Books By Jean Sasson

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

One of the women, who I assumed was his mother, slapped his shrunken legs until he dragged himself to a corner of the tent where he lay whimpering.

I was brokenhearted at this child’s plight.  Unlike people of other cultures, Arabs, and in particular, Bedouin Arabs, are uncaring about their  handicapped.  While healthy children are considered wealth and prestige for a family, an unhealthy child is a dreaded shame.  It was doubtful that this child would ever receive medical attention.  The little boy would likely live out his miserably short life crippled, unloved and undernourished. 

I desperately wanted to scoop the little boy up and take him away with me, but such a reaction is unheard of in my country.  In such a case as neglect, children are never taken away from their families, no matter the circumstances. 

When one of the women roughly nudged my arm, I accepted the tea cup offered me.  It was crusted with the filth of much previous use.  A second woman with the scarred hands of a woman who had raised many tents poured hot tea into my cup.

There was nothing to do but to drink from this cup; otherwise, our hostess would be gravely offended.

Once she was satisfied that her guests had been served, Faten removed her veil.  She was proud to show us that she was, indeed, very pretty, and very young, no more than eighteen or nineteen years of age, close to Maha’s age.

The other Bedouin women removed their veils, too.  These women looked much older and worn out than Faten.  It was no wonder that she was the favorite wife, for she had not yet been ravaged by repeated childbirth and the harsh desert life. 

Faten pranced before us as she showed off the various trinkets that she said were special gifts from the Sheik.  “He no longer visits his other wives,” she said with a broad grin as she pointed out three other Bedouin women in attendance.

Those three women exchanged subtle looks of irritation, while my sisters and I sat in silent unease. 

When one of the older women insisted that my sisters and I also remove our veils, we did so. 

Faten gawked in surprise at Sara’s beauty.  Obviously, she was accustomed to being the village celebrity, but no woman could match Sara’s breathtaking loveliness.  If my dear sister lived in a country where women were not forced to cover their faces, she would be famous for her magnificent beauty.


        Back to Sultana's Circle