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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) After the disappearance of the illuminating image of the old black man, the forefather of Jawhara, from the screen of the mirror, the black woman, in a relaxed and a lazy mood, in her chair, did not know what to do and where to go.

Jawhara in fact, could not remove from her mind and imagination the words uttered eloquently by her forefather about Timbuktu, the City where her roots were implanted. She imagined herself living for the time being in that holy city of her ancestors and its golden days when Timbuktu was considered as one of the important cultural centers of the world.

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

Jawhara felt intensely that she was in a holy and a sacred contact with the spirits of her ancestors and forefathers. She closed her eyes and then opened them just to see whether some change has taken place in the screen of the mirror. The mirror remained absolutely silent and could not show any more the images of the old man who was telling the story of the city of Timbuktu or the story of the ancestors of Jawhara.

The black wife of the farmer stretched her two legs in order to have a complete relaxation while she was sitting on the chair. She knew that she could not at all sit anymore on the chair because in few minutes time, a maid would come into her bedroom so as to do her daily duty in the room at the beginning of the day.

Unfortunately, the weather inside and outside of her room was not encouraging at all for her to leave the chair and start living her daily life in the farm-house together with the other members of the family.

Jawhara was realizing slowly and with the passing of time that she was living in two worlds, two different worlds. One of these worlds was white and the other was black. One was completely flooded with a sea of sand and wind, with mirage, caravans, with oasis and a burning sunshine, with an unlimited horizon and a blue sky. The other world looked completely different in terms of its nature and topography. Here, where Jawhara was living as the wife of the farmer, the farm-house in which she was living was located in the heart of the Fertile Crescent where by definition the green color dominates nature and the surrounding landscape, where by definition water is available, although not everywhere.

But on the other hand, Jawhara came to know that these two worlds, that of the Grand Sahara and that of the Fertile Crescent were more or less one world. These two worlds have one common symbol, the ever standing and the illuminating minaret on the top of the mosque. There, believers pray to God five times a day whether they are somewhere in the Grand Sahara, or somewhere on the top of a small hill or on the bank of a river in the heart of the Fertile Crescent or in the land of the Valley of the Nile.

All at once, Jawhara realized that it was time to begin her daily life. She walked few steps in her bedroom. However, she felt somewhat indisposed. Was she sick, or what? The black woman continued preparing herself to leave the room. She did not give any attention or any importance to this feeling of being indisposed, or really sick. She was sure that this passing indisposition was just a short and a brief black cloud appearing in her sky.

She remembered that this feeling of being somewhat sick was a normal event in the life of all. It should be considered as an ordinary phenomenon. Every human being is subject to be sick and indisposed at any age. Children of first day age and old persons in their last days of their life fall sick and all human beings in the final analysis die.

So Jawhara did not care for this feeling of being indisposed. She went to her bed and sat on the edge for the purpose of examining her real situation. She wanted to think it over, to reconsider her case and see whether this feeling of indisposition would continue or not. At last she took the decision not to give any attention to this passing state of indisposition.

Unexpectedly, the door of the bedroom was wide open and the maid was standing there waiting for the permission of the lady of the room for her to enter. For a while the whole scene came to a standstill as if the maid kept standing like a statue on the threshold of the door and the lady of the room kept sitting on the bed.

However, the whole scene was reactivated. The maid began to enter into the room on the basis that she got the permission of Jawhara to enter. On the other hand, the black woman left her bed and was about to leave the room. Perhaps, she was in her way to the toilets or to the bathroom. When she was about to go out of her room, the maid, who had the habit of coming in the morning to this room before going to others, addressed the lady of the room the following question:

You look somewhat tired, my lady, and your face seems to me pale and emaciated. Have you had a good sleep? said the maid.

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

Oh!! Yes, it was quite a nice night. I slept very well but it seems that I had some irritating and annoying dreams. I am not in a position to tell you the exact nature of these dreams. It is strange. If I told you these dreams you will not be able to understand them. These dreams are curious and bizarre. said the black woman.

I understand. Do not worry. All people have dreams. Life without dreams is not a real and a stimulating life. So do not worry, my dear lady. I myself had bad and frightened dreams last night. So I could not sleep very well. So we are equal. said the maid to Jawhara.

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I do not have to tell you my dreams and I will not ask you to tell me your dreams. Really what I saw in my dreams could not be told to others. I keep my dreams as a secret to myself. You know occasionally I have dreams while I am awake. Isn't it very strange? It is not common to find people who dream while they are awake, while they take meals with others or while they participate in a group discussion. In my case I have those dreams when I look at others. Don't forget that I used to have these mental evasions just recently. said the black wife who left the maid by herself inside the bedroom.

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2) Jawhara was by now outside the bedroom and the maid, who was all alone in the room, stood in the middle somewhat far from the bed. She was wondering what she was going to do. She could not know from where to start her work.

The maid, who was in her sixties and the youngest amongst the three maids of the farm-house, felt that herself in a lost position. She felt that she was paralyzed and that an invisible hand was preventing her from moving freely in the bedroom or from doing anything.

The maid was in a loss and she felt as if she was in the middle of a very dark place where nothing was visible to her. She convinced herself that what she was experiencing was nothing but imagination. She thought that for a while she was in the midst of an unreal world. She thought that the black woman was in fact the source of this mysterious situation.

The maid came to the conclusion that the black woman was bewitched, spellbound and that above all she was having some supernatural powers inherent in her. The maid looked around in the bedroom of the black woman for something the nature of which she did not know.

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Her search and exploration did not end up in anything strange or extraordinary. She bent herself and looked underneath the bed thinking that she might find something strange and peculiar there. The maid did not know exactly why she was behaving in such a curious way in the room of Jawhara, the black wife of the farmer. She never behaved in such a strange manner in the bedroom of the other wives and the concubines. Yet, between now and then she behaved in the same manner in the bedroom of Helwa, the sister of the farmer.

Abruptly, the maid took notice of the mirror hung on the wall of the bedroom. There was nothing bizarre in the mirror except that it was not in its normal position. The mirror was more or less moved. Perhaps, somebody touched it or manipulated it without noticing that it was not left in its correct and right position.

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What was coming out of the mirror, a voice, a noise, some kind of a cry of a human being? Was there a man in the screen of the mirror? Was there a voice coming out from a far distance from behind the horizon?

At last, and unexpectedly, the maid imagined that she heard the cry of a child, a baby, who was hardly born coming from the mirror. The maid, who never married and thus did not have children of her own, had the experience of hearing such a cry. In her early age she had the chance of attending the birth of several children. She could by now recognize the voice of newly born children from the other kinds of children's cry and voices.

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The cry of the newly born child repeated itself several times. At the same time, the maid could hear the voice of the suffering mother, the one who was giving life to a newly born child. The maid at that particular moment got really stunned, surprised and confused. How could the voice of a newly born child come to her ears? Was the child hidden somewhere in the room? Could the black woman be the mother of this child of whom only his voice, his cries, were witnessed, were heard?

The maid could not hold to this explanation, to this idea, because the black woman was never seen pregnant, never, never, never so far. The maid so far did not see a single other woman of the farmer being pregnant. She was sure that her master, the farmer of the quarter, was fully sterile and that there was no hope to make him potent.

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The farmer could not have been capable to have given any of his wives living semen, any sperm-bearing fluid. Therefore, the maid considered the hearing of this child's cries as an unnatural event … some kind of an event that should be explained in a way other than the normal one.

The maid tried her best to awake herself from this state of hallucination. She did not want to be overwhelmed by such strange ideas. How could she have heard such a voice, that of a newly born child in the bedroom of the black woman or anywhere in the farm-house? Unless, unless …and the maid refused to allow herself to go any further in such a challenging and audacious way of reasoning.

Why should those women of the sterile farmer be judged as honorable and faithful and as innocent and above all suspicion? Could they not come in contact with a man who was potent, young, but who had children and posterity? Could they not sleep with a man, any other man, other than their husband and became pregnant and still claim, and in the final analysis reiterate the fact that this child was the product of their conjugal life with their husband, the farmer of the quarter.

The maid began carrying out her work in the bedroom. While she was working she unexpectedly had in her mind the presence of the three young agricultural laborers who lived adjacent to the main building of the farm-house.

As a matter of fact, the maid was always thinking of these young laborers as possible source of living sperms to be given to any woman who expressed her willingness to be inseminated by inserting living sperms in the depths of her body. Yet the maid was fully certain that no contact has been established between any of the three laborers with any of the four wives and the three concubines.

The maid continued carrying out her work in the bedroom of Jawhara. When the turn of the bed came to be arranged and put in order, the maid was extremely meticulous, precise and scrupulous in doing all the steps required. The maid was very interested in the bed-sheet, the white sheets and whether there was any trace of a night of love and sentiments. Anyhow, she could not find on the shining and twinkling bed sheets any traces of love making and a sentimental night.

Anonymous Dream
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 maid discovered that the bed sheets were so in order and cleanliness that one would think that nobody has slept in the bed for the whole night. The maid looked around her to see if by a miracle there was a child, a newly born child hidden somewhere in the wardrobe, in the closet, underneath the bed or in some place in the room which she could not discover and identify.

Of course, the maid finished her work without discovering anything extraordinary in the room. She quickly put the final touches to the various parts of the room and then she rushed outside the room in the direction of the kitchen where usually all the three maids came, worked and met and talked to each other.

The kitchen at that moment was vacant and deserted. It seemed that the other two maids were still busy in their work somewhere in the in the farm-house. The waiting of the maid for the coming of the other two maids did not last long.

The other two maids came to the kitchen and both of them were smiling and smiling. Sometimes they laughed in a very low voice. Both of the entering maids looked at the maid who arrived first in the kitchen. They were asking their colleague to tell them some news regarding the bedroom of Jawhara.

As expected, the maid who was in Jawhara's room kept silent. She was not willing to tell them about her hallucination, her delusions and her fantasy. But the maid who was put under the pressure so as to tell the other two some news about Jawhara, kept the mouth shut. If she had told them that she heard some noise, a low voice, the cry of a small newly born child, the two other maids would have thought that she was really a fool, out of her mind and that she was hallucinating.

Therefore, the maid kept silent although in her mind and according to her intuitive reasoning something could have happened or could have been happening in the farm-house. Since a long time she was watching and observing Jawhara and she was finding out that an important event would take place and that Jawhara, the black woman, would be the heroine. But she never saw Jawhara pregnant.

The time was the evening and all the members of the farm-house family were waiting for the master of the house to arrive so as to get his instruction concerning the time and the menu of the dinner meal. His women, the four wives and the three concubines as well as his sister Helwa, were anxiously and worriedly waiting for him. He was late, more late than usual. As a matter of fact, the husband was late for about one hour.

All the members of the family were waiting but still the master of the house was late, or in other words he did not come yet. The weather was becoming full of rain, or showers of rain. The lightening took place more frequently than usual. Also, thunder, naturally was heard. The master of the house was still at that moment late for more than two hours. All the members of the house were becoming worried. All of them were wondering what has happened to their master.

Did he disappear in the darkness of the night? Was he attacked, assailed by the hands of Evil? All of them were sure that their master did not have enemies in the community. He was a man of peace and reconciliation. Therefore, there was no possibility at all that he would have been attacked by anybody.

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The only possible explanation for his lateness was that he might have fallen ill somewhere in the market or in one of the plantations. At that particular time, all the seven women of the farmer in addition to his young sister and the three maids, all were assembled at the main gate of the farm-house. All of them were looking far into the horizon as an attempt to find out some faint traces of a phantom that was coming to them in the darkness of the night.

As all expected, it was not difficult to see that the phantom that was approaching them was nobody but their master. He was walking in a strange manner and was in fact tottering and staggering and was finding some difficulty in keeping his equilibrium in his walking to his house. It was very late in the evening. But the more the farmer advanced tottering towards the gate the more his women realized that there was no doubt that their husband was drunk.

Certainly, before coming to his house he paid a visit to the grocer of the quarter who sold illicitly and in an unauthorized way various kinds of alcoholic drinks. The farmer got fond of the milk-like drink called Arak. No doubt the farmer visited the grocer's shop in this evening and consumed a considerable amount of alcoholic drink, the Arak. Of course, this was not the first time that he visited the shop that sold alcoholic drinks.

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The moment the members of the family have realized that the person who was coming to the farm-house was the farmer, they instantaneously disappeared and each went to her place in the farm-house. The farmer was relieved to find himself in his house. It was easy for him to go to the sitting-room where he laid himself on some mattresses on the floor.

The master of the house was about to sleep by putting his head on one of the cushions which were in plenty. Anyhow, the first wife came to her husband, the farmer, so as to discover what was wrong with him. The first wife realized that it was not possible to communicate intelligently with her drunk husband. For the first wife this was not the first time that she found her husband drunk.

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

All at once the farmer woke up and looked at his wife. Nevertheless, he could not say anything to the woman standing in front of him. At the same time a maid came to the hall in which the farmer and his wife were together. The moment he saw the maid, he smiled for a while. He wanted to say something but he could not.

At that moment, another maid came to the hall carrying in her hand a tray on which there was a cup of coffee with no sugar. This cup was immediately offered to the farmer who took it and began to sip it by taking mouthfuls of the black coffee. The farmer felt refreshed, revived and invigorated.

The moment he felt that he was physically and mentally better than before he uttered few words by saying 'where is she? Where is she?' The first wife and the maid began looking at each other in an effort to grasp what the master of the house meant by this phrase uttered by him.

Again, the farmer said in a louder voice than before. 'Where is she?' 'Where is she?' The two thought that the farmer meant a certain woman who might not be one of those who were living in the farm-house. All at once, a second cup of coffee was offered to him by one of the maids. The drunk farmer sipped all the contents of the cup in two or three gulps, sips. He asked for more coffee. He was not offered any more. All of those who were standing around him were waiting patiently the reaction of the farmer.

The farmer resumed asking about a certain woman. He said. 'Where is she?' Yet the maid and the wife said to themselves, 'Who could this woman be?' The two thought that the farmer was asking about a woman whom he knew outside the farm. She could be a certain girl in the farm or a woman of bad reputation in the quarter. After all, the grocer who sold the alcoholic drinks illicitly could have provided the farmer with some women of pleasure and enjoyment.

The two women, the wife and the maid, were surprised to hear their master saying, 'Where is Jawhara? I have to see her.' The first woman who was amazed and surprised said to her husband, 'In the room, in her room.' The farmer said, 'take me please to her, to her bedroom.'

The farmer tried to stand up but he could not. Then he was helped by his first wife and the maid to stand up. The farmer could not walk by himself. He had to be helped by his wife who could not be so near to him because of the bad and the repulsive alcoholic smell that was coming out or his mouth. It was evident that the farmer was really drunk and that he was not fully in his normal and mental condition. The farmer never came back to his house so drunk.

While walking with him, the first wife tried to find out why her husband asked only about his black wife while he had in total seven women under his disposal night and day. What was special about the black woman?

The first wife continued walking with the farmer who did not give any sign or hint of the purpose for the presence of his wife Jawhara in front of him.

Inside the bedroom, the first wife helped her husband to prepare himself to sleep. The farmer was still in a miserable situation. He was suffering a lot because of his being drunk. While the farmer was trying to stretch himself and be covered by heavy woolen blankets and the quilt, he repeated mentioning the name of Jawhara.

The first wife continued to be surprised and astonished to hear the husband repeating the name of the black woman. She was wondering whether something was happening to this woman, Jawhara, at that particular moment.

3) At that time, Jawhara was in her bedroom preparing herself to sleep. Nobody in the farm-house has taken dinner because all of them were waiting for the master of the house to arrive so as to take dinner with his presence. Nobody took dinner and it was normal that each wife followed her personal arrangement in having whatever could be called dinner.

In the case of Jawhara, she went to the kitchen and took something in a hurry in company of some other women of the house. Jawhara ate some bread, meat and green olives which were supposed to be taken in company with the master of the house.

All women in the kitchen noticed that the black woman was not in a normal condition. She was either suffering from something or hiding the source of pain and suffering. In the kitchen, all of those present looked at the face of Jawhara and the way she was eating the bread and the meat in a hurry. She was in a hurry to finish her meal and did not notice that all of those present in the kitchen were looking at her because she was manifesting some expressions on her face that looked extremely strange and bizarre.

Some of those present in the kitchen thought that they were seeing in front of them a cat in a full sensual need of pleasure. She was like a cat that was suffering from a real sexual hunger. None of the women present in the kitchen dared to address the black woman a single word. She was left undisturbed by any question from any of the women present in the kitchen.

Jawhara did not care to what was going on in the kitchen. She noticed that all were looking at her and all were about to attack her so as to tear all her clothes in order to make her naked. The women and the maids were equally anxious to see the body of Jawhara naked, completely naked without any piece of underwear on her body, exactly as she would have been looking in the middle of a process of bath taking. Were they anxious to see traces of the beginning of life in the black body of Jawhara?

All of the wives, the concubines, the maids and the sister of the farmer were feeling that the black woman was on the verge of starting a long voyage, a long journey, in her life. But all of them did not know the slightest aspects and features of the change which she was undergoing.

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The black woman left the kitchen and went to her bedroom not knowing that the husband was in his bedroom and that he was being helped by the first wife to be in bed. She did not know that the husband was repeating her name and in a very frequent way.

The black woman went to her bedroom followed by the eyes of the women who were found in the kitchen. In her bedroom, the black woman and in a hurry undressed herself and put on her the sleeping robe. She was shivering because of the cold weather and because of something else which she could not exactly identify.

She had a glimpse of the mirror and at that moment she was overwhelmed by a strange feeling. Of course, she was not expecting that the screen of the mirror would show the face of the forefather in the Immortal City of Timbuktu, the black old man. She was more or less, certain that the old man had appeared to her so far in the early morning and not in the other parts of the day. So there was no point that her forefather would appear on the screen of the mirror in the evening.

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

However, Jawhara continued looking at the mirror with amazement. She was feeling that the mirror was either about to fall down or was about to be full of life and animation. The black woman decided to wait for a while and not make any movement or noise. Luckily, she was standing in the middle of the room nearby the chair in which she used to sit down to watch the black old man talking to her.

Unconsciously, she sat down in the chair as if it was time to watch the screen of the mirror. Some noise was heard but the black woman could not see anything in the screen. All at once and abruptly, the noise coming from the mirror has been becoming louder and louder. But the black woman could not at all make anything sensible out of this unidentified, unfamiliar and mysterious noise that was filling the room.

Yet the noise was coming from the mirror the screen of which was naturally looking dim, very dim because there was no light that could be reflected by the mirror that was hung on the wall of the bedroom.

Nevertheless, the black woman was sure that the mirror was about to transmit a message coming from the beginning of the 17th Century, an epoch in which her great, great grandfather left Timbuktu to go to Mecca for a pilgrimage. So far, it was only the black old man, her forefather, who spoke to her. He was the only one who revealed to her the roots of her origin and explained to her the history of the original homeland of her ancestors, the Immortal City of Timbuktu.

4) The screen of the mirror started to be filled with some light. Anyhow, no images were yet visible in the screen. Jawhara was really excited to have witnessed those changes in the mirror. However, the noise continued coming and the black woman persisted to make her eyes and ears ready to see and to hear what was going to be shown on the screen. For a while, the black woman was overwhelmed by drowsiness and somnolence.

She tried her best to resist and counteract the temptation of sleeping and thus losing the opportunity to see the images that could throw some light on her past and her heritage in the heart of the Grand Sahara.

The mirror was filled now with illumination and vividness for certain instants. After that Jawhara was pleased to see again the black man appearing in the screen of the mirror. Of course, by now the old man was accustomed to see in front of him the young black woman, his offspring and posterity, sitting in a chair in the middle if her bedroom.

Good evening Jawhara. This time I would like to talk to you in the evening. I know that time in your part of the world is late in the evening. Here, in the heart of the Grand Sahara and in the City of Timbuktu, it is only the beginning of the evening. It is almost the time for dinner and all the families in Timbuktu are now assembled in their homes awaiting the arrival of the mother who would serve all the family members and with the aid of grown up daughters and daughters-in-law the delicious food for the diner meal. said the old man solemnly and in a dignified and imposing manner.

Yet, my dear and respectful forefather, I realize that it should be the dinner time for you also. You know I wish that I could be with you, going back two hundred years. Anyhow, I am very happy to have the chance of seeing you and talking to you though from a far distance. It is a pleasure to see you and to speak to you. I am really anxious to listen to your words and to your presentation. said Jawhara.

I don't know whether you have been informed about the Council of Elders of the City of Timbuktu. In summary it is a community legislative and judicial body that mainly looks into cases that are raised to it, between now and then, by the members of the community, asking for certain judgments regarding disputes or issuing certain sentences in cases of some offences and crimes committed by some members of the community.

Sometimes a certain newly married man, a bridegroom, brings, with shame on his face and embarrassment in his talk, to the Council of Elders the case of his bride whom he discovered not to be version in the first night of the married life of the couple.

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In this momentous and urgent case, the Council of Elders permits the bridegroom to divorce his wife who could be asked and obliged to return to the bridegroom the dowry fully as it was given to the family of the bride as a first step for the legalizing of the marriage contract.

In some cases, some men of middle or advanced age accuse their young wives of infidelity. By consequence they claim that a certain number of their children as having fathers other than themselves.

Moreover, there are certain other men, who never had children for a number of years but who all at once find themselves as fathers of children who were born by one of their wives.

In all such cases, it is very difficult for the Council of Elders to give any kind of opinion or judgment concerning the legitimacy of the offspring. Do not forger that I am speaking to you from an epoch that goes back to the first half of the 17th Century.

Of course, we cannot carry out in our time any test, examination or investigation regarding the legitimacy of the children. In such cases it is extremely difficult to pass judgment and carry out an investigation to verify whether the husband is the father of the child or whether there is another man who could be considered as the biological father of the child.

Life becomes very complicated in such cases. The legal father all the time considers the doubted child as an illegitimate child, as an unlawful, illegal offspring. The child whose father is unknown is called a bastard. The legal father in whose house this child was born does not have any choice. The father who has no biological connection with the child lives with the fact, with the horrible fact.

All the members of the family, the extended family, the small tribe, know the horrible fact that their future king and master could be a bastard, that their future head would be an illegal, an illegitimate son of his father. The bastard would be looked upon as the best of all young men in the community.

I should tell you that we do not have a lot of families in Timbuktu in which their heir, their future head and master is a child whose father is not known at all. The birth of a child to a family whose head has been well established to be sterile becomes an incident, an event that cannot be understood and explained. It remains a riddle in the annals of the community.

People in the family and in the neighborhood around the illegal and the illegitimate son would in the final analysis say that this is a miracle, a miracle that cannot be explained by simple words or by a simple human reasoning and intellect.

People around the bastard would gradually think that this child could not be but a master, a head of the family, or a king of the community. This is only an example of many cases of human conduct and destiny that are brought to the Council of Elders to be considered by the elders so as to pass a judgment, a sentence, and a verdict.

Sometimes cases such as I have already mentioned are resolved before they are brought to the Council of Elders to be looked at and judged. The annals of the history of our community contain a number of examples of such cases that are resolved before they could be judged by the Elders of the Council.

The people in Timbuktu are always sensitive to such incidents that are related to human conduct and the honor of the family and the community. People in Timbuktu are extremely sensitive to the misbehavior and to the encroachment and trespassing of traditions and good and honorable conduct specially on the part of the female members of the community. All female grown up members of the society should all abide by this sacred law of tradition and religious beliefs. Virginity is a must before marriage. It is only the husband who has the right to be the first and the last who penetrates his bride, his wife and the mother of his children.

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A girl in our community is supposed to keep her virginity till the first night of her marriage. I assure you, my dear Jawhara that it is not common that a female member in our society commits an act for which she would be probably sacrificed, killed, savagely and brutally and without any mercy, by her relatives, her brothers, her father or her uncles and probably any distant relative. The people of the Immortal City of Timbuktu abide and totally respect the inherited sacred traditions, and the religious beliefs and convictions of the community.

5) While Jawhara was looking at the screen of the mirror and listening to the talk of her forefather, the image stopped coming from the city of Timbuktu. The black old man disappeared from the mirror. The black woman got some kind of a shock because of the disappearance of the image of her forefather. She wished he continued talking to her even for long hours and every day.

From that evening on, the mirror in the bedroom of the black woman never showed again images of the black old man, her forefather, the Imam and the Mouazzen of the mosque of the neighborhood in Timbuktu.

For some days, either in the morning or in the evenings, Jawhara developed the habit of sitting in the chair placed in the middle of the room and she used to look at the mirror continuously hoping that her forefather would come out to her again on the screen of the mirror. At least for five or six days, the black woman has been sitting more in the morning and less so in the evening in the chair hoping that the black old man would appear and talk to her. But with no avail. The magic and the mysterious mirror lost its miraculous nature of showing the black man from the Immortal City of Timbuktu.

With the passing of days, the black wife of the farmer of the quarter was only thinking and rethinking of the strange ideas that were implicit in the talk of the black man. She made it a habit and a ceremonial tradition to sit in her chair, her preferred chair, and close her eyes and commence to recall what her forefather told her about the child born to a woman in the community of Timbuktu without knowing the father of the newly born child.

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

How could this happen? No doubt, she thought, that this phenomenon looked to be a miracle and a mystery to the members of the community but not to the mother of the miraculous child. The mother knew the real father who inseminated in her the liquid of life and immortality, the semen of living and vital sperms which made her fecundation possible.

Still in some few mornings or evenings, Jawhara was changing her position and her convictions, her beliefs and her opinions concerning this Miraculous Conception. Every evening and every morning while sitting in her chair carrying out some meditation and contemplation, the black woman was undergoing some basic changes inside her personal little world, her own world.

With the rising of the sun in the early morning or with its disappearance behind the horizon in the evening, the black woman was becoming more and more a woman who was overwhelmed by some kind of feeling of helplessness and a feeling of being deprived of her will and of her free choice.

Jawhara was in fact in a mental dilemma, in a predicament or, in a simple term, in a problem. She did not know exactly what was going to happen to her either this evening or tomorrow, or in the coming few days, weeks and months. Would there be some drastic change to take place to her or in her?

The black old man stopped appearing to her in the screen of the mirror and Jawhara was feeling as if she was abandoned and left all alone to face the unknown future. The time passed by several days, many days and all the residents of the farm-house noticed that the black and the most beautiful woman, was suffering from something mysterious which they could not identify or detect.

It was reported by the maids that the master of the house resumed having visits of love in the night to the bedroom of his beautiful black wife. At least, he visited the room of Jawhara once in a week or in a fortnight. Nobody knew the exact nature of the frequency of these visits to the room of the black wife. These night visits, of course, were not required by the wife. In such love making affairs women had no role to play at all in these days of the mid 19th Century. It was only the wish and the longing and the craving of the husband that was the determining factor in love making between the husband and his wife. It was already known that these frequent night visits did not give visible results on the visited wife. Every month and on a certain day for each woman blood flooded from the body of the black woman. This evidence of the sterility of the husband continued to be witnessed by one, two or all the three maids.

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The underwear of the wives of the farmer of the quarter showed the traces of blood and the small period napkins were also stained by the blood of the monthly period. The husband knew these facts and was continuously aware of them.

There was no need that someone should come to tell him that not a single wife was clean during a certain month. The wives did not care at all whether they were clean or not because already and for several years, they have been penetrated several times but they did not get pregnant during the several years of their married life.

6) The sister of the farmer, Helwa, who was still living in the farm-house of her brother and who was about to pass the age of twenty five years and who was so far prevented from marriage by her own brother, was also extremely inquisitive and curious regarding the question of pregnancy of the wives and the sterility of her brother.

Like all the other women of the farm-house, the wives, the concubines and the maids, Helwa was like others, very anxious to know something about the black woman. Helwa noticed that the black wife was manifesting a kind of behavior that was more or less different from that of the others. Unwillingly, Helwa, whenever she saw Jawhara passing, she had the habit of looking at the body of the woman, specially her belly.

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Helwa intensified her reading efforts for the main purpose of understanding more and more what was going on around her. Of course, there was not much to read in the scientific field and specially in the medical aspects of the human life.

It was the mid of the 19th Century, and this land, in which the events of this story took place, was part of the Ottoman Empire. Books were scarce and it was very rare to have books dealing with the social and the medical aspects of life.

Helwa kept in contact with Suha, the youngest wife of the farmer. Both of them talked so often about the various wives and concubines and specially the black wife. One day afternoon, and in the bedroom of Helwa, the two women, Helwa and Suha, talked to each other for more than two hours about many subjects and problems of daily life in the farm-house. Most of the time in such meetings was devoted to the curious and strange life of the black woman specially her life in recent weeks and since she stopped to have the mental evasions and the escapes.

Suha, whose room was adjacent to that of Jawhara said to Helwa, who was attentively listening to her:

It is very strange how the behavior of the black woman is undergoing some perceptible changes day after day as if she would be in the near future another person. I do not know what is happening to her. said Suha

You are right, perfectly right. This is also what the others in the farm-house are noticing. Nobody dares to ask her a single question concerning her problem, if she has any. She is left to herself. said Helwa, the sister of the farmer.

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Listen to me Helwa; between now and then I could hear some noise in her bedroom. I am realizing by now that somebody talks to her. It is very strange that the one who talks to her uses the same as our language but with some accent. I cannot explain to you why the foreign accent is dominant in the language used. How could this old man come to her bedroom every now and then and talk to her for quite a long time?

Is he her father, who comes to visit her secretly from the Valley of the Spirit, or what, Or does he come from somewhere else? Is he dead or alive, this father of hers? She never mentioned his name. Or is he one of her relatives? For me, this is really a riddle and a puzzle. said Suha, the fourth wife of the farmer of the quarter.

By now we certainly know that my brother has resumed his visits to her bedroom. I heard that he goes only to her bedroom while his visits to other wives are nowadays very limited. I wonder what he says about her to his other wives, to you, for example. At least he might have said something about Jawhara. said Helwa, the young sister of the farmer.

I saw him only once during the last fortnight, or maybe during the last twenty days. When he was with me he did not say anything about his black wife. Actually, he was somewhat drunk. He might have taken before visiting me some Arak, his preferred alcoholic drink. I think that he also keeps a secret concerning his black wife only to himself. Really I do not know what has been happening in the bedroom of Jawhara. Your brother has been witnessing unusual and mysterious events in the bedroom of his black wife but he refuses to say anything about it, not even a hint, a suggestion or an insinuation. I am sure that your brother is by now informed about the changes in behavior of his favored wife. said Suha.

Yellow Jar
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 is really a riddle. How my brother could be well informed about what is going on in the mind of his black wife? Are they both of them preparing the way for the declaration of a surprise? I am wondering what this event could be. I will try during the coming days to know something about this secret which we are supposing to be existing between my brother and his black wife. said Helwa, the sister of the farmer.

How could you know what is going on between your brother and his black wife, you rarely talk to him! How could you know what goes on in his mind and in his spirit? said Suha to her sister-in-law, Helwa.

This chat went on for a long time and the two young women, Suha and Helwa, could not arrive at some promising points on which both of them were in agreement. In fact, all the women in the farm-house were talking about the new warmed up relationship between the farmer and his wife, Jawhara.

All members in the family were talking about the repeated visits of the farmer to the bedroom of his black wife. The concubines were concerned about the matter as well as the maids. All of them in their private meetings and gatherings were talking about the farmer and his black wife and how the master of the house has almost forgotten that he had other wives.

7) Of course, the maids were the members of the family who were more concerned about this new kind of relationship between the husband and his black wife than the others. They were the ones who had the right of entering the bedroom of Jawhara at any time on the pretext of having some duties to do there.

The maids knew when the husband was with his wife so they used to avoid entering into the bedroom. Whenever the maids were inside the bedroom of Jawhara they could guess what was going on in the room. They had the skills of making the various kinds of pieces of furniture tell them what was going on in the room between the wife and her husband.

For some days, or probably, for some weeks, the maids became under the impression that Jawhara could have been pregnant. For some time, the maids were under the impression that in nine or in seven months time they would see an heir to the family's name, wealth and glory.

Nevertheless, in few days time, in few weeks time, the optimistic hope of the maids disappeared giving place to pessimism, despair and hopelessness when they saw traces of the blood of the monthly period on the underwear and on the white snow like sheets of the bed.

There was not a single sign, indication or trace that the black woman was pregnant. This conclusion arrived at by the maids was certain and unquestionable. As long as the black woman continued to have her monthly period there was no hope at all for her to get pregnant.

All the women of the farm-house noticed that whenever the farmer wanted to visit the black woman he used to lead a good and a virtuous life during that day. Good life meant that he stopped having alcoholic drinks on that day in which he was planning to visit his black wife in the evening. Whenever the farmer looked to be sober, solemn and calm, all the wives would have come to the conclusion that their husband at the end of the day would be in the bedroom of the black woman.

Of course, being solemn and sober was also an indication to the black woman that the farmer was planning to come to her bedroom, to sleep with her for the whole night. Nobody could find any explanation why the farmer had to be sober except when he had the intention to have a love-making night with Jawhara. There were some days when the farmer was drunk or extremely drunk. In these days any other wife expected that the farmer might visit her with the exception of the black woman.

8) In those days in which all the members of the family of the farm-house were expecting some strange event to happen, the daily life of the three agricultural laborers did not change at all. They had their normal daily life in the same way as they used to do before. They carried out their duties in the farm in a perfect way. Their main aim in life was to get the satisfaction, the contentment and the blessing of the master of the farm. They knew that all the good life which they were enjoying was mainly dependent on the good will of the farmer and his prosperity.

Of course, the three laborers did whatever they wanted during their spare and rest time. They utilized their evenings and nights in accordance with their needs, whims, fancies and caprices.

As for the wives of the agricultural laborers they had one main objective, the service of their husbands and the continuous devotion of their time to ensure the well being of their children. Although they knew all the activities of their husbands outside the home, yet they behaved as if they knew nothing of these activities.

The master of the farm continued to visit, between now and then, the families of the three laborers in the presence of the husbands, the laborers. As expected, the farmer was more interested to see the small children of the three laborers. He used to be amazed to see how they were growing in a marvelous way.

In summary, the farm of the farmer, including his plantations and the poultry sheds as well as the outhouses and the shacks were all functioning very well and were well managed and administered.

It could be said that the farmer of the quarter was all the time in prosperity and progress. He could carry out successful business with merchants coming from outside the community who had the tradition of coming to his well known farm in the region to buy whatever products ready to be sold to anybody willing to buy them.

9) His community, that of the farmer, this small community, was at the mid of the 19th Century a part of the important Ottoman Empire that was the dominating power in the world since seven or eight centuries. The farmer paid to the local authorities all types of taxes required from him.

Most people of the community spoke the language of the rulers, the Turkish language, but yet all people of the community spoke in their daily life their mother tongue, Arabic. This sacred language was used in the five daily prayers as well as in the reading of the Holy Book, the Quran.

The farmer of the quarter, from time to time, had the habit of meeting the young and middle aged men who were coming back from their military service in the Ottoman Army. The farmer so often, and more so in the coffee shops of the local quarters, had the habit of meeting these conscripts who had just come back from battles that have been taking place mostly in Eastern Europe, and more so in the Balkan region as well as in the Southern and the Western frontier regions of Russia.

It was said to the farmer by the home coming soldiers, conscripts, that the Turks have been in a continuous manner and for more than seven or eight centuries, since the 12th Century in wars and fighting against several empires. Russian, Austrian, German, English and French Empires were engaged in continuous wars and battles with the ever resisting Turkish Army

The farmer of the quarter knew very well that his local community was a small part of a big Empire, that of the Ottomans, the Turks. He knew that his market was very large and in continuous demand for his products, the agricultural and the live-stock production. He knew that for his farm to continue prospering he had to have an heir, a son who would inherit his farm, his kingdom. He was in need of an heir for his kingdom, for his plantations and for his big agro-commercial enterprises and establishment.

He argued with himself so often that if he remained to be without an heir, then his cousins and their posterity would come to his domain and claim the possession not only of his land, livestock, merchandise and workshops but also of all his wives and his sister. What a dim and a miserable future he would have if he remained with no posterity.

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So the farmer of the quarter noticed that his black wife had something to tell him. This was what he had remarked in the eyes of his wife. What a wonder? What a wonder when the farmer fixed his eyes in those of his black wife!!! What a rich world he has seen in the depth of these black eyes of his beautiful and charming woman!

The eyes of this woman reflected to him an illuminated world rich with an abundance of twinkling stars, a shining smiling moon and an ever glowing milky way.

The eyes of the black woman gave signs and indications for a forthcoming posterity that would fill his small world with children and grandchildren. The eyes of his black wife gave hope and inspired confidence and victory.

Every time the farmer left the bedroom of his black wife he saw in front of him a new world being born full of hope and happiness, full of prosperity and abundance.

10) There came a time, when the master of the farm, in a morning of a cold and stormy day, was feeling tired and exhausted.

Nobody was still in the bedroom. The farmer was all alone in his spacious and nicely decorated metallic bed. The room was deserted and the farmer looked around him and he wished that a maid would be seen at that moment in the bedroom. Contrary to what was the general rule, the maid, taking care of his room, was late on that day. She was supposed to have already come to the room carrying with her the tray of the morning coffee.

Anyhow, the bedroom of the master of the farm was completely deserted except of his own presence. In reality, he was sick and probably he had a fever, a high and a dangerous fever.

With difficulty the farmer tried to call the eldest maid by her name, Mariam, who should rush to him so as to help him in his dilemma, in his being sick. He could hardly get down of his bed.

In few instants, the old maid was present in his room, who was completely astounded to see her master bed ridden and could hardly raise his hand or even utter a single word. How strange!!? The master of the house was in a very sever shock to see himself sick and completely indisposed and even paralyzed.

House in Clouds 1
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Mariam, the old maid, after opening the door, rushed to the bedside of her master. His eyes were closed and he was perspiring abundantly and was shivering and trembling enormously. The maid could not offer the morning coffee to her master who was not in a position to carry the cup and to swallow the refreshing coffee.

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Instead of coffee, the sick man was in need of immediate medical treatment. The coffee tray was put on the low table of the bed. The farmer was offered a glass of water which was refused by a small gesture that was made by the eyes and a very low and a hushed down voice. The glass of water was placed again on the tray and the sick man was still shivering and perspiring.

The bedroom was gradually filled with most of the wives of the farmer, his concubines his sister and the other two maids. The black wife was not there in the bedroom and all of those who were present noticed her absence. All of those present in the room wondered why the black woman did not come. Was she aware of the fact that the master of the house was sick?

Nobody in the bedroom remembered when the farmer in the past was sick. How could such a healthy and a rigorous man who was still in his forties fall sick, and about to die?!! What could be done in such a dangerous situation?

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It was suggested that the sorceress could be invited and consulted. She could suggest something that could be done to the sick man. Or, as another solution, another old woman, the famous Um Ali could be invited to suggest any kind of traditional medicine.

Um Ali has been known for her skills to help sick persons to recover from their illness. She had a list of medical herbs to be boiled in water. In addition, she would offer an amulet to the sick person that could defeat evil which might have struck the farmer.

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

Actually, Um Ali, with further examination of the sick man, who was trembling and perspiring, said to all those present in the room, "this man, the farmer of the quarter, is bewitched. This man is not physically sick. His spirit has been struck by the Eye of Evil, even by the Devil himself. Where is the black woman? Find her for me and at once and without delay." said the magician Um Ali.

All at once, everybody in the bedroom looked around and around, looking for the black woman. It was obvious for all that Jawaharlal was not there in the room. She could not have hidden herself somewhere in the bedroom. Also she was not seen at all coming with the other women of the farmer.

Suha, the fourth wife said that she passed by the bedroom of the black woman but she was not there. The room was vacant and well arranged as if nobody slept in the room the previous night. Why was Jawaharlal absent from her room? When has she gone out, left her bedroom?

Another woman said that the black woman could not be found anywhere in the farm-house. The absence of Jawaharlal from the house was not forgotten while the attention was fully given to the critical health condition of the sick man who was persistently shivering and perspiring. The women of the farmer standing around him were becoming very worried regarding their future in the farm-house. If he died they would be living as widows under the control and the authority of one of the cousins of the farmer.

Um Ali prepared a drink of herbs to be taken by the patient. But before giving the glass of medicine to the sick man, Um Ali uttered a lot of words while she was carrying the glass. Again and again, Um Ali repeated her magical words on the glass of the medical herbs. At last the magician gave the glass to one of the women so as she would give it to her husband when necessary.

The farmer drank the herbs drink with the help of one of his wives. All at once and instantly, the farmer opened his eyes and he was surprised to see all the members of his family assembled in his bedroom. He asked himself "what is happening here? Explain to me at once." All of these present kept silent and no one could utter a single word.

How could anybody dare and tell him that he was almost unconscious or, in other words, about to die had it not been for the immediate help of the blessed magician, Um Ali?

Gradually, the sick man regained all of his power, consciousness and his mental abilities. Perspiration has completely stopped and all eyes were fixed on Um Ali just as a way, a gesture, and an attempt to thank her for having saved their husband. All of them were under the impression that they were about to be widows. Their husband was a victim of the evil eyes of the sorceress of the quarter or of somebody else.

11) Where was Jawaharlal in that stormy morning in which the husband fell sick in his bedroom? No trace could be found for the black woman. All evidence indicated that she did not sleep in her bedroom during that night because there was no evidence in the room that she was there. At least, the bed gave a full and undisputed proof that she was not sleeping there.

Then, where was she? Where did she disappear? The most worried was Suha, the youngest wife, who was to Jawaharlal a close friend and she was accustomed to see her practically every day either in the morning or in the afternoon or in the evening. Occasionally they played the lute together either in her room or in the room of the black woman.

The disappearance of Jawaharlal was a shock and a surprise to the maids. The black wife was to them the symbol of human beauty and charm. Where was she hiding herself? Everyone in the farm-house was searching for the black wife. The maids, the wives, the concubines and the sister of the farmer were looking for her everywhere.

One of the maids suggested to Suha and Helwa "it would be useful to go outside of the house and look for the black wife in the small houses of the three agricultural laborers." This suggestion made by the maids was welcomed by both, Helwa and Suha.

It was still before noon time and all the men of the farm-house were there in the field doing their manual work. Of course, the farmer of the quarter was still bed ridden in his bedroom. He was recovering after the successful and the blessed visit of the magician, Um Ali. Therefore, both young women did not find any objection to pay a visit to the house of the young laborers.

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There was some difficulty for both women to be in the house of the three laborers. Before undertaking this visit they thought it would be wise to tell the three maids about their intention to visit the young laborer's houses. The two young women left hurriedly to the neighboring three small houses. The three wives of the laborers were in their houses. Each one of them was fully busy in her daily house work. Some children of the three houses were running around and some of them were playing either in the courtyard or inside the house. Without asking the three wives anything, it was obvious that Jawaharlal was not there. She was nowhere.

Besides, she could not have been hidden somewhere in the three houses. It was not possible for the two young women, Hilwa and Suha, to move freely in any of the three houses in the search for the black woman. Suha asked each of the three wives whether the black woman was somewhere in their houses.

The two young women left the houses of the three laborers and went back to the farm-house. On their arrival there they were asked by the others if they found anything relevant there. Of course, they said that they came back with no evidence indicating that the black woman was there. All were disappointed to know that Jawhara was not there.

At that point, it was agreed that Jawhara was nowhere either in the house or in the neighborhood. Where was she? Probably she escaped from the farm-house. Maybe, she went back to the valley of the Spirit, to her family's home on the East Bank of the Holy River. But why should she escape from the farm-house? She was all the time the preferred wife. The farmer was undoubtedly convinced that Jawhara was the most beautiful not only in the farm-house but also everywhere else. She enjoyed so many privileges which all the other women of the house did not enjoy. Then why did she escape? Where was she hiding?

Jawhara persisted to be absent for several days during which the farmer sent one of the three young laborers to the Valley of the Spirit to see whether their daughter and at the same time his wife was there amongst them. The father and the mother of Jawhara were stunned and amazed to know of the disappearance of their daughter.

The parents of Jawhara could not be of any help to the messenger. They did not know where their daughter was at that particular moment. Nevertheless, the parents of the blessed black woman were talking about the strange events that used to take place to their daughter. They mentioned to the young laborer, the messenger of the farmer, how this daughter, when she was living amongst them, used to hear strange calls coming to her from afar behind the horizon. The call was heard from time to time coming from a very near distance as if the source of the call was coming from behind a tree that was standing just in front of the little girl. In summary, the messenger came back to the farm-house and conveyed his findings to the farmer his master.

On the next day, the riddle of the disappearance of Jawhara was not resolved. The farmer of the quarter sent some of his men to the community so as to explore the possibility of an escapade of his black wife. Unfortunately, the farmer, the tortured husband, did not get any positive indication that his black wife was somewhere in the community.

On the third day Jawhara continued to be absent and the husband was about to lose his mind, to become a fool. On that day the husband stayed in the farm-house and he was determined not to go to work, neither to his shops and workshops nor to his plantations and the poultry and the livestock sheds.

Last Wish
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 image of his charming black wife stuck in his mind and in his spirit. Wherever he went he was chased by the image of his wife, the black woman whom he adored more than anybody else.

Blue Heaven
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 disappearance of the black wife had another story to be told. At night before her husband fell ill, Jawhara was in her bed preparing herself to sleep for the whole night without dreams or nightmares. It was a cold evening in which she put herself in bed with the intention to sleep without worries or irritation.

12) The window of the bedroom of Jawhara was being touched gently with a drizzle of soft and dancing rain fall. The owl in the neighboring tree was watching carefully and with interest what was taking place in the bedroom of the black woman.

The owl, with its round eyes, could see and foresee things and events that have been taking place in the near or in the far future. At that particular moment, the owl was concentrating its thinking and its sight on what was there inside the bedroom.

Jar by 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

Perhaps, an event of an extraordinary nature would take place in the room. The falling rain became heavier and heavier with the passing of time. There was lightening and there were thunders and more and more waves of rain. It became a little bit difficult for the owl to see what has been taking place in the bedroom of the black woman.

The only thing the owl could see was that the room was filled with a lot of light as if there was in the room a small cloud made out of shining, glowing, sparkling and twinkling light.

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The owl of the farm has been accustomed to witness a number of supernatural phenomena and events in the past few years and during his long rich life that have been taking place either of earth or up there in heavens.

Yet like this phenomenon, this event, which the owl was witnessing at that particular moment, could not have been seen in the past either by the owl or anybody else.

Was it a flying carpet of light and illumination or a cloud of light which in a wink of an eye could completely appear and disappear in the surrounding space? The owl was totally stunned and amazed and it was about to lose its consciousness. The owl looked around to see whether there was anybody else who was witnessing the miraculous phenomenon. Nobody was there who could see the flying cloud of light with the exception of the owl himself.

The owl was really confused because of the appearance of the cloud of light and illumination in the room of the black wife. The owl was wondering whether the thing it has been seeing in and around the room was simply a very natural and normal event which has been repeating itself every year and at this time of the year, in winter's season.

Was what the black owl has been witnessing a lightening? Was the strange noise which it has been hearing that of thunder that comes immediately after the passing of the illumination of lightening?

The owl was at that moment in confusion. It could not decide what the nature of the phenomenon that it has been seeing recently in and around the bedroom of the black woman was. Anyhow, and for others in the farm-house, Jawhara was lost and no trace could be found for her either in the house or the quarter or in the community at large.

All at once, and in the morning of the fourth day of her disappearance, Jawhara discovered herself in her bedroom. For complete three days she faded away from her daily life in the farm-house. For a moment, the black woman was under the impression that she was sleeping in her bedroom for the last three days.

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But where was she in the previous three days? In her case, she was sure, by that time that she did not sleep in her bed for the last three days. But where was she? She could not give an answer. She was not sure where she was although she was feeling that she was somewhere in the community or even in a place very far from the East Bank of the Valley of the Spirit, very far from the place where she was living, from the farm-house.

The black woman could not continue her imagination and her contemplation because the door of the bedroom was opened and her maid was there standing in the threshold of the door carrying in her hand the morning coffee tray. The maid was smiling and looking at the woman who was still lying in her bed. The woman was also smiling to the maid who was about to enter.

O!! My dear lady, my lady, where have you been absent, or hiding for the last few days, I think since three days? Every day I have the habit, and the duty, of coming here in the morning to see whether you are in bed. It is only this morning that I see you in bed since three days.

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I just came here few minutes ago and I saw you sleeping. Our master, your husband, who was so sick for some days, got worried because of your absence or your disappearance. Where have you been hiding for the last three days? They have been looking for you everywhere in the farm-house, in the quarter and in the community at large.

Takeoff 8
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Even a messenger was sent to your family in the Valley of the Spirit just to see whether you were there or whether your family knew where you were. At last they reached to the conclusion that you were nowhere and that it was a waste of time and effort to search for you anywhere in the whole world. But here I see you all at once in your bed. However, your absence and disappearance have to be explained. Nobody would be satisfied by looking at you lying in your bed. They need some explanation otherwise they would think that you are a witch or bewitched and not an ordinary human being. Prepare yourself to confront others and to tell them the reality concerning your disappearance. said the maid to Jawhara,

Jawhara, the black wife kept silent and taciturn. In fact, she did not want to tell the maid anything. She was extremely hesitant to provide the maid with any explanation for her absence for about three days.

The exceedingly astonished and amazed maid could not stay any longer in the room because Jawhara was not intending at all to speak to the maid about her disappearance. The maid was obliged to withdraw from the bedroom leaving the black woman all alone with herself only.

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

While the stunned and the astonished maid was walking in the corridor in her way to the kitchen she met in that place with the fourth wife who was in her way to the kitchen. Both women stopped at a certain point in the corridor as if they were to meet there on the basis of a previous arrangement, rendezvous.

Suha knew that the maid had something to tell, perhaps, a surprise, a marvelous surprise. So they, the two women, stopped voluntarily facing each other. Of course, the maid took the initiative and she explained to the fourth wife all what has happened this morning in the bedroom of the black woman.

The maid thought that events were taking place and would be taking place in a quick and fast manner. Therefore, time was the most precious and valuable element in the whole affair. Nevertheless, the maid did not know the nature of the forthcoming important events. Certainly, the fact that Jawhara has reappeared after a disappearance of three days, was an important event which all members of the farm-house would like to know. No doubt, and even certainly, Suha would like to know something of the appearance of the black woman.

Even rumors that were circulating since yesterday evening said that Jawhara was killed assassinated somewhere in the neighborhood of the farm. Several persons said yesterday that they themselves saw the black woman being killed savagely and brutally after she has been raped by three men. Several of the witnesses said that they saw the corpse of the black woman, brutally mutilated, disfigured and maimed, thrown in a deep and isolated ditch outside the square. Witnesses said that five or six men were filling the grave of the massacred black woman by the earth.

Was Jawhara really killed? If she had been killed then she could not have been alive. If she had been seen alive then for sure she would have been resuscitated, she would have been resurrected.

To the maid, the situation was in its very critical stage. Nobody could deal with it all alone. A group of the members of the family of the farm-house should be in charge of the affair of the disappearance and the appearance of the black woman, Jawhara.

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The maid was absolutely convinced that Jawhara was not killed and therefore she could not have been resuscitated. Jawhara was there in her bedroom and she was sipping her morning coffee. The maid woke up from her contemplative confusion and strange fancy and realized that Suha was standing in front of her and that she was waiting some news, some reaction from the maid.

She is there in her bedroom taking her morning coffee. said the maid to Suha.

What did she tell you about her absence? I mean her disappearance for three days, not only from the farm-house but also from the quarter and from the total community …even from the whole universe? asked the fourth wife, Suha.

She said nothing, nothing. After I gave her the coffee she asked me to leave the bedroom at once as if my absence was an absolute necessity. Of course, I had no choice. I had to leave the bedroom. So I am here in front of you. Maybe she accepts your visit. I think she is fully aware of her actual situation. She knows that she was absent for three full days. Where did she go? What did she do in her escapade? said the maid to Suha. The maid went to the kitchen and Suha to her bedroom.

In the bedroom of Jawhara everything was normal. She dressed herself, preparing herself to begin her daily activities in the farm-house. She decided absolutely not to tell anybody about her escapade, her disappearance for three days. Where did she go? Jawhara preferred to keep the secret of her disappearance to herself and only to herself.

13) At the same time, the news of the sudden and unannounced appearance of the black woman in the farm-house spread out all over the place like a wind that could penetrate everywhere and anywhere.

The master of the house was recovering from his sickness in his bedroom. He was not intending to go for work. When he heard that the black woman was there in her bedroom he smiled and he smiled and he repeated saying to himself, "I was sure she would come back, I was sure she would come back."

Then the husband left his bed and went to the window to explore the weather condition outside the house. It was cold and raining and even there were indications that it was about to snow. In a short time, the whole landscape could be covered by a layer of the white snow which would last for only one or two days.

Anyhow, at that time, it was only raining. The moment the farmer saw the rain he wondered where the black wife could have been hiding during the last three days. The master of the house was wondering where his black wife could have hidden herself in this rainy and cold weather.

All the other wives of the master also were excited to hear about the return and the appearance of the black woman. None of them had the courage to think about the matter and pay a visit to the room of the woman who disappeared for three consecutive days. All were under the impression that there had happened a strange and a mysterious event in the farm-house.

The maids were the only members of the family who knew something about the enigmatic, puzzling and incomprehensible event. The maid who visited the bedroom of the escapee told the other two maids all she knew about the event and all she saw in the bedroom of the heroine of the fantastic story that was dominating the atmosphere of the big farm-house. The three old and clever maids had the intention to repeat the visits to the room of the black and enchanting wife so as to know more about the secrets of the strange and the fantastic event.

The three laborers and their families who were living nearby the farm-house knew everything about the mysterious event that took place in the house of the family. Of course, their houses were searched so as to be sure that the escapee was not there hiding or hidden in their residences.

The three young laborers were not very concerned with the mysterious event. Everyone of them was only smiling, only smiling. They could not talk about it, about the abnormal incident. They thought that they were not really concerned. How could they dare to hide one of the four wives of the master of the house? The master never thought that these young laborers could have established any relation of whatever nature, with any of his women, including the concubines.

The wives of the three young laborers were in reality worried about the destiny of the black wife of the farmer of the quarter. They were afraid that the disappearing wife was killed, attacked, assassinated. So now, with the appearance of the escapee, the wives of the laborers were relieved of the torture of their worries. These young wives, mothers of many children, were sure that their young husbands were absolutely innocent and had nothing, whatsoever, to do with the scandalous event that shook the whole farm since three days.

Yellow Jar
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 three young laborers were of the opinion that some small but serious events regarding the black woman have taken place which gave enough indication that something of importance and gravity would take place to the favored wife of the master. The laborers were continuously aware and informed of what has been happening in the farm-house by the way of the occasional visits of each of the three maids to the three houses of the agricultural laborers.

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