Tag Archives: middle east

On The Outside Looking In (Pt. 4) Final Episode

24 Jul

Link to part 1: http://goo.gl/xig689

Link to part 2: http://goo.gl/aLWd5f

Link to part 3: http://goo.gl/tU4H8F

A full moon is seen behind the minaret of Mohamed Ali mosque, Cairo

 

As night fell and the two men sat waiting to be called. The driver´s legs were cramped and he could not find a comfortable position to sit. Makmood had no legs and was perfectly comfortable lying on a stone bench.

A single guard entered the courtyard and the driver poked Makmood until he woke.

“The sheik would like to see the two men who saved his life at once” the guard softly said.

“Yes, sir” Makmood said enthusiastically.

“Yes, sir” the driver said with little emotion.

The two men made their way to where the sheik was recuperating. He was propped up on silk pillows. A thin silk sheet was pulled up to mid torso exposing his powerful upper body. He did not look like a man who earlier that day was close to death.

The two men waited at the door waiting for the sheik to invite them in. He waved them in.

“Good evening gentlemen” the sheik said.

With heads bowed and their stares fixed upon the floor, in unison they repeated, “Good evening”

“You may feel at ease, gentlemen. No formalities during this encounter” The sheik said.

“As you wish” said the driver without lifting his head or glance.

Makmood, waist high to the driver, looked the sheik in the eyes, scooted towards him and offered both hands. A guard stood at attention but the sheik waved him off.

Makmood took the right hand of the sheik into his and said “It it a great honor to have ridden upon the same cart as you”

“Surely it was only an honor after you had found out who I was” the sheik said.

“No, sir, it is a privilege of God to be put in situations where one can be of service to their fellow man. The more dire need of your service, the greater the honor. I was blessed today”

The three stayed in silence for a moment. A tear rolled down the sheik´s eye. “Guard, please leave us alone”

“But, sir…..” the guard protested.

The sheik shot a glance back at the guard that was more piercing than the sword he had taken in the thigh during battle. “Yes sir” he acquiesced.

As the door shut the demeanor of the sheik changed. His warmth evaporated. His expression almost mean.

“You two will have to leave the territory immediately. You cannot even go home to you holes in the mountain. You will have an escort to the limits of the province, about two days travel away” the sheik said.

“Whatever are you talking about?” Makmood asked. The driver was paralyzed with fear.

“You are lucky. Everybody else involved will not breathe another breath after sun rise today” the sheik said, looking out the window at the full moon.

“Why?” Makmood asked with little signs of emotion.

“You found me and exposed my shame. I had drunk poison and was trying to make my way to the caves. I wanted to die in a cave. I miscalculated and must have passed out on the road. How far was I from the caves?” he asked.

“Not so far” Makmood said. “May I be so bold as to ask why you would do such a thing?”

“Yes” the sheik said and sat in silence before offering his answer. “Animals, when they can, often go into the woods to die. I, wanted to go into the home of the animals to die. No offense” he meant that. He only realized what he said could be construed as offense after the last word had left his mouth.

“Non taken” Makmood said. The driver, still paralyzed.

“As a boy I watched the fires burn in the holes in the mountains from the palace. I would invent stories in my head about what was happening at that moment. As an adolescent, I even wrote some of these stories down. It was the only time I didn´t feel bad” he suddenly stopped talking and looked away, though there was a feeling in the air that there was much more to be said. He looked back just to say “You must leave immediately. I have arranged your escort. Do not say one word until you leave this building if you wish to take another breath outside of it” and with that he looked away once more.

 

On The Outside Looking In (Pt. 3)

23 Jul

Part 1: http://tinyurl.com/qxwrfdp

Part 2: http://tinyurl.com/k75cmqe

archways

 

The soldiers led them through the archway entrance of the magistrate. The smallest of the soldiers ran off to get a doctor for the sheik. A couple of guards approached and greeted the soldiers.

“What do we have here?” one of the guards asked.

The tall soldier answered “According to these two, they were traveling into town when they spotted Sheik Masoud face down in the sand. They put them on their cart and brought them to town. If their story checks out, we are in the presence of heroes. If not, we are in the presence of dead men” he said with a crooked smile as he looked back at Makmood and the driver. The driver gulped hard. Makmood smiled back.

After about an hour of hard interrogating, followed by a decent meal, Makmood and the driver were asked to wait in a court yard.

“Isn´t this just splendid?” Makmood asked.

“What do you mean splendid?” the driver asked, irritated by the question, “I am missing a day’s sales! And we don´t even know if they believe us! You heard the soldier, we will be killed if there is an iota of doubt in our story! And you won´t go home with one coin! How are you going to eat?”

“I just did” Makmood said with a calm smile, “They will believe us. We told the truth. And we are heroes. You heard the soldier. He said so”

“He also said we are dead men!” the driver cried.

“No, he said we are heroes and if our story is not true, we are dead men. Our story is fact, therefore we are heroes, my friend” Makmood said. “We saved the sheik´s life! He is a good sheik. You know that. Sheik Masoud lives in the palace in front of our community. I watch the oil lamps burn at night when the mood strikes me. They dance in the darkness and they calm me”

“If you were any calmer, Makmood, you would melt into the rock!” the driver said. He felt relieved by Makmood´s convictions that everything would be all right.

Just then the guards came in. The driver stood and Makmood did his best to sit as straight as he possibly could.

“Well, it seems you two are heroes after all. The sheik is weak at the moment but he would like an audience with the two of you as soon as he regains his strength. This may be a little after sundown or possibly after sunrise. Regardless, we shall ask that you stay until the moment presents itself”

The driver did his best to hide his irritation. Makmood did nothing to mask his joy.

“How wonderful!” Makmood exclaimed.