Tin Hinan, Chapter 8

Young Berber Bride

Young Berber Bride

Chapter 8

“Mother Leila.  What happened to Immel’s wife?”

I watched Immel’s son and Takama play outside.   There was a light dusting of snow overnight, and Ladil, Immel’s four year old dark- eyed son was determined to play in it.  Takama had become a nursemaid to Ladil, and Mother Leila was glad for this.  Although her daughters provided grandchildren, they didn’t live with her, and she was too old to chase a little boy.

Mother Leila spoke over her shoulder at her loom.  “Ah, it was tragic.  Cherifa was young, and of course Ladil her first child.  It was childbirth.  She lingered for 5 days and died.  I thought Immel would lose his mind.”

“Is that why he never remarried?”

“Ah, Aicha, although we are clans, we do not marry from our kzar.  Immel would have to travel far to find another woman.  I don’t think he has the liver for it.  Perhaps until now.”

Mother Leila would call me “Aicha” and not Tin Hinan as I was known.  She insisted she use my birth name. In her eyes, to do anything else would be disrespectful to my parents and tribe. How was I to argue with her?

She threw me a glance full of meaning and I had to blush.  She was not the only person to notice the little attentions her son offered.  Although he did not live in his parent’s house, which would not be proper with my arrival, he frequently visited at odd times.  He usually brought a little gift, like a honeycomb or a thin, silver bracelet or a sweetmeat from the house of another family.

Customs varied from tribe to tribe.  Where in my desert home a woman would not be allowed by general disfavor to walk abroad with a man, here was different.  Immel had taken me to hunt with Sigi.  He didn’t try to hold my hand, for that would have signified his interest in me as a wife. Since I had no family, except at an extreme distance, if it  was his wish to marry me, there would be a problem how to proceed. But only to the elders and Immel’s parents.  He didn’t seem to worry about those things, and continued to seek my company when he wasn’t involved in the work of men.

This morning he came in stamping his feet, for the snow continued and now was more than a dusting.  I looked up from my embroidery and smiled.  Mother Leila muttered something under her breath, but didn’t comment further.

“Tin Hinan, would you like to see the snow on the forest trees?”  Immel blew on his hands, for even with the small fire in the wall, the room was still cold.

I had never seen snow before, except on the tops of far mountains.  Yes, I wanted to see it and feel it on my face, for it was a wondrous strange thing for a desert woman.

“If Mother Leila does not need me now, yes, I would like to see the snow.”

Another ‘humph’ from the loom, but I caught a glimpse of a smile.

I bundled up in a long woolen scarf and my leather shoes, and we went up the trail to where the forest was thick.

Ah! It was a beautiful sight!  Like the cotton blossoms from the sacks they had stolen from the caravan all over the trees. My cheeks grew red and in spite of the woolen scarf, I felt the cold. This was quite the difference for a desert woman.

We stood looking out over the valley, above the kzar, far below us the land was covered snow.  It was so beautiful, other- worldly, and I felt at peace except for the presence of Immel.  I caught him watching me out of the side of my eye, and turning to him, I shivered.

“You are cold, Tin Hinan?” His eyes sought my own.

“I am, but it is worth the discomfort.  I have never seen anything like this.”

I looked up at the silver gray sky and around at the trees, and then felt Immel close behind me.  He had opened his white burnoose and draped it around me, pulling me to him and holding me there with both arms.  At first I stiffened, never having been this close to a man before, even with Hasim.  Yes, there had been the time with the Berber tribesman in the desert, but that didn’t really count.

We stood, not talking, I barely able to breathe. Immel turned me in his arms and looked down into my face.  With one hand, he tipped up my head, and stroked my neck, still silent.  He kissed me, and it was the very first kiss I received from a man.  His lips were at first cold, and I didn’t respond.  I didn’t know what to do. Then, something unstopped in me, and I was kissing him back and not like the virgin I was.  Long kisses, like I was drowning and his kisses were keeping me afloat in the river.

Immel pulled me even closer and in that moment, I forgot all about the cold weather, the snow. My arms went up around his neck and I craned my body to his, and he pressed his hips into mine.  I felt what I knew was his manhood between us, raised up and hard, and only the gossip from my tribe women, their stories and ridicule of men, allowed me some knowledge of it.

Immel felt through my robes and cupped my left breast in his hand, squeezing.  I felt an unknown sensation in my loins, and my legs grew weak.

Immel broke off his kisses and groping and moved back from me.

“Ah, Aicha, Aicha.  I have not had a woman in my bed since Cherifa died.  I have not wanted one until you.  My sorrow has kept me from life.”

I didn’t know what to say, for my own thoughts were crazy.  I had set out to avenge my tribe and my own shame, and now, so much of this was slipping away in this mountain kzar.  It was not helping to remember my mission with the scent of Immel so close to me.

I looked up at him, for though I was a tall woman in our tribe, Immel was taller.  I looked into his eyes and tried to make my voice serious, though my loins were disturbed and my heart raced.

“Immel.  I have promised to make war on Hasim and his tribe. Myself.  You are not part of that fight.”

I looked down at my feet, and now the snow seemed so cold.  It thought about my maidenhead, or my lack of one, and didn’t know what Immel would think. I would not deceive him for he would have to know if he was thinking of me as a bride.

“Then become my wife. Together we will make war on Hasim and restore this peace you think has left you.  But perhaps your heart will change, Aicha.  Perhaps love will take the place of hatred.”

I sat down in the snow, for if I didn’t, I would run away, back down that slippery mountain.  Immel crouched down besides me, his sword across his knees.  No Berber man would sit in the snow next to a woman.

“Immel, I could grow to love you.  But you aren’t getting a virgin for your wedding night.  I took my maidenhead in the desert, with a stick, to destroy my bride-honor.  Then I knew I would not be desirable to any man. I would not be burdened with thoughts of marriage.”

For the first time in a long while, tears fell in two steams from my eyes. I could not look at him, and kept my head down. I felt his arm around my shoulders.

“Aicha. If that is all your reason for not marrying me, then it has little value. The gossipy old women will demand a display of the blanket the morning after our wedding.  I will bring a pot of chicken blood.”

I looked up at him, shocked by his words, and saw he was laughing.

“Would you want a bride that wasn’t a virgin?”

“Aicha, it is just a moment of pain and a little blood.  What does it signify?  Does it mean that you won’t be a good wife?  These customs are old and of little value. They have none between men and women in the end.  My Cherifa and I played around before the wedding.  In fact, Ladil was born an early baby, and there was some hen- clucking from the old buzzards. Cherifa didn’t live long enough to feel the sting of their gossip. It will be different for you and I.”

“And, as I said, I’ll bring the chicken blood.”

I had to laugh.  He was taking this well.  I was sure no man would ever want me.  What fools we are when we are young!

“Immel Uzmir.  I will marry you, if you remember when you found me on that mountain I had a reason for being there.  My parents have been shamed and my honor disgraced.  I will make war on Hasim. He has done a terrible thing to my elderly parents.  He has done a shameful thing to me.”

“Then give me another kiss and I will tell mine I intend to wed you and there are no obstacles.”

Immel reached over to kiss me and rolled on top of me, dropping his sword.  Ah, he was heavy!  I was tall, but thin and I thought he would crush me. He took some liberties with his hands, but my mind was whirling and when it stopped, I felt what must be the feelings of a married woman.  Immel stroked my sides and rounded my belly with a firm hand.  He stroked my legs and gave me many small kisses from my neck to my breast.  Of course all this was over my clothes, but I imagine the sensations were the same as if I were stretched out in my bridal bed.

I now know Immel would have taken me right there if he hadn’t restrained himself.  We had been gone for some time, and reluctantly we rose and rearranged our robes.  This time we walked down the mountain together, Immel firmly holding my hand and smiling at everyone we met.  I blushed easily and kept my eyes cast down.  But I could sense those who met us knew of our plans.  Immel’s face gave it away.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2007, 2009

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4 Responses to “Tin Hinan, Chapter 8”

  1. Margie Says:

    Finally! I am so happy for Aicha and Immel right now — I hope their story doesn’t break my heart. LOL!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Margie!

    Well……the fun part comes next…the wedding preparations and the wedding itself. Aicha makes a stand before the Elders…along with Immel. Interesting stuff.

    I did a lot of research as I remember into the customs of Berber marriage…and things I believe don’t change much in centuries. Some things are set in stone, maybe. Or the interests and heart.

    Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. I hope you enjoy what comes next.



  3. Frank Scurley Says:

    I dont know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

    …..Frank Scurley


  4. ladynyo Says:

    I didn’t see this, Frank. Thank you so much for reading and your comments…

    Means everything to a writer!! And a blogger!



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