Scooped Aubergines V

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Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim

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Jul 19, 2005
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Scooped Aubergines V
When my father was away a neighbour’s wife who lived some houses behind our house once paid my mother a visit. She showed unusual interest in our house and furniture. She asked my mother to show her all our rooms. My mother was very proud and showed her everything we possessed. Two days later at midnight a man was trying to break into our house. My mother woke up and he fled. Three days later a burglar tried to break into our house again and my mother thought he must have been the same neighbour who was very poor .She woke up our lodger and he ran after him till he disappeared behind our house. My mother said some people thought we were now fair game because my father was not at home.

Our lodger who worked for the police had a gun and when the burglar tried the third time he took out his gun, shot in the air and chased him. It didn’t take long to catch him and he turned out to be indeed the poor neighbour. He begged our lodger on his knees and kissed his feet not to kill him. Our lodger locked him in the bathroom. The next morning we saw him take the burglar out and tie him to a tree which was still left in our garden. When he went back to his room, obviously to put on his uniform, we stormed outside and started throwing stones and hurling abuses at him. Then my mother took the hose and squirted cold water on him like a water pistol. Our lodged heard his cries, came out and shouted at us to stop. He then untied and handcuffed him and said he was taking him to the police. The burglar’s poor wife heard what happened to her husband, came to my mother again and begged for forgiveness. My mother felt pity for her and asked our lodger to release him if he promised not to do it again. Suddenly the whole town heard of the burglary and everybody blamed my father for abandoning his family.

People gossiped a lot and what they said counted. Once when workers were building the house for my eldest uncle I saw an old lady stop and stare at it. Then she started speaking to herself loudly: “What does he think, how long would he live?” Many people thought you couldn’t build a house if you were old and my uncle was perhaps fifty. My father’s two half brothers often came for a visit just to show people we were not unkempt people. But the most prominent gossip in the town was indeed Rabi. She was nicknamed the six-mouth Rabi because she could talk nonstop about anything. Rabi went from house to house to sell gold like the gypsies. She knew where young women lived and came to them in the afternoons. Rich women had gold nearly on every part of their bodies, even on their legs. When they walked the gold rings jingled and men found them sexy. Men used to sing about them and their jingles. Another song urged young women to shorten their dresses so that everybody could see their rings. The amount of gold they wore reflected their social status. One day I heard one of my aunts ask provocatively after she heard that a girl’s bride price was too high, “Why…Is her vagina of gold?

Whenever Rabi came to our house she used to stroke my hair and I loved sitting next to her. Then she would take out all the jewellery she had to persuade my mother into buying. My poor mother was more restrained because she couldn’t spend money without getting my father’s permission. I wondered how anybody could refuse anything Rabi offered. I wished I could give my mother all the money she needed to buy what she wanted from Rabi. My mother was very sociable and likeable too. She was always surrounded by a gang of her female friends. Most of them hurried to her help whenever she needed some. One day when a woman started a squabble with her, two of her most ferocious friends came to her help. One of them collected big stones and the other hurled them at the woman. After that nobody risked a quarrel with my mother. She was back in her element when my father was not there. Our house was full of life again.

I still went to the primary school but I was now in the sixth form, the last year before intermediate school. My father was not there and I could spend more time outside playing or going to some faraway places for a swim. My mother wanted me to come back home early but I didn’t listen because I knew she was gentle and wouldn’t do anything. Besides we didn’t have a watch to know the time. But I remember there was a man in our town who although never had a watch could tell the time accurate to the minute. We often asked him laughing, Rasur what’s the time now?” He used to have a look at his wrist and then tell us the accurate time. We wondered how he could tell the accurate time without a watch. Some people thought he had special powers because he was in contact with spirits. He was also nicknamed crazy Rasur. His only job was to carry a big round tray with food to a mosque which some rich people sent for poor people. We saw him walking and praising God as he walked. His lips moved nonestop with what I think were holy recitations from the Quran.

To be continued

Bremen, 23 March 2008
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