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The Night of Shame

Najati Al-Bukhari

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

Samar

During all the day since sunrise when I woke up from my deep sleep up to the coming of the obscurity of the night, I have done nothing of specific nature. Once I went out of the house, I roamed in the narrow paths and wondered in the alleys of the quarter and had a ramble in the main street of the quarter.

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

Another time, on the same day, I went up to the summit of the hill where I stayed for about one hour in seeing the beautiful and the enchanting landscape that spreads itself there below me in the green and fascinating valley. Then I came back to my house with some feeling of exhaustion.

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After that I sequestered, practically imprisoned myself, in my bedroom for some time. By chance, my two brothers, Ramadan and Chaban, were not there in the room. Obviously on that day I took my breakfast with all the children of my age. As for the midday meal, the lunch, I took it in the kitchen in company with some other children of the family and one or two boys of the neighbors.

As you can guess by now, this day was in fact the longest in my life of childhood. I was waiting patiently the sunset and the arrival of the dusk, the twilight. Then, after that, I waited for the obscurity and the beginning of the darkness of the night. I was waiting the appearance of the twinkling stars in the sky which would shine in the middle of the night while small vanishing crescent would still send its charming rays of green and yellow light.

Equally, I was impatiently waiting the return of my father from his work and from his visits to the various stores of cereals and vegetables in the various quarters of the community. I thought that my father would not be in delay and that he would not be late for this evening.

At last my father has arrived and at the usual time. He was always, as far as I was aware of that, punctual. Whenever he arrived at the threshold of the main gate, my father stopped for a while, took out the golden pocket watch from his vest and looked at it for a while. One would have thought, in seeing my father looking at the watch that he was talking and communicating with it.

I thought that it was six o'clock or even six thirty. In looking fixedly on the face of my father I thought that he had a grimace on his face. This angry face of my father, the master of the family, surprised me as well as frightened me. The simple and the neutral smile that was always in his face has totally and surprisingly, disappeared.

We the children of the family, especially those of my age, have seen him from an almost long distance in the house. Usually, the children did not prefer to be around the entry of the house at the time of the evening return of my father. We, the small children of the family, the small girls and the small boys, saw our father coming hurriedly into the house. The rapid and the hasty steps of my father meant that he had an urgent task, an important business to be carried out and executed in the house this evening.

Yet, in spite of all, this strange conduct of my father which was manifested by him overtly, nobody, at all, could have remarked its abnormality except myself, Rajab, and probably my mother. I was sure that a strange and a grievous event would take place and that I would be the only eye witness of that mysterious event.

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After the end of dinner, and after having taken several cups of tea with a lot of sugar, all the family members went to their respective bedrooms with the exception of some members who had to do some work either in the kitchen or in the house in general before going to bed.

My father stayed in his place for sometime in the main salon by watching the dance of his concubines, both the blond, who was an expert in dancing, and the black. One of the wives of my father, the second one in terms of age, was singing songs of love.

My father was the only member of the family who was listening to the songs and watching of the dance. I thought that my father was enjoying this artistic performance of his wives and concubines. But at the same time he was thinking of something else.

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Yet this festival did not last long. After about one hour, the whole artistic activity has come to an end. Indeed, my father made a gesture by his head that was crowned by his white cap, which meant that everybody in the salon, without any exception at all, must disappear from his sight. In one second, there was nobody in the principal salon with the exception of my father.

At that particular moment I was hiding myself in the same place where I have been hiding myself so often in the daylight as well as in the darkness of the night. From my hiding place I saw my father calling the maid servant, the eldest, to come to him. The two, the maid servant and my father, began to speak to each other for, more or less, a long time.

My father talked a lot, and in a very low voice as if he was whispering. Frankly speaking, the maid servant was only listening to what my father was telling her. The maid servant was only listening and was continuously nodding her head as a gesture, a sign, of obedience. It meant that she understood all what my father told her.

After this consultation between the two, the maid servant asked the permission from my father to leave the place. In few seconds, the maid was in her residence, a kind of an annex attached to the family house.

Of course, my father, after staying where he was for a while, left his place and went to his bedroom or to his wing composed of several spaces for various kinds of usage by the master of the house. There in his room, my father took off his daily working dress and put on his usual evening white robe. Then he left his bedroom and went to the main kitchen of the house. Actually, he remained there only for a while and then he came back quickly to his bedroom.

I was squatting all alone in my hiding place and for some time. Then after that I went to me bedroom. My two brothers, Ramadan and Chaban, were already asleep in the big bed which could accommodate the three of us, the three brothers.

As for me, I took off my daily dress and I put on my white robe which I used for sleeping. Actually when I started sleeping, it was the beginning of the night. The darkness was dominating everywhere. Reasonably, I decided to begin sleeping at once so as to be able to wake up at midnight or around that time.

Fortunately, the deep sleep invaded me rapidly and immediately. Yet when I was about to plunge myself in sleeping I had the confidence that would easily wake up at the suitable time, as usual. I was not worried at all that my two younger brothers would wake up like me at midnight. They normally continue sleeping throughout the night till sunrise or even after that.

Really, as expected, I woke up from my sleep at about midnight. On my tiptoes I began to move from one place to another, from my room to the corridor and to the main salon of the house, then to the kitchen. My two younger brothers remained sleeping as usual.

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Couple by Sea
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 an unbelievable coincidence took place. The moment I was in the corridor I have remarked that there was also with my in that place another person, like a phantom, who came out of another room, a bedroom.

Without any doubt I said that that was the bedroom of my father. In the darkness of the night it was extremely difficult for me to identify the person whom I saw coming out of the room of my father because he was totally covered by the obscurity of the night.

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

Nevertheless, it was easy for me to identify my father because of the special odor of the perfume which he used always in his nocturnal adventures. At that moment, I tried to control my respiration. I tried to stop my breathing. In the place where I was standing a complete silence had dominated. From my hiding place I saw clearly and without any doubt, my father entering the bedroom of his twenty years old sister, who was at the same time my aunt and the aunt of all the children of the family, Samar.

The lover of my aunt opened the door, then he entered the room, after that the door was closed by the key. From my hiding place I could hear the low noise produced by the manipulation of the key in the hole of the lock.

As for my father, I think that he thought that nobody has seen him coming out of his room and entering another room. My father felt that he was in security inside the bedroom of his young and beautiful sister, Samar. He did not give any importance to the possibility that somebody, whoever he was, could have been watching and witnessing his entry of the room of Samar.

Yet and above all, he was absolutely sure that nobody had the courage to say even one word concerning what has been passing of sacrilegious practices absolutely prohibited during the night.

As for myself, it was very clear what I would be doing. For several weeks I have been reasoning that it would be possible for me to go to the garden and carry out some observation and surveillance of what my father and his sister Samar did by the way of the window of the room that looked at the garden. Fortunately, it was extremely easy for me to use the window for my personal purposes of observation and surveillance. I imagined that I would be able to see easily what would be going on inside the bedroom of my aunt, Samar.

So as not to lose seeing the beginning, the outset of this sentimental nocturnal adventure of my father, I hurried my steps to go to the garden. It was very easy for me to go out there because I have been accustomed to do that during the day time either all alone or with the company of my young brothers and sisters.

Without any difficulty, and enveloped by the darkness of the night I was able to remain standing nearby the window of the bedroom of my aunt, Samar, as much as I wanted. Certainly, nobody was aware of my presence a little bit below the window which was wide open.

I noticed that a very faint light was coming out from a small kerosene lamp. The feeble and faint light allowed me to see what was going on in the bedroom. I sat rapidly squatting on my knees and I lent my ears to what my father has been saying to my aunt, his sister of twenty years.

At the beginning of listening to what was said, I could not understand at all what they, the father and the aunt, were saying to each other. As a result of that I was obliged to have a look of the interior of the room. 'What a horror and what a scandal.' I said to myself. My father was standing in the middle of the room. He was almost naked. I was able to see his back all the time.

All the time, my aunt was laying in her bed in a lazy mood and in a relaxed but excited disposition. My aunt was equally more naked than my father. The long and the blond hair of my aunt was spread and displayed on the whole upper pillow of the bed. I lowered my head fearing that my father might see me. For some moments, I was trembling, shivering and even shuddering.

Really I felt myself strangled and suffocated. Because what I have come to see was unbelievable disgusting, repulsive, offensive, contemptible, obscene, indecent and filthy.

I was extremely shocked disgusted and offended by the complete and the surprising submission of my aunt, Samar, to the unreasonable demands, the monstrous exigencies and the criminal fancies of my father, the monster of our big house and of our innocent family.

For what remained of the time of surveillance and observation, I was really satisfied to listen distinctly and clearly to the cries of delight, of pleasure, of enjoyment of my aunt.

Often, at that particular time I heard the low and the suppressed laughs of both, the brother and his sister, and even I could hear he rapid and irregular breathing of both of them. My father did not say anything with the exception of his sigh and his low cries and enjoyment and ecstasy. The activity of making love continued for at least one hour or even more than that. At the end of this activity, of this venture, a horrible silence reigned in the bedroom of my aunt. For the moment I thought that my father has already strangled my aunt, his sister, Samar.

After few instants, I heard the following dialogue taking place between the two lovers. In order to be in a better position to understand the conversation between the two I lifted myself a little bit just touching the lower frame of the open window.

"Thank you my brother. I cannot explain to you how much I am now satisfied. I was impatiently waiting for you during the preceding six days." Samar said these words to my father in a low voice that was a little bit trembling.

"Don't speak in this way. I do not forget you at all whatever are the circumstances. I love you more than the others and I promise you that I will visit you more often than the others in the coming days. You are my preferred woman. Without you my life would have been insupportable. Don't worry my dear Samar." answered my father.

"You remember very well that we have started to make love since seven weeks. I did not have the period since four weeks. I think that I am pregnant." declared, Samar, my aunt, to my father who kept for some time in an absolute silence threatening and terrifying silence.

"You already know very well the inevitable destiny of those who become pregnant without being legally married." declared my father furiously to my horrified aunt, his sister.

"I know, I know, certainly I know very well all. Everybody knows the destiny of those who become pregnant outside the sacred law of marriage. It is the sequestration of eight or nine months in the cursed dark and somber residence which is found somewhere in our house." replied my aunt Samar.

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"Listen to me attentively now. Tomorrow morning I am going to announce to all the members of the family about your forthcoming journey, trip, to a neighboring country where you would stay with some of our rich and highly well-to-do relatives and that you would stay there for nine months. Actually, and as you already know, you would not be traveling. In fact, you would be incarcerated, for nine months until you give birth to the child whom you say you are carrying its first seed now in your entrails. After an absence of about nine months it would be declared that you would be coming back to your residence here, to my house, from the neighboring country. The newly born child, in case it would be a boy, would be brought from the place of sequestration to the real world, to the house of the family. Your baby son would be brought up like all the other children of the family. As for you, you would be equally allowed to come out of your residence of sequestration to the real world in the house. However, nobody at all would know that the newly born child is yours. The maid-servants, two of them, would be charged of the continuous care of the baby-boy. You would be watching, observing and seeing your child from a distance, more or less, like any other member of the family. Consequently, you will not be permitted at all to touch or even to carry the baby. To all the members of the family you have nothing to do with the small baby boy. For all of those who live in this house you are not supposed to be the mother of the child." declared my father in a severe tone and in a sinister and fatal voice.

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After the end of the discourse of my father, Samar, my aunt, and the sister of my father, the monster and the criminal, has become totally dump and speechless for some time.

Actually I could have imagined the deplorable mental and emotional confusion in which she was. I think she never expected that the evil intention of her brother concerning her child and herself would be stated and presented to her in such a blunt manner. I am sure she imagined herself confronting, at that particular moment, a monster, the devil and not a human being.

Yet, Samar tried to open her small and little mouth but she could not. Then followed again a short period of silence and she tried to open her mouth, but again she could not. Frankly speaking, she did not know what to say and how to react to what her brother has already told her. The discourse of her brother has really shocked her enormously. Then all of a sudden, the shivering young women opened her mouth and said the following in a question form.

"And if the newly born child is not a lucky boy but an unfortunate little and helpless baby girl. Tell me please, what would be her destiny? Tell me please about the destiny of the little girl. Would she have the same right of living, of staying alive like the boys, the newly born boys? Tell me if you please and immediately without delay, some allusions, some hints about the destiny, the future of the little baby girl. Would she have the same right to live and survive, like all the boys, in the huge and spacious house of the family of her father? Answer my immediately and without delay. Do not try to be deaf when I tell you about the possibility of my giving birth to a little, helpless girl." said Samar in a trembling voice.

My aunt continued to ask questions, some basic and fundamental questions about the destiny of the little girl who could come to this world instead of a small boy. I thought that my aunt has become mad and insane. Has she really lost her power, her capacity of reasoning and thinking? Was she about to go out of the bedroom? I wanted really to see with my two eyes and not with my two ears what was taking place in the bedroom of my young aunt.

I raised, lifted myself slowly and prudently. I had a quick look at the interior of the bedroom. I saw my father standing in the middle of the room half dressed. My aunt was kneeling down in front of my father in grabbing, catching to his left leg.

"You already know the destiny of the others, the other baby girls." declared my father angrily.

"No!! No!!? I do not know, believe me, I do not know. I am not well informed. I have been living in the darkness. Tell me now from your mouth. Tell me, tell me my dear brother." asked my aunt who was in a lamentable, dismal, mournful, deplorable and pitiable condition.

"You do not say the verity, the truth. I am absolutely sure that you know all the details of the traditions and the social practices of this family concerning the arrival to this world of baby girls outside the legal marriage framework, I mean the arrival of illegal baby girls, or bastards." said my father in a firm and inflexible manner.

"Listen to me now attentively. The archaic primitive and barbarous traditions of our family cannot be applied in my case. First of all, I absolutely refuse, and without any ambiguity, to incarcerate myself, to be imprisoned in the cursed residence of the Devil. I will stay visible to all the residents of this house. My giving birth to my future baby would take place in this house, in this fortress, in this home of the whole family. I will have the child birth publicly without hiding myself anywhere. Nothing would be hidden in all the process of the birth of my child. Everybody would know that I was giving birth to a baby. My child, my baby, whether it is a boy or a girl, would have the same rights and privileges as those of the other children belonging to all your wives and concubines." answered Samar distrustfully and cautiously.

"Don't be mad, insane. You should respect the law of the family blindly and without any hesitation. In this domain of the human life in our family there is no exception. The law, derived from the tradition of the family would be absolutely applied to you. Don't try to be an exceptional case. Listen to me carefully and mindfully. I am going to announce after tomorrow that you would be traveling to a very far country, not a neighboring one. While in fact you are going to enter the residence of sequestration. You will stay there till you give birth to your baby. Is this very clear to you or not clear? I hope that you have understood all the implications of this arrangement. I don't want to repeat to you the explanation several times. You already know the law; I mean the law of the family. Don't try to pretend and claim that you are ignorant as far as this law, our law, is concerned." said my father to his sister my aunt.

I, Rajab, was still nearby the open window squatting and trembling at the same time. What I have come to hear was certainly above my capacity to understand, to digest and to comprehend. Really, I could not fully understand the implications of such a complicated situation.

The dialogue that has taken place between my father and his sister, my aunt, was not something normal, common and ordinary. The dispute and even the quarrel between the two lovers continued for a long time.

At that critical and crucial moment I decided to stay there in the green and blooming garden of the house, or really of our palace, near the window, until the visit of my father, her lover, to the bedroom of my aunt would come to an end. My suffering aunt, Samar, kept silent, speechless. She had nothing to say, to tell him, to tell her brother and her lover who was standing in front of her. At that time, I had the feeling that my father had already strangled, smothered his sister. In order to dissipate all doubt regarding the life of my aunt, Samar, who was just twenty years old, I was obliged to raise, to lift myself high to the level of the lower part of the window so that I could have a quick look inside the room.

What a horrible thing which I saw and witnessed in the bedroom of my sister. I saw my father leaning, bending, over the body of my aunt. He was about to carry my aunt, who has probably fainted, lost her conscience, or has been strangled, and thus, as a consequence she was a dead body, a corpse, an innocent victim who could not defend herself. My father put out the light of the kerosene lamp that was itself dying out because of the lack of petrol. My father dressed himself up and went out, like a black serpent, of the bedroom of my aunt Samar.

The departure of my father or more precisely his temporary absence from the room left me in fact in an unbearable confusion. I began asking myself what I should do. The crime and the drama which I have just witnessed have left me in a lamentable, deplorable and grievous condition.

Suddenly, I found myself, for the first time of my life, in an absolute bewilderment. The going out of my father from the bedroom of his sister has tempted me to enter immediately into the bedroom by the way of the window just to discover the truth and the reality of what has been going on inside the room just few minutes ago. Because of the obscurity in the bedroom it was extremely difficult for me to verify whether my aunt was still alive or was she dead, savagely strangled, or what.

I decided to leave this curved and dreadful place so as I should return immediately to my room. Unfortunately, I was the only eye witness of what has happened in this horrible and unforgettable night. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that what I have just seen was only the first part of a criminal act.

I stood up where I was and then I looked inside the bedroom and later on I went inside the big house and I rushed to my room. There was not yet any sign of the coming sunrise. The darkness of the night was still enveloping everything including myself.

The sky was still clear. The twinkling stars were still looking at me for informing me that they were also like me eye witnesses and spectators. They, the stars, have been witnessing, with me all what has been happening during the night. From the window of my bedroom I looked at the twinkling stars with worry, anxiety, concern and sorrow. Alas, alas, I told myself. "The stars are very far. The only thing that they could do is to continue looking."

Without wasting and losing time, I prepared myself to sleep in my bed with my two brothers, Ramadan and Chaban. Because of the barbarous event which I have witnessed inside the bedroom of my aunt, I stayed for a considerable time awake and I could not close my eyes so as to sleep. Instead of the sleep the images of my father and my aunt Samar have been passing in front of my eyes.

My ears could not stop hearing the voice of the two lovers who were arguing and discussing some ideas which I could not understand and comprehend fully. I thought that the first part of the act of crime has ended in an unbelievable ambiguity. I found myself in an intolerable mental agitation. At last, the sleep has overwhelmed me and I slept very well till the morning.

As a matter of fact, my mother awoke me in telling me that everybody has left his bedroom and that breakfast was served either in the main salon, the dining room, or in the kitchen. My mother looked at me for a long time with perplexity and embarrassment. She wanted to understand what has been going on in my spirit and in my mind. I thought that my mother has been seeing strange images passing in front of my half closed eyes.

In order to interrupt the silence that was pressing its presence over us in the room and for calming my mother I told her.

"Nothing, nothing, my mother, I have not seen anything last night. Why do you look at me like this, my mother?"

"-Rajab, my dear son, you do not say the truth, the verity. You are hiding something serious. I don't want at all that you keep your secrets to yourself only. Please, Rajab, share these secrets with me, I am your mother." said my mother with obstinacy.

"Believe me my mother, everything is all right. I tell you that I saw nothing, nothing. This is the truth and the verity, my mother." I answered in a voice that was more or less trembling. The few words that came out of my mouth did so with difficulty and with clear reticence.

"I don't think that you are telling me the truth, Rajab. You did not tell me the reality. Now I have to leave you to give you time to take breakfast with the other children of the family. But listen to me, Rajab; I warn you that you should not tell the secret of what happened yesterday to others. If you want to say something come to your mother and tells me what you want, what you saw."

My mother let me at last go out of the room. While going out I thought that I should have told my mother all what happened yesterday and in details. Then I finished the morning meal with the other children including my two brothers, Ramadan and Chaban.

Throughout taking my meal I looked at the face of everybody just to discover if the event of the previous night was already known by some.

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All the children of my age have conducted themselves in a very normal way. Most of them exchanged words and smiles and sometimes they have been laughing loudly and sometimes in a low voice. Of course, I could not participate with them in their joy and their amusement.

From a far distance my mother was watching me and observing the actions of the other children. When our regards crossed each other she gave me a nice and a comforting and a calming and appeasing smile. After the end of the breakfast I took the important and the serious decision of telling my mother everything.

In the afternoon, when most of the members of the big family were having their siesta, I rushed to my mother's room. I found her all alone. She was sitting on the floor of the room to get cool because the climate was very hot and suffocating. Of course, she was surrounded by some cushions and mattresses. When my mother saw me entering, she instantly stood up to receive me tenderly and affectionately. My visit to my mother's room in the afternoon was something unexpected. As a matter of fact, my mother was really surprised, even astonished, to see me standing in front of her in the room.

Normally, we, I and my mother, see each other either in my room or in any other section of the big house, but we very rarely met in her bedroom.

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My mother as usual has embraced my and she clasped me in her two thin arms. My mother's room was really flooded by the light of the sunlight. The two windows of the room were wide open and through them the garden behind the room could be seen.

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My mother made me sit down on a chair on which I seated myself with some difficulty. Then my mother told me "I am ready to listen to you. Tell me, Rajab, your adventure of the preceding night."

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Without any hesitation I accepted to tell her everything without hiding anything, without omitting any details. While I was telling her the nocturnal story of last night, my mother was listening to all what I told her attentively.

At the end of the story, my mother embraced me warmly and tenderly. Then she told me "This is a horrible story. Now, it seems to me that you should try to discover if your sister is still alive, or if she is already dead? We are going to wait for the news to-day or tomorrow. I am sure that somebody would say that the sister of the master of the house would be traveling or that she was already in her journey to a far country. If it would be said that the sister of the master would stay for the rest of her life in the far off country, then this would mean that your aunt is already dead, or had been killed. If someone would say that she would be coming back to the house after nine or ten months then this would mean that your aunt, Samar, is already incarcerated, imprisoned." My mother finished her explanation and interpretation of the tragic event of last night.

Takeoff 3
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 tragic situation as it was explained by my mother was so ambiguous and full of confusion that I did not dare make any comment or raise any question. I kept for a long duration of time.

I remained seated on the chair near the window while my mother went near to the other window so as to be able to breathe better the breeze and the fresh air. Perhaps, she had the intention to contemplate, to meditate and to think what I told her. Then, I came down of the chair and I remained standing in perplexity where I was.

"My son, Rajab: Why do you like to be involved in the affairs that are above the level of your capacity to understand and to comprehend? You are still a small boy of nine years old. Leave these events to others who could react to them and who could take the proper and necessary action. Rajab, go at once to the square of the quarter and there you shall amuse yourself and play with the other small boys. Do not stay in the house by yourself all the day. Go out Rajab. You have the right to go out of the house at any time you choose. You are not like your sisters who stay incarcerated in the family residence till they get married one day, or till their funerals and their burial in the cemetery of the quarter." said my mother.

"Mother, mother, I am your eldest son, and I feel that I am basically different from the others, I mean the other boys of my age. Our big family house is like a folkloric palace or castle, where the good and the bad, the evil, live. Nevertheless, in this cursed castle, the bad or the evil is always victorious, the conqueror and the triumphant. Here, in our house, there is not at all any respect for the human being. The devil, the demon, imposes his authority and his power on all." I explained my position with confidence and courage to my mother.

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"You are only a child, a small boy. By yourself all alone you cannot fight and defeat Evil, Demon, and the Devil. Perhaps in the future you would be a hero who could confront and face the Devil by yourself only. But now, you are only a child, a small boy." said my mother tenderly and with compassion.

"I, a child, for sure I am a child, a small boy. But, at the same time, I am the only member in this family who sees and witnesses the tragic events in a different way. It seems to me that the others are blind and deaf. They can neither see or hear what goes on in our house." replied I.

"Listen to me. I forbid you absolutely to go out of our bedroom during the night, of course, with the exception when there would be a need to go to the toilets. And I ask you, to stop watching and monitoring your father. Your behavior and daily conduct would expose you to a lot of risks and dangers. I request you, my son, not to mix up yourself in the affairs which even the adults of this family do not dare at all to make themselves mixed up with. For the children, the night is only for taking rest, for sleeping and for having dreams. Be always deaf, dumb and blind when you find yourself in situations which would look to you to be strange, provoking, inciting, challenging and tempting." said my mother while she was looking at me for understanding the effects of her words on me.

"Don't worry, my mother, I would try to be always wise. Wisdom would be my guide and my objective. I repeat to you that I am a child, but this does not mean that I should be sometimes, during critical moments, blind, deaf and dump."

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At this time, Chaban and Ramadan, my two younger brothers, entered into the bedroom. Chaban has already started to speak and to express himself with difficulty. Ramadan was about to go out as soon he found himself facing me and our mother who was astonished to find herself with her three sons in her room.

Chaban said nothing; he was satisfied to look at the others and to jump from one place to another in the bedroom. The other brother, Ramadan, was behaving in an agreeable manner. The presence of the two brothers in the room required that a change of the atmosphere should be introduced by my mother and myself. My mother asked them some simple questions about their games, their amusement in courtyard of the house and in the garden. My mother asked them what they have eaten for the midday meal. My youngest brother, probably, could not understand fully most of the questions of my mother. Ramadan gave some reasonable answers. My two brothers were only children and nothing else. The maid servants of the house were responsible for feeding them properly.

The presence of the two boys in the room has naturally obliged us not to speak about the subject of aunt Samar and what was her destiny. In finding myself in this strange situation I decided to leave the bedroom of my mother and to leave her with the two younger brothers, Ramadan and Chaban.

It was the afternoon and the summer season was still suffocating and all the members of the family were covered by the drops of perspiration that fell from time to time on their faces.

As soon as I was in the main salon, I heard and just by chance two concubines who were talking to each other in a very low voice as if they were whispering to each other. The main topic of their dialogue and their conversation was my aunt Samar. The two concubines did not give any attention to my passing in front of them or even to my presence around them.

The two concubines, when they saw me, smiled to me gently and in a hospitable and welcoming manner. In few minutes time I came as far as I could the nearest possible to the place of the two concubines.

First I tried my best to pretend that I was playing with my white handkerchief and the five small pebbles which I carried with me always in the house in the pocket of the robe. In pretending that I was playing with the small pebbles, I lent my ears and started to listen attentively to what the two concubines were saying to each other.

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

"Have you remarked the sudden absence of Samar, the sister of the master of the family from the house?" asked one of the two women.

"This is only today, and since the morning I have not seen her at all. Normally, she is either in the main salon or in the corridor that leads to the main kitchen or to the garden. Maybe today, it seems to me that she is still in her room." said the other concubine sarcastically and in a mocking way.

"How is it possible that she is still in her bedroom since the morning till the evening without going out of her room for at least once?" asked the first blond concubine.

Empty Chair
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 afternoon I heard the old maid servant who was saying to another maid that Samar, the sister of our husband, prepares herself for a very long journey without returning to very far country in the south." said the other concubine in a slow and suppressed voice as if she was whispering to her companion who was listening to her with interest and curiosity.

"A voyage with no return, this is very strange news and something unbelievable! This is a surprise to all of us, I mean the women of the master. To where could she travel, to which country, and why, why?" asked the first concubine.

"Moreover, it is said that she would leave the big house at mid night and that the master of the house would hire a car that would carry the passenger to her destination." said the other concubine.

"Listen to me. I think we should stop talking about the subject. It is very dangerous for us to continue speaking about the absence of Samar, the charming and beautiful sister of the master of the house. Perhaps, she is ill, this is probably, and perhaps she sleeps now in her bed." said the concubine in looking at her friend, the other concubine who was talking to her.

"This is a joke, are you really joking or what? Just before midday, the door of the r room was wide opened. I noticed that there was nobody inside the bedroom" answered the other concubine.

"Was she transferred to the residence of sequestration?" asked the first concubine.

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"I don't think so. I don't think so. I heard the old maid servant saying 'for a journey without return'." said the first concubine.

The two excited concubines did not stop their discussion, their conversation and their exchange of ideas and information regarding the sudden disappearance of the sister of their husband, Samar. Naturally, I was in a better position than anybody in the house to understand the full story and the complexity of the whole situation.

In my position as a witness, as an eye witness who also heard a lot of things concerning the crime and the conspiracy from the mouth of those who were involved in the crime, I was more capable than others to understand the situation and the resulting implications.

In spite of the fact that I did not see and witness the act of the crime itself, I was certain that my father has strangled my aunt, Samar, in the preceding night.

The two concubines have finally ended their conversation, or more precisely their meeting. Each of them went to a certain section of the house so as to do their daily home work like all the other women in the house.

In the hiding place in the main salon I kept myself seated on the floor. What I have already come to hear few minutes ago from the two concubines has really terrified me enormously.

I thought that a crime has been committed during the preceding night. Where the body of my aunt could be found now? What I have so far discovered was so monstrous and scandalous that I took the decision to share all of these bits of information about the horrible event, the disappearance of my aunt, Samar, and her probable death, with my dear mother who was the only source of help and advice in times of difficulties.

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

The descending and disappearing sun has sent its last rays of the illumining light. The atmosphere was dismal, bloomy, dreary and macabre. The heating was pressing heavily on all of us.

My mother at this time of the day was always busy either in doing her embroidery or in playing the lute, the musical instrument preferred by all the people in our community. It was possible also to find my mother with some other women who were fond of singing. As a consequence to that I had to look for my mother in several places, in salons, halls, or in bedrooms of several women who like to sing in the morning.

Obviously, I went directly to her bedroom, because most probably I thought she would be there. Fortunately, my mother was there inside her bedroom and she was preparing herself for an artistic evening during which participants would be singing or playing some musical instruments specially the lute.

My father, the master of the house, liked to be present in such artistic evenings of dancing and singing. First, I thought that the choice of this particular evening for singing and dancing was by itself a riddle. "Why did my father choose this evening of this day for the festivity?" I asked myself. Because at the midnight of this day; the dead body, that is, the corpse of my aunt, Samar, would be carried in a wagon towards the cemetery of the quarter. Also, I thought that my father was intelligent and shrewd enough to have chosen this evening for the planned festivity so as to camouflage the other planned event of sadness and of catastrophe, that of the burial of my aunt, Samar.

In my case, I was not interested at all in attending the artistic evening. I preferred to sleep as early as possible so as to be able to wake up at midnight. In my bed, I closed my eyes quickly and immediately I began sleeping.

Almost a little bit before the arrival of midnight I woke up and I was full of enthusiasm and zeal. My two brothers, Chaban and Ramadan, were actually and as usual, sleeping deeply. In few minutes, I was almost ready to undertake my nocturnal adventure. First of all, I left my room, and I went to the garden by the way of the corridor door. I had the intention of discovering by the window of her room, whether my aunt Samar was there or not.

I went nearby the window which looks at the garden of the house. Unfortunately, the room did not give any sign indicating that a human has been living at that moment inside the room.

There was nothing in the room with the exception of the absolute silence and the obscurity of the darkness of the night. Of course, I could see nothing and I was not totally sure that the room was empty. I made my two ears ready for intercepting, or for capturing whatever noise that might have come from there. At that moment I fixed my regards, looks, on what I estimated to be the bed of my aunt, Samar. After several attempts to verify and to discover if there was somebody in the bed, I came to the conclusion that the room was certainly empty and deserted. There was not in the room any trace of the presence of my aunt, Samar. "Where could she be now at this moment?" I asked myself "could her corpse be somewhere in the house?"

For not wasting any time, I hurried to the interior of the house."What a riddle, what a riddle, what a mysterious situation." I said to myself in a low voice. I came to the conclusion that nothing was happening in the house and that all the residents, the children and the adults were actually deeply sleeping.

I stood in the corridor which leads to the section of the incarceration residence. Up to this night I have never tried to penetrate into the forbidden and the mysterious section of the house.

As all the members of the family, I was informed of this cursed place. The moment I was in the corridor I thought that the residence of incarceration should have been filled with the people who were busy in the preparation of the corpse of my aunt, Samar, so as to be taken later on to the cemetery of the quarter for the purposes of final burial.

At that epoch during which the events of the story I am narrating to you now were taking place, it was reported, with certainty, that most of the dead women and of the dead young adolescent girls were all buried during the night. Therefore, it was strange and bizarre, that my aunt who was strangled by her brother, my father, would be buried, according to traditions, during this night and in the darkness of the obscurity.

I continued standing in the corridor for some time in trying to find a solution for the impasse which I was confronting and the deadlock which I was facing. After a torturing and an unsupportable waiting I have heard, all of a sudden, a feeble, weak and a low voice coming from inside of the residence of sequestration.

This was the noise of footsteps of men and women. I came nearer and nearer to the door of the cursed residence to be in a better position to hear what has been going on inside the residence of sequestration. I put my right ear on the door. I firmly discovered that there were not many persons behind the door; I thought there might have been two or three men and only one woman.

The noise of the footsteps became more and more far from where I was standing. The noise little by little has been disappearing in the depths of the residence of sequestration. At this particular moment I had the intense desire and the strong wish to open the door to be able to discover what was going on inside the cursed residence.

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For some time I kept myself calm and serene. I hesitated a lot in taking the right and the necessary decision. When the noise has been progressively disappearing I was tempted very much and irresistibly to grab, to catch the handle of the door for opening it. At last the door was opened, to a certain extent. I had the courage and the determination to penetrate into the depths of the obscurity of the darkness of the night inside the residence. From a somewhat far distance I was able to observe the feeble light that came from the interior of this residence, of this cursed section of incarceration of the big house. As a matter of fact, that was the bathroom of this section of our house. This bathroom, I came to realize later on, was as large as a normal bedroom.

At the same time that I was advancing towards the door, the voice of my father and that of the old maid servant of the family has become more and more discernable and identifiable.

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There has been also another person, a man, an old man inside the bathroom. Perhaps! He was the father of the two assistants who were employed in the service of my father in two or three of his shops or in the plantations of the farm. The more I advanced the more I was able to identify little by little the voice of the third person.

This was the first time that I ventured to go into this enigmatic and mysterious place that was composed of a salon, a kitchen, the bathroom and the bedrooms. Because of the darkness of the might it was not possible for me to explore in a better way the parts of this section of incarceration.

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I was sure that my aunt, Samar was at that moment in the bathroom. Nevertheless I did not know at all the approximate number and identity of the residents of this obscure and dark residence. I thought that it was time for me to hide myself somewhere either in the salon or in the corridor.

The firm and the strong voice of my father as well as that of his companion came to my ears in a distinct and a clear manner. Sometime before, I heard the feeble noise of falling water that was poured abundantly and enormously. The noise of the falling water has stopped also. At that moment I heard the following conversation.

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We have already finished the rite of ablution, the washing of the body of the defunct. Tasha, (this was the name of the companion of my father) prepare quickly the shroud. "We have to hurry up for the burial of my sister before the arrival of the daybreak. There are already two young men of service who are available in the cemetery for the preparation of the grave, the tomb" Said my father in addressing his companion Tasha.

"It should have been preferable if both of your two men had waited outside. Your presence during the washing of the corpse of the defunct, your sister, is contrary to our traditions and rules. It is prohibited to any man to assist at the rite of washing the dead woman." declared the maid servant.

"Listen to me carefully, you old woman. We are carrying out all of our work now, at this moment completely outside the borders and the limits of our sacred traditions and rules. This is not the first time that we carry out and implement this rite. As much as I can remember this is the third time, or even the fourth time that we have in our hands a dead body of a woman" answered my father, the master of the house, nervously and with some anger.

"The wagon is waiting outside the house in front of the back door. Listen, master, we should hurry up, the time is passing quickly. All people think that your sister is now in her journey to the far away foreign country." said Tasha to my Father.

"No!! No! I am sure that everybody knows the truth. Everybody is well informed of the details of the story. Everybody knows that I killed my sister and that she is now dead. But at the same time nobody dares to say the reality, the verity. Nobody can utter a single word of the story" declared my father.

"Here, there is your beautiful and charming sister, Samar. She is ready to be carried to the cemetery. I think that the tomb is already prepared." said bluntly Tasha.

"Go out to be sure that the wagon is there ready to take the coffin." ordered my father.

The companion left at once the residence of incarceration and in a very short time he came back breathless. Tasha declared to my father that everything was ready and well arranged for taking the dead, the coffin of Samar, to the cemetery.

The old maid servant stayed in the residence of sequestration while my father and his friend Tasha were carrying the coffin of my aunt up to the secret and special door of the back section of the house. At the door-step of the back door two men of an average age of forty or fifty like the age of my father, advanced for putting the coffin in the wagon that was waiting outside.

The wagon was used in the time of the events of this story in the agricultural domain for transporting the agricultural workers, the poultry birds, the agricultural tools and appliances and small machines and the products of the farm.

My father and his companion Tasha went up into the wagon which later on went in the destination of the cemetery. By the way of the window of the salon of the cursed residence I watched and observed the departure of the burial procession.

The cemetery of the quarter was not very far from the big house of our family. A walk on foot for fifteen minutes would have been completely sufficient to arrive there in the cemetery. I, Rajab, came out of my waiting place in the residence of sequestration and I followed the funeral procession.

There, from a distance, I could see that my aunt was buried rapidly without praying on her the prayer of the dead, the prayer of the funeral. The tomb was hurriedly filled with earth and then small oval pieces of stones were put around the tomb to indicate that there inside the tomb sleeps the corpse of somebody, of an unknown.

My father and the others returned to their homes. It was almost midnight. Calmly and peacefully, my father entered into his house. He walked slowly in the corridor, he passed by the main salon and after that he arrived at his bedroom. He entered into the room and then he closed the door with the key which he kept in his pocket always. After that he took off his dress of the working day and then he put on very rapidly his sleeping dress. After all of that he put himself in his big and spacious metallic bed. Then he put his head on the on two square shaped pillows and in few minutes he slept a very deep sleep.

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Naturally, I walked in following the steps of my father. I saw my father entering his bedroom. At the end of his nocturnal adventure in which he buried his sister I remained standing in one of the corner of the main salon. I was thinking intensely and deeply of what I have seen during the long torturing night. I said to myself at the end of some deep reflection and thinking. "What a criminal, what a criminal, what a monster, what a monster, what a devil!" After that I went to my bedroom and slept in my bed with my two brothers, Chaban and Ramadan without any difficulty.

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The Night of Shame

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© 1980-2017 by Najati Al Bukhari, Mont de Marsan, France

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