Swirling Sands       page 5                go to page  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8

The other women fluttered around Sara and began to touch her face and hair.  One of them told Faten that if Sheik Fahd were ever to see such a one as Sara, that he was sure to abandon her bed in frustration.  The other three wives of the Sheik quickly agreed. 

The visibly spoiled Faten became jealous and began to command the other women to retrieve this item or that item.  Her voice was far too impolite and loud, and as a token of resistance, the women pretended not to understand Faten’s instructions.

The words exchanged became so harsh and the looks so fierce, that I feared we were about to witness an altercation between these ill-mannered women.

This display made me reflect on what would have been the reality of my own life had our ancestors not abandoned the desert for the city. 

In the Bedouin culture, a woman’s status depends only on her youth, beauty, and ability to produce sons.  Certainly, a Bedouin woman of my age who had suffered the loss of a breast and the ability to bear children would be cast aside by her husband.  Undoubtedly, I would have become the servant of an insensitive beauty such as Faten!

For the first time in a long time, I acknowledged that Saudi Arabians are taking some small progressive steps toward improving the lives of Saudi women.  I felt a rare moment of gratitude for my current status.

When an embarrassed Sara threatened to veil her face again if she was not left alone, the women cried out that they would sit quietly for the pleasure of looking at Allah’s most perfect creation.

Faten could take no more!  Her lip curled in anger as she glared at Sara, and cursed her.  “A pox on you!  May Allah disfigure your face!”

We were all speechless with shock at this uncivilized behavior.

In dignified silence, Sara rose to leave. 

Faten mistook Sara’s movement as a challenge.  Her wide-set eyes grew wild, her nostrils flared, and the skin of her face rose and fell in angry rhythm.   This wild Bedouin woman advanced toward my gentle sister with the clear intent of violence!

Frightened, Sara froze in place, her hand poised at her throat.

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