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The Story of a Beggar

Najati Al-Bukhari

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

At midnight of a very cold day of the winter season and in the darkness of the night, I was well covered by enough woolen blankets and was deep asleep in my bed. As it was customary in the early childhood days I had a lot of dreams during this cold winter night. Most of my dreams were about my small boyfriends, about our games and amusement in the square of the quarter and above all about my family especially about my mother and her efforts to give advice whenever she thought that I, her favored son, was about to commit a grave and a serious mistake.

Lately, my mother made a lot of investigation concerning the small beggar, or the living statue. Such dreams were repeated almost daily and I got accustomed to them. Not to have dreams for any night was for me unusual and even abnormal.

Abruptly, I was awakened by the whistling of a strong wind which I heard at that moment. I thought that the wind which I heard was very strong and it might have caused some havoc in our quarter and probably in some other parts of the community.

Of course, I did not think that anything bad or rather disastrous has been caused to our part of the quarter. While still sticking to my warm bed and was hesitating to leave the bed I heard suddenly a heavy rainfall specifically coming down intensely in our quarter. I thought that all the narrow alleys and passages of the quarter were all flooded with water and that some of the old houses built out of mud-bricks might have suffered and some of them might have fallen down burying under their wreckage the poor residents.

I thought that very soon floods could be formed in most parts of the quarter because a lot of water has certainly come down from the several hills surrounding our quarter. Actually, these hills of various altitudes were surrounding not only our quarter but also all the other quarters of the community.

This tempest which has struck our world during the night was not a rare phenomenon. Our quarter has been often struck by these storms during the winter season. The people of the quarter were well accustomed to this kind of destructive rainfalls.

In those days, the inhabitants of the quarter had the well established tradition of taking some protection measures against the flooding which attacked houses, shops, stores and workshops. After that, and while I was lying in my bed, I heard another voice which was repeated several times and it was coming from a very far distance from beyond the horizon. I tried to listen to this voice, to this resounding voice so as to be able to identify it and to know it better.

At last, I could recognize the nature and the reality of the voice. It was the voice of a human being, a small child and perhaps the voice of a small boy. This voice has surprised me or even has stunned my. I never heard such a voice in the past, as much as I could remember.

I did not know why suddenly I was struck by some a strange kind of fear. Why should I be afraid of a voice of a child, of a small boy? I was about to call my mother so as she might offer me some help and make me feel safe and secure.

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At that time, I realized that my room was all filled by the darkness of the night. The obscurity was dominating in my bedroom. Yet, the voice which was coming from a far place continued to do so and in a resounding way. I thought that the voice was heard everywhere in the quarter or even in the community at large.

For a moment, for a while, I thought, with hesitation, that I was dreaming and that I heard the voice which puzzled me in this dream. But after much thinking and consideration, I did not think that it was part of a dream because I was completely aware of the fact that I was fully awake. I was no more asleep and I told myself that the voice which I heard was real and not the creation of my own imagination.

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At last, I heard somebody who was addressing me in a loud but a gentle and a nice voice. "Come here at once, Amin, please come at once. Don't be afraid at all, come here, Amin. I will show you the marvels of the world, the treasures of the world. Just come here and don't be afraid."

This strange and mysterious call was repeated for several times. But this voice, and this call, came, and I was sure, from a distance, from somewhere behind the horizon. I have never heard in my life such a call in such a voice. I never heard this strange voice either in my dreams or in real life while I was fully awake.

I was thinking what to do in finding myself in this curious and abnormal situation. Of course, I realized that I did not have much time. I had to take decision all at once. For me, there was no use to stay in bed. Nothing could be done in bed except losing or really wasting time in sleeping and in dreaming. I thought of shouting, crying in a very loud voice, just to ask the aid of my mother. Yet, here, I said to myself that my mother could not offer me any help in such circumstances.

At last I found that the best solution was to go outside the house to look for the voice and its source. My mother could have been deep asleep in her bed and she might not have been able to hear me. Therefore, and at last, and in the middle of the darkness of the bedroom, I dressed myself very well and put on me a woolen pullover. The weather was cold both in the house and more so outside. Without any delay I left my room first precipitately, then I walked in a hurry in some dim corridors and at last I was in front of the main gate of the house.

Still, the dim obscurity of the night was dominating everything and everywhere. I could hardly find my way out of the house. Fortunately, nobody was there in my way out of the house. Everything was calm and nothing could disturb my efforts to leave the house.

When I left the house and in finding myself standing on the threshold of the door which I closed immediately after I was outside, I put my ear very near to the door just to discover whether somebody was awake in the house. I wanted to discover whether somebody was walking inside the house. Really, I was lucky to discover that silence, the absolute silence, was prevailing inside the house. My father and all the members of the family, his small tribe, were fast asleep and nothing could awake them even the most dangerous tempest.

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The Story of a Beggar

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

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