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Timbuktu 1

Najati Al-Bukhari

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

1) Jawhara, the black woman, who had already finished an absence of three days somewhere in the world, was determined to resume her active normal life in the farm-house. Nobody within the family knew where she has gone during the three days of her absence.

Nobody at all knew where she was, not even her husband, or her intimate friend, the fourth wife Suha, The maids, who had the right to go into her bedroom, could not guess where she has gone during the three days of her absence.

The maids could not guess what happened during the three days of the absence of the black woman. As a matter of fact, the thing that happened to Jawhara could not have been guessed by anybody at all.

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Who could ever guess that in three days time Jawhara has visited the Valley of the Spirit where her family was living? Who could even speculate that the black woman and for two full days was able to visit the Immortal City of Timbuktu in the midst of the Grand Sahara from which her ancestors came to Mecca for purposes of pilgrimage.?

Who could ever discover how she was taken in this nocturnal journey back in history for six or seven centuries?

Who could ever know and discover what has happened to her in the Valley of the Spirit?

Who could ever know that by a miraculous way she could imagine that she has seen her cousin Amin, the friend of her childhood in the Valley of the Spirit?

Who could ever know that by miracle, by a very mysterious way, she touched her cousin, Amin, in body and in spirit?

Who could ever know that Jawhara was no more a sterile woman, that she was already a pregnant woman?

Who could ever guess that she was bearing a child who would come out to this world in nine months time?

Who could ever guess that Jawhara was introduced to the world of learning and knowledge in which her people were engaged all along the history of this famous City? Who could know that her son as an embryo in her womb could feel and be conscious of this important contribution of his black people to world knowledge and learning?

Jawhara, after her return from the mystical journey to the Valley of the Spirit and the Immortal City of Timbuktu, became some kind of a special person, of different human being, a newly created woman. She did not know why she was chosen by chance and by destiny to undergo all of those mysterious experiences and all of these strange events.

Was it because she was black? Was it because she had her roots back in the Immortal City of Timbuktu? She has started to think of the future of her son in the midst of a community that was not accustomed to see a black child who looked in appearance and in mental and intellectual talents and abilities superior to all other children of white or fair color skin.

All the members of the family of the farm-house, especially the three wives, noticed that there was something new, original, going on in the house. All of them realized that the source of this new atmosphere and ambiance was for sure the black woman, Jawhara. Even Suha, her most intimate friend of the family, did not dare to ask her a single question concerning her three days absence.

As for the farmer, the husband of the black woman, he kept silent as if he was either hypnotized or became some kind of a fool not being able to understand and to comprehend what was going on around him.

As for the three maids, they were the only members of the family who were having some kind of a feeling that some strange thing has happened to the black woman. They had some thoughts related to her mysterious and puzzling disappearance for three days.

For the maids, there was no doubt that the black woman was in a secret visit to the house of a friend located in another quarter of the community. The maids had the deep conviction that she had some kind of a lover whom she might have known before her marriage. None of the three maids could offer any single evidence that this proposition was possible or was true. Jawhara was not seen during the last eleven years of her married life in the farm-house putting her steps outside the threshold of her residence.

Being in origin from the Valley of the Spirit it could be thought as impossible that she knew the other quarters of the community. Yet the maids did not have any other theory of proposition for the absence of the black wife of the farmer for three days.

One of the maids proposed that the black woman should be put under strict surveillance for the coming few days or even longer than that. She might have the temptation to leave her home for another absence. Or she might get a secret message from outside of the house and by some strictly speaking invisible means.

All at once, one of the three maids, Mariam, the eldest, suggested that the black woman could be herself either a sorceress, a witch or, herself, was bewitched and by consequence she was endowed with some fantastic and supernatural powers.

Mariam the old maid insisted that what she was saying could be the answer for explaining the absence of the black woman for three days. Mariam thought that when she was young her mother used to tell her that most of the black people, were either witches or they themselves were bewitched.

Nevertheless, the other two maids did not agree with what Mariam has offered as an explanation for her short absence of three days. Jawhara could not have been a sorceress or bewitched. Therefore other reasons should be offered and should be looked for.

2) Jawhara was more or less sure that a child would be born at the end of the summer season or perhaps the beginning of autumn. The climatic conditions would be favorable for the coming of her son, her long aspired wish, for the coming of her son, her long waited miraculous child.

First, she knew where she had the last monthly period during which blood came out of her womb that was absorbed by the white or colored tissue napkins that were usually cleaned and washed by one of the three faithful maids.

The flow of red-black blood, in the case of the black woman, lasted usually, and on the average, five to six days. She usually waited for a period of about twenty eight days during which she was clean and during which she could sleep with her husband, the farmer of the quarter, and during which she could have her regular Morning Prayer. This first of the five daily prayers, Jawhara had the habit never to miss with the exception during her regular monthly period.

During the days of the monthly period the stained napkins of the black woman were taken on a regular basis by any one of the three maids to be washed with the napkins of the other seven women of the family. All members of the family of the farm-house knew whenever any female member had her period. There were eight females in the family of the farmer, the seven women, the wives and the concubines, and his sister, Helwa. The maids were accustomed to have almost always napkins with red-black blood to be washed.

Jawhara, the black woman, remembered very well that during the last twenty eight days, she slept with her husband, the farmer, four times during which the husband stayed with her for the whole night. The husband has told her that he did not sleep with any of his other women except her during the last few weeks. The strange and confused husband never explained to the black woman why he was boycotting the other six women of the family. He only told her that he had an inner feeling that he should sleep only with her. There was no other explanation. He just wanted to sleep with her and not with the others.

Sometimes, the farmer had the habit to penetrate Jawhara more than once in a night. All of this new type of sentimental and sexual behavior on the part of the husband could not be explained by the black woman. She could notice that when she had her three days absence, her husband fell ill, seriously ill.

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For two or three days Jawhara waited to have her monthly period. But she did not notice anything that could have flowed out of her body. She was clean, with no surprise to her, when she passed through the critical time of the period. Those who were most concerned with the monthly period of Jawhara were the three maids. For five or six or even eight days the three maids waited the red stained underwear of the black woman. But nothing came out of the bedroom, nothing, nothing, and nothing.

The confused husband continued to visit his black wife during the night. The maids saw Jawhara praying regularly in the morning after taking the bath ritual of all her body before praying.

Gradually, all the other female members of the family, including the sister of the farmer, became aware of the fact that the black woman had passed the deadline of her monthly period.

All of them thought that she was most probably pregnant.

Jawhara herself was happy, excited and even joyful. But the most important thing in her life, in those days, was that she was happy and at the same time sure of herself. She felt that she was not in danger when she would declare herself to be bearing a child, and most probably a son and not a daughter, a girl.

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Jawhara was feeling herself in peace and in tranquility. In summary, the black woman was not really worried at all. On the contrary, Jawhara, the wife of the farmer, felt herself to be in security. She felt that she was absolutely protected by some divine powers against any possible harm or danger.

3) One early morning during those critical, decisive and all-important days of the black wife's life, the old maid, Mariam, came into the bedroom of Jawhara. She wanted to give her the daily morning coffee.

Good morning, my lady. You look really perfect, perfect, and absolutely perfect. I never saw you in the last eleven years as beautiful and as charming as you are now. Everything in you is illuminating. I can see light coming out of your eyes and out of your deducing lips. I wonder what has happened to you recently.

Everybody in the farm-house is wondering if you have been really newly created during your short absence of three days? said Mariam, the senior maid-servant.

Do not exaggerate, Mariam. You should look at the whole situation in a normal perspective. Here, I am, before you. I do not see anything new in my physical appearance or situation. I mean I cannot see anything new in my physical condition. I mean I don't have anything new in me. Could you see in me something new? Please tell me. said the black woman.

Of course, in appearance we cannot. We do not see anything, perhaps nothing. You are right. Nothing is visible. But on the other hand. Then Mariam stopped talking. She could not go further in her discussion. She just closed her mouth with a simple smile on her wrinkled face.

What do you mean? Be more precise and do not hide anything. Please say whatever you have in your mind. said Jawhara while she was sipping the coffee.

Nothing, nothing; I just want to tell you that we, the maids, find your underwear clean. As usual and during such a period, the underwear contains some traces of the blood of the monthly period. For the last seven days, we, the maids, have been waiting to see traces of the blood in your underwear and on the napkins. But strangely enough your underwear has been clean. This indicated that there is the possibility that you are … Then the maid did not complete her statement of facts and analysis.

It is better for you not to interfere, meddle and tamper in this very sensitive aspect of human life. I prefer that you tell me nothing now. I myself cannot comment or give you any answer or reaction. The problem of my underwear is a very personal aspect of my life. You could talk about this matter with others in the farm-house, but, certainly, not with me. I have nothing to tell you. said the black woman grudgingly to Mariam, the maid, who hurriedly took the coffee tray and left silently the bedroom.

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In the kitchen, Mariam the maid servant was really shivering, trembling and shaking. She was in other words stunned and stupefied. The visit of the black woman's bedroom was a strange and a unique experience to her. She could not understand the whole situation prevailing in the farm-house. How could this woman be pregnant and her husband was sterile? Was there a miracle?

Moreover, Mariam could not understand how the culprit, who has committed the most unpardonable crime, be at ease and not worried at all. The other two maids had some information concentrating the pregnancy of Jawhara like the senior maid-servant. In other words, they knew everything. In nine months time the farm-house would welcome the arrival of the first baby, and maybe, the last one, whose mother would be Jawhara, the black woman.

You know she is not worried. Spoke Mariam without referring to the black woman and without elaborating her observation regarding the unworried condition of Jawhara,

Why should she worry? We have been noticing that her absence did not cause any worry to her husband. He looks as if he is hypnotized. said one of the maids.

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He looks perfectly at ease, in comfort and in a permanent tranquility. said another maid.

I feel that we should not interfere in this sensitive matter. Let us be completely neutral although we are the only members of the family who know that Jawhara is probably pregnant now or has been pregnant since several days. Let us see what would be the reaction of the master of the house, her husband and the farmer of the quarter. said another maid while she was looking around to be sure that nobody was listening to them while they were talking about a very sensitive topic.

4) Hilwa, the sister of the farmer of the quarter, was the first member of the family to decide to go to the black woman and ask about her pregnancy. Helwa, as all the members of the family has heard whispering, murmuring and mumbling concerning the possible arrival of the first baby to the house of the farmer of the quarter, her brother. She was excited and was not expecting that such an important event would lead to a crime of honor or a severe punishment.

Hilwa noticed that the atmosphere in the farm-house has been undergoing a change. Helwa noticed that the face of each member of the family gave the impression that all were expressing something very extraordinary to happen.

Hilwa could see with the passing of the few days that all indications were leading to the belief that Jawhara, the black woman, was pregnant. Hilwa, the sister of the master of the house, went one day to the bedroom of Jawhara with the main intention of exploring the situation there.

It was an afternoon of a cold winter day. When Hilwa entered the bedroom, the black woman was sitting in her favorable chair, with her eyes completely closed. The mirror of the bedroom was facing her. The mirror was in its normal state. Nothing extraordinary was seen in it with the exception of what the room contained of all sorts of things.

It was not necessary for Hilwa to declare her presence because the moment she was in the room she heard the voice of the black woman, who remained sitting in the chair with closed eyes, coming to her, and welcoming her. The pregnant woman was putting both of her hands on her belly, her abdomen. Hilwa did not hesitate to go to her sister-in-law and put her hand of her shoulder.

I know you are Hilwa. How are you? I missed you during the last few days. I cannot tell you why you were the only person who came to my mind and to my spirit. said gently the black woman to Hilwa.

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

I have just come now to visit you for a short while. I know, nowadays, you prefer to keep yourself all alone by yourself. I know why. A lot of things are said about you. I thought that I should come myself to know the reality. said Hilwa.

What is going on in the house? I cannot understand what you want to understand. said the black woman.

I hear everywhere in the house that you are already pregnant. Taking all facts into consideration I could say that this would be a miracle, a miracle and nothing but a miracle. Nobody knows what happened to you when you were absent for three days

I suppose that you did not tell anybody about your absence, not even your husband, my brother, my dear brother. It is very strange how my brother behaves these days. He looks to all of us like a fool, an imbecile but not yet an idiot. He looks to be hypnotized, as if he is asleep though he moves around and sometimes speaks to others. said Hilwa.

I hope everyone in this house would leave me all alone. I hope nobody would interfere in my private and personal life. said the black woman to Hilwa.

Hilwa was already in the corridor outside the bedroom. She was blaming herself for having visited the bedroom of the pregnant woman. The visit was neither necessary nor justified. Hilwa, after the visit of the room of her sister-in-law felt somewhat disturbed. She got worried of what people in the quarter and in the community would say when they know that Jawhara was pregnant.

The community, all the community knew that the brother of Hilwa, the farmer, was sterile. The farmer could not have posterity. Members of the community did not ask what Jawhara was doing now in the farm-house. Many thought that she should have disappeared by now because of her crime. Traditions and beliefs concerning the honor of the family and the clan could not be lenient and could not forgive, cannot pardon or absolve or acquit in case the honor of the family was tarnished, was touched.

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In such a matter, like being pregnant by an inexplicable manner, the answer did not need any investigation or trial. The judgment had been passed thousands of years back, in the epochs of ignorance, darkness blindness.

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Hilwa could go on in her hallucination, mental thinking, in her imagination. Jawhara could not be accused of having committed a moral crime which should be punished by death sentence.

Hilwa, all of a sudden, had another type of thinking. Why should she look at matters from the same angle as that of the archaic traditions, beliefs and convictions? Hilwa was the only literate, educated, semi intellectual member of the family in the farm-house. Starting from long ago she was reading books which her brother brought her between now and then.

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It was just the middle of the 19th Century and education was limited to the very few and the elite. In spite of that, books written in the golden years of Arab culture and books either written or translated by local authors and scholars were made available for Hilwa by her brother, the farmer. Hilwa had the chance of reading some few books that had their origins in the two sources, the glittering golden past and the contemporary epoch.

Hilwa was, more or less, informed of what happened in the field of human life and human history. At that moment, Helwa could not think of other possibilities and alternatives for a woman who was certainly pregnant, Helwa asked herself why destiny had chosen a black woman for manifesting its supernatural events and phenomenon.

Perhaps Helwa was the only member of the family who did not have room in her spirit and mind for any superstitions or supernatural and mysterious interpretations for the pregnancy of Jawhara. Helwa looked at the matter, the whole event, from a rational reasoning angle. Helwa could not believe in all the historical stories which gave tales about women who got pregnant without being touched by a man.

Therefore, in the case of the pregnancy of Jawhara, Helwa decided to follow the strategy of wait and see, wait and see. For her, all should wait what Jawhara herself would say. Up to the present moment, the black woman, the wife of her brother, did not say where she had gone during the three days of her absence. For sure, Jawhara did not say how she got pregnant. Helwa would follow the policy of wait and see.

Helwa would not discuss the matter with her brother. For her, the farmer, her brother, was the only member of the family who should decide what to do with the pregnant, black woman. For Helwa, her sister-in-law, went somewhere in the local community during her absence for three days.

Helwa continued to occupy herself in reading books that were made available by her brother. However, books at this time were very rare and nobody cared whether books were made available or not in the community.

5) Day after day life was becoming more and more normal in the farm-house. All eyes in the family residence were already accustomed to see the pregnant woman walking everywhere in the farm-house. The maids stopped talking about underwear and napkins being stained by the monthly period or not stained.

In the first month, Jawhara began sometimes to take some meals with the other members of the family. More often she was taking her two main meals in the presence of the other women of the family. The black woman noticed that all the women of the house were fixing their eyes and regards on her not yet bulging belly.

Of course, nothing abnormal was seen in her body because it was just the first month of her pregnancy. Once, while she was taking her bath, she put her hand on her belly. At that critical moment, all the women in the bathroom stopped doing anything. They looked at the black woman touching her belly. Most probably each woman wished to be pregnant so as to touch her belly that would have been, day after day, growing in size.

The black woman, in her bedroom had the habit of sitting either in the chair facing the mirror or on the side edge of her bed. She was waiting the immortal day in her life when she would give birth to her son. It was her second month of her pregnancy and nothing new has happened in her daily life in the farm-house.

Every member in the family began to wait the day in which the child of the black woman would be born, would come out to life. In fact, the whole atmosphere in the farm-house was also changing as Jawhara was adding more and more months to her pregnancy. By the end of the third month and the beginning of the fourth month of the pregnancy of Jawhara life in the farm house began to be characterized by vitality and expectation, by liveliness and suspense.

All women if the farm-house knew the basic principle in human life which asserts the fact that the child begins to move in the womb of his mother at the end of the fourth month. All women of the farm-house knew from their life in their families before marriage and from their daily contact with their mothers that the child should begin moving at the beginning of the fourth month in the belly of his mother.

All women of the farm-house were wondering and asking. Did the baby move in the belly of his mother? These women were anxious to know this fact. They were expecting that her child would move soon.

Of course, nobody knew exactly when Jawhara began to be pregnant so as to estimate the approximate time for the movement of the child in the belly of his mother.

One day, in the middle of the spring season all the members of the family came to know that Jawhara felt her baby moving in her womb. This was exciting news to all. They were sure that the family would have its first child in few months time.

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Jawhara, in her bedroom, was always very anxious to see her belly showing the movement of her son. A son would be coming to her and to this world in five months time or maybe more than that. The other members of the family did not know the sex of the child although they preferred to have a son rather than a daughter.

The farmer of the quarter seemed to all the others, to his women, to his sister and to the maids, to be lost. He was about to behave like an idiot. He was lost, completely lost. Inside the farm-house and outside of it, in the plantations and in the market, people were looking at him with surprise and wonder. How could it be possible that the black woman, who was pregnant, and perhaps in her sixth month, be still alive? What was going on in the mind of the husband, the farmer of the quarter? Wherever the farmer went, people talked to each other in a low voice.

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6) All the members of the family were asking questions and raising interrogations about the feature and the complexion of the child. How would this child look? To what extent would he represent the mother and to what extent the father? Above all, the monitoring eyes around the pregnant mother could not guess who could have been the father? How could the farmer beget a child while most probably he was sterile, that is he could not beget a child. If not, who could have been the father of the child who started to move in the womb of the black woman?

Woman with Hat 2
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Jawhara continued to live her own life of a pregnant woman. She was realizing that the historical day would be coming very soon. She was in her seventh month of pregnancy. Nothing was left to her of time for contemplation and meditation. Her belly looked to all too big to the extent that most people thought that the black woman might have been carrying a twin, perhaps, two sons, or a son and a daughter. The mother herself could not have the same doubts of the observers and the monitors that she had a twin. For her one was enough. She did not want two, two sons, not even a son and a daughter all at once. One son was sufficient for her and for her dreams. She was sure that what she was bearing was a boy, a son, and nothing else. She was promised in her first night of the three days absence which she spent in the Valley of the Spirit that she would have a black and a beautiful boy who would charm all, everybody.

She kept this vision alive in her mind and in her spirit. She kept this prophecy as a certainty in all her existence. She would never, never tell and reveal her secrets of her three-days fantastic journey to the Valley of the Spirit and to the Immortal City of Timbuktu to anybody. She was sure that the baby she was bearing would be a black boy, a boy of a pure black blood and of pure black race.

The child would be her son, the product of her black blood. The son would be the product of the history of the black people in Timbuktu, the city of illumination, of light, of knowledge and of scholarship as well as the city of Salt and Gold.

In her bedroom, Jawhara was waiting the day of the birth of her son, her black son, the beautiful black boy. It was almost the time in which summer season was coming to end up its visit to the Eastern Bank of the Holy River. The sun was losing its warmth and its brightness. Sometimes, some wondering and lost clouds would try to hide the face of the sun for only some few moments.

The way was being prepared for the arrival, the coming of the black child in a land that did not have the tradition of witnessing black children running around in the courtyards and playing in the mosque square with other children of the quarter.

Jawhara, and according to her calculations and estimations, destiny was knocking at the door of her world announcing the beginning of her ninth month of pregnancy. She felt during the days of this ninth month that at any moment, the promised day of delivery might come.

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

Jawhara had only one wish and that was to give birth to her son in the midst of the night, of the black night. She preferred that her son would be born engulfed and inundated by the blackness of the night. She adored the night and its obscurity. She was fond of the night and she would like her son to be welcomed by the blackness of the night.

Jawhara was spending few days of what she supposed to be her last month of pregnancy in her bedroom. However, she walked around and around day after day. Jawhara did not want to be in her bed all the time. She knew that walking even in a bedroom was useful for her. The movement of the child in her womb was increasing day after day and she was under the impression that her son would come at any moment, at any time of the day.

Jawhara, and in her ninth month of pregnancy, recalled that the name of her son has been already specified and defined. His name would be Amir. He would be called by his mother as well as by others … Amir. Would he really be a prince … the Prince? But the prince of whom, the prince of which geographical, spiritual or intellectual entity?

The black woman closed her eyes and put her two hands on her belly to touch her son and to let him know that she was there. She, his mother, was waiting for him anxiously, patiently. Amir was inside the womb of his mother and he was not aware of the whole situation. Nevertheless, it could be ascertained that nothing could be said about the matter that is the feeling and the intentions of the son of Jawhara while he was still in the womb of his mother.

Days went on, but for Jawhara, the passing of time was rather slow. The other members of the family were also aware of the fact that the promised day was coming very soon. All were anxiously waiting for the arrival of the black boy. Most of them were convinced that the child would be of a mixed blood on the basis that his father was for sure the farmer of the quarter. But nothing was sure, certain. Nothing was sure and all were waiting for the historical day in which all members of the family would see the coming baby … the reality.

7) Jawhara for the last seven or eight days had the peculiar feeling that her day to see her son coming out of her womb was approaching very soon. The black woman had the feeling that at any moment Amir would come out of her body.

It was the first day of September and the weather was fine and refreshing. Still the summer season had its traces everywhere. It was a warm nice day and the sky was already decorated by some glittering stars. Jawhara felt some signs of the possible birth of the long waited heir to the family's name, wealth and heritage. In general it was a quiet evening in the house and the farm. Each member of the family knew very well that the black woman would be giving birth to her baby.

The much troubled and confused farmer was already in his house. As soon as he arrived he was alerted by one of the young laborers that his black wife was about or has started a process of contraction and relaxation of muscles and an active movement of the child in the womb.

The farmer was told by the young laborer not to waste time but to hurry up so as not to miss the opportunity of seeing the arrival of the long awaited child, perhaps of his child. However, he never thought that this child could have been begotten by somebody other than himself.

Before the domination of the darkness of the night, the farmer was able to arrive in his residence. There, at the main gate, Mariam, the old maid, was waiting for him, as usual. She was the one who sent the young laborer in order to alert the farmer of the possible coming of the time for the birth of the child of the black woman. However, the husband did not want to go to the bedroom of his pregnant wife. His intention was not to let his wife know that he was present in the house.

The husband gave his orders to the maids to be all ready for any required action, for any surprise. He first of all asked that the mid-wife of the quarter, Um Hammed, should be alerted at once. The mid-wife should prepare herself to be ready to come and help Jawhara to deliver the child.

In spite of the fact that all members of the farm-house were more or less nervous and probably worried, a complete silence was pre-dominating everywhere. Nothing was heard in the corridors or in the halls or in the kitchen with the exception of the noise coming from the pregnant woman's bedroom between now and then.

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At last, Um Hammed, the mid-wife, has arrived at the farm-house. She looked calm and undisturbed. So far she has been called at all time of the day and the night, and sometimes at midnight, to families belonging to all classes, the rich and the poor, to help young women to give birth to their babies.

Um Hammed was a woman of long experience in her profession. Yet, this was the first time that she came to the farm-house. Of course, she was well informed of all the gossips and the rumors concerning the failure of the master of the house to have children. She knew that the man of this farm-house was sterile. Um Hammed was a friend of the sorceress of the quarter and she had access to all the houses of influential and reputed families of the quarter.

Stories about the sterility of the husband of the seven women which were circulating everywhere in the community and stories about the absence of the black woman, Jawhara, nine months ago for three days, were all known by the midwife.

The moment the midwife was inside the farm-house she was led by the old maid to the bedroom of Jawhara who was extremely surprised to see Um Hammed coming into the bedroom without her knowledge. The pregnant black woman did not know at all that somebody invited the midwife to come for her aid. At that moment Jawhara was lying in her bed. She was all alone. Few minutes ago, Suha and Helwa were with her but she asked them to leave the bedroom the moment she felt the contraction and the suffering which she felt in her belly. The two young women, the wife and the sister of the farmer, left the room without hesitation or delay.

When the mid-wife entered the bedroom, Jawhara was calm and even she was smiling. Of course, she knew that the person who entered the room was the mid-wife, although she had never the chance of seeing her before. She heard about her and she was sure that this mid-wife was excellent and with good experience and reputation. Jawhara had the certainty that her child, her son, Amir, would come out of her womb alive and full of vitality and liveliness.

It was not yet midnight. Maybe there could have been two more hours for the midnight to declare its arrival to this world of the farm-house. It was once at midnight that the black woman, Jawhara, wished to give birth to her son at about midnight. Um Hammed, the mid-wife prepared herself and she was ready to help the pregnant woman in the childbirth process. Outside the bedroom, all the other wives and the concubines as well as the maids were standing in the corridor waiting for the news to come out. The husband of the black woman preferred to stay in his bedroom waiting for someone to come and tell him the news about the child.

From time to time, the farmer, the husband of the black wife, opened the door of his room to see what was going on in the house. He was surprised not to see anybody around, either in the corridor or in the halls. The farmer was under the impression that in few hours time a new life would be created and a new epoch in the farm and may be in the community would be started.

Anyhow, whatever his thinking and his expectations were, the farmer preferred to be incarcerated in his room till someone would come telling him that a child was born to him from his black wife. The farmer did not wish to be given the bits of information about the child who would come to life in his house. He was intending to get the full information later on. He would discover all the necessary facts by himself.

Back there in the bedroom of the pregnant black woman, the mid-wife was waiting the critical and the important moment in which she would have the newly born child in her hands. She, the mid-wife, had also the feeling that the coming child would be perfect in his creation. The child would be a perfect human being. Therefore, the mid-wife kept silent and was waiting the moment to interfere, to help the mother to give birth to her child.

The clock on the main wall of the bedroom declared the arrival of midnight. All at once, and as if by miracle, a black child was in the hands of the mid-wife, Um Hammed. At that moment, Jawhara was very happy and excited to hear the child giving several low cries. In hearing the voice of her child the black woman was satisfied, completely satisfied. Her child was born alive. At the same time Um Hammed declared that the child was a very beautiful, charming and attractive black boy.

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8) The news of the birth of a boy spread very rapidly in the farm-house. All the woman of the farm rushed to the room where the boy was born. All of them rushed to the bed to have a look of the newly born child who was lying in the breast of his mother who was happy and completely satisfied.

All the women had the first chance in their life to see a black little boy. In all their life they did not have the chance of seeing a black child. Children of black origin were very few in the community and in the quarter where the farm-house was located. Some black families were scattered in the Valley of the Spirit. Moreover, there were two or three families where one of the wives was black.

Mariam, the old maid, rushed to the room of the farmer to tell him about the birth of his heir. Not like the custom and the tradition prevailing in all the families of the community according to which the father was the first to know about the arrival of the new member of the family, the farmer, it seemed, was the last one to know about his son who was already named by his mother, Amir. The farmer already knew about the intention of the mother to name her child, in case he was a son, Amir.

The father of the child left the room in company with Mariam, the old maid. Their destination was the bedroom of the black mother. While he was in his way to see his child, the farmer was in a complete confusion and perplexity. He was told in advance by the old maid that his son was fully black in color.

Anyhow, and in spite of that, not very surprising news, the farmer continued walking with some anxiety and a lot of worry towards the bedroom of his black wife. The distance that he was covering looked to him extremely long, as if his destination was located in another continent, in another world, in another planet. Before touching the handle of the door so as to open it, a lot of ideas came to his mind at that critical moment.

Who was the boy who came to life just few moments ago? Whose son was he? Was it possible, logical, to suppose that he, the farmer, the sterile father, begot the boy whom he will see in a short while? How could he claim that this newly born black child was his? So many similar questions came to his mind for which he did not find any single answer.

The old maid, Mariam, looked at the face of her master and she immediately knew what was boiling in the spirit of her master. The maid was sure that the father of the son of the black woman was unknown. Nobody knew who the father of Amir was with the exception of the mother of the child herself. Amir could not have been the son of the farmer because there was not the slightest trace of the father in the body and the spirit of the black boy.

Then who could have been the father of the black boy of Jawhara. Mariam, and also the farmer, the supposed to be father of the child who was born few minutes ago, were searching in their memories and imagination for the possible father of the black child. The possible father could not have been but a black man, whose blood was of a completely black blood and having its origin in the holy heart of the black African Continent.

The possible, presumed father of the black child was, for sure, not found in the quarter or in the community. Was he to be found in the Valley of the Spirit, or what? Many such questions were raised in the mind of Mariam and that of the farmer. Nobody could give the proper and convincing answer with the exception of the mother of the child herself.

These ideas, questions and interrogations, were roaming in the mind of the father before he ventured to open the door of the bedroom. There, inside the bedroom of the black woman, the farmer felt as if he was in a new world, in a totally new world. His seven women and his sister Helwa as well as the maids, were looking at him with astonishment and bewilderment. All were females with the exception of a new comer, Amir, the black child, who was a male. He was supposed to be his heir and the realization of all his hopes in life.

The confused but calm farmer walked towards the bed of his black woman. At the moment Amir, the child, cried for a short while. The husband stopped for a short time, but then he proceeded to go to the bed. First he kissed the forehead of his wife and then he carried his black child, the shining little black boy. The farmer was astonished to find the baby somewhat heavy. Of course, the farmer did not have any previous experience in carrying a child, a baby. The farmer, the father, looked at the face of the black boy. The farmer was really surprised to see the child smiling to him. But more astonishing was the shining black color of the small child.

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Oh!! This is a perfect boy. Really this is a perfect boy. He is extremely beautiful. said the father in an excited tone of his voice to his wife who was looking at both, her child and her son.

I am glad you find him beautiful and charming. replied the mother of the child.

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Look around you. Everyone is happy. All are happy to have Amir amongst us. He should really be our prince, my heir who would inherit all what I have. said the farmer while looking with enjoyment at the black child.

I propose that all of us should leave the room to let the mother be alone with her child. She has to be all alone with her son. said the mid-wife in a low voice while she showed some signs of tiredness and fatigue.

I think you are right. It is already after midnight. All of us are in need of sleep. I am glad that Jawhara did not have any trouble while giving birth to our charming child, Amir. said the farmer to the members of the family who were present in the bedroom of Jawhara.

Let us, all of us without exception, hurry up to leave the room. The mother of the child, Amir has already slept, and her child too. said the first wife.

In a very short time, or almost instantaneously, the room was only containing within its four walls the mother and her son Amir. When everyone was outside, Jawhara with her son were really already asleep. The night was dark. The mother of the child liked to be surrounded by this darkness of the night. This was her wish all the time which was realized by giving birth of her son at midnight.

All the people in the quarter and even in the community at large came to know of the birth of the black boy to the farmer of the quarter. Of course, all were surprised to know that the boy was completely dark. Gossips said that there was not the slightest trace of the presence of the farmer as the father of the newly born child. It was not possible for anybody to know who the real biological father of the black boy was.

This part of the story related to the identity of the real father of the child was only known by the mother, Jawhara. This was her secret and she has decided long ago not to tell anybody about it. Who could believe in and understand her nocturnal journey to the Valley of the Spirit and her stay there for one night? Who could believe in and understand her two nights visit to her ethnical and cultural roots in the Immortal City of Timbuktu?

9) The next day, early in the morning, Mariam, the old maid, brought to the mother of the newly born child her morning coffee. Really she was waiting patiently for it. It was for her as a sacred and holy ceremony to have her morning coffee. The mother of the child was offering her breast to the dear baby so as to let him get from her the necessary nutrition which was needed for his growth and his blooming physical and mental development.

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Nothing was said either by the happy and proud black mother nor by the curious and nosy old maid. Yet each of the two looked at each other, and by means of their eyes, they exchanged thoughts, news and some facts that could not have been said and expressed by means of the mouth and heard and listened to by means of the ears. The black mother was conscious of the fact that the old maid, Mariam, could guess the reality and was well informed of her secrets.

At that moment, the husband of Jawhara came into the room. He wanted just to greet his wife and to have a look at his beloved son and to be sure that the boy was really black, purely black. In seeing the boy to be black the farmer frowned and had a grimace on his face. He could not have a look at his wife. If he had looked at her she would have guessed that her husband was overwhelmed by doubts, suspicion, and mistrust as to the origin of the son of the black woman.

The husband of Jawhara did not see in the boy any traces of his body and his spirit. Nobody in the room talked, everything came to a standstill in the bedroom. Nothing was moving or was giving any sign of life. The farmer of the quarter was amazed how he was either hypnotized or really petrified. An invisible power was dominating all in the room which made the husband silent and powerless. No doubt, something mysterious and enigmatic was going on in the bedroom.

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

Not knowing what to do the husband moved his head as much as he could towards the small black boy who was in the bosom of his black mother. What a mystery and what a riddle!!! Or was it a Miracle? The farmer imagined that the black child was smiling when his father was looking at him. Furthermore, the farmer had the feeling that the black boy was about to tell him something, probably a message.

Was this pure imagination on the part of the farmer? The farmer at that moment heard a voice coming from outside the room asking him that he should not stay any longer in the room. He was asked to leave the room at once. The farmer raised his hand to his eyes and he rubbed them nervously. Could this voice be coming from the black baby who was only one day old?

The farmer, at last convinced himself that he was perhaps imagining and that the black child could not have talked to him. Really the farmer was probably imagining and nothing else. All at once, the husband of the black woman turned around and immediately left the bedroom.

Nobody knew how all the members of the family were aware of the details of what happened in the bedroom of Jawhara. They thought that the master of the house was about to lose his mind. How could he have a black child? This was the question raised in the minds of all. Of course, nobody could provide an answer as long as the black woman kept silent and did not wish to tell her story.

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