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Timbuktu 1

Najati Al-Bukhari

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

1) The assassination of the young black man, Amin, the cousin of Jawhara was almost forgotten with the passing of time. The black boy began showing his mental and intellectual superiority starting from the age of four and five years. His presumed aunt, Hilwa who was considered as literate and even educated as compared to the members of the family, began to notice his mental and intellectual superiority starting from the age of five years.

By the age of six years the small boy could read and write his mother tongue Arabic as well as Turkish, the language of the governing power. There was no difficulty for the small gifted child to understand Turkish because it was the language which Amir heard so often spoken in the house in addition to the mother tongue, the Arabic language.

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By the age of eight years Amin spoke and was able to read and write two dominant Western languages, the English and the French languages. His father, the farmer of the quarter was becoming day after day very proud of his brilliant and intelligent son, Amir. The presumed father of Amir was in fact very happy because of the mental and academic achievements of his son, Amir. All the people of the quarter were speaking everywhere of the mental superiority of the black son of the farmer of the quarter.

Amir was conscious of his black color since his early childhood days from the age of three years. It did not take him a long time to realize that he and his beautiful mother were the only two members of the family who were with black complexion. His blackness and that of his mother did not surprise him at all. On the contrary, Amir, as a child, got fond of his color and considered it beautiful and charming. Up till this stage of his mental growth and development, the small black boy did not ask his mother yet about their being the only two black members of the family.

Though very young, immature and unripe as a child who was not yet capable to express himself, he began to have some kind of a long look on his charming mother, the only black woman in the farm-house. From time to time he had the habit to touch the arm of his mother with the main intention of finding and discovering the source of this unique and brilliant black color that was only exhibited by his mother and by himself. He might have thought that if he rubbed the arm of his mother or any part of her body, the dark color covering the body of his mother would have automatically disappeared and a fair color would have been seen on the skin of his mother.

Gradually, the small boy came to realize that this color, the black, was to be the main characteristic which differentiated him and his mother from the other members of the big family of the farm-house. With the passing of time, the small black boy found joy and pleasure in looking at the white teeth that were twinkling in the mouth of his attractive mother.

Of course, the little black boy was wondering, sometimes, why the body of his mother was black and why her teeth were white. The difference in color between him as well as his mother and the other members of the family was becoming for him, with the passing of time, as something normal and given which could not be changed at all.

Another observation which occupied his thinking for sometime was the fact that his hair and that of his mother was some kind of a frizzy and a fleecy black hair while the hair of all the other members of the family was smooth, soft, straight and easy to comb. Yet, the small black boy considered the frizzy black hair of his mother as being more beautiful and charming than the hair of the other women some of which was black and some was blond or fair golden hair.

The black boy, and with the passing of time, was discovering the fact that the black complexion of his mother gave her enchantment and attraction which the other women of the family did not have. Amir noticed that the other women of the family, including his aunt, Helwa, looked at his mother with some admiration or with some astonishment and amazement.

Sometimes, he noticed some of the other women whispering to each other when his mother happened to be passing from afar. The small black boy never had the desire to know what these women were saying to each other about his mother.

2) Amir, after the age of four years discovered the pleasure of learning his mother tongue, Arabic. Through the help of Helwa, the sister of the master of the house, the small black boy could learn how to read and how to write the Arabic Language. It took him just three months to read books written in Arabic. Of course, he found pleasure in reading the Holy Book, the Quran. The small black boy who learnt his mother tongue in few months became very well known in the quarter as well as in the community. He was well known as a prodigy, a genius and all the people wished to listen to Amir while he was reading a book of Arabic literature, or the book of the tales of One Thousand and One Night.

Nobody could explain how the young prodigy learnt the Arabic language, reading and writing in few months time. People were wondering whether the superiority of the small boy could only be explained on the basis of his being intelligent, gifted, of his being a genius, of his being a prodigy. People in the quarter witnessed by themselves how Amir could read any book written in Arabic in an easy way as if he was a grown up young man.

With the passing of more years, the small black boy was able to read the second common language which was spoken by the majority of people in the Arab World, in the Middle East of the 19th Century. The Turkish language was learnt very easily by Amir, both in reading, writing as well as using the Turkish language sometimes in daily use and in communication with others in the house. Turkish was the lingua franca in all the parts of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, Africa and Asia. Dignified personalities who were just visiting the Eastern Bank of the Holy River took the opportunity, when they were in this part of the Empire, to visit the small prodigy, the gifted genius who could speak in Turkish and who could also read and write in this lingua franca of the Ottoman Empire.

Those high and dignified personalities, after seeing the genius black boy were determined to discuss his academic and professional future with the authorities of the Sublime Porte in Istanbul. They would propose to the authorities in the capital of the Empire that this small prodigy should be offered the chance to pursue his higher education in one of the higher and advanced educational and scientific institutes which were found at that time in Istanbul. The members of the group of elders and dignitaries talked a lot and in details about Amir and his astonishing mental and intellectual capabilities and his surprising abilities to communicate with others.

I never heard in my life of a child who could hardly be nine years old who can read and write in two important languages of the Ottoman Empire, Arabic and Turkish. No doubt he is a miracle, or a miraculous boy. We do not know so far what this small boy knows of facts, ideas and concepts. I mean he might know things which we do not know. You know my friends; people call us the wise men of our community, yet here we could discover a small boy who might be wiser than us. said a member of the group of elders.

'I agree with you. I have never heard of something similar. He is really a prodigy, or a genius. However, the most fascinating aspect of the whole story is that the small boy is completely black with no traces of any other blood in his veins." said another old dignitary, another wise man of the visiting group.

And the most puzzling aspect, element, in the whole situation is the fact that he is black, a gifted little black boy. Some of the black people could be found here and there in the various parts of the Empire. Some of them could be the members of good and prospering families, yet most of them are poor and illiterate. Many of the black people work as laborers and manual workers in some of the big plantations. However, I never saw or heard in my life like this black boy. said the other dignitary, a very well known wise man.

The members of the group of dignified elders and dignitaries wanted to know more about this black prodigy. One of them made the following intervention.

People in several other places I visited recently whisper to each other of the birth of the black boy who is extraordinarily intelligent and bright, perspicacious and knowledgeable, wise and smart. Most people whisper to each other that this black boy was born to a man who is not himself a black man. However, the mother of the black boy is also black and people everywhere whisper to each other how this woman could be absent for few days in circumstances that were obscure and strange. More and more people were whispering about the fantastic contact she had in her room through the mirror with certain undefined and an unknown holy black old man. said one of the elders who were visiting the farm of the quarter.

While staying in the local hotel they came to know many stories which mentioned some mysterious aspects of the life of the black boy. Most of these stories referred to some enigmatic aspects of the life of his mother. More specific references were made about the sterility of the farmer of the quarter and about the doubts which local people had concerning the real parentage relationship of the prodigy, the black child, to the farmer. The dignitaries coming from the capital of the Empire gave much importance to these rumors about the family life of the father of Amir. They were also more interested in the black boy himself and in the fact that he was of a high level of intelligence and intellectual abilities and competences.

Of course, the wise men, the dignitaries of Istanbul, could not see the mother of the prodigy herself and were satisfied by what they heard about her. In the final analysis, this group of wise men went back to Istanbul and was talking to all government officials and at all levels about the black boy who surpassed all other children of his age in intelligence and in mental and intellectual abilities and achievements.

They even told the high officials of the sublime part that this child prodigy was studying two other important languages of the time, French and English. They also mentioned that this gifted child already knew how to read and write Arabic and Turkish.

The members of the group of dignitaries, the old wise men who visited the Valley of the Spirit and the Easter Bank of the Holy River were reporting to the highest top level officials of the Sublime Porte about some of the spiritual aspects of the Black Mother and the Black Son.

The story of the conception of the black boy by his mother involved some puzzling events and some mysterious divine manifestations. The wise men, the dignitaries, emphasized the fact that this black prodigy was still in the process of the making, the growth and development. The child was growing in a marvelous and astonishing way.

These wise men, the dignitaries, were hoping that this small black boy would play an important and decisive role in the development of the whole region of the Eastern Bank of the Holy River. The black boy was growing in a marvelous way in all aspects of his life, the physical, the mental, the social and the intellectual.

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3) Amir was the center of attraction and attention and care of his nice and tender mother. She was the only person who knew the extraordinary circumstances in which her son was created and came into existence and was finally conceived. Jawhara was the only person, human being, who was aware of the Divine essence, nature and entity of the birth of her son. She, the mother, was conscious that she conceived her son through some Holy and Divine contact with the Spirit of a person, whom she saw naked one day when she was fifteen years old swimming naked in the Holy River. That was her cousin Amin whom she saw in front of her dipping himself in the Holy River.

It was not conceivable for her to be able to explain the enigmatic and the miraculous circumstances in which her boy was conceived. If she had made a confession of what happened to her during her three days mysterious absence from the farm-house no one would have believed or understood her. Most probably people would have thought that she was hallucinating, or she might have lost her mind or that she was trying to hide the reality of an act of adultery.

The inhabitants of the farm-house, were all, and without any exception, astonished to see how the small black boy was growing up. All of them, especially the wives and the concubines, have never heard of something similar to what was happening in the house regarding the miraculous intellectual growth of the only child of the family.

The sister of the farmer was able to comprehend a little bit of what was taking place as far as the mental and the intellectual growth of the only child of the family. Based on her intensive readings in books that were provided to her by her brother she was able to understand how some children could be intellectually gifted as Amir. However, the presumed aunt of the black boy could not propose anything for the future education of the small child prodigy. Hilwa knew that the local administrative authorities have established some years back a kind of a modern primary school.

Hilwa had the chance of attending some years of primary school of the community which was established many years ago. Amir could be considered as the second member of the family to attend primary education.

But the members of the family were wondering whether this primary school would be suitable for Amir, the highly gifted boy. The prodigy boy was already highly educated at the age of six years. Some boys of his age in the quarter were sent to the local mosque school where these boys learnt many things that were useful to them in their adult life like the learning of the basics of writing and reading the Arabic language in addition to the learning of the basic principles of arithmetic. The pupils had the chance of learning how to recite some verses of the Holy Quran.

Therefore, it was decided that Amir did not need to go to the mosque school because he already knew how to read all the chapters of the Holy Book and could carry out highly difficult mathematical operations. In addition to all this, Amir was already mastering his mother tongue as well as Turkish and two foreign languages.

His presumed aunt Hilwa was the only member of the family who could know the degree of the intellectual growth and achievements of the small boy Amir. Actually, through her and her brother, the farmer, the presumed father of the small black genius, the small boy was able to have access to some basic books from which he learned various languages and scientific and literary disciplines which he knew and even completely mastered.

The presumed father of the genius small black boy was really in total confusion. He began asking himself how he could plan the future of his only son, his heir and his only hope for the future. No one could be found in the place in which he was living to consult concerning the future of his son. Once in the evening and after the dinner meal he had a meeting with his sister to discuss with her the problem of the education of Amir, the prodigy.

I am, my dear sister, in a real difficult situation. I don't know how to plan the education of Amir, my son. I cannot understand really from where to start. We have so far provided him with a number of books of general culture and several dictionaries. He was successful in two years time to learn a lot of things that were new to him, in learning languages and the various fields of human knowledge. What can I do now? said the father of the black boy.

Don't worry at all. I cannot see anything to worry about. Fathers whose sons cannot learn in the normal way and without the aid of a teacher are those who should be worried. In your case you have to be happy and joyful. You are a rare case in human history because you have an intelligent boy. I am sure, my dear brother you will find solutions to all the obstacles that stand in the way of the education of Amir. Just wait for a while. However, you should consult others with experience and knowledge in the field of education. said the sister, Hilwa, to her puzzled brother, the farmer of the quarter.

Yes, yes, you are right. I should be patient and wait and at the same time I should consult others, not only here in our quarter and community but also in countries around us or far away. We have around us so many centers of learning in Beirut, Damascus, Jerusalem and several other cities of the Ottoman Empire. I should have plans to visit these places so as to discuss with learned people there the education of Amir. Of course, nobody would believe me when I present to people I meet facts and information about the prodigy, the small black boy. It is difficult to others to believe that a boy of six years old masters by now four languages and is well based in several literary and scientific disciplines. I have either to take my son to people in other countries to give them the chance for seeing my son or I can invite decision makers in the field of education to come and see Amir here in the Easter Bank of the Holy River.

I am very glad and pleased. You are now trying to be optimist regarding the intellectual future of your son. Besides, we have forgotten Istanbul, the capital of the Empire. Many solutions could be found in Istanbul. After all, my dear brother, taking care of the intellectual growth of your son, Amir, will cost money. You should thank God you are rich, very rich compared to all other men of our community. You can afford to bear all the expenses of the education of your only son, Amir. said Hilwa, while smiling to her worried brother.

How could the farmer, the presumed father of Amir, the black boy, plan the future of his only son, his heir and his only hope for the future? Nobody was there around him to consult about the education future of his son. The whole East Bank of the Holy River was more or less far from any important center of education and learning in the region. Most of the well known population, commercial and political centers in the region were far and the farmer had to make a special journey to consult people of education and authority concerning the future of this only unique son.

4) Most of the people around the farmer advised him to wait and be extremely patient. Some of them advised the farmer to send his only son to the local primary school instead of keeping Amir in the house where he could be considered as a small prisoner.

At the age of seven years of Amir, it was decided by the school authorities to put the highly gifted child in the last year of the school. Amir had to sit with boys who were six years older than him. In fact, Amir was actually of an educational level that was higher than that which could be offered by the primary school. In most cases Amir acted as a teacher and as an instructor rather than as a pupil, a student. Amir was in the classroom, or indeed in the school as a teacher, though he was only seven years old boy. He was even consulted from time to time by the school's teaching staff in many points of the program followed and taught in the school.

The school had six teachers and many of them were recruited from somewhat far places in the neighboring parts of the Empire. Sometimes teachers in the staff room discussed or in fact spoke about the child prodigy, the black boy, Amir.

I never heard in my life of such a case like that of Amir. He is still seven years old and yet we could consider him as a walking library. Or he can know all what is found in an encyclopedia. said one of the teachers who was the oldest and about to get retirement next year.

Why are you surprised, astonished. This is a miracle. I cannot believe that all what he knows comes from ordinary sources of knowledge; I mean books and any written materials like manuscripts. There should be for him another source of knowledge and information; I mean, perhaps, a heavenly source. In other words he is a rare phenomenon and nothing else. Just look at him. Although he is black, very black, when I look at him very deeply, I find in him some sort of a shining light coming from his face, and more so from his illuminating black eyes. I am sure that this boy, the black boy, is nothing but a riddle, or in reality, a miracle. This small black boy is a miraculous creature.

He is a highly learned human being. He is equally well versed in scientific and in technological fields of knowledge as well as in the religious and the literary fields. I am wondering how his father could procure for him all of the books in the various fields of human knowledge from which he gets this rich information and splendid education. said a second teacher who joined the primary school last year.

Listen to me. I am wondering whether the fact of his being black explains something of the present situation. People in the community always talk about his mother, the black wife of the farmer. She is one of the four wives. As you know, the farmer is sterile. But in spite of this fact the black wife got pregnant. It is well known that his mother, called Jawhara, is completely illiterate like most women in our society. However, at the same time, it is reported that the mother of Amir did not have a completely normal life during the last eleven years of her married life in the house of the farmer of the quarter.

People in the community speak a lot about her frequent absences from the farm-house. People also speak about strange things that take place in her room. Some of the other wives of the farmer began reporting stories about the conversation which the black woman has with someone who appears to her in the mirror of the wall. Let me tell you that no one at all saw her actually looking at the mirror and talking to an old man in the mirror. However, this is what people talk about night and day.

The son of such a woman can be very extraordinary, and even I could say he is very abnormal. Miracles could take place in the world and between now and then. This black boy is at least a prodigy. He is simply a highly intelligent child and he has been given the opportunity to learn by himself. You know his aunt is a literate young woman who is also fond of reading books. So Amir saw his aunt reading books. Consequently he began like her to read books. Let us not exaggerate things. said another teacher who came to the East Bank from the City of Jerusalem and he was living here with his family since five years.

5) At home, Amir spent most of the time reading and writing or talking to his mother. Amir refused most of the time to leave the farm-house to play with the other children of the quarter. Playing outside with the other children of the quarter was considered as a waste of time for him. He preferred sometimes to watch the other children of his age playing in the places available for the amusement of children either in the courtyard of the house or in the square of the quarter. The maids of the farm-house were most enthusiastic members of the family towards the young prodigy, Amir. The three maids were all the time supportive towards the small prodigy. They tried their best to make the daily life of the small boy in the farm-house possible and enjoyable. Wherever he was found in the big house, the eyes of the maids were there to guard him against any attempt by the one of the women in the family to harm the black boy or make his life impossible.

Sometimes, the maids, some of them, would stop the black boy, the prodigy, so as to exchange with him some ideas. Due to the fact that the boy was really highly intelligent and well informed, well educated, any maid wanted to discover the extent to which the knowledge of the small boy, prodigy, could reach. Sometimes maids were very anxious to know something about countries and peoples living around them.

6) The farmer of the quarter and the presumed father of the seven years old black boy, Amir, the husband of the black woman, Jawhara, was living in his best days. The master of the house passed every day by the room of his son Amir to see what the small boy was doing.

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A lot of books and copy-books could be seen scattered here and there which he, the father, provided, for his son. Every day, Amir was waiting the visit of his father so as to show him the various intellectual activities in which he, as a small boy was engaged. Systematically, Amir showed his father what he was doing and what he planned to do during the current day.

One day, the small black boy told his father that he was about to read and study, the general science book, which his father brought for him few days back. The father stood in the middle of the room of Amir and was looking all the time at his son while he was reading the book of general science. The book was a little bit of a large size and was written in the Turkish language that was printed in beautiful Arabic scripts, letters. The book was decorated in every page by pictures of instruments, tools and various scientific apparatuses and some exploratory drawings.

Thank you my father for this book of science. I find it extremely interesting and challenging. Actually I prefer it to all other books that cover other subjects. Science is an interesting and a stimulating subject. It offers for us the real basic foundations on which our life should be built in the future. All aspects of our life have some scientific implications and connotations. However, I am still at the beginning of my journey in the world of science and its technological implications and applications.

You know father, in the near future, may be next year, I would need more science books but they should be more advanced than this one in my hands. More advanced science books and written in Turkish could be found in the book-stores of the cities of Damascus and Beirut. Maybe you should plan to bring some of these books of science to our house. I am very eager to introduce myself to such higher scientific knowledge books. In one of your trips to Damascus or to Beirut you should procure some of these science books for me. You know father, nowadays, I cannot sleep very well throughout the night. I always dream of these excellent science and technology books. Father, we are really isolated in this community of ours from some important centers of science and technology. said Amir to his father.

Listen to me my son; I don't want to discourage you at all to introduce yourself to the world of science and technology. This is really a constructive way of planning your future education and the pursuit of knowledge. On the contrary, I am ready to bring you whatever books you need from either Damascus or from Beirut, Jerusalem or even from Nablus. All of these cities and towns have a long tradition in the field of knowledge in general. Nobody could argue with you of the necessity of pursuing the scientific knowledge. This is your choice, my son, Amir. Reading and writing and the relentless and continuous pursuing of the scientific subjects are all considered as intellectual activities which cannot be undertaken by anybody else in our community except yourself.

Since sometime, people in the community notice that you keep yourself all the time in the farm-house. No one so far has seen you outside the house with the exception of very few times when you accompany your mother in her visits to neighbors and acquaintances. Lately, all the members of the family and some of our neighbors do not see you at all going out of the house. You have not been seen going outside the house for playing with the children of our neighbors. You have not been seen lately outside the house. All people are wondering how a boy of your age can stay all the time inside the house without going outside. Boys of our neighbors are wondering how you could keep yourself inside the house, night and day. How could you keep yourself inside the house just doing nothing with the exception of reading books?

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

Your behavior, or the way you arrange the utilization of your time astonishes all the other boys of your age who spend most of their time in playing and in amusing themselves outside their homes. Why don't you give some of your time for playing outside the house with the other boys of the neighborhood? People in the quarter are wondering how you could understand what you read without giving some of your time to play with the other boys of the community. Why don't you give some of your time in the morning for playing with the other boys of the community? By mixing with boys of your age you would get enjoyment which you do not find in the books.

Please, Amir, think of what I am telling you and I let you take your decision in this respect by yourself. It is your life that we are talking about. Don't forget that you are my son and sometimes you have to listen to me and obey. said the farmer of the quarter to his son Amir.

Thank you very much father for your advice and your guidance. No doubt I am losing a lot by not playing on a daily basis outside the house with the other boys of the neighborhood and the quarter. But, father, I feel that I am not like the other boys of my age in the quarter. Look around you here, in my room. It is only books and only books. Who brought and procured these books for me? It is you, father. Each book, though usually read elsewhere by adults and in specialized scientific institutes, is read by me. Some of these books are written in various foreign languages including Turkish. Very few books, specially the scientific are written in our language, Arabic, my mother tongue.

Many of these books need some time to be read and to be understood. For me, I do not find any problem in my present way of life. Is it a problem if I devote some of my time to reading books, to educate and enlighten myself?? This way of life might look strange to all others, but to me, it is a very normal way of life. I do not find it abnormal or strange. said Amir to his father, the farmer of the quarter.

7) The worried and the disturbed father left the private room of his son, the prodigy. On the other hand, Amir, the son, began immediately to think over what his father told him. The small gifted black boy decided that he should give some of his time for playing in the square and nearby the well of the quarter with the other boys of his age.

Amir, however, was not very decisive in devoting some of his time for playing and amusement. While looking around him he realized that he did not have time at all for playing. His time was in fact very limited and he had a lot to do in the field of intellectual growth. Time was very limited and he had to give priority for the growth of his intellectual abilities.

A very important development in the life of the quarter was the decrease in the activities of the sorceress of the quarter. For more than six months, she has not been seen by the people of the quarter except once or twice.

Rumors have been circulating that for the last year, the sorceress was ill. She was suffering from an incurable disease. People who could not see her either around or in her house were saying that the witch was pale and maybe she had an age of more than she really had. The sorceress was actually withering away. Wherever she went outside her house she carried in her right hand a walking stick without which she was not able to walk and to move from one place to another.

Not all the daughters of the sorceress were around her. Three of her five daughters got married to young men of her family and the family of her husband. The three of them were living a happy life and they rarely paid visits to their mother. The remaining two daughters had almost the age of marriage and they might stay with their mother as old maids.

Of the inhabitants of the quarter, very few paid visits to the house of the sorceress. The inhabitants of the quarter were becoming less dependent on the tricks of sorcery for the solution of their daily family life problems. Life in the quarter was becoming more and more based on rational reasoning and the consulting of the advice of the old wise men rather than on sorcery.

In case of sickness and disease, the people of the quarter were more and more dependent of the consultation and the advice of the local only doctor in the community rather than on the advice of the sorceress and her amulets and her magic powders. The sick old sorceress had to consult the local doctor for her sick body and may be her mind. The doctor after examining her body told her that she had an incurable disease and that she had few months to live. She could live for one more year and no more. It has been reported that the sorceress had recently totally left her activities of sorcery. Praying to God, five times a day starting from the early morning at dawn till late in the evening was her only occupation.

The sorceress was fasting in the Holy Month of Ramadan and was giving alms to poor people in the quarter and in the community at large. It was heard also that the sorceress of the quarter had the intention to go for a pilgrimage to Mecca. Only four months were left for the pilgrimage time. The sorceress thought that this was her only chance to fulfill and perform this very important ritual before her very near death.

One of her cousins living in a southern town nearby the frontier with the Holy Land of Hijaz was planning to go for a pilgrimage to Mecca and therefore she could accompany him. The sorceress was hoping that her health would improve a little bit so as to be able to perform this fifth pillar of the religion of the believers. In other words she was hoping that she could carry out this pilgrimage before her death.

Yet, in spite of all the optimism of the sorceress to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca her health was not improving as expected. Her health was deteriorating. Her neighbors including the farmer of the quarter noticed that the sorceress was about to lose her battle and fight against the monstrous disease. She was about to die in one or two months time. All the neighbors were aware of the coming death of the sorceress. They were preparing themselves for this forthcoming important event in the history of the quarter. There came a time in the quarter when the sorceress was not seen at all outside her house and for a long time.

The farmer of the quarter was the first person to be aware of the forthcoming eternal absence of the sorceress. It was in one of those rainy days and in the evening that the death of the sorceress was publicly announced. The doctor of the quarter who was treating her for the last year was the one who announced her death.

The two unmarried daughters and the three married ones with their children were already there in the house of their mother, the sorceress. Also, some of the relatives who were living in some settlements all along the Valley of the Spirit were present in the house of the sorceress to participate in all the rituals followed for her final burial in the graveyard of the quarter.

The inhabitants of the quarter were relieved by the death of the sorceress. Wives were specially happy to hear the death of the creature that caused much harm to a great number of families. Women of all ages got really excited and even pleased to hear of the death of the witch who was the source of most of the bad rumors and gossips.

Amir was on the day of the death of the sorceress busy reading a science book. He came to know that his father had the habit of going to the witch between now and then whenever he was extremely worried and disturbed because of his being sterile. The frequent visits of the farmer of the quarter took place before the pregnancy of Jawhara and at last the birth of Amir. The small black boy could not believe at all in the extraordinary powers of the sorceress. For him, she was only a wicked witch, a sorceress and a source of evil for all the people in the quarter as well as in the community.

8) The schooling and the education of Amir was a real problem for the father, the farmer. The type of elementary school that was available for the small children of the quarter did not suit at all the basic mental and intellectual needs of the child prodigy. The black boy was growing mentally in a very astonishing way day after the other. The father thought and he might have been right, that black boy at the time of his birth was already in possession of some knowledge and intellectual abilities equal to that of an intelligent child who had already finished his primary education.

All the members of the family, the other three wives, the three concubines and the three maid servants and perhaps the three laborers living next to the farm-house, were really amazed to see in front of them this little black boy going around in the farm-house and carrying all the time one or two books in his little hands. This phenomenon of the black prodigy was not witnessed in the quarter during the last generations. No child was reported to have been growing and behaving in the same way as Amir did.

The elders of the community were talking all the time about this little black genius. Some important visitors carried out special trips from the capital of the Ottoman Empire only to see by their own eyes the child who at the age of eight years was having a level of education equal to that of a well grown up young man who had already finished his higher education in a respectable institute of higher education.

The father of the black child was in a state of confusion and hesitation. What to do for his genius small boy? What could he do? Of course, for him, the father, it was necessary to continue supplying his son, the prodigy, with all the necessary advanced scientific and literary books so as to satisfy the intellectual needs and desires of his black son.

The visits of the father to Damascus and Beirut were becoming very frequent. Those two important cities of the Ottomans were well known to be very important intellectual centers in the whole Arab region that was part of the Empire. The father went to these two cities, to Damascus and Beirut, only to discuss the intellectual and the educational future of the son.

While the father was all the time busy to help his son how to continue his intellectual growth and how to achieve his aims and objectives, he was also wondering whether this boy will be satisfied to manage and control all what the father was having of wealth and property. In summary, would the farm and the commercial establishments which the farmer owned satisfy the ambitions and the future plans and objectives of his son? In other words, would the farm be the world in which his son would be living in a satisfactory manner? Was the black boy preparing himself for another aim, another objective? The farmer of the quarter came to the conclusion that Amir would be living in another world which would be wider and more important than the farm of his father which was located in a part of the Empire that was practically of no strategic, commercial or political importance. The land in which all the establishments of the farmer were well based and installed was considered as located in the eastern frontiers of the Ottoman Empire.

The farm of the father of Amir was just located in an isolated part of the frontiers region of the Empire. The farmer thought that his farm could be considered in the future as a small part of the world in which Amir would be living.

The frequent visits of the farmer to Damascus and Beirut have contributed much to his understanding of his son, Amir. The father of the black prodigy was more and more well informed about the nature of the world in which his son would like to be living. It was the duty of the father to continue providing his son with books specially those of the modern science and technology. His visits to major intellectual centers of the Ottoman Empire contributed a lot towards his understanding of the intellectual needs and ambitions of his son. The father of the prodigy began to look for some certain intellectual outlets for his son in those famous and important centers of knowledge and learning.

In one of the visits of the farmer to the two important cities of Damascus and Beirut, he got the new idea of considering Istanbul as the final objective for the further and higher education of his son.

Of course, the farmer thought that it was better for him to wait and see and to undertake more and more investigation and exploration of possibilities for the further education of his son, Amir. At the same time the son himself was not aware of the complications involved in the planning of his education.

The various wives and women of the farm-house have been noticing that the master of the house was becoming more and more involved and busy in the planning of the intellectual future life of his child, the small prodigy who was not aware of the attention he was getting from all, not only in the quarter but also beyond the small world of the quarter.

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Timbuktu 1

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