[Novel] The Road to Shamawes ⑪

She was overwhelmed by disturbing thoughts and Saadiya’s voice awoke her:
“Mistress Nargis. The General is in the reception room. He wants to talk to you.”

Putting on her alternative clothes Nargis said :
“Tell him I’ll be there in five minutes.”

A few minutes later the Shamawes woman crossed the reception room quickly and went upstairs. She had a quick look at the General. Viola had promised her guests that the woman would hold a palmistry session that night. It’s the first time that she and Nargis have been there together. The guests – men and women – are very angry that the Shamawes woman disclose everything about them.

In a moment’s break the Shamawes woman sat in a corner and Nargis approached her saying :
“You’ve read everybody’s palm except mine!”

The woman held Nargis’s palm and frowned. She didn’t want to talk, but on the girl’s insistence the woman said :
“Look, my daughter. A tree climber should beware of the ground’s serpents. The sky is wings pulling you up, and the ground is claws pulling you down. Be careful.”

Nargis thought the woman was hallucinating because of exhaustion in palmistry. She didn’t understand anything. She smiled and went near Viola who winked at her.

Emad was angry because he was sure his sister was not in Alnuzha Hospital. He doesn’t know the hospital’s phone number, but that this number is near Dr Karim’s is mysterious.

“There are only two areas in the area, the General’s and his neighbour’s, the retired actress. How come that his sister knows the two places and their owners?!”

He was a little reassured. He went to the nearest grocery where there was a phone. But he didn’t make a call.

“What if I ask about my sister in the hospital and I don’t find her there. The grocer will know that, and his sister’s story will soon be the talk of the town, and he and his parents will be implicated in a scandal.”

He looked at his watch. It was a little after 8.30 p.m. He thought of ringing Dr Karim who doesn’t go to bed before ten o’clock. He might go to him and ring from there, but it would be a bigger scandal, and he has to forget about his plans and dreams with Donia.”

“What’s only left is my uncle’s home. I’ll go back home and go together to him. The call must be made quietly. Nobody wants scandals, particularly as his uncle’s wife doesn’t like his mother or anybody else actually.”

“Welcome home, my son. You went out without eating anything since the morning.”

His mother received him with tearful eyes. She felt there was something serious, but didn’t know exactly what it was. She is the type of mothers who are almost extinct now. Home is their world, and husband is the master at home and she fears only Allah outside.

When Nargis completed preparatory school her mother urged her mother consistently to make her stay at home to help her, but father said Nargis had the right to continue her education:
“An educated wife is something good for her husband and children.”

Mother found Nargis was too grown-up for her age. She wanted her to get married. Father believed that his daughter would ultimately be a housewife and should protect her marriage with knowledge. He spent on his son and daughter from the proceeds of the sale of the two kirats. Emad was independent at an early age. He gave language lessons. The daughter was modest and content. When Nabil came to reassure him about Nargis her father had performed the evening prayer. He then performed the Watr (additional) prayer and said good night and went to bed.

Emad waited until his mother came to bring him something to eat. He leaned on his uncle’s ear and said :
“Uncle, please let’s go to your home and be back immediately. I’m too worried about Nargis.”

Nabil stood up and held Emad’s hand saying :
“OK. Let’s say we’ve lost the number. We’ll consult the tlephone directory about the hospital’s number. If it is the same, well, no harm then.”

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