

and this is my adaptation…

Adaptation of “The Appointment in Samarra”

It was in the middle of the night in Samarra, the streets were almost empty and the city was dead, but somewhere among the sleeping houses, there was a house with a single light glowing from a room in the attic. There, a little girl was still wide awake on her bed and kept reading her story book until late at night. She was smiling and giggling while kept reading, showing how delicate her smile was. Indeed, she was a true delicacy blessed by heaven and earth. Everyone loved to see her happy and the other children always came to her house only to hear her telling stories she created. People loved her, her parents loved her most, but shouldn’t God be the one who loved her more than anyone else? Then, why was I sent here? He should not send me, not even any others here. But, there was no chance to ask why or a way to decline, once given, it must be done.

My curiosity overwhelmed me.

I wanted to know, why?

Why her?

Why so soon?

I came down from wherever I was and sat by her opened window. She was startled and almost dropped her book, but she calmed down after seeing me. It was quite surprising that she was not afraid of me. I was a stranger who was suddenly sat by her window in the middle of the night. However, instead of a scream or a flying thick book, she gave me a smile. Her delicate smile. She asked me my name but I didn’t have an answer she should hear, so she gave me her name. Her name was Aisha, a name befitted her perfectly. And then, she invited me to sit closer to her and offered me a story. The moon was gone by the time her story ended, and it was a sign for me to go. Before I went away, she asked me to come again the next time the moon appeared. I nodded and jumped from her window.

The next night, she told me another story. This time, it was about a girl who lost her childhood too soon, but she was still living her live even after all of the pains and sorrows she had been through. I looked at her in the eyes and realized it was no made up story. I kept telling myself it was her, but I didn’t want to admit. She was too kind to have a miserable life. And again, I had to go when the sun was about to rise, but before leaving, I asked her.

I was about to head to the window, but I stopped in the middle. “The girl, she was you. Am I mistaken?” I turned my head to her, expecting an answer.

She didn’t say anything. A single weak and sad smile was all she gave to me.

The following night, I was supposed to come to her room for a story, but I was questioned.

“Are you not doing your job properly?” asked an old man in his fifties with a suspicious and upset tone.

I looked down, for I knew he already saw me through. “Should I answer?”

He sighed. “The last day will be tomorrow’s midnight. The last night of the drought season.” The old man looked at me for a while before letting out another sigh. “You have to be done by then.”

“Um, wait!”

The Old Man turned back.

“Why, why her?”

He didn’t answer me, but he showed a sad expression on his wrinkled but wise face.

That night, I spent all of it by gazing at the stars as if trying to find an answer to satisfy me. When I looked down, I could see her on her bed, but this time, she wasn’t reading and she wasn’t awake either. She was asleep with a white piece of cloth on her forehead. Her face was a little red and her expression was in pain. The next moment, I found myself already sitting at the edge of her bed, staring at her hopelessly. Then I started to think and maybe I figured out a little the answer to my why. After she was not in pain anymore, I left her side.

This was as far as I could go, I should stop delaying.

The last night…

She was smiling, as usual, and there was no white cloth on her forehead. She was back with her story book. I mustered my courage and came closer to her, reaching out my hand. I could see her vivid ash colored eyes looking at me with no hesitation. Firmly, she took my hand in hers.

“You don’t have anything to ask?” I asked her, wondering why she didn’t feel strange with my existence in the first place.

“Why should I have one?”

I bit my lip in frustration. “Please, ask, just like any other person would?”

She sighed and smiled. “Are you here for me?”

I nodded.


I took a deep breath before answering her. “For I have an appointment with you tonight.”

She smiled.

“Why didn’t you try to run away?” the question slipped away.

Her hands turned cold in my hand. “You know I can’t, right?” I was stunned hearing how brave she sounded.

I tightened my grip on her hand as her consciousness faded away. “Aisha, I think I have the ending of the little girl’s story.”

“Really?” her voice was only a whisper.

“Uh-uh. She lived her life in kindness and gently until the very end she embraced her fate.”

Aisha smiled again. Weakly. Satisfied. “That sounds nice. But you know, you’re bad in making up story.”

I chuckled. “I guess I’m not as good as you.”

“You haven’t told me your name,” she said in a very low voice, like she was using her best effort just to say that.


“That’s a good name, Raphael.”

And that was the list time she opened her eyes. I could feel her gone and only the empty body left cold on the bed. I stared at the girl lying before me who was no longer her. I left her room which was now cold after taking the story book she used to read every night. Soon after I left her room, rain poured down, as if the night sky cried for her.

“You know, Aisha, indeed, it wasn’t you who was running from fate. It was me,” I said as I gazed up to the dark mourning sky.

“But, you see, fate is really persistent isn’t it?”

–the end–
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