Posts Tagged ‘Berber Ghosts’

“The Zar Tales”, Chapter Four

June 10, 2018

Zar Dancer

(A Zar Ritual Dancer…)



Mr. Mazud Nageesh sat at his desk, pondering the information before him. His wife Leila, attending the Zar ritual at Sheikha Shakira’s house was a further complication.

Ah! Women and their issues certainly screwed a peaceful life! They were essential to men’s comfort, and they continued the bloodlines, but by Allah’s Exalted Name in Paradise…they troubled a peaceful man!

Mr. Nageesh thought through his options. If he ignored the activity of the women, winked at their Zars, his own leadership of the village could be called into question and he could be removed from office. Things could go worse than that for him.

Then, there was his marriage. Leila had been a good if stubborn wife for over thirty years. The man was supposed to rule the house, but any man married that long knew who actually ruled. It was always the women who had real power. At his age he longed for peace and quiet, and if at times he walked on eggshells around the women of his household, well, it was only because he was a wise man.

But Leila was at the zar, and playing her tamboura. It would not be possible to ignore her presence at Sheikha Shakira’s house. Perhaps there was a way around the behavior of the women, but at this time, he didn’t know what it was. The situation was like a sour pickle and however he held his mouth, it would be bitter.

There didn’t seem any way out. Sighing deeply, he resolved to contact the proper authorities in the nearest city for guidance. But he would sit on it for a while, think of some options, and as long as he did something, what was the reasoning to rush? Better to run into a lion’s mouth where religion and women were concerned than mess with the authorities.

Ah! Allah the Merciful! What was the difference between lions, women and religion? You got chewed up all ways!

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

“The Zar Tales”, Chapter VIII

September 24, 2014
"The Zar Tales", published by, 2010

“The Zar Tales”, published by, 2010


Mayor Nageesh called to the women clustered around the door. Four entered and seeing Shakira lying in a black, formless heap, uttered loud cries. The chief Mullah raised his voice over the women moans and admonished them sharply.

“She is not dead. She has just swooned. Do not be stupid women. Take her to her house and attend her there. Do not let her out of your sight. I command you in the name of the Ankara Authorities to do this.”

The four women, Leila amongst them, gathered up Shakira from the floor and carried her from the room. Other village women stood outside and their cries rose up like a flock of startled birds. They quickly carried Shakira home and lay her down on the bed, chaffing her wrists and putting wet cloths on her brow. She revived and looked around in confusion. Trying to sit up, she was kept from doing so by hands holding her down. The women’s soft murmurs sounded like the clucking of worried hens to her ears. Then, within a moment’s revival, she remembered why she had swooned, and fell back stunned, too shocked even for the mercy of tears.

The women’s sound became like a hive of bees to her ears, irritating, annoying and she tried to cut out the noise by tightly squeezing her eyes. Then the tears came, and they rolled down her face in a steady stream. Seeing her distress, the others close to her started their own moans and tears and before long, like a nursery where one baby starts to cry, all the women were giving vent to their own personal grief.

Aiiiiiyeee! Our beloved Sheikha is to be taken from us. Our days of laughter are over. The blessings of the Zar are to be crushed into the dust. Our tears and wails are for all women, for our future is doomed!

Word passed quickly throughout the village as to the Sheikha’s sentence. There was shock and disbelief, and even those men who didn’t like the fact that their women disappeared to Shakira’s house to smoke and drink and laugh, were distressed at the severity of the sentence.

Ten years!

That evening, when the Mullahs left for the long trip back over the mountain and through the valleys and forests, the men gathered. They talked amongst themselves, sharing the hookah, the sweet scent of their tobacco rising amongst their soft babble like vaporous ghosts.

This did not portend well for their village, what the mullahs had done this day. No, it was not good at all! Their women would make lives more difficult until time had quieted and dulled the emotions.

Aiyee! Allah! In your greatness, could you not have done something else here? Could you not think farther down the road to what the men now would suffer? Ah, the fury of the women would be subtle, but constant.

Each man thought of how his life would suffer. The silence, at other times welcome from the babble of women, would be heavy with accusation. First there would be tasteless dishes, then angry words, then no comfort in bed from their heavy thighs and perfumed hands. No, all they could expect were turned backs and mouths of bitterness. The men would be punished along with Shakira, and though her sentence was long, theirs would be heavy, compounded by each house and by each torment that an angry wife could conceive.

They talked through the soft summer evening, each afraid to go home. They knew what they would face. They even talked about recalling the Mullahs and protesting the sentence on the Sheikha, for now, Shakira seemed to become even their Sheikha, not only the women’s. It was funny how things worked, but something deep in the fabric of the village had been disturbed. And now, their lives would be made less comfortable because of it. But what could they do? They had never questioned the authority of the Mullahs nor those in religious power.

Ah! Allah! Restore the peace to our lives! Restore our mundane routine with our wives! Give us back the solitude we threw to the winds when we complained of our women’s frolicking with our Shakira Sheikha!

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2010-2014

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