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27 omar khayyam - At First - The Moving Finger 28 w. jack savage california, usa - Interview - Sally’s 38 edmund spencer - Travels in Circassia, Krim Tartary, &c. (XVI)

BAŞ KABÎMÎZDA ON THE COVER

W. Jack Savage

NAZAR LOOK Attitude and culture magazine of Dobrudja’s Crimean Tatars Tomrîğa Kîrîm Tatarlarîñ turuşmamuriyet meğmuwasî ISSN: 2069-4784 www.nazar-look.com nazar.look@mail.com Constanta, Romania FOUNDER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF BAŞ-NAŞIR Taner Murat EDITORS NAŞIRLER Emine Ómer Uyar Polat Jason Stocks COMPUTER GRAPHICS SAYAR SÎZGAĞÎSÎ Elif Abdul Hakaan Kalila (Hakan Calila) CREATIVE CONSULTANTS ESER KEÑEŞÇÍSÍ M. Islamov Copyright reverts back to contributors upon publication. The full issue is available for viewing online from the Nazar - Look website. For submission guidelines and further information, please stop by www.nazar-look.com

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2 luçiyan bílága - Tegenekler 4 oodgeroo noonuccal - Understand Old One Kartnî añlamak 6 hamit látif (látipov) tatarstan - Kókíregím atîlgan yîldîzlar kuwuşî - Bahît - Moñsuwlîk - Ğelkínúw 10 taner murat scythia minor (little crimea) - Kókten sesler - Temúçin (XXII) 12 anthony j. langford new south wales, australia - The past is only today, faded - Geşmíş sáde búgún, solîk 14 ali tal england, uk - Unbounded Void (II) 18 imadaddin nasimi - Please Do Not 20 rudy ravindra north carolina, usa - Rachel

CONTRIBUTORS MEMBALAR

Anthony J. Langford Hamit Látif (Látipov) Rudy Ravindra W. Jack Savage Ali Tal

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luçiyan bílága

(1895 - 1961)

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(1895 - 1961)

Tegenekler Bala edím. Bír wakîtlar, akîlîma kele, ğîr-gúl toplap ğúre edím. Bek kóp tegenegí bar edí, ama olarnî koparmaz edím. Men olarnî tomîrşîk sanetíp şeşek aşar dep túşúne edím. Ondan soñra sen men tabîştîk. Ay, neday tegeneklí, ne kóp tegenegíñ bar edí, ama men sení arşîmadîm, şeşek aşar dep túşúndúm. Búgún bolarnîñ hepísí kózím aldîndan geşíp kúlúmsúriymen. Kúlúmsúrep şayîr-şayîr dolaşîp tozaman ğelíñ ğelpíldemesínde bír sekírşek. Bala edím. (Taner Murat’nîñ terğúmesínde)

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oodgeroo noonuccal

(1920 - 1993)

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(1920 - 1993)

Understand Old One What if you came back now To our new world, the city roaring There on the old peaceful camping place Of your red fires along the quiet water, How you would wonder At towering stone gunyahs high in air Immense, incredible; Planes in the sky over, swarms of cars Like things frantic in flight.

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Kartnî añlamak Eger şúndí kaytîp kelseñ Ğañî dúniyamîzga, ókírgen şeher Án-yerde, suw boyînda seníñ kîzîl ateşleríñ eskí raát ğurt awulunda, Ka-típ te şaşîp kalîrsîñ Hawada yúkselgen taş şalaşlarga Koş-koğa, inanîlmaz; Kókte tayyareler, súrúw-súrúw maşina Uşuşta órseñlegendiy. (Taner Murat’nîñ terğúmesínde)

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hamit lรกtif (lรกtipov)

tatarstan

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tatarstan Hamit Látif’níñ (Látipov) ruh múrekkeplígí gibísíne rast kelmek kayet zor bír íştír, onîñ kîymetínde sanatşîlar hem nadir, hem enderdír. Tamîrîn we ilhamîn Kazan Tatarlîgîndan algan sanatşînîñ ustalîgî miydanga şîgîp kózímízníñ aldîna hem sînîr tanîmagan, hem gúzellíkke tolî bír góñíl aşîklap salîr. Şayirníñ eserlerí zengínleştírmegen estetiklík dúniya kalmagandîr: şarkî, resím, sîzga, duwar sanatî, ziynet sanatî. Lákin onîñ şalîşmalarîñ eñ kadírlí yagî Tatar tînîn we góñílín kaytîmlatmasîdîr.

Kókíregím atîlgan yîldîzlar kuwuşî Koşîlîp kuşlarga Tíledím uşarga. Moñlanîp ğîrlarda Ğol aldîm kuyaşlî kîrlarga. Ómírím oñîşlî Kókíregím atîlgan yîldîzlar kuwuşî, Atîlgan yîldîzlar kuwuşî… Kóñílím tolîştî Ğan bíle meñgílík bolmîşnî. 12 oşak1996

Bahît Sakralardan estí ğeller We men uşa-almadîm; Kók katîndan keldí bahît We men tuta-almadîm; Yar etkením bír kîz boldî Kuşaklay-almadîm. Kóñílímde yaraldî moñ Ğîlap toya-almadîm. 23 awustos 1997

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tatarstan

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tatarstan

Moñsuwlîk Nege şolay yúzúñ moñsuw dep Soray mení kórgen tanîşlar; Belkí, şolay moñsuw etedír, diymen, Álemlerden eñgen sagîşlar. 24 mart 1996

Ğelkínúw Nurlangan terezem, úmítler - túnge şam. Gómelek şekíllí ğelpíne. Terezem aldînda yîldîzlar balkîşî Ğelkíte dúnyalar çetíne. 14 awustos 1997

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scythia minor (little crimea) www.tanermurat.com

Kókten sesler - Temúçin (XXII) Kesím 40 Kabul Hakaan Kabul Hakaanga kaytkanda, Uñgurattan kîz alîp úylengen, Kuwa Kulkuwa man. Yasugaynîñ kartanasî Kuwa Kulkuwa síptí tapkanda, balaga Ókin Barkak degenler. Ókin, er balaga sîk-sîk atîlgan, ğaygîn bír at. "Bok", "BoktanTuwgan", "Bogdan", bonlarga uşagan, yaman kuwatlarnî aldattîrîp, onlarnî er baladan uzak tutmak niyetí men tagîlgan atlarnîñ sîrasîna kírer. Yasugaynîñ amğasî, Ókin Barkaknîñ tek ulî, "Kutluk Ğúreklí", Kutuktuw Yúrkiy. Bek ğesaretlí bolganî úşún "Ğúreklí" dep aytkan ekenler, şo Kutuktuwga. Kutuktuw Sorkatuw atî man tanîla edí. Deñíşík obalarda da Yúrkiy yeríne Júrkiy, Zúrkiy ya Ğúrkiy dep aytar edíler, oga. Sorkatuw Zúrkiyníñ ekí ulî, Seğa Bekí men Tayğaw, ata boyîn uzatîp, "Ğúreklíler" obasîn ğónetkenler, Yúrkiy alar ya Zúrkinler dep aytîlîp. Sorkatuw Zúrkiy Yasugay man dogmîş kardaşî bolsa da, Seğa Bekí men Tayğaw Temúçinden baya yaşlî, onbeş-yígírím yaş balaban. Kabul Hakaan man Kuwa Kulkuwanîñ ekínğí ulî, batîrlar sîrasîna kírgen, Temúçinníñ kartbabasî, Bartan Batîrdîr. Atasîn ólím senesínde, tawlay yîl, Juliyan kúnsayîmnîñ nazarîndan 1147-de, babasîn ğenazesínden soñra, ağelesí men yapîlgan bír kurultaynîñ soñînda, Hakaan ayîrîlgan edí. Kabul Hakaannîñ eğel tílí men taşlagan sózíne uyup kesík zamannîñ íşínde Ambakaynî ayîrmaga ulus kurultayî toplanganda, babasîn eğel tóşegínde aytîp taşlagan sózíne karşî turmasîndan bazgeşíp, ózí tartîlîp hakaanlîkka Ambakaynîñ kelmesín tanîdî, babasî ístegeníndiy, arkasîn

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búgúp turdî. Kesík bír zaman úşún Hakaan ayîrîlganî tanîlmay, Bartannîñ atî batîrlîk basamagînda kaldî. Bartan Batîr nenesín boyîndan Uñgurattan kîz ayîrîp, Şáy Maral Kayaknî tuttî. Alaysî Şáy Maral Kayaktan, dórtí ul, on balasî bolgan. Eñ balabanî Mañka Kîyan. Mañka Kîyandan soñra, Bartan Batîr man Şáy Maral Kayaknîñ altî kîzî tuwup, akasî man soñînda kelgen úş ulnuñ yaş arasî keñ kaldî. Ekínğí babasî sayîlîr edí, Mañka Kîyan, ínísí alar úşún. Sekízínğí balasî tuwup ul bolganîna, şo kuwanîşnîñ íşínde, anasî-atasî alar "Tek Mîrza", Nekún Tayğa, dep taktîlar atîn ke kópten ul beklep ul kórmegen edíler. Temúçinníñ babasî dokîzînğîsîna da, ogîrlî dokîz sayîsîndan uzaklaştîrmay, "Dokîzlîknîñ balasî", Yasugay dedíler. Nekún Tayğa akasîndan bír-ekí yaş kíşkene edí Yasugay. O tuwgan soñ, Şáy Maral Kayak koğasîna "Dokîz balañ, uş uluñ bar. Yeter, endí!" dese de, ekí seneden onînğîsîn da taptî. "Taraytmamîz lázîm. Bo soñgîsî. Tarîday ğúregímízníñ ózeginde bo kalsîn! Başkasî kelmesín!" dedíler, anasî da, babasî da. Atîn, Darîtay Ózegin saldîlar. Şo man da, toktap bolganlar. Dórt kardaşlarga, Mañka Kîyan akasîna karap, Kîyan alar dep ayatar edíler. Kabul Hakaannîñ úşúnğí ulnuñ, "Kayîrlî Gúmúş", Kutuktuw Móñgúrnúñ tek ulî, keş keldí. Yasugay alardan da baya kíşkene. Yaşî, Yasugay man Temúçin alarnîñ ortalarînda. Atî, Bórí. Bo, Yasugaynîñ dogmîş kardaşî, bek aytuwlî bolîp ğúrdí. Buwuşmada koşak tab-almay, ulusnuñ eñ aytuwlî kúreşşísí. Naadam buwuşmasîna koşîlîp, Bórí Buwuw bolîp şîktî. Seneler men de başkalarîna Naadam kazanmak eñ ufak bír fîrsat taşlamay şîktî. Mína, bo! Bo Bórí Buwuw! Bo! Onan Múren Túnúnde, bír tepreş sîrasînda, kîlîşî man, Temúçinníñ ínísí, Belgútaynîñ omîzîn ğarîp alağak, ya, bodîr! Bo Bórí Buwuwdur!

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scythia minor (little crimea)

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Kabul Hakaannîñ dórtínğí ulundan, Ambakay Hakaandan soñ hakaanlîkka keleğek Kutuladan, úş torînî boldî: Zoğiy, Gîrmaw bír de Altan Ózegin. Nekún Tayğa, Yasugay, Darîtay Ózegin men akran sayîlîrlar. Kulan Batîrdîr, Kabul Hakaannîñ, beşínğí ulî. Onîñ da bír ulî boldî, "Úyken Ómír", Úyken Ğeren, Yasugay alarnîñ dogmîş kardaşî. Mína, bo! Bo Tatardîr! Bo Tatar! Úyken Ğeren! Temúçinge karşî kelgen Tatarlîknîñ şurasî bo Tatarnîñ úyúnde toplaşağaktîr. Tatarlarnîñ tasawuruna kulak salîp, keşeníñ ortasînda şaba-kaşa, Temúçinge kaber etken bo Tatarnîñ ekí kîzmetşísídír. Tatarlarnîñ tasawurun sîr meselesínden şîgargan bo Úyken Ğerenníñ ekí kîzmetşí, Baday man Kíşílík. Kayakan man Tódóyenge kelgende, Kabul Hakaannîñ eñ kíşkene ekí ulî, onlarnîñ er ewlatî bolmadî. Kabul Hakaan ğúmle Moñgollîknî bírleştíríp, Juliyan kúnsayîmî nogay senesí 1130-da Moñgollîknîñ başînda kamuk bolîp otîrdî.

Ambakay Hakaan, ózín kîzîn ózí ozgarîp aketeğek bolîp, kîzîn şo Tatar îrgîna aketíp barayatîrganda, Tatar îrgîndan moyînî Kîtayga ğúgúk bolgan ğálatlarnîñ kolîna tuştî. Arkasî Kîtayga búgúk şo Tatar ğálatlarî, Ambakay Hakaannî tutkanî man, Kîtaynîñ Altan Hakaannîñ kolîna bereğek bolîp tora Kîtay ğolîn tuttular. Ğolda bír ara tabîp Ambakay Hakaan Balîkşî atînda Besút alardan bír kíşí men kóríştí. Balîkşînî elşí etíp şonday añlatîp ğíberdí: - Kabul Hakaannîñ yedí ulnuñ íşínden Kutulaga, ondan ayîrî on ulnuñ íşínden Kayakan Tayğaga, añlatkanlarîmnî aytarsîñ. Onlar kaanlarnîñ kamugî bolganda, ulusnuñ sabîsî bolganda sak bolsînlar, mendiy etíp kîzlarîn bergende ózílerí ozgarîp şîkmasînlar. Mína, mením şoga akîlîm ğetmedí. Bonday etíp Tatar ğálatlarîn kolîna túştúm.

Kesím 41 Ambakay Hakaan

Kesím 43 Şîgardîlar, kabîrga

Kabul Hakaandan soñra, onîñ taşlagan tílí men, Kabul Hakaannîñ yedí ulî bolîp turganda, Moñgollîknîñ kamuklugî Señgúm Bílgeníñ ulî Ambakay Hakaanga geşíríldí, tekmíl Moñgollarnîñ mañlayîna o baş bolîp otîrgandîr, Juliyan sayîmî 1147 tawlay senesínden başlap.

Ambakay Hakaannîñ ğíbergen kaberínde Kayakan man Kutulanîñ ekewsúñ de atlarî koşîlîp yer alganîna kóre, bútún Moñgollar Onan Múrenníñ Korkonak Şayîrîna toplaştîlar. Tayğîwutlar da koşîlîp keldíler. O yerde kurultay tutup Kutula Moñgollarnîñ Kamugî, Hakaan ayîrîldî, artîndan da úyken zewuklî toynî dúbúrdetíp oynay-oynay egleníp turdular. Kutulanî kóteríp yerleştírgen soñra, Korkonakdakî Sawluk Modînîna kol-kolga beríp kora kaytardîlar, sîgîp-aşîp kora Sawluk Modînga, aylana-aylana,

Kesím 42 Taşlamañîz ğerde ğatîp ğúregímní 1155 kakay senesí, baárníñ kuyruk ayînda, Ambakay Hakaan kîzîn Tatar îrgîna berdí. Buyur Nawur man Kólen Nawur ekí kólníñ arasînda, Úrşigún Múren şayîrîn tutkan, Ayîrîlîk Buyurut Tatar îrgîna berdí.

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Tîrîşîñîz patlap-şatlap, soñ ístegím! Ğarîlganşîk beş parmaknîñ tîrnagî Şatlaganşîk on parmaknîñ súyegí Taşlamañîz ğerde ğatîp ğúregímní!

Şîgardîlar kabîrga Kókírek ata-ata. (dewamî keleğekke)

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anthony j. langford

new south wales, australia

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new south wales, australia

The past is only today, faded

Geşmíş sáde búgún, solîk

Cycle wheel spokes Cyclical Turn over routines While I watched the flow in the gutter As the photographs curled in the baking sun Soon lost to time Despite the accompanying soundtrack.

Yîkpal tegerşígí konîşîr Kaytîmlî Dewerlí ádetler Men olîgîñ agîşîna karap turganda Resímler kúneşte burulup kawurulganda Yakînda zamanga kaybolîp Refakat şarkîsîna karamadan.

I ran after the memories But the water drained away And poured off the horizon.

Tezkire artîndan ğuwurdum Ama suw agîp ğok boldî Ufukka tamîp

I tracked the line In the middle of the road As it was fading Leading me nowhere But onward.

Men sîzknî ízledím Ğolîñ ortasîndan Ğoytîlsa da Heşbír yerge barmadan Gene aldga keter.

For that singular moment It felt like enough Though destinations Are untraceable Like slippery fingerprints Disappointment is inevitable Insects without a light source.

Tek şo an úşún Yeterlí gibí keldí Barağak yerler Ízlenmese de Taygan parmak ízí gibí Peşmanlîktan kaşîlmaz Ğarîksîz bóğekler

Yet if visibility is enough To discern the eyes or a cheek There is slight promise Though a smile is a lot to ask for The future will have to wait And a discarded toy Can take care of yesterday.

Ama eger kóríş yeterlí bolsa Kózlerní ya da betní ayîrmaga Ufak bír umut bar ke Bír kúlúmsúrew ístemek kóp kelse de Keleğek beklemek zorînda kalîr Atîlgan bír oyînğak ta Túnewúnníñ şáresíne karay-alîr.

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england, uk

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Unbounded Void (II) 3 Having agreed with village elders what fees I could charge that were fair on me and affordable by most parents, we agreed half a lira or a measure of wheat per pupil each term or its equivalent of other cereals. I rented a one room house with a yard and a pen for my donkey. During the day my home turned into the village school and I took to teaching fulltime. Fathers enthusiastically enrolled their sons between the ages of seven and fourteen. At eight o’clock each morning the boys sat cross-legged on a straw mat in one classroom. When the news of a teacher had spread around, boys from other close villages close by were also enrolled. The number of pupils was usually around thirty. With black slate slabs on their laps and white chalk in hand, they chanted the lesson then wrote it down. You may think I have unnecessarily dilated upon my first few weeks in the village. I ask your forbearance. If you are to give a just judgement it is essential I draw a full picture to help you understand my sufferings. It may have crossed your mind, ‘Why didn’t he leave?’ I am ashamed to admit that I was beguiled by the courtly welcome and generous hospitality with which the villagers met me with. Their simplicity, respect and appreciation of my knowledge of deciphering the letters blinded me of the reason which had brought me to them in first instant. I came to educate those oppressed and forgotten fellahin and tell them that there was life outside the confines of harvesting the endless Baal seasons on their Heights. You may wish to ask, ‘Where did you see Fatimah for the first time?’

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The answer to this question is very embarrassing and disgraceful. I approached her humble hut in the company of the self-gratifying multitude who marched to gloat over her deserved beatings. But I shall tell you of that in due time. Please let me wail my sins which could never be forgiven and babble how conceit had swelled my head and obscured her pain. I, the venerable teacher, whose duty was to enlighten his pupils about human relationships, often saw the tall, slender matchstick Fatimah at the side of the road. Destitute, she would sit cross-legged on the dirt extending her fleshless, dirty hand to beg the passers-by for bread and table scraps. They all knew whom she was; yet none pitied her. Accepting her humiliation, she sat broken-hearted and subdued in her torn black dress and old red scarf that could not cover her long black plaits. She squatted sad and dejected by all. Woe is to my eternal misery and sham! Arrogantly I closed my eyes against her degradation. I dwelt in an exalted position amongst the villagers and she was the dregs of their society. At my arrival, I did not see Fatimah. It was six months later when she appeared. I was surprised and shocked to know that she was one of the village girls. Fatimah was born to their poorest and weakest family. Her body was thin under her old, dirty rags pinned together with a rusted wire. Of course, in the evening gatherings in the mathafa

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www.arabworldbooks.com around the pit of the noqra1, I had heard about her mother, the old widow who lived alone in the smallest and shabbiest mud hut at the edge of the village. I even graciously bid her greetings a few times. But nobody mentioned that she had a daughter. The widow was a woman who had past the bloom of life. Her husband died, ‘Of a malignant disease’ as the village chief told me. Malignant disease was the name the fellahin gave to all illnesses that neither herbal remedies nor amulets or sacred chants of holy men could cure. Surrounded by her chicken picking at the soil, the widow spent all her day sitting at the lea of her hut teasing or spinning wool or goat hair into yarn. For the indigo tattoos on her cheeks and chin, nothing was visible of her thin, long face. She tucked her black dress around her stretched out unhealthy legs, holding a wooden spindle between her veined hands. From the teased pile of wool on her lap, she spun yarns. If she spun a ball of threads, she bartered it to the village women for a pound of chickpeas or lentils. As far as I could gather, apart from the charity of the villagers’ leftovers, weaving was her only source of income. The widow was disabled. Both her legs were ulcerated and swollen and she shuffled rather than walked. Supporting herself with both hands on her staff, she laboriously inched her way. Poverty prevented the poverty-stricken woman from visiting the surgeries in Al Qunaitra. She treated her ulcers with Arab herbal medicine. Before she had suddenly disappeared, Fatimah, the widow’s only child, was a spinster at twenty five years of age. In the eyes of the fellahin she was too old to be married. Their daughters were married off at puberty and their sons soon after. By the age of thirty the fellahin became grandparents. If a person amongst them managed to pass fifty, they would call him ‘Noah’ and say, ‘He wants to live the two lives’, meaning the Here and the Hereafter lives. The average life span was around

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forty. Like her mother, Fatimah's health was also poor and she suffered from asthma and had bad fits of coughing. However, ill-health did not prevent her from seeking employment. She was apparently a spry girl, and from very young age she continuously moved amongst the village houses from menial job to the next. She washed clothes and swept floors. She pulled buckets of water from wells, filled her jar and carried it balanced atop of her head to the doliums. She milked yews and she-goats, cleaned their pens and mixed animal’s manure into cow chips to be used as fuel. In the autumns she smeared the roofs and walls with mud mixed with hay. In the cold winter she roamed the snow covered slopes to gather firewood which she tied into huge bundles and brought back to the village on her back. No job, no matter how disdained, was burdensome or heavy. If the cesspit cleaner absented himself, Fatimah’s mother forced her to empty septic tanks. The villagers looked in admiration at Fatimah and said, ‘How blessed the mother of Fatimah is for having such a dutiful daughter. By Allah, Fatimah is worth ten son.’ But, like all women, Fatimah had feminine secret needs which were ignored. If ever an individual alluded to the subject, he was scuffed at and told, ‘And who would marry her? The girl is above such things’ No one wanted to admit that she also, like everyone, had basic instincts and desires. During such backward times, the Amorite tribal tradition was to force a spinster upon one of her paternalcousins. Even they looked down at their relative and mucked the idea. Fatimah looked stealthily at the men and dreamed the dreams of virgins, of a husband, a home and children of her own. At the wedding parties, whilst the merrymakers joyously sang and

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www.arabworldbooks.com danced, she furtively gazed at the happy couple, silently and deeply sighing, wondering when she would also be a bride displayed on the nuptial throne. At the end of the evening, the noise of the revellers reached its peak as the newlyweds were noisily led to consummate their vows. Fatimah’s heartbeat raced, envying the bride her groom. But her wish remained just a fanciful dream for no prospecting mothers suggested her as a possible bride to one of their sons. The years passed and Fatimah remained unmarried that everybody, including her own mother, believed that would be her fate. For apart from her poor health and poverty, Fatimah grew up taciturn and shy. Although, she had a pleasant face, she was well built and rather taller than average, boasting neither beauty nor feminine traits. Nonetheless, she possessed a childlike sweet innocence and a kind-heart which no one noticed but me, and I shamefully did not see those beloved qualities until her last hours. There were raging flames in her small black eyes that burned me to surrender. The previous harvest to my arrival, a short, wandering trinket-salesman with an inviting, cheeky smile had parked his caravan at the village square. After he unyoked his horses, he displayed his cheap goods and they were of what appealed to the fellahin women simple taste. Outside the caravan he displayed on wooden boards brightly coloured fabrics; wooden clogs some with tassels others with pictures carved on them; boots of camel hide with red ribbons on their side; boiled sweets and Turkish delight; buckets of molasses of dates and treacle of sugarcane; sheeted apricots and fudge of grapes. Inside the caravan he hung silver jewelleries of the kind admired by girls; Ottoman and British sovereigns with holes to sew on diadems or thread into necklaces; anklets with and without bells; snake bracelets; rings; earrings;

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nose-rings; and chains of colourful beads. The females of the village abandoned the threshing floors in haste and hurried to look at the merchandise and immediately began haggling over the prices. In his mid thirty, the egotistical lecherous trinket-salesman was a small narcissistic being with beady eyes. An only child at sixteen years old he inherited from his gypsy father a horse-driven caravan. The itinerant salesman never knew his mother. Over the years he had been around and had seen and done things to suit himself. In his endless travels up and down Greater Syria2, he had been rubbed a few times and beaten to near death by irate fathers or brothers for deceiving or seducing their women into marriage or illicit affairs. He thought he had a son, but never truly tried to find out. By nature he was epicurean and could read the yearning glances of voluptuous women. His prowling male instinct drew him to notice quiet Fatimah, standing at the back of the noisy crowd of females. With penetrating glances he stared at her. She blushed but held her gaze back. Whilst his lively customers were busy, the man rolled the tips of his moustache, winked and put on his lips his sensual smile. Fatimah's heart melted with joy. At last a man had acknowledged her existence. A ray of hope shone in her desperately searching soul for he was the first male ever to look at her as a man would at a woman. Thinking that love had finally knocked on her door, Fatimah lingered around the caravan. She was in such a rush to receive any caller. At the siesta time, the customers went back to the threshing floors to while away the heat of midday sun. But Fatimah was beguiled and brazenly dallied around. Her whole body was shivering with the intensity of the man’s blatant libidinousness. Perspiring and her eyes misting, the spinster’s heart was thumbing hard in her chest. She felt as though it was chocking her.

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england, uk

www.arabworldbooks.com Although he needed no encouragement, Fatimah made sure the trinket-salesman was aware of her attention. At first, he softly spoke and with a hesitant tone to judge her intentions. The man had had a long experience in deciphering the attitude of countrywomen had many illicit affairs and had married and divorced a few women in his time. Not to alarm the woman he was exchanging glances with him, the spirited trinketsalesman slowly drew closer, talking all the while. With false modestly, he left few footsteps between them, chatting in platitude. She coquettishly answered him. Feeling the hot air of her sexual energy, he tenderly flirted with her. Guided by her reaction, he gradually talked of marriage and the nuptial night. Invigorated by her response, he slyly looked around him to ascertain that nobody was looking as he lecherously began groping himself. Unfamiliar with such lewd behaviour, Fatimah was morally shocked and retreated in embarrassment and demureness. To leave no doubts in her mind as to his real intention, he stroked his penis, tracing its erection inside his serwal. Although, she was made uncomfortable by his obvious smut, Fatimah indulgently held her ground. Her cheeks flushed with the heat of sexual passion and her body voluptuously trembled, imagining Paradise was about to open Its Pearly gates for her. The man drew nearer and took her hand in his and made her feel his stiffness. Fatimah was annoyed with him and crossly pulled back. However, anxious not to waste the opportunity, she kept a short distance between them. Making up his mind that she was not the type who would illicitly visit his caravan under the cover of darkness, he reflected, ‘I will have to marry her for a few months. She is not that bad looking.’ On the spot, he offered to marry her. By

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mid-afternoon, the trinket salesman had called upon her cousin, her nearest male relative, to ask for her hand in marriage. Despite the very strong and bitter objection of the widow and after agreeing to a dowry of a few yards of cheap cloth, two sheets of apricot and a measure of molasses, her paternal cousin gave his consent. Fearful of losing what she had thought was her last only chance the chance, Fatimah's marriage contract was written and signed without adding of safeguards to protect her from divorce The betrothed and her fiancé were met by glares of condemnation and contempt by the shocked villagers. In the evening Fatimah wore her trousseau, a red dress and an Aleppoian carved wooden clogs, which she had long been treasuring for a much yearned for wedding night. Although she was shunned and ridiculed by her bitter mother and all the village women, Fatimah was undeterred. A tirade of invective insults and curses were mouthed by her mother who forcefully tired to stop her daughter from leaving the hut. But, Fatimah sat undaunted, pricking up her ears to sounds of her cousin’s footsteps. Covering her face with a white veil, she moved around the room to avoid the blows of her mother’s staff. After Isha, the night prayer, her paternal cousin led the bride without much ado to her groom's caravan. Overnight the widow had reconciled herself to the preordained. In the morning, she carried a hearty breakfast tray to the newlyweds. But the caravan had disappeared in the darkness and with it Fatimah. The villagers preferred to forget the disgraceful behaviour of the undutiful daughter.

(to be continued) _____________ Notes: 1. Fireplace 2. That is Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. Cyrenaica

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imadaddin nasimi

(1369 - 1417)

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(1369 - 1417)

Please Do Not Should you want to veil your face from me, oh please do not! Should you want to make my tears flow, oh please do not! Should you want to lay your hair of musk atop the rose And leave your lover destitute, oh please do not!

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rudy ravindra

north carolina, usa

Rudy Ravindra attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Summer 2012). His fiction has been published or will be published in Yellow Mama, Story Shack, Southern Cross Review, Enhance, Bewildering Stories, Blazevox. He lives with his wife in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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north carolina, usa even in Heaven. Hundreds of thousands of simple, ordinary, God-fearing people, openly weeping, with tears flowing down their cheeks, lined up the route of the train that carried the last remains of this compassionate man. The post war economic growth and prosperity enjoyed by the ordinary people throughout most of the land didn’t really trickle down to many poor people in the deep South. These unfortunate souls didn’t have central heating, indoor plumbing, vacuum cleaners or automobiles. They counted themselves lucky if their bellies were full. They counted themselves lucky if they had a roof—however rickety, over their head. They counted themselves lucky if they had a bed to sleep in. They counted themselves lucky if they didn’t freeze to death in their cold shacks in middle of the winter. They counted themselves lucky if they washed their bodies in the warm weather, getting rid of all the grime that accumulated through the cold months. They counted themselves lucky if they wore a clean set of clothes on a Sunday to go to church to pray the Good Lord for a better life.

Rachel 1 The country was on the brink of disaster, ravaged by the greed of the robber barons—those oligarchs who sequestered most of the riches of this vast beautiful land endowed with such immense natural resources, and untapped human potential. This was the country where even if honest folks wanted to work there were no jobs, where people perished needlessly, where people walked all the way from Oklahoma to California in search of greener pastures. It took a man who never had to face the ravages of poverty, a man who was abhorred by the rich but revered by the poor and the downtrodden, a man who gave hope to the hungry masses, a man physically handicapped but mentally strong with an indomitable spirit and single-minded resolve, to lift the country from the abysmal depths of the Great Depression. After providing livelihood to millions of starving families, and after liberating Europe from the tyranny of fascism, this Great Man—a fearless and peerless President, was summoned by the Good Lord, as if his enormous skills were needed

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The Williams family was definitely not one of those lucky ones. They were what people called ‘white trash’. The kids hardly saw their daddy. Luke Williams was lazy, worked at some odd jobs when he needed money for his drinking, gambling, and whoring. He would be away from home for many months at a time and suddenly appear, beat his wife, take her money and vanish. Peggy suffered the abuse for a long time until her grown up daughters took it upon themselves to protect their mama. One day when Luke came home drunk and started to beat her because she didn’t give him money, her two teenage daughters got hold of their daddy and pinned him down. Peggy got her shotgun and aimed at him. “You ain’t worth the lead it takes to blow you to hell. Now get out.” For quite a few days, Peggy’s face was black and blue, and her eye was swollen shut. They lived in a small village near Aberdeen, Mississippi, in a two-room shack on Mr. McLeod’s big farm. He was rich, what with fancy cars and fancier women, parties every weekend, folks coming all the way from Memphis and Birmingham. Mr. McLeod was generous, didn’t charge any rent,

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north carolina, usa and let Peggy keep as much produce and meat as she needed to feed her brood. Of course, his generosity came at a price. Although he enjoyed his dalliances with those high-society women, he relished Peggy’s company and her simple country ways. With her wayward husband gone most of the time, Peggy lived hand to mouth, and accepted all the help she could possibly find. Also, she enjoyed Mr. McLeod’s pleasant company, he was such a sophisticated man compared to her uncouth husband. That was such a long time ago, those days Peggy was in full bloom, fat in all the right places. After many years, worn out by work and children, even when the petals of her youth began to wither, she retained some of her allure. She thanked the Good Lord for blessing her with good looks, so essential to keep the men interested. Peggy’s boys, Larry and Ricky, were born two years apart. After a gap of a few years, Donna, Agnes and Joyce were born, one after the other. Then again, after another gap, Marylou and Rachel came along. Larry and Ricky joined the army right after high school. Rachel was born with cross eyes, but her mama didn’t concern herself much about it as other than the eyes everything looked fine, the baby was healthy. She cried when hungry, drank milk, ate well, and slept soundly. Her mama said. “The baby is snug as a bug in them swaddlings.” But when Rachel was two or three, her mama noticed that she wasn’t seeing things properly. Mr. McLeod told Peggy, “Take this child to Dr. Needham. He is a good eye doctor in Columbus. Tell him I sent you.” Rachel was under the knife a few times, but all those surgeries didn’t help, her eyes were still crossed. Rachel wore eye patches, and walked around the house like she was blind, walking into tables and chairs. She got her first pair of eyeglasses when she was five, and all the other children made fun of her. Some of them were very mean, they grabbed her glasses and hid them. It was not clear if at the time Peggy was pregnant with Rachel, her egg got a little bent out of shape or if Luke’s sperms were out of whack due to his excessive drinking. But there was absolutely no doubt that Rachel had learning difficulty, she was not sharp and street-smart.

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When Rachel was eight, her mama got her a new pair of eye glasses. Rachel’s old glasses got tight, plastic around the frame chipped and scratched her. She was happy with her glasses and admired herself in the mirror. Marylou walked in. “Well, well, looky, if it ain’t Miss purdy Rachel. Brand-spanking new glasses! Com’n lemme see them.” “Marylou, you can see better when they is on me. Without my glasses I am blind as a bat.” Marylou yanked them out, stomped on them and shattered them to pieces, and gave Rachel a dirty look. “Now, go tell mama you broke them. If you tell her I done it, I am gonna whup you good.” Rachel started crying and ran to mama, “My glasses broke, Mama.” Mama was angry. Always living close to the bone, even a few pennies mattered. “Rachel Williams! You are heedless and unthoughtless! I spent all me savings on them glasses.” She gave her a hard look. Rachel knew that look. It meant thrashing. She was already peeing in her panty, drops trickling down to her thighs. Mama said quietly. “Rachel, go get me a switch.” Now Rachel cried harder. “Mama, I don’t see no good, no glasses.” Mama picked up Rachel’s old pair from the kitchen counter. “Use them-here.” Rachel ran to the backyard as fast as her wobbly legs took her, and looked around. She had a choice between crabapple tree and dogwood. But the dogwood was in full bloom with pretty pink flowers, she hated to break off a branch. But the crabapple didn’t do too well that spring. She stood on her tiptoes, broke a small branch, and removed all the leaves. Mama britches.”

took

the

switch.

“Drop

your

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north carolina, usa The first one stung, hurt real bad, Rachel started to holler, “Mama, please….I am sorry…” Mama said, “Hush up.” The second, third, swish, swish, fourth, swish, swish. And then Rachel lost count and fell on the floor, her pee all around her. * After school the children worked in the fields, and Peggy joined them when she came home from her day job at the cotton factory. Men did the heavy work, and children did other jobs. The main crops in Mr. McLeod’s farm were corn and cotton. By early April the fields were first hoed to remove the weeds and then ploughed and straight rows of corn seeds planted. As soon as the cotton seeds were in the ground, the crew shifted to another part of the field where cotton seeds were sowed. Thus most of the sowing was done by the end of May. Along with the corn or cotton saplings, weeds also grew abundantly, and these had to be pulled. Mostly, children did this backbreaking work. During summer holidays the children worked in the fields all day long, from morning to evening with only a small break for lunch. Working in the fields on hot and muggy summer days was hard and thirsty work. Whenever the children took a break, they laid on the concrete floor of the porch and rolled on it, it felt so good to be on the cool floor. They drank water right out of the well. One of them pumped the water with a hand pump, while another kid cupped her hands and drank the cold, sweet-tasting water. Throughout the summer, the cotton and corn plants grew taller and more weeds had to be pulled. When the weather got a little cooler during the fall, it was time to harvest the crops. First, corn was harvested. Using sharp corn knives, men moved rapidly through the rows of corn and chopped off the corn ears, which were loaded on to wagons to be transported to the barn. Husking pegs were used to strip off the husks from the corn ears. This was done mostly by adults, either men or women. They grabbed an ear with one hand and

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with one motion, with the help of a husking peg, peeled off the husk with the other. Some corn was kept in the barn to feed the hogs, and the remaining corn was canned. Mason jars were filled with corn and kept in a big pot of boiling water, and jars sealed after cooling. As soon as corn was harvested, it was time to pick the cotton bolls. Small children stood on wooden boxes to pick cotton bolls. Each child was equipped with a cotton sack with a strap around the shoulder. Big white cotton bolls were plucked and tossed into the sack. They couldn’t afford expensive leather gloves, and the cheap cotton gloves weren’t adequate, consequently their fingers and wrists were scratched by the dried bristles of the plant. If they were slow in picking, Peggy hit them on their butts with a switch to make them work faster. “Faster, chillern, faster.” After all the cotton was picked, the men made cotton bales and sent them off to factories. In addition to the corn and cotton fields, they had a large vegetable patch which gave them many vegetables throughout most of the year. Chicken biddies were mail ordered and bred in chicken coops. Mr. McLeod kept many milk and beef cows, and hogs. Men killed hogs when it got cold enough to see their breath. The fat hogs were shot, and all the hair removed by placing the whole hog in boiling water in a big cast iron kettle. Then the blood was drained and guts removed. There was a fellow who came to shoot the hogs as he was an expert. So the brain was good for eating, the animal had to be shot right in between the eyes. If the shot was not right, the bones in the skull got crushed and spoiled the meat. Hams, shoulders, and lean meat were salted down. Most of the liver was consumed right off the bat as it tasted better when fresh, and the remaining meat was stored in Mr. McLeod’s freezer. But he complained that the thawed liver didn’t taste as good as the fresh meat. The morning after hog killing, brain and hen eggs were served for breakfast. Rachel could never eat breakfast early in the morning. While gobbling down a fried hog brain, two eggs and biscuits, Marylou used to tease her sister, “You ain’t got the time to be hungry,

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north carolina, usa ha?”. Rachel had a glass of milk and ran to catch the school bus, and by about ten or eleven she would be starving, but she had nothing to eat. For lunch, her mama gave her leftovers. She didn’t like eating the food, threw it in the trash after she got out of the bus. She felt that her food didn’t look good, compared to the store-bought crackers and peanut butter of her classmates. Her mama didn’t give her money to buy snacks. Therefore, she was very hungry when she came home, ate leftovers—country style steaks, mashed potatoes and rice. As she was always hungry at school, it was hard for her to learn her lessons. School was bad, what with her teachers hollering at her to study harder. Her classmates had nothing to do with Rachel, and called her squinty. Blythe, who had polio and walked with a pronounced limp was her only friend at school.

house, and that was the first time they ever lived in a nice house with carpet, in-door plumbing. Thank the Good Lord, the days when they tore off pages of Sears catalog and went to the outhouse were in the past. And another luxury—air-conditioning!

In the afternoon, after school, the children worked in the fields until dark. After supper they did homework. They had no toys to play with, no story books to read, and no radio to listen. They caught lightning bugs, put them in a jar and had fun, and watched them glow in the dark. Most of these flies were either black or brown, the felt somewhat soft, and had to be handled extremely gently as they were easily squished. The flash of the specks of green or red glow of the fireflies, twinkling in the darkness of the night felt as if the flies were dancing solely to entertain the poor children. In the end the bugs died as if exhausted after such a strenuous performance. And the children went to sleep.

Rachel ran to her as she was getting out of the car, “I like them whitewall tires. Will you take me for a ride?”

Mama strongly felt that that once they graduated from high school, the children should move out and fend for themselves. Marylou graduated from high school and Donna, who lived with her husband in Birmingham, let Marylou stay in her house until she found a job and moved into her own apartment. When Rachel graduated from high school, mama felt that it was Joyce’s turn to help her younger sister. Mama called Joyce to come home to discuss about Rachel’s future. Joyce drove up to the house in a shining brand new Ford.

Joyce gave her a big hug. “Sure thing, sugar. Let’s go in the evening after it cools off. Shall we unload the goodies?” Whenever Joyce came home, she brought groceries. Joyce hugged mama, who sat in her chair, her feet on the ottoman. “How is your arthritis?” Mama sighed. “It’s bothersome, can’t walk no good. I am laid up.” She reached for her glasses and put them on and looked at Joyce. “Ain’t seen you in a month of Sundays.”

2 When Peggy turned sixty, they had to move out of the shack they all grew up in. By that time Rachel’s three older sisters graduated from high school and moved out. Mr. McLeod had died, and his son who lived in California sold the farm and the new owner didn’t want sharecroppers on his land. When they heard about mama’s housing problem, Larry and Ricky took long leave from the Army, purchased land in the country and built a small house. Some of their cousins and uncles, who lived nearby, helped to build the house. Peggy, Marylou, and Rachel moved into the new

24 Nazar Look

Rachel got a pitcher of lemonade and placed three glasses on the coffee table. Joyce took a big sip of her drink. “Yes, Mama. Too much to do. Running our grocery store, taking the kids to ballgames, piano lessons, swimming, and you know how Mike is, he never picks up after himself. At the end of the day I am bone-tired.” Joyce took off her sandals and wriggled her toes, and looked at mama. “I’ve been thinking about Rachel. She is not street-smart, couldn’t hold nothing in her head.” “Yes, yes. She is muddled all right.”

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north carolina, usa Rachel said, “Mama, I ain’t….” but Peggy looked at her real hard and Rachel had to shut up. Along with her cross-eyes and poor grades, Rachel was slow and clumsy. Her mama, sisters, and other relatives thought that she was dumb, belittled her, and never included her in their conversations. So much so, she also believed that she was really dumb. Sometimes, just to please them, she acted extra dumb, and this made them feel better when they imparted some words of wisdom. Joyce continued. “Rachel had to repeat two classes in high school. I ain’t sure she is ready for a job, not yet. She might can go to a community college for a year or two.” “Yes, I agree, she just ain’t cut out for no store clerk job.” Mama dipped tobacco, and thought for a while. “That be a good idea to send her to college. But I ain’t got no money to put her through college.”

* Rachel was sent a community college in Tupelo. She had a hard time coping with collegelevel courses, and was always at the bottom of her class. Rachel shared a tiny apartment with three girls. They didn’t have much to do with Rachel, but tolerated her as they needed a fourth roommate to share expenses. To make some spending money Rachel needed to find a job. While she was grateful to Joyce for supporting her education, Rachel felt that it was only fair if she made a little money to pay for miscellaneous expenses. She walked all the way to East Main street, and walked around, looking at signs on shop windows. When she saw that a shoe shop was seeking help, she walked in. A stunning-looking Negro girl with straight hair and long acrylic nails asked her. “Wanta buy some shoes, Miss?” “No, I am looking for a job.”

“Mama, I saved up some money, I think I can pay Rachel’s tuition and board for a couple of years.” “Now, Joyce, don’t you get into no trouble with your mother-in-law.” “Mama, don’t worry about it. The old witch won’t know a thing.” Rachel wasn’t happy at all. “I am done with all them books. I can’t learn no more. Books give me headache. I’ve done finished my studying.” Joyce was firm. “Look here, nobody is gonna hire you. You can’t read proper, can’t write, your spelling horrible, your math no good. You can’t add or subtract. If you study two more years at college, you will get better, might can learn some skills.” Rachel started to cry. “I am gonna run away, go to Birmingham, go to Atlanta.” Mama rebuked her in a stern voice. “Don’t be contrary.”

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The Negro girl looked at her more closely and smiled. “I ain’t sure if the boss man…..” Just then a big, burly man walked in briskly. “Hey, Tammy, did we get the shipment from New York?” “No, Kevin.” Pointing at Rachel, she said. “This here lady is of a mind to work here.” Tammy walked away to help a customer. Kevin was surprised to see a white girl in his shop. “Did you work in a shoe shop before?” “No, but I can learn.” As was her habit when she spoke to people, she kept her head down. Kevin smiled. “Most of my customers are Negroes, I may have a problem if I hire you.” “You can try me weeks……I’ll work hard.”

for

a

couple

of

Kevin saw in Rachel a strong country girl

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north carolina, usa who might work without complaining. “Okay, you are on. I’ll pay you a buck and half per hour…..You need to come in the weekends, that’s our busy time.”

and beat her with a leather belt. ‘No chile of mine is gonna be a no nigger-lover’. More than the savage beating, what hurt Rachel was that her mama didn’t let her explain that it was an accident.

Kevin was in and out of the shop and never stayed in one place long. He had other fish to fry, a convenient store at the other end of the town and another shoe store at West Point.

Rachel enjoyed her work at the shoe shop, selling shoes and clothes to Negroes. When there were no customers, she studied and did homework.

*

*

Tammy said, “You must be real special, the boss hired you just like that.”

It was a slow Thursday evening—most of their customers shopped during the weekend, and Rachel was studying for her finals. A few customers came in and browsed, and Rachel kept a watchful eye. Otherwise the store was quiet and calm. All of a sudden there was a loud scream and Tammy emerged from the back room weeping and wailing, “They killed him, they killed him.” She ran straight into Rachel’s arms and held on to her tightly.

Rachel smiled. “I don’t know.” Tammy’s said. “But you ain’t one of us, you can’t sell no shoes to Negroes.” Rachel beckoned Tammy to follow her to the back room. She removed her T-shirt and bra, turned her back to Tammy. “See that big scar on my back, did you see?” She got dressed and looked at Tammy. “Did you see that ugly scar?” “Yes.” Tammy was confused, not knowing what Rachel was trying to tell her. “Tammy, that scar was from the beating I got when we was all in the Freedom March. I’m sure you heard about it. Didn’t you?”

Rachel slowly pried herself from Tammy’s grip and sat her down on a chair, and tried to make some sense out of Tammy’s hysteria, “Whatsa matter? Who died?” “I heard on the radio…..” Tammy was shaking, tears flowing down her dark cheeks, “Dr. King is shot.” Rachel said, “Oh! No! It can’t be, it can’t

“Yes, yes, that James Meredith, that was last summer, ain’t it? You are brave.” Tammy hugged her, and from that moment on Rachel knew that they would be friends.

be.”

On her way home in the evening, Rachel felt a little guilty for misleading Tammy. While it was true that she was really in that March, it wasn’t something she intended. They were visiting their aunt in Canton, and Rachel was playing with her cousins in the front yard when she saw many black people and a few white folks walking. She was curious, simply joined the crowd. And then somebody hollered, ‘cops, cops’, and there was smoke and her eyes began to water. One of her cousins pulled her out and dragged her back to the house. Her mama heard about Rachel’s adventure

Rachel made sure that shutters were down and securely locked. “Tammy, can I walk you home?”

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Just then the phone rang. It was Kevin who told them to close the shop and go home.

Tammy was still distraught. “No, no, you go on home. I can walk, my house isn’t far.” Rachel insisted, “No, I can’t let you walk alone. Please, let me come with you.” ***

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(1048-1131)

Mausoleum of Omar Khayyam in Nishapur, Iran

At First At first they brought me perplexed in this way Amazement still enhances day by day We all alike are tasked to go but Oh! Why are we brought and sent? This none can say. (Translated by Swámí Govinda Tírtha)

The Moving Finger

Photo: Zereshk

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it (Translated by Edward FitzGerald)

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w. jack savage

california, usa wjacksavage.com

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california, usa

wjacksavage.com

W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and artist. He has authored six books, three novels, two short story collections and the autobiographical The High Sky of Winter's Shadows. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California.

Interview

TM: Jack, you spent many years of your life on stage. What did you want to be when you grow up? Walter Jack Savage: Nearly everything but overall, probably a soldier or professional football (American) player more than anything else. TM: Tell us more about your relationship to art. Walter Jack Savage: I was identified early as having a talent worth cultivating. For some reason though, during that process I lost the concept of art being fun. Many years later, I found it again but only for short periods. TM: You were a paratrooper and helicopter door gunner in Vietnam. What is war? Walter Jack Savage: The most exhilarating, difficult and dangerous 'right of passage' a young man will ever go through. I looked forward to it all my life. I was fortunate to have survived. TM: In what way do you think literature has the ability to change the way people

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live their lives? Walter Jack Savage: Literature in the broadest sense is more like a shotgun. Some pellets may hit you while others miss. In so doing they construct what literature can make of the individual. It's not nor should it be, the same for everyone. TM: Do you have a philosophy for how and why you write? Walter Jack Savage: I try, yes but lately I haven't been successful. When my character walks down the street I don't know, nor do I want to know, what will happen to him or her. In that way, the joy in my writing becomes that of a reader as well. But my projects have become too numerous and therefore, less fun. Not a good sign. TM: What do you find most challenging about writing? Walter Jack Savage: Just keeping it from crossing over from fun to work. TM: What do you hope readers will take away from your work? Walter Jack Savage: Whatever they can. I just hope the consumers of writing read what I write. I'd rather be read, than dead. TM: Whom do you picture as the ideal reader of your work? Walter Jack Savage: No. While I don't write

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california, usa wjacksavage.com

necessarily for everyone, I'd like to be read by everyone. TM: How have your goals as a writer changed over time? Walter Jack Savage: I do fear that my need for expression would one day become a need for applause; almost as much as I fear it will not. TM: Are you happiest reading or writing? Walter Jack Savage: I'm happiest reading what I write. But when I begin to think I'm good, I just read the last five pages of Jack London's The Call of the Wild. After that, I come back down to earth and I'm fine. TM: Short story or novel? Walter Jack Savage: I love them both and recently, have tried my hand at Flash Fiction. I find it very stimulating and have the sense that it will improve my writing overall. TM: How would you describe ambiance of your workspace?

the

Walter Jack Savage: Clean but scattered. I try but it seems to stay that way. TM:

Who

are

your

biggest

creative

Walter Jack Savage: Not many people I know read my work so I would say very few. When I'm generally satisfied, that's it. TM: Do you admire your own work? Walter Jack Savage: At times I do and it's a wonderful feeling. TM: How do you react to a bad review of one of your works? Walter Jack Savage: Having been an actor for many years, I am somewhat more used to criticism than others. Overall, I'd have to say many if not most of my reviews have been fair, whether they liked what I wrote or not. TM: Do you think it is important for writers to be socially active? Walter Jack Savage: I needed it when I was younger but I wasn't writing then. It depends on the writer, I suppose. TM: Is there a question you find surprising that people ask you about your work? Walter Jack Savage: "Did these things happen to you?" I prefer to be flattered but I still find the question strange.

influences?

TM: What are you working on now?

Walter Jack Savage: John Steinbeck, Jack London, John Dos Passos, Elia Kazan, Martin Cruz Smith.

Walter Jack Savage: For a few years now I've been working on a novel that just doesn't seem to end. It's too good to disregard, though I have put it aside for months at a time. When I do, I go on to other things which is good but it still bothers me. I plan to go back to it soon but I've said that before. We'll see, I guess.

TM: Is your work process fast or slow? Walter Jack Savage: At it's most fun, fast; in my mind anyway. The process has gotten longer recently. I'm not sure that's a good sign. TM: How many evaluations does your work go through before you are satisfied with it?

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Sally’s

By the time he got back, Carol Lacey, a secondgeneration waitress, whose mother had once been a cook, had just picked up his order and they met at his seat at the counter. “That was fast,” he said, with a smile.

At one time, Sally’s was a truck stop on old highway 30. It was a sort of oasis between Josselyn and Lexington, the old truckers remembered; and as welcome for breaking up the barren, treeless landscape of that part of Nebraska, as for the free coffee offered with every meal. Then the Interstate came through and the old highway wasn’t as busy; and since it was five miles out of town to begin with, and the highway engineers had chosen the more southerly route from Kearney to Cozad, the restaurant wound up being two miles north of the Interstate. As a result, the powers that be saw no good reason to put an on and off ramp there and everybody thought that’d be it for Sally’s. They were wrong, for two reasons. First of all, Sally’s son Eddie Chisholm saw what was coming and got into the catering business. The other thing was the food. Sally’s gave you truck stop portions, and made the best hash browns, onion rings and rich brown gravy for fifty miles in any direction. Eddie wound up having to pave another acre for parking on the busiest days and times; Sunday mornings and afternoons and barbecue ribs day on Wednesday. And rather then ask patrons to negotiate the five-mile, two lane old highway in the dark, they closed the restaurant every day at three. Travelers stopping at Lexington would hear about Sally’s and go there sometimes, but business from Lexington, Josselyn and as far away as Odessa and Johnson Lake was more than enough to make the restaurant profitable, and also, catering for events in those communities and every place in between, made it a small gold mine. With Sally’s, in common with everyone in the area, it wasn’t hard to understand then, how any out of the ordinary event or altercation would soon become well known to the locals, who, the next time they came in, would want all the details in addition to their meals. One morning in May, a fellow everyone assumed was just passing through, stopped by for breakfast between nine and ten, while Harley Mott, a local regular in his forties, was holding forth at the counter after most of the early breakfast crowd had left. The stranger was a tall, nice-looking guy with dark hair, who seemed about Harley’s age. He had ordered breakfast and then went to the men’s room.

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“We try,” she said, smiling back. As the stranger put salt and pepper on his breakfast, Harley adjusted his John Deere baseball hat, pointed a finger at his friend Molly behind the counter, and said, “We could’a won that damn war. Goddamn hippies and liberals turned tail and ran and my brother died for nothin'.” The stranger put down the salt and pepper shakers, got up and walked over to the cash register. Carol came over to him and he said, “How much do I owe you?” No one ever walked out on a Sally’s breakfast and soon, Carol, Molly and Howard the cook were all wondering, two of them out loud, what was wrong? “Nothing,” he said. “No, I just lost my appetite, that’s all. It happens sometimes. I’m sorry, I’m just not hungry anymore.” From down the counter, Harley figured it might have something to do with his conversation. “I’m sorry to run you off, Buddy,” he said. “I hope it wasn’t anything I said?” In almost a stage whisper, Molly turned her back to the stranger and said, “Leave it alone, Mr. Mott.” The stranger shook his head and handed a ten-dollar bill to Carol. “No sir,” he said. “If nonsense put me off food, I’d be skinnier than I am now. A second ago I heard her call you Mr. Mott. You wouldn’t be any relation to Larry Mott, would you?” Harley had been ready to react to the 'nonsense' remark, but had been completely turned around by the reference to Larry. “He was my brother,” he said, starting to get up. “He was killed in Vietnam.” “I know,” said the stranger. “I was with him when it happened. That’s what brought me in here today. Larry said he used to wash dishes here. When they told me in Lexington that Sally’s was still open, I thought I’d come by.”

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Harley was shaken by what the stranger had said, and began an apology for what he’d said. “There’s no need for that, Mr. Mott,” he said, extending his hand. “I’m Jim Tambrio. I knew Larry well. A good man.” There was still the matter of breakfast, and so Jim tried to defuse any appearance of an affront by sitting back down at his place, but gently moving the plate away and picking up his coffee. After introducing himself, Harley sat down next to him. Everyone sort of drifted back off and Carol freshened both their coffees. “You were with him in the An Loa Valley?” Harley asked. “Yeah, but we’d gone on from there. We were up there during the rainy season.” “Larry was killed up there,” said Harley. Jim paused a moment and nodded his head slowly. “Is that what they told you?” “That’s, yes, that’s what they told us,” he said. “Are you saying that’s not what happened?” Jim nodded and said, “Larry was killed sitting as near to me as you are right now, and it wasn’t in the An Loa Valley and it wasn’t during a fire fight. We were at LZ English and they would’ve put us on detail, you know. I heard our Sergeant getting orders to pick out two men to drive down to Phu Cat and meet another vehicle where they’d transfer supplies to us and we'd come back to English and they’d go back to An Khe. It was a chance to get drunk, maybe get laid; but the real deal was, we could stay over at the F-100 Air Force base there and then follow the mine-sweepers in the morning and head back. The Air Force had twenty-four hour food, and air conditioning in the barracks. It’d be like a little R&R. Anyway, I volunteered me and Larry for the job and the Sergeant said okay. We took the deuce and a half and picked up some cold beer downtown in Bon Song and headed out for Phu Cat. It was a good time. Real hot of course, but for two grunts, we knew we were gettin’ over pretty good. We took our time, found the truck that we were supposed to meet and started switching their load to ours. The other driver had a girlfriend in Qui Nhon back south, so they were gonna go back that way. With a big truckload like that it wasn’t a good idea to linger downtown, so we skipped the whorehouse and went out to the Air Force Base. They set us up and we got something to

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eat and went to the little club they had there. The next morning we headed out. Larry drove down so I was driving that morning. We caught the mine-sweeper truck about a half hour later. Some vehicles went around them on their own, but we figured there was no point in being in a hurry. After the sweeper turned around we picked up a little speed. It couldn’t have been ten minutes later, I was hearing about Lexington and this place. I turned my head and looked up at the mountains at one point, and when I turned back, Larry had taken one in the head and had slumped down. I never even heard a shot. I can’t tell ya where it came from at all or who fired it. That was a bad day. Naturally, when I got back, the report got written up that we had come under fire on the highway. If there was more than that one shot you couldn’t prove it by me. I felt bad for a long time about Larry. After all it was me that volunteered him for the trip. When I got back I thought about coming out this way and maybe explaining things to you and the family. But for whatever reason, I just... I just couldn’t, and now it’s all these years later and here we are at Sally’s.” Harley had listened in a stunned, almost confused, silence. Finally he spoke. “I... I don’t know what to tell everybody,” he said. “Don’t tell them anything,” said Jim. “Larry was killed in action up at the An Loa Valley. It could easily have happened and both of us were lucky to have survived. And when bullets come from somewhere and kill you, that’s bein’ killed in action. You know you said a while ago we could’ve won that war and when I knew your brother, that’s how I felt too. Larry was different. He had been there longer then me and he knew it was all bullshit. I know what all those assholes on the radio say. Not a goddamn one of 'em was there. Your brother Larry and I were. If we hadn’t left, there’d be five hundred thousand names on that memorial in Washington, not fifty thousand.” “I just... for one thing, can you stick around for a few days? We, I mean, you could stay with me or... or we’d put you up, meet some of the family?” “I don’t know, Harley,” he said. “You wanna dig all that up again after all this time?” “You were the last one to see him. You were with him when he died, my God!” “I know, but I mean, it wasn’t like you all thought it was. That changes things. You all have your vision of him dying in combat, not catchin’ a

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The Chair (From Dislocate) stray bullet ridin’ in a truck. I’m... I mean I can’t, well, I suppose I could just, you know, talk about that fight up there but, to tell you the truth, I wasn’t planning on even meeting you a half hour ago. I just think that you should consider your family. I could tell you’re still wearing his death on your sleeve but how about everybody else? I’m guessing a lot of them have moved on and I think you should too. I mean, I’ll hang around for a day and just say I served with him, which I did, but you need to think about this.” “I don’t know what to do,” Harley said. “Listen, you’ve got to stay over at least.” “Okay,” Jim said. “I mean, I can. I’m just... I just decided to drive through here and maybe take the plane back home out of Des Moines or something. But I could get a room for tonight. Listen Harley, I’ve got some issues of my own, ya know? This, coming here, is part of it. But I never expected to let anyone know who I am or that I knew Larry or anything.”

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“I understand,” he said. “I do, Jim, but this is... this is a big deal for the family.This is like talking to the last human being who knew Larry; was with Larry. This is living Larry’s last day again, with you. I can’t tell you what it would mean to us. We loved Larry. He was so far away doing, serving, fighting, our Larry. And then one day he was gone. He wasn’t coming home. It was devastating. I should’ve been the one to go. When I couldn’t because of my hearing in one ear, I don’t even think Larry had thought about it. But when I couldn’t go, he stepped up. He stepped up and was killed. You’re right. I do think about it... and him. But please, give us a day. Give us a couple of days to live that last twenty-four hours with my little brother. It would help me, but it would also help all of us. The truth. Not some form letter bullshit. The truth. And you were there with him, hearing about... about Lexington and... and Sally’s. This is our life here, Jim. It’d mean a lot to us.” It’s not like they meant to eavesdrop. But when you’re the most popular restaurant in the area

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and a pipeline to anything approaching big news, it was no surprise that the story of Jim and Harley and especially Larry, had begun to spread before the two of them left, forty minutes later. Carol kept refreshing both men’s coffees and Molly kept an eye on things between customers. Then Jim had found his appetite again and wound up with a cheeseburger and Sally’s famous onion rings. As the two shook hands in the parking lot the regional information underbrush that was the phone at Sally’s, had alerted enough people with a penchant for alerting more people of their cut of cloth, and before Harley could begin to arrange things, half the family had already heard bits and pieces of what had gone on that morning. By the time Harley had gotten to his parents' at their old place by Twin Creeks, the anticipation of new information about Larry was at fever pitch. But Harley had sensed that leaving Jim at a motel was taking just too much of a risk that he might change his mind and bolt. And so when another car pulled up behind Harley’s Dodge truck, for a moment it was like the ghost of Larry had gotten out of the car. For his part, Jim Tambrio was just apologetic enough for causing any possible discomfort to the family and said he was only working out some 'personal issues' of his own and hadn’t intended to make his presence known. He was polite and seemed a bit embarrassed about all the attention, and he held Margaret Mott’s hands in his when he recounted the moment of Larry’s death. “Margaret,” he said, “for what it’s worth, I served side by side with Larry during the hardest, most frightening moments of my life. We came through it. Larry was younger than I was, but more experienced. I never served with a better man. And he and I were laughing and smiling, talking about back home here in Lexington, at the moment of his death. We had come through such terrible things that I never have quite gotten over the strangeness of how it happened that day. And the service being the way it was didn’t allow, or even encourage, close friendships under combat circumstances. You got to know people with what little free time you might have had, or when doing some job or other together. I will tell you that I knew him a little and liked him, but before that day I never knew him as Larry; only as Mott. And while there was no time for grief in the job we had to do, the greatest and only measure of how much you were missed was how hard you were to replace. I can speak for every man in our platoon when I say Larry Mott was the hardest man to replace that we ever lost.”

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“Thank you, Jim,” Margaret said, with tears streaming down her cheeks. “Harley was right. This clears the air and I can’t imagine why they would’ve told us what they did.” “I’m afraid I can, Margaret, and for the first time I see another side to it. Larry was killed by a sniper, I guess just looking for a good shot at the trucks going by. But let’s say he died in an accident; hit by a truck or something. That would not have nearly told the story of how honorably and bravely Larry served under fire. He was shot and killed and after hearing that, I know it doesn’t seem enough, especially with a good man like Larry; but it is what it is; the loss of a good man, a good soldier and a beloved member of the family. I can’t think of a higher calling.” “Tell us about your family, Jim?” she asked. Jim nodded, and his head dropped down for a moment. When he looked up, he smiled but there were tears in his eyes. “I didn’t come from a family like yours, Margaret,” he said. “My mother did the best she could. I never knew my father. My mother left me with an aunt, who took care of me for several years until she died. I became a ward of the state after that; during high school actually. I don’t really have a family. I came here hoping nothing I would do by being here would upset anyone, but a chance meeting with Harley here changed all that. I only hope I haven’t done too much damage.” By late afternoon, the gathering which began with Harley and his parents, Albert and Margaret, and their youngest daughter Annie, had expanded to include cousins from as far away as Little Falls; aunts and uncles, and one lady who, it seemed to Jim, got special treatment, in spite of not being introduced as a family member. Her name was Grace. She was a handsome woman and seemed very sweet in addition to being very slender, and polished in a certain way. Jim imagined Grace to have been somehow involved with Larry before he went away to war. Food arrived with each new group as did beer, and host Albert had a big bottle of Wild Turkey on the kitchen counter for anyone who was interested. The conversation was somewhat stilted at first with no one knowing quite what to ask or what to say. But as the afternoon gave way to early evening, the food and beers considerably loosened up the sense of family, that now included Jim Tambrio, and with the scab that was the memory of Larry Mott suddenly pulled off again, debate about the disposition of the Vietnam conflict

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california, usa wjacksavage.com inevitably began. “Isn’t that right, Harley?” said Bud Nordquist, a cousin a few years younger than both Harley and Jim. “I think so, yeah,” he said. “Jim over there used to think so too. But he and Larry had the advantage of knowing a little more about it than I do. What do you say, Jim? Was anything good gonna come out of us staying there?” “Not the way we were doing it, Harley, Bud. I thought at first we were making a difference, and that one day, the South Vietnamese would take over and keep the Communists out. The problem was, and a lot of us got confused about this, they were all Vietnamese. We were the foreigners and we damn sure weren’t the first. Ask yourself this. If another country invaded and took control of America, would you ever stop fighting them? Of course not. Had we just looked at history, we’d have realized they wouldn’t either. They never had and they never would. Chinese, French, Japanese; ask them. They’d tell you. In the end, those of us fighting were just fighting for each other; trying to get through it, and that’s where I feel you were wrong this morning, Harley. Larry didn’t die for nothing. When we came under fire and Larry was behind you, you didn’t need to worry. Larry had that covered. That’s who we were and that’s how we survived. The rest of it, that’s enough for me.” It began to get late and Jim started maneuvering to make an exit. He had told Harley he’d probably leave that night. He had intentionally only drunk a few beers and only had one shot; a toast to Larry. When he switched to Coke, Grace, who had been watching silently, came up to him. “It looks like you’re getting ready to call it a night?” “Pretty soon, I guess. Can I ask you a question?” She nodded. “Were you and Larry sweethearts?” “Yes,” she said. “But only for appearance's sake. We were involved, but that ended after high school.” “Just, kinda sad to go off to war without a girl to kiss you goodbye and all that?” “That was part of it,” she said. “Tell me, Harley said you mentioned getting drunk and maybe

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going to the whorehouse. He said you decided not to. Did you ever know Larry to do that? Go to the whorehouse?” “No,” he said. “I never did. In fact, he told me he didn’t even get a girl when he went on R&R to Manila. I don’t know if he ever told anybody else but that’s what he said. He just said, you know, partying with the guys he was with was enough. They played golf. Larry seemed to have some moral roots that a lot of the rest of us didn’t have.” “I think he was gay,” she said. “No. Larry was not gay.” She smiled and said, “It’s alright, you know. I loved Larry and then I loved him as my friend. But he didn’t like girls that way.” “That doesn’t make you gay, Grace. Larry wasn’t gay. I know he wasn’t. There were a couple in the company. Our Medic was gay. He got killed. There was another guy but he wasn't really trying very hard to conceal it. Nobody talked about it but most everybody knew. The guys who were, knew who the other ones were, and Larry wasn’t one of them.” “How do you know Larry wasn’t gay?” “I just know. Larry wasn’t gay.” “Is there someone in your life now?” He shook his head and looked down. “No. I lost someone not too long ago. We were... we lived together for quite a few years. After we broke up, she called me one night, drunk. She asked if she could come over. I didn’t really want to start up again but I didn’t want her driving drunk either, so I said yes. She hit a tree a mile from my place and was killed.” “I’m sorry.” “I haven’t been the same since then, and I thought maybe coming here... I mean I was the same after Larry was killed, for quite a while. It was like, maybe I could’ve done something different. So I flew into Cheyenne and rented a car. I figured I’d come through here and maybe stop at Sally’s if it was still there. I don’t know what I was trying to do. Maybe just to see the things he saw, with my own eyes. Larry had a kind of peace about him. I always envied that. I wondered where it came from. Now I see; he has quite a family. I never did. That’s it really. That’s the lesson so far anyway. We can’t really be the people we never were. At the same time, I sure can’t

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draw much strength from who I was. It’s funny how all this happened, you know. Things like this; meeting Harley, him bringing me here, and meeting all of you. Things like this don’t happen to me, ever. I hope I haven’t done these people any harm. I tried to tell Harley that digging things up isn’t good sometimes. But he never hesitated.” “No,” she said. “You helped a lot. No one ever came like this, to pay his respects. Someone he served with, so far away. They’ll always love you for this, too. When they called and told me, I wondered whether or not I should meet you. I’m glad I did now. You’re not at all what I was expecting. But before you go I think you need to read something.” She pulled out a letter in an envelope that said APO San Francisco. “This is the last letter I got from Larry,” she said. “He wrote it that night you two stayed over at the Air Force Base. Maybe you can’t be who you never were, Jim. But maybe you didn’t have a real clear picture of who you were when Larry knew you.” At the far edge of the patio in the backyard, Jim walked over to a small bench and sat down. “Dear Gracie What a great day it’s been. You remember I wrote you about Tambrio; the guy from Chicago. Well, he volunteered to drive down to Phu Cat to pick up some stuff and he asked if he could take me with him! Tonight, we're sacked out in air conditioned comfort at the Air Force base. We had a great dinner too. The Air Force has all the best stuff. We have to go back tomorrow but the ride down was fun. Jim brought a cooler and we bought some beer and ice in Bon Song and drank them all the way down. Jim’s a cool guy. He’s practically an orphan. I’d say he reminds me of the strong, silent type except he always seems to be smiling and laughing about something. He always has something good to say. I don’t know if you understand how important it is to have someone like that around. He never gets any letters and never writes anybody. I don’t think I could do this without letters from home. Tambrio reminds me of someone I’d like to be like some day. Thanks for the cookies. Tell Mom I got the canned pears, will you? I’m going to sleep now so I won’t be writing her until I get back. Only three more months to go now. I sure will be glad to see you again, Gracie. I miss home more than I thought I would. I can get through it though, just knowing you’re all there. Jim has no one to come home to. I

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can’t imagine that. Well, I’ll write again soon. Love Larry” They had noticed the seemingly involuntary jerks that racked Jim’s body halfway through the letter. By the time he’d finished he had broken into deep, shuddering sobs. After crying for five minutes, and with two unsuccessful attempts at composing himself, Jim, shoulders sagging, shirt wet from tears, stood up and pushed his hair back. As he turned toward the house, Grace met him halfway. In the kitchen, they all tried to avoid looking at him. All except Albert, Larry’s father, who came over to him and said, “How about that shot now, Jim?” The liquor helped and it didn’t help, and after breaking down again, an hour later he hugged several of these people he never knew existed when he got up that morning, shook Harley’s hand, got in the car and drove off. It had been totally exhausting but as he cleared the driveway, he felt certain that he hadn’t done the family any damage. He wasn’t sure if he’d done them any good, but on that point, he was comfortable. Over all the intervening years, he had marveled at the memory of the calm, sturdy demeanor of young Larry Mott, but he had never known that he too had wondered at length what kind of a man he would become, and the thought that he could have been a role model for this young man was both absurd and incredibly flattering. He could see him now with his elbow out the window, the wind ruffling his rolled-up sleeve and puffing out his Specialist 4 patch, laughing about that stupid dishwasher's job at Sally’s. 'What a good kid', he had been thinking, as he looked out at the beautiful hills. When he had looked back, Mott was dead. His last moment spent laughing; a laugh Jim shared, and now, a lifetime later, a smile and a heartbreak to remember. Instead of Des Moines, Jim returned the rental car in Omaha and flew back to Chicago by way of Minneapolis. Back home to the big city where his sense of family amounted to 'the next voice you hear'. It had been a better life than he imagined and while the whole odyssey seemed crazy and even vaguely suicidal at some level; in finding Sally’s outside Lexington, he had found a mirror he’d never looked into before. It was a mirror with his image in it. Someone he didn’t quite recognize but who had been there all the time, just the same. A man he had somehow become while wondering who that might be and when that might happen. (From The Dying Goose)

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Travels in Circassia, Krim Tartary, &c. (XVI) LETTER VIII. DESOLATION AND FERTILITY - REMAINS OF THE BRIDGE BUILT BY TRAJAN - ENTER BULGARIA - GOTHIC CASTLE AT FLORENTIN WIDDIN - FORTIFICATIONS - NIKOPOLIS RUTSCHUCK – GIURGEWO - WRETCHED APPEARANCE OF THE TOWN AND INHABITANTS - FOREST OF THISTLES - CURIOSITY OF THE WALLACHIANS - SILISTRIA - FORTIFICATIONS TURKS AND RUSSIANS - MARSHES MUSQUITOES - ADVICE TO TRAVELLERS. The scenery, though no longer sublime, was still lovely, particularly on the Servian side. The luxuriant pastures, sprinkled with flocks and herds, shelving down to the water's edge, were perhaps, succeeded by a dense forest; which, in turn, gave way to parks formed by the hand of nature, that might serve as models to the landscape gardener. Notwithstanding this apparent fertility of the soil, the country appeared as thinly populated as if it had been subject for ages to the ravages of war; and the few villages, without garden or any rural embellishment, were the very personification of misery. 1 visited several, on each side of the river, and found the interior of the huts to correspond in wretchedness with the exterior. Still, in glaring contrast to all this evidence of poverty, the women were generally well dressed; wearing on the head a sort of tiara, ornamented with small gold Turkish coins, besides costly necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Many of them were pretty, and their small delicate features plainly indicated their

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Grecian origin. The next remarkable object we came to, was the ruins of the bridge built by command of the Emperor Trajan, after his conquest over the Dacian king, Decebalus. The remains of the arches are visible at low water, and the towers on each side of the river still maintain their position, in defiance of the storms of ages. The historian Uio Cassius tells us, it was entirely built of cut stone by the architect, Apollodorus Damascenes; that it was a hundred and fifty feet high, sixty feet broad, and nine hundred feet long. This stupendous work was subsequently destroyed by Adrian, for the purpose of checking the progress of the barbarians. Near the Servian village Werbitza, we passed a number of fishingboats; the men were engaged in hauling up a tremendous sturgeon, which it appears are very plentiful in this part of the river. Here the Danube made one of its most extensive curves, bringing us literally back again nearly opposite the Turkish fortress at Neu-Orsova, whose Pacha we visited the preceding day. The river Tiinak, which flows into the Danube at the village of Gruja, forms the boundary between the provinces of Servia and Bulgaria; and in a short time the eye of the traveller is gladdened by the sight of the pretty village Florentin, situated close to the river, and overhung by the picturesque ruin of a gothic castle seated upon a high rock, forming altogether a very lovely landscape. Soon after we arrived at the fortress and populous town of Widdin, the residence of a Pacha, and said to contain twenty thousand inhabitants; numbers of whom were now assembled on the heights to see us, appearing not a little to enjoy the novel spectacle, while it was equally amusing to us to behold the crowds in their long flowing robes, cheering the aquatic wonder. The fortifications at Widdin appeared to be on a splendid scale and in good order, showing a formidable front along the banks of the river, flanked and

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protected at intervals by bastions: those on the land side were equally well executed, the whole mounting nearly three hundred guns. Several large Turkish vessels, of about two hundred tons burden, were here lying at anchor, and others loading and reloading their cargoes; exhibiting an appearance of activity unusual to the Danube, from which we may infer that a considerable commerce is carried on by the inhabitants. I now caught a glimpse, for the first time, of the Balkan mountains, and the stupendous rock Kaszan, well known to the traveller who journeys on the banks of the Danube. The country did not offer any remarkable feature, till we came to the fortress and town of Nikopolis, originally built by the Romans. The situation is picturesque, lying partly on the brow of a range of chalky cliffs, and partly covering the bed of a narrow valley; and a little lower down the river stands the Bulgarian town of Sestos. Here we cast anchor for the night, but were not allowed to land by the sanitary officer on board, unless we chose to go through the tedious ceremony of the lazaretto. Sestos is said to contain upwards of twenty thousand inhabitants, and to carry on a considerable trade with Constantinople. It is memorable for the peace concluded here between Austria and the Ottoman Porte, in 1791. Bulgaria still continued hilly, and the river had expanded to at least a league in breadth by the time we came to Rutschuck. This is also a fortified town and, like Widdin, one of the most important and well-defended military stations beloiiOTUff to the Turks on the Danube, and said to contain thirty thousand inhabitants. It certainly bore all the appearance of a populous town, for myriads were assembled to greet us as we passed. We stopped at Giurgewo, in Wallachia, to

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take in coals and provisions, which induced me to accompany the steward to the town, situated on an arm of the Danube, some distance from the main stream. Our route lay through a vast uninclosed steppe, with here and there an encampment of the half-naked, wild-looking natives, surrounded by flocks of sheep, mules, asses, buffaloes, &c. Were a native of Caledonia rambling over this long-neglected but fertile country, he might indeed contemplate with rapture his national emblem, which here proudly rears its lofty head to a heisrht of at least seven feet. Its myriads of blossoms formed a forest in bloom, and not only charmed the eye by their bright colours, but filled the air with the balmy fragrance they emitted. Giurgewo did not repay the trouble of struggling through so many difficulties; for, in addition to that of threading our way through a prickly forest, we were obliged to ford a river that rose nearly breast high. I found the town, like every other I had hitherto seen in the Turkish empire, composed of dirty narrow streets, and houses built of mud, with here and there one a little more pretending in its appearance, ornamented by a wooden verandah. I was therefore obliged to console myself for my disappointment by an excellent cup of coffee and a tcJiihouque in one of the numerous coffeehouses, the only dwellings that really bore the semblance of comfort in the whole town. The inhabitants appeared to have no better occupation than to loll the whole day on their little carpets, and smoke the tchibouque. Even the storks seemed to have caught the same donothing apathy, for they were reposing quietly with their young ones in nests on the tops of the houses. A few of the women, however, as is usually the case in half-civilized countries, were somewhat more industriously disposed; for they were to be seen pursuing the two-fold employment of spinning from the distaff, and inhaling the fragrance of the narcotic

Nazar Look 39


herb from pipes quite as long as those of their lords. But of the whole population of Giurgewo, the canine alone exhibited the most untiring activity, as they diligently prowled the streets in search of food. On returning to our vessel, I found the banks of the river covered with a motley collection of Wallachians of all ranks and ages, together with the most primitive-looking vehicles you can imagine. Numbers of the wondering multitude, not contented with viewing the steam-boat from the shore, crowded its decks; upon which the captain, who was fond of a joke, made signals to his men to draw up the gangway, and set the vessel in motion. The scene that then ensued was highly ludicrous; the women screamed, the men stormed, and all were as much frightened as if they were being deprived for ever of their liberty; and not a few even went the length of thinking that the steamer had become unmanageable, and was actually running away with them to Heaven knows where ! After passing on one side the navigable river Dombrovieza, upon which Bucharest, the capital of Wallachia, is situated, and Turtukai on the other, a very considerable commercial town in Bulgaria, we cast anchor before Silistria, a fortified town, distinguished during the late war between the Russians and Turks. It is now in a most ruinous state, but being ornamented with the swelling mosque and graceful minaret, forms a pleasing feature in the landscape. The fortifications, still manned by Russian soldiers, consist of long weak curtains, with a few miserable bastions, badly planned, and worse built, forming altogether a most ineflficient defence against the well-directed attack of an enemy. Indeed, the more minutely we examine the fortifications of Silistria, the more we must appreciate the bravery of the twelve thousand gallant Turks that held this

40 Nazar Look

place for nine months against an overwhelming force of fifty thousand Russians, furnished with every material necessary for carrying on a most murderous siege. The steam-engine requiring some slight repair, we again cast anchor about half-way between Silistria and Hirsova. Here the Danube becomes so broad, that while coasting on the Bulgarian side, Wallachia opposite was scarcely visible. The banks now became exceedingly marshy, and I would beg permission to counsel the traveller, who values either skin, sleep, or comfort, not to journey down this part of the Danube without a musquito net, as he is certain of being assailed by myriads of musquitoes and sand-flies, to say nothing of the hornets; by these I was attacked, sometimes alternately, sometimes in conjunction. But it is during the night that the musquitoes are most troublesome; then we found them so numerous as frequently to extinguish the lights in the cabin: no contrivance on our part could prevent their attack, so insatiate is their thirst for blood. Tormented by them, and the hot pestilential air of the cabin, I sought the deck, where I was obliged to pass the night whistling to the winds, and watching the stars, sleep being completely out of the question. This most redundant insect population are, no doubt, engendered by the marshes which every where abound in this part of the Danube; and that nothing may be wanting to complete the plague of poor humanity, it is said that the intermittent fever, another offspring of the swamps, is very likely to be the fate of him who exposes himself to the night air by sleeping on deck. (to be continued)

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Nazar Look 39


Profile for Anticus Multicultural Association

Nazar Look, 2013-10  

2 - luçiyan bílága: - Tegenekler; 4 - oodgeroo noonuccal: - Understand Old One - Kartnî añlamak; 6 - hamit látif (látipov): tatarstan: - Kók...

Nazar Look, 2013-10  

2 - luçiyan bílága: - Tegenekler; 4 - oodgeroo noonuccal: - Understand Old One - Kartnî añlamak; 6 - hamit látif (látipov): tatarstan: - Kók...

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