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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) In one of the refreshing spring evenings, the master of the farm-house asked all the members of his family to be ready for an artistic evening of singing and dancing and music. Normally not less than three months have to separate one such evening from another. The maids were usually more concerned than the others for the preparation of such an artistic evening. The master of the house asked all the women to dress themselves their best robes and costumes. In this respect, the farmer made a special reference to his sister Helwa. The farmer insisted that his sister should have the same opportunity in matters of dress and perfumes when attending the artistic evenings.

The master of the house went after that to his bedroom where he looked at himself in the mirror of the wall. While looking at himself naked in the mirror he remembered that he failed so far to make any of his wives pregnant. Then he dressed himself in a dress which would be a real surprise to all the members of the family.

Helwa at the age of twenty one years would attend the evening artistic festivities for the first time in her life. The farmer, he brother, left his room in walking slowly and with some anxiety. All his wives were astonished to see their husband dressed in such a funny evening dress.

The farmer instead of going to the salon of the festivities he went to the kitchen. At that point, one of his wives made a reference to the fact that recently whenever he slept with her she would detect an unusual and bizarre strange smell coming out of his mouth. This same wife mentioned that the farmer sometimes stumbled and staggered while walking in her room. This wife could not know what was wrong with her husband. Then all the wives agreed that a detestable smell came out of his mouth.

Then one of the wives made reference to the news that somebody has recently established himself in the quarter as a seller of alcoholic drinks in his grocery shop that was absolutely prohibited by religious traditions. The habit of alcoholic drinks is spreading everywhere in the quarter and in the community at large.

Then one of the wives said that their husband was taking now in the kitchen one of two kinds of alcoholic drinks, either the milky drink, the Arak or the red drink called whiskey. All the wives, through the open door of the kitchen saw that their husband was having his alcoholic drink. At last a wife said that her husband vomited on the floor, the carpet, every time he came to her room.

At last the farmer came out of the kitchen more less drunk. The stumbling staggering husband was already in the salon of the waiting room. When the farmer arrived in the salon all the women were amazed to realize that their husband was not completely drunk. He looked at all the women to find out that nobody was absent. Then all of a sudden the farmer said: "Isn't she coming? She promised to play the lute this evening." The farmer was asking about his sister Helwa. All were surprised because of the absence or delay of Helwa. Was she sick, or did she escape from the house by the window of the bedroom? All the women remarked that their husband was disturbed and confused because of the delay or the possible absence of his sister.

Some persons in the house have been thinking that a kind of a special relationship has been growing in warmth and ardor between the husband and his sister and that this special relationship was an absolute secret. Anyhow, all of those present were thinking and expecting that a big surprise would take place. Some of the women were saying that the house was full of secrets and phantoms. The farmer at that moment was about to enter the room of his sister. All the women were wondering whether this was the first time that their husband stood at the door of his sister's bedroom.

While standing at the door of the bedroom of his sister the farmer thought that he heard the voice of laughter of a young woman and a young man. Yet the farmer, because of his being drunk, thought that the laughter might have been coming from somewhere else, from a room other than that of his sister or he, the farmer, might have been imagining that he heard the voice of his sister in company with a young man. The seven women of the farmer were wondering how this warm passionate relationship could exist between the sister, Helwa, and her brother, their husband.

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While the door of the sister's room was wide open, the farmer tried to examine the interior of the room to discover whether there was anything extraordinary. The farmer could notice nothing abnormal in the room. The sister at that moment was standing in the middle of her room. Her brother took the decision to accompany her to the hall of festivities. At that moment, Helwa was carrying her musical instrument, the lute in her right hand.

The half drunk brother asked his sister to hurry up because the festivities could not start without her presence. The sister asked her brother about his opinion of her evening dress. At that moment, the sister could easily realize that a strange smell was coming from the brother, the smell of alcoholic drink. Before leaving the room, the brother, the farmer, went to the open window of the room and closed it. The open window raised the suspicion of the master of the house. He thought that his sister was receiving outside her room somebody whom he could not identify.

While looking at the window, the farmer saw two phantoms moving in the garden. He thought that these phantoms were those young men who visited his sister during the night. The farmer thought that one of the two phantoms was nobody but one of the three young agricultural laborers who lived in the small houses nearby the farm-house and who were married and had several children.

The young sister, the twenty years old girl, looked at her brother with amazement and thought that her brother thought that there were two persons walking in the garden. While they were about to leave the room, the sister looked at her brother and noticed that he was extremely angry, and because of that she imagined him to be like a monster.

When the two, the brother and the sister, arrived in the hall of the celebrations, Hilwa was seated on a mattress surrounded by many cushions. The sister of the farmer was at that moment the star of the evening of the festivities that had already eclipsed all the other stars, all the other women, both wives and concubines.

The festivities started at once. Some of the women sang, others danced and some of them played on some musical instruments. Unexpectedly, the master of the house in a short time became tired and exhausted. The farmer at midnight ordered the maids to offer coffee which was an indication that the festivities came to their end. While the farmer was giving his orders, he used to close his eyes several times and was about to fall down on the mattresses.

Then, all of a sudden, Suha, the fourth wife asked a maid servant to bring the master of the house a glass of Arak, the milky alcoholic drink. She was sure that her husband liked it. The farmer drank the Arak alcohol and Suha played on the lute. The farmer became drunker than before. At that time, the sister of the farmer was dancing a fascinating oriental belly dance. Because of being drunk, the farmer was addressing Helwa, the dancer, with some embarrassing expressions that could not be said to a sister.

The farmer tried to stand up to dance with his sister, but he could not. He collapsed suddenly on the floor. In seeing the master of the house falling all did not know what to do. All of those in the hall were astonished seeing the three young agricultural laborers presenting themselves without being invited. When the three laborers were inside the hall, they, by chance, saw the sister of the farmer dressed beautifully. She was looking on the three young laborers. The eldest young laborer stared at the black woman who did not look at him but kept her head dejected and downcast. The black wife did not want to look at the face of the young man, the laborer.

The three laborers saw for the first time a man totally drunk, helpless and in need of the others. The laborers never saw in their life such a scene of a completely drunk person. They were surprised to see their master in such a miserable situation. The seven women of the farmer of the quarter and his sister have been seeing the three young laborers passing so often in front of the farm-house.

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Jawhara, the black woman, never showed, expressed or exhibited any personal interest in the young neighbors, the three laborers. The black woman behaved and reacted as if she was already well informed of the life of the three laborers.

The farmer, all of a sudden, had the ability to say to the three laborers: "Stop, don't come forward anymore." The farmer refused the help of the three laborers. Then, the first wife ordered the three young laborers to come forward and begin carrying the farmer. The farmer tried his best to stand up and to catch the hand of his sister who was surprised of this gesture on the part of her brother.

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The farmer was at last carried by the three young laborers and was finally put in his bed. By this time all the three agricultural laborers left the house and the three maids began to clean the festivities hall. Of course, all of the seven women and the sister were already in their rooms.

2) Amongst all the women of the farm-house, wives, concubines and the sister, Helwa, the black woman, Jawhara, was the most serene and tranquil. She was all the time and everywhere undisturbed and unperturbed.

Perhaps because of her dark complexion and black color she felt all the time more secure, more protected and more invulnerable. She thought and even believed that her black skin gave her more light and illumination, more feeling of hopefulness and confidence than the white skin of the other women of the farm-house.

Besides, Jawhara, the wife of the farmer, was well aware of the fact that she was different from all the others. She had the privilege of being covered by an enchanting obscurity. She was a woman full of secrecy and attractiveness.

It was not only her black color that gave her confidence and audacity but also her beauty and her charm. She felt that she was superior to others in the beauty of every part of her attractive body. Her lips, her teeth, her eyes, her breast and her thighs were certainly superb in their beauty and charm. She was sure of the superiority of her appeal and her enchantment to that of others because she could witness her superiority in the bathroom when all women were naked.

Sometimes, the other women of the farm-house came to her bedroom just to watch her while she was preparing herself to put on her the sleeping night gown. The sister of the farmer visited the black woman in her bedroom more than others.

Smile under the 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

Helwa sometimes, motivated by curiosity, permitted herself to touch the breast of Jawhara and to touch her back, her thighs and even to touch her lips. Helwa wanted to discover the nature and the secret of this beauty. The black woman did not object to all attempts of the young sister of the master of the house to touch her in an innocent way.

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Jawhara realized with confidence that her black body and its beauty represented to this young sister of her husband an amazing phenomenon. Helwa found pleasure in looking at the naked body of Jawhara for few seconds. Sometimes, Helwa wondered how this sister-in-law could keep her body in this astonishing and admirable state of beauty and charm.

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Other women of the farm-house had the habit of visiting the bedroom of the black woman. Like Helwa, the wives of the farmer and his concubines visited the bedroom of Jawhara in the evening and after dinner and sometimes before going to bed.

These women of the farm-house wanted only to observe and meditate, to see the black woman and to meditate and appreciate her beauty. They all posed to themselves the following important question: "Is there a secret in the life of Jawhara which could explain her vivacity, her vitality, her liveliness and her effervescence?

The young girl Helwa was more anxious than others to acquaint herself with the private life of the black woman.

It was not only in the bedroom that Jawhara was a target for the curious and inquisitive eyes of the other women of the farm-house. The black woman was also followed by the eyes and the looks of all women when she passed in one of the halls, in the corridors or in the kitchen. All could see and watch the attractive black woman walking in beauty that had no equal at all in the farm-house or even in the whole quarter.

The women watched how her back was moving harmoniously and how her legs were dancing while they were supporting all her body and helping her in movement from one place to another in the farm-house.

The black woman was best and leisurely watched while she was taking the morning bath. All the women made their best to utilize the bath as a golden opportunity to watch the black body of the black woman.

The watching eyes found pleasure and satisfaction in seeing the white foam of the soap on the black body of Jawhara. Between now and then the other wives, when seeing the black woman passing in front of them, whispered to each other some comments regarding the beauty of the body of the black woman.

Most often, and lately, in recent days and weeks and months, the women in the farm-house, have been observing some change in the way of life of the black woman. They have observed that in most of the time, the black woman was walking in such a way that gave the impression that Jawhara was dreaming, was in a dream, or was in another world, other than the world in which the farm-house was found.

Jawhara was not only walking in beauty but she was also walking in a dream. She was walking as if she was either a phantom or an angel. Thus the other women of the farm-house had not to look only at the beauty of Jawhara but also they had to look for some evidence and allusion which would help them to understand the mystery which was dominating the personality of the black woman. They were motivated to know something of the secret that started to dominate the life, the personality of the black woman.

3) With the passing of time, of days and weeks and months, and after the disturbing and the annoying noise that was heard during that unforgettable night which was thought to be coming from the bedroom of Helwa, and after that artistic evening festivities in which the master of the house got drunk and was carried to his bedroom by the three young laborers, Jawhara has revealed and disclosed, in her daily life in the farm-house, new astonishing and stunning patterns and norms of behavior and conduct.

All the women of the farm-house, wives, concubines and even maids were under the impression that Jawhara, the black woman and the second wife of the farmer of the quarter, has been hiding persistently something, or more specifically, a secret which she did not tell to anybody at all. She kept the secret to herself and never ever shared this secret with anybody in the farm-house.

Jawhara has developed the habit of spending most of her time especially after the morning bath, in her room. After the bath, Jawhara went back hastily to her room and kept herself there inside the bedroom for the whole morning without coming out at all from her incarceration till the time for the lunch meal.

Nobody could know what the black woman was doing inside in isolation and in solitude. Most probable, people of the farm-house thought that she was occupying herself diligently in some work of embroidery.

For sure, Jawhara was not spending her time in reading books, magazines and daily papers because as far as it was known about her, she was illiterate and was of a peasant background. Her family lived in the valley and was composed of eight children, some of whom were married.

She, as a peasant girl, was not offered the chance to go to the mosque school when she was a child in spite of the fact that many of her childhood friends went to the local mosque school.

Another possibility was that she was doing some kind of meditation and contemplation. But this kind of spiritual activity could not occupy all her time. She could contemplate for one hour but not for several hours.

Besides, she, and since several weeks, began to lock the bedroom's door for most of the morning time. It seemed like Jawhara did not want any visitor to come to her in the morning. Of course, she had to come out of her room for taking her lunch with the rest of the family, and in very few cases in the presence of the husband of all the seven women.

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Still during lunch time or during dinner time, Jawhara behaved in a very different way from that of normal behavior that she used to show in the past. During the meals time the black woman looked more and more engulfed in a dream rather than in a real life situation.

Jawhara gave the impression that she was in a dream or rather about to sleep. But in spite of all of this deviation from normal behavior and conduct and during meals time, the black woman smiled from time to time and uttered some words or some phrases and some sentences that gave no sense to the listeners.

The black woman wanted to assure the others, especially the other women that she was still in control of her mental and intellectual abilities and capabilities. She wanted to assure others that she could still observe, react and remark what was going on around her. She wanted to assure others that she could participate in any discussion that took place or that was about to take place. From time to time and during lunch time or dinner time, the black woman gave the impression that she was not there in the dining room sitting among the other women on stools around the round low table.

For few seconds and sometimes for more than that, the black woman looked to be only present in her body with the other women of the farm-house. The women sitting around the low round table during these strange moments in which Jawhara looked to be absent minded, thought that she was in reality in a stance of some kind of contemplation and meditation.

The black woman was not aware of the fact that she was absent for few seconds from the dining room and that she was in spirit far away in another world that was different from the real world in which ordinary people lived. Jawhara could not tell others at all what she did nor what she saw during these few seconds of mental or spiritual and intellectual escape.

Yet, physically, Jawhara was with the others in the farm house eating either in lunch or in dinner time. But she could not say where her spirit was. This strange phenomenon of a short duration absence of the spirit of the black woman was perplexing all the other women, wives, concubines and the sister of the farmer.

The phenomenon of the short mental and spiritual absence and escape puzzled and stunned the others, those who were sharing with her the daily bread provided to them by the husband, the farmer of the quarter.

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Each one of the women of the farm-house tried to find an answer of her own to what she has been witnessing of strange and perplexing behavior of the black woman, Jawhara.

Each woman went back in her memory to the past, to her family life, where she spent many years of her life before coming to the house of her husband. All of the women could not recall that a member of their family was manifesting some kind of a bizarre behavior as was demonstrated at that time by Jawhara, the black woman. Nobody in their families had ever stopped eating during a meal time just to carry out some kind of a contemplation exercise.

Jawhara never told the other members of the family when she became absent what happened to her in the evasion. Of course, she could not have any explanation or interpretation for her mental or spiritual escape. Even she was not aware of the occurrence of the escape so as to carry out some contemplation regarding it.

Once in one of the hot summer days, perhaps in one of the days of May when wild flowers were scattered beautifully everywhere around the farm-house and when nature in those days looked to be giving birth to all kinds of living things specially trees and flowers in the small gardens surrounding the farm-house, all the members of the family were taking their dinner. Nobody was absent.

Amongst those present in this important dinner was the master of the house, the husband of all the seven women, six white or brown color wives and the seventh of shining black color. In addition to these seven married women, the sister of the farmer, Helwa was sitting next to Jawhara around the big low round table which could accommodate at least ten adults very easily.

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The two, Jawhara and Helwa, were in fact facing the master of the house. Both were sitting in front of the farmer. This sitting arrangement around the low table was ordered by the master of the house and it was followed meticulously whenever the man of the house attended dinner or the lunch meal.

This was a day of Friday in which the farmer used to take rest and stay in the house and around it for the whole day. On Fridays the farmer took care of the little garden and from time to time he visited the nearby poultry sheds. He liked to watch all the hens, the young hens, the chicks and the cocks of the farm. He liked to watch the cocks more than the others specially the way they walk in a dignified manner and the way they treat their wives. He was fond of watching the cocks when they jumped on the back of their hens. He liked to watch the way hens yielded and resigned to the whims and the sexual fantasies of their cock, their husband.

The farmer was silent, as usual, and was waiting the plates of the food to be placed on the round table by the maids. He was waiting for the various dishes, for the bread and the green olives and the green onions. The farmer looked around and stared fixedly at the faces of the eight females sitting around the round low table.

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Each of these women was accustomed to be gazed at by the master of the house. They knew that by that examining look of their husband he was trying to know if any new event that has taken place in the house. Nothing, nothing was more important than to find out that one of the seven women was revealing or exhibiting some signs of being at last pregnant.

Of course, none of the seven women could show any of such signs, except by a miracle, by a heavenly miracle. So far the husband has tried all the extraordinary ways for overcoming his sterility. None of his wives and concubines could give or exhibit a sign that she would be realizing the agonizing wish of the farmer to have a child, a son, an heir.

4) The farmer, while staring at this woman or that, he was thinking of the possibility of a miracle by which one of his women would get pregnant.

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

Lately, night and day, he thought that nothing could save him but a miracle. He thought that one day he could have the necessary vitality to make one of his wives pregnant.

He hoped that only one of them would give him the much awaited son, only one son, by a miracle. He did not need more than one son who would bear his name and inherit his fame and his wealth.

But how could this miracle take place? He looked around him at each of the seven women but he could not see anything at all in any of them. He continued staring and gazing for some time at Suha. But after a short while he moved his look to others again by passing the shining and attractive face of Jawhara.

At that moment, the sterile farmer, the helpless and the hopeless man had a strange feeling as if he felt that some fantastic thing, invisible, unseen and inconspicuous has been present in the place where his family was sitting taking dinner.

The farmer of the quarter had the feeling that something spiritual and imperceptible has just passed in the ephemeral space in a speed that exceeded that of light. He could not know the nature of this Spirit that tried to make its presence known, felt and experienced in a flash of light.

The farmer was dazed and stunned and tried his best to forget all what he imagined and all what he felt and he came back to the world of reality, to the reality, to the world in which he has been incarcerating eight women in his fortress and in waiting for salvation.

All of those sitting on mattresses around the table began eating silently. Nobody was allowed to speak unless asked by the master of the house. Consequently, dinner went on in order and as usual. From time to time, one of the women had the courage of looking at the husband just to see in which mood he was. As much as it was possible each of the eight women tried to have a quick look at their disturbed and troubled man who was lost and looked to be in a pensive mood.

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It was just at the middle of dinner when everybody was busy in eating all kinds of food offered on the round table that the master of the house noticed that his black wife was in a somewhat strange state of silence and taciturnity. She was in a state which indicated that she was absent from the gathering and from dinner.

Jawhara looked as if she had a short evasion that lasted for few seconds. Perhaps, for the people around the black woman her evasion was that of few seconds but for her it was an escape in the eternity and a journey in the infinity of time and space.

By now, all the wives of the farmer were well aware that the black woman manifested this absence from time to time. Nobody dared to ask Jawhara about the reason for those whims of escape and caprices of mental evasion.

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However, these absences and the short mental escapes of the beautiful black woman were repeated and were remarked with amazement by the husband who could not keep silent without any reaction or comment. Jawhara was just sitting in front of the farmer so it was very easy for him to notice and witness these frequent evasions of this woman who sometimes looked for him to be an angel.

5) "What is wrong with you, Jawhara? Are you sick? Do you suffer from something, from a pain in the stomach, in the chest, in the heart, in the breast, in the back, or what?" said the worried and the disturbed farmer of the quarter.

No! What do you mean by being sick? I am now in a good health. I really suffer from nothing. Replied innocently and naively the black wife without daring to look at the face of her worried husband.

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But you have been showing some symptoms of being sick during meals recently. Also you have been showing this absence of mind, this mental evasion, in various situations and circumstances. All others, I mean the other women of the house told me that you manifest these whims, these mental impulses, throughout the day and the night especially in meals time. Tell me frankly, Jawhara, what is wrong with you? Why do you look to be absent minded, sometimes? This has been just observed, noticed lately, recently, that is since several weeks, by all of us, by all the members of the family, even by the three maids. We would like to know what is wrong with you? said the astonished farmer insistently to the tranquil, placid and serene black woman.

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Don't worry. There is nothing wrong with me. I just, from time to time to time, make some effort to reflect, to ponder, to contemplate. It just comes to me that I have to escape for a moment from the world I am living in. I do not choose this moment of mental evasion. I just feel some kind of a touch on my shoulder; an invisible hand touches my whole existence. I just escape and I feel myself flying, escaping in the vast infinite universe.

Is there anything wrong in this, I mean in this evasion, in this escape? Frankly speaking, I do not know exactly why I escape and start meditating and contemplating. I do not remember what I do when I discover myself in this mental evasion. Really, it is in spite of me that I find myself in an evasion. Do you think that this escape of few seconds to be bizarre, grotesque and unusual? Responded the black woman solemnly.

Never mind, do not worry! I think all of us do the same thing as you do but we are not conscious of what we do. How silly we behave in such circumstances. Don't worry. Continue eating. All of us want to go to bed as soon as possible. Perhaps you have more time in your bedroom to carry out evasions, contemplations and meditation. When we add more years to our life we are supposed to become wiser and more sagacious. said the master of the farm-house.

Thank you, thank you. I promise you to be always conscious of what goes on around me. I am not supposed to have these mental evasions. This is not my choice. I hope that in the coming days I would lead a normal life, a normal behavior. said the black women, the preferred wife of her husband, Jawhara.

6) Dinner was finished. It did not take more than one hour. All members of the family were served a cup of tea at the end of dinner. It was the tradition in the privileged families of the society to have tea at the end of lunch and dinner. All the women felt relieved to have ended the dinner meal peacefully and quietly. The women felt that they became out of the close control of the master of the house.

Each member of the family went in her way and the dining room was a deserted place after the three maids finished arranging and cleaning the dining room. The master of the house could not go to his bedroom. It seemed that he had some worry regarding the recent development in the daily behavior of his preferred wife, the black woman.

Contrary to his new acquired habit of having some alcoholic drinks, like ark before and during dinner time, the master of the house was solemn, sober and calm. Actually, he finished his dinner with some anxiety and apprehension concerning the mental state of his preferred wife, the black woman.

The farmer of the quarter could not go to his room. Instead he went to the bedroom of his first wife whom he considered as the wisest and the best experienced woman of the family. He had the intention of discussing the problem which Jawhara faced with his first wife. He was convinced that his preferred wife had a problem and that he should try his best to help her.

But before offering the black wife the required help he thought that it was better to discuss the matter with his first wife who was a woman of wisdom and experience. Anyhow, that was what the husband thought. He went immediately to the bedroom of his wife and informed her of the purpose of his visit.

6) "I would like to discuss with you for few minutes the problem which Jawhara faces and the nature of which I really do not know at all. This is a recent development in the behavior of Jawhara. This silence which dominates her frequently is nothing but a symptom of something which seems to me dangerous and of grievous and outrageous consequences. What do you think of this? What is your opinion? Please help me," said the farmer in addressing his first wife.

Yes I agree with you. What happens to her is nothing but a source of worry and concern to all of us. We see her manifesting her evasion, sometimes during meals and sometimes while taking the morning coffee. Really I cannot understand her sorrowful and miserable mental state.

Do you think that she is on the verge of becoming insane, a fool, and an idiot? Listen to me. Because you go in the morning to your work and come back in the evening, you do not see every bit of the strange behavior manifested by her. In our case, we stay practically for the whole day with her; we can see most of her strange and odd behavior.

Although she comes out of her bedroom late in the morning we could see much of her strange behavior during the morning bath session in which all of us participate. When Jawhara is completely naked in the bath room she begins to massage her breast and her belly, her thighs and her buttocks.

This is just a recent development in her bath taking practice. We, the women, got surprised to see her doing this massage to her delicate body. I am sure that this black woman is not normal. There is something hidden in her spirit. Nobody knows why she does this massage to the sensitive and tender parts and organs of her body. said the first wife.

As you said, I am afraid something is happening in her mind and in her spirit. I am wondering what we should do. I have heard of very few cases of women who became fools, who lost their mind, who became violent in their daily behavior and who were sent in the final analysis to some kind of a mental hospital, or to an isolated cell in the hospital of the quarter. said the farmer.

We should not go as far as you are explaining. She is neither violent nor completely calm. Most of the time, Jawhara looks normal. The only abnormal thing she does is her frequent evasion, her repeated mental escape. Let us not exaggerate. Let us hope that she would improve very soon and that she would recover. Let us hope that it is a passing event that would disappear by the passing of time. said the first wife.

Let us hope so. Just now I thought of the sorceress of the quarter. Why not take Jawhara to the sorceress, our neighbor. She might help us and I am sure that she had similar cases of mental disturbances which she had treated in her long years of practicing sorcery. said the farmer.

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O!! You always take refuge in times of difficulties and problems in the wisdom of the sorceress. Frankly speaking I do not advice you to take the black woman there, to the house of this evil witch. I do not trust her. She is only a sorceress that spreads evil. For me she represents the devil, or in fact, she is the devil himself. Do not go to her for the treatment of your black wife. Let us wait for few days, maybe for some weeks. She might improve very soon without the sorceress. said the first wife.

O.K., I agree with you. Just let us give chance to time. She might recover from any kind of illness or indisposition in the near future. But at the same time I propose that we continue to observe her night and day from a distance. Listen to me attentively. Five days ago when I went to her room with the purpose of sleeping with her, she just asked me to leave the room because she said she was not in the mood. She refused to let me come near to her bed and even to her. She requested me to stay afar. Of course, I was amazed and even was astounded. How could my favorite wife refuse to sleep with me? I wondered what was wrong with her, what was happening to her? Anyhow, and in the final analysis she said that she did not feel well and that she could not offer me her spirit and her body.

She refused obstinately to discuss with me the problem. Of course, she did not want to discuss with me the problem, her problem. I did not want to go on discussing her illness with her or her indisposition, her ailment. I could not find any reason for me to stay more time in the bedroom of my black wife. It was for the first time that one of my women refused to offer me the privilege and the right of sleeping with her. I left the room and since that day I never thought of going to her bedroom. said the farmer.

What a shame of her!!! How could she treat you in such an unexpected and unacceptable way? At least she could have let you sleep with her in the bed without touching her. You remember how many times you just wanted to sleep in my bed, near my body, but without making love to me, said the first wife.

Still I am thinking of consulting the sorceress of the quarter. I think she can help me, said the farmer.

Really, it is your right to consult the witch in such a very delicate matter. Do not hesitate. Go to her as soon as possible. said the first wife.

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7) Then the two, the husband and the first wife, discussed other matters of daily concern such as changing some old pieces of furniture by new ones in all parts of the farm-house, the white-washing of the corridors and the kitchen. Even they discussed the possibility of adding a fourth maid to the serving personnel of the house. A niece of the first maid whose husband died recently and who did not have children at all was proposed to be joining the serving staff.

No Coming Back
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

The wise and experienced first wife had the intention of touching for a while the matter of the presence of his sister, Helwa, in the house and how it was time for her to get married. She told him that it was possible to make indirect contacts with families that have young men who were not yet married. But the farmer, to the astonishment of the first wife, refused to discuss the matter. The first wife could guess that her husband wanted to keep his sister, Helwa, living for the time being in the house. He would consider the possibility of her marriage after few years. But for the time being, his sister should be living in his house with the other female members of the family.

While discussing all of these family matters of a general nature, the first wife came back to the main topic that she was discussing with her husband, the problem of Jawhara and the frequent mental evasion.

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I am surprised to hear from you that the black woman refuses to sleep with you. This is very strange behavior that can't be explained for the time being. I never heard that a woman, a wife, in our community, refuses to sleep with her husband when he wants. A woman always welcomes the wishes, the offers of her husband.

Then the first wife stopped talking and began to reflect and to close her eyes in a repeated manner. What was she trying to remember? What? What? Then at last she stopped blinking, winking, she opened her eyes widely. She smiled for a while and then she smiled again and again as if she had in her mind an idea, a thought, a notion, an opinion, a sentiment.

Then she kept silent feeling that she did not have the right of free speech in the presence of her master, her husband. She remained taciturn and uncommunicative. She was considering and for a while if she had the right to pose to her husband a question, an embarrassing question related to his very private life.

Still the first wife was holding herself back, she was reluctant and was thinking twice whether to discuss the subject with the husband or not. But at last she took the decision to talk in a very frank and courageous manner. She thought that it was her only chance to express her ideas and to tell her husband whatever she wanted and whatever came to her mind.

The husband at that moment was wondering what his wise and experienced wife was going to say. He was as a matter of fact afraid that his wife was going to reveal some secrets of their daily life.

At that moment he could not guess at all what his wife was about to say. The eyes of the first wife were really twinkling and her lips were moving up and down but he could see her teeth and her tongue moving in her mouth. Was she talking to him? No words and no sounds were coming from this mouth which he kissed so far many times.

The husband of the woman was about to ask her whether something wrong happened to her or whether she was saying good-bye to the world. He thought that he should ask her whether she was suffering from some pain in her head or in her stomach.

The husband looked around in the bedroom to see whether everything was normal and dared to stare at the curtains to find out whether somebody was hiding behind these curtains. He looked underneath the bed. There was nothing abnormal.

The wife was still hesitant to talk and she was keeping herself completely silent and calm. The husband thought that there was something wrong in the whole atmosphere in the bedroom, in the garden, in the courtyard. The time was after dinner and the darkness of the night was dominating in the surrounding of the farm-house.

Of course, the owl of the small garden was there in the tree on one of its branches listening to what was said by the husband and his wife about the black woman who was thought to be suffering from something unknown, a disease, sickness, disorder, curse, malediction, damnation, affliction, misfortune or an imprecation.

At last, the first wife of the farmer decided to speak:

I am in fact wondering why Jawhara did not let you sleep with her or even let you be near her in the bed. I would like to tell you that Jawhara never told me anything about this incident, this anecdote. Usually, we do not tell each other what happens to us with you in our bedrooms. Be sure that this applies to the black woman. She never tells us what happens to her in the bedroom when you visit her in the midst of the night or when all the stars of the night twinkle in the sky. Naturally we never tell her about our romantic nights with you. Each one of us keeps her stories to herself.

The first wife was interrupted almost angrily by the farmer of the quarter.

Would you please tell me what you have in your mind? I can't bear and tolerate any more such a torturing and boring introduction to something which you are going to say sooner or later. I am going to lose my patience. Please tell me what you want to say to me. Don't hesitate to tell me anything you want. You are free to say whatever you like to say. Please, don't torture me. Say something. said the farmer.

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I think you were drunk, completely drunk when you went to the bedroom of Jawhara. Evidently, she refused to let you sleep with her in the bed because you were drunk, completely drunk and intoxicated. I am sure, in that night you had more than three glasses of Arak, or perhaps more than that. I am sure that you smelled in a strange manner. I do not want to tell you that your smell was disgusting and loathsome. In those nights when you are drunk you lose all your power and you lose all possibility of full love making and you become like a man who is about to die. I am certain you were drunk when you were in the room of the back woman. She refused you because when you are drunk you are useless, worthless, unproductive and a futile human being. said the first wife.

8) The master of the house left the bedroom of his first wife without understanding why his favorite wife, the black woman, had from time to time, a mental evasion or escape. This phenomenon, manifested by Jawhara, was puzzling the husband who wanted an explanation for that. He was disappointed and was more or less annoyed and disturbed. Nothing escaped him of what went on in the house with the exception of this mental evasion of Jawhara.

Some days passed by and the eyes of the women of the farm-house were focused on the black woman. Helwa was no more of interest to them. The sister of the farmer was by then beyond any doubt innocent and she was left to move freely in the farm-house and to move around within the limits of the surroundings of the house without any control.

Helwa was considered innocent of any accusation, of any misconduct and of any evil doing. Now all eyes were focused on the daily life and behavior of the black woman who, in fact, did not show any symptom of deviation from the normal behavior with the exception of her frequent mental evasion.

Yet it was noticed that her evasion has increased in its frequency and in its duration. Jawhara was asked several times about her evasion but she did not give any explanation. She refused to discuss the matter with anybody.

Faced with this curious dilemma, the farmer was more and more worried about his dear and favorite black wife. He did not want to lose her one day in the near future. As a matter of fact he considered the black woman as the shining star in his house and without whom life would be dominated by darkness and even misery.

With the passing of days, the farmer was realizing that Jawhara was the cornerstone of his happiness and the source of his hope and salvation. Naturally, the farmer could not explain why he was so much attached to this woman. Although he had six other women who were under his authority and were under his disposal and his whims and fancies he felt nobody could compete with his black wife as far as love and affection were concerned.

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One day, the farmer took the decision of consulting the sorceress regarding the mental evasion of his second wife, Jawhara. He heard recently that she helped a family that had trouble with their adolescent daughter who preferred to have always on her the sleeping gown and to stay all the time, night and day, either in her bed or in her easy-chair. In fact, the sorceress was able convince this daughter to leave her bedroom and lead a kind of a normal life.

The farmer did not tell anybody concerning his decision to consult the sorceress. Instead of going to his work in the plantation fields on his horse back, he went on foot to the house of the sorceress. This house was more or less nearby the farm-house. It was within a walking distance from the residence of the farmer.

Actually, the sorceress was well aware of the most recent developments in the farmer's house including what was happening to the black woman. The clever witch had her own methods of knowing what was going on in the farm-house. At the same time, the sorceress was also well informed of what was going on in the houses of the three agricultural laborers.

The time which the farmer chose to see the witch was early in the morning and the witch who was about to be sixty years old might have been at that time of the day asleep. It was not early and the farmer had to wait for a considerable time in front of the main gate of the residence of the sorceress.

No doubt, the witch was sleeping at that time. The farmer had the courage to open the door of the witch's house and to go inside without permission. He was in the middle of the courtyard looking around. He was looking for the sorceress.

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The sorceress came out of her house and she saw her neighbor, the farmer, standing in the middle of the courtyard.

Good morning. I am sorry to come to you in this early time in the morning. I have to consult you concerning an important matter. said the farmer.

Please tell me. I am really ready to listen to you. As usual I am always under your service and I am ready to help you. What is the matter, the problem this time. said the sorceress.

The farmer kept silent for a while and could not know what to say and how to explain his problem. For a while, the farmer looked to be in confusion and in perplexity. He swallowed some of his saliva and at that time he was meditating. Then some blinking was exhibited by his eyes. How could he explain his problem, that of his wife, the black woman? What could the sorceress say about the mental evasion of the black woman?

The sorceress noticed very quickly that the farmer was suffering from some confusion and embarrassment. So she invited the farmer to accompany her inside the house to talk to each other in the parlor. The farmer accepted the invitation and went without hesitation to inside the parlor and he took a seat. After that the farmer spoke.

It is my black woman, Jawhara. I do not know exactly what is wrong with her. Recently we have been remarking that Jawhara becomes a victim of a kind of mental evasion, a mental escape. I do not say that she is in a crisis or in danger. But I do not want this mental evasion to degenerate into something which would be difficult to cure, to heal, to remedy. What could you offer me as an advice in this respect? I want her to stop this mental evasion, this mental degeneration. We imagine her to be on the verge of losing her mind, of becoming a fool, insane. said the farmer.

The sorceress could not give an opinion concerning this problem. She did not want to be involved in such a sensitive case. For the witch, the case of Jawhara did not look to be simple. It looked for her very complicated.

The sorceress, recently, has been witnessing some strange phenomenon inside, outside and around the farm-house. The sorceress could see by her methods of sorcery everything inside the farm-house with the exception of the bedroom of the second wife, the black woman, Jawhara, and the favored wife of the farmer.

The sorceress could not find any explanation for the disappearance of Jawhara from her screen of vision. Always, whenever she wanted to see Jawhara, a heavy black veil, a curtain, blocked the eyes of the witch from seeing the black woman in her bedroom.

Based on this background, the sorceress could not give an answer to the farmer because she has found herself in a critical situation. Actually, she took her decision not to cooperate with the farmer in the problem of the frequent evasion of his black wife. The sorceress could not see Jawhara in her screen of vision.

Why are you keeping silent? Why don't you say something? You are free to say yes or no. You are not obliged to give me your opinion. You know that I can't bring Jawhara to your house and I can't take you to my house to see my wife. I am doing this preliminary consultation and investigation behind her back, without her knowledge or consent. She does not know that I am here, in your house. She thinks that I am in the plantation fields on my horse back. It seems to me that this case, the case of Jawhara, looks to be almost unique. As far as I know, mental evasion is a new phenomenon in my family and I do not want it to spread to my other wives, my other women. I do not want to wake up in the morning and find out all the members of my family having mental evasion like Jawhara. It seems to me that we are facing a serious problem and I do not press you to help me after I have seen your hesitation and your reticence. said the farmer to the sorceress.

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

9) The farmer of the quarter could not stay any longer in the house of the sorceress. He was confused as a result of this visit to his neighbor, the sorceress. The witch told him some thoughts and reflections about the mysterious nature of the personality of his black woman. The sorceress spoke about veils, screens and black curtains protecting Jawhara from being seen by others at certain mysterious, inexplicable and enigmatic moments. She could not be seen by others from afar when she was found all alone in the bedroom.

What a mystery, what a mystery!!! How could this phenomenon take place? How would Jawhara have mental evasions and how could she be invisible when she was all alone in the bedroom, her bedroom? The farmer continued to ask himself these questions concerning his black wife.

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

Obviously, he was confused and puzzled and could not understand the witch when she spoke about the invisibility of his black wife and her instantaneous disappearance whenever somebody made some effort to see her in her bedroom.

When he left the house of the witch, it was still the morning of a summer day. The moment he was outside he decided to go to the stable to have his white horse so as to be able to carry out his daily visits to the fields. It was the time for the harvest of all the crops of wheat and barley. There in these fields he saw the three young agricultural laborers who were busy in supervising the several workers, men and women, who were busy in harvesting the crops.

The farmer was glad and satisfied to find in front of him an excellent harvest. While coming back from the fields he still remembered his black wife, Jawhara. He recalled also how he was afraid that his wife would be soon suffering from a possible degradation and deterioration of her mental health. The farmer left his white horse in the stable and rushed to visit his various commercial establishments down in the quarter.

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The farmer was worried and this feeling of being annoyed and disturbed was visibly reflected on his face. His wives as well as his sister noticed that the master of the house was really concerned and upset.

All the women, the six, of the farmer, had the same feeling regarding the continued worry of their husband. But they could not propose to him anything. What was happening to the black woman was beyond their capacity to understand. The phenomenon of the mental evasion of Jawhara, the second wife of the farmer, was beyond their capacity to understand.

All of them were expecting that what the black woman was manifesting in a frequent way would develop in the future into a more dangerous case of total mental disturbance which would inevitably develop into insanity.

The black woman did not stop her mental evasion at all. However, nobody was sure whether Jawhara could by herself stop her evasion, her mental escape. It was thought that this mental escape came to her in spite of her will. The evasion was like a mental attack imposed on her. There was no escape for her from this mental sickness of a short duration.

The mental evasion was imposed on her. In fact, she was destined to have, between now and then, these mental evasions. Nobody told the dark woman that she became invisible and that she was imperceptible and inconspicuous.

The sorceress could not see the black woman when she had the dilemma, the crisis of the mental evasion. In another sense, Jawhara could not be seen by the evil spirit, by the sorceress. Yet, she could be seen when having the mental evasion, by the other members of the family.

The black woman manifested this evasion mostly during meals time and even during recreation time. However, the duration of this evasion was becoming longer and longer. Sometimes, an evasion continued for more than two or three minutes.

In such cases, the other women of the farmer could do nothing but to look at each other and to wait. In cases where the husband was present, his women looked at his face just to know his reaction to this new development, that is, the increase in the duration of the mental evasion of the black woman.

The women of the farmer still believed that their husband was somewhat informed of the exact nature of this mental evasion of Jawhara. They were, by now, informed that the farmer saw the sorceress and that this source of evil in the whole community has told him something concerning the mental evasion of the black woman.

What was behind all of this mystery, all of this riddle, all of this puzzle … or this entire secret? All of the women were convinced that the farm-house would very soon witness new major and surprising developments. They could not discuss the matter of the mental evasion of Jawhara with their husband. They knew that their husband talked about this matter with the first wife but nothing came out of this meeting and of this consultation.

Still the wives, the sister of the farmer and even the three maids were wondering what was going on in the farm-house and around the farm-house. They had the feeling that the three young agricultural laborers could have or could have had a role in the whole mystery that has been manifesting itself in the small world of the farm.

10) The sister of the farmer, Helwa, was leading her normal life and she continued to have her tumultuous and tempestuous dreams and nightmares. She persisted telling the stories of her dreams to her faithful and sincere maid. Helwa never ceased to cry in her nights because of the dreams and the nightmares.

The other women in their bedrooms persisted to hear the cries of the sister of their husband. But from now on all the members of the family were sure that the cries and shouts of the sister were just those of the horrible dreams. Helwa was innocent and she never ceased to read books and magazines and to ask her brother to bring her more and more of books sold in the small bookstore nearby the mosque of the quarter. The farmer treated his sister in a very nice way and brought to her whatever she wanted from the local market or from shops in other markets. It became totally evident that the sister of the farmer was innocent and that she led a virtuous type of life.

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Yet nobody knew exactly what was going on behind the screens and the curtains. Life in the darkness of the night was more or less another world. This life of the night was of a different type from that of the day.

Life in the opinion of the farmer would have been normal had it not been for the abnormal condition of his preferred wife, Jawhara. Really the master of the farm-house was noticing that the mental condition of the black woman was getting worse and worse and day after the other. Her mental evasion, short or long, was all the time manifested by Jawhara.

It seems that all the members of the family were considering the mental state of the black woman as an abnormal phenomenon that had to be accepted and to be lived with as long as Jawhara was not hurting or harming anybody and as long as the master of the farm-house did not complain, did not grumble or lament.

Of course, all the members of the family, in spite of the state of truce, cease-fire and respite, were expecting some more developments and surprises.

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