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The Night of Shame

Najati Al-Bukhari

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

Thus Spoke Rajab

"This is the story of my father, the master of the family and the unchallenged head of our home. Certainly, this would not be my story, I Rajab, because I am still a small boy of eleven years old. It is only by chance, by accident that destiny made me born in this large and rich family which is well known in the quarter and in the community to be living in a luxurious and easy life."

es/ Another Pot On Another Tabletop
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© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

Listen to me, Amin, in reality, and frankly speaking, I would have preferred to have been born in another poor and humble family, to have been a member of a deprived family.

My actual family is composed of several women who are the wives of my father. The number of the legal wives of my father is not important. In addition to these wives of whom one is my mother, my father has a number of black and blond concubines. Their number is also of no importance at all. On any day of the year, my father could add one or more concubines and another day he could dispense with one or two concubines.

In addition to the wives and concubines our house is also the home for some sisters of my father, my aunts, who are all young and beautiful. Also our house is the home of several nieces some of whom are blond and some others are with dark brown complexion. Our house is the home of many children of various ages, in addition to a big number of maid servants.

Amongst all of these ordinary members of the family there is only one dominating member, person, on the whole family. This person is my father. He is the chief of this small tribe.

Every year new members join this family for the first time. These are the newly born children. Equally, and this is the general and absolute rule in my family and in our life, several members of the family disappear from the life of the family, from the daily life of the family.

Children, adolescents and adults, disappear from the life of the family because, in most cases, of death, or because of marriage of some of my sisters and brothers.

All the sons and daughters of my father who get married must in the final analysis leave the family residence and establish themselves outside the family's home so as to start a new and independent life.

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My life within this large family, this small tribe, was going on normally and in a very systematic way till the age of six years or a little bit more than that. My life inside and outside the house was not affected by any abnormal incidents or events. I could not at all observe any abnormal developments or events in the daily life inside the big and beautiful house.

I was treated on equal footing with all the other children of the family who were in most cases a little bit older or a little bit younger than me. We, the small children of the family, boys and girls, used to play and amuse ourselves daily and innocently inside the house, in the salons, in the various corridors and in the courtyard surrounding the house, or a little bit far from the house, nearby the small stream, the brook of the quarter or even the square of the quarter.

In most cases, children had their meals either in company with our respective mothers, or all alone, and sometimes in company of some maid servants. Our main meal was that of midday, the lunch meal, as it is the tradition in our community, and not supper, the evening meal. Sometimes, our grown up sisters or some concubines used to control our meals specially those of midday.

Because of the richness of my family and its social standing in the community or even beyond that, we, the children of the family, did not miss any kind of food. The price of anything was not a barrier, an obstacle an impediment to make available any sort of nutrition and food. In this respect our father is extremely generous. Always, in our house, we have in abundance any kind of food, any kind of nourishment.

Several times in a week, we, the small boys and girls of the family, are offered a huge plate full of rice and meat cooked with yogurt. We eat after each meal of lunch all kinds of fruits of the season especially oranges, grapes and apples. Watermelon is liked by all of us.

Naturally, we, in taking our lunch, use the spoons for feeding ourselves. Sometimes, we use our fingers and hands to serve ourselves the cooked hot rice and meat with the aid of a piece of bread. Therefore, it is the tradition that after the end of the meal each of us, the small children, should wash our hands under the control, guidance and observation of some adult members of the family.

The adolescents amongst my sisters and brothers have the habit of taking their meals, lunch and dinner in another salon. But after a certain age, perhaps fifteen years, the young girls are separated from the young boys in the time of meals. I could not explain the justification for the application of the rule in our family. That is, the separation of the members of the family according to sex in the time of taking a meal.

Before the age of seven years, the night did represent for me anything of importance. The night for me, was a neutral factor and had no existence completely separate from my life. I thought, and without any doubt that the night is utilized by all people of all ages, children and adults and even by animals for sleeping only and nothing else.

es/ Takeoff C
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© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

The night was for me the time to take rest, to repose, to do nothing at all with the exception of dreaming and sometimes to have nightmares, When I was very young, just a child, I thought that all the members of the family utilized the night in the same way as I did. It was normal on my part to think that all adults, like us, the children, slept all the night from sunset to sunrise.

Each of us, the small boys and girls, knew where we should go after we take our supper. As a general rule, all the children of my age, and we are always the majority in the house, must go towards the section, the wings, allotted to our mothers where some of us have their bedrooms.

In my case, I always, after the end of the evening meal, go directly and without any delay or hesitation to the bedroom of my mother to stay with her for some time. My mother always, stayed in her bedroom waiting for us, her children, the three boys and the one girl. I and two younger brothers, Chaban and Ramadan, used to sleep in this early age together in the same bedroom next to my mother's bedroom. The three of us, the boys, have to share the same metallic white colored bed.

The night and its black and obscure darkness, for me, and just till the age of six or seven years was nothing but the time for me to enjoy sleeping in tranquility, in peace and nice and joyful dreams. I was under the impression that all the members of the family usually sleep all the long night, from the time they start sleeping at the beginning of the night till the early morning or sunrise.

es/ After The Battle
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© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

I, with Chaban and Ramadan, the three sons of my mother, and I think this is the case of the other boys of the same age like us, had the habit to sleep continuously and without interruption all the night. I could remember that from time to time, my mother had to come to our room, in some nights, especially in winter nights, to see if everything was all right in the room.

In the morning, and in one way or another, every small boy and girl takes the morning meal, the breakfast. This meal is a must and nobody, no boy or girl, could escape it, with the exception in the case of illness. For breakfast a lot and a variety of food is offered for all children of the family. Above all, bread, prepared in the house and the tea are made available for all small boys and girls. In addition to tea and bread, breakfast consist also of white cheese, olives, both green and black, and the wild herb of mint called Zaatar, eaten with bread and olive oil. Sometimes, Labneh is offered for the boys and girls, which is in fact yogurt with most of its water squeezed out of it.

After breakfast, life in the house goes on in a very peaceful way. Most of the time we play and we amuse ourselves. Sometimes, we sit in a form circle around a maid-servant, or a concubine, or one of the mothers for listening to the marvelous stories and fairy tales taken from treasures of our folkloric patrimony specially the stories of 'One Thousand and One Night'. We like to listen to the stories of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and that of Aladdin and Sindibad the Sailor.

The arrival of our father to the house, mostly at noon for taking midday meal and in the evening at the end of the working day, signals the beginning of the absolute domination of order and of discipline in all the parts, the wings and the sections of the big house. Only one single look from the eyes of my father is sufficient to impose law and order and silence in all parts of the house.

Every member of the family, wives, concubines, maids and all the children without any exception know very well what he has to do and how he should behave and react in order to satisfy the exigencies of behavior and good conduct imposed by the master of the house, my father.

Before the coming of the time of dinner of my father, all the children, including the small boys and girls, must be already sleeping in their respective bedrooms without making any noise. Avery low and simple cough on the part of my father when he moves from here and there in the house is absolutely enough to make everybody keep silent and start instantaneously sleeping.

The punishment for not behaving well in accordance with traditions and customs is severe, hard and harsh. The child accused of not obeying the rules and regulations is normally sequestered, confined in a room without windows for some days. This room as far as I can remember is not used except in very rare cases, three or four times in a year. The fact that the black room exists in the big house, the magnificent palace, is sufficient for terrifying all the children and for making discipline and order dominating in the whole house as it is understood, imagined and practiced by the head of the family, my father, and the master of all the members of the family.

es/ After The Rehab
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© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

The departure of my father from the house early in the morning signals the end of fear and fright and the absence of the tyrant of the family and the absence of his authority and his order and strict disciplines.

Most often my father returns from his work at noon for having his lunch in the house. This unannounced return of my father to the house could not be known in advance at all. For this reason all the members of the family live in a world of uncertainty and of torment in thinking that the father, the master, might be in the house at any moment.

However, and as a general rule, somebody would carry the necessary food, the required food, for my father to his main central shop. Sometimes, my father has the habit to visit some of his neighbors and his close friends. In our residence a special salon, more or less isolated from the other parts of the house, is frequently used to receive the visitors and the guests of my father. In general, this salon is rarely used for the purpose for which it was established. For most of the time, this isolated salon remains empty and deserted especially during the months of the winter season. This salon is more used during the months of the summer and the spring seasons and is almost closed during winter.

With the passing of time, which has been running quickly, hurriedly, hastily and precipitately, I was also growing in age and experience. I am in an age in which everything looks to me differently than it used to be in the past. My outlook to others, to my sisters, to my mother, to the wives and concubines of my father has undergone a lot of change. I can notice that these female members of the family have been undergoing not only mental and moral change but also physical.

Little by little my eyes start to see people and events differently than I used to see them before. Since I passed the age of eight years, since two years, I have made many discoveries inside of our home, our palace, inside our bedrooms, inside the corridors and the narrow passages and even in the garden of our house, in the courtyards.

es/ Seaside Serenity
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© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

Life in the big house, the fortress of my father, has stopped to be the same as it was in the past, in the days of my early childhood. Life changes with the passing of time. Adding more years to my age and life meant adding more and more experiences. Consequently, this makes me see the world around me differently.

I began to witness drastic changes in this life, our life, the life of our family. The environment in which I live has presented itself to me in a different condition, in a different perspective.

Perhaps, by my mental, intellectual and physical growth I am able to see life, our life in the house, in its actual situation and dimension. Thick and black veils have been hiding the reality in the house from my own eyes, from my vision, from my monitoring small eyes.

The veils, with the passing of time, have disappeared. The night was no more a dead and an obscure world, a world without life. The night is no more a world where normally, and as a general rule, all human beings as well as the animals are all fast asleep.

I have discovered that each adult member of the family had been hiding his face behind a mask. Nevertheless, the thickest and the darkest mask in our house, in our family, is that which my father puts on his face. My father's mask totally hides the reality of his personality during the daytime. At night, I think my father takes off the mask behind which he hides his face and all his personality during daytime.

I have discovered at last that the night signaled to my father the beginning of a different type of life from that of the daytime. Actually my father, more or less metamorphoses mysteriously into a ferocious, inhuman and a savage monster, or a devil, or the Devil.

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One night, when I was at the age of eight years, I got up from a deep sleep so as to have a drink of some water in the kitchen which was not very far from my bedroom. Actually, I was very thirsty; I had a horrible and a torturing thirst. I could not remember that I have ever been thirsty like this in the past.

In the past, and in such a case of extreme thirst and the need to drink water, my mother was always ready to help us to have as much water as we needed.

At the age of eight years, and for the first time in my life, I went out of my room in my way to the kitchen. I wanted to have water there so as to overcome my torturing thirst. At that time, I thought that it was extremely hot. Of course, this hot day was normal and expected because it was summer season. Each member of our family, because of the hot weather, was dressed with very light outfits.

In my case, I was dressed up with a light white long robe. Besides, it was difficult for me to go to the main kitchen which was at that time deserted, empty. Nobody was there; I noticed that the two windows of the kitchen were wide open.

As much as I can remember I did not produce any noise, whatever low it might have been, because really I was walking prudently, carefully and slowly on the tips of my feet. The moment I went out of the kitchen I saw a man who was almost, nearly, naked and who was moving from one place to another like a big, a huge phantom in the corridors and the salons of the house. Of course, in seeing this strange and abhorring scene in front of me, I instantly hid myself in the kitchen in such a way that permitted me to see and witness very easily and clearly what was happening in front of me in the darkness of the obscurity of the night.

As soon as I walked a little bit forwards, I told myself that this mysterious and esoteric phantom cannot be but my father. The phantom that was completely naked went to the kitchen. The phantom, my father, could not have seen me because actually I was squatting in a dark and somber corner of the Kitchen.

As a child of eight years, as a small boy, I could not see in the nocturnal walk of my father in the middle of the night except an ordinary and a normal behavior. A little bit later on, I saw my naked father for a second time. I was completely shocked, upset and disturbed to see that my father has entered the bedroom of my blond aunt, my father's sister, Samar, who was a charming beauty and an attractive woman who was of only nineteen years old but who was for sure older than that.

As a child, or more precisely as a small boy, I thought that it was normal for my father to visit the bedroom of his blond sister even at midnight. After I have witnessed this mysterious event, this enigmatic incident, I have immediately rushed, hastily, to my room for resuming again my sleep. My two brothers, Ramadan and Chaban, were fast asleep in our spacious bed.

Of course, I did not want to wait the coming out of my father from the room of his sister, my aunt Samar. I could not know for how long my father would stay in the bedroom of my aunt.

The night for me was almost without sleep. Actually, I could not sleep at all. My eyes remained open. The dark and the gloomy picture, image, of my father, who was almost naked, presented itself to me throughout the night. After a lot of difficulties and suffering I slept for sometime before I finally awoke in the morning with the sunrise.

This important and mysterious event that took place during the preceding night looked to me like a horrible and a terrifying nightmare, a dreadful and an unforgettable dream. However, I have taken an important and a decisive decision. I definitely determined not to tell this incident whose hero was my father, to anybody at all. Even I decided to keep this incident a secret as far as my mother was concerned.

During the first few hours of the morning I saw by chance, in a corridor, my aunt, Samar who was visited by my father last night. Her face was more or less covered by a grimace, a frown, a sneer. I thought that her face did not give the impression that she was moderately happy or satisfied.

On the contrary, after intensive observation of my aunt, specially her face, I came to the conclusion that my young aunt, Samar, was suffering from some kind of sadness and melancholy, remorse, regret, penitence, guilt or may be some sort of a feeling of repentance and shame.

In my age I could not understand exactly the intricacies and the complications of the system of the married life. I also could not understand and comprehend the details of our laws, our traditions and our customs regarding family life in general. I am still too young for all of that.

Since this scandalous anecdote of my aunt Samar and my father, I became more or less interested in getting up during the night for giving myself the rare chance of witnessing once again the phantom of the night. However, not like the first night incident, which I have witnessed just by chance, this coming attempt, venture, should not be left to the mercy of chance but should be based on a plan of observation and surveillance to be carried out and executed by myself.

After I got up from my sleep at midnight I went to a certain corner for hiding myself and for waiting the nocturnal events and incidents to take place.

Not like the other night, nothing has happened or has taken place after a long time of waiting, at least for one hour. Nobody has come out from any door, from any bedroom. Nobody came to the main kitchen of the house and nobody walked leisurely in the corridors or in the dark passages of our big house.

Therefore, for the last one week I have stopped all my activities of surveillance, observation and monitoring during the night. Still my mother never noticed or observed that I, Rajab, was a witness of an act of incest, or a crime which was considered by our traditions an unpardonable crime.

Two long weeks have passed by since my first witnessing of my naked father. During these two weeks I stayed most of the time in the house avoiding going out of our home. I wanted to be near to my mother most of the time. Indeed, sometimes, during these two weeks, I thought of going out to your house to see you, Amin and to talk to you. But I could not do that. I preferred to be isolated from contacts with any of my boyfriends. Most of the time, I played with my two young brothers, Ramadan and Chaban, besides having the pleasure of seeing my mother.

At that night, I woke up somewhat a little bit before the arrival of the dawn, the day break. I went immediately to my hiding place in the corner of the main salon of our house. What a surprise!! What a surprise!! Laila, my sister, or more precisely my half sister, of the age of twenty years came out of the bedroom of my father. Laila, my sister, was almost nude. She went hurriedly to the bathroom that was located at the end of the corridor. After the passing of some time she came out and went directly to her bedroom which she was using in common with two other occupants, her two younger sisters.

After all of these anecdotes which included my half sister Laila and my aunt Samar, I told myself that I should start to take some action, and without any delay, so as to understand what was going on in the night-life of the family and especially that of my father.

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I was sure, by then, that my father was the main and the only hero of these nightly and nocturnal adventures. There was no other man in the house except him, the monster and the tyrant.

I posed to myself the following question."Can a married man sleep with other women who are not his legal wives or his concubines?" At that time I could not understand at all the system of concubines which was practiced in a limited sense in the past in our community.

At that time, my father had two concubines. One of them was with a blond hair and white complexion. She had a perfect body with no signs of being over-weight at all. The other concubine was black who was equally beautiful like the blond but she was a little bit over-weight. She was, frankly speaking, a fat woman. My father has engendered several children from these two concubines who were treated on equal footing with the other children of the three other wives.

The phenomenon which was to me very confusing and looked like a riddle refers to the illicit practice according to which, a man, like my father, could sleep with any woman he chooses in his own house, even with his young daughters and sisters.

Frankly speaking, the strange events that have been taking place in my house have totally upset, disturbed and disrupted me. One day I asked myself the following question. "Could there be others, other members of the family in the house, who were witnessing the same phenomena which I have seen but they could not tell what they have seen to others, to anybody?"

One day, my mother, somewhat before I went to bed, asked me to come to her room. As soon as I was there in her room, she said to me:

"My son, Rajab; are your brothers Ramadan and Chaban already in bed? Are they asleep or not yet?"

"I am sure they have already slept. They are already now having their nice dreams. They have been playing all the day and at the end of the day they have got very tired." said I to my mother.

"Come here, Rajab, near me, Sit down here on the bed and start immediately to tell me some stories about life in our big house, in our small palace. It seems to me that you amuse yourself very well these days with the other children of the family inside the house as well as in the square of the quarter. No doubt, you have been listening to stories told by the other boys of the quarter." said my mother.

"Most of the time I play with the children of our family, especially with my brothers. O! My dear mother, everything is all right. We enjoy our time and ourselves. Everybody is happy without any exception," I answered my mother without any hesitation.

"I have been observing recently that you do not participate with the other boys and girls of your age either in the house or in the quarter, in any games or activities of amusement. Since early in the morning I have been remarking that you look always tired and even exhausted. Your eyes give the impression that you have not slept well during the preceding night. My son Rajab, you look to be very pale. Frankly speaking my son, Rajab, when I look at your face I say to myself that there is something in your mind and in your soul which vexes and annoys you, which irritates you continuously. As a child of eight years, you should not forget this fact at all. You should conduct your daily life differently. After much observation and thinking I came to the conclusion, to the certitude, that there is something which annoys you and which makes you always exhausted." my mother explained to me while she was looking at my face.

"Nothing, nothing mother, there is nothing. Do not worry, during the last preceding nights I have been seeing some phenomena which looked to me as unbelievable, as abnormal or even as very strange. I saw my father coming out of the bedroom of my aunt Samar. My father was almost naked. I have seen also my blond half sister, Laila, the daughter of the first wife of my father coming out of the bedroom of my father at around midnight. I was completely astonished or even stunned to have witnessed and remarked these phenomena which looked to me absurd and enigmatic." said I to my mother who was listening to me with an open mouth and eyes.

In listening to me telling her these stories of the nights of our house, my mother little by little has become pale, livid and ghostly. She was amazed and stunned. My mother started to look around her with fear and horror.

For some time, a while, my mother kept silent. She did not open her mouth at all. After that she left the bed and went to the open window and closed it. The window looked at the spacious and wide garden of the house. My mother preferred to close the window in spite of the suffocating heat and the lack and the insufficiency of the fresh air. Not only this, my mother went to the door of the bedroom and closed it by the key, Still my mother stood in the middle of the room and looked around to see whether she forget to close anything as a precaution against any possibility of being heard by others.

In seeing my mother behaving in this strange way I was really astonished and could not find any reasonable explanation for the atmosphere of panic which has dominated and overwhelmed my mother. My mother embraced me in her arms for a long time and tenderly in such a way that I heard the quick and irregular beating of her heart.

My mother, I said to myself, was enormously panicked and I did not know exactly why. All of a sudden, she liberated me from her clasp and her grip and made me sit down on the bed near her.

"My son, my son, my dear son, Rajab, try your best to forget all what you have just told me. Try to forget all without any exception. And you should conduct yourself from now on as if you have seen nothing, nothing. Forget everything, my son. Usually one should not try to see what you have seen." declared my mother who continued to repeat the word nothing, nothing and for a long time.

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"But, my mother, why… I cannot understand at all why I should forget all? Why?! What I have seen during those nights was real, real. It was not the creation of my own imagination. I have been witnessing all of these events by my own eyes. I am in fact a witness and nothing else." said I, Rajab, to my mother.

"Listen to me my son Rajab. Don't talk to me like this. Never ever tell me such stories. You are still a child, a small boy. Listen to me. What you have already seen has been equally seen and witnessed by several other persons, other members of the family. All the women as well as certain small boys and girls, your brothers and sisters, have seen what you have already seen. But at the same time, nobody of these witnesses has ever narrated what he saw by chance, by accident, during the night. You should know that this is the Law of Silence applied in an absolute way by all the members of the family without any exception. This is a law which should be respected by all" said my mother who was looking around her.

"However, this law, the sacred law of the family cannot be always respected, observed. Other small children like me could be witnessing such strange, peculiar and bizarre events and incidents, such unbelievable anecdotes. They could, just because of ignorance, tell and narrate what they have seen to other small boys and girls and even to their mothers." I said these convictions to my mother who was listening to me attentively.

"Probably, this thing you are talking about could happen at any time and somewhere. But it is a very case. I should not tell you about the punishment applied in cases of not obeying the Law of Respecting Silence. In the future, you would notice the sudden disappearance of a member of the family and later on may be others would disappear all of a sudden. In such a case nobody knows why and why. In such cases there would neither be public funeral nor burial ceremony. Simply, somebody would disappear and forever." my mother told me in a low voice.

I remained dumb, mute and speechless. I became almost petrified nearby my mother. As a child, a small boy, I should respect and obey what my mother asked me to do and without any reticence. In any case, I myself could not erase from my memory what I have witnessed in the house during several nights.

With the passing of time and during several months several nocturnal events and anecdotes have taken place of the same scandalous nature in our house. All of those events are related, without any exception to the nocturnal nightly excursion of my father.

The coming of my father out of his bedroom during the night was always executed in accordance with a program and a plan of activities. Each woman who would be visited by him was designated a specific night in which she would be visited by my father during the night of a week or of a month.

Evidently, the program of nocturnal visits of my father included his wives and his concubines in addition to others, daughters, sisters and nieces. More or less, my father was very rigorous and systematic in the implementation and the execution of his diabolic program. In general, each woman, according to the program, prepared herself for the designated night of the visit to her room by the monster, the master of the house, my father.

From my hiding place, always and regularly, I used to listen attentively to the low noise that came from the bedroom of the victim or from the bedroom of my father. The target of the night to be visited was supposed to have prepared herself to receive the sexual aggressor, my father.

The odor and the scent of the perfume of the victim normally spreads and goes outside her bedroom, to the corridor, the salons and the other rooms of the big and sumptuous house, the palace.

es/ Rebuilding Hope
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

Actually, the occupants, the residents of the house, of the small palace, know who would be the victim of a certain night by the way of the perfumes utilized by the woman who would be visited by the master of the family. The persisting arrival of the perfume to any place in the house would indicate the identity of the victim who would be visited in that particular night by my father, the aggressor and the monster.

Every night, in which my father came out of his bedroom, everybody, as a general rule, would know that the master of the house and the family was found in a specific bedroom whose resident was already known and identified.

es/ Days After The Fire
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Every week, my father, the master of the house and the monster of the family, came out of his room on the average twice during the night to undertake a nocturnal adventure. Evidently, sometimes, the victim was required to come to my father's bedroom.

It was very difficult for me to hide myself every night in the usual corner in the main salon of the house for the nocturnal surveillance of the adventures of my father. I stayed in my bedroom most of the nights of the week and I went out of my room once or twice to carry out my observation and my surveillance.

Sometimes, I have seen certain members of the family who came out of their rooms to go to the bath-room or to the kitchen for having some water. Nevertheless, those who roamed during the night outside their bedrooms never told others what they have heard or what they have witnessed during the preceding night.

In the morning, early or late, every member of the family conducts himself in such a way which would indicate that nothing has passed during the preceding night. Everybody in the house would engage himself in something, some activity, as an example. The wives would be completely busy in serving their master with the help of the maid-servants. The breakfast for the head of the family would have been carefully prepared in the main salon used in most cases as the dining room for the adults.

es/ House In Clouds B
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© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

My father preferred always to take his breakfast all alone. From time to time he had the habit of asking one of his wives to take breakfast with him. While he took his morning meal he used to have quick looks around him so as to be sure that everything in his majestic house was all right and that nothing was wrong.

From time to time, the master of the house called one or more of his children so as to talk to them one or two words and sometimes to embrace them. My father at the breakfast time always showed himself to be extremely happy just for having talked to some of his children. The adolescents and the children took their breakfast in the other salon or in the kitchen. Some women of the family took their food in their own bedrooms. Sometimes, a woman gets sick so she stays in her room. Her meals are carried to her in their rooms by the maids.

At the end of the battle of taking breakfast the master of the house leaves his home and directs himself to the door-steps of the main gate of the house. Outside our home my father chooses to go to one of his shops and stores in the quarter. My father has the habit of taking in an easy way his daily life of work and business.

Many customers buy what they need from shops and stores of my father. From time to time the customers of my father speak to each other for a while. My father is always smiling during his working hours and treats his clients, customers, and his friends in the market in a warm, gentle and friendly manner.

I think, and I am sure of that, that the people in general, the clients, the customers and the friends in the markets of the quarter are more or less, all well informed of the scandalous nocturnal episodes and vicissitudes that are taking place in our house. Even they know very well every anecdote in details because nothing escapes their eyes and their ears.

In the absence of my father, the inhabitants of the quarter do not say anything in a calumnious and slanderous way, except when they speak about him. Everybody in whatever meeting held somewhere in the quarter, tells and narrates stories the hero of which would be always my father.

However, nobody at all has ever mentioned how this monster, my father, should have been punished, should have been severely chastised for his horrible crimes. The stories which the people in the community have been telling on the scandalous private life of my father would become for them as tales, folkloric tales, to be told from generation to another.

Certainly there are some tragic aspects to these stories on the nocturnal adventures of my father. All of these hideous and dreadful events have taken place during the nights. In another sense crimes of murders have been committed since several years, but nobody has even the courage to ask for the arrest of my father so that he should be judged in a court and later on punished.

In his absence, everybody in the quarter has been condemning him. Nevertheless, in our house, all the members of the family, my family, keep silent. Nobody says, utters, a single word concerning the crimes of my father, because my father, in our house, has been terrifying all without any exception.

One day, while my father was taking his breakfast early in a sunny morning, he had seen me passing from a distance in front of him. I had the feeling that my father was about to ask me to come near to him. What I have been guessing, expecting, came to be true. At that particular moment my father had his cup of tea in his hand. The moment I realized that I became the target of his regards I tried to keep myself far from his vision.

"Rajab, Rajab, come here without delay." Ordered me my father in a severe tone and in a little bit of a threatening voice.

"Yes father, I am coming at once, I am coming without delay." I answered my father while I was trembling because that was the first time that my father called my while he was taking breakfast. Anyhow, I hurried up hastily to be near to my father.

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es/ Days After The Fire
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

"Don't try to come nearer than that. Listen to me Rajab, stay where you are now because I want to ask you one question only. My son, are you sick? Do you suffer from a disease? Are you fatigued, exhausted or what? Listen to me Rajab, I have been watching you during the last few days and I have come to the conclusion that you are sick, you suffer from a disease. Look at your face in the glace, in the mirror. Look at it. It is pale, livid and ghastly. It seems you are tired, fatigued and probably, it is the lack of sleep that is affecting negatively your health. You should tell me something for explaining this condition of indisposition and discomfort in which you are found at this moment. This is very strange that your mother never told me something regarding the deplorable condition of your health. Your age is now almost nine years, or less than that and normally you should be enjoying good health" said my father showing his irritation, his impatience and even his anger.

At that particular moment my poor and pale mother has abruptly appeared in the scene in the principal salon. Certainly, she has seen me, her eldest son, Rajab, being interrogated and questioned by my horrible father in a very unexpected way and even severely.

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My mother was horrified and stunned and was afraid of this strange confrontation between the master of the house, my father, the monster and the tyrant and one of his sons, I, Rajab. She did not know what to say and what to do.

The Night of Shame - 2 of 8.0 "Thus Spoke Rajab" - Top Menu / Bottom Menu

Several ideas came to her mind. She asked herself whether her husband had some doubts concerning the conduct of his son and his waking up during the night and his surveillance and watching of his father in the darkness of the night. This possibility has terrified my suffering mother.

From a distance my mother looked at me pensively but she could not do anything. She wanted from a far distance the end of the unequal confrontation between me and my father. Fortunately, my father asked me to go because he could not find any justification for keeping me standing in front of him. Because of the fear which has overwhelmed me suddenly it was difficult for me to go away rapidly. My legs could not support me. I felt also that my little heart was beating more rapidly than normal.

es/ Season Of Pilgrimage
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

Because of the panic situation which has paralyzed me I was walking and sometimes I so often stumbled and was about to fall on the ground. I noticed that my mother at that moment was worried and overwhelmed and overpowered by fear and anxiety. When I was going away from my father I heard all of a sudden some kind of laughing coming from my father. Probably this was because of my embarrassment which I have demonstrated when my father was interrogating me in a very serious way.

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In the evening of the same day I was by chance in the bedroom of my mother. My two brothers, Ramadan and Chaban, were there in the room. My mother was preparing herself for a sentimental night with my father. For my father, it was the turn of my mother to have love with her husband. My mother was informed about the intention of my father to visit her this night two days ago. In the bedroom, my mother asked me to seat myself on the side edge of her bed, as I used to do always. My mother has drawn on her face a simple and a pacifying smile and she looked at me with compassion and tenderness.

es/ House In Clouds A
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

I was sure that she would discuss with me the short meeting, or confrontation, that I had with my father this morning at breakfast time. I thought that my mother would like to discuss with me my daily going out of my room during the night to watch the nocturnal adventures of my father.

"Listen to me Rajab. You must stop going out of your room during the night. You should stop the surveillance of your father in the darkness of the night. This is very dangerous for you as well as for me and for your two younger brothers. If your father in the darkness of a night had seen you hiding in the dark corner he would have killed you instantaneously and on the spot. Therefore, you should be careful and wise in your behavior and in your conduct. If you please Rajab, listen to me and be ready to listen to me and to what I am going to tell you. What I am telling you is very important for you and for me." said my mother.

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"But this morning my father said nothing of importance. He tried to blame me for my bad health. He told me that my face was pale and that actually I was sick. That is all what he told me. He never made any reference to my life during the night. He did not talk to me about my adventures in the night." said I to my mother who was listening to me with a lot of anxiety, trouble and uneasiness.

"Listen to me, this night you should not try to come out of your room. Your father would be with me throughout the night. Therefore, be very careful and prudent and do not try to make any silliness and foolishness." said my mother.

In spite of the advice of my mother, I left my room after midnight in order to go to the toilets. In my way there I noticed that everything was calm and serene. There was no noise at all inside or outside the house.

Frequently somebody coughs, or sneezes. Most probably a sick child could be coughing. Or even some adults could be coughing. Then I heard somebody snoring. Probably this was the first, the eldest wife of my father who was snoring. Otherwise, everything is calm and in tranquility. I came to conclusion that everybody was sleeping. Without wasting my time I came back to my room. I found my two brothers, Ramadan and Chaban still sleeping. I myself have resumed my sleeping.

My room has a very small kerosene lamp that was sending its feeble light everywhere in the room. Darkness was dominating outside the house as I could verify that by looking through the open window of the room.

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The Night of Shame

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

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