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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, wherever she was in the farm-house in company of a group of the other wives, the concubines and the sister of her husband, she incessantly kept silent and taciturn.

Her customary role was to listen to what others say and to what others discuss. From time to time, she presented with hesitation to the group of women a short but a concise comment without committing herself to anything.

In other words she was regularly neutral and uncommitted and did not want to give the impression that she was dissatisfied, disappointed or even annoyed. She listened attentively to what others were saying. Yet sometimes she smiled for a short while just to show her interest in what was discussed.

Jawhara never laughed when others did. She rarely laughed since her early childhood, but she has been accustomed to smile in a very peaceful way and in tranquility. The black woman behaved in a reserved manner when those present in a group meeting tried to make a silly joke or to present a sarcastic comment. In all cases, there was a limit for her interaction and communication with others in the farm-house. She knew perfectly well those limits beyond which she could not go to explore the world outside these unknown limits.

She was all the time afraid of making a fault or falling in a trap, or caught up in a snare or in an ambush. Yet, her silence and what others thought as hesitation and fear did not put her in a position which could have been considered by others as embarrassing or encumbering.

All the female members of the farm-house knew that she was a very intelligent woman in addition to her being extremely beautiful and charming. All of the six women were in fact jealous of her glittering and twinkling black color.

The silence of the black women, Jawhara, was not a weakness in her. She was really an audacious and a bold woman. To survive in a semi-total white color community she had no choice but to have a lion heart. In all cases and circumstances she behaved like an angel. The way she behaved in the house demonstrated that she was intelligent, clever and above all wise.

Moreover, and most important of all was that all the other women in the house have been constantly realizing and little by little and day after day that Jawhara, the black favored woman of the master of the house, had a secret which she was hiding all the time.

All the members of the farm-house have been noticing since a long time that the black woman had a secret which was kept in the deepest part of her heart and her spirit. Still more than that, the women of the farm-house considered her, in her totality, as a riddle and a mystery. Her presence amongst them signified something inexplicable, something enigmatic and baffling.

Each one of the other six women of the farm-house thought of Jawhara as a phantom that was living in their midst. Some of the women of the house thought that the black woman disappeared sometimes during the night. But, of course nobody witnessed that.

The first wife claimed that once and in the midst of the night she saw Jawhara quite naked but she disappeared in the obscurity and in the darkness of the night. Jawhara just vanished in the obscure world of the night.

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Nobody in the house had any idea about this secret which the black woman kept for herself. All the residents of the farm-house, including the three maids, were well aware of the fact that the black wife was really living in two different and separate worlds, the two distinct, unlike and dissimilar worlds.

Of course, nobody could penetrate into her inner soul so as to discover and see the secret, her secret. But in spite of all of these strange ideas and hallucinating impressions about Jawhara and about her behavior that looked more or less awkward and in spite of her efforts to stay continually enveloped by a thick veil that separated her and her spirit from others, she was not affected at all. She did not give up. She continued to live and survive in this world of white and brown women and in this world which was at the same time black and obscure.

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For so many times, the other six women of the family talked discreetly to each other in her absence, about her and about what they judged as a peculiar and queer behavior. All the women of the farm-house including the old maids and the young sister of the farmer have been repeating the idea that the black woman had a secret to hide in her soul and in her spirit.

Each woman of the house has tried individually to discover the secret of Jawhara by talking to her in her bedroom or in any other place in the house. No one was able to have a single hint regarding the nature of the secret, that of the black woman. All of the women of the house believed that there was something behind her mental evasion, her mental escape.

How could they, the other women of the house, know and discover what was going on in the mind of Jawhara while she was having a mental evasion, a mental escape? Of course, she herself, the black woman, could not tell anybody about her experiences while she was in the midst of the mental escape. In fact, she herself did not know what was going on in the short evasion which she used to have between now and then. Was she, in these mental evasions, in contact with somebody who was not visible at all to any member of the family?

It was also an established fact that the husband of the black woman who was also the husband of the six other women of the house was not aware of the real nature of the secret of his favored wife, the black woman, Jawhara. The husband, the farmer of the quarter, was without exception in the darkness as far as the secret and its nature which Jawhara was obstinately hiding and keeping for herself.

2) Jawhara, one day, in the middle of a very warm summer night got up all of a sudden form her deep sleep. At that night she was almost sleeping naked. She was sleeping on her left side and she was respiring with some difficulty. Nothing was on her black and charming body with the exception of the small underwear which her husband, the farmer, bought for her in one of his business trips to the neighboring countries.

Jawhara was in fact perspiring abundantly in all her black body especially on her face and on her breast. Jawhara was extremely curious as well as astonished to see most of her body covered with a layer of sweat that looked like some kind of colored water.

She wondered why her two breasts were somewhat trembling and shivering and her nipples were covered with little drops of sweat. The bedroom was still submerged in a complete darkness and nothing could be heard inside and outside the bedroom. The whole world around her was fully asleep, the human beings, the animals and the birds with the exception of the owl that was watching what was going around in the garden of roses and inside the bedrooms of the various wives and concubines and in the corridors.

Jawhara stayed lying leisurely in her wide and spacious metallic bed. But she looked around although it was very dark and dim. Of course, Jawhara could not see anybody in the room. The bedroom was vacant with the exception of the presence of the black woman herself.

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Smile under the Hat 7
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 the feeling and the sensation, before waking up, that her husband was visiting her in the bedroom. But actually the husband was not there. Jawhara was sure at that moment that she was dreaming and nothing else. Her husband could not have come to her bedroom. The whole story could not have been but a dream.

The black woman asked herself the following question. Who could have touched her two bosoms and could have sucked her two small nipples? Who could have touched her breast and her legs, her thighs, her feet? Before waking up from her sleep she had the real feeling that there was a human being in the room who was playing with her breast. She felt that the hands that played with the two bosoms were those of a man.

She also dreamt that somebody played with her nipples and then sucked them for a while as if he was a baby feeding himself from the breast of his mother. Jawhara felt that the person who was playing with her body was a man, a young man.

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But that entire incident was a dream and nothing else. She was sure of that. Nobody could have penetrated into her bedroom by its only window. Impossible, impossible; it never happened in the house. It was not reported at all that the bedroom of a certain woman was penetrated in the night.

Jawhara was sure that this sensational adventure could never have happened to her. Perhaps, it could have happened to some others, but not to her. Yet, how strange this fantastic dream was? If it had been told to others it would not have been accepted as a real event. All would have said that this was a dream.

Nevertheless, how strange this dream was!! It was a fantastic dream. It was certain that nobody would believe that it was true.

Of course, it would be risky and dangerous if the farmer of the quarter, the husband of all, was told the story. It would have been considered as a scandal and the most shameful dishonor of the time.

There was a candle on the low table in the middle of the bedroom of Jawhara. She took the candle and she lit it. What she saw and witnessed was extremely fantastic and bizarre. Everything in the bedroom was in order and there was no evidence that a person, an intruder, was inside at any time of the night.

The black woman looked at her bed in a very worried manner and she was expecting that she would notice something abnormal and extraordinary. She, after inspecting her bed thoroughly and meticulously came to the conclusion that only one person used the bed throughout the night. She came to the conclusion that it was she and only she who made use of the bed. There was no indication, no trace that the bed was used by more than one person.

She took away the bed sheet which she used as a cover in the hot summer season. She looked at the bed and was satisfied to find it all in order. She could not find the trace of a man who could have slept with her for a while during the night. The thorough inspection of the bedroom was finished in a very quiet way.

Happiness
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 black woman served herself a glass of water from the jar found nearby the window. In fact, there were two jars of different sizes which were all the time full of fresh water. Then she was determined to resume her sleep.

She was firmly determined not to tell the story, the incident, the dream, that has taken place during the night to no one at all, even to the most intimate friend of her, the young wife, Suha. She thought that it was normal to have such dreams and that most of the other women of the house had the same type of dreams like the one she had last night.

She was a woman, a young black woman, who has just finished the thirtieth year of her age. She did not find it strange for a married woman like her to be tempted to make love with any person, a young man, other than her husband. After all, it was all a dream, just an exciting and a mysterious dream.

Jawhara had some, love dreams in the past but all were not like the one of this night. But she could not find any relationship between her frequent mental evasion and escape and these dreams full of excitement, passion, warmth and thrill.

In the early morning, the black woman got up excited, feeling that she would have some surprises. Some expected episodes. Of course, this was only a feeling. She looked around and surprisingly found her bedroom in confusion, in total disarray and chaos. Faced with this unbelievable state of affairs the black woman was utterly stunned and bewildered. How could this confusion, this havoc, have taken place after she resumed her sleep after twelve o'clock? Has anybody come to her room and did all of this chaos, this confusion? Why she did not wake up while the intruder was carrying out his attack and even his crime?

Jawhara put everything in order in the bedroom as much as she could and as much as it was possible. She looked around to see if she could find something strange in the bedroom. She discovered that everything that was there in the room belonged to her. Nothing belonged to a stranger, to an intruder.

In looking more closely at the carpet covering the floor she discovered some of the traces of several foot-steps that were going to the direction of the only window of the room. Of course, she could not give to herself any possible interpretation for this abnormal phenomenon. Could it have been that an unknown person came into the bedroom after she resumed her sleep after midnight? Why could not she wake up from her sleep to catch the thief, the burglar, the outlaw man?

Then she came again to herself and began thinking of the possibility that the room was put into chaos and confusion just at the same time she was having her dream.

All of a sudden, the black woman put her hand on her head and began to recall exactly the events of last night. At this time of the morning, the maid servant entered into the bedroom and told Jawhara that the morning coffee was ready in the sitting room and that all the other six women and Helwa, the sister of the farmer, were waiting for her. The old maid was astonished to find the bedroom in compete disorder.

How could this have happened? The room is in a total confusion, in an absolute chaos. Not any piece of furniture is in its place. The contents of some drawers of the commode are out scattered here and there. I am wondering what could be the reason for all of this. said the maid while looking around in a surprised way.

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Nothing, nothing; I do not know who did this. Perhaps I myself did all of that while I was asleep. This happens to a lot of people. said Jawhara in a pensive mood.

I do not believe that. You could not have done all of the havoc and the chaos which I see in front of me, said the maid.

Anyhow, do not exaggerate. You can put everything in order in a very short time. Isn't it so?? answered the black woman.

Listen to me lady. Of course, it is easy to put everything in order. But the important thing is to know who did it and why. We would like to know the culprit. said the maid.

Let us close down this useless discussion and let us both of us leave the room because as you said the other ladies are waiting for me in the sitting room for having the morning coffee. By the way, I have to tell you that I do not want you telling others what you saw here this morning. Keep the incident, the event of this night a secret between you and me. There is no use to tell other what you have seen here. Keep it a secret. Maybe there would come a time when I myself would discover and reveal the secret. For the time being keep it a secret. The time is not yet ripe for the disclosure of this incident. I have the feeling that very soon the time would be ripe. said the black woman as if she was dreaming.

The fantastic and mysterious dreams continued to come to the black woman between now and then during the nights of all seasons but more specifically in spring and summer.

On the other hand, her short mental evasions and escapes during day time, especially during taking meals, became less and less frequent. Sometimes, one or two weeks used to come and pass away without the black woman having any mental evasion.

The other women of the family in addition to the husband of the seven women have noticed that Jawhara has been cured, or almost cured of the mental escape. She was no more obsessed by the devil and she was no more under the influence and the control of the evil spirit.

In fact, all the residents of the farm-house believed with conviction or came to the conclusion that the beautiful black wife of the master of the house was completely liberated, freed from the control of the invisible hand and that she was once more, like others, the master of her destiny. Jawhara was no more obliged to be the slave of the devil for a certain period of time.

On the other hand, it was not known by anyone in the wide farm-house that Jawhara was having in her sleep strange and bizarre dreams and sometimes nightmares. She was living during the nights in another world, a world of fantasy, which could not have been imagined by others.

Every now and then the black woman whose roots went back to the neighborhood of the Grand Sahara, in the City of Timbuktu, had dreams, that took her back in the depths and in the wilderness of human history, two hundred or maybe three hundred years back.

Naturally, Jawhara could not estimate and identify the epoch, the era and the time to which her fascinating dreams carried her. She was illiterate and her historical and geographical perspectives were extremely limited.

She heard the other women of the house, talking between now and then about countries which surrounded the town in which she was living. She heard them speaking about the Holy Land and the City of Mecca in the heart of which is located the Kaaba. Beyond the limit of this small geographical knowledge Jawhara knew nothing. She did not know the names of seas and oceans and rivers with the exception of the Holy River in the Valley of the Spirit where she spent her childhood and youth years of her life.

Of course, she heard also of the Sea of Death in which the Holy River pours its water and in which most of the time men float and swim on the surface without any danger of being drowned or overpowered by the waves, the cheating, the deceiving and the deluding waves. But more important, she heard that in some cases the heavy water of the Sea of Death swallows savagely and without any warning or alarm any human being who ventures to be there inside the Sea.

Jawhara never went to the coast of the Sea of Death which once in a wink of an eye gulped her eldest brother who drowned there and disappeared forever there without leaving a sign or a trace behind him.

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Between now and then, Jawhara heard some members of the family of the farm-house speaking about black peoples whose home-land was in another continent called Africa. She heard from time to time people in the house speaking about slaves and slavery and that most of those slaves were white people brought from outside the region.

Of course, there were few slaves of black complexion in regions next to the Empty Quarter, in the Fertile Crescent or in the Nile Valley. Jawhara heard from time to time, the news about black people who were still taken as slaves since few hundred years ago to the new discovered continents in the West. Jawhara was not able to grasp the idea that people from all over the African continent were kidnapped by white-blond men to be sent to slave markets in the new world.

Jawhara therefore was not aware at all of the meaning of slavery and of slave markets. She was sure that she and the ancestors of her family were of a free black people. Jawhara thought that all the black people belonged to her religion. The only place of prayer which she knew was the mosque. Jawhara believed as a first dogma in life that God is one. She believed that Mohammed was the prophet sent by God to all the people of the world.

Suffering with Hope
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 learnt many things from others when she was living in the Valley of the Spirit and on the East Bank of the Holy River. She learnt a lot of things about the world around her.

The black complexion of her skin was not a riddle for her. She was proud of her black color. Her blackness was the source of her pride, of her self-esteem and of her gratification. She knew that some people living around the house in which she was brought up before marriage were of black color. Being black meant for her only that she was equal to any other person of a different complexion, color. Sometimes, in a mood of contemplation, in a disposition of meditation and in a temperament of reflection, Jawhara felt that she was in a sense superior to others, only because she was black.

Jawhara, all the time, remembered the mysterious call that came to her and after that continued to come to her, since she came to age and had the blood of life coming out monthly from her womb. That call first came to her in the Valley of the Spirit. Jawhara knew, with the passing of time, that she was destined to have a life which was different from that of the other black girls.

While she was in the Valley of the Spirit she waited patiently until her day came. At the age of twenty she became the wife of a dignitary of the community. She became the wife of a man who later on was married to seven women. Yet, this husband failed to have a single child from any of his seven wives.

The white man, the husband, was, in fact, sterile although he was ready to give his life so as to have an heir of his own posterity.

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Jawhara incessantly, had the belief that she had a destiny that was different from that of the other six women. She was waiting for the realization of the call of the unknown which she heard when she was living in the Valley of the Spirit. Sometimes she heard this call after her marriage.

The call was for the realization and the fulfillment of a prophecy other than marriage with a dignitary of a white complexion. Jawhara did not know exactly yet this second part of the prediction of the call. Jawhara could not guess at all the nature of this unknown part of the prediction, of the call echoing in the Valley of the Spirit.

The mental evasions which Jawhara used to have for the last two years was only a source of worry for the other wives of the master of the farm-house, as well as for the husband himself. She herself could not see anything in these mental evasions. Was she in touch with the unknown, with the invisible spirit or what?

Actually, Jawhara was just absent for few minutes, for few moments. Yet others around her thought that she was a miraculous human being, a blessed woman. Some of the people around her might have thought that she was somewhat mentally ill, or retarded and nothing else, that she was a sick black woman.

4) The black woman never heard someone speaking to her about the famous city of Timbuktu. Her father, spoke of the Valley of the Spirit to a number of his children, sons and daughters and between now and then about Timbuktu, the original home-town of his family and his forefathers.

When Jawhara was present in such occasions, she listened attentively to what her father told her brothers and sisters about Timbuktu. Jawhara was increasingly fascinated by the stories told about this beautiful city of the Grand Sahara of North Africa.

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She came to know also that her roots could be traced back to Timbuktu. From the scarce information she got about the roots of her family, she could realize, that more than two hundred years separated her from Timbuktu. She thought that this was a long, long time. She also came to know that this city was far, very far from the Valley of the Spirit of the Holy River.

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Jawhara was glad and even excited to know that she was the offspring of the family that came originally from West Africa. She was also glad and proud that she was still retaining her glittering blackness.

There was not much information about her source and her roots and her origin in the Western part of the Black African Continent which could help her visualize and if possible to recreate in her imagination the Immortal City of Timbuktu.

Her father, in the Valley of the Spirit and on the Eastern Bank of the Holy River, never gave any importance to the roots, the black roots that were deeply implanted and instilled in the golden twinkling grains of sand of the Sacred Grand Sahara of Africa.

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But Jawhara, though she knew something about her roots, she was, with the passing of time and years, more eager than others to know more about the place from where her family originally came. Her mother rarely spoke about family background. In fact, the origin of the mother might not go back to Timbuktu and to the Grand Sahara regions. The mother's family background might go back, for origins, to still further westward, perhaps to the Senegal or to Gambia.

The mother's main concern was home management and taking care of the members of the family especially the children. From time to time, naturally, she heard people around her speaking about pilgrimage to Mecca. The mother of Jawhara knew that thousands of people from Timbuktu left their homes and went eastward to the Holy City of Mecca, for the sake of fulfilling their intention to perform the pilgrimage.

Jawhara was more fascinated by Timbuktu because of another reason. She was told by her father in the Valley of the Spirit that many persons of the City of Timbuktu left their home town and went to the East not only for pilgrimage but also for the learning and the pursuit of knowledge.

The City of Timbuktu was, and as a matter of fact, in the ancient golden times, a centre of learning, of scholarship and enlightenment. Many of its men left their home-town and went eastward with a double purpose, pilgrimage and the pursuit of knowledge. Pilgrimage took only as a maximum of one week of their life in Mecca and Al-Medina, where the Prophet, Mohammed, was buried.

Jawhara was all the time pleased to know about these scholars, from her original home in the heart of the Black Grand Sahara, who devoted all their life for the pursuit of knowledge from its sources in the east and in well known centers of knowledge in the Fertile Crescent, in the Valley of the Nile, in the Land of the two Rivers, in the outskirts of the Empty Quarter and in the Home of the Happy Heights.

Jawhara, perhaps, in her short evasions and mental escapes, used to have a journey, a trip or even an adventure or an excursion, some kind of a nocturnal journey, to Timbuktu. Physically, she was in the farm-house of her husband, the farmer of the quarter, but mentally and spiritually she was kidnapped, taken away, by some secret powers to the immortal City of Timbuktu.

In these mental evasions Jawhara had the chance of living, of actually residing in the heart of the City of Timbuktu, nearby the mosque where her great, great grandfather used to call the believers to pray to God in the mosque five times a day and where this same Mouazzen acted as an Imam in the group prayers, five times a day.

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People around her did not know what she was experiencing, what she was going through, what she was encountering in those few minutes of mental evasions. The other wives and concubines of the farmer of the quarter and the three maids and the sister of the husband were not in a position to understand what was happening to the black woman. Not a single member of the family was able to understand the nature of her escape and her evasion.

It was impossible for them, the various members of the family, to understand and to comprehend how a creature, a human being, a woman, could travel, within time and space, the infinite super-natural time and space, from one continent to another and from the present time back two or two long centuries of human history.

How the black woman could do it, travel within the infinite space and time, unless she herself was of a special type of a human being, a blessed creature, a holy woman and a divine descendant of a holy family?

The strange of this entire miraculous phenomenon was that Jawhara herself was not aware at the entire whole incident of the mental evasion, and what went on in that mental escape. Perhaps she was well aware of what went on in the few minutes of the evasion but when she came back to reality she could not tell others anything regarding what went on during the evasion. She had the feeling that, in fact, she saw nothing, nothing and she could not tell others about nothing.

Jawhara was physically present in the farm-house of her white complexion farmer of the quarter. Her body, in the mental evasions, was visible to all, and yet mentally speaking she did have a journey out in the absolute time and space and she was at the end of the journey in the City of minarets, Timbuktu.

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In fact, in her evasion, she could see only the City of Timbuktu, as it was about two hundred years ago when her great, great grandfather left Timbuktu with his wife in their way, journey, to the East, to Mecca.

Jawhara could not say anything about what went on in each of her mental evasion. Perhaps she was ordered by some kind of a call, a divine call, not to tell people around her in the farm-house about what she had been witnessing in her mental escapes. No doubt, she thought that the immortal city of her ancestors, of her forefathers did not want her to reveal to others that Timbuktu could resuscitate its glorious past and could resurrect its splendor and its majesty of the past.

The mental evasion became less and less frequent. Actually, there was nothing to add to the memory of the young black woman, the blessed daughter of Timbuktu. The city, where the roots of Jawhara were deeply implanted into the sand of its desert, has already resuscitated, resurrected in the memory of the young black woman, Jawhara, the wife of the farmer of the quarter, the supernatural power of living in two epochs separated in time by two centuries.

At the same time, all the other members of the family did not know at all what was going on in the spirit of the black woman. They, the wives, the concubines, the sister of the farmer and the three house maids, got worried and they were not eager to know what was going on to the black woman. They did not know at all that, inside this blessed black woman was being created a new world and a new life. The black woman from Timbuktu did not realize the importance of what she has been witnessing in these mental evasions

5) In her frequent mental escapes, Jawhara, the black woman has been more or less acquainted with the world of her roots in Timbuktu. Her acquaintance with this far place and its people was a riddle to her. It was, in one sense or another like a puzzle which needed some special mental efforts to understand and to comprehend.

How was she able, in few minutes time, to travel back in time two hundred years and to travel in space thousands of miles of desert land and green prairies and furious seas? How was it possible that she saw the father of her great grandfather sitting in a stool or a mat of straw or squatting in front of the mud house using a jug of water, trying to finish the necessary ablution rituals before the early morning daybreak prayer in the neighboring beautiful mosque?

Jawhara continued eagerly and attentively watching this old man, whose hair was all white although he looked to her to be not very old. She estimated that he was in his early sixties. This man was finishing his ablution ritual and was planning to go directly to the mosque of the quarter. Nobody was around him. May be others were carrying out this ritual somewhere else in the wide courtyard of the house as a preparation of the Morning Prayer in the mosque.

To be there, the old forefather, the Mouazzen, of Jawhara walked in a narrow lane in his way to the house of God. Nobody was in the lane, it was naturally too early for normal inhabitants to be there strolling in the narrow alley. Such lanes in the city of Timbuktu were overcrowded during daytime by adults as well as by the playing and the amusing children some of whom, the boys, were naked or semi-naked.

It was only a few minutes-walk to the mosque of the quarter. The surrounding neighborhood of the mosque was still dominated by some kind of darkness that was preparing itself to leave the quarter and hide itself for a full day behind the horizon. This darkness was in few minutes time ready to give up its power and its superiority to the rays of the awakening, shining and timid sun.

Jawhara could not understand at all why the voice of her forefather came, few minutes later on, from the minaret of the mosque of the quarter. She heard him inviting all the believers for the Morning Prayer. Far away two centuries back in time and for thousand miles far in space, Jawhara heard the melodious, sincere and musical voice of her forefather. She liked that holy and heavenly voice and she wished to have been created at that old golden epoch of Timbuktu when her forefather, the merchant of dates and salt, was the Imam and the Mouazzen of the community of believers. Jawhara was not told at all that two hundred years ago her forefather was the Mouazzen of one of the quarters of Timbuktu.

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By the time the call for prayer was finished, Jawhara, the descendant of the Imam of Timbuktu, saw in front of her several old and middle aged men, and few very old ones, coming to the mosque to pray.

Of course, among these believers were few young men. All of those early morning worshippers were white robe dressed and some of the old people had small white turbans on their head. Jawhara would imagine that at that time all the grown up and the middle aged people, men, in the immortal city of Timbuktu, were in the several mosques of the City praying to God, the Almighty.

By chance, luck and fate, Jawhara saw her great, great grandfather who came to Mecca in a pilgrimage and who then stayed at the edge of the Empty Quarter. From the immortal City, his descendants spread, unfurled, all over the Middle East and she was one of the grand children, his offspring and his descendant. Jawhara saw her great grandfather in the mosque of the immortal Timbuktu. She witnessed, from back of two centuries and from a far distance of five thousand miles, that her forefather, was at that time just twenty two years old, and just few months before he was given the permission from his father, the Imam and the Mouazzen, to go to Mecca

Jawhara saw how her great grandfather was an active man. Although he was the Mouazzen, who calls for prayer, of the quarter mosque, he was also the Imam and he was above all a man who liked to recite the Quran which he learnt all by heart when he was young in the mosque school.

In spite of all these spiritual, intellectual and social duties and responsibilities, the great grandfather of Jawhara, the Imam, had all the time to do his business as a very successful and prosperous merchant of dates, salt and tissues of cloth that were either white or of combination of different and various bright colors.

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Jawhara could see, in her miraculous day-time visions and dreams during the mental evasions, the daily life activities of her great grandmother. What a miraculous black woman of about fifty years old, or a little bit less than that was this grandmother. For sure, this miraculous, wonderful and amazing woman was in fact the head of a small black tribe composed of children and grand children, of sons and daughters.

The house of this ideal African mother in Timbuktu was like a great and a magnificent castle constructed out of mud bricks and bamboo. There was a kind of a fence around this extended family citadel. Inside this fence Jawhara could see a kind of a kingdom, the head of which was a queen, the mother, the great grandmother of the father of Jawhara.

Mothers in Timbuktu were really heroines and some kind of super human beings. They were in charge of the well being of all the members of the large extended family.

The great grandmother of Jawhara had fifteen children, almost equally divided between sons and daughters, boys and girls. Boys stayed with the mother, even when they grew up, even after marriage, within the structure of the extended family. Boys, who married later on, engendered their own children within the extended family structure. Yet, the grandmother of all, the wife of the Imam in Timbuktu, was responsible for the well being of the members of the family or of the small tribe. She was responsible for the preparation of meals for all, for the preparation and sewing and sometimes weaving of clothes for all. She was responsible of assuring that everything in the house was in balance.

Above all, the grandmother in Timbuktu, two hundred years back, was responsible for the future life of her children. All girls, as a first principle in the black community of Timbuktu, should get married. Jawhara noticed that no girl should stay in the house of her father to be later on an old maid. At that time, and two hundred years back, the girl of Timbuktu should absolutely be a virgin, and the blood of her virginity should flow abundantly on the thighs of her husband in the first night of the conjugal life. The mother of the family in Timbuktu used to work hard, very hard and she had a lot of responsibilities.

Jawhara saw and observed, watched and witnessed her African family that had lived in Timbuktu two hundred years ago. In every mental evasion Jawhara was transported in time and was carried away in space to her original root city of Timbuktu. In every evasion the black wife of the farmer of the quarter was introduced into an aspect of the daily life of her ancestors as they were two hundred years back. She adored above all her great grandmother, the mother of her forefather who left Timbuktu and went to the East beyond the Red Sea where he established a dynasty the members of which were men and women of dignity and pride.

Jawhara had enough of information about her roots two centuries ago. She no more experienced this day vision and dreams, her mental invasions, of life in the heart of the Grand Sahara.

Happiness 2
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All people around her in the farm-house noticed that Jawhara had no more the frequent mental evasions. People around her thought that Jawhara, being thought to be bewitched, was cured. They thought that she was obsessed, bewitched and spellbound.

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The first wife of the farmer of the quarter was the one who was to notice that the black woman, Jawhara, had stopped having these mental evasions and escapes. She, in fact, monitored Jawhara for several days and came to the conclusion that the black woman was no more suffering from these evasions that were judged to be horrible and terrifying. Even the first wife asked all other wives and concubines whether they saw Jawhara anymore in a mental evasion. All of them were in agreement that the black woman was totally cured and that they never saw her in recent days having the mental evasion. She was no more suffering from the horror of these escapes.

The master of the house, the farmer of the quarter, was the most satisfied member of the family to discover that his wife, the favored and the beautiful black wife, was no more suffering from mental evasions.

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Of course, nobody talked about the disappearance of this phenomenon, of this frequent incident with Jawhara herself. She herself was not planning to tell others about the vanishing of the mental evasion incidents. She was determined not to tell any of the other women of the farm-house about what she was experiencing in the mental escapes.

Jawhara was determined to keep the secrets of these evasions to herself only. She thought that there would not be any person who would be interested in her observations of the life of her ancestors back into the African Grand Sahara and two hundred years back in time and space. In other words, no one of the family would show interest in her ancestral origins and roots in the immortal city of Timbuktu.

With the passing of days, the master of the farm-house, the farmer of the quarter was extremely satisfied to see his favored black wife becoming normal like any other woman in the house. He, himself, did not want to discuss the recent developments in the mental health of his black wife with anybody.

6) One very hot summer day, Jawhara was feeling a little bit tired. She never experienced in the past such a feeling of exhaustion and lassitude. In her bedroom, she looked at her face in the mirror to see if this feeling of tiredness had any trace and signs on her black face.

She was shocked to find her face pale and even emaciated. There were some indications of pain and suffering on the black face. She was astonished to see that her blackness was more or less tarnished by the visible color of paleness and exhaustion.

She did not like this unwanted change in the color of her face because she thought seriously that this change of color was a symptom of some kind of illness the nature of which she did not know at all. She could not provide herself with any explanation for the pale face which she was seeing in the mirror of the white wall of the room.

Was it because of a dream, a nightmare? Jawhara did not know at all. She did not recall that she had a frightening dream since quite a time. She has been sleeping very well lately. For the time being she forgot her face and began to go around in her bedroom as if she was looking for something lost since a long time.

Did she lose anything in the room yesterday or several days ago? Did she? She could not give an answer to this simple question. She could not remember that she lost something in the bedroom. What could it have been? A piece of her underwear, or what!? A piece of precious and rare Jewelry her husband brought her in his recent journey to a neighboring country? She could not give an answer to this simple question.

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The problem at that moment, with the black woman, was that she was somewhat confused and maybe disturbed, deranged and upset. She did not know where she was. She had the feeling that she was found everywhere and not in a specific place. She could not see any limit, any frontier, any boundaries to the space in which she was standing or most probably lost. While roaming in the bedroom hopelessly she thought that she was walking and roaming within a huge and unlimited mirage. Thus she thought that she was, like the mirage, an imaginary creature with no real existence.

Jawhara could not know and realize that she was in her bedroom in the farm-house and that she was the wife of the farmer of the quarter who had six other women. But all of a sudden she was addressing herself by saying that she was the second wife of a husband who had in total four wives and three concubines and that her husband had his sister, Helwa, who was living in the farm-house.

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She also reminded herself that her black family lived at that time in the Valley of the Spirit on the East Bank of the Holy River. She also reminded herself that since she came to age and finished her childhood, she has been hearing a call that used to come to her from beyond the horizon.

She also knew when she was in the Valley of the Spirit that she was to marry a well known dignitary and a noble man but who discovered himself to be sterile. His semen could not engender life in any of his wives.

This fact that her husband was sterile shocked and struck her. She has been living for the last eight or ten years, since she was twenty years old, waiting to have a child to be a mother. But all her wishes and aspirations were not so far realized at all. It was the destiny, also, of the other wives and concubines not to have children. Their husband was sterile. No doubt, the man of the seven women, the sterile husband was in a dilemma. The women of this man were also in a mess, in difficulty and in a predicament. Also, Jawhara did not know exactly why she was feeling that she was in a mess, in confusion, in a trouble.

After a long time of prowling in her bedroom, Jawhara came to the mirror and took a nearby position from the mirror and looked at her face, or she wanted to look at her face. But what a surprise!! What a surprise!!

She did not see in the mirror her face, or her body, or her eyes, or any part of her charming and attractive body. Instead of all of this she saw in front of her, in the mirror, the City of Timbuktu, as it was two hundred years ago.

Jawhara saw her mother City and her roots and the home-land of her ancestors. She saw in front of her, in the mirror, the beautiful City of Timbuktu where her ancestors lived and from where her forefathers went in a pilgrimage to the East, to Mecca, two hundred years back.

Jawhara closed her wide and beautiful eyes and then after few minutes opened them and she repeated this process of opening and closing her eyes several times. But each time she saw the same scene, that of the Immortal City of Timbuktu. Inside the scene exhibited in the mirror, she saw an old man. Most probably he was the father of her forefather who came in pilgrimage to Mecca two hundred years ago. The old man was the Imam and the Mouazzen of the mosque of Timbuktu where her ancestors lived.

When Jawhara looked at the old man, the Imam and the Mouazzen of the quarter, he gave her smile, a smile of an angel. Jawhara was sure that what she was seeing was not a human being, but an angel. Light was shining in the face of the old man of Timbuktu.

The man in the mirror, who was exhibiting himself from the Immortal City, gave a smile to the Black woman, a smile of an angel. He gave it to this young woman who was one of his offspring. The old man in the mirror saw in front of him, a young and a beautiful woman, his descendant.

After some scrutiny and hesitation, some inspection and examination, he realized that the young woman looking at him, and from another epoch, another time and another place, was in fact his daughter, his descendant and his progeny, his posterity. He could see from a distance of five thousand miles and two hundred years in the future, his blood running in the veins of this beautiful young woman. There was no doubt at all that all what he was seeing away in space and time represented the truth, the reality and the verity. The two, he, the old man, and she, the young woman, were interrelated, were of the same source, of the same roots and of the same soil, that of the Grand Sahara of Africa and that of Timbuktu.

The old man who was exhibiting himself in the mirror was very proud of being from Timbuktu. He was satisfied and pleased to see his offspring still blooming and blossoming in the world specially in all regions of the East around the Holy City of Mecca and at the edge of the Empty Quarter.

Jawhara, the black woman, continued to look at the old man, her great grandfather back in Timbuktu. The time passed quickly and Jawhara thought that the old man got a little bit tired and that he was to disappear from the mirror. She was surprised to hear the old man, and all of a sudden, speaking to her, addressing her from a far distance in time and in space.

How could this incident have taken place? The young black woman could not answer this question. She was more surprised when she discovered that her great grandfather, the Imam of the mosque of Timbuktu, was about to talk to her.

7) "Listen to me, said the old man in a low and trembling voice, my dear descendant, my adored offspring and my most blessed granddaughter. It never happened, and in any epoch of human history, that human beings could communicate with each other in spite of the fact that they are separated by time and space."

As for time, I know that my son, your forefather left Timbuktu since about two hundred years and went in a pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca. There, at the edge of the Empty Quarter, he chose to stay and not to come back to Timbuktu, his home-land. You are one of his offspring, one of his granddaughters.

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Moreover, I know that about five thousand miles of land, rivers, seas and grand deserts of sand separate us now. In spite of this entire situation of absurdity, I can communicate with you. In spite of space and time, I can speak to you.

Although you can see me as a living human being, yet in fact, it is my spirit that addresses itself to you. In some way or another and from the City of Timbuktu I can overcome the barriers of space and time. Since a long time I have been following the members of my offspring, the children of my son who left his home land two hundred years ago in a pilgrimage to Mecca.

I have been seeing, observing and watching the offspring of my son since his departure from Timbuktu with his wife two hundred years ago. I could see his descendants, who are, in fact, my own offspring and posterity, spreading all over the region north of the Empty Quarter.

My descendants spread all over the region. Some of them went as far as the Land of the Two Rivers. Some others went as far as the Valley of the Nile. But, yet, most of the descendants of my son spread in the lands of the Fertile Crescent. I know that your father and mother came to the Valley of the Spirit, in the Eastern Bank of the Holy River.

There, you were born and since your birth I was sure that you have been a blessed child because your Spirit has been created in Timbuktu while in body and in physique you have been born in the Valley of the Spirit. Your spirit, as a small bird flew from Timbuktu and resided in your little black body that had just come out from the womb to your mother. It took only a wink of an eye for your blessed spirit to come out of the depth of the Holy Body of Timbuktu and come like a ray of a brilliant light to the Valley of the Spirit in the East Bank of the Holy River.

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Suburban Animal
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I am sure that what I tell you looks for you to be riddles, mysteries and puzzles. Yet, I take this opportunity to tell you the ideas and the thoughts which I am communicating to you now.

I can see, and now, you are looking at me in your bedroom. It is almost morning and you have had a nice sleep with neither dreams nor nightmares. You are now wondering how could such a thing, we seeing each other such an incident, take place.

But I am telling you, that it is possible for such an event, an incident, to take place when the persons involved in the event are blessed. I can see you living in the farm-house with your husband, the farmer of the quarter together with six other women, some of whom are wives and the others are concubines.

I can see also, that a very young woman is living in this farm-house. She is the sister of the farmer and the master of the house. This young sister is possibly destined to remain unmarried, to become an old maid in the house of her brother. Several families of reputation thought of asking the hand of the young sister for their sons. But the farmer made it known that the young sister was not available for marriage. But the farmer later on agrees to get his sister married. Many rumors are nowadays circulating in the farm and around it about some secret, illicit and sensational relations that have been going on between the brother and his sister. However, these are just rumors and imagined stories created by some of the wives with no clear and definite objective except tarnishing the reputation of the sister and her brother, the master of the house.

Since your blessed birth up till this moment I have been watching you, observing your daily life in the farm-house. I have been also witnessing the development of behavior of your husband. This man of seven women has been until now condemned to a complete sterility.

Your husband, because of his lifeless, inanimate and dead semen, could not so far engender a single offspring, an heir, and a son. The house in which you are living looks to be submerged in a deep mental and physical crisis, in a dilemma.

I tell you so far, the miserable, the hopeless and the helpless husband of seven women does not know what to do in such a horrible crisis and in such a dim and dark situation. The master of the house has been consulting since a long time the sorceress of the quarter for finding a solution for his problem of sterility.

Of course, and everybody knows that, the evil advice of the witch could not save your husband from the problem in which he is up till now submerged and even drowned. She advised him to marry several wives and take as many concubines as he wanted until one of them will give him the much aspired child.

The sorceress prepared for him and for his wives amulets of various sizes and contents. So far nothing worked at all. Polygamy and sorcery did not work at all. They did not give any visible and discernable results.

The house in which you are living is still without an heir, without any descendant. No children could be seen playing around and no child could be seen carried in the hands or in the bosom of a wife, of a mother.

From a very far distance across the Red Sea, the sand of the Grand African Sahara, from across the Nile River, the sand, the soil and the trees, I, the old man, the Imam and the Mouazzen of the mosque of Timbuktu, can see the master of the house sleeping with one wife or another, continuously and constantly and all the time and from one night to another.

The master of the house, the husband of all the wives, waits everyday that somebody, and most probably one of the old maids, would come to tell him that a certain wife or a concubine, did not have her period, her regular period and that her underwear throughout the last six or five weeks did not show any trace of blood. So far and during the last twelve years of his married life he did not receive single happy news of this kind that would give him the hope of the possible coming, within a maximum of nine months time, of a small child who would be his heir and his pride.

I know your husband is sad and one day you might find him dead by committing suicide or by natural causes. You would find him dead and without life in the bathroom tub and with blood flowing from his mouth.

This man is now suffering, mentally and emotionally and one day he might commit suicide, or he might commit a massacre. I cannot give you at this moment the nature of this bad and tragic ending of the sterile husband who lives now in hell and in continuous emotional torture. He is about to burn himself or to be put on fire by his entire woman. What a bad and a tragic end it would be for the life of this man, the farmer of the quarter and the well known dignitary in all the community.

Yet, listen to me carefully. There is time and there is hope. There is plenty of hope that the situation, this tragic situation in the farm house, might and could be saved…by a Miracle. This sad, desperate and hopeless man should be patient, extremely patient. He should wait and wait. He should not commit a silly mistake that will destroy all his life. said the great grandfather of Jawhara who was speaking in the mirror that was found in her bedroom.

You speak in a very strange and mysterious way. This is the first time that I listen to you while you speak to me. I know you are talking to me from Timbuktu. You seem to be talking to me from a strange world, from the world of my roots.

I cannot see around you except the empty space. I cannot see whether you are now in the morning, in the midday, in the afternoon or in the evening. Really, now, you and I live within an absurd world.

How come, you could speak to me in spite of the fact that you are supposed to have died two hundred years ago and you are supposed to have been living, at least, six thousand miles far from the place where I live at the edge of the Fertile Crescent.

I cannot believe what I am seeing now. Are you a roaming phantom, a lost ghost, or what? I know that you are my forefather. Listen to me I have now a very strange feeling, as if I am part of your spirit, your blessed and divine spirit.

Please talk to me more and more. I am ready to stay here in front of the mirror so as to listen to you forever, night and day. I want to understand, to comprehend all of these riddles and puzzles which I now know in listening to you.

As you already know and as you could see me, I am the only black human being, black woman, black wife, in this farm-house, and I try my best to be looked at by my husband in the same way as he looks at the others, the other women of the family.

In fact, my husband likes me more than the other women. But I do not know why he prefers me to others. All the others are actually equally beautiful like me. However, I believe I have only one advantage and that of being black. I feel that my husband is attracted to me more than he is attracted by others, I mean the other six women of the farm-house.

Once or more than once, my husband confesses to me that he likes me, loves me more than the other wives and concubines …because I am a beautiful back woman. My husband feels more attracted by me because I am more beautiful than the others

My great, great grandfather, tell me more about my future. You have spoken about the past, my past, and the present days and time. But you have not so far spoken about the future, my future.

Tell me, my great grandfather. Would I become in the near future pregnant? Would I give my husband the son whom he has been hoping to have? My grandfather, my grandfather, I would like to confess to you. I feel that in few-days-time, or maybe weeks, but not more than that, that I would be pregnant, I would be bearing a child for the master of the farm-house. I would be bearing the child whom my husband has been waiting.

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I cannot explain to you how and why. This is just a feeling. I feel that my bosom, my womb and the totality of my body are all ready to have something living in them, in my womb and in my breast.

But I tell you frankly that I do not know how I would be pregnant. And above all, I do not know how I was chosen, amongst the seven women, or the eight women, if I include the sister of my husband, to be the source of happiness for the master of the house, our sterile husband.

I tell you my most adored grandfather. I cannot see any reason for my being Chosen to bear a Child for our sterile husband except my glittering and shining blackness. It is not my choice to be the Chosen One to be pregnant. What I am telling you now is just a feeling, imagination, perhaps a dream, a blessed vision and nothing else.

I do not have any specific and concrete proof and evidence to show that I am in the stage, in the period that precedes pregnancy. I can tell you that just two days ago I have had my monthly period.

So help me, my most respectful forefather, because I feel that I am in danger. My life would be in danger if I become pregnant within the existing given circumstances. You know what the fate of a woman is if she becomes pregnant by somebody other than her legal husband. I heard from the members of my family in the Valley of Spirit that in Timbuktu, and two hundred years ago, a girl should guard and preserve her honor, the honor of the family and the community.

Here in the land of the Fertile Crescent and at the present time, and two hundred years after the departure of my great, great grandfather, your son, from the city of Timbuktu, people believe that adultery is a crime that should be punished by death sentence.

I tell you, my adorable great grandfather, I am no more a virgin because my husband penetrated me in the first night of our honey moon. But I cannot be pregnant because my husband does not have life in his semen. Tell me, my grandfather, what I can do to overcome such a dilemma. It is very dangerous for me to face my husband and his other women if they discover one day that I am pregnant.

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I should like also to tell you that before my marriage I used to hear some strange and mysterious calls which were coming from behind the horizon. But I could not know what these calls wanted me to do. They only told me that I would be marrying a white man, outside my black people. I was told that I would be the wife of a dignitary and an honorable man. But the call never informed me that I would be married to a sterile husband, to a man with no life in his semen.

8) Jawhara, the black woman saw that the face of the old black man, her great, great grandfather, has disappeared from the mirror. Instead of the black man she saw in the mirror her glittering but worried black face. For a while, Jawhara did not know what to do. It was an embarrassing and a confusing situation. She did not believe that what she saw in the mirror was true and real, or could have been real. It was only the creation of her imagination.

How could her great grand forefather appear to her in spite of the fact that he died two hundred years ago? She could not accept the fact that the forefather had disappeared from the mirror. Was his disappearance voluntary or involuntary?

She was certain that her forefather wanted to continue talking to her in order to tell her a lot of things about Timbuktu as it was about two hundred years ago. She was sure that her forefather wanted to tell her about her ancestors who lived at that time in this magnificent and glorious City of the world at that time.

Jawhara was busy for a while in the bedroom. She almost forgot or about to forger the miracle that had taken place few minutes ago, that is the appearance of ancestor who was supposed to have died two hundred years ago.

Jawhara was determined to leave her bedroom as soon as possible so as to resume her regular daily life that included taking the bath, taking the meals, learning how to play on the musical instrument, the lute, doing some embroidery work or even helping the maids in cooking and preparing the meals

When she opened the door of the bedroom she was surprised to have noticed a woman running hurriedly in the corridor away from her bedroom. After much deep thinking and contemplation she was able to recognize the identity of the running woman. No doubt, the running woman was the first wife of the master of the house.

Jawhara was sure that this woman, the first wife, was standing in front of the closed door of her bedroom. Certainly, she was listening to what was exchanged in a dialogue between her and her forefather who was speaking from the immortal city of Timbuktu.

She asked herself what was the aim of the first wife from listening to the conversation that took place between her and her forefather. After all, could the first wife, the intruder, realize that Jawhara was talking to her great grandfather who lived two hundred years back?

It was certain that the first wife was not able to discover that Jawhara, the black woman, was talking to her great grandfather who had been living two hundred years ago in the midst of the city of Timbuktu.

The escaping woman looked backward only once just to see if there has been anybody behind her in the corridor. It was obvious that she saw the black woman just standing in front of her room and that she was about to move away from the place in which she was standing.

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It was obvious that all the members of the family in the farm-house, all the other three wives, all the three concubines and the sister of the husband, Helwa, and even the three old maid servants were in those mid-summer days observing and watching and noticing that the black woman, the second wife of the farmer of the quarter, was passing through some kind of unpleasant and hard days.

All the members of the house were surprised and astonished to see Jawhara worried and troubled more than usual. It was well observed that Jawhara did not have any more the mental evasion, the mental escape which she was having between now and then recently. Since one or two weeks, the black wife stopped having the mental escape.

However, instead of that, that is the absence of the mental evasion, the residents of the farm-house have remarked that the black woman was worried of something. Was she worried because she stopped having these evasions? Not at all, all of them were in agreement that Jawhara was suffering from something other than the stopping of the mental escapes. All of them realized that it was their duty to discover the reason for her worries, anxiety and occasional nervousness.

The one who was more informed than others about the background of the concerns and worries of the black woman, Jawhara, was the first wife who heard her once in her bedroom talking to somebody whose voice indicated that he was an old man, probably more than sixty years old. Yet the first woman kept this incident a secret, that is, the fact that Jawhara was talking to a person in the room. She did not share this secret with any other person.

The event was so strange to the extent that it could not be told to others. Nobody would understand it and nobody would believe it. If it had been told to others it would have aroused confusion and even some trouble in the farm-house. This secret, the first wife said to herself, should not be known by the husband. His reaction to the event might be very dangerous. He might kill Jawhara in a situation of anger, fury and of rage. The mere fact that she was talking to a man in the bedroom early in the morning would have been enough as a justification for putting an end to her life.

Therefore, and for all of these reasons, the first wife preferred to keep silent and never, never tell others about the incident, the secret. But yet, all the members of the family continued to notice that there was something wrong in the whole affair of Jawhara.

Most of the time, the other women of the house, looked at her body in general and at her belly in particular to see if there was any bulging coming out of her womb. If this had been true, that there was some bulging in her body, then it would have meant that she was pregnant, that she was bearing the beginning of a child. If this had been true then it would have been considered either as a miracle or as a scandal, a disgrace, a shame. All the members of the family of the farm-house knew that the husband of all the women was sterile and he could not have been the father of the child who was in the belly of the black wife.

But still, the first wife was contemplating so many things, some other possibilities, some other extreme ventures and developments. The first wife argued to herself when she used to be all alone in her room, that the husband of all would behave and react differently when he would find and discover that his beloved and preferred wife was pregnant, was bearing a child who could be considered as his and therefore, this would be coming child, son, could be considered as his offspring, his posterity and his descendant, and therefore his heir.

The master of the house knew perfectly well, by then, that he could not be the father of this possible child. He was sterile and he was still sterile. He could not have been the father of the future child, of the would-be-coming son. The wise and experienced first wife continued to play, to juggle and tamper with ideas, thoughts, possibilities, concepts, points of view and judgments.

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What would be the reaction of the husband of the seven women when he would find that one of his women was pregnant? Yet, still, the first wife was considering other possibilities, other ways of thinking and other pathways for finding solutions to the problem. She heard, as other women in the community heard, that some men could engender a child or possibly children, after so many years of his marriage, after five, six, ten years of waiting and from the same woman he had married several years back.

Newspaper Reader
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The first wife could remember several cases in the community in which women got pregnant after waiting for ten years and from her husband. Of course, nobody could prove that this woman had slept only once, or more, with the young neighbor of the family.

The first wife could not go further into the analysis of the problematic situation. She decided to put an end to this kind of thinking, of this hallucination. How could she prove that Jawhara was speaking to somebody in the early morning in her bedroom?

Of course, if she told the story of Jawhara to others nobody would believe her. How could a woman in the family receive a man, who was not her husband, in her bedroom?

9) The events got more and more complicated with the passing of time in the farm-house. In one or two days, it was known by the first wife that there was another person in the house who knew the secret, the event: that Jawhara was talking few days ago with a man early in the morning.

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By chance, one day, Suha, the beautiful fourth wife of the farmer of the quarter came to the first wife's room and told her that she heard Jawhara talking to a man, probably a man in his late age, in her room early in the morning. Suha was able to hear this long conversation because of a simple reason, her bedroom was adjacent to that of Jawhara.

She spoke a lot with the first wife about this incident: of hearing Jawhara speaking to someone in her bedroom. However, the first wife did not tell Suha that she heard the same thing on the same day. She kept that event as a secret to herself.

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Yet the two women discussed for a long time the interpretation and the representations of such an incident:

Who could be the one who was speaking to the black woman early in the morning? He could not have been our husband became as we know in that night, preceding the morning of the incident, our husband was throughout that night in his room. Besides, all of us can recognize the voice of our husband. Who of us could not have recognized the voice of our husband? said Suha.

What do you mean by that? Do you think that somebody was with Jawhara throughout the whole night? Who could have been this person? said the first wife.

You know, I am sure that the man who was talking to Jawhara was an old man. He coughed several times and his voice seemed to me to be smothered and strangled. I could tell you that throughout the conversation, it seemed to me that the voice was coming from a very far place, from behind the horizon, from a spot far in another continent or in another planet. said Suha.

This is extremely strange. Was Jawhara talking to a ghost, to a spirit, to an invisible creature? Or what? said the first wife in pretending that she knew nothing about the event.

No! No!! I do not think that she was talking to a supernatural creature. She was just having a conversation in which she was in fact the listener most of the time. I tell you frankly I could hardly recognize the topic, the subject matter they were talking about. I tried my best to monitor the conversation and catch some of the ideas presented by the man with a strangled voice. I tell you frankly I thought that the man is related to the black woman.

I think the man is either a great, great grandfather, a forefather of Jawhara or further than that genealogically speaking. You know my dear; we know nothing about her family background. The only thing we know is that she comes from the Valley of the Spirit, from an agricultural estate settlement near the Eastern Bank of the Holy River and not very far from the Sea of the Death.

Beyond that, more than that, we know nothing. Perhaps, the man who was with her in the room was her forefather. But why should her forefather come discretely to her bedroom without showing himself to others? This is a very strange phenomenon that cannot be explained.

Above all, early in the morning is not the proper time for family visits from outside. We, all the wives and the concubines, do not have the tradition, the habit of receiving our relatives, even our close relatives in our bedrooms. Our husband does not tolerate, does not accept, such family visits. said Suha, the youngest wife of the farmer of the quarter.

Yes, I agree with you. There is no logical explanation for the event which you are the only witness who heard the conversation inside the bedroom of Jawhara. We do not have any other witness. said the first wife.

But more important than all of this is regarding the subject matter of this conversation. Because of the tone of the conversation I could not get any hint and any idea of what was going on between the two of exchanged ideas. Frankly speaking I could not hear anything. said Suha to the first wife who was listening to her attentively.

A long and a heavy silence took place. Both of the two women looked to be in an extraordinary pensive mood. They looked at each other. Suha noticed that the first wife was hiding something which she did not want to speak about. But all of a sudden Suha said:

If you please, listen to me. Let me remember. O! Yes, it is Timbuktu, Timbuktu. The old man was mentioning between now and then the word Timbuktu. I think he was referring to the name of a place somewhere in the world. But this word does not belong to our part of the world. I am sure that it is the name of a place that is located outside of our region, outside of our little world of the Empty Quarter and the Fertile Crescent. It is very strange and bizarre, how it sounds, this word of Timbuktu.

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The word Timbuktu has its own charm and beauty, its fascination and musical echoing. The word Timbuktu had its own richness and vivacity and its own splendid fecundity and its intellectual abundance. Whenever I heard the word Timbuktu I had the feeling that that place should be the paradise on earth and the oasis in a vast and a magnificent desert. I still hear the word Timbuktu re-echoing in the depth of my spirit, of my heart. said Suha, the fourth wife of the master of the house.

One or two days passed by after this short meeting between the two wives and the vivid conversation that took place in that meeting. At the same time all the other women of the farm-house and its maids were talking about the changed behavior of the black woman of the farmer. All talked to each other but no one could definitively say what was going on inside the spirit of the black woman.

Jawhara had no more any mental evasion or escapes. All the members of the family noticed the change in the behavior of the black woman. But still all of them were astonished and sometimes amazed because of what was happening to the black woman. All of them wanted to know what was wrong with Jawhara.

The first wife could not pass all the time in front of the bedroom of the black woman just to see whether she was talking to the same mysterious and enigmatic old man. It was not proper for her to keep standing in front of the bedroom of Jawhara. Therefore, it never happened that the first wife heard by chance any conversation that was going on between the black woman and the supposed to be old man.

On the other hand Suha, the neighbor of Jawhara could at any moment hear whatever conversation that might take place in the room of the black woman. As result of this vicinity between the two wives, the second and the fourth, Suha stayed in those days in her room specially in the early morning hoping that Jawhara would start having conversation with the unknown and unidentified old man.

Sometimes, Suha used to stick her ear on the wall of the bedroom of Jawhara just to try to hear some sound, some noise or commotion, so as to start listening to the conversation that would take place in the bedroom.

On the other hand, Jawhara noticed with the passing of time that she was almost continuously under supervision and control of many monitoring eyes. She thought that some of the members of family were in doubt whether she was meeting an unknown person, an intruder, in the bedroom. Every morning she made it a rule to look at the mirror because she expected that one day the old man from the Immortal City of Timbuktu, her forefather, would appear very soon to her.

In spite of this wish to see the forefather, the old man, in the mirror, Jawhara was all the time expecting that her forefather would not appear in the mirror. She was convinced that nobody would have believed her if she had told the others that she was speaking to a person, an ancestor, who lived in Timbuktu two hundred years ago. The black woman was wondering whether the neighbors of the Valley of the Spirit could understand this type of reasoning and imagination.

Once the black woman thought that she could talk over this matter with the sister of the farmer, Helwa. She thought that this young sister of her husband was well educated as compared with the wives of the farmer who were all illiterate. She thought that Helwa would understand her more than the others.

After much contemplation and reflection, Jawhara decided not to tell and not to consult anybody. She wanted to wait till further developments would take place. Maybe, her forefather would not agree at all that his descendant, Jawhara, would reveal the secret of his appearance to others. As a result of these developments in thinking and contemplation the black woman decided to keep silent and to wait further developments in this respect. So she continued to be silent and not to reveal her secret to anybody. At the same time she was waiting some further unforeseen events to take place.

For several days, Jawhara stayed most of the time in her bedroom. She left her room only when she wanted to have her meals. Sometimes, she took some of her meals in her room. When she was outside the room she kept silent. She tried her best not to talk to anybody.

While she was in her room she kept looking at the mirror. She was very eager to see again the old man who came back to life after having been dead two hundred years ago. She looked at the mirror while standing. But later on she put a chair in front of the mirror and sat on it for hours.

For more than three days she spent most of her time in her room looking at the mirror. She even began to speak to the mirror requesting the old man to come back in order to speak to her.

Suha, her neighbor heard her speaking to herself in the room and was wondering what was going on inside the bedroom of Jawhara. Once, Suha contemplated the idea of entering the bedroom of Jawhara just to enquire about the talking incident. However, Suha decided not to interrupt her neighbor at all and not to interfere in the private life of the black woman, Jawhara.

10) Life in the farm-house was going on in a somewhat normal way. Almost all the members of the big house were not quite aware of the passing of time. They were not aware of the fact that one day everyone in this life would become old with horrible wrinkles on his face and on his weak and paralyzed hands.

Everyone in the farm-house was not aware of the fact that one day would come in which a human being who was once a young, active and attractive would not anymore have all of these qualities.

Of the several members of the family who were all in the late twenties or in the early thirties, and with the exception of the three maids, none of them knew with certainty that one day would come in which he or she would lose all his teeth and would be a toothless human being exactly as he was born from his mother without a single teeth in his mouth.

None of them knew that one day would come in which all the hair of his head would be completely white or that one day his head would lose all its hair and the head would look like an old foot-ball that has been knocked for years by so many young players.

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Life was going on in the farm-house and all the members of the family of the farmer got accustomed to see the house without children at all. Even all the seven women of the farm of the quarter were completely accustomed to see their belly flat with no sign at all of pregnancy.

Gradually, all the seven women would start thinking that it was normal to have life without children. All of them thought that they would be the last survivors of the human race and that after them it would be the end of the world. They would think that after them there would not be any posterity surviving on Earth.

Woman with Hat 2
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Of course, not all the women of the farmer were thinking like this and in this strange way. There was only one exception, and that was the black woman, Jawhara. She started to think that it was time for her to have a child of her own, or more precisely, to bear a child, or still more and more precisely to be pregnant and to see her belly bulging.

She thought that the main aim of a woman in life is the propagation of the species. She believed that a woman should have children in her belly. She should be penetrated so as to bear children.

Jawhara was an exception. Before getting old she should bear a child and present this child to her husband, the farmer of the quarter, so as he would consider this child as his own heir.

Life was going on in its normal way, pattern and momentum. All the women of the farmer have given up any hope of becoming in the near or in the far future pregnant, of becoming mothers, of course, with the exception of Jawhara, the black woman. She had a good reason to be optimist. She was hoping that one day she will offer her husband the child whom he was waiting all of these long years.

Hopelessness was dominating all the three wives and the three concubines. They, the six women, did not have any hope that one day they would bear children. They gave up any hope. In their case, they could not go by themselves to the sorceress of the quarter so as to consult her and to ask her advice regarding the sterility of their husband. They were sure that the witch could not help them at all.

11) Suha, the young wife thought that it was a good idea to go to the sorceress of the quarter to ask for her help and advice. Suha did not tell anybody about her intention of going to the sorceress house. She wanted to go by herself without informing any of the other wives about her intention.

Suha knew that all of the women of the farm, with the exception of the first wife, have become wives of the farmer only on the advice of the sorceress of the quarter. The sorceress was the one who advised the farmer to marry all of his six wives after the discovery that he could not get a child from his first wife. At that time he did not know that he was himself the sterile and not his first wife.

The young wife, Suha, was completely aware of all the past relations between the farmer of the quarter and the sorceress. Suha did not find any objection regarding her visit to the sorceress. Yet, and above all, she did not want to tell any of the other women concerning this visit.

She did not have the intention also to tell her husband about it. Of course, Suha thought that the best time to visit the sorceress was when her husband was at work. Probably, the morning would have been the best choice.

One day and without the knowledge of anybody, Suha was able to be just on the door-steps of the sorceress house. She knocked on the door which was immediately opened by one of the five daughters of the witch who led the visitor to the parlor of reception.

Suha waited there for few seconds. In a very short time the sorceress was in the parlor welcoming the visitor, Suha. Of course, the witch knew immediately and without any difficulty the purpose of the visitor. The two women began to talk to each other as if they knew each other since a long time. Suha during her married life in the farm-house had the chance to see the sorceress once or twice. But of course, she knew a lot about the sorceress from the other women of the family and from occasional visitors who came to the farm-house in some social occasions.

Suha was not against the sorceress at all. It could be said that she was neutral concerning the sorceress and her reputation in the quarter.

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She never talked about her in bad terms and in a negative context. She considered her as part of the daily life in the community and as a necessary evil in the quarter. Suha thought that without the sorceress life in the quarter would have been missing a very important factor and a vital component of its social reality.

Before going to the sorceress Suha was more or less certain that the sorceress would not tell her anything that would be of a use to her. Nevertheless she came in spite of all the prejudices against the sorceress and in spite of the belief and the conviction prevailing in the community that the sorceress was the source of all evil.

Good morning our good neighbor, this is the first time that I come all alone to you to ask for your advice. I know so far that my husband has been visiting you, but I am not sure about his wives. Did any of them come to you seeking your advice? I am not well informed until now if one of them has ever come to you. As I am doing now, coming to you without the knowledge of anybody, I think others of our family might have come to you secretly. said Suha to the sorceress.

I tell you frankly that I have never been visited by anybody of your family, except, of course, your husband who has been visiting me since a long time, and perhaps one of his wives. said the sorceress.

You know that we are still facing the same problem. As you know none of us, the four wives and the three concubines, is so far pregnant and I am afraid that a day would come when we would pass the line of demarcation in age and time after which none of us would be eligible to bear a child, or in other words, to be pregnant.

Time is passing by fast and none of us so far has become pregnant. In few years time all of us would be passing, one after the other, past this line of demarcation. After that we will not be qualified anymore to bear children.

What could we do to solve this problem? I know nothing, nothing… nothing. We just wait for a miracle, for a miracle. I know our problem is very difficult to solve. We are facing a very complicated problem. The situation is becoming very tense, strained and stressful. I could say it in the face of all of us. We are living nowadays on the edge of an abyss, of a precipice, of a deep valley. In few years time all of us would fall into this endless and bottomless end of the world either voluntarily or involuntarily. Somebody would push us all into the abyss, or we will throw ourselves in the precipice … we would commit suicide just because we would discover ourselves childless and forever. said Suha to the sorceress as if she was talking in a dream.

No, you are mistaken; I never said that it would be impossible to find a solution. I am here to give hope to anybody who sees that all doors are closed in front of him. People might think that I am the source of all evil in the community but I consider myself as the only source of hope to all who think that they lost all hope.

For me, everything has a solution. Everything has a solution without any exception … except death. When death knocks at our door, the door of all, we all open the door voluntarily, because we do not have any choice. All of us respect death because all of us have to accept death. All of us would one day die at any age. A child, because of his destiny, could be born dead before even he sees the light coming from the face of his mother. This born dead child has one journey to make in his life, from the womb of his mother to his grave dug for him in advance by destiny's hand.

Somebody could die at the age of more than one hundred years after he has traveled all his life form one country to another and from one continent to another. This centenarian, at the time of his death, would have a mirror in front of his eyes in which he sees all the vivid and colorful years of his life.

The old man, who would die in few minutes time, could see in the mirror his first nine months in the womb of his mother, in her bosom. This centenarian would smile with happiness and satisfaction because few minutes before his death he discovers that the best times in his life were those spent in the bosom of his mother.

There in the womb, he was protected from all evil and he was assured of the continuity of his daily nutrition that came to his blood directly from the heart of his mother. He is continuously nourished by a divine source.

This old man who is found in his bed, sees in the mirror all the one hundred years of his life, so many years full mostly of light and illumination and sometimes of darkness and obscurity. Years have passed full of storms, winds, hurricanes, tempests and gales. Yet this man with the passing of time and years has been standing on a high solid rock watching how the furious nature drives away the weak, the lost, the misguided and those who live in the midst of the mirage of the desert and in the middle of the wasteland.

Sometimes in his childhood he was playing all alone or with other children either on the top of a hill or at the source of water in his quarter. Sometimes, he could see himself, in his adult life, walking in tunnels, in the darkness of the world, carrying in his hand a burning torch just trying to find how he could get out of the dim and blinding darkness and go to the illuminating wilderness of life.

The dying old man, the centenarian, counts how many times he has so far fallen down in his long journey in life and how many times he was helped by others to stand up and recover from his fall and how many times, without the help of others, he was able to save himself and to stand up again and resume his long journey in life.

The centenarian looks at the mirror in front of him, carried for him by the hands of destiny and sees very clearly how many times some invisible hands wanted to harm him, to maltreat him and sometimes to molest and abuse him. He could see in the mirror somebody who is decided to kill him, not because he is a sinner, a criminal or an accused but because of jealousy, envy, malice, spite, hate and rancor.

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He could see the persons who wanted to put an end to his life. This old man, the centenarian, sees in the mirror how sometimes murderers could be very young creatures, a young man, or a young woman.

Study in Simplicity
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© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Again, this dying old man, the centenarian, closes his eyes and then opens them and arrives at the main conclusion. Life was a unique experience for him. He smiled in life more than he frowned. He was awake more than he was asleep. But he was living in his own dreams more than he was living in real life.

When he was young, he could protect himself from the attacks of devils. He could understand most of the time what was going on in the spirit of man. He penetrated easily into the black clouds which the bad man put around him just to hide his evil nature.

The dying old man smiles while he is preparing himself to say good-bye to life and its white and red animals. He is glad that he travelled around the world several times. He met people of all races and of all colors. But then, at last, he knows that in few minutes time he would have his final journey, his final trip from which there is no return.' So there are some human beings who are born dead and there are other human beings who die as centenarians. The latter would have seen light and darkness and would have experienced the bad and the good aspects of life. Both, the child born dead and the old man, the centenarian, come from the womb of their mother and both would rest forever in a grave that had been specifically designed for them by the hands of destiny," explained thoughtfully the old sorceress.

Listen to me my dear neighbor. I came to you to discuss our common and complicated problem of not having children because of the sterility of our husband. So far, we, the women of the farm-house could not offer to our husband a single child. Our husband knows now that his case is hopeless. So he gave up since a long time any hope to have an heir. Since sometime, by now, he never mentioned your name at all. For him, our husband, you no more exist at all. Your name has never been mentioned by him. Even you are no more a neighbor. said Suha to the Sorceress.

I know this. Your husband stopped coming to my house since sometime. He no more believes in my power and ability of healing. At least, when he used to come to me he found himself relieved and in comfort in listening to me. But later on, he stopped coming to me. I think you know that. All of you, his seven women, are well informed about him. Isn't it so? said the sorceress in a very wicked way.

Listen to me carefully. In fact I am not here to consult you concerning myself and my wish and hope to be pregnant. No, I am not here or that purpose. I have in mind some other story to tell you and to ask your advice. It is about the second wife of our husband, the black woman, the favorite wife of our man, Jawhara.

Life on Skates
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© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

I think you know by now that she is the preferred wife of our husband. Since sometime, this woman has been manifesting some strange behavior. It is very difficult for me to describe to you the bizarre development in the personality of this beautiful black woman. I wonder whether you are already informed about those changes in the behavior of the black woman

I am sure you have your own methods of observing and of monitoring what goes on in the house of each family in the community specially those that are considered as important, influential and rich. But I suppose that you are not aware of these changes at all in the personality of the second wife, of our husband. said Suha.

I could hear gossips and nothing but gossips. I think that you realize that I cannot know everything about all people in the community or even in the quarter alone. This is a difficult task and objective to achieve. said the sorceress.

Yes I agree with you, I agree with you. I do not think you know anything of this aspect regarding the change in the behavior of some of some members of our family. said Suha to the sorceress with clarity and emphasis.

Takeoff 8
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© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Then Suha told the sorceress what was happening to Jawhara during the last few months. She explained to the sorceress the mental evasions and escapes which the black woman was having or was suffering from.

She told the sorceress about all the worries which the other women had as a result of observing and regarding the black woman suffering during the mental evasions. Suha explained to the sorceress how she heard once the black woman speaking to somebody, what seemed to her an old man.

Then she told the sorceress how the old man with whom Jawhara was talking in the early morning was repeating the word Timbuktu, Timbuktu. Then again this word was repeated for several times by the old man.

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Then for a while, an absolute silence prevailed in the parlor of the house of the sorceress. The two women, the old and the young, looked at each other intermittently. The sorceress smiled to the young wife indicating that she has already understood her perfectly well and that she had something to tell her about this strange and bizarre phenomenon.

Suha was pleased to know from the sorceress that she would be provided with explanations and interpretations to this phenomenon. Yet, Suha was very patient in waiting the discourse of the sorceress about the strange behavior of the black woman. Suha was extremely anxious to know the secret behind this behavior or this vague and mysterious phenomenon. Then at last, with a curious smile on her face the sorceress spoke.

Thus spoke the sorceress:

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I dare tell you that this black woman is both sacred and holy. Being black adds more to her holiness and her sacredness. This black woman is in contact with the world of spirits. I cannot explain to you in details my own opinion and my personal convictions. Such abnormal occurrence should be taken as it is, for granted and as given. I just give you my impression and even my judgment without being able to explain to you my opinions and my thoughts.

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No doubt she is in contact with the unseen world, that of the spirits. It is very strange that you never heard before the word Timbuktu. This is a well known and a saintly and a spiritual city in the heart of the Great Grand Sahara of North Africa. From this city came usually and traditionally the high learned men who could see things beyond the unknown and the invisible limits of the horizon.

I can tell you more about her. You have to wait and wait until her time comes when she would perform some miraculous deeds and actions. I cannot go into details more than this. Give the black woman her time so as she would perform the miraculous deeds and actions.

I cannot see that Jawhara, the black woman, would utter wisdom, sagacity, judiciousness or enlightenment. I tell you frankly she is not a woman who foretells, forebodes or offers prophecies. She is only blessed and gifted in other spheres of the human life. I cannot add more to you than this about this black women, this blessed black woman.

Then the sorceress stopped talking. It seemed that she was tired and fatigued though she spoke only for few minutes. She closed her eyes. She continued closing her eyes as if she was living at that particular moment in another world.

Suha, the fourth and the last and the youngest wife of the farmer of the quarter was stunned and amazed to see the sorceress in this strange and curious situation. She waited for few minutes so as the sorceress would open her eyes. But with no avail, because the old woman, the sorceress, was still closing her eyes, as if she was living at that particular moment, in another world. Suha decided finally to leave the house of the sorceress and to go immediately to the farm-house without being noticed by others.

It was a risk for Suha to leave the house without informing her husband or one of the wives or one of the maids. If her absence from the house had been noticed she would have aroused the suspicion of all the members of the house. She might have been thought to be frequenting the small annexes in which lived the three young agricultural laborers and their families.

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In her bedroom, adjacent to that of Jawhara, Suha sat in a chair and began to review in her mind what the sorceress has told her about the black woman, Jawhara. She tried to remember and to recall the exact words which the old witch uttered just few minutes before.

Suha, in her solitude and loneliness in the bedroom, could not recall exactly what the sorceress told her. However, few important words were still hovering, drifting and oscillating around in her mind. Suha could remember the words 'blessed', 'holy' and even 'divine'. She could also remember the word miracle. All of these words were very difficult for her to understand. Suha remained taciturn and uncommunicative in her seat and sometimes she closed her eyes just to try to see things better in her imagination.

Suha at last decided to keep her visit to the sorceress a secret to herself. More important than that, she was determined not to repeat to others the words which the sorceress used when referring to the black woman, Jawhara.

After staying in her bedroom for some time, Suha decided to leave her room because the time for lunch was approaching. Before her departure from her room she tried her best to look her best, to look normal as if her visit to the sorceress has not taken place.

12) At lunch time, all were present, the four wives, the three concubines and Helwa, the young and charming sister of the farmer. However, the farmer was not present in the lunch time. It seemed that he decided to take his lunch in the field.

Lunch for Suha was an opportunity for her to observe silence and to watch more closely the black woman. Of course, she could not take everything which the sorceress said about the blessedness of Jawhara and her holy nature for granted.

Suha could not understand why the black woman was completely blessed. She thought that there was nothing in Jawhara to make her superior to others … except her blackness. On the other hand, Suha asked herself the following question. What miracle could Jawhara perform or demonstrate? How and in what field? Suha came finally to the conclusion that what the sorceress said and declared about the black woman was nothing but a conjuncture, a guess, a speculation and an intelligent speculation. All of a sudden Suha raised the question of pregnancy. How could a woman become pregnant if her husband was sterile? A miracle!!! But how?!

Oops
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© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

So in this lunch time Suha was going to watch the behavior of the blessed woman form a very short distance. Jawhara was just sitting in front of her around the low table. Suha noticed that the woman she was watching and observing was not eating much and was not talking much. She was just a woman on the margin.

Notwithstanding all of this inactivity of the black woman, Suha was totally bewildered by the fact that the blackness of her face was giving her some sort of a particularity to her individuality and her uniqueness. Amongst all the eight woman who were seated around the low round table Jawhara looked more like a dignified queen of all than just a simple woman, a wife or an ordinary member of a family.

Jawhara was considered by her friend Suha as a riddle and as a source of mystery. Suha was asking herself the following question. "What is this woman, this black woman, doing in this farm-house? What is she waiting? Or whom was she waiting? Why is she present amongst all white and brown women? Is she sent by somebody to this farm-house? Has she something to tell us, a message? Is she waiting her time, her moment to come? What could Timbuktu signify in this context?

Suha continued taking her lunch slowly. Sometimes she used her hands in feeding herself and sometimes she used the spoon. She consumed less bread than the other women. While eating she was looking in a frequent way at the black woman sitting in front of her.

Suha noticed that Jawhara was not eating as much as others. It seemed that the black wife was aware of the fact that eating more than necessary and more than the normal quantity would mean getting fat and bulky and lose her elegance, her grace and her beauty.

When lunch was about to finish and when tea was served by the three maids, Suha was stunned and completely amazed to notice the sudden disappearance of Jawhara from the whole scene in the dining room of the farm-house. The black woman was not there in her place. She vanished all of a sudden. She faded away.

Suha for a while was in a total embarrassment and in a mental confusion. She could not say anything and was not able to speak to others. In fact, she was astonished to see the place where Jawhara was sitting vacant. But in a very astonishing was the place was vacant for a while. Maybe, the disappearance of Jawhara lasted for few moments. Then in a strange way, there she was again in her place in front of Suha and ready to take her tea.

Suha did not dare to ask her neighbor, seated next to her, the first wife, whether she had seen a curious event, an incident, an episode taking place. She could not ask her neighbor whether she witnessed an abnormal and a supernatural incident taking place hardly few moments ago.

After much contemplation, Suha decided not to raise and discuss the occurrence of the strange incident with anybody. She thought that the disappearance of the black woman was nothing but the creation of her own imagination and fantasy. By chance, Jawhara looked at Suha for a short while. Was she communicating a message to Suha? Was this special look a simple and an innocent gesture? Could Suha arrive at a definite conclusion? Not at all, the only thing that she could tell herself was that everything was possible. Anything could have happened. In those days there was nobody who was able to give explanations and interpretations to bizarre stories and fantastic visitors and fancies told by the people of the quarter, and the inhabitants of the community.

In those days of the mid nineteenth century all people took refuge in the house of the sorceress of the quarter. Simple people thought that the sorceress had answers to all strange questions and fantastic riddles.

In this case, the sudden disappearance of the black wife during the last moments of lunch-time, Suha decided to keep the matter to herself. She would never share this secret with others. But after much thinking and hesitation Suha arrived at the conclusion that the strange supernatural event was nothing but the creation of her pure imagination.

After that strange lunch incident in which the fourth youngest wife saw the black wife disappearing for a very short time from behind the low round table, nothing of importance took place regarding the passing of the daily life in the farm-house. More and more, each of the seven women accepted what has been written for them by destiny. All of them were gradually accepting the fact that they would be living the rest of their life without bearing children. All were sure that their husband was sterile. The farm-house in which they were living would never have in its bedrooms, in its courtyards and in its gardens small children playing and amusing themselves.

Of course, there was an exception to all of this harmonious and monotonous life. This exception, naturally, was the black woman, Jawhara, who never felt that everything was going on in life as she wanted and wished. Externally and in appearance the black woman was calm and totally satisfied. But internally she was all the time like a pot full of boiling water.

Jawhara used to remember her early life with her mother, father, sisters and brothers in the Valley of the Spirit. She still recalled the mysterious calls coming from behind the horizon. She still recalled the mental evasions and escapes. Moreover, and most important, she recalled also that early morning day when she saw her cousin, Amin, completely naked taking bath in the Holy River. Both Jawhara and Amin were fifteen years old at that time.

Jawhara was in those days chased by the Immortal City of Timbuktu. Her forefather spoke only of this city and Jawhara wanted to know more about this Timbuktu. Every time she was all alone in the bedroom she looked to the mirror continuously hoping that the old man, her forefather, would appear to her to tell her more and more about the Immortal City of Timbuktu from where her great grandfather came to Mecca as a pilgrim two hundred years ago.

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Timbuktu 1

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