guarded by armed women, and become a guard herself for the poor women captives, or marry that drunkard who paid bribes to the armed men to be able to drink alcohol and gamble in secret.
I saw my mother leading him to the room, dragging his heavy suitcase with extreme difficulty while he was carrying a bag full of bottles of arak on his back. I shrank against the wall trying to hide, and caught up with them in the corridor where he was walking behind my mother. I took note of his facial features and his eyes as he looked at her behind and her cotton robe clinging tightly to her buttocks.
My mother was thin, but had large and prominent buttocks. The finest example of womanhood I ever saw. Everything about her was delicate and soft, but for her beautiful rounded buttocks that rose upwards and that she concealed under the niqab, fearful that one of the armed men would notice her and force her to marry him. When we went into the room, my mother pressed the switch and the large ceiling fan started to revolve with a rusty metallic whirr.
From that moment, the routine of the house changed entirely. The housework increased because Radi slept during the hours when other people went to work. He occupied the bathroom for several hours a day and consumed astonishing quantities of the food that my mother cooked. When she came home in the mid-afternoon heat, when the day simpered under the terrible white incandescence of the light, he would just be getting up. As a result, my mother ordered me not to make any noise all morning.
That’s how my mother’s husband spent his life with us. In the day he would rest in bed, in the evening he would drink and gamble. Between the two he would ask my mother to prepare him fabulous dishes of food.
The armed men knew everything about Radi. They turned a blind eye as long as he paid. Plus, he was a coward and afraid of them while having links with some of them, or, as people alleged, because some of them also drank alcohol in secret, especially when they came back at night to have sex with the poor women captives, captives they brought from nearby villages they had attacked. The
18 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015
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