The feudalist daughter
The Linda H-T
A story written by
Mohammad Mahmud Ahmad
However, this story is fiction but it includes between its pages some of reality of the previous period between 1950- 1960, the later decade of Iraqi feudalists who they control on the neck of poor people. Indeed, It is not the slavery itself but it is similar to it in some aspects.
Of course, it is the dark point of my childhood period since poor men could not send their children to school then I am one of them.
Moreover, the witnessed no modern schools in the villages but the vast majority of them were made of mud and covered with woods.
Either rich men or who owns at least fifty head of cattle can do that.
Indeed, it is opaque period, you could not recognise who is your real friend or the hostile one especially between those feudalists, but on the other hand, people are kind and helpful. This story discloses and throws light over this dark turning point. I would like you read it...
One day I was in the age of seven, which almost it is the age of primary school. This was almost in 1960s when the schools of that time were built by mud and each school has one door, two or three classes not more. I was slime of somehow flimsy body, pale face, inherently is due to the malnutrition of that remote time. Since we lived in a village far away from the cities, so the conditions normally were worst than the cities. Even some of the cities anyhow did not have the best life especially the small cities that had not high ratio of populations.
The variants of lifestyle between villages and towns has not worthy to be contrasted in aspects including eating, bathing and wearing, but the variation is worthy to be contrasted if we have to imagine the general relation between people themselves. Feudalists have not noticeable control on towns although some of them had a limit influence there, but their remarkable influence and control is obvious on countryside. The feudalists would like to be settled on towns but from to time they used to send their attorneys to collect the yielding harvests forcedly from the poor villagers' people.
On countryside, people almost are farmers or sheepherders on the other hand some people who live in towns are either merchants or small owners, but the vast majority here or there were also suffering from poverty. Sometimes the owner himself would attend to manage with farmers in his sever cruelty and often without reason, he punished the farmers or if he saw a bit of defaults. The farmers are toiling hard all seasons on tillage and harvesting while the feudalist at the end share them effortlessly half of the yields as a constant percentage. Some of feudalists treat farmers as slaves, their wives and their sons working hard just to eat and wearing shabby clothes even sometimes are barefoot. If one of them got sick, the feudalist would enforce him to compensate the broken-down days of the total workdays.
One day of the dark gloomy years, one of the feudalists, who was self- important decided to leave the town came and built a new mansion containing a big courtyard to live in adjacent to our house. It is the ominous day said my father. On that time I was on the forth year of my schooling and still little boy, but the acceptance feature I had, admired everybody living there. Something was accustomed on our lifestyle almost is the simplicity and the satisfaction over people faces.
People often have said to my father look after your son because they expected that one day his poor son will be a teacher or a doctor so that perhaps can develop their village. The time I had to finishing the sixth primary class I ought to continue my learning in the town since there was no intermediate school or secondary school in the villages on that time. Momently I had faced the real problem in how could I manage the residence affairs and in how to adapt myself for the new lifestyle.
One day as my father told me he visited the feudalist as a converse of nightly chatting and discussed some affairs then they spoke about the schools problems.
The feudalist himself has a young son who has continued his learning in the town but the son never comes to the village. Yet I did not see his visage to be acquainted with him. My father had asked the feudalist about his son, the feudalist turned astonished meanwhile my father explained to him how he was put in a perplexing position in that how could he send his son to the town, no room to rent, no one is confident to leave his son on his custody. It is the very critical moment; my deceased father mercy of Allah is upon him always used to discuss this story to us in order not to forget the gloomy days.
The story that never have I forgotten yet. No longer had the feudalist come to visit us, and noticed the books on my hands then asked me to show my progress in the school, and immediately he wrote a message to his son to be careful and pleasant with me.
No longer had we become friends, each one of us taught the other, but although he was preceding me in one year, I was equal with him or sometimes I preceded him in some lessons.
The son also was astonished and sending his father a letter, that he has found advantage on me. His father the "feudalist" immediately has lent my father two sacks of money as an interim help to the harvest time.
Still I remember when we became close friends in short time and no one of us could abandon his fellow.
One day we decided to go to the village by riding horses and during the voyage he told me about their standard of living, and how his father has gained his wealth as he said that his grandfather had served in the
army. Moreover, it is familiar that
Turkish pashas during the time of their dominion period to Turkey would
bestow each one who has faithfully served them prosperities and widespread estates. . Iraq
No longer had we accustomed the ordinary families visiting through days or nights. No one has told me his sister name, but I knew her name from the pillow that was decorated by her name; the Linda H-T and two pictures of sparrows were decorated near to her name. She is in the sixteenth of her age, yellow – red check, never has she turned aside what the matter is and all of the time she is busy in decorating and sewing small pieces of a cardboard decorations. Although her visage reveals she is very young, but she is two years older than I am.
The first time I saw her, I did not have any concern toward her or feeling my mind was extensively engaged to her; but one day suddenly I found a tinny paper was painted by thick green color clasped to my book.
As soon as I opened the paper, small green emerald peace fell from it. Disordering I went home entering and told my mother about what I have seen. My mother was afraid and said to me do not tell anyone, because if the feudalist knows he will be anger and won’t believe you if you said that you found that jewel, or may be thinks that you stole it, then the matter will be complicated and you lose his support , and you may son keep this secret.
Month after we returned back to the school flourishing again in our study discussing and asking ourselves how much progress had we got. Our life was quiet although an accidental trivial event disturbed my friend temper as on day he was riding a bicycle adjacently to the school wall fallen down and one of his teeth was broken and he accused me that I am who pulling him down.. Nevertheless, what happened again still we exchange our friendly relationship confidently and no such another trivial things would break it down.
The days passed quickly and we began to start our final examination.
One day when we returned home my friend asked me to know whether I still have determination to complete my learning or not. Of course, I could not answer him immediately, but I keep on silent. Still I have remembrance as if it is a wiggly temporary vision when my friend suddenly tried to wake me up one day nearly one O'clock past midnight saying to me that he would be a lawyer and he made his decision to study abroad.
I kept on silent again refusing to engage with him the speech, but he urged me to discuss the obstacles might confront me, saying to me if the matter is beyond materialistic reason, don’t worry and he assured me that he will argue his father to help me when he meets him.
Although the discourse stops into this point but the confusion still persuades me, and the mysterious cloudy of my nature still has been accumulated on my sky. Shutting our door, we recline to sleep…
A dream is not a dream if you still a wake.
The mystery journey covers me up to neck.
My dream, my future is still unknown.
The doom persuades me with its ugly tone.
My body suffering pain and my eyes cannot sleep.
But my sole fooled around with my soul on each leap.
I got away to inhale feely the cool air.
Down the upstairs, I got vertigo there
Returning to bed, the gloom covers me.
Dawn is about to break, yet I do not see.
Next day my friend tries to speak with me in another way, he said; the harvest will start on the next month, and we shall visit the harvestmen collecting the yields, and as I thought, the crops will be ripened in less than the expected period.
You will see them, my family, and you will be one of us, we will dancing and make some mess there, interesting ourselves and forgetting the toil of the study.
My unconscious mind would inform me to be worried, sleepless, waiting the promising day.
The school was finished and we had to returning home and we have the long summer holiday then to play and waste time as far as we want.
As I reached my family, all of them gathered around me asking about the marks, the markets, they spent the night wondering how I was turning the intimate friend of the feudalist son, my little sister began to grasp my beard, just I touched her hair she converted startling and crying for a while.
Let her dropping your books and she will be satisfied, said my father.
The family was gathered a round a mud stove to prepare their evening meal including tea, they have not special kitchen and often you would see the small chickens sharing them their food.
On the next week, the feudalist informed my father to be present for harvest. We have: three horses, two oxen and one mule, and my father should prepare all of them alone. My father ordered me to be with him in the next day saying to me be simple with them, they are aristocrats , and this man has not trust in any person, furthermore he is sensitive toward his daughter, he is quite exaggerated and more proud about her. "Linda", whom he considered her as his soul, and he often said to her my dearest , my heart , your visage is similar to the visage of my mother , your grief hurts my liver and when he saw her smiles, soon he fills his special tobacco- pipe and turned cheerfully on laughter downing to his knee.
The man obviously is stern on his thoughts that so far he inherited his nature from his aristocratic grandfathers, who they often do not smile to the poor men. He is more than strict and firm in his visage, always dangling a pistol on his middle and sometimes he grasped a long stick, which it is very rough, and it has a bulb on its end. One day he used it to separate two quarreling- farmers, but has hit mistakenly one of them over his head, the man soon has been carried to the hospital and spent there for two months.
The day after tomorrow the harvest maybe started and throng of men might be busy with their wives and children, and everywhere you can see the harvesters walking alongside the farms everywhere.
Most of the time they were singing to help themselves discharging out their toiling- work, but exactly they work all the day and sometimes they work until the stars shown obviously in the sky.
Moreover, they were always feeling frightened if someone of them is absent and the feudalist came suddenly and asked about him, so they work vigorously to be saved from this cruel person and hardly sometimes could ask for a rest at the midday.
I was there and contributed them their grief and their enjoyment, the flocks of birds there in opened -wilderness came back and forth as if they welcome us, they were interested on the ripened ears of wheat.
The cruel man always makes mess trying to forbid the birds not to eat any grain though knocking on a large metallic rough- shaped can by the stick making noisy sounds to force out those innocent birds, therefore I hated him everywhere I have met him.
At the mid of the day I have visited my friend seeing him was helping his father in his employment, who he is also shouted to the harvestmen, but soon he noticed me he ran to greet me and bring to me a cup of water mixed with yogurt.
Awhile after I have seen his sister who she gestured in secret toward me and has winked by the end of her eyes, soon I felt embarrassed and affected, but to disturb me more embarrassed she offered me a small cup of juice, never have I tasted a like, she says to me welcome with her faint voice.
Her father considered me as his son, but he stood a side making a sound of cough to feel others that he was present.
Of course, when I heard him coughing I feel enough frightened but the girl soothed me that there is enough of time to exchange our greeting.
She is too much passionate and exaggerative of feeling to everything having pomegranate-shaped cheeks, slim figure, but the self-esteem and the staidness apparently seen in her eyes.
She left me and went, I was affected totally, then I stood frustrated, obsoleted, sad, and the grief had burned my chest, she was beautiful enough to melt the iron in less accustomed temperature.
I did not enough aware to myself when she quitted, but she picked my hand saying to me next day is my birthday, and you should be there on our party.
I have not suitable "present" to give her, nothing in my house would be worthy to give her, or being fit to the aristocrat rank family, what shall I offer her my book or my old wristwatch which my father bought to me when I succeed on the sixth class about five years ago.
Nothing, nothing I have, still my dishdasha was torn in many places , but her stubbornness force me to allow her advice, or makes me sure that I shall stand anywhere in their courtyard, dare not to say welcome.
On the second day, I was there; lonely although her figure still glimmers on my mind, but the difference are more and unacceptable to be compared in every manner and it is just transient dream fills your thought.
Meanwhile I was standing under their fruitless big tree in the middle of the courtyard of their house, gloomy and frustrated although the joy shakes me up to my lips and has settled desirously, bitterly encircling me from both sides.
I decided to escape and never have I considered myself as a human, alas to the poorness and hunger, went home trying to find suitable clothes, but find nothing to wear, I wish if only I could hang the freedom!
Let me ride my horse and escape away from this dim life, mourn, grief, sadness have torn my body parts and parts, if it is applicable and could leave this soul conflicting its doomed fate alone in wilderness!
If only I can console her, if only I can root them a way, but the warm blood still drawing fluently in my veins, still I am hungry to find the bizarre sensation inside my soul.
The books of love stories are not exactly enough to satisfy anyone who devoted and concentrated his ideas to be as an ideal person live in this world.
In that moment of absorption and consumption my disarraying ideas I felt as someone mentioned my name, which I forgot it in that gloomy world, the world which on itself has totally forgotten while the doom was concentrated on that poor soul clustered as thick trees and jungles twisted together on a wild forest.
I imagine that the human souls as a forest harbours wolves, peevish tigers, and wild cats and on the same time, it is the safety place to remove the griefs.
I said yes, yes to everything, let me said Heel! Is it possible to run away into any places to get rid of my life? However, the voice is tender and lovely brings the hope as the sweet sunshine in my eyes again.
She said come my lord, don’t worry, you do not make any mistake, but I am afraid of course from her father and about the reputation of my -family, feared the poorness, the influence power of her family and the familiar conventional customs in my village , but she urged me to enter.
In that moment I refused and was satisfied, to say for her only happy day or any term suitable to her.
When I decided to leave she attracted me from my neck, would not want me to leave indeed, I tried to evade and vanished from her, but in that critical moment her father was coming.
The girl immediately ran a way and the man noticed my confusion , but he didn’t blame me and the only thing he said to me; it is special party and no one have I invited, you can leave my son and in the next day I want to see you with your father on the harvest place.
Frightened I return to my home and my mother said that she had quested everywhere about me, and when she knew that I went there she was too much anger, saying to me do not recur this.
Although it is trivial transient event, but still I am worried and kept it in my heart not to see her or just think to approach their house again and considered this visiting as a forbidden red line.
Three days after or more the feudalist has come to our farm, to watch in closeness what we had doing in harvest, my father stood to greet him, but he insisted not to sit.
Immediately he asks us about what we had collected on the seven days ago, but he saw that some stacks are not gathered well, he said to my father on that afternoon you should come to me on night to ask you about the rent and something is obscure and vague to the children.
Really we did not sure whether my father went to the feudalist house or not, but when we heard noises as the uproar of quarrel we gathered out side.
Since it is too dark to perceive what justly had happened and we had not light or any electric devices or even simple torch, therefore we depended on our ears to reveal what had happened rather than our eyes.
At the end, we heard like triumphing joyful voice mixed with shouting.
We ran quickly barefoot, bare head until we are beside the edge of the big valley behind the mansion of feudalist and can hear the uproar origin clearly.
Soon we heard my father voice came closer to us, he is completely furious rising his dragger close to his shoulder, and the blood covered it saying I killed him, he is slain, he is slain, shouting in triumph the- feudalist is gone to the hell and never will he attack everyone again.
His haughtiness never would be seen again in our village, but we must depart, we must leave at once, we must hurry before the daybreak to take the cover of night as veil to escape.
It is truly that the feudalist was dead, my father stabbed him more than twenty stabs on his neck and chest, and he was slain certainly.
Everyone of the family took on his arm what could he carry whether blanket or quit or anything else of the necessary light stuffs as we finely decided to go away.
I ride one of the horses carrying my father gun and change the way in many times to camouflage the direction, my father follows me hand to hand with the rest of family.
After seven hours of continuous marches, we had reached a very deserted arid area hardly could see plants or human voice, even the Bedouins stay- there for a while and depart.
On that gloomy night we heard the noisy voice of the wolves' howling, and our dog began to reply, but soon I covered his mouth by a precise tighten piece.
We stand, get down of our animals and the place appears too much dark and frightening, but we stick together on equanimity and stability more than previous time.
We expected the danger everywhere could meet us, we are afraid and desperate to find someone who can help us, we forget the tiresome, and we have stretched our bodies on that solid bare area under the mercy of the sky and our doom mystery life and were subjected to sleep.
We kept on absolute silence except the little child began to cry in low voice; moreover, we cannot set fire due to the place was not raveling by anyone.
The news perhaps reaches the adjacent government center as fast as possible and they will put us in the prison because the feudalist has close relative on each government body.
What should we do there on this frustration? and even the dawn is about to break, I felt the passed hours are quite heavy and long as if the night is endless, what about myself, what about my school, what about my friend who is now I am his foe.
Many questions I have asked myself but could not find the answer.
Although, it is mysterious future everywhere, although the smell of gunpowder is present everywhere in my country, but I must stood and control on myself to stand against all these aggravating circumstances.
The issue is not relating to me only, it is the responsibility of all the family, what happen to my eyes, I feel them glowing like the flame, I fell as something blazing inside my heart.
Although, I did not have really relation with the girl since the transient relation lasted three days not more, but truly my heart was connected to her.
What could I do? The stars are about to vanish and my eyes still opened there, but my body, my upset soul, my warm blood flows on my arteries associate with my family, in how could we save ourselves. On the next day, we will persuade our journey unless we find safety resort, but how can we find? I do not know.
Still I was solicitous soliloquise myself until the morning beats the night, and the caravan continued its march but to unknown region and at last we are the neighbour of another new feudalist.