Curator’s Diary December 2017: Returning to Egypt

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Egypt at the Manchester Museum

Luxor

Earlier this month I was delighted to be able to spend a week based in Luxor, after an absence from Egypt of over two years. The trip was made possible thanks to a generous bequest to a University of Manchester travel fund from one of the Museum’s best-known and much-missed volunteers – the late Audrey Carter, a relative of the archaeologist Howard Carter.

AudreyC-detail Audrey Carter in 2013

The visit had been organised by the Egypt Exploration Society for Manchester Professor Emerita Rosalie David to present her re-published book Temple Ritual at Abydos to colleagues in Egypt. Rosalie was able to present the book in person to the Minister of Antiquities, Dr Khaled el-Anani, at a press conference announcing he re-opening of two early 18th Dynasty tombs at Dra Abu el-Naga and the inner sanctuary of the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, reworked in the Ptolemaic Period for the…

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More Beautiful Still

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cakeordeathsite

nude-photographer-bob-carlos-clarke-06[1] Bob Carlos Clarke My fourth (and final, well for the moment anyway) recording from my recently published collection Motion No. 69My other recordings The AnswerMy Evil is Stronger and Curvature can be heard by following the links. Of course to get the full works you will have to buy the collection available from Amazon.

Happy Christmas and Holiday Season to all my lovely, loyal readers.

More Beautiful Still

You are the bride
stripped bare by the
vestal bachelors, even.
I would strip you down
to the very bone,
to burn myself
on the upside-down flame
that is your heart.

For you, to me
are as beautiful as
a lipstick-stained cigarette
held between trembling fingers;
More beautiful still
than the parted legs
of an architect’s divider
bisecting a wearying,
unwavering straight line.
Even more beautiful
than a roiling dark cloud
pregnant with heavy rain.
As beautiful as

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Working with Pride|کار با افتخار

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A Voice from Iran

One day in my early childhood, my father planned to take us to “Hafez Monument” in our home town Shiraz.

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Hafez is a very famous poet. Even now-a-days most people around the world know or have heard about him.

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People of Iran and mostly in Shiraz use his poems for prediction or advisory and call it “Hafez Fal.” In special family gatherings, particularly in Friday picnics, someone carries the book of Hafez with them and everyone takes turns to close their eyes to make a wish and open the book in a random page.

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Everyone would stay quiet to listen to the poem that had come up, answering whatever question that was in mind. It was so fun. For us kids they had to translate it to simpler terms so we could understand.

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The Hafez Monument is so simple and beautiful. There are many tourists from around the world to…

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Rapa Nui

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Moai-Susanne Rempt 2017 Moai-Susanne Rempt 2017

As I noted in a previous post, Redraw the Map, Re-Write History and Re-Invent Reality concerning the Surrealist Map of the World, Easter Island and its mysterious, magnificent moai held a special place in the Surrealist imagination. The Pope of Surrealism, Andre Breton began collecting Easter Island moai kavakava (small wooden statuettes) and masks from the age of 15 and had amassed a major collection by the time of his death. The heads of the moai featured in the Thursday section of Max Ernst’s collage novel Une Semaine de Bonte, which also feature prominently bird-headed humans. Given Ernst’s marked obsession with birds and hybrid birds figures, (Loplop, Superior of Birds) it is tempting to think that he was familiar with the Rapa Nui’s Birdman cult and its representations found in petroglyphs across the island.

Easter Island also featured in Surrealist literature, not least…

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Les Diaboliques

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tumblr_lqt0h6CoF11qcokygo1_1280[1] At a  Dinner of Atheists-Les Diaboliques- Barbey d’Aurevilly-Illustration Felicien Rops After the scandal and subsequent prosecution that attended the publication of Les Fleurs Du Mal (see The Flowers of Evil: Litanies Of Satan)the decadent writer and theorist of Dandyism, Barbey D’Aurevilly told his friend Charles Baudelaire that after such a book it only remains for him to choose between the muzzle of the pistol and the foot of the cross.

It was nicely put and neatly summarized the dilemma facing the true decadent. D’Aurevilly, like many other decadents, including J.K Huysmans, Leon Bloy (see The Captives of Longjumeau) and Villers de l’isle Adam (see To the Dreamers, To the Deriders) opted for the cross. However the Catholicism re-adopted by the decadents retained more than a whiff of sulphur about it. Often it seems as if they decided to pledge their devotion to God just in order to celebrate Satan and…

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Western life Or A new version of Eve’s story

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The story of Hijab or Burqa has a long breath in the Islamic countries though as our father was a professional writer, we, my brother and me, were enveloped and also developed with the history of Persian among the others, to know how it went in Persian history about the Hijab and کشف حجاب (the discovery of Hijab) had been developed in Iran by Reza Shah. who had almost dictatorially solved the problem of a few intellectual women to get rid of this, of course, that was one of the good act of him as the story told; he had got the idea from Kemal Ata Turk. Anyway, here I share another short story written by my brother Al Fazel in which he tried with telling this nice story to explain the worldly difference between the peoples (women in this case). Surely it must be mentioned that the story is about a Girl from Saudi Arabian from which the Islam mainly raised. I hope you enjoy it as I did.

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*”Kolthum Abdul Joojoo was an extremely talented girl. She was born around two and a half years after her parents had emigrated from Saudi Arabia to Great Britain in early 1980s – the first of six who all had followed her over a decade of fertility. She, however, was the dearest child in the eyes of her parents. They wondered her excellent behaviour towards both of them as well as other adults whom she met during her colourful childhood. Thus, they loved her more than other ten off-springs who had come to the world either before or after their emigration. And she was very talented. She could learn very fast. She had learned English when she was five, so perfectly that you could take her for a pure Londoner – of course, if you just heard her voice, through an obligation she automatically had to cover herself for Allah, His prophet and the religion. She had to cover her whole body except for the eyes and hands since she was seven years of age. Even her father was not allowed to see her face since then. And what a waste of beauty as according to her proud mother, she had a perfect face. However, the father was estimated as an open-minded intelligent man with democratic approaches other religions, as well as the definition of time and the environment in which his family lived. He had educated at London University a long time ago and was a successful man in the oil business. But still, Heaven was Heaven and Hell still Hell. There is a very good weather in Heaven and Hell is too hot for fine tastes, where he didn’t want to be dispatched along with all his family members, just because he simply had ignored the religion’s clear strict rules (called Shariah) to ban his daughter from leaving her face uncovered for men’s devilish looks. So, he saved the whole family since she reached her age puberty. However, he had permitted her to study in an Arabic school, to have private friends (of course only girls), to invite her friends, and even to listen to the type of music the youth of her age would listen – though not to watch clips on MTV. So, she was growing up as an intelligent girl with an excellent conscious of her environment. Her marks were very good and her behaviour was always the same as it was before. Therefore neither father nor mother found any reason to object and reject her wish to take a computer course in the university –far from home and different in environment and ambiances from her previous school. She had proved her prudence and integrity and had deserved to be following her ambitions to a certain point.

There, however, was a problem that disturbed her at the beginning of the course: she was the only girl appearing in such an outfit in the classroom and in the department all over. So, it isn’t difficult to imagine that she immediately became a good subject of good discussions among students. One of them was curious to know: ‘I very much like to know if she does wear anything under that black hood!’ ‘Of course not,’ the next student insisted, ‘She’s a man in disguise, ‘and one day will transpire this terrific identity by removing his hood in a crowded corridor to give Mrs Wilson a good lesson in the matter of booboo.’ ‘No, no, no’ the other student objected, ‘not a man, but an alien she is; from a planet that it’s people are from Chobaca’s race. And the day she discloses her real identity, only God may help us! And if not, we must call Molder and Scally.’  However, all students were not that nasty. Many of them were treating her in a way as if they didn’t see her at all. And there were others who gave her a warm smile and said ‘hello’ whenever she entered the classroom. Caroline was one of them. Her desk was right beside her desk. She was a pretty girl around twenty, and she belonged to that type of girls who barely get mixed up with others. On this point, Kolthum and she seemed to be on the same ground – a conclusion that Kolthum reached to after few weeks of doing that course. And although she had no idea about her reasons, Kolthum gradually found a sense of affinity for her neighbour and became extremely happy when one day Caroline started to speak with her. She had a problem in working with Microsoft Outlook, and apparently needed Kolthum’s help – a problem that Kolthum could clear easily and in simple words.

‘Wow!’ Caroline had laughed, ‘so simple it was!’

And it was the beginning of a friendship. Seeing them sitting there side-by-side was a view that just could make you wonder – as an obvious contrast with a strong sense of ridicule. Caroline was such an up-to-date girl. She had no problem in showing off the beauties of her well-shaped female attributes by wearing slinky clothes – normally wearing top crops even in winters. Rarely bothered to carry breast holders and had rings in her nose and navel. There seemed the least similarity between two girls to give them any sense of congruence. However, shortly after the beginning, they were being seen together almost everywhere, in the corridors, campus and the cafeteria and even in streets on a shopping trip. They looked to have become good friends, and that not only from other students’ view but also in Kolthum’s opinion who one day happily informed her parents of that friendship. She had never talked to them about her preliminary feeling of strangeness and marginalization because she was afraid to give them an impression that would lead him to give up her wishes and stay at home in wait for a husband. But now she had a girlfriend who seemed to enjoy her company and the time they were spending together.

‘Who’s your friend? What kind of characteristics she has? They wanted to know, ‘is she a decent girl or belongs to such a pinky punky sort?’ And finally and perhaps the most important question, ‘is she respecting their daughter’s religious belief and regard well her lifestyle?’

Kolthum’s answers were all in favour of her new friend – or rather in her own favour for having chosen Catherine as a friend. However, there suddenly came some feeling of doubt over her that she began to ask herself if her friend actually had been respecting her beliefs and what if she was trying to conceal her contempt for her outfit behind an invisible mask, and had only accepted her just because she was so good on the computer. Indeed her father had a sneaking suspicion that there could be something wrong in their close friendship.

‘Listen, daughter!’ He had begun wisely after some moments of contemplation, ‘you must always and always be alerted to such relations. And always be aware of the fact that we are different from these people. It’s as much urgent as hiding your face from their eyes. No, they are not like us. It’s not only the religions that cause this gap but also our lifestyles are so different as if we are from one world and these people from another world and there is no aspect that would give the least congruity to these different worlds. And unfortunately, since we are living in their world and in the absolute minority, we can’t change the situation in our favour. With Allah’s support, we may change the situation, but it is not the case yet. What you ever do, do it with permanent regard to this point, if you want your parents, your prophet and Allah to be satisfied with you. You should be considering this girl as a possible wolf into human skin. So, you can always hope on Allah’s mercy.’

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So, Kolthum looked desperately for an opportunity to quiet down the anxiety she had been feeling since her father’s warnings.

‘What do you really think about my lifestyle and the way I’m wearing things?’ She asked her finally once they were in a vacant corner in cafeteria drinking some coffee and eating some cookies.

‘What should I think?’ Caroline laughed, ‘it’s kind of unusual, and I’d like unusual things!’

‘Yes,’ Kolthum muttered rather nervously, ‘but I thought about something different.’ She paused shortly, ‘you know what it means things I’ve on, do you?’

‘Yes, I think so.’ Caroline took a sip of her coffee. It was a mixture of beer and cocks. ‘I think it’s up to your religious concept, isn’t it?’

‘Yes, that’s right!’ Kolthum took a deep breath, ‘and what do you think about that?’

‘What do I think about that?’ Caroline shrugged her half-naked pretty shoulders, ‘I don’t know.’ She went on thoughtfully, ‘you’ve got your religion, and I … I respect it. Yes, I respect it.’

Kolthum seemed not very much satisfied with her answer: ‘and don’t you want to know more about that?’

‘What’s the matter with you today?’ Caroline laughed, ‘you’d never ask me such questions!’

‘Yes, but …’ Kolthum bit her fleshy lower lip behind her black veil, ‘that’s because of my parents. They want to know how you do treat me regarding my religious belief.’

‘Oh!’ Caroline watched her in surprise, ‘have you talked to them about me?’

‘Yes,’ Kolthum lowered her eyes and blushed, ‘you’re my best friend and me…’

‘Oh, that’ so sweet!’ Caroline took her hand compassionately, ‘you’re really sweet, really darling!’

Kolthum looked up at her with tearful eyes, and it was a perfect surprise to see that Caroline’s eyes were also wet. It was the very first time their hands were touching each other – a touch that gave her some strangely vibrating feeling of warmth and excitement; some pleasant feeling that she had not experienced anytime before.

‘Do you want to speak about your religion?’ Caroline asked her rather hesitantly after a rather long silence; however, it felt to Kolthum just like a cool summer breeze in such a hot weather.

‘Yes, if you don’t mind …’

Caroline didn’t look to be so fascinated by the idea. But for Kolthum it was a unique opportunity to realize that their friendship was of the best quality and lucidness, and Caroline was far from being ‘a wolf in human skin’.

‘Ok, I don’t mind.’ Caroline withdrew her hand, ‘ask me about whatever you want.’

‘Well,’ Kolthum took a deep breath, ‘but first I’ve got some questions. For example, why you did choose me as your friend?’

First Caroline said nothing. Sitting there, she gazed at her friend with a faint blush on her pretty face. ‘I don’t know, Kolthum.’ She said.

‘You know what they say about me in the classroom and outside?’

‘Who?’ Caroline took watching her, as she could see her hands still on the table were shaking slightly, and to see that again there was a layer of tears were covering her beautiful eyes.

‘The others – guys and I don’t know, girls too.’

Caroline made a face, ‘who minds? I don’t surely.’

‘And I thank you for that.’ She went on shivering, ‘but my father thinks you might be …’

‘What, one of them?’

‘Yes.’ Kolthum dropped her eyes.’

‘Listen, darling,’ Caroline bowed forward, resolutely. ‘I don’t know what they ever talk about you. And I don’t care a bit about that because I know there is a lot about me too that they waste their time with. And I’ve got used to that. If you want to live in this society and keep on with your faith and belief, you should be strong and not give in to some idiots who’ve got nothing in the brain but nonsense. And on what your father thinks, I just want you to look what you do feel and think instead of getting my measure by your father’s standard.’

‘No, I never do that.’

‘But you just did it.’ Caroline smiled, as though she had begun to enjoy the discussion, ‘your father’s attitude toward me – that I don’t know where he has it from – has made you doubtful about our friendship.’

‘No, it’s not true!’ Kolthum said fervently, ‘I’ll never measure you or our friendship by nobody’s standards.’

In her claim, she was as honest and earnest as she had ever been. Caroline could see it in her eyes and hands and hear her voice to get sure that she meant to speak her heart. Putting her hand on Kolthum’s hand she smiled – and she began to caress the back of her hand with her warm long fingers. Kolthum reflected almost instantly by drawing her hand as she felt a strangely strong wave of prickles throughout her body.

‘Tell me,’ Caroline began as if she had not noticed about her reaction, ‘isn’t it normal in your tradition to obey your father’s demands as long as he lives?’

Kolthum breathed so deeply that she tasted the acrid taste of her fresh-washed face-cover. Puffing the air she still wasn’t ready to look at her friend’s eyes, ‘what?’

‘I’m talking about family tradition and rules!’ Caroline said, ‘are you feeling all right?’

‘Yes,’ Kolthum raised her eyes and laughed shortly. She was happy that her reddened agitated cheeks couldn’t be seen by Caroline.

‘When I think of my father, I remember a man with a lot of authority and a great sense of paternity, and kind of prime”Godlike Father” who always stood for bringing up his children according to his own concept. And my mother really was a weak woman who never understood why she should have married him.’

‘Are they dead?’ Kolthum asked with a little more ease in her voice.

‘No, they’re still alive.’

‘I asked because you speak about them in the past sentences!’

‘’Really?’ Caroline laughed listlessly, ‘well, perhaps for me … I don’t know. I haven’t seen them for … I don’t know, a long time. I know however that they’re still alive.’

‘I can’t do that to him.’ Kolthum took another deep breath, ‘to none of them … I mean to leave him and disobey them and such things.’

‘You mean you can’t be like me!’

‘No,’ Kolthum hesitated; ‘I guess I could be like you in one way or another …’ she interrupted again and blushed again as she saw such a meaningful smile appeared on Caroline’s lips, ‘but I can’t leave them like that.’ She finished her sentence while she picked up her coffee and took a big gulp. ‘Why are you smiling so?’

‘I just imagined your life with your family.’ Caroline said, ‘and wished if you could invite me home to see your face finally. You take off that stuff when you’re home, don’t you?’

‘Just when I’m alone with my mother and sisters,’ Kolthum said, ‘otherwise I keep it on.’

‘Isn’t it a little too inconvenient?’

‘Well, I’ve got used to that.’ Kolthum smiled, ‘but it’s not easy to understand, isn’t it?’

‘And what about me?’

‘Pardon?’

‘I mean, would you show me your face if we were alone?’

Kolthum didn’t know how to answer. She had never confronted herself with that simple natural question. Was she honest enough to admit it? Yes, she was: ‘Sorry, I don’t know.’ Shyly she murmured, ‘I’d never thought about it.’

‘Think about this please,’ Caroline insisted in such a kind pleasant tone, ‘that I come to you and you take me into your room. What will you do then?’

‘Well,’ Kolthum smiled, ‘I invite you to sit down!’

‘And then?’

‘And then … I ask you for example if you like to see some pictures from my school time.’

Caroline laughed shortly, ‘ok. I see the pictures while you … what will you do while I’m seeing your pictures? Standing in the corner waiting for the moment I’m finished with your album and get up to go?’

‘Of course not,’ Kolthum laughed as well, though hesitantly, ‘I think … she paused, ‘I think I sit beside you and explain who in the pictures are.’

‘Thank you very much,’ Caroline smiled with a happy gesture, ‘where are we sitting, on the floor or something? I’ve heard the people of the orient very much like to sit on the floor!’

‘No, we sit on chairs too.’ Kolthum smiled coyly, ‘though I’ve got only one chair in my room which I usually throw my things on whenever I just don’t feel like going and hanging them in the closet.’

‘What? I just throw them on the floor!’

Caroline said and both girls laughed.

‘Thank you for your chair anyway.’ Caroline resumed, ‘well, I’m sitting on the chair with the open album on my lap, and you … are you standing by the chair or something?’

‘I should,’ Kolthum shrugged her shoulders, ‘I think I’ve no other choice!’

‘Well,’ Caroline paused to make a thoughtful face, ‘what about your bed? Can’t we sit on your bed?’

‘Yes,’ Kolthum nodded while a mild shade of red covered her forehead and around her eyes, ‘sitting on the edge of my bed …’

‘Of course, after you have gotten rid of your clothes for something cosier and homelike, isn’t it?’

‘Maybe,’ Kolthum shrugged again.

‘And what about your hood; Will you get rid of that too?’

Kolthum’s long black lashes covered her beautiful eyes for a moment, ‘weren’t we talking about religions?’

‘Of course, we’re talking about religion, your religion.’ Caroline said, ‘your hood has much to do with religion, doesn’t it?’ She smiled, ‘of course it’s a good trick not wasting your time and money for beauty shops and such costs. But I don’t think you’re wearing so that way! I think you’re doing that because you’ve been told doing that.’

‘No,’ Kolthum returned defiantly, ‘I’m doing that because I believe in Shariah and I think a woman should dress up this style exactly the same way Shariah wants her to do.’

‘Either I?’ Caroline put her hand on her chest. Her shirt was unbuttoned to the upper part of her breasts.

Kolthum first blushed and then she laughed, and then blushed again, and though her  black face-cover was a good shield to cover-up her agitations, however, she had a sudden strong and strange feeling of inferiority in front of a friend who looked to be walking her life-path as free as a bird flying across an open sky.

‘No, you shouldn’t.’ She faltered quietly.

‘Because I’m not Moslem, isn’t?’

‘No, you aren’t.’

‘But we remain, friends, I hope!’photo-1526509569184-2fe126e71cd3

Kolthum didn’t answer, or her hand on the table was her answer as Caroline held it in her warm fondling hands. And this time she didn’t steal her hand from her touch, and it rested quietly and yieldingly in her friend’s patting grip. Her body had become warm – such a soft pleasant feeling like walking in the morning sun took her body up.

That conversation had indeed helped them to get much closer to each other. Now they had begun to speak about menstruation and other gynaecological issues which were not such easy subjects for Kolthum to speak out. But gradually they become as normal as ordinary matters she talked to the family and in school. Kolthum was very much thankful to Caroline because she knew a lot about a woman’s body; much more than what Kolthum’s mother had ever taught her about. And, contrary to her mother, she did not turn around the subject and did not make it even more complicated than it actually was. Caroline was direct and spoke simply as if talking about the weather.

Once Caroline asked her if she had ever got a boyfriend. Kolthum’s answer was a simple no, though the matter itself was not that simple. More than often she had seen British girls were being kissed by boys in common places, and each time had felt her heartbeats booming fast and her cheeks getting hot, and had shyly thought about how it would taste to a girl when a boy’s lips pressed on her lips. Of course, she had never been allowed to find it out by herself. And before going to that computer course, she had no friend who might tell her about such experiences. She had learned that she couldn’t find answers to all her questions. But now … she began to consider the possibility of a moment of shame and hesitation.

‘Even never been in love?’ Caroline went on delving.

Kolthum laughed, ‘Have a guess!’ She said.

Caroline looked deeply into her eyes, ‘I guess you were … once or twice. Your eyes tell me about happy and sad moments of your past, and I think at least one of them was love.’

‘Once,’ Kolthum said softly and rather sadly, ‘it happened just once.’

‘Would you like to tell me about that?’

‘There isn’t much to tell you about that,’ Kolthum sighed, ‘she was my cousin and I was thirteen. She’s living in the States. Once she came to our house and I saw her from behind the curtain separating the inner part from the outside where our guests would be entertained. I saw him there and I fell for him immediately,’ she laughed shyly, ‘that’s all.’

Really?’ Caroline wondered, ‘even family members aren’t allowed to come in the inner part of the house?’

‘It doesn’t make any difference.’ Kolthum said, ‘even my father if he wants coming behind the curtain, he must announce that by a cough or something awhile before.’

Caroline laughed, ‘poor guy!’

‘Anyway. It’s over now.’

‘But it was really romantic.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes, it was just like a love story of sixteen seventeen century.’ Caroline said, ‘well, and you didn’t see him again, did you?’

‘No,’ Kolthum said thoughtfully, ‘he’s living in the States.’

‘And I guess he never got a wind of that, did he?’

‘How could he?’ Kolthum shrugged her shoulders.

‘Well, you could write him a letter or something, or give him a ring.’

‘What?’ Kolthum stunned, ‘my father would kill me if I do such an idiocy.’

‘Oh!’

‘By the way,’ Kolthum added after a short deliberation, ‘that’s a long-forgotten story!’

‘So?’

‘Well,’ Kolthum laughed, ‘I’m a grown-up girl now.’

‘Know your parents that either?’

‘My father knows that surely,’ Kolthum said suddenly in some kind of easy-taking jovial tone, ‘you know, he doesn’t put me on his knees anymore!’

Caroline laughed. ‘Neither my father do that, though he used to hug me till the recent time … till I told her to stop it!’

‘But it doesn’t make much difference!’ Kolthum said thoughtfully, ‘I guess he has never accepted me as a come-of-age woman even at my eighteenth birthday.’

She hesitated about going on with the subject while wondering at those new thoughts which had begun tapping at her temples. She had never thought about her father in the way she was doing now. She had never thought before to be able to criticize her father in anyway whatsoever; As if her subconscious had begun to reveal to her a long-existent secret about her life that she had ever been afraid to know about.

‘I’m gonna tell you something,’ Caroline begun, ‘about a father-daughter relationship that is always the same, notwithstanding cultural diversities, social classes, and intelligence-scale.’

Kolthum looked up at her fleshy attractive lips, in wait and want; eager and anxious, as though there were God’s words coming from her mouth to tell the secret.

‘It has always a very tight connection with those things a man has experienced with girls and women in her youth and especially later with her wife.’

‘What?’ Kolthum’s eyes widened gawkily.

Caroline smiled, ‘I mean it’s very important for a daughter that what type of women were involved and had a share in her father’s life even long before she was born. Do you understand now?’

‘Why is it important?’

Kolthum’s question was as immaculate as her widened eyes were. She was curious, and she was eager to know more about Caroline’s inner thoughts. There is always an obvious conflict between the essence of immaculacy and the impetus caused by a curiosity which permanently threatens us to slip and fall. Kolthum now was standing at that brink. It was hardly of importance that whether or not she was aware of her position, where she was only following, even if blindly, the same line which had led the very first woman to the Original Sin – doubt about father’s authority.

‘Because of the preconceptions,’ Caroline simply explained. ‘Man’s mind is an unformatted hard disk. And the formatting and first authors on that hard disk are women. ‘She giggled, ‘that’s the analogy I use since I’ve learnt what a hard disk means! Anyway, do you know who the first woman in your father’s life was?’

‘No,’ Kolthum said rather hesitantly. ‘But I guess she was my mother.’

‘Is it so?’ Caroline considered, ‘well, then it should be easy to say that she’s the model by which your father measures other women.’

‘Like a role model?’ Kolthum asked carefully – more for showing her attention than to try to demonstrate an idea of her own.

‘No way,’ Caroline shrugged off the possibility. ‘You know, men are too stupid to choose a role model for women.’

A shocking answer; Kolthum felt as it sounded like her friend was considering her father a stupid person.

‘You speak just like …’

Kolthum interrupted, struggling desperately for a way to get her out of more embarrassment.

‘Like what,’ Caroline smiled kindly, ‘like a fool?’

‘No, just …’ there seemed no other way but, to tell the truth. That much she was obliged to her father’s dignity. ‘Whatever he’s, he’s my father and I don’t think he deserves that; I mean to be called a stupid,’ she blushed from neck to forehead, ‘just because you scorn men as if you hate them with no … with no exception!’

‘Well,’ Caroline reflected rather scornfully, ‘I don’t hate the men; I only think they’re a useless gender.’

‘How could you think so?’ Kolthum cried in wonder, now she was loaded enough to dump her friend from her divine-like position, ‘don’t you think that you’ll marry one day?’

‘Marry one day?’ Caroline watched Kolthum in wonder, ‘Me? I thought you know that, don’t you?’

‘What?

‘That I’m lesbian!’ Caroline said as simply as if still talking about the formatting of a hard disk, ‘and lesbians never marry a man, you know!’

‘Oh!’

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‘No, they don’t!’

‘Oh!’

‘At least not voluntarily,’ Caroline added with a funny smile, giving the expression of enjoying the new situation. ‘Have you any problem with this?’

Kolthum was too shocked to give an answer. Her feeling was a strange cocktail of embarrassment, shame, despair, pain and fury. Yes, she was furious, and it was for the very first time that she felt to be really furious. And she was furious not only with her friend and the situation, or the possibility that she had been a laugh-subject for those who somehow knew the truth about Caroline’s sexual inclination, but most of all, she was furious with herself. To be a fool, to be so stupid not to notice the fact started to ache him as if Caroline had put a dagger in her heart.

She went home with no answer to Caroline’s question. She went home with a broken heart and with a fizzy head of someone who doesn’t exactly know the way leading her home.

And the situation changed drastically – so that even the other students in the classroom started rubbing their noses and whisper to one another ‘what do you say about this now?’ ‘Well, I say they didn’t find a way to reconcile who should play the upper side mate!’

But her classmates were not the only ones who did notice the changes.

‘Man, ask your daughter if she has a problem!’ One day Kolthum’s mother told her husband.

‘What problem.’ Kolthum’s father watched his wife sharply.

‘I wouldn’t tell you to ask her if I knew the problem!’

‘Why don’t you ask her yourself?’

‘She wouldn’t tell me.’ Kolthum’s mother growled and sighed, ‘you know that she wouldn’t. Your daughter doesn’t tell me everything! She needs her father’s advice.’

Father frowned, ‘that’s for sure! She will receive her share of my advice if going on with obstinacy.’

‘But you don’t go beat her,’ mother watched him anxiously, do you?’

‘What’s that woman?’ Father shouted furiously, ‘do you want him coming home one day with the blown-up belly? It’s what you want?’

Mother dropped her head in shame. She was in a subdued mood again, as she had been every time their daughters’ sexual organs had become a subject to discuss.

‘We’re living in a society of sinners and a lot of promiscuities. I mean those can’t hold up their pants, whether in Windsor House or among the lowest classes.’

So, to prove his complete independence from any kind of class of the British society, he called his daughter downstairs in the same evening. Still frowning while watching his daughter entering the room from which he had expelled his wife few minutes before, he didn’t return his daughter’s ‘salaam’ as he observed her shameless entrance in both dread and disgust. He had never seen his daughter’s body even when she was being a little child. But now, she was standing before him with an open face and a white thin house garment. The round silhouette of her breasts, the lines and curves of her torso and limbs along with the fleshy lips and cheeks all came in his sight just like thunder strike through his body.

‘What’s that on your body you …’ he jumped up; too frustrated to finish his sentence.

‘It’s my house garment father. I was in bed when you called me downstairs.’ Kolthum replied with her face lowering over her chest.

‘I didn’t ask where you were.’ Father shouted furiously, ‘I want to know how you dare to appear before me in so shameless way!’

‘I’m just your daughter,’ she raised her face, white as a sheet, ‘should I always behave as a stranger?’

‘Shut your mouth, you filthy whore!’

He cried with fury. Getting up on his trembling feet rushing over her madly as his heavy punch landed on her face. Kolthum cried in pain. Her body sprawled on the floor and her blood splashed around in the room. Mother rushed in frightfully and started crying as she saw the bloody scene.

The consequence of this quick mishap happened even faster than the incident itself, as in a few minutes afterwards the room was filled up with police officers and emergency-service staff. It was not clear who called them to come. Whether one of Kolthum’s brothers and sisters or one of the neighbours who had heard shrills and cries, it had caused Kolthum’s half naked body being spotted and touched by a lot of foreign eyes and unbelievers’ hands. Some of those hands took her to the hospital and others took her father to the police department.

The situation was utterly changed. Mr Joojoo was given an admonition and Kolthum a councillor to take advice and necessary information about her social and legal rights. During the time in the hospital, she was visited by her mother almost every day. But her father, whether through shame or regret or his still-on-flame fury, adamantly refused to show himself. According to his wife, he even didn’t know in which hospital his daughter had been deployed. For Kolthum however it was as if the beginning of a new era – not only because her face was constantly being exposed to the eyes of men, but also for new feelings that had begun to develop inside her she gradually began to see her life was going to change in a way that she could not share the traditional view that she had grown up within and had followed blindly throughout her life anymore. She still couldn’t find any logical terms to explain the impetus that had driven her to insurgency and such a dangerous and mad confrontation with her father’s authority. Surely it had something to do with her gone-lost barren relationship with Caroline, but she had a separate feeling as if she had always wished to be so courageous to stand against her father’s tyranny.

At this juncture, she was courageous too to admit that she was missing Caroline, painfully and remorsefully. Behind her bruised swollen eyelids she was seeing her beautiful face with those attractive eyes that were penetrating profoundly into her soul. Here she could understand the meanings hidden behind her words and why she had run the risk of putting their friendship in that dangerous test – the test of truth. And now she knew the truth. She knew the difference between her world and that of her father. She had seen and felt the cavernous abyss between two universes – the same abyss that had caused her painful fall.

The revelation came on to her just close to the surgery of her broken nose – so close that she thought it had happened to her during her narcosis as she came back to consciousness on her bed. Somebody called her name as she slowly opened her eyes. There was a nurse bowing over her, and her mother was standing beside her. Her forehead was wrinkled and her eyes were wet.

‘Mother,’ she whispered.

‘You see, I said everything will be all right, isn’t it so?’

Mrs Joojoo didn’t react. The only words she could understand in English were this and that, good and bad.

‘How do you feel now, miss?’

‘Numbed,’ Kolthum murmured.

‘That’s all right.’ The nurse smiled and put her hand on Kolthum’s arm. She was a good nurse and she liked her. She liked everybody in the hospital as everybody in her classroom – even those who always had tried to make a fool of her.

‘Are you hungry?’ She asked her.

‘No.’

‘Doesn’t matter.’ I’ll refer to you some later.’ She smiled again and left the room.

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The…

Standard

Aphorisms

… main difference between pessimism, optimism and happiness, is probably brevity.

Pessimism says: “I will never have what I want”.

Optimism says: ” I will have what I want.”

Happiness says: ” I have what I want “.

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Learning English with Yoda

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English-Language Thoughts

…is not a good idea. But let’s see what we can do. Even if you’re not a bigStar Warsfan (I quite like the original three andRogue One, though I first saw the originals when I was 14, slightly too old for them to really have a nostalgic hold on me. The ForceAwakens, the first new StarWars film in 32 years, is OK, but a bit derivative), you probably know Yoda.

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