than ten women dressed in brightly colored dresses and covered
with the Bedouin veil walked toward us.
It is customary for Bedouin women to leave their eyes
uncovered, while the tradition of city Arab women is to
conceal the entire face.
When these women welcomed us, all their energies flowed
out through their dark and vivid eyes.
husbands went off with the men to the Sheik’s tent to enjoy
tea, while my sisters and I followed the camp women.
The tallest of the women, who was dressed in a brightly
colored blue dress covered in gold embroidery was named Faten,
and she quickly let us know that she was the favorite of the
Sheik’s four wives.
Her eyes flashed with pride as she led us toward her
decreed by the Koran, this Bedouin chief apparently provided
each of his wives with her own tent, in the same manner that
city Arabs build individual villas or palaces for each wife.
we were escorted inside, Faten said with a flourish, “As the
most favored wife of Sheik Fahd.
I welcome you to my tent.”
we entered the flapping goat hair door of Faten’s tent, I
looked around with undisguised interest.
The interior was dark and stuffy, just as I remembered
the Bedouin tents of my childhood.
In the center of the room there was a coffee hearth
surrounded by piles of white ashes from previous fires.
Numerous gaudy tints caught my eyes.
Cushions of various orange, blue, and red hues were
piled against mattresses, and brightly colored quilts, pots
and pans, food items, and folded clothes were heaped up
appeared unclean, and the tent carried the foul aroma of
Saddest of all was the sight of the small children.
The cries of several fussy babies filled the room, and
shy, grubby toddlers peeked around from behind their mothers.
I watched sadly as one unhappy little boy, who looked
to be four or five years old, used his hands to pull himself
along the floor.
When one of the women saw that his pitiful crippled
condition drew my attention, she volunteered the information
that, when he was only an infant, his mother had accidentally
dropped him from a camel.
tried to take him in my arms, but in his fear, he began to