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The Circle of the Retired Intellectuals

Najati Al-Bukhari

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

Before he falls asleep, Amr has already prepared for himself a detailed program of activities for tomorrow. According to this plan Amr would be visiting the family of Habian whose chief and head died at the age of sixty five years in a car accident.

The accident took place in the highway route of Shaqabah. The other car with which the chief of the family had accident did not undergo any physical damage and the two passengers of this other car are now in good health, safe and sound. These two persons of the other car have suffered very simple and minor injuries. They are taken care of at him without having the need to go to the hospital.

It is understood, the bereaved family house would be visited by the consolers in the morning who would be only women visitors. The same place would be visited in the evening by men consolers. The time allotted for women is three hours from nine o'clock in the morning till twelve and for men five hours, from five o'clock in the afternoon till ten late in the evening. It is understood that Amr is planning to stay in the bereaved house for a total duration of time of eight hours. Therefore, in the morning Amr would disguise himself in a woman's dress by putting on the black veil dress. He would stay in the house of mourning for three hours with women consolers and visitors.

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

Then late in the afternoon, and without the black veil, he would go to the same house of the family of Habian, where he would come across and confront men consolers and not women. He would stay there in his canapé-throne for several hours well respected and adored.

Throughout the whole night and till the early morning Amr slept very well. His whole night was neither with dreams nor with nightmares. In the morning he gets up in an enthusiastic mood and he begins to prepare himself for the condolence visit which he would make this morning at the time designated only for woman in an absolute strict sense.

The visit of this morning has been recently a main objective in the life of Amr which should be realized today. Of course, he himself can in no case be able to drive the car while he is in black veil disguise. So he should ask his servant Abdu to drive the car in which he would be seated dressing up his black veil dress next to the servant-driver.

Naturally, Abdu, the servant, is ready to drive the car for his master who is disguised in the black veil dress. It is planned that the car would wait for Amr in one the near and neighboring paths where cars are usually parked.

Before nine o'clock by few minutes, Amr puts on the black veil and goes out of his house. Nobody notices his coming out of his house. Nobody is passing at this moment in front of the villa of Amr. Indeed, the alley is practically empty so it is easy for Amr to walk the few steps that separate him from his car.

Abdu is by now behind the steering wheel and there Amr is now in his seat in the back of the seat of Abdu, the driver. The black dress covers the whole body of Amr. Nothing is visible from his body with the exception of the eye-balls. His hands are covered by the black gloves. His breast stands a little bit swelled just to give the impression that this is a woman's breast. Amr has put two ball-like tissues on his breast just to complete his full female appearance. Also, as it is already mentioned Amr is putting on his feet the pair of the black women's shoes with high heels. By now, he knows how to walk in an acceptable way like women of some advanced age. Or, as a matter of fact, he knows practically how to walk with these two high heels black shoes.

As it is mentioned, the two black gloves hide his two huge hairy hands of a man. Amr has really succeeded to look like any other veiled woman. Nevertheless, he could never walk graciously and melodiously like all women who like to show their femininity and their charm.

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

Amr realizes that his over-all size gives the impression that he is probably a man and not a woman. Once, when he looked at himself in the mirror of the bedroom while he was completely dressed in the black veil dress of women, he saw there in the glass the body of a man and not that of a woman.

In spite of the high heels and the swelled breast, he still could not see that he is perfectly disguised as a woman. Nevertheless, Amr convinced himself at last that he could be considered as a woman of a large stature.

Amr sits in the car that would be driven by his servant, Abdu. The car is driven slowly and carefully as Amr told his servant to do. They are not in a hurry and they want to avoid making any accident. Of course, he does not want to talk to the police-man in case an accident takes place. Then his identity would be revealed and he would be asked why he is disguised as a woman.

For this reason the car rolls slowly. The car at last arrives at its destination. When the car stops nearby the house of the bereaved family, Amr sees a woman veiled like him who comes out of a magnificent car and then rushes inside the house in sorrow and bereavement. Amr says to himself that there is no doubt that the veiled person is certainly a woman and not a man disguised in the dress of a veiled woman.

Amr, being dressed as a veiled woman, has to behave and conduct himself accordingly. First he should not walk like a man and he should remember that his shoes have high heels. Furthermore, he should remember that nothing is visible of his body with the exception of the two eye-balls. Therefore, he has no specific identity. By definition, nobody is supposed to be able to identify his personality.

On the other hand, nothing exceptional can be noticed in the surroundings of the house. Everything is normal. The street in which the house in sorrow is located is half empty. Cars carrying women who are coming for offering their condolences could be seen arriving and out of which women are coming out.

Of course, in the same small street several other cars could be seen parked out because the houses which belong to the owners of the cars do not have garages integrated within the same building. Very few people, adults, could be seen here and there on the pavement of both sides of this street.

Takeoff 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

Most probably, many of these people, seen walking in the street, have nothing to do with the bereaved family. Sometimes neighbors do not know each other at all in the Quarter of the Rich. On the whole, it is now almost nine o'clock and one cannot see even a single woman who is supposed to have arrived for the purpose of offering condolences and expressing her sympathies for the death of the head of the family.

It is somewhat early. Nobody comes as early as nine o'clock or earlier, except the professional consolers. Amr disguised in a woman's black veil dress, could be considered as one of those professional consolers. Therefore, all the members of the bereaved family are really astonished and surprised to see a completely veiled woman entering their house.

Obviously, this first woman to enter the house is, in fact, Amr disguised in the dress of a veiled woman. The members of the bereaved family, more specifically the women, could not guess at all the identity of the woman who arrives in the house. Everybody notices that the first woman to arrive walks slowly, prudently and carefully.

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The women of the bereaved family have noticed that this woman walks with some difficulty. The observers, the women of the bereaved family, remark that this first visitor has so far stumbled twice before entering the house. Yet, the totally veiled woman finds herself inside the house of sorrow and bereavement. This bulky woman is in fact Amr disguised in the dress of a veiled middle aged woman.

Suburban Animal
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 well veiled woman penetrates into the house in sorrow. She walks directly to the main salon of the magnificent house which has been by now well prepared to receive the women of the community who would come to offer their condolences for the family in sorrow.

As it is noticed by all the female members of the family, the woman consoler visitor who just arrived before anybody else does not speak absolutely to anybody. The first visitor behaves in such a way that she does not give to anybody the chance, the opportunity or the possibility to address to her even a single word.

The first visitor, the veiled woman, keeps herself in an absolute silence, in a complete muteness, in a total speechlessness, and in complete dumbness. Indeed, and because of the veil that covers her face, nobody could see whether she really has a mouth or not.

The abrupt and unexpected entrance of Amr, perfectly disguised as a veiled woman, attracts the attention and draws the alertness and perhaps the stupefaction and the amazement of all the female members of the bereaved family.

People living in the Quarter of the Rich, who are accustomed to a mode of modern life than to a mode of life dominated by traditions, are finding it strange to see such a completely veiled woman. The inhabitants of the Quarter of the Rich have been habituated to see one or two veiled women but these are not as huge as this one who is standing in the midst of their house.

On the other hand, nobody can remember that the bereaved family has a friend or even an acquaintance that is veiled in the same way as this woman is veiling herself. The women of the family have certain friends and acquaintances that use, in a moderate and restrained manner, the white or the black head scarf. But they do not have as a friend any like this all black dressed phantom.

The women of the family start to look at each other just to understand who could be this woman. All the women of the family have on their body all kinds of fantasy dresses. They have already their hair made up in a fantastic way and in accordance with the most recent hair dressing styles by the family hairdresser who is available in the house since early in the morning with all his hair dressing and hair cutting equipment with one of his assistants.

Nevertheless, and in the midst of this mysterious and curious situation, nobody of the female members of the family has the intention to go to this veiled woman and to talk to her. Not only this; but in reality everybody stays away from the veiled woman by a certain distance. Not a single woman of the family has the courage and the curiosity to go to the veiled woman in order to exchange with her few words or few ideas and rumors.

Could this creature be a witch, a sorceress or what? Obviously every woman member of the bereaved family begins, the moment she sees the veiled woman, to go back to the past in order to try to member if she has ever seen this mysterious black phantom. Actually and certainly, nobody could remember that this phantom has been seen somewhere in the Quarter of the Rich.

At last, the veiled woman goes to the middle of the salon. She, the disguised Amr, walks in a curious and odd way. It is obvious that this veiled woman is avoiding falling down because of the high heels of her shoes. She stretches her both arms as if she is trying to establish her equilibrium while walking.

The veiled woman chooses a seat for herself. As expected, nobody is still there. Her seat is near the wide open window which is decorated by red velvet curtains. Then, and in a ceremonious, courteous and formal way other visitors, consolers, other women, arrive, perhaps a quarter of an hour after the arrival of the veiled woman.

The appearance of these newly arrived women, consolers, in the salon, changes the whole atmosphere into something else where bright, glittering and twinkling colors of dress and jewelry and the fragrance of all kinds of perfumes dominate the whole place. Women consolers of sprinkling and glittering best dresses enter the house. Each of these fictitious, bogus and artificial queens walks in a majestic, stately and magnificent manner. They imagine that thousands of other poorly dressed women are applauding them enthusiastically and that all of these imaginary people speak to their companions in homage of their beauty, elegance, charm and of their grace. While in fact, nobody is even having a glimpse of their ugly face. Those newly arrived consolers are all old women. All are above sixty years of age. Some of them could be in their advanced eighties or in very rare cases in their nineties.

These new comers, the consolers, are welcomed by the members of the bereaved family in a very simple and normal way. The women visitors, the consolers, come either individually, each alone, or in group, several women who have the tradition and the habit of going together to condolences ceremonies, assemblies and festivities.

Most of the consolers, the women, choose the salon as the place where they would spend most of the three coming hours, till twelve o'clock at noon. The salon is preferred to the single rooms because the consoler, the lady to be offering her condolences, feels in the salon to be in a royal and in a majestic place which suits more her egotism, her vanity, her narcissism, her arrogance and her boastfulness. The wide and the well decorated salon give the woman consoler the feeling that she would be treated as a queen or as a woman of no equal.

On the other hand, here in the salon, each woman would have the chance to see more people of various ages whom she has not seen in the last several months or years. By chance, here a woman consoler could see the little girl of childhood who has become with the passing of time an old woman and a grandmother of twenty or thirty grand children. Probably, she would see some residents of the Quarter of the Rich whom she sees and meets for the first time.

The presence of a visitor who is completely veiled and who does not show any part of her body with the exception of the eye-balls, is noticed by all the visitors, that is the women consolers. Gradually, all seats in the salon are occupied by the women who come from all over the quarter and from the other parts of the city.

It is obvious by now that all the visitors in the salon are staring continuously at the veiled woman, the black phantom. The presence of such a creature in the magnificent salon, that is the veiled phantom, is looked at as a strange and rare phenomenon in the community of the Quarter of the Rich. All of them are expecting some surprising and incredible events to happen due to the appearance of the veiled woman inside the house in bereavement and sorrow. All of those present have become more or less pessimists. They are anticipating the occurrence of bad, evil and pernicious events. At the same time, the black woman, that is the disguised Amr, is well aware of what surrounds him, and is prepared to react in accordance with the requirements of the development of the forthcoming events.

For these visitors who are now offering their condolences and expressing their deepest sympathies, the appearance of a completely veiled visitor is considered as something strange and not common.

For some of these women, who are the members of very rich families, they have never seen such a veiled woman in their life. Of course, they hear a lot about these veiled women called the phantoms, from their friends and from their families. Many stories have been brought back by travelers, business people and men of affairs who travel to some neighboring countries of the Gulf and the Empty Quarter in which all women are veiled and are all the time kept behind the high walls of their houses. The inhabitants of the Quarter of the Rich listen to these unusual stories but cannot believe them.

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It is by now certain that this veiled woman is nobody but Amr, who is now sitting in his seat and at the same time he looks at all of those present in the salon and at each of the visitors who are there with him in the house in sorrow and grief. He looks with amazement and bewilderment at those who enter the salon and those who, from time to time, leave the salon. However, those who leave the salon are normally few because most of the visitors prefer to stay for quite a long time, at least for one hour and for some others for more than that.

However, in many cases several professional women visitors and consolers prefer to stay in the bereaved house for the complete three hours allotted for the morning session of women. But as it happens with men in the evening session, there are quite a number of women visitors who stay for a short time only because they want to go to other houses that are in sorrow and bereavement.

In general, and as a first strong reaction, Amr is completely stunned and staggered to discover this new bizarre and unusual world. This is a completely new world to him which he never dreamt to see and which he never imagined that it exists and that he would have the chance to see and witness. He asks himself whether he is actually in the fabulous, legendary and fantastic world of the One Thousand and One Night.

Amr, disguised as a black phantom, could not believe what he is seeing before him. It is really a world that can only exist in fables, tales, parables, myths and legends. Whatever is the degree and magnitude of the strangeness of this bizarre world he is witnessing, Amr, the black phantom is fully determined to stay in the midst and in the heart of this world until he becomes completely well aware of the nature of its absurdity.

What Amr is seeing in front of him is a surprising as well as a strange and an enigmatic phenomenon. Nobody has ever told him about what he is seeing before him in this place which is supposed to be engulfed in sorrow and sadness.

Amr is astonished to see a strange world inside the salon of the house of the bereaved family. He is really stunned by what he witnesses, by what he observes, by what he sees. He considers the possibility of leaving the place because he gets disgusted of what he witnesses before him.

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He, little by little, feels that he might lose his equilibrium and might behave in an unacceptable manner and might begin shouting aloud and become a mad man. Then he would be discovered to be a man and not a woman. This would constitute the most terrible scandal in the quarter. At last Amr decides to control himself and to behave in a wise and a balanced way.

Amr tries his best to calm himself, to be tranquil and undisturbed. What he is watching in front of him is the reality, the real life and nothing else. He cannot deny what he observes and has to admit that he cannot escape from the reality. He has to face this new world and has to live with it and in it for the coming three hours.

The veiled woman, the black phantom, is all of a sudden shocked and could not understand what is going on. The salon now is in complete confusion, in a total chaos and in an absolute tumult and anarchy. It would be quickly discovered that the sumptuous and lavish salon is now in a full confusion.

All seats of the four sides are at last occupied and all people, all women speak without any exception and in a somewhat loud voice. Mouths are not closed at all, and sometimes the tongues of the speakers come out without any reason. In some cases hands are used in the communication process.

Of course, nobody is now aware of the presence of the black phantom, the veiled woman, in the salon. Yet each time a new visitor comes into the salon, Amr, the veiled woman, finds in front of him now proofs that what he is seeing is a phenomenon that cannot be explained. The disguised woman, Amr, becomes drowned and engulfed by confusion and even by anxiety. It is never thought that he would be seeing what he is at present witnessing in the salon of the house in bereavement.

First, Amr asks himself whether he is really in a house of sorrow and bereavement, in a house over-whelmed by sadness for the loss of the chief, of their head, the father. He cannot believe at all that he is in a bereaved family house because he does not see any sign that indicates that this family has buried its father yesterday.

Is he really in a house of sorrow and sadness? Or is he in a house of haute couture of high style dress making, where mannequins and fashion models, exhibit and show the most recent creations of the haute couture establishments in Paris, Milan or London. Not only this, he imagines himself to be in a place full of spectators who come especially to see this procession of mannequins and fashion models, who exhibit the most recent fashion creations in dress making and design.

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Amr decides to stay where he is because what he is seeing and witnessing just now is going to undergo drastic changes. There would be unbelievable surprises. He decides to stay to see what goes on in this house of sorrow and sadness. Amr, the black phantom, decides to stay here till midday, at twelve o'clock at noon.

At that moment, a visitor, a consoler, enters the salon. She is a women of about fifty years old who is putting on her bulky body a very tight robe that envelops her body in such a way that she finds difficulty to breathe easily. It is clear to all spectator women that the robe is very tight on her breast and on her thighs.

With much difficulty, the woman of fifty years of age walks inside the salon towards a seat which she chooses, Naturally, all the people, the women inside the salon, who are there to offer their condolences to the members of the bereaved family, are staring at this woman who looks to be very funny, comic and ridiculous.

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The women are looking at what seems to be a mannequin, an aged mannequin, who comes to this bereaved family house just to show her funny dress and her ugly body.

But Amr, and all of a sudden, finds himself really in a strange and in an absurd world and tries to open his eyes as wide as possible so as to be able to see the details of the human beings, the mummies, who are there in front of him. He asks himself how an old woman of about fifty years old could dress in such a scandalous way in an occasion which is supposed to be dominated by sorrow and sadness.

The old woman, the mannequin, sits now in her seat while her robe creeps, slips up, glides and errs upwards above her abased, gross and flabby knees. Of course, this scene attracts the attention of all of those women who are either sitting or standing in the salon of the house in sorrow.

Amr has so far spent one hour, out of a total of three hours, the total duration of the morning session for the visit of women. More and more he becomes aware of the reality in front of him. Slowly, he could realize what goes on in the salon. He, Amr, who is disguised in the black veil dress of women, discovers new things in the salon in which he is seated.

He opens his eyes, he rubs his eyes and closes and opens his eyes several times. He believes that his eyes are not actually seeing things as they are. His eyes are unable to convey to him the real message concerning the salon and what it contains of strange female human beings.

He could not realize before what he is seeing now. New scenes of human behavior and of human feminine bodies are revealed and presented to him. He could not see these scenes when he first came into the salon. With more attention and better mental concentration, he discovers the reality of the situation in this house of the bereaved family.

Just in front of Amr, there sits in her seat a lady of about forty years of age who is almost naked. There is nothing on her body except some sort of a tissue put on her breast and another piece of tissue as big as a tree leaf put on the middle part of her somewhat fat body.

Otherwise, this lady, who could be considered as an ugly woman and who looks to be putting on her face a totally painted mask, is just sitting there to show to others the various parts of her naked body.

This semi-naked lady does not talk but moves her long and bulky legs left and right and puts her hands on her breast and her belly. Obviously, Amr could not believe that what he is seeing represents the reality and the truth.

The lady on the right side of the naked lady is a fully dressed by a long skirt that covers her knees and by a blouse of green color which reveals, uncovers and exhibits all her breast. This lady is blond and her hair has been made up in its present form and shape in a hair-dresser shop, the coiffeur, just one hour before coming to this house in sorrow and bereavement.

At the other side of the naked lady sits an old woman, perhaps of seventy five years of age. The lady is dressed like a young girl in her adolescence.

Of course, here, the blue jeans trousers are visible on the legs of this old lady. The very small shirt is visible on the upper part of the body of this old lady whose hair is curly and golden in color. Her face is full of paints and of all kinds of maquillage, of makeup, and of traces of all types of faking material of the shape of the various parts of the face.

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

With some close examination, it could be easily seen that nothing is real on her face. It is obvious that all parts of the eyes and all her teeth are not real. Her ears are all branched to all kinds of wires, threads and strings and are visibly covered by various kinds of hearing apparatus.

This old lady, who thinks that she is a fifteen years old girl, does not stop smiling and laughing, smiling and laughing and changing seats.

Indeed, this is not the only old woman who likes to be looking and behaving like young girls. There are others whose age is above sixty years and who are not putting on their legs the blue jeans. Some of them have on their legs short skirts of various tissues and colors. All are having their faces painted and decorated with various kinds of the art of makeup and of maquillage. All of these women have lost most of their hair since several years. What they have of shining and illuminating hair is nothing but a false hair, a pastiche, a wig.

Very few of the consolers, the old age visitors, leave the salon after sitting in the bereaved house for some time. Yet others keep coming into the salon which is already full of old women. A lady comes into the salon who is completely decorated everywhere in her body by pieces of jewelry of various precious stones. Gold shines everywhere in their body. The hands, the left and the right, of these old ladies are all encircled by pure gold bracelets of various shapes and designs.

Each old woman puts on each arm about fifteen to twenty five bracelets and similar ornamental pieces all made out of pure gold. All of these old women put around their neck various kinds of necklaces made of pure gold and encrusted with diamonds and the most expensive precious stones. Some of these necklaces go down till the belly-button of the old women or even somewhat lower.

Every old lady puts around her neck more than fifty necklaces of various sizes and designs. All of these necklaces are imported either from India or from Paris and London. The decoration which astonishes all people is the number of rings, gold and encrusted with all types of jewelry and precious stones, which these old ladies put on their ten fingers and without any exception. The middle finger is usually over-loaded with all kinds of precious rings. It is estimated that each old woman has on her ten fingers about one hundred rings.

Yet, the most astonishing piece of decoration is the ear-ring. Each ear of these old ladies who come to show their sadness to the suffering bereaved family, put on each ear ten ear-rings of various sizes. Each ear-ring might weigh more than one hundred grams. So each ear has to carry about one kilogram of gold and various types of precious stones. This is why the ears of all the old ladies of rich families have their both ears going down till they touch their shoulders. This is exactly like the ears of women of some primitive tribes in Africa and the Pacific Ocean.

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

Here, we should not forget the small crowns which each old lady carries on her head. Each crown, encrusted with all types of precious stones has been imported from England. Each of these women consolers, who are supposed to have come to a bereaved family house, thinks that she is the only queen amongst all of those mummies who are seated in the salon.

Yet the most important piece of precious metal of decorative ornaments is the anklet. This is a kind of a bracelet that has roots in the ancient culture and civilization of the Quarter of the Rich. It has become in fashion among the old women of the quarter. These very expensive anklets are imported from India via the Gulf states. Each leg has around it five to ten anklets made out of pure gold and each is encrusted with the most precious and rare stones. As a matter of fact, the old ladies coming to the family in sadness and bereavement to offer their condolences face difficulty in walking.

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At last, the armlet ornaments should not be forgotten at all. Each of the two arms of an old lady visiting the house in sorrow as consoler has about five armlets around it. Whenever any of her arms is moved a disturbing noise is produced by these armlets.

These old women burdened by this heavy load of gold and jewelry, take their seats and begin looking at each other. Twenty such old women could be found in the salon. They sit quietly in expecting something to happen. Probably they expect the sudden attack of thieves and burglars who are accustomed to surprise these old women and take all the golden ornaments and jewelry and go away with the spoils and the loot peacefully.

Each of the twenty female visitors who are sitting in the salon begin to be ready for talking and dialoguing, for telling stories about others, about the innocent families of the quarter. Each of the visitors shows to the others her tongue. The moment each old lady opens the mouth, the long tongue begins coming out of it. The tongue of each woman stretches outside the open mouth in such a strange way that it would look like a red colored serpent with a very black head.

At that moment, all the women visitors begin talking either in addressing all the audience in the salon or in listening to a neighbor who talks to them. The women consolers talk to each other most of the time in small groups of four or five. The topic of the conversation is nothing but gossips and rumors and false stories and lies. All of these women feel the pleasure in speaking in a bad manner about several other women in the quarter who in reality enjoy a happy family life.

All the visitors have nothing to do but to fabricate rumors and fictitious stories about an ideal mother calling her a prostitute, a harlot, a whore, a street-walker, a call girl or several other dirty words. The long tongues do not stop moving in all directions to help the women consolers, the old aged mannequins, to fabricate gossips about everybody who leads a virtuous kind of life in the community.

Of course, and in conformity with all traditions of condolence meetings and gatherings in the morning, one of the oldest visitors, who is almost about eighty years old, stands up and begins to dance the oriental dances. All others, in the salon enjoy and appreciate this dancing. One of them the youngest, a fifty years old ugly woman, who was divorced on the first day of her marriage, begins to sing all the love songs that are popular at that time.

At eleven thirty, half an hour before the end of the morning session of offering condolences to families in sorrow by women, all the visitors who are not only in the salon but also in all the other rooms, come to the salon and begin dancing and singing. All the low tables of all sizes are brought to the salon so that dancers could dance on them.

At the same time, and in a miraculous way, coffee, the black coffee, is served in addition to the offering of cigarettes. It should be mentioned that some of these women of above forty years, drink alcoholic drinks in their houses as well as in the houses of others in the morning while they play the bridge or other cards games.

So here, in this house of bereavement, these drunkard ladies are offered alcoholic drinks served in the cups of coffee. The dancing, the singing continue and without interruption and without any stop in the salon. Each woman, old woman, becomes in a state of sensual ecstasy and they start to behave like fools. Nothing could control them.

Of course, the women of the bereaved family take part in all of these activities undertaken by the visitors. Before noon, or midday, by a quarter of an hour, every visitor, every woman is aware of the fact that in few minutes they have to leave the house of bereavement and go to their houses. They have to go and see their husbands and their children and their grandchildren.

Each woman, old woman, tries to calm herself down. Each takes her seat and tries to relax for a while. The maids of the house rush to the salon so as to serve these ladies with the real black coffee so that they could be helped to overcome the bad strong effects of the alcoholic drinks which they have consumed throughout the preceding three hours.

It is customary in such occasions that some very old women visitors, the consolers, get fainted, or get all of a sudden sick or comes across some difficulty in breathing. Of course, in such a situation doctors are called in a hurry and two or three ambulances come to the house in sorrow and mourning to take away these old women visitors to the hospital. In all cases, these rich families, the bereaved ones, are accustomed to such emergency accidents and incidents, and most of them would have at least an ambulance waiting in front of the house and ready to take immediately the fainting old woman to the hospital.

During the morning women session that last from about nine till twelve o'clock at noon, the bereaved house becomes totally under the control of women. Men leave the house of sadness and grief early in the morning. The house of bereavement is completely left under the control of women. All men know that during these three hours of mourning, the women visitors feel free to use all the amenities and the facilities of the bereaved family house.

The men of the family of the defunct know perfectly well that the five or the six bathrooms of the house are regularly used for various purposes by the women visitors during the three hours of the morning women session of the condolence day.

However, these men of the bereaved family carry with them their portable telephone ready to react to any possible emergency call so as to come without delay to the house.

Therefore, in the morning of the three days of bereavement and sadness allotted to women, the atmosphere is completely different from that of men. Practically, there is no comparison between the two. Anyhow, in the morning session, the moment the last woman visitor leaves the bereaved family home, everything becomes in order in the house and all the rooms and halls in the house are prepared for the men's session in the late afternoon.

Maids would commence to spray in all the rooms and the corridors of the house, especially in the salon, the most precious perfume and fragrance. The women of the family of the defunct do not want to leave any trace of the alcoholic drink which some of the visitors consumed discreetly during the morning three hours session.

In one hour time the house of the defunct becomes ready to receive the men consolers starting from five o'clock in the afternoon. Here and there, the maids in charge of cleaning the house, and who have been recruited from the Island of Tri Banka, find very precious pieces of jewelry and golden ornaments belonging to the consolers.

Of course, all of these precious and highly expensive pieces of jewelry are kept and forever by the maid servants. They are never given back to their owners. Obviously, nobody knows at all to whom belongs each piece of the lost jewelry. Even the concerned woman consoler is not aware at all that she lost any of her pieces of ornaments.

In the midst of all of this confusion, the reaction and the position of Amr, who is disguised in the dark black veil dress, has been a combination of amazement and bewilderment. Whenever any new consoler comes into the salon, the presence of a completely veiled woman attracts the attention of the new comer who immediately asks her neighbor some questions concerning the veiled bulky woman. No answer is given because nobody knows anything about this black phantom, this ghost. So, the new comer forgets all about the presence of the black phantom in the salon.

Several times, some of the consolers think of venturing to talk with the sitting and quiet black veiled woman. Yet, finally nobody dares to come to Amr and talk to him. In the final analysis, the only reaction given by an astonished woman is to smile a simple smile indicating that the woman in question would not go further in the investigation and in the analysis of the situation.

No woman amongst the visitors has the courage to advance to the veiled woman and ask her about her identity. All the activities described above are seen and observed by the veiled man, Amr.

By chance, the two seats on the two sides of the veiled woman are left vacant. They are not occupied, and they have not been occupied for the duration of three hours. It is certain that nobody of the female visitors wants, or has had the inclination to sit next to the ghost, near to the black phantom, or the veiled woman. Therefore, the two seats on both sides of the veiled consoler are left free, completely unoccupied.

"If you please Madame, do you know that veiled woman who sits there in the salon and who looks to be like a black phantom? You can see that nothing is visible of her body, of her personality with the exception of her eye-balls. Nothing is visible. Look here. Even her big hands are covered by the black gloves." asks one woman consoler her neighbor sitting next to her.

"I, how could I know her? No, no, no!! Do not ask me such a question, if you please. For sure I do not know her at all. Nobody can identify the personality of somebody who hides himself or herself behind a black veil. Look at her very well. Can you see any part of her body with the exception of her eye-balls? Even these eye-balls look to me like a riddle, a mysterious riddle. These eye-balls are without life or light. They seem to be the eyes of a dead human being or the eyes of the Devil" answers wittingly the neighbor.

"If you please, look at her bosom, her breast, I mean, in fact, her chest. It looks to be very big, and I cannot describe it by anything more than the word, large. The size of the chest is large for a woman. But still we could see of this chest, the shape of two mounting bosoms. No doubt, in spite of the large chest, this phantom is a woman. they look like the bosoms of any old woman. The two bosoms lack an erection which is common to young women. Anyhow, look at the way this veiled woman seats herself. It is a strange way. I do not find it normal for a woman to sit in this way. This is really a strange way." said the first woman consoler.

"I propose to go to her and try to exchange with her few words, with this veiled woman whose age we cannot guess at all. I think she would welcome us and she would certainly talk with us. I am sure of that. Have a look at her. She sits like a statue. Talking to her would be for us quite an experience, an exciting and an unforgettable experience. I think she is looking at us now. She is more or less inviting us to talk to her" suggested the other woman consoler.

"No! no! I do not agree with you. She would not be talking to us at all. She is not the type of a person who is ready to talk to anyone who wants to talk to her. I have been observing her for the last two hours. She did not utter a single word. Not even when she is offered coffee. She does not say anything to express her refusal to take coffee. She just moves her left hand as a sign for saying no. I think this woman, the veiled, could be middle aged, not an old one, of an age of forty years or more than this by few years. It seems she likes to live in isolation. She does not like to come in contact with the outside world. I think she is either a widow, who lost her husband few years ago, or she is not married. In both cases, she should be considered as a special case of a woman."

"Anyhow, she does not look to be a very rich woman. Oh! Not a rich woman. Look at her shoes. First they are very old pair of shoes. In any case they are not new at all and consequently they are demoded and out of fashion. They look like a pair of shoes which I used to have fifteen years ago. Has it not been for their large size; I would have said that they are one of my old shoes. No doubt, this woman is of a poor background. Just judged by the type of shoes; she has the looks to be of a poor family. Have a look, please, at her shoes. They are old fashioned and worn out. I say probably she is a deaf and a dump creature. Perhaps, she cannot express herself. Nevertheless, I think, judged by her eye-balls, she can see and she does not suffer from any eye-sight weakness or defect." explained the other woman visitor.

The group of women talking to each other about the veiled woman stopped talking to each other about the black phantom. They are about to participate in an activity which is about to take place, either dancing or singing in the salon.

No doubt, the totally veiled woman, Amr, remarks and observes what is going on around her. She, the veiled woman, notices the group of women talking about her, about him. Those three women who have been talking about her are practically naked and they cover all the sensitive parts of their body with pieces of jewelry of precious stones and of ornaments made out of pure gold.

The three quasi-naked women are talking about the veiled woman, about the disguised Amr, in a loud voice. The veiled woman, Amr, could hear all what is being said and uttered. Amr, the veiled woman, becomes full of inquietude and worries. The only thing he is afraid of is the discovery of his personality and that he is a man and not at all a woman.

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The fact that he is perfectly disguised in a totally black women veil that covers all his body would be a scandalous and a shameful story that would certainly be told and forever in the history of the community of the Quarter of the Rich as well as in the annals of the society. Nobody would even forget that once upon a time a man disguised as a woman had attended the morning session of the bereavement when all the visitors should be women.

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In order to avoid such a scandal Amr thinks that it would be better for him to leave the house and immediately, without any delay. However, it is not yet known whether this is the proper and the suitable time to leave. The veiled woman cannot know the exact time at that particular moment.

Amr, the veiled woman, does not carry his watch, because it is impossible for him to carry the watch. Anyhow, the veiled woman, Amr, becomes completely relieved and satisfied in discovering the clock hung on the wall. It is only still eleven o'clock and still he, Amr, has one more hour to stay.

The veiled woman sees that all the visitors, the consolers, are singing and dancing and some of them are clearly drunk. However, Amr thinks that he should leave this house in sorrow and bereavement at this time, eleven o'clock, though he has still one more hour.

It is most probable that many surprises might take place here inside the salon of the house in sorrow and grief. Amr, the veiled woman, calms himself down and he tries to forget that there are people who talk about him or who would be talking about him.

All of a sudden, unexpectedly, and in an unforeseen manner and without any introduction, the absolute silence dominates in the salon. Nobody is singing or dancing, or even walking. Everything is in a standstill in the hall. Nothing is moving. Yet everybody in the salon is looking at the wide open door of the space utilized for seating hundreds of consolers. All the visitors, the women consolers, are looking at somebody who is entering the salon.

Everybody is motionless. At the same time all are looking at the new comer, the new visitor, the new woman consoler. As expected one of those women who are looking at the person who is entering is the veiled woman, Amr. He sees entering the salon somebody who is completely veiled like him in the sense that nothing is visible in this veiled black phantom except the eye-balls.

The entry of the veiled woman is something which nobody in the salon expects. Not even Amr, the veiled woman already in the salon, expects the coming of this veiled woman into the house in sorrow and bereavement.

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

Exactly like Amr, the new veiled woman is dressed totally by the black woman veil dress and nothing is visible of her body except the eye-balls. Otherwise, all the body of the new comer is veiled. Even she has the black gloves on her hands and the black high heels shoes on her feet.

This is a second copy of the black dress veil of Amr. Nothing is different with the exception that the shoes of the new comer are completely new and shining. Therefore nothing is visible of the new visitor with the exception of the eye-balls.

All the women present in the salon are really astonished and bewildered. They are not accustomed to see such veiled women even in the paths and the streets of the Quarter of the Rich.

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How it happens that one could now see two veiled women in the house of the bereaved family. The thing which astonishes all the women of the salon is to see the new comer going towards the seat on the left of the seat of the already existing veiled woman, who is nobody but Amr.

Everybody notices now that the new comer is completely similar to the black phantom, the veiled woman already sitting in the salon since two hours. However, all notice that the new comer is larger in stature than the already existing phantom or ghost. Of course, nobody could notice the difference that exists in the shoes of the two phantoms. Otherwise, with the exception of the stature, the two veiled women look similar, at least in appearance. The new comer sits near and next to the seat of Amr. The new comer keeps silent.

"This is another phantom. I would never expect that we have another phantom, another veiled woman. One, the already present one, would have been sufficient. Now we have two and I am afraid we would have a third one, a third phantom, in some minute's time. I have the feeling that this salon would be invaded by more veiled women. There would be the coming of a wave of new phantoms." said a semi-naked woman who carries on her body a kind of jewelry of precious stones and ornaments of pure gold and other precious metals.

"You know my dear friend; I have never seen such a phenomenon in all my previous experiences in the field of condolences and the visits to the houses of bereavement. You know, this is my fiftieth year in which I visit at least twice a week houses of bereaved families for offering my condolences. But yet, I have never seen something like this, seeing women veiled in this curious, terrifying and mysterious way. I tell you frankly that I have seen some of them in the main avenue of the city, but not in houses of sorrow and mourning. It seems to me that these two veiled women do not know each other at all. I do not see any possible communication between the two."

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"You could see that both of them try obstinately to keep in an absolute silence. It seems that they do not want to talk to each other. I would like to tell you that nowadays one could see a number of women putting on their head the scarf, mostly of black color. Most of the women who use the scarf hide their hair and nothing else. I could not see any harm or any negative effect because of the use of the scarf. The scarf can be and in fact should be tolerated. However, this total veil that changes the woman who uses it into a phantom should not be tolerated at all." said the neighbor.

"Look at both of them. They look like two statues without life. I cannot bear looking at them. They are really horrible. I cannot look at them. How is it possible for them to drink the black coffee offered to them? In fact, I saw the first one refusing to take coffee by gesture of her head or her hand. The one who just arrived refuses the coffee offered to her by the same gesture." said the other consoler.

"They do not take coffee because of their veil. Consequently, they cannot even smoke cigarettes." said another visitor in agreement with the other visitor.

"It is obvious that the veil covers totally the mouth, thus they can neither drink nor smoke at present. I assure you that the two smoke cigarettes in their homes. They even smoke the narghile. I am wondering why they do not take off and remove their veils since all of us here are really women. Men are not allowed to come into the salon or elsewhere in the house where there are visitors. You know, I am thinking of asking these two phantoms to free themselves from the veil that covers their faces as long as they are here with the other women visitors." proposed the first visitor calmly.

"No, I think we should leave them as they are. Let us not interfere in this highly sensitive aspect of our daily life." said another woman.

"Listen to me, all of you. I am going to speak to both of these veiled women so as to know the reality. Without talking to them the whole question would remain to all of us a riddle and a mystery." said another visitor.

"I do not advise you at all to try to talk to them. Do not go and keep yourself far from them, from the two black phantoms. Let them be as they want to be and not as we want them to be. This is their choice and their life and nothing else." said angrily another visitor.

It is not only the women who just spoke who are wondering about the identity of the two veiled women, but also Amr who has become very curious and highly inquisitive and he would like to know the identity and the personality of the other veiled woman seated next to him.

First, Amr wants to discover whether the person seated next to him is really a woman or a disguised man in the black veil woman dress. Amr wants to know whether the neighbor is a man or not. How could he know the reality? How could he know the identity of the person seated next to him?

Amr kept silent for a while not knowing what to do. Really, he is lost, completely lost, because he cannot utter a single word. If he uttered a word he would be discovered to be a man and not a woman.

He keeps silent and begins to think of the whole matter, the impasse, the dilemma over and over again. At the same time he is in a hurry to know the correct identity of the other veiled person sitting next to him.

Without his will and without the aid of his mental competence he just utters, in a low voice, very low voice, as if he is whispering to his neighbor, the word 'I'. He repeats this word twice. Surprisingly enough the neighbor, the supposed veiled woman, gets immediately the message of Amr.

The other veiled person makes a slight movement in her, in his, seat as if she wants to be seated in a more comfortable position. But the neighbor chooses not to give any gesture indicating that she gets, or in fact, understands the message.

All the time, when a kind of communication is about to be established between the two veiled persons, all the visitors are either singing or dancing or talking. Some of the visitors, the consolers, are leaving and some others are coming into the salon.

So in this noisy atmosphere, the communication between the two veiled persons would look to be impossible or in fact difficult. But the most important surprise in the life of Amr has by now taken place.

As if the voice and the uttered response words have been coming from the far away horizon, Amr hears the word, 'Monkar', repeated several times. This is an unexpected surprise for Amr to know that the other veiled person in the dress of a woman is in fact his old friend the ex-ambassador, Monkar. What a surprise?

Therefore, the other veiled person is a man disguised in the dress of a veiled woman. Obviously, nobody from among the woman consolers could remark or realize that the two veiled persons in the salon are men and not women.

However, the two veiled men, who are disguised in the black dress of a veiled woman, continue to be in absolute silence. They do not move at all and they keep themselves motionless like two lifeless statues.

Behind their veil that covers their face, but not their eye-balls, they could see very easily what is going on before their eyes in the salon. They watch the dancers and the singers with stupefaction and bewilderment. Monkar is about to leave this house so as to go to other houses in sorrow and condolences. Monkar is accustomed to stay only for a quarter of an hour in each visit. This is his way of visiting in the afternoons and in the evenings when he goes to the men's condolence sessions. Monkar, disguised in the woman's black veil visits usually five to six bereaved families in the morning together with the other women of the community.

Monkar, the ex-ambassador, has begun, since several weeks, to disguise in a regular manner as a veiled woman, and to visit in the morning the bereaved families when all the visitors and the consolers are only and exclusively, women.

Of course, Amr does not know at all that his friend Monkar has been disguising himself and making these condolence visits in the morning. The old consul, Amr, the friend of the ambassador, has been thinking that he is the only one who is carrying out such a strange and odd activity, which is visiting the bereaved families in the morning with women. It is very difficult to explain the reason for which Monkar has kept the news concerning this activity of his to him only.

Monkar has been undertaking such a strange activity for several weeks. He has been enjoying such an activity and has decided not to share it with his friend Amr. In such morning visits of condolences Monkar has been witnessing scenes that could not be seen in the night-clubs of the western world. Sometimes women, who come to express their sympathy to the women of the members of the bereaved family, do not have anything on them when they take off their gown used just to hide their nudity. Such women claim that this represents the latest fashion style in Paris and in Milan. Of course, such naked women put a kind of a cover on the sensitive parts of their body.

The more Monkar visits such bereaved houses in the morning during the women's session the more he discovers more and more strange things in the fields of fashion and behavior. Once, in the midst of the summer season Monkar saw several women consolers who came to the bereaved house putting on a full fur coat which attracted the attention of all the women who were present in the salon of the house in sorrow.

Monkar, for several times has the intention of telling Amr about his strange adventures, that is when he disguises himself as a woman. But he never told Amr about his new adventures in the mornings. Monkar, by now, has more experience in the field of disguising as a veiled woman.

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Nobody knows up till now of the fact that Monkar uses the complete full veil so as to be able to visit the morning session of women condolences. He bought a new car which he drives only in his morning adventures. All his morning visits have been all the time without any embarrassing and encumbering incidents.

However, only once Monkar was about to be discovered that he was a man disguised as a woman. He once in the entrance foot-steps stumbled and was about to fall on the door's steps. Monkar felt that he was bleeding in his left leg and wondered what he could do to help himself. At last, he stood up and decided not to enter into the bereaved house. He rather preferred to go back to his house so as to see what he could do to his bleeding leg.

At the time of his fall there was only one young girl who came immediately and helped him to stand up. This little girl never thought that the person whom she helped could have been a man and not a woman. The fall or the stumbling incident convinced Monkar that in his disguise as a veiled woman he should never use a high heel woman's shoes.

Monkar continues his activities for visiting the bereaved family houses for offering his condolences. It has been reported that Monkar goes to these morning condolences ceremonies of female fashion and of old age beauty show motivated by an inner feeling of delight and sensual pleasure which he finds in looking at these semi-naked women. In spite of the old age of these women, Monkar still appreciates and admires their wrinkled body.

Baby Plant on Table 5
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Obviously, this is a bizarre behavior on the part of Monkar to have pleasure in seeing the semi-naked old women. In summary, it could be said that Monkar has become so far an excellent expert in the art of disguise as a woman.

Monkar arrives at a stage in his life where he can introduce some new innovations in the costume, the black veil dress of disguise. He could use new kinds of black gloves made out of soft tissues. He could use black women shoes with low heels. Sometimes, he uses a veil, the black dress, with a color other than the black, like the blue and sometimes the pure white.

With the passing of time, Monkar could be sure of himself when he puts on his complete black veil. First, he masters the way the ideal woman walks in a charming and attractive way. After weeks and weeks of making use of the black veil and disguising as a woman, Monkar is having nowadays satisfaction, gratification and contentment in this daily strange and bizarre activity. Obviously, Monkar has one main advantage which Amr does not have. He only stays in the house of bereavement for only fifteen minutes, while Amr insists to stay for the whole period of the morning session, which is for three hours.

During the quarter of an hour which Monkar stays in the house of sadness and sorrow, all the women in the house would not have enough time to notice and observe any anomaly, any abnormality and any oddity in the personality or in the behavior and conduct of Monkar.

Amr is not surprised at all to see Monkar in his black veil dress leaving the salon and in a hurry. It is not midday. The ex-ambassador is intending to carry out the last visit in today's session of women's condolences.

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

Amr wants to know the time so he carefully turns his head a little bit to the left to be able to see the clock hung on the wall of the salon. Still he has some time to stay here till noon. Though in few minutes it would be exactly three hours that he has been sitting in his seat in the bereaved house, Amr feels somewhat tired. He more or less, enjoys his long stay here and he watches with interest what is going on before him.

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However, in few minutes time, Amr is astonished to see the clock of the wall indicating the time to be twelve o'clock. In a very hasty way, those women who are present in the salon hurry up to leave. It is contrary to tradition to stay beyond the final limit of time. The place has to be totally prepared for the afternoon and the late evening session when men start to come.

Amr has not yet left the salon because he realizes that there are still some women, three or four, who are still keeping themselves in their seats. Therefore, Amr should wait for some time before he leaves the place.

What he finds before him is a strange, interesting and intriguing phenomenon. The three women, who are still, like him, in the salon, are very old ladies, perhaps they are approaching the age of ninety years or more than that. These three old women look more to be mummies than living human beings. They are well faded and have on their heads their small crowns encrusted with jewelry. They have on them their short robes that leave all their wrinkled legs visible to the spectator women. Their hands, neck, ears and ankles are all decorated with pieces of ornaments made out of gold and precious stones. In spite of the exaggerated make-up on their faces, the many wrinkles there could be seen very easily. It is not difficult at all to witness and discover their false teeth which fall between now and then whenever they try to say something to their friends and companions.

Amr is puzzled by the behavior of these three old women who sit relaxed in their seats and from time to time they smile and more frequently they cough and cough like a dying old black cat. It seems that they wait something to happen or to take place.

Amr discovers that these three old ladies, the mummies, are waiting for somebody to take them to their cars and later on to their homes.

For the first time since early in the morning when the women's session began, three handsome, elegant and good looking young men, of about twenty years of age, well dressed, as if their costume is a special uniform, enter the salon. They go straight to the three old women. Each of the young men, in a very easy way, carries an old woman and leaves the salon. All the three mommies are carried by the three young men.

In a glimpse of an eye, the three young men, each carrying his old woman, disappear from the salon. Outside the house, there are three magnificent and sumptuous modern cars that are waiting for the three old women. Each of these old ladies is placed in a car and in a very short time the three cars carrying the old women disappears in the streets of the Quarter of the Rich.

As for Amr, in seeing that the salon has become empty, he stands up and tries to establish his equilibrium. He looks around and walks slowly and leisurely, to avoid falling down on the floor.

One of the members of the bereaved family passes by Amr. She is a young and attractive girl in her early twenties. She does not say anything and the only thing she does is to look at Amr with curiosity and interest. Amr is wondering why this young girl is looking at him. What does she want? He asks himself.

The girl is about to address to Amr something. But at last she changes her intention. She smiles for a while but then she goes away, leaving Amr to himself. To avoid any possible embarrassment, Amr continues walking to the door. At last he leaves the house of the family in bereavement and directs himself to the car where his servant Abdu has been waiting for him.

Amr sits in the back seat of the car. His face is covered by a lot of perspiration. He does not know why and he closes his eyes while he gives his servant the order to start driving the car towards their destination, the house of Amr.

While driving the car, Abdu is frequently tempted to pose some pertinent and important questions to his master. The servant is aware of the fact that his master has just come out of a strange and a mysterious world which he saw for the first time.

Through the small mirror located above his head he could see Amr engulfed, submerged and totally overwhelmed in his own world, in a world of dreams and puzzling images.

Abdu resists any temptation to begin any conversation with his master that would last for only few minutes. The house of Amr is now there visible at the end of the street. So the silence in the car continues to be the master. The car produces a low noise which is not annoying or bothering anybody.

Amr arrives at his house very excited and even kindled. The experiences which he had in the morning are unbelievable and incredible. Nobody would believe him if he told others what he has seen in the morning in the bereaved family house where only women have been present.

Overwhelmed by his excitement, the moment he finds himself inside his house he immediately takes off the whole black veil dress from his body. He throws away, as far as he could, his black gloves and takes off at once from his feet the pair of black shoes of high heels.

Abdu is by now inside the house and starts to collect all the pieces of the veil dress that have been thrown by Amr. Of course, under the black veil dress Amr has his white shirt and his well ironed and pressed trousers.

Amr finds himself with satisfaction and contentment in a man's dress and in a man's atmosphere. He is no more in a house that seemed to be in sorrow and grief. He is in his own house, in his own residence and in his own domicile.

He calms down and is no more excited. Slowly and leisurely he goes to a sofa and sits down there. He closes his eyes for a while just to remember and see in his inner spirit all the events that have taken place this morning. Abdu disappears from the scene leaving his master all alone to live for a while in his personal private life. Amr could not forget at all the strange things he has seen in the house of sorrow this morning.

He would never forget the old women who have been virtually naked and covered by ornaments of pure gold and pieces of precious stones.

While he is completely submerged in his contemplation, his servant Abdu appears again in the scene and approached from the sofa of his master.

"What a spectacle, what a spectacle, what a fascinating show, what a strange phenomenon!!! It is something unbelievable and unthinkable, that which was going on in the morning in the bereaved family house. The world which I saw this morning in the house in sorrow is fantastic and bizarre. It is an eccentric and an abnormal world. I cannot, frankly speaking, describe for you the world which I have witnessed, which I have seen this morning. I could not imagine at all that I would be seeing what I saw there this morning. First, this is a purely feminine world where only women, rich women, are seen everywhere. What can I tell you?? In summary this is a world of witches, a world of sorceresses. This is a world of sorcery where you can see only the absurd, the unreasonable and the nonsensical world." said Amr to his servant.

"Master, I am sure you have a lot of time to talk to me about what you saw there in the house of condolences. It is now time to take your midday meal, to take your lunch. I am sure you are very hungry now after this tiring day. You need to eat, and to eat a lot. The maid cook has prepared excellent dishes for you. You have only to come to the dining-room to see what is there on the table waiting for you." said the servant to his master in a very polite and courteous manner.

"Please do not speak to me about eating. For the first time in my life I do not feel at all hungry. It is a very strange situation. I cannot understand why I do not feel hungry at all. I feel only somewhat tired, exhausted, not physically but mentally. What I saw made me get mentally fatigued and even sick. I would not understand what was going on there in the house of bereavement. All what I saw can only be described as a riddle, as a mystery. I think I was living in a fantastic and mysterious world."

"I could tell you that I saw everything there with the exception of the feeling of the respect for the dead. They danced, sang, talked and gossiped but nobody mentioned God. The Creator of the world and life was absolutely absent in the world of women in the bereaved family house. I saw almost naked women, I say women all covered by gold, jewelry and precious stones but could not hear a single woman mentioning the name of the dead, the defunct. What a strange world? What a world of mystery and riddles!!! I thought I was living in a world where everybody was dead drunk, intoxicated, was in an ecstasy of madness. For three hours I have been witnessing a world of madness. Nothing there indicated that I was sitting amongst normal and reasonable human being. There was no trace at all for the real and normal life." said Amr to his servant who was listening to his master with an open mouth and blinking and winking eyes.

"Please master; tell me more about what you saw there in the bereaved family house. Tell me more; I am very anxious to know more about this strange world. This is the first time I hear such stories. I never thought that something like this could take place in our community." said Abdu, the servant while he walks behind his master towards the dining-room.

"What can I tell you, Abdu? Probably, I could say that this was a strange type of a procession, of a parade of fashion show where all the spectator women are in fact mummies, just very old women who look like mummies. All of these women have come on the basis that they would participate, not as spectator women, but as mannequins who would show their dress as part of the whole fashion show procession. Most of the participants in the fashion parade show are practically naked and all of them have on their head either a completely black or a completely golden color hair. Of course, all of this black or blond hair is fictitious. It is a false hair or what people call a wig. I think that I have noticed that quite a number of the old women have lost all their hair on their head and some of them are in the way to be without hair on their heads."

"It is said that each woman, who comes to the bereaved family house to offer her condolences, goes first to the hair-dresser so as to make up her hair. It is said also that the bereaved family makes special arrangement with a certain well known hair dresser to come to the bereaved house early in the morning so that by nine o'clock all women of the house in sorrow would look with their hair well taken care of by the hair dresser present at the house. It is even said that a private hair-dresser would accompany certain very rich women to the house of bereavement so that he would continuously take care of the hair of his mistress."

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"From time to time, it is said that some old women bring with them their gold-smith or their jeweler who would take care of the pieces of ornaments which they have on all the parts of their body especially the ears, the necks, the fingers and the ankles. These men of arts and crafts and the hair-dresser are kept enclosed in a small room in the bereaved house and are visited, between now and then, by the women who need their technical and artistic help."

"I do not have to tell you more stories now because I should have time to take my lunch. Later on, and perhaps in some evenings I would tell you more strange stories. I think you and I should begin thinking of having a plan to write a book about my observations with your help. I do not know what I would see in the days to come, I do not know. Anyhow, I am sure in the future I will be seeing in these morning sessions of condolence visits more strange incidents and events." said Amr to his servant.

"I am wondering what these strange women say throughout the long three hours in this mysterious place of condolence and of sorrow. It is very clear that this is not a short time at all and one has to be a professional and experienced speaker to be able to participate actively and creatively in the long discussion that might take place in such occasions. They should have had a lot of experience in the exercise of talking continuously for three long hours." said Abdu in a polite manner.

Abdu in fact begins to open his eyes so as to be able to understand and comprehend easily what his master would say in this field of human behavior.

"Listen to me Abdu, I think that by now you know already how women, especially the old and the rich women behave differently from men. Each one of them, the men and the women, lives in a different world of his own. Women behave and conduct themselves differently from men in such occasions as this of condolences and the expression of sympathy and compassion. It is certain that in the occasion of sorrow and sadness, women express their sentiments differently. You might have noticed so far that very few women consolers stay in the house of bereavement for a short duration of time, say for a quarter of an hour, as men usually do in the evenings."

"On the contrary, most rich women who are always frustrated, upset and irritated, stay in the house of bereavement for the full time designated for offering condolences. Most women visitors feel that it is their duty to stay for almost three hours, from nine to twelve o'clock in the morning or even more. Each rich and frustrated woman feels that it is her duty to stay for three hours in spite of the fact that during this long duration of time she would be undertaking so many silly and funny activities. Each one realizes that she cannot stay for three hours just in keeping herself seated in her chair and doing nothing. Therefore, most of the rich and old women consolers feel that it is their duty to stay in the house of sorrow till midday when the house would be prepared for the afternoon and late evening session for men consolers. During these long hours of condolence, besides the time given to singing and dancing, part of the time is devoted to speaking, gossiping, chattering and nattering about others. In other words, they spend the time in gossiping and in fabricating false stories and lies about other women. They tell scandalous stories about highly honorable women of the community in general and of the Quarter of the Rich in particular"

"Old mummified women are in most of the cases the source of lies, falsehood and fiction. Middle aged and young women are in most cases admirers of old women who tell false stories about the honorable and trustworthy women of our community. These old mummies, whose face is full of wrinkles, are busy all the time in the creation of scandalous stories about others."

"Old women of bad reputation in the community like to create false stories about the various women of the neighborhood. Most of the time, old women in the morning session of condolences tell stories that touch and tarnish the reputation of all the members of a family taken as a target for the attack." said Amr to his servant Abdu with bitterness. Abdu was listening with a lot of attention and interest.

"No doubt your morning visits during the women condolence morning session represent a new and an exciting phase of your life of retirement. This is the most exciting part of your old age life. I think it would be more and more interesting and exciting as you will be attending more and more morning sessions with the women consolers of the community"

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"Sir, my master, I envy you because you will be having daily the chances of seeing these things that other men do not have the chance to see. You are really a privileged man. Every day in the morning, as well as in the morning, you are offered the opportunity to witness so many strange events and incidents which the other old and retired men of the community do not see. You are given the chance of seeing fantastic, stupid and sometimes foolish behavior. I hope in the future you would continue to attend such fascinating and interesting ceremonies and festivities of condolence in the morning with women consolers. There is no point at all to put an end to such activities. On the contrary, I think the more you attend such strange occasions and festivities the more you would be feeling the need to increase and intensity such activities"

"Yet, in spite of all of these positive aspects of such activities and in spite of the chances given to you to see strange things that other men do not have the chance to see, in spite of all the richness that is added to your life experiences, I am wondering how, you as a man, disguised as a woman, could stay and for three continuous hours without interruption and without having the risk of being identified as a man disguised as a woman. I am wondering how you could stay for the three long hours in your seat without talking to anybody and without fulfilling the need to go to the toilers or to any other similar places. Why do all the members of the family in sorrow and grief feel confident that you cannot be but a woman and that they do not have the right to come to you to pose some questions concerning your real identity? The thing which puzzles me is how you could live peacefully, at least biologically speaking, without feeling the need to go to the toilets of the house of bereavement? Is it true that you do not exchange even a single word with your women neighbors, those sitting on your right or those sitting on your left? Has not so far a single woman had the courage to address to you a single word about your identity?"

"Or have you exchanged with others, at least a single word? Certainly, they have offered you there the cup of black coffee, maybe not once but for several times. What have you done in such situations? How could you have drunk your coffee with the veil covering your face, your whole face?" asked these questions the servant of the house.

"You are right, you are right. No doubt you are raising the proper and the relevant and the pertinent questions in this respect. In such a situation, anybody could have raised the same questions. You have raised an important point, that of the toilets which play an important role in the life of all human beings, from childhood till death and for both men and women. As you realize, animals cannot survive without using a place in nature as their legal and natural and normal toilets. Actually, I could not have stayed for three long hours, continuously without using or going to the toilets. I tell you Abdu, I went twice to the toilets. I felt the urgent need for going to the toilets. There was no problem at all. I found them easily and without any embarrassing problems. I found it easy to go to the toilets twice. However, there was only one problem which was completely expected. Every time I went to the toilets I used to face the problem of my seat being taken by others. Somebody of the new arrived consolers was occupying my seat."

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

"This was not a difficult problem to solve. I only looked for another seat so as to accommodate myself in it. I seated myself continuously in the salon because most of the old women are seated there and most of the important activities take place in that main and principal common place in the house of the family in sorrow. At several frequent times, some seats are not occupied so that each time I was in need of a seat it was easy to come across the needed seat and to choose it from among many. As for my need to talk and to communicate with others, it was easy for me to resist this persisting desire. I resisted all temptations to talk to anybody even to those seated on my both sides."

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"It is obvious that even if I cough it would be easily discovered by whosoever is listening to me. I do not exaggerate if I tell you that from time to time I try to suppress and to control my respiration. For some time, I thought of suppressing or keeping back by breath. I have been under the impression that men respire differently from women. However, the only thing which I tried to control and to suppress continuously is my coughing. I did not cough even a single time. But now I would like to tell you that all persons in the salon and even in the whole bereaved house thought that I was dumb, speechless and deaf. All people in the salon were under the impression that I was only present with my body and nothing else."

"Of course, nobody approached me to test this hypotheses, being dump and deaf. I think nobody thought there was the need for that. They gave me the right to stay in their house till the end of time designated for the women's condolence. As you know anybody can attend this ceremony of sorrow and anybody can stay as much time as he wants till the arrival of the midday."

"As a result of all of what I have explained to you, and with the slow passing of time, my presence was not the source of trouble and anxiety to anybody. In the final analysis, all the visitors and the members of the family in the salon considered me as an accomplished fact that has to be accepted by all. On the other hand, I find myself, in these morning condolence sessions for women, all alone and in a total isolation. I have to live in this cell of imprisonment, the salon, for three complete hours. Women, mostly old and some young ones are to be seen all around me and everywhere. But I do not have the chance and the right of talking to anybody. I do not have the right of coming into contact with anybody. In all cases and in all such similar circumstances I always feel myself in contentment and in satisfaction and in mental comfort."

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"In spite of all the exciting and the disturbing events that take place during such ceremonies, I try to keep myself in a mental balance and equilibrium. I remember always that I am in the house in sorrow just to fill my time. Yet on the whole and in most of the time I consider myself as a spectator and nothing else, a spectator in an important theatre in the Quarter of the Rich. The actors in this theatre are in most cases the old women of our community." said Amr in trying to explain to his servant what usually takes place in such occasions in the house of bereavement.

While Abdu keeps himself busy with enthusiasm to finish the last finishing touches in the preparation of the midday meal, the lunch of his master, Amr tries to remember in a complete and detailed manner all what has passed in the house of bereavement this morning.

After a lot of reflection and much contemplation, he takes the important decision to visit the same house in bereavement to-morrow in the morning at the time designated for women visitors.

He decides again to use the complete black dress veil for disguising himself as a woman. The main intention and motivation for Amr to go to the same house in sorrow is that he wants to see more of what goes on there. He thinks that he might have missed something of the events that usually take place and that a second visit would give him the chance to complete the picture of what goes on.

Of course, this means also that today and tomorrow afternoon and in the evening he would continue to visit the same house when it is time for men to visit the bereaved houses to offer their condolences to the members of the family in sorrow.

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At that particular moment, Amr remembers the unexpected visit of his friend the ex-ambassador, Monkar, disguised as a woman, to the same house. Monkar has been dressed with the same costume as that of Amr, the black color veil.

Naturally, and as expected, the visit of the ancient ambassador to the same house disguised as a woman has certainly surprised Amr because he thought he should have been the only disguised man in the form of a woman and that there could never be another person like him in the bereaved house.

Amr comes to know that this was not the first time that Monkar disguises himself as a woman. He has been doing this since a long time. Therefore, the ancient ambassador has more experience in this respect than himself. He is just a beginner.

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The short reflection and contemplation of Amr is abruptly interrupted by the sudden entry of his servant Abdu who announces to him that the dinner-room is ready to receive him for taking his lunch.

In the afternoon of the same day and after lunch, Amr prepares himself to go in the evening to the same house in bereavement which he visited this morning as a disguised woman. Of course, this afternoon he would be visiting the same house as a man and not as a disguised woman.

During a long period of waiting, from midday till five o'clock in the only evening Amr tries to keep himself more or less busy doing something including sitting in his sofa in the veranda to take some rest.

He again has a quick look in his daily newspaper from which he gets all his information regarding the names and addresses of persons who died during the last few days. He also likes to have a look on the scene before his house and to watch the few people going and coming, including some old people who begin to take their daily walk nearby their residences.

Amr enjoys also watching the few cats and dogs of the neighbors which sometimes go outside the boundary of the houses of their owners. More important for this retired ancient consul and member of the diplomatic corps of his country is to talk for some time to his servant, Abdu, or just to ask this young man to stand for a while somewhat far from his master so as to give to his master the opportunity to look at him from time to time and without the knowledge of his handsome young man.

At about five o'clock, Amr is ready, as a man to go and visit the same house and the same bereaved family which he visited in the morning. Such a visit which starts at five o'clock has become for Amr as a daily duty, and as a routine activity. He has got accustomed to visit the bereaved families every day at this particular hour.

As part of this daily routine work he usually comes back at ten o'clock after spending five long hours in the house of the family in sorrow. Usually he would immediately see his car being parked somewhere near the house where the condolence is taking place. He drives his own car in his way back to his home where usually his dinner waits for him as well as Abdu.

Usually Amr after dinner stays for at least one hour for the purpose of contemplation and the evaluation of his activities in the morning with women and in the evening with men. After the period of reflection Amr goes to his headroom to start his sleeping till the morning of the nest day.

However, Amr in the bedroom, which is not fully lit, does not go into his deep sleep at once and stays for at least one hour not being able to sleep. This he resumes his activity of contemplation and reflection.

With his eyes wide open which refuse obstinately to be closed so as to pave the way for Amr to sleep, the ex-consul remembers all of a sudden the final aim of his life in retirement, which is to become before his death a member of the famous and well-known Circle of the Retired Intellectuals.

All his present activities are nothing but a preparation for his name to be included in the list of candidates for the membership of the Circle.

Indeed, this Circle of the Intellectuals fascinates Amr and he sincerely desires to be one of the active members before his death. The Circle, because of its good reputation in the country as well as in the region and its prestige and glamour, has become for Amr as a dream which dominates perpetually his life night and day.

Nevertheless, Amr frequently tells himself that this is the suitable time for him to become an active member of The Circle of Retired Intellectuals.

The heavy and pressing somnolence is now invading the ex-consul who immediately goes into a deep sleep. However, at the end of the long night and the coming of the first rays of the rising sun, Abdu stands silently in front of the bed of his master. The servant looks at his sleeping master for a long time. The faithful servant does not have the slightest desire to awake his master from his deep sweet sleep.

Abdu thinks that his master is having some happy dreams. Therefore, he does not think that it is the proper and suitable time for waking up his master from his deep sleep.

However, after some waiting and patience, the sleeping master himself begins to move in his bed, especially his eyes and his hands. No doubt he is about to wake up by himself. Indeed, it could be said that the presence of the servant with the cup of coffee which is sending its nice intoxicating fragrance, made the master ready to get up from his deep sleep.

There Amr is quite awakened in his bed. The first thing he sees in front of him is Abdu and the coffee tray is in his hand and of course a copy of the daily newspaper which Abdu has been accustomed to bring to his master on a daily basis early in the morning.

It should be noted that the daily newspaper is so heavy that Abdu confronts some difficulty in carrying this heavy bundle of printed material.

Amr does not want to stay in his bed for taking his daily morning cup of coffee and feels that he should leave his bed immediately so that he would take his coffee while sitting in his canapé or sofa.

Abdu waits patiently for a while so as to see where his master would finally seat himself. The cup of coffee is now placed on a low table and the daily newspaper is also carefully placed there. Amr sits on the canapé nearby the big window which is quire wide open. In a somewhat short time, he finishes taking his coffee and having a quick look at the newspaper.

Amr continues regularly to visit the bereaved families' houses in the morning with women and in the afternoon and in the evening with men. Ad a matter of fact, nothing new takes place either in the morning visits or in those of the evenings.

The hero of the story continues to be considered as a holy man who should be respected and adored and venerated during the evening sessions for men. He continues to be seated in especially designed seat that look like a throne. He is still considered as a man who could do acts of miracles and all people present in the salon expect to see and to witness some of these marvelous and wonderful acts.

At home he behaves in a very normal and customary way especially with his servant and his maid-cook. Yet, he continues to disguise himself as a woman so as to be able to go to the morning sessions of condolence and stay there for three hours continuously amongst the women visitors and the women members of the defunct family.

It should be said that by now, as a general and important conclusion, the ex-consul Amr, has been mastering to a degree of perfection and exactness, all the rituals and the important traditions of offering the condolences in the morning with women and in the evening with men.

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

With his black women veil dress he can very easily attend any morning session of condolences in which only women are expected to be present. So far, Amr, the ex-consul, has not faced any embarrassing incident. In his presence in the middle of the bereaved women he considers his performance as perfect. He has not been attracting the curiosity of any woman in the salons. No one there asks himself any more whether the disguised person is a man or a woman.

However, in the evening, and amongst men, and only men, Amr lives five hours of daily life that could be considered as the most glorious part of his life. He feels he is respected and venerated. In the evening and among the men, he sits in his seat-throne especially made for him by the rich bereaved families.

It should be said that by now the inhabitants of the Quarter of the Rich as well as the inhabitants of the other poor quarters of the city consider him as a king or as a holy man who should be perpetually venerated. The inhabitants of the Quarter of the Rich treat him as a king of the Kingdom of Death. From time to time, Amr comes across the ex-ambassador, Monkar, either in the morning with the women or in the evening with the men consolers. This has become a common phenomenon or feature of the morning or of the evening session, meeting with Monkar.

Amr never sees his cousin Sari in the morning women sessions while he seldom comes across with him in the evening men sessions. Sari never has the intention of knowing what women do in the morning condolence sessions.

Abdu could be considered as the only person who is quite informed about the nature of the double life which his master lives. The servant with the passing of time gets accustomed to the strange way of life which his master has been leading especially since he began to disguise himself as a woman since several years by now.

As for the maid-servant, she is not at all interested to be informed by Amr about any new developments in his morning adventures in the women's condolence sessions. More or less the maid cares more for the preparation of the three meals for her master rather than knowing what he does during the day, in the morning and in the evenings. The maid has never seen her master dressed in the women veil dress. This is why she is astonished when she sees various parts of the women veil dress, or the total black gloves or the black women's shoes with high heels which Amr puts on his feet when he goes to the morning condolence sessions of women.

It should be mentioned that the inhabitants of the Quarter of the Rich have become recently accustomed to talk about the frequent visit in the morning condolence sessions for women of a veiled woman who looks more like a phantom rather than a real human being. The inhabitants also say that so far nobody could speak to or exchange a single word with this unknown veiled woman.

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Pink Parade
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 daily program of activities of Amr, which covers the morning and the evening does not make him so often tired and exhausted. Yet, in spite of all, Amr falls sick but not very frequently, as all the other old human beings do.

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