The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Children's Story 

Once upon a time, in a strange land far away, there lived a little fellow called Nadir.

Nadir was a driver. He drove a lovely red and yellow car. Nadir used to drive people all over the place. Because he wore a long blue hat with a bell on the end, people could hear it ringing as he went past. They would say, "Oh, there goes Nadir", and wave as he went past. Often, he would wave back, unless he was talking on his cellphone, or drinking coffee, or adjusting his private parts, or all three at once, as they often did while driving in that strange country far away.

Nadir had a sort of friend called Bahir. Bahir had a long white beard, the length of his fist. Bahir was what they would call muttawa, which meant that he felt entitled to criticise everybody, including Nadir. He used to tell Nadir that it was haram (forbidden) to drive around in a red and yellow car. He said that Mohammad and his companions wouldn't have been seen dead on a camel with a red and yellow saddle. He also said that a blue hat with a bell was haram, because the bell made music, and music was very haram.

To be honest, Nadir was getting pretty fed-up hanging round with Bahir, and listening to his constant whines. He was sorry for him because of his big ears, but that's what you get in these tribes where everyone marries their cousin. But he needed a break. So when he heard about a New Job, he jumped at the chance.

You see, in this strange land far away, when little girls grew up into big girls, they were supposed to stay at home, until Mummy and Daddy married them off to their cousin. Now a few lucky girls managed to get jobs as teachers. The really lucky ones managed to get jobs in the big city, near to where their Mummy and Daddy lived, so they didn't have far to travel. But most of the schoolteachers got jobs in schools far, far away in the desert. Sometimes these schools were two or three hundred kilometers away. But the schoolteachers still had to live at home, because they had to live with Mummy and Daddy until they got married.

So, every day, these schoolteachers had to travel long distances to get to their school, and long distances all the way back. And the silly thing was, because this was such a strange land, they couldn't drive themselves. Imagine that! Isn't that silly! It's because people like Bahir said that if they could drive, they might go off and get into Big Trouble. Well, you know what girls are like.

So there were four big girl schoolteachers who all had to get to a remote village school, out in the desert. They needed to pay a man to drive them there and back. And that's where Nadir came in. Every morning he would drive them out thru the desert, and every evening he would drive them back.

Now this worked well for a while, but it was very tiring. Suddenly, one day, one of them had a Good Idea. Well, we said it was a strange land, didn't we? In fact, it's a very strange land, because every Daddy is allowed to have four Mummies at once. Isn't that silly! But the people in this very strange land don't think so. And their Good Idea was that Nadir and the four schoolteachers should get married. That way, they could all live in the village where the school was.

"But just a minute", said Nadir, "I'll be out of a job! How will I be able to pay for my shawarmas and cigarettes and gas for my red and yellow car, and cellphone bills?"

"No problem," they said, "we'll all give you some of our salaries!".

So they all got married to Nadir.

And every morning, he drives them to their school, two minutes away. Then he drives home and goes back to bed. Later he gets up, wanders down to the little restaurant for a coffee and a shawarma, has a smoke and a chat. In the afternoon he watches satellite TV and snoozes, until it's time to pick up his wives from school. Sometimes, he thinks about his old life with Bahir. But not very often. And as he says to the guys down at the cafe, "People may laugh at us living in our strange land far away, but where else do you get paid for staying at home all day, with four young wives to make your supper in the evening?"

And when it's dark, in that small distant village deep in the desert, if you listen very hard, you will hear a soft "ting-a-ling" all night long.

From an Arab News story, thanks to "Dymphna".

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