To home page

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals

Najati Al-Bukhari

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

To make the story short, Ashrams becomes one day the president of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. The moment he is carried in his chair-stretcher to the centre of the Circle, the members rush to him and declare him instantaneously the President of the famous Circle.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

All the forty nine members of the Circle welcome him with enthusiasm and warmth in the main general assembly hall of the centre of the Circle. In this hall there is a long oval table which should accommodate easily fifty persons, the forty nine members and the president of the Circle.

There are fifty sumptuous, lavish and luxurious chairs placed around the oval table. At the head of the long oval table there is a small rectangular table which is somewhat higher than the long oval table where the stretcher of the president of the Circle should be placed. The president of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals is Ashrams, the shining Sun, the living corpse, the living mummy.

The floor of the General Assembly Hall is all covered with the authentic oriental and Persian carpets. The luster and the chandeliers decorate the ceiling and the corners of the Hall.

All the members of the Circle are old men who have been in retirement either recently or since a long time. All of them have exceeded the age of sixty five years. Some of them are bearded and very few of them have their faces shaven since this morning. The majority of these members of the Circle have eye-glasses on their eyes of various measures and kinds. It is most probable that three or four of them have lost totally their eye-sight. It is certain that these four members are blind and they put on their eyes the black eye-glasses.

It is evident to any observer that more than half of these members have lost all their head hair since a long time, that is the majority are in fact with bald heads. Otherwise, the rest of these men who are not bald are in their way to lose all the hair of their head.

It should be assumed without any hesitation that all of these members, who have got their retirement since a long time, are toothless. Very few of them use the dentures. The other half without the false teeth does not find any objection to show their toothless mouth. This other half, the toothless, are proud to show their mouth without a single tooth in it. Possibly, some of them have been using the dentures for so many years in the past but later on they preferred to live their daily life, especially while eating, without the false teeth.

With the passing of time, those old men feel that it is better to be totally all the day toothless and without the false teeth. As a result of this sad situation of their teeth, all of them experience some difficulty to talk and to express themselves.

Even those using the dentures find some difficulty of talking freely. They are always afraid that the dentures would fall in their mouth. They are afraid that their mouth, instead of producing words, would produce funny noise because of the frequent fall of the false teeth.

Most of the time, those old aged and retired members of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals avoid constantly and all the time to smile, or to laugh, or sometimes to cough. Actually, most of those old members of the Circle try to suppress their coughing by closing their mouth by their hands. All of those old members are afraid if they laugh intensely their dentures would come out of their mouth.

On the other hand, there are approximately ten old members who are but dumb, speechless and deaf. Thus all the time in the discussion sessions these ten dumb and deaf members of the Circle rest silent not saying anything. They do not contribute to the discussion anything. However, these ten speechless old members of the Circle say very easily two words, yes and no.

The main building of the Centre of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals is composed of ten quite wide and spacious rooms that are completely empty and do not contain any piece of furniture. As it could be noticed, the main aim of the architectural design of the rooms of the Centre of the Circle is to facilitate the achievement of the objective of contemplation and reflection and nothing else.

Obviously, it is only the Circle members who carry out the contemplation exercise inside these empty rooms. Every room is designed in such a way that it could accommodate five members who do nothing with the exception of contemplation.

On the other hand, every room is provided with a sumptuous bathroom. At the first floor of the Centre there is a library which welcomes any visitor from among the members or from the staff of the Centre of the Circle. Inside the library a visiting member could see that there are seats in the form of low stools of straw on which a visitor of the library could sit easily and with comfort. Those low stools are made of straw and anybody could sit on one of them to read the local daily newspaper as well as newspapers of other countries.

Shelves are there everywhere on the four walls of the library and on which there is nothing. All of them are empty. Always, with the exception of the time devoted to the general assembly meeting of all the members of the Circle, it is possible to see in this library about four to six members who spend some of their time in the library.

In some rare cases, it is possible to see in the library all the forty nine members of The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. There are enough straw stools to accommodate all the members of the Circle.

Empty Shirt
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Whether there are five or forty five members in the library, silence, order and discipline would always be observed and respected.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

Sometimes, all of those who are in the library read the daily newspaper or they keep silent either looking at each other or looking at the ceiling, or gazing at the floor or at the walls. But most of the time some of these visitors of the library begin weeping and crying and their tears come down of their eyes especially when they read in the papers about the death of people whom they know or who had been their close and intimate friends during the last half a century or so.

Sometimes, when they read old newspapers they read news about the death of one of their grandparents who died probably fifty years ago and not at all recently.

In these newspapers, it is common for the reader to come across the names of his parents or some of his ancestors mentioned in occasions other than death.

On the whole, for most of the members of the Circle, the daily visit of the library does not last for a long time. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Some members stay for hours either to read a newspaper or just to contemplate and weep.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

On the other hand, the empty ten rooms are only used for contemplation. Sometimes, the five occupants of a room stay for about three hours in pure contemplation. They do nothing but to look at the ceiling or at the four walls. What is left of the long daily time is devoted for the daily meeting in the big assembly hall of the Centre of The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

With the arrival of the twilight and the dusk and the near coming of the night, every member of the Circle prepares himself to go to his home and to his family after he has spent one full day in the Centre of the Circle.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

All the members of the Circle do not at all eat anything throughout the day. What they take during the day is only some kind of soft drink and sometimes a cup of tea or coffee. Therefore, as soon as they arrive at their home, the first thing they do is to take a main meal of the evening rich of all kinds of nourishing food. Then for some time, they watch the television and then they go to bed. They avoid sitting in order to talk with others especially the members of their families.

Outside the physical boundaries of The Centre of The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals, the members of the Circle are not supposed to talk at all to others regarding what takes place inside the Centre of the Circle in general and inside the daily meeting of the General Assembly Hall. The life of the members of the Circle inside the Centre itself becomes an absolute secret that should not be revealed to others. The revelation of the secret of life inside the Centre of the Circle has very dangerous consequences.

In each family where there is in its members a retired intellectual, that is the member of the Circle, all people there, in the family, try to know some of what goes on of activities and of discussions inside the Centre of the Circle. Unfortunately, all attempts to know the nature of the social and the intellectual activities of the member in the Centre have so far failed.

It is only six months after the selection and the final appointment of Ashrams, as the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals that Amr, the ex-consul and the retired member of the diplomatic corps of his country, presents his application requesting to be considered as an active member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

Nobody knows at all why the ex-consul remained for six months before applying for the membership of the Circle. Maybe, there is no definite and specific explanation why Amr did not apply for the membership of the Circle at an earlier date. Probably he has been thinking that it is not yet the time for presenting his application for the membership.

Amr submits his application and he begins to wait, to wait for a long time, longer than he has expected. He waits for several days, which is normal, then for weeks, and then for several months. Amr expects to receive the answer of the new President of the Circle at any moment.

Unfortunately, nothing positive has taken place in this respect. Waiting continues to be the only solution and the only key for Amr so as to know what is happening to his application.

In addition to waiting, Amr learns that he should be patient, absolutely and always patient. Nevertheless, time passes by very quickly and nothing is received from the Centre of the Circle, or more precisely from the president of the Circle, Ashrams the Shining Sun.

Gradually and little by little, and because of this long delay for receiving the answer of the Circle, by the ex-consul, Amr begins to think that he has no hope at all to join The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals and that all his efforts and the various activities which he has undertaken during the last long ten or eleven years, are hopeless, fruitless and really worthless.

Did he really waste all his time in his endeavor to make himself more and more eligible and better qualified for the membership of the Circle? Amr poses to himself in this respect several other questions.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

After a very long waiting for months and months and after passing several nights in which his exhausted eyes have never been closed Amr receives a surprising telephone call. Somebody on the other side of the telephone line tells him that he should come immediately and without any delay to the Centre of the Circle.

Of course, the ex-consul could never, never believe what he hears in the telephone. The message conveyed to him looks to be a riddle, something which is surprising and which is more or less unexpected.

He tries for few minutes later to remember and to recall what he heard of a message coming through the telephone. Suddenly, and in a loud voice, Amr shouts and repeats, ' yes, it is I who is invited to go to the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals, it is I who is asked to go to the Centre of the Circle.

Amr goes around in the house, from one part to another, from one wing to another, from the dining room to the parlor and the sitting room and then to the veranda. He repeats everywhere to himself, but in a loud voice, It is I who is invited. It is I who is asked to go to the Centre of the Circle.

The ex-consul continues to go around in the house, excited, full of joy, thrill and exhilaration. He throws himself violently on this bed and closes his eyes and attempts to visualize what he believes to be the intention of the Centre of the Circle. He always tries to imagine what the members of the Circle do in the Centre for the whole day, from the morning till the evening.

For some time, he tries to calm himself in order to be able to find out what he should do as a preparation for his forthcoming visit to the Centre of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

Precipitately, he intends to prepare himself to go to the Centre. He looks at himself in the mirror inside his bed-room and finds himself still decorated with a number of wrinkles on his face. Wrinkles are visible on his forehead.

Amr thanks God the Almighty that he does not need to use a spectacle, an eye-glass and opens his mouth to see whether his false-teeth which he began to use since two years, are visible to be false. Amr also thanks God, the Almighty, that he has still some of his hair scattered on his head and is not yet completely bald headed. He expects to have a bald head in the very few years to come, two or three years from now.

Passion
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

On the whole, Amr judges himself as being still a living and active old man. The members of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals would really welcome him. He might consider himself as one of the members who enjoys still some kind of good health.

He goes to the main gate of his house. He opens the door and goes down the few door-steps. Of course, nobody at all would know why this old and retired man is excited and full of joy and happiness. Nobody knows why he is excited, perhaps somewhat perturbed.

Amr goes to his car already parked in front of his house and opens the door of the car and seats himself in the front seat behind the steering of the car. Instantaneously, and by an act of magic, the car rolls majestically and in a dignified way. It is not difficult at all to know the whereabouts of the location, the approximate address, of the Centre of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

Stroll
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

In a very short time, the car of the ex-consul is parked in front of the Centre. Amr comes out of the car and is already on the door-steps of the Centre of the Circle. It is not expected at all that Amr finds nobody at all standing there on the door-steps. Nobody is there at the main gate.

The whole entrance of the Centre of the Circle is actually without any guard and without any person in charge of giving information and permission to those who come and ask the permission to enter into the Centre. Anyhow, the new visitor of the Centre is not surprised to find the situation as he actually finds it to be.

At that particular time of the day, a little bit before noon, or the midday, the President of the Circle usually sleeps in his stretcher peacefully and calmly. On his both sides, the two bearers remain standing with their two eyes wide open and their face decorated by a grimace and the eyebrows practically covered by a frown.

At this particular moment, it is usually the habit to find all the members of the Circle in their ten rooms for contemplation and reflection. Each room accommodates five members, with the exception of one room where there are only four members. The fiftieth member, being the President of the Circle, remains lying in his stretcher day and night in the Centre of the Circle. Naturally, each member undertakes his contemplation actively and individually. Contemplation can only be undertaken on an individual basis.

Confronted with this situation in which nobody is there to receive him and guide him inside the Centre of the Circle, Amr takes the decision to enter into the building by himself without the aid of anybody. Somewhat inside the building, he walks for few steps forwards.

Amr is totally surprised to find in front of him a very old man whose age could be more than eighty years.

"Excuse me. I would like to introduce myself. I am the assistant of the President of The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. In fact, the President asked me to accompany you to his office, that of the President of the Circle. As you know he is the only human being in the human history that has been put into retirement three times since he has been at the age of sixty years. In reality, our President is patiently waiting for you in his office." said the old man, the Assistant to the President of the Circle.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

"My name is Amr. I am the ex-consul of our country in several foreign countries in the four continents of the world. I am at the same time the new member of the Circle and have been ordered just today to present myself in the office of the President. I would like to tell you that I received this message by telephone this morning. As a matter of fact, I expect to receive the invitation in a written form as it is indicated in the tradition and the regulations of the Circle." said Amr to the old man who is walking slowly beside the new member of the Circle

The old man, the Assistant to the President, is walking prudently and carefully. The new member is very anxious to walk faster so that he could arrive at the office of the President in the shortest possible time. But the old man continues to walk leisurely with Amr, the new member of the Circle.

"I am really completely surprised and even puzzled to know that you have been invited to join the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals as a new member while as a matter of fact the number of the members is still fifty. This is a bizarre situation. It never happened at all so far in the Circle. Normally, and in ordinary situations, in order to allow a new candidate to become a member if the Circle in a certain month, the total number of the members should be forty nine, including the President of the Circle. Therefore, it should be concluded that from now on, starting from this particular moment, and until your official admission to the Circle is declared, one of the existing members of the Circle must die."

"It is impossible to have more than fifty members in the Circle. This is impossible and it has never happened in the history of the Circle. This is the first sacred principle of the Circle that should be respected. Nobody can forget this first and sacred principle of our Association." said the Assistant to the President who was interrupted by Amr who posed for him the following question.

"If you please, my friend, explain to me how you put into action and application this principle, this important first principle of the Circle." said Amr to the old man.

"In a very, very short time, possibly in three or four hours time, a member of the Circle would die either because of a natural cause, just because of a heart attack, of a surgical operation, of an incurable disease, or just because of old age, or of a deadly route driving accident or because of suicide. This last case of suicide is usually arranged by the Circle itself. It is like pronouncing the death sentence on somebody. But in this case, the man concerned should kill himself, commit suicide. This is the only way available by which a place would be free in the Circle so as to be occupied by you or by any other new member."

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

"It is very rare in the history of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals that the end of the month comes and still the total number of the Circle's members is fifty. This means that so far nobody died and that the Circle is for the first time in a crisis, in a deadlock, in an impasse. Some one of the members of the Circle must at once die either because of a natural reason or because of a suicide. As you already know, the name of the candidate for committing suicide is determined after all by lottery drawing. The result of the hazard drawing must be absolutely respected."

"The person whose name is drawn by chance has no other alternative but to obey. He should absolutely obey the result of the lottery and he should execute the result, commit suicide in the coming period of twenty four hours after the result of the lottery is known. It is very important, I think, that you already know this particular important first rule and principle of the Circle. All members of the Circle should respect this rule." said the old man, the Assistant to the President of The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

"Certainly, I am already informed, well informed of this important condition, this harsh and severe condition. Nevertheless, for me, I say always that I am interested, before everything else in life to be inside the Circle. Life in the Centre attracts me, interests me, incites me and captivates me more than anything else in life. On the other hand, I assure you, my friend, that I totally accept the judgment pronounced by the lottery drawing machine. Listen to me; I am ready to die, to commit suicide if the lottery machine chooses my name from among the fifty members. In the future, if my name is drawn by lottery I would be ready to die. Isn't it so?" reacted Amr with calm and confidence.

"Are you ready now to meet, to see, the President of the Circle?" asked the Assistant to the President of the Circle.

"Why not, as you know, the President is a well known personality in our Quarter of the Rich as well as in the other parts of the City and even in the country as a whole. I know that he is the man who has led three legal ferocious judicial battles against the Government. It is well known that he has gained two battles and lost the third one. You know, I make reference here and now to putting him in retirement for three times from his post as the Secretary General of the Ministry of the Dead and of the old age" answered Amr.

It is most probable that Amr has never seen or met the President of the Circle. One main reason for that is the continuous absence of Amr from the country when he served in the diplomatic corps of his country.

The meeting which would take place with Ashams is the first one for Amr. Nevertheless, and in spite of all of that, Amr is quite aware of the history of the life of the man who was put into retirement for three times after the age of sixty years. He kept sticking to his post till the age of eighty years.

Yet all the inhabitants of the Quarter of the Rich are unanimous that Ashams is cunning, artful, foxy, mischievous, difficult and annoying human being.

Many people call Ashams as a black serpent that hides itself cleverly under the desert sand so as it would bite its victim at whatever time it chooses. A lot of people speak of him, of Ashams, as a man who does not like all the others, not even the members of his family.

People whisper to each other saying that this man, the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals has never had in his life a single friend.

Indeed, this man, Ashams, has been always surrounded only by enemies. In the Ministry of the Dead and the Old Age, Ashams had never had a single friend and he was all the time the target of the hatred of his enemies.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

The position of Ashams towards all of this negative and unhealthy environment is well-known. He has been accustomed all his life to live amongst enemies, amongst foes and adversaries, amongst opponents, rivals and antagonists especially when he was the Secretary General of the Ministry of the Dead and the Old Age.

As a second man in the Ministry of the Dead, Ashams has caused all kinds of harm, evil, injury, abuse and damage to a number of his colleagues who were working with him in the Ministry of the Dead and the Old Age. It is said by all and in a unanimous manner that while he was the General Secretary of the Ministry, he had only the main objective of causing the harm and damage to all the junior civil servants working with him in the Ministry.

His only aim was to make all the persons working with him extremely unhappy, miserable, depressed, despondent and distressed. Ashams does not like to see anybody around him to be happy or even only smiling.

After the Battle
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Whoever was having a smile on his face in the Ministry, he used to be punished severely and thrown outside of the Ministry. Whosoever was always distressed, unhappy and miserable was praised and promoted to a high post, to a higher position and degree by Ashams.

This is why each time Ashams was put into retirement in the Ministry of the Dead and the Old Age, all employees, the officials, of all ranks and of all positions and posts had the tradition to celebrate the retirement of the second man in the Ministry who was the symbol of sadism, of injustice, of unfairness, of discrimination and of prejudice. Ashams was considered as the source of all evil and of all failures and disasters which the Ministry of the Dead and the Old Age had the tradition to have from time to time.

It was a bad luck for all the civil servants, the employees of the Ministry of the Dead, when Ashams was able to come back to them to be again the second man in the Ministry of the Dead. The day of the return of the retired Secretary General to his post was considered all the time as the dark day in the life of each civil servant in the Ministry.

The return of the retired Secretary General to his post was always considered as a day of sorrow and sadness, a day of disaster and catastrophe for all the employees of the Ministry of the Dead and of Old Age.

Of course, Ashams was aware of the fact that he was the most hated human being in the history of the country and the Ministry of the Dead. But yet, he was behaving as if he was the most popular person in the country and the most famous civil servant in the history of the public administration in the country.

"However, Amr could not explain how this notorious person, the ex-secretary general of the Ministry of the Dead and of the Old Age was able to make his public image exactly as that of an angel, and of a man with a good message, almost a message of a holy man. Anyhow, the ex-consul, Amr, who has been for the last eleven years only thinking to be successful to join "The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals, could remember all of these dark and black pages of the life of the actual President of the Circle.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

Woman with Hat 1
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Amr is now inside the Centre of the Circle and in fact the door of the Centre is close behind him. He thinks that he should forget all the black pages of the private and public life of the President of the Circle.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

He should forget that this man, the shining sun of the community, has been cheating in all aspects of his life. It is reported that he had never joined an institution of higher education as a student and that all his diplomas of higher education are all faked, forged and counterfeited and have no real roots in his personal life.

Amr is determined to forget all rumors about the private life of this scandalous man, Ashams.

It has been reported that Ashams has never been faithful to his wife or to the honor of his family. It is reported that he had a number of mistresses to whom he bought beautiful and well designed private houses where he could meet them away from the eyes of his family members.

Amr stands in front of the door of the office of the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals with closed eyes. He tries to forget the dark pages of the history of this man whom he is going to meet in few minutes time.

This is the case of his companion, the old man, who claims to be the assistant of the President. Probably, the old assistant, like Amr, keeps silent, in complete silence. Maybe, he is aware of the dark pages of the life story of Ashams. The old assistant has the same attitude towards the President as that of the newly admitted member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

Both of them wait for few moments before daring to knock on the door of the office of the President. It is really extremely strange, something unexpected, has taken place. An event, which both of them have not expected, has taken place.

The door has opened by itself and without knocking on it by either of the two who are standing in front of the door. Of course, the two who are standing in front of the door of the office do not have any choice but to enter into the office of the President. Both of them should enter into the office of the President and without any hesitation.

There are so many surprises inside the wide and spacious office of the President of the Circle. The most important surprise in the office is the chair stretcher that is placed on a middle size normal table of a rectangular shape. This is the same chair stretcher that has been used to transport Ashams from his house to the Ministry of the Dead and the Old Age. On both sides of the table stand two impressive middle aged bearers, the carriers of the stretcher.

Both of these middle aged persons, the bearers of the stretcher, stand as two statues. They do not move at all and they do not try to say anything for the moment. Both of them are well dressed with neckties and shining pairs of shoes. Both of them are dressed in dark costumes, as if they are bought just one or two days ago. However, both of them look to be highly intelligent and probably also highly educated. It seems that both of them belong to the Quarter of the Rich. It is sure that nothing moves in their smiling faces. Really they are like two statues of pure white marble and they are waiting orders from somebody to make the next move.

Yet with a more and better focused observation of the faces of the two carriers, it could be noticed that there is some kind of a grimace on the face of these middle aged men. Nobody can guess why these two mysterious men, the bearers, should have some frowning grimaces on their faces. Is it to frighten those who come into the office? Or is it to express their abhorrence and hatred and apathy towards their master, the shining Sun, Ashams, the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

On the other hand, the President of the Circle is dressed in a dark grey costume. The President could hardly move his head to the right when the two men enter into the office. The two, his assistant and the new member, Amr, are now standing not very far from the table on which could be seen the stretcher on which is lying Ashams, the President of the Circle.

Of course, the President could see by now who is inside the office in company with his Assistant. A kind of a dreadful, frightful and appalling atmosphere is dominating in the spacious room. For few moments, there is silence and Amr could say any word because he thinks the he should not initiate the conversation and the dialogue. He cannot speak at all without being permitted to speak, or in fact without being asked to speak. At the same time the old Assistant keeps as usual in silence and carries on to be motionless.

"You are welcome, both of you." said the chief of the Circle as if his voice is coming to the room from a very far distance. Or in fact, as if one of the two bearers or carriers has spoken or interrupted the silence dominating in the office.

"It is an honor and a source of happiness to me to be inside the Centre of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. I am really honored. It is only now and at this particular moment that I think that the first objective of my life has been realized." answered Amr who seemed to be a little bit excited and exhilarated.

"I am very sorry to inform you that you are not yet a full member of our association, the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. We have been waiting that one of us, the fifty members of the Circle, would die, or would have already died today and not later on at all, so that you could become a full member of the Circle. Up till now we are fifty members and in no case we could be fifty one. I hope that this first rule has been already explained to you. If somebody does not die because of natural reason then we have to select the one who should die by lottery from amongst us. I hope that this has been already explained to you" answered the chief of the Circle from his stretcher. His voice seems to be coming from a far distance.

"Please, if you think it necessary I can leave this office at once and wait there in the reception room till the arrival of the news which all people in the Centre of the Circle are waiting. Perhaps, something would happen in the time to come. Let us wait." said Amr, the ex-consul, to the President of the Circle.

Smile under the Hat 8
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

"I hope that the news which all of us are waiting would come very soon. I have the feeling that during the coming hour, somebody is going to die." said Ashams, the President of the Circle in a low voice that seemed to be coming from a very far distance.

"Now I am ready to wait for the coming few hours in order to be a full member of the Circle. This is the dream of my life to be one day an active member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. For me this day is a very important one. A new and a crucial phase in my life would start in few hours time." reacted Amr in addressing himself to the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals who is lying on the stretcher like a mummy that has been miraculously resuscitated.

"This is a good idea, with no doubt at all. I suggest to you that you could go now to the library of the Centre of the Circle. There you could have a lot of reading material. I would like to assure you that you will find there nobody of the members because all of them are now in their rooms undertaking their daily contemplation and reflection exercise. In the library you would find straw stools and there you could choose whichever you like in order to seat yourself in order to read the daily newspapers. As I told you, a strange event would take place today. You have to be patient. I advise all the members of the Circle to be patient especially at the end of the month when a new member has to be accepted in our association. Somebody should have died during the whole month in order to make the final acceptance of the new member possible." said Ashams. It seems that one of the bearers was speaking for the paralyzed President of the Circle.

Without any delay Amr hurriedly leaves the office of the President. The Assistant who is accompanying the ex-consul stays in the office with his boss to discuss important matters.

Step in Time
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Amr goes up the stairs until he arrives to the fourth floor where the library of the Centre is located. As the President said, there is nobody in the library. Amr enters into the library and from one of the many shelves he takes a newspaper.

Then he seats himself on one of the straw stools that are scattered here and there. Inside the library there is nothing except the absolute silence. The atmosphere there in the library is something which gives the impression that the place is part of a monastery, an old and ancient monastery of the Middle Ages. Naturally, there, in this library, time passes slowly, lazily.

Sometimes when members of the Circle are present in the library; some of those seated on the straw stools in the library lean to the wall and attempt to pass the time in taking some sleep. So often, some of those who sleep on the stools fall on the floor in causing some noise because of the abrupt fall of the heavy body on the hard ground. Fortunately, at present, Amr is the only member of the Circle who is present in the library.

Amr looks rapidly at his watch to see the time and discovers that the time is now almost midday. Normally, at this time, he awaits for some time to go to the dining-room in his house.

Amr keeps sitting on one of the straw stools and he continues to read the daily newspaper, or just to look at it. Certainly he cannot go at all to his house to have his lunch, or even to prepare himself to go to one of the bereaved family houses to have a free lunch as he used to do in the past.

He remembers that he should stay here in the library until he receives the sad news of the death of someone of the members of the Circle either by natural death or by committing suicide.

Moreover, it should always be remembered that the tradition followed in the Centre of the Circle stipulates that lunch is not necessary at all and that man can survive and keep in good health without having lunch. Therefore, here, in the Centre of the Circle, lunch would not be served at all in the Centre. Actually, there is no kitchen facility in the building of the Centre.

Amr has no choice but to be patient and wait in the library till somebody would tell him about any new development. He could even have a short nap in the library.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

But all of a sudden, he hears the noise caused by the footsteps of walking in the passage in front of the library. This soft noise comes to an end and the door of the library is open. One could easily see from inside the head of the old man, the Assistant to the President of the Circle which becomes visible inside the library.

One could see that the Assistant is giving Amr a mischievous and a cunning smile. Then and perhaps instantaneously the door is closed. Inside the library nothing at all takes place. The absolute silence dominating in the library is from time to time interrupted by a soft and low noise produced by the cracking of the pages of the newspaper manipulated in the two hands of the visiting ex-consul.

Amr, in the library, has so far looked through several newspapers. During the time which he passed in the library nothing of importance has taken place not only in the library but in all the sections of the Centre of the Circle. The Centre, as a matter of fact, resembles to a monastery of ancient times as far as the domination of silence and the total absence of whatever kind of a noise or strange sounds.

In the afternoon, Amr wishes to take rest and to stop reading the newspaper. He wants to have a nap in the library. Nevertheless, he tell himself that if he sleeps he will lose the chance, the opportunity, of hearing any abnormal and unusual noise which might take place while he is sleeping. Something important might take place while he is sleeping. Therefore, he decides to resist any temptation to sleep.

The ex-consul, stays completely awake and vigilant so as to hear any noise that would come from outside, from the passage, the corridor. Indeed, he prepares very well his ears to listen and to tell him of any noise that might come from anywhere in the Centre of The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. Amr is also ready to hear any simple movement that might take place in the Centre of the Circle.

Amr looks with timidity and hesitation at his Rolex watch and is not surprised to discover it to be three o'clock in the afternoon. He is aware of the fact that he has been in the library since perhaps early before noon. A sort of an uproar and extraordinary noise has been coming to the ears of the only person sitting on the library. This noise is coming either from the first or the second floor where the contemplation rooms of the Centre are located.

For some time, Amr tries to control his sentiments and his spirit and tries to remain calm and serene. But at last he discovers that he cannot keep himself forever in the library and should in the final analysis leave it. Therefore, and at last, he decides to leave the library in order to discover what is going on in the Centre of the Circle.

Trace
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

He wants to track down the reality. He puts the newspaper on one of the shelves and then he walks directly to the door of the library. For a while, he hesitates to open the door of the library.

Amr stays for a while not knowing what to do. At last he opens the door and hears clearly and distinctly many persons who say in a very high and a disturbing voice. "He is dead, he is dead, and he is dead." This expression has been repeated for several times.

For a while, and it is very natural and normal to think so, Amr thinks that the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals, who is disabled, invalid and paralyzed, is the one who died.

In coming down the several steps of the stairs to the third floor and then to the second floor, Amr realizes that all the members of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals, who are dressed in their pajamas, have reassembled in the passage, in the narrow corridor, and each of them is striving to know what is happening in the Centre of the Circle.

"What is going on now in the Centre, please tell me. I would like to know, tell me please?" asked Amr somebody who strives to come out of the narrow passage.

Camp
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

"Somebody died in the room number six in the second floor." said the old retired man without knowing the significance of what is going on.

"But has he really died? How, explain to me please?" asked Amr.

"O!! I want to tell you that I was in the same room in which the old man died. I was with him in the room in a session of contemplation and reflection, as we do every day. While we were contemplating we saw one of us all of a sudden falling from his straw stool on the stiff and hard floor. He was already dead. He was a rich man and of a well known and glorious family. He became a member of the Circle since only three months and I am sure that he was in very good health before his death. It should be added that he is sixty years old only. For some time, all the other members of the room were under the impression that he was still alive. One of our colleagues, a doctor, a physician, who is in retirement, examined the man fallen on the floor and he affirmed the death of the old man." said the old man in retirement stopped by Amr.

"Is the President of the Circle informed about the incident, about the death of a member of the Circle in the room number six?" asked Amr.

"Certainly, for sure, he is not quite informed of the important and sad event." said the old man in retirement.

The President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals comes out of his office carried by two bearers of his stretcher. The President Ashams goes directly and without delay to room number six. From afar and from his stretcher, the President of the Circle looks at the dead man and asks his assistant to make all the necessary arrangements for informing the family of the dead man about his death. The voice of the President comes from a distance as if somebody else is talking and not Ashams himself. At the same time, Ashams asks Amr to follow him to his office.

"I am very glad to tell you that there is no more any problem for you to join the Circle. As you know the exact number of the members of the Circle is now forty nine. You would be as you know the fiftieth member. I think you are now very happy to be a full member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals." It seems that the President of the Circle was addressing Amr in a sarcastic tone.

"I am very sorry for the death of the member of the Circle in room six." replied Amr in distress and sadness.

"Amr, listen to me. Starting from this moment you are a member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. As you already know, it is very normal that a member of this famous Circle dies. As you know, every month somebody, a member of this Circle, should die so as to make possible the coming of a new member to the Circle. This is the general principle. Isn't it so?" explained Ashams, the President of the Circle, to Amr.

"I already know very well this rule, this fundamental principle of the Circle. So far I have heard of this principle so many times. I do appreciate it and I realize its inherent value and significance. I assure you, Sir, that I would respect this rule of the Circle." declared Amr to the President who was listening with curiosity.

Amr leaves the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals to himself and he goes to the corridors and the narrow passages of the building. He could not discover anything new in Centre. As before, he realizes that the main components of the building are the ten rooms, the library, the assembly hall and the office of the President and its administrative components.

Suburban Animal
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Of course, he discovers some subsidiary spaces and small rooms used as offices for the Assistant to the President and the other administrative staff members and also used as stores for the old newspapers which the members read in the library.

Amr knows that his daily life in the Centre of the Circle starts at eight o'clock in the morning and ends up at six o'clock in the evening. Starting from five o'clock in the evening Amr looks at his watch to know the time and to discover whether he is far from the time of departure, that of six o'clock.

At six o'clock all the forty nine members of the Circle come out of the ten contemplation rooms. All of them look to be tired and exhausted. All have pale faces and all of them find difficulty to keep their eyes open. Their false teeth dentures have fallen in their mouths and most of them have unbuttoned their vests and their shirts. Several of these old men could hardly walk in a normal way. Most of them walk nearby the walls of the corridors and the narrow passages so as to be able to lean on these walls in case of need.

For the majority of them, the most difficult task is to go down the stairs of the four, the three and the two floors. One by one each member goes out of the main building of the Centre of the Circle. Each one of them would go to his house, where, probably, nobody would be waiting for him with the exception of his servants, two or three.

In most cases, these old men in retirement are widowers whose wives have died some years ago. In very few cases, a very old woman that looks like a mummy waits for her old man who has been a member of the Circle for the last ten years. Every day, each of these old women, wives, wish either her death or the death of her husband, the member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. Every day, such old mummies, keep sitting in a chair nearby the telephone expecting somebody to tell them about the death of their husbands in the Centre of the Circle.

Several of these living and surviving wives of the members of the Circle are usually placed in a rolling chair moved in the rooms of their houses by the aid of servants. Such wives have been paralyzed since a long time and all of them wish to die very soon in order not to live the miserable life they are living nowadays with their husbands.

A number of the living wives of the members of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals are in fact bed-ridden since a long time. They are also paralyzed. These wives never leave their beds night and day. Normally two or three maid servants and a number of nurses, imported from oriental countries, are employed to take care of these bed-ridden old wives. On the other hand, it should be remembered that all the fifty members of the Circle are old men in retirement and many of them are semi-paralyzed.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

The car of Amr waits for him outside the boundaries of the Centre of the Circle. It is parked in a narrow path not very far from the Centre. Amr goes to his car, sits behind his steering and drives his car towards his house in the Quarter of the Rich. While driving, Amr knows quite well that he has to go again tomorrow to the Centre of the Circle. He knows that by now there is no scope to retreat, to withdraw, to escape, to leave and to recoil.

Every day he has to go to the Centre of the Circle early in the morning. It is something from now on an obligatory duty to go to the Centre of the Circle. Tomorrow, he would commence his first full day life in the Centre. Tomorrow he would go to the Centre as a full member and not only as a simple lost candidate.

At the door-steps of his house, Abdu is waiting for his master. Since the morning, Abdu got worried about the life of his master. Would he be there happy in the Centre or what? The servant is asking himself this question all the time in the absence of the master.

Abdu is waiting patiently for his master. In the absence of Amr from the house, the whole atmosphere in his residence is dominated by the absolute silence. Everywhere in the villa 'silence' is the reigning power.

The moment the master of the house realizes that he is inside the house, his house, he stops for a while and asks his ephebe to bring at once a cup of tea with a plenty of sugar. Abdu thinks that his master made a mistake, instead of asking for coffee, he asks for tea. But the master of the house insists that what he wants is tea and not coffee. He adds that he wants his tea with pieces of lemon.

Amr goes directly to the veranda. There he chooses a canapé and sits there in waiting for his tea to be served. Of course, everything is quiet, calm, tranquil, placid, peaceful and serene. He usually enjoys sitting in his seat in this particular place at the end of the day.

All of a sudden, Amr remembers the main events and incidents of the day. Many things have taken place. These events are of very strange and bizarre nature which began to take place in the morning and continued to occur without interruption till the evening.

He remembers very well that in the morning when he discovers himself in the Centre of the Circle he was not yet sure of his membership in the Circle. His future in the famous Circle was completely unknown in the morning. It is very easy for him to understand all the events of today with the exception of the unexpected death of the old man in retirement in the contemplation room six in the Centre of the Circle. Did this man die because of an incurable disease? Did he die because of a sudden heart attack, or what? Was he killed, poisoned, assassinated, strangled, slain, murdered, liquidated, eliminated, executed, slain, suppressed, suffocated, slaughtered, massacred? Amr begins to ask himself whether he could be considered as the indirect reason for the death of this man, of this victim. Was he killed because a member in the Circle has to die on that day so that a new member would have his place in the famous Circle?

This man who died today left his place for him, for Amr. The ex-consul is now sure, very sure that by himself he can never discover the reality, the verity concerning the death of the old man of room six in the Centre of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. How did this man die? Is he, Amr, the indirect, the real reason for the death of this innocent and retired man? How could he sleep his nights with this torturing doubt, that he could be the direct reason for this crime?

He remembers very well that one of the five occupants of room six is a doctor, a physician. This medical doctor affirms that the member of the Circle died because of a heart attack and nothing else. Can he, the ex-consul, contradict the judgment of the physician?

However, whatever is the case, or the reality, or the truth concerning the doctor of room six, Amr is now a new member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. The ghost of the doctor of room six, who could have been the murderer, the assassin, of the innocent victim of room six, is still haunting him and visiting him in his dreams and in his nightmares.

Nothing else is of importance, nothing, and nothing. Amr still believes that there has been something unexplainable in the death of the old man of room six. There is, there has been a trick in the whole matter, in the whole story, in the whole event.

His servant, Abdu, with the help of the maid-cook, prepares an excellent dinner which has been cooked by the old maid containing all kinds of dishes which the master of the house adores and likes. Abdu knows that his master is without lunch. At last, this is what his master told him. It should be remembered that any member is not allowed to say anything about the details of life inside the Centre of the Retired Intellectuals.

Scientific Calculator
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

At exactly eight o'clock, Amr sits at the head of his dining table. In front of him he sees all sorts of cooked and uncooked food. The master of the house takes his dinner and he really enjoys it. At the end of dinner, Amr feels completely satisfied, gratified and pleased.

He looks at his servant, the ephebe, with satisfaction and even love. The servant does nothing with the exception of giving his master a simple but at the same time a rich smile. The maid cook looks from afar, from a distance at her master who is enjoying his time in having frequent looks at his ephebe, Abdu while he is taking his dinner and remembering what happened in the Centre of the Circle today.

While Amr is about to finish his dinner he suddenly remembers the members of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals, their identities, their careers and their past professions.

A number of the members of the Circle have been well known politicians or persons who have been active in the field of politics or who have been heads of the political parties. Some of them have been very well known medical doctors and highly trained medical specialists and surgeons who were active in well known hospitals in the Quarter of the Rich and in the city as a whole.

A number of those members are well known engineers and architects who have designed and constructed well known palaces, sky-scrapers, villas and magnificent public buildings.

Some of them are well known lawyers who have been in charge of important legal cases in the history of the country. There is only one chemist, or pharmacist and a number of prominent civil servants. On the other hand, two members are of military background. One of these has been of a rank of a general of the national army. Also, there are one or two members who have been men of business enterprises and directors of all kinds of banks.

The Circle has amongst its members very famous and well known criminals, scoundrels, rascals, villains, smuggles, traffickers, racketeers and all other kinds and types of evil doers and heads of gangsters and mafias in society.

Step in Time
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Therefore, for Amr, the Circle is really a strange and a bizarre world which looks to be unique. Every month any member of the Circle might be sentenced to death by means of a lottery of chance and hazard in case that nobody of the members of the Circle dies a natural death.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

Nevertheless, Amr knows very well the severe conditions, which are accepted by all people who try to be members of the Circle, for being finally a member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

Amr sleeps this night with neither dreams nor nightmares. At exactly six o'clock he gets up from his deep sleep in order to prepare himself to go to the Centre of the Circle. He does everything which he has to do in the morning before leaving the house rapidly and hastily.

He goes to the bathroom, dresses himself and looks at himself in the mirror. Before that he takes his morning coffee and reads the daily newspaper and above all takes a full and rich breakfast. Indeed, he fills his stomach more than usual because he knows that he would stay in the Centre of the Circle for the whole day without eating anything of a solid food.

The only thing he would have in the Centre of the Circle, as a source of nourishment, is to have water, tea and coffee. Before eight o'clock, he sits in his car behind the steering. The car rolls slowly and majestically towards the Centre of the Circle.

Abdu is looking at the car going far from the house towards a destination which he does not know. Finally, the car is parked somewhere around the building of the Centre. The newly admitted member walks towards the main-gate of the building. The door is closed and there is no sign that it would open by itself.

Amr is obliged to press on the button of the door. For a certain time, which is not long, there is no answer. The door remains closed and silence dominates around it. After several times of pressing on the button, the door is opened in an automatic manner. Nobody is there behind the door to receive him. Again, the door seems to have opened automatically. The new member stands in front of the gate for a while astonished. Of course, he knows very well that he should enter into the building. Amr steps into the entrance of the Centre and does not hesitate to continue walking inside the building.

At that point of place and time, he remembers abruptly that he is not well informed about the daily program of activities in the Centre. Therefore, at the mid-way from the gate of the building he stops and waits something to happen.

But all of a sudden, the old man of yesterday, the Assistant to the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals, has come to him, the new member of the Circle, who looks to be a little bit lost not knowing what to do.

"I would like to tell you that you are somewhat late. You should have arrived exactly at eight and not after that. The time is now eight fifteen. Every minute in this Centre counts and has a very high value. Time should not be wasted. You are the only member who is late. All the forty nine members are there in the assembly hall including the President of the Circle, the Shining Sun; Ashams. The session of the Intellectual Discussion has already started at eight o'clock exactly, since fifteen minutes. Discussion of highly intellectual ideas and issues has already commenced. Every member is contributing his ideas and thoughts to the general discussion."

"The President of the Circle is at the head of the table of the fifty, forty-nine with your absence. Your seat next to that of the President is at present vacant, waiting to be occupied by you. No doubt, everybody is looking at your unoccupied chair. They are waiting for you. Nevertheless, you can immediately enter into the hall to occupy your seat. But you should present your excuses for being late, especially to the President. Nobody in the Circle tolerates being late. Everyone should be on time whenever any activity in the Centre would take place at a certain specified time. Remember that after presenting your excuses, your apologies and justifications for being late, you would be asked by the President himself to take your seat to his right side." said the old man, the Assistant to the President.

Scientific Calculator
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

"Excuse me; I would like to waste now more just to explain to you my situation. I am sorry for being late. You know I am totally ignorant of the details of all the rules and regulations of the Centre of the Circle. I am a new member and this is my first day for attending this meeting, which started few minutes ago. I assure you that starting from tomorrow I will be here on time, and maybe I would be in the Centre of the Circle before anybody else. You know that I have been waiting this day for the last or ten years. This is an important day in my life. So do not try to make it for me the worst day of my life. Without knowing, I am late for only fifteen minutes." replied Amr in a complete embarrassment.

"I warn you, as a new member, the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals may punish you. You may be chastised, penalized, and disciplined by the President of the Circle for being late for fifteen minutes. I warn you, you should expect any kind of punishment to be pronounced by the President, the Shining Sun; Ashams." answered the old Assistant.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

"I agree I have committed some kind of a misbehavior because of my ignorance of the rules in application, but I did not commit a horrible crime. I really behaved in accordance with the rules of the Circle and accept any kind of punishment to be pronounced by the President of the Circle for being late for fifteen minutes." said Amr to the old man, the Assistant to the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

"Listen to me, we should not at all waste and lose out time. Time is very precious inside the Centre of the Circle. You should immediately enter into the assembly hall and at once without wasting more time." said the Assistant to the President.

The Assembly Hall is located in the ground floor of the main building of the Centre of the Circle. Amr at once, after finishing his talk with the Assistant, walks to the Assembly Hall of the Centre. The moment he enters into the Hall, all the members of the Circle as well as the President look at the entering member who is somewhat late and who looks to be astonished and surprised.

In a very strange way, all the eyes of the forty nine members, including the President, remain open all the time. Not a single person makes a wink of the eyes. Several of those present in the Assembly Hall have in their faces a mischievous and a devilish smile.

The mouth of every member sitting around the meeting table is closed in such a way that it gives the impression that the face does not have a mouth. Amr is extremely bewildered to find that all the members of the Circle are dressed up in their pajamas with yellow and black colors. Of course, he saw yesterday the same members dressed up in these strange looking dress.

At the feet of those who are present in the Hall are without stockings of any kind. In reality, they are all bear-foot. All of them without any exception are putting of their feet plastic slippers of the red color. Each of those sitting around the table has a white cap on the head.

It seems that every member is proud of his dress which he has to put on while he is there inside the Centre of the Circle. All the components of the dress used by the members throughout the day are offered, provided, by the administration of the Centre of the Circle.

In front of each member of the Circle there is a small piece of paper. A pencil is placed on the paper with a pencil sharpener of the red color made out of a kind of a metal. All the forty nine members have the same provision of stationery in addition to an eraser, a rubber of the white color which looks to be especially imported from Germany.

A small ruler is placed in front of each member just for decoration purposes. Each member, like a small child, pupil, who goes for the first time to the primary school, is excited to have these writing articles in front of him.

Each one of these members wonders why they are not provided with a fountain pen and a small bottle of blue or black ink or of several bottles of ink of various colors especially the red, the green and the violet.

Each of these members wonders why there is not even a single copy-book etc. etc. Each one of these old and retired members remembers his days of early and late childhood and he remembers the day of his early adolescence. During all of these periods of their early life, the old members of the Circle used to have some kind of writing materials and articles, which people call stationery. Where are they now? Anyhow, Amr is still wondering what to do.

Inside the Assembly Hall Amr, the new member sees very clearly and visibly a small table of a rectangular shape, which in fact he saw yesterday in the office of the President, on which a stretcher could be seen where the President of the Circle is laying with his two eyes half closed. His two hands and arms are put on both sides of the stretcher in a relaxed way.

The President of the Circle who is lying on the stretcher is dressed in a dark grey suit with black shining shoes on his two feet. It is very important to mention that on both sides of the small table stand solemnly the two bearers of the stretcher, as he saw them yesterday in the office of the President. Actually, both of them look like two statues without life. Both of them have their eyes wide open. No doubt, both of them wait to see how their chief would react regarding the late entry of the new member into the Assembly Hall.

The same thing is the position of all other members sitting around the table. The new member, the moment he finds himself inside the hall, he becomes overwhelmed by a strange sentiment and a peculiar feeling. He asks himself whether he is really inside the Assembly Hall of the Centre of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals. Or is he in another world, an absurd and a banal world?

He looks all around in the Hall so as to be surer that he is in the right place, at the heart of the Centre of the Circle. On the other hand, all of those who are present in the Hall look at the new comer who is somewhat late. They wait what he will do.

Amr tries to seat himself in the only chair which is not occupied and which is placed on the right side of the stretcher of the President of the Circle. Yet, the voice of the chief of the group is heard by the new member as if it is coming to him from a very far distance from behind the horizon.

Amr looks at the stretcher in amazement. The President asks the new member to keep standing. Amr is forbidden to seat himself and should keep standing. The new comer, the new member, hears the President of the Circle addressing him as follows.

"You are late. In addition to all of that, as your could notice, you are still in your daily civil dress. While in fact, you should dress yourself in a pajama like all the members of the Association, the Circle." said the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

"But listen to me, if you please. This is the first time I am told that I should be dressed in a pajama." said Amr to the members and the President seated around the table in some confusion and embarrassment.

"As you could see without any difficulty, everyone here, all the members of the Circle sitting around the table, are dressed up in a pajama and everyone has his own slippers on his feet." answered the President. His voice comes from behind the horizon.

"Next time, tomorrow, I will put on my pajama and the slippers." answered Amr modestly and courteously.

"Oh, tomorrow, this is another story and another day. As for today, you have to be punished in accordance with our laws and regulations." declared the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

"Why?? I cannot understand why?? What is my fault, offence and my error?" asked Amr angrily.

"You should go at once, and without any hesitation, to the corner at the right side of the Assembly Hall. You have to stay there till the end of the session of the intellectual discussion here in the Hall. First you have to listen throughout the whole time of your punishment, to the discussion, to the intellectual discussion to be carried out here amongst the members of the Circle. You should know that you have to keep standing on one foot only. It does not matter which foot you would be standing on. It is up to you to choose the foot to be punished."

"Also you have to know that throughout the time of the discussion you have to keep your eyes closed, completely closed, without trying at any moment to open them even for the shortest duration of time. Also, and at the same time your mouth should also be kept closed. Do you understand what I am telling you? Do you have any question concerning what I have so far told you?"

"In case you need any explanation, then I can provide answers to whatever question you pose. Unfortunately, during all the time of your punishment you are not allowed at all to go to the toilets. However, it is completely prohibited to urinate while you would be standing up there in the corner. This is absolutely prohibited. Furthermore, the guard, the bearer on my left, would block up your two ears so as to deprive you of the privilege of listening to the intellectual discussion that would take place in few minutes time here in the Assembly Hall." declared the President of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

The President of the Circle has finished pronouncing his judgment against the new member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals who would be punished because he came fifteen minutes late to the Centre in the morning. Of course, there is not scope or possibility for an appeal or for self-defense. The accused, culprit, or even criminal and sinner has to obey and respect the sentence pronounced by the President of the Circle, Ashams, the Shining Sun.

Amr straight away leaves the place where he is standing and goes to the place indicated by the President, the chief of the meeting, to the corner of the Assembly Hall.

One of the two bearers goes towards the new member and instantly fills the ears of the new member with some wax to block the ears from hearing anything of the discussion that would go on the Hall. The face of the new member of the Circle confronts the wall while he really stands only on one foot, the right one.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

Starting from eight thirty in the morning, Amr is actually considered as a prisoner punished by his guard in his own cell. Or he is considered like a small child or a pupil who is punished inside the classroom in front of his classmates, the other pupils and children in his classroom. Amr accepts all of this punishment while all the other members of the Circle look at him.

Amr keeps standing in the corner of the Assembly Hall till noon and for four hours. Amr, there in the corner of the Hall, keeps standing for the whole session without moving and without being able to listen to what is going on in the Hall of discussion between the members of the Circle.

The ex-consul tries his best to respect all the orders of the President. During the period of punishment he could change the foot on which he stands ten times. During the period of punishment he never stands on both feet like any ordinary human being.

He continues to keep his eyes closed and he never opens his eyes even for a wink. Amr knows that he is continuously watched by the guards and perhaps by some of his colleagues, the members of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

Of course, during the three hours and a half his ears have been prevented from hearing what went on of discussion by being blocked by some waxy materials. Therefore, the small world, in which Amr is forced to live, has been dominated, overshadowed, throughout the morning by silence, complete silence, speechlessness and muteness.

At the same time during which the punished new member continues to be standing in the corner, the intellectual discussion in the Assembly Hall goes on without interruption. Of course, Amr does not hear at all what goes on of discussion in the Hall. Discussion continues for four long hours in which the members participate either actively or by moving their heads or their hands.

Naturally, and as expected, several events take place in the Hall and a lot of discussion goes on for four hours and many constructive ideas and thoughts are presented by the various members of the Circle. Obviously, Amr is not aware of all of the events and discussions because his eyes cannot see and because his ears cannot hear.

From time to time he could hear some noise, or some uproar or some buzzing and humming like those produced by thousands of bees above and around their hives. Nevertheless, the buzzing is the only sound that could be heard by Amr.

Yet, with the passing of time and by miracle, the new member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals is transformed into a statue without life and made out of marble. But this statue changes its foot on which the it stands every quarter of an hour so as to be able to continue standing till the end of the discussion of the intellectual ideas, thoughts and subjects at noon.

Amr exerts the maximum of effort to be patient and forbearing so as to resist the urgent need to urinate, especially during the last moments of the period of punishment. Behind him, there is the long table around which are seated all the members of the Circle. All of them are discussing with enthusiasm and zeal the subjects and topics proposed for discussion, debate and deliberation either by the President of the Circle or by one of the members seated around the table.

Exactly at eleven thirty, at about the midday, one of the two bearers of the stretcher of the President comes to the corner where Amr has been standing for several hours. The first thing he does is to take out of the two ears of the ex-consul the wax that has been preventing Amr from hearing and listening. Then in a loud voice the bearer orders the ex-consul to open his eyes.

At that particular moment almost all the members of the Circle have left the Assembly Hall. Even the President of the Circle has been carried out by the bearers and the help of three members of the Circle. Nobody could be seen in the Hall with the exception of the bearer and the ex-consul, the new member of the Circle.

As it is expected, the first thing which Amr does is to look for the toilets and he knows since yesterday that the toilets are located in the second floor. So he rushes to his destination and when he arrives there he discovers that the three water closets, the W.C. are all occupied and that he should wait till one of these closets is free. He waits patiently with much torture and pain in front of the three W.Cs. but nobody comes out of any of them. What could he do? At last he decides to urinate on the floor.

At that particular moment, all the members of the Circle are assembled in the library of the Centre of the Circle. All of them are intending to read the newspaper of the day as well as the papers of the past, even those of ten or fifteen years ago.

When Amr arrives in the Library he discovers that all the low straw stools are occupied and thinks that he has no seat for himself and thus he should stay standing in the Library. One of the members, an ex-commander-in-chief of the national army of the country, who is ninety two years old, addresses the new comer some few words indicating to the ex-consul that there is a free stool next to him.

At the same time, Amr realizes that no copy of today's newspaper is available for him to read. So he is obliged to take a very old newspaper left on the shelf nearby to the window. Amr sits at last on the low straw stool and begins to read the old newspaper. He notices that all the readers of the papers in the Library keep reading the same paper for the whole time.

Everyone realizes that there is plenty, ample, of time to stay in the Library. Therefore, one should not be in a hurry to read the paper. Each word could be read many times and the same sentence could be read repeatedly again and again.

In the afternoon commences the important period, the session, allotted for contemplation and reflection. This is not a group activity because every member should contemplate by himself and for himself. It is a purely and absolutely individual activity.

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

When the session of reading the newspapers in the library comes to an end, all the members of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals leave the Library and each goes to his room in which he could contemplate.

Every member of the Circle knows very well where his room is located and in which floor. All the members of the Circle like tremendously this session of contemplation and reflection because they believe that it is a purely and a highly and exclusively intellectual and spiritual activity.

But before starting the period of contemplation and reflection, each member takes off his pajama and puts on his costume, his dark colored suit in which he came from his home to the Centre of the Circle. The pajama is put in one of the corners of the contemplation room.

It is very normal and logical that the new member of the Circle, the ex-consul should go to room six where yesterday a member died either because of a natural death or because of an unknown reason and in very ambiguous circumstances. It was declared yesterday that this man died because of a heart-attack!!

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals - 16 of 20 - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

Of course, there is not time to waste at all. In a very short time each of the five occupants of Room six is ready to contemplate and each one is fully dresses in his normal daily suit.

Three Buildings in Harmony
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Each of the five occupants of the room knows very well his seat, the usual low straw stool. Every day each of the five members of the Room should use the same stool, the same seat. Here in the Contemplation Room, each member knows that he is going to contemplate for about three hours.

At the end of this contemplation session each member could leave the Centre so as to go back to his house where only servants and perhaps some nurses would be waiting for the return of the member of the Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

Go to Chapter

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

of

The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals

Go to the home page of the author Najati Al-Bukhari

© 1980-2017 by Najati Al Bukhari, Mont de Marsan, France

To home page