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The Night of Shame

Najati Al-Bukhari

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Some Souvenirs

Life has been going on in our house and with all the members of the family in a normal and a monotonous way. There was no extraordinary event that could have taken place and could have attracted my attention and consequently my interest. I was extremely alert to notice any unusual incidents and episodes that could have affected the normal and the smooth running of life in the house.

One night I was outside of my bedroom. The time has a little bit passed mid night. Curiously enough this night was not full of black and somber obscurity. On the contrary, and because of the moonlight, the corridors and the salons and the halls and even the bedrooms were filled by the green yellow moonlight.

It was easy for me to move from one place to another in the house, from one section to another and from one wing to another. All the inhabitants of the large house, children as well as adults, boys as well as girls, servants as well as master, all were fully asleep in the midst of a burning and a suffocating heat of the summer season.

In such a climatic situation, all the windows of the rooms were left wide open. Even some doors of these rooms, especially those of the children, were left also open. The large house itself is encircled by a wall, high and well built. Therefore, the house is well protected from any aggression from outside and from the curious eyes. I could say that this wall prevented any kind of wind from coming in the interior of the house.

I went around, prowled, in all parts of the house, of the small palace. I had the courage to go to a section of the house which was completely isolated from the other parts of the big residence of my family. During the previous years of my life in the house I came to know, through my mother and the small brothers and sisters that it was absolutely forbidden to anybody to come near to this mysterious section of the house. Actually, I have never tried to ask anybody about the secrets of this horrible section of the house.

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As I came to know later on, this mysterious section of the house is composed of two rooms, one bathroom and an average size kitchen and a very small salon. I think it was in the past one of the main wings of the small fortress of the family. I cannot remember when this wing was completely separated from the main sections of the house. I am sure that the creation of this section goes to many years back. Perhaps it goes to many years back in the history of the family, during the life time of my grandfather or all my ancestors.

Not a single child of the family was permitted to approach this place that had a bad reputation. There was nobody guarding the entry of the section but it was a common practice and part of the tradition of the family not to go nearby the mysterious wing of the house. As children, we thought that this section was the refuge of giants and dwarfs who were half human beings and half animals.

In the past, perhaps during the winter season of the preceding year, I might have heard two concubines who were talking to each other regarding this mysterious wing of the house. As much as I could remember they only spoke about the internal plan of the section and nothing else. I do not remember that they have given any information or description of the activities undertaken inside this mysterious section of the house.

Once I heard, by chance, two maid servants who were talking vaguely and in a very confused manner about provisions and supplies that should be sent to the maid servant in charge of this section and who was serving the residents of this strange section of the house.

Another time, I posed a question to my mother concerning the people who were residing in this enigmatic section of the house. As it was expected on the part of my mother, she became very angry and disturbed because I was talking about this prohibited and puzzling section, which nobody should talk about. My mother has shown absolute obstinacy in refusing to talk about this subject, about the wing which nobody could speak about.

Nevertheless, at the age of nine years, that is, about a year ago, it was possible for me to undertake an adventure the consequence of which could have been very dangerous for me as well as for my mother and brothers Ramadan and Chaban.

In spite of the fact that I was still a small boy, I was absolutely determined to take off the mask of this section of our house. Of course, I was not pressed, or in a hurry. On the contrary, I said to myself that the future was in front of me. I should not be in a hurry. I thought at that time that I would have the chance of discovering the reality.

At this midnight of this important day of my life, I came very near to this strange residence of sequestration. I stood there for a while without doing anything. I looked from time to time around me. I finally came to the conclusion that there was neither light nor noise. The place in which I was standing has really astonished and frightened me at the same time. I thought that I was really in a cemetery, a graveyard, where there was nobody with the exception of the dead.

Really, I said to myself, that I was either in the cemetery of the house or in the prison of the house that belonged to my father only. In fact, these ideas which I am mentioning now were nothing but conjectures, some propositions and suppositions, some unfounded explanations which all lacked justifications and proofs.

Once, a half brother of mine, nine years old and the son of the eldest wife of my father, informed me while he was shivering, that this enigmatic section of the house was really inhabited by thousands of phantoms and evil spirits.

es/ Passion
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© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

He told me also that these phantoms, sometimes, went out of their cursed residence to frighten small children of our house. These phantoms frightened also the small children of the quarter specially the boys.

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My brother told me that these phantoms had the habit of kidnapping children from the breast of their mothers. The phantoms took these children from the quarter to the interior of this mysterious section of our house. Another story told us that as soon as the child is kidnapped he instantly disappears in the void, in the empty space. The child who disappears never comes back to his mother.

There are a lot of rumors that are circulating in the house regarding this cursed and haunted section. Always I listen attentively to what has been told of tales, stories and rumors regarding the mysterious section of the house. However, I never thought that these fantastic and folkloric tales and rumors represent the reality.

I always told myself that the mask that hides the true face of this section should be taken off one day or another, should be, in the final analysis, lifted so as all the residents and the inhabitants of the house and the quarter would know the reality.

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Whatever was the case, I was almost nearby the door of the place of sequestration. At that critical and decisive time I hesitated a lot to throw myself in the void and in the empty place, the mystery. I preferred to withdraw and to retreat as fast as possible from this horrible space and run hastily to my bedroom.

In midway to my room and in the corridor I discovered at once that I could not advance forward anymore. I had the real feeling and sentiment that there was a barrier, an obstacle which prevented me from walking. By the way, this corridor was not lighted, lit, by the moonlight like all other places of the sections of the house. I tried to avoid this barrier that prevented my movement. After that I continued my walk to my bedroom.

As soon as I arrived there I heard an extremely low voice of a girl, or perhaps of a young woman, who was coming from a distance. In hearing this low, agonized, depressed and anguished voice I stopped where I was in order to try and identify the voice and its source. Was it a call for aid or a cry of distress? From where did it come? It came from an ordinary room, a bedroom? Did it come from the exterior of the house, from outside the wall of our cursed house?

However, and in any case, I told myself that I was not in a position which would permit me to undertake any attempt to offer help and aid to whosoever. I convinced myself that the suffocated voice came from outside of the section of sequestration. Perhaps somebody had a nightmare.

es/ Rebuilding Hope
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The time was passing quickly. Day after day and month after month, I have been witnessing more and more adventures of my father which took place during the night. All of these nocturnal episodes and adventures of the same nature and character had the main aim of making love with any female in the house and spend the whole night with her.

Because of the heat, my father, as I mentioned above, had the habit of moving in the house during the night almost naked. He, in most cases, knew where to go throughout the night. In the morning my father behaved and conducted himself like any normal and innocent human being.

All the wives, the concubines, the maid-servants and all the other women of the family behaved and conducted themselves as if all of them, during the preceding night were blind and deaf.

As for the children of the family, all of them were not aware of what has been going on during the summer nights of events of sentimental nature. The children played and amused themselves and took all the meals of the day regularly and under the control of maids and mothers.

As for the small boys they usually went out of the house to play somewhere in the quarter, either in the square of the quarter or nearby the water spring and the small stream.

Some of my grown up brothers went to some stores and workshops to undergo some kind of a vocational training in accordance with the system of traditional apprenticeship. It was well understood that girls starting from the age of four or five stayed all the time at home engaged in some activities of housekeeping, of taking care of their younger brothers and sisters.

As you already know I often went out to the square of the quarter. As you have noticed, I kept myself away from the small boys of the quarter. Recently I have never participated with the other boys in their games and in their amusement in general.

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More often I asked my mother questions regarding the only problem which I faced daily and which was troubling and causing to me a lot of anxiety. Of course, the problem which was troubling me was the night adventures of my father. My mother, as a general rule had never informed me at all, directly or indirectly, some information about the aspect of the private life of my father.

es/ Days After The Fire
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© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

In spite of the silence of my mother as well as all the members of the family I was very obstinate and determined to continue understanding my nocturnal activities which aimed at taking off the mask behind which evil was hiding in our house.

My poor, compassionate and sympathetic mother looked at me for a long time as if she was telling me by her eyes to stop asking her questions about the sectors of the private life of my father. In other words she told me indirectly that she was absolutely determined to respect the law of silence which all people respected and observed.

One day, and since early in the morning; I started to watch and observe the comportment and the behavior of my father. In looking at his face while he was taking his breakfast and talking with one of his wives, or one of his concubines, or one of his maid servants, I could not remark and notice any anomaly in the behavior and the conduct of my father.

My father, the master of the family, addressed his words to others easily and comfortably. He listened attentively to what others have been telling him. He distributed his simple smiles to all who were around him. Very frequently, he remembered all at once a child of his own, or he remembered with a smile on his face one of his wives whose presence in front of him would be required

In that morning, he went to his shops and stores earlier than usual. After the end of the last cup of tea, my father stood up hastily and was making himself ready to go outside of his fortress and to start his work of the day.

In seeing all what has been passing in front of me concerning the conduct and the behavior of my father, I told myself that this strange situation hid without any doubt unimaginable and unbelievable surprises.

In the absence of the head of the family, its master, its tyrant, its monster, my father, the suffocating and poisonous atmosphere of the house became less strained and less stressing. At least, every member of the family felt that he regained again, tough temporarily, his liberty, of course, except myself, Rajab.

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My father seemed to me as if he was the Devil himself, a horrible monster, a dangerous tyrant. I said that my father was preparing himself since the morning to undertake an adventure that had no precedent at all in the annals of the history of our family.

In witnessing the mental condition in which my father was in the morning I said that my father would have this evening an unforgettable adventure. I did not have any idea who would be the target, the victim.

I wanted to inform my mother about the possible intention of my father and his plans for the coming night. I said also that my mother would not believe what I would tell her. I was completely convinced of the validity of my own imagination and of my own sentiments.

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The Night of Shame

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© 1980-2024 by Najati Al Bukhari, Mont de Marsan, France

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