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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 50 | volume IX | September-October, 2006



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 50September-October, 2006

The House of the Palms

– excerpt from the novel –

p. 1
Tarek Eltayeb



    The next day I went to the khalwa[1] again. After the classes, Sheik El-Faki ordered us to drink water from the bucket, the holy water to cleanse from God’s suras. I was the only one who refused to do so. He hit me on the head and body with his stick again. He seemed to be afraid that my refusal could cause a rebellion with the other children. They stood motionless for several moments, and then they started to drink, while he hit me as hard as he could. Nevertheless, I did not drink of the holy water.
    So Sheik El-Faki again informed my father of this during his evening round of the village, when he took care that the fathers punish their children before they went to sleep. My father sprang on his feet and in his very own theatric way started to scold me: “You scum, you stupid boy! You haven’t drunk from the holy water? Oh, God, he’s the son of the Devil!”
    Then my mother’s voice came from the kitchen: “God’s words are not in the bucket, Sheik El-Faki. God’s words are in the books and in the heads. They should remain in the head rather than in the stomach.” My father responded quietly agreeing with the Sheik: “Women’s nonsense. They miss reason and region.”
    I was happy with my mother’s support. Since then, he ordered other children to drink after he would give me some task and send me somewhere or when he would turn his back to me. Only Ilyaas Wadd Farah quickly told our “master” that Hamza had not drunk from the holy water. Sheik El-Fakis would curse me: “May God punish Hamza and his devil, may God punish this stupid left-handed person who will enter Hell straight!”
    Then he hit Ilyaas with his stick. The poor guy never betrayed me since. Still, I protected Ilyaas from the punching of my best friend Uthmaan Darab Sidru who waited for him in the evening to revenge for me, and because Ilyaas was always on our “master’s” side and spied on us although he was not good in memorizing and writing.
    Uthmaan Darab Sidru was also named because of his courage. His mother told that he would punch his chest like a gorilla when he would get angry. When he grew up he did the same thing when he wanted to fight somebody. We were all afraid of him, but


1. Khalwa (Arabic) – a separate room, barrack, tent. In Sudan, it is a school where the Koran is taught; it is attended by children who have turned three. Most often it is a simple cottage or it is in the open, under a porch.

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