Posts Tagged ‘slavery’

“Tin Hinan” Chapter 6, the rest of it.

January 14, 2009

Immel’s plump old mother led me through the large courtyard and up many stone steps to a small plateau where a single story stone house stood under the shade of a small olive grove. There were goats and dogs laying in the shade under those trees. Well-pounded dirt made up the area in front of the house, and we entered the low doorway into a room where it was cool and darkened. After the heat and light of the afternoon, this was a welcomed relief.

I blinked for a few moments, trying to get my eyes to adjust to the dim light. When they did, I saw stone and adobe shelves surrounding the room, like benches on the walls. There were rugs on the stone floor and some wooden chests along the walls I supposed contained clothes and precious stuffs, and also a small cloth loom. Along a wall there was a cubbyhole with a large flat stone in front of it. Later I would be told this was what they called a fire-place, to heat the room in winter. The mountain was cold during the winter months and most of the rain of the year fell before spring. All cooking was done outside in front of the house, using the fire-place during the worst of the weather. I had never seen such a thing, in fact, I had never been in a house. The tents I was born in were sufficient for our desert environment.

As Immel Uzmir’s mother was pulling the covering from the one deep set window, he came in, stooping to clear the low doorway. He was followed by Takama, carrying our packs from our beasts. She looked around silently, amazed at the new environment.

Even though the room was large, Immel Uzmir seemed to fill it. He was a tall man, made taller indoors by the height of the ceiling. He addressed his mother first, and I could not follow their strange dialect. He obviously was talking of me, for his eyes glanced over to where I was standing. His mother either nodded or shook her head, and also glanced in my direction. They spoke very fast, and even if I knew their dialect, I still would have trouble discerning what was spoken.

Finally he addressed me as Takama followed his mother to another room.

“The elders have yet to decide where you are to be placed, but for now, you and your woman will stay with my parents. There is room enough here and since my wife died, there is only my son to live here with my father and mother. You will help her with the chores, and you will be a relief to her as her bones are old. She climbs these stairs each day with the water and wood for the cooking fire.”

Then without another word, he turned and stooped low to get himself out the door. His mother returned and motioned for me to follow. There were a couple of rooms that stretched out across the face of the house. They were small rooms but each had rugs on the stone floors. As we passed through the first one, there were baskets, carved wooden bread bowls and trenchers, bags of grain and a couple of large clay jars that probably contained oil for cooking. Leila led us through another room, and then another, and there I saw Takama had placed our packs from our animals. A bed was made up with folded rugs and quilts for us to sleep together, and it looked inviting. I nodded and smiled shyly at Immel’s mother and she clucked like a mother hen. She smiled, and her grin revealed that she was toothless. She left us, and Takama and I sat on the low bed and quietly talked together.

“At least we are safe, Aicha.” Takama was still nervous, but wiggled closer to me, her only comfort in this strange environment.

“For now, it seems, but who knows what tomorrow will bring? Perhaps they will sell us off as slaves to another tribe. Only the Goddesses know or care, and maybe not even that.”

Takama eyes got wide at my blasphemy. “Oh, Mistress! Don’t dare them to make our lot even worse! We have a bed from the rain and cold, and we have the comfort of their fire and food. At least we are not amongst the wolves in the mountains.”

“No, silly girl. We are still amongst the wolves on a mountain. Just two-legged wolves and a different mountain.”

My words brought a nervous giggle from Takama. “Do you think they will really sell us to another tribe?”

“You heard the elder, they want women for their sons, and grandchildren. Perhaps you will find yourself a husband, if you don’t act foolish and behave like a proper woman.”

“Oh Aicha, do you think this is to be our fate? That we are to live amongst these mountain people and the Goddesses were really listening to your prayers? Do you think this is their answer?” Takama wriggled closer to me on the bed, and started taking off my heavy jewelry. There was no reason for it now, and it would be better for me not to wear it among curious eyes.

“Well, girl, if this is their answer, they weren’t attending to my words carefully. This is not what I envisioned for my plight.”

“But Aicha, what if this was their answer, their true answer, and they meant for you and I to settle here. What if they wanted you to find a husband, to forget your revenge against your intended, what if –“

“Shut your mouth, you hurtful girl!” I was getting angry with Takama. “Do the Goddesses forget that my family has been shamed, that I have been disgraced? What recourse have they given me? I will avenge my tribe’s shame. Surely even a foolish desert girl, who knows so little, can understand this?”

Takama just nodded and shut up. I think she was thinking about a future husband for she was at that age, and thought constantly about those things. I had seen her, along our many days in the desert, in deep thought, and perhaps it was at first the shock of leaving her family, but then, her mood seemed to brighten a bit. We were on an adventure, both of us for different reasons, but both of us with some expectations for the future. Mine was wrapped up in thoughts of revenge, and hers? Only Takama would know, and her silent goddesses.

After a while, Immel’s mother came back and called us to follow her. The feasting would begin, and men had come into the courtyard. We saw platters of food set on rugs on the ground. We could hear the sounds of music, and recognized some of the instruments.

The bendir, a frame drum common to our own tribe, was beating softly somewhere under the eaves of the wooden structure that ran along one side of the large courtyard. There, on low benches, under the soft lighting of torches, were the elder men of the tribe, sitting and talking softly amongst themselves. Early darkness had already fallen, for the afternoon had disappeared when we were in Immel’s house. The air had grown chilly. I pulled my tribe’s djellaba around my body and was glad it was made of wool.

Immel’s mother Leila led us to the women’s section, where they sat on benches, chatting and laughing and discussing what the raiders had brought home. As we approached, all talk ceased, and the women stared at us with curiosity. Immel’s mother motioned for us to sit on a rug, and she said something to the group of women nearest to her. They erupted in laughter, and I knew it was about us. But being well-bred young women, we knew to keep our eyes cast down until we were addressed. As strangers, we would only be expected to answer questions and not to engage in the general conversation. We had no status amongst them, or what we had was still undecided. Tomorrow our fate could change and we could be sold as slaves to whatever tribe was nearby. For tonight, we silently prayed that our bellies would be filled and our sleep undisturbed.

I was addressed by one of the elderly women and I lifted my eyes to her face. She was a wrinkled old crone, but obviously had status for she wore a heavy silver necklace and large silver discs in a chain over the headscarf.

“How old are you, my daughter?” Her voice was flat sounding, not like the musical notes of our desert tribe.

“I am eighteen, Mother,” I answered.

“Why were you in the mountains alone, except for your woman? Were you running away from your husband? You are young to be alone. Where is your tribe?”

I thought how I should answer her. Respect would have to be shown, for the women of a tribe can make your life miserable if you hold yourself above the general chatter and gossip. I knew this all too well from the behavior of my own kinswomen. Any answer except the truth would be found out. There is not much that goes on in a tribe, between tents, that is not intimately known by the old women. All tribes would be the same, for women are the life blood of any gathering.

“My tribe, Mother, is three full moons from here. My woman and I set out across the desert to answer the demands of the Goddess.” I thought that would satisfy her and for a few minutes, it did.

“But what Goddess talked to you? Was it Isis or Tanit that you prayed to?” Old women can be nosey and this one definitely was.

“I prayed to all of them, Mother.” I thought that she would chew on this for a while, but I was wrong.

“What troubles could such a young girl have that she would pray to all of them?”

Ah, this nosy old mother would not let me rest. Her questions had drawn the curiosity of the other women. General conversation had stopped and I knew my answers would become part of the general gossip later.

I breathed out a deep sigh and cast my eyes down. Well, perhaps they would leave me in peace if I gave them what women love best: more gossip.

“Mother”, I began slowly, my voice barely above a whisper. “I was to be married, the contract was made and the gifts delivered. Right before the marriage ceremony, my intended went to live in the tent of another.”

There is nothing women love better than stories of betrayal and thwarted love! A general sigh went up from those listening, here and there a muted wail, and one woman reached over and patted my knee. We Berber women are known for our storytelling and we love to weave tales of love and poems of our love-misery. I should have locked up my tongue but we all like an audience of sympathetic women. Plus, I needed their kindness for Takama and I were strangers and that is reason enough to appeal to a mother’s concern. I had the advantage of many mothers listening to my words of woe.

Warming to my tale, I told them of my collapse and senselessness for three days. How my kinswomen took such good care of me, spooning broth into my mouth, and how my cheeks grew chapped with my tears. I spoke of how my mother would not allow me to leave her bed, but fearful of my love- madness, made me sleep in her arms like her last child.

I told them all how I went into the desert for nights and prayed and exhorted the Goddesses, Ifri, Isis, Tanit and others to give me a sign of what to do. I knew the insult given to my tribe would draw us into war.

Ah! I was quite carried away with emotion, and if I had stopped to think about it, there was more anger and hurt in my words than what I was now willing to admit. I even pulled back my head scarf and revealed my shorn locks, and a shocked exclamation went up from the listeners. Suddenly, I heard Takama groan and sob, for my words quite over came her.

“What she speaks is only the truth!” Takama spoke through her sobs and would add to my misery. “Our tribe is not as large as her false love, and if we went to war with his tribe, there would be much killing of our kinsmen. My mistress sacrificed herself for her great love of her people, and in a state of madness, which was given as courage by the Goddesses, she cut off her beautiful hair that came down to her buttocks and asking the forgiveness of her father, she rode into the desert as the Goddesses commanded.”

Now I can laugh at Takama’s words, for when we had left, there were no commands from any Goddesses. I had grown angry at their silence and cursed them and Hasim equally. That was not necessary to relate to these women. A number of them, the younger ones, openly sobbed and threw their shawls over their faces in grief at my tale. By now, all the women were listening to Takama’s words and I had to pinch her to get her to stop. God knows only what else my loyal Takama would have said, for we are a people who enjoy an embellished story.

From that night, the women of this mountainous tribe embraced us, and welcomed us as all women with livers would do. We ate well of the mutton and goat and even drank watered wine, for these people had cultivated a wild grape that was sweet in the mouth.

The welcoming of the men and their prizes went on for hours, but whether it was the wine or our exhaustion, Takama and I fell asleep where we sat. Perhaps it was the music of the sweet ajonag flute and the bendir drum that pulled us to sleep. Only later did we wake and neither of us recalled the climb up the stone steps to the house of Immel Uzmir. We fell on our bed, Takama and I, without removing our clothes, and we slept like the dead.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2007, 2009

“Tin Hinan” Chapter 6 (part of it)

January 13, 2009

(This chapter is almost 5,000 words, so I have broken it up into segments.

N.B: Ksars are the settlements of Mountainous Berbers. They construct single story stone houses, with flat roofs. Since there is only seasonal rain, they don’t need pitched roofs. Their graneries and storage rooms are made from mud, adobe. A ksar refers to the wall that  undulates around a mountain village, earlier constructed for defense, but also refers to the stacked stone houses.

Djellaba: Each Berber tribe/clan has it’s own recognizable

tribal robe, woven from the local herd of goats. Tin’s is red and white striped robe, like a hooded cowl. With a general knowledge of the colors and style of a tribe, one could see at a distance whether the rider was friend or foe of your own tribe.

Chapter Six

The next morning the men rose even earlier. They were excited to be going home, proud of the booty they carried. Joking and calling out to each other, they scurried to break camp. Camels bellowed, and horses shied from being mounted. Only the pack mules waited patiently for their burdens.

“Takama”, I called, looking around for the girl. Usually underfoot, this morning she was talking to a man. Ah! I will whip her soundly for her immodesty!

“I am here, Mistress. I was only trying to find out when we would be in the mountains.”

“You will be there fast enough. Have you no fear? These men are not our tribe. You could still be plunder.”

I scowled at her and her face showed renewed fear. Good. Let her think before she talks to men again.

Takama and I dressed in our tribe’s red and white striped djellaba while I carefully secured the scarf around my shorn head. Takama unpacked some of my jewelry, and I placed a silver coined circlet on my forehead. She insisted I wear more of my jewelry to appear noble. I might be a prisoner, but I was not a slave.

Immel Uzmir bullied and cajoled his tribesmen into some sort of readiness. He rode to where Takama and I were mounted, she on her donkey, and I on Niefa. His horse was a fine large beast, and pranced and bucked with spirit. Immel Uzmir slapped his neck to quiet him, and looked at us appraisingly. His horse twisted around and tried to break into a run. Immel Uzim smiled a great, toothy grin, his veil not yet secured over his mouth, as his eyes swept us both. Then, with a hard kick to the horse’s flanks, he flew to the front of the caravan. The camels were bellowing, complaining loudly, and the men were using their sticks to beat the mules into a walk.

We plodded for a couple of hours across that lush valley, where groves of walnuts and apricots grew. Some shepherds with flocks of goats and sheep waved and shouted, recognizing the tribe. We came to a river about half way across the valley, and had to forge its waters, though it wasn’t deep. Water came to the breasts of the camels, though the smaller mules had to swim, helped along by men on the larger horses. There were a couple of packs lost in the river, but they were retrieved with the efforts of a few men.

Although we were in a wide valley, it was placed between two mountain ranges. The weather was cold at this altitude. I wished I had unpacked my heavier wool robe. I looked back behind Niefa, at Takama on her donkey. She was a slave, but she rode with dignity, her head held high, her nose disdainfully up in the air. I wondered how long she would hold that position. We had a long way across the valley.

After we crossed the river collected on its wide banks, we continued onward, for no one wanted to stop for a midday meal in their haste to get home. A scout had been sent ahead early that morning. He would arrive well ahead of the caravan. Then the tribe, warned of our approach, would have slaughtered goats and sheep for a welcomed feast. I was hungry, for breakfast was, again, a handful of dates and a gourd of water. No one had time to milk a camel.

We crossed to the second half of the valley, and although far away, I could see structures on the side of the mountain. They were mountain ksars as Immel Uzmir explained. His tribe did not live in the rough, woven goat hair tents as desert Berbers did, but built stone one-story houses and mud granaries. This would be a very different from what we were used to. Although I tried to maintain an aloof manner, conscious I would appear no more than a part of the plunder, I was excited. I did not know the measure of my fate but I was curious and fearful at the same time.

The caravan made its way towards the forest at the foot of the mountain. As we cleared an orchard of walnut trees, I could see the mass of buildings dotting the face of the mountain. Arranged up the side, they were like beehives, plastered mud structures. These were the granaries and storage rooms. People lived in one story stone houses, built wherever there was flat ground, but farther up the mountain amongst walnut and olive trees.

As we came closer, I saw young boys run out to greet and bedevil the men as young boys do. They hung on the mules and pulled on the packs and dodged the whips of their fathers and uncles. They yelled and chortled and danced in excitement. Then, floating over the valley, that fierce ululation of Berber women made the hair of my arms stand up. They were welcoming home their men, each hoping her beloved was amongst the returning.

We pulled into a large courtyard, a great cacophony of sound from the camels, men, women and children. There was a line of elders standing apart from the general milling chaos. These were the men who would pass judgement on our future. Niefa, to her honor, stood quietly, while I sat stiffly on her back. I was not a part of the welcome, for these people were strangers and most probably my masters now. Whether I would be seen as a spoil of a raid and therefore just a slave, was up to the gods. I hoped desperately that Takama and I would not be separated. She was the only touchstone I had to my past.

Amongst the noise and confusion, I saw men and women come to where Immel Uzmir had slipped off his horse. He was embraced by an older woman, probably his mother, and several younger ones, possibly his kinswomen. I did not know if he had any wives for we had never discussed this. The line of elders moved to embrace him and welcome him home. Clearly he was an important man.

I looked around at Takama and smiled weakly in encouragement. She looked scared. She was unsure of her future and had no reason for optimism. She was a slave, but had only known kindness from our tribe. Although we were treated fairly during the caravan, coming into the ksar could prove a different fate.

“Aicha…Aicha”, whispered Takama as she drew close to Niefa. “What do you think will happen to us? Did you see how their dwellings cling to the mountain side? Aeeeiiii! How will we ever walk those hills?”

“Do I look like a smelly, old fortune teller, girl? You keep asking questions I have no answers. Just be patient. Perhaps you will find a husband by some fire, eh?”

“Oh, Mistress! Don’t scare me. These men are not our people. They just look like our tribe. They could be very cruel, what do we know yet?”

“Yes, stupid girl. What do we know? They haven’t roasted us at their fires, they haven’t fed us to mountain wolves and we still have our fingers and toes. Be patient, Takama, or I will  beat you.”

I was anxious myself, and just wanted quiet. My liver was uneasy, for I had not only led myself into uncertainty, but another soul. I was responsible for Takama, even though she was but a slave. I would still account to the gods for her keeping.

We were in the hot sun, no different than the pack animals with their rolls of cloth and bags of spices. We could be considered plunder by any casual observer. Immel Uzmir walked up and commanded Niefa to kneel, helping me to dismount. He led me to the group of elders who had moved back into the shade. I stood there, my veil half hiding my face, and looked down as was proper. Takama slipped off her donkey and came behind me. Her presence was a comfort in this strange environment. I felt her tugging at my robes.

“Welcome daughters, to our village.” I heard the voice of an old man, and looked up at the speaker. He was a grizzled old man, his veil loose around his face. His eyes were like two black coals, but the expression was warm, kind.

“Do not be afraid for your lives. You and your woman will be welcome at our fire and share our meat. We have need of women for wives to our men. We don’t need more slaves. We are growing old and need the comfort of the young. We want grandchildren on our knees.”

I felt tears form in my eyes and I quickly dropped my face to the ground, hoping to hide my weakness. Overcome by emotion, I faintly heard him speak through the pounding of my blood in my ears.

“My wife Leila will take you to our house and help you and your woman settle. My son Immel, tells me you are from a desert tribe a long way from our mountain. You and your woman will find our life different, but the Gods are fair and give us their gifts.”

I bowed my head, afraid to look up. Now my tears would stain my face, perhaps the salt would run furrows in the last of the indigo dye fading from my face. I had not expected any kindness, and my heart had been bitter so long. Fear had vanquished any hope.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2007, 2009

“Tin Hinan” Chapter 5

January 10, 2009


Our journey over that mountain tried our spirits and strength. We were amongst about thirty men, led by the large man called Immel Uzmir. They were mountain Berbers, and that accounted for the difference in language. Their voices had a flat sound, not the pleasant, musical tone of our desert tribes. Perhaps the fact their lives were so violent made for the difference in speech.

Takama and I got used to their brusque ways, they were men after all. Without the soothing nature of women around, what could one expect? Men left to their own devices revert to savages, more like wild beasts than human. These men were a rough bunch, and if it weren’t for the respect they held for Immel Uzmir, Takama and I would have been plunder.

They must have come from a successful raid somewhere in the desert, for their mules and pack horses were loaded with bags of spices and bales of cloth woven and dyed with expensive dyes.

“Look at the colors, Aicha”, said Takama in wonder. We could see the difference for some of these cloths were even woven with gold thread.

“They must have robbed a very rich merchant”, I said in a whisper. Our women of the tribe did various forms of embroidery, but nothing like the sumptuousness of these pieces.

Caravans crossing from the east are loaded with spices, gold and gold dust, cloths, and precious salt, which they trade further south of the desert for slaves. Since there were no slaves amongst them, we supposed they had raided some rich merchant’s caravan before it had crossed into the southern reaches of the desert. Slave trade was very common, and women and their children were sold off to different tribes and taken afar from the lives they knew.

We were the only women amongst these raiders.

Takama and I were treated well enough, and given warm blankets and food from their fires. We knew our safety was still in question, for we were women amongst men.
Each night, when we wrapped ourselves in the blankets and settled ourselves against Niefa, for Immel Uzmir allowed me to keep her. A guard was set near us. We never were sure if it was because Immel Uzmir thought we might try to escape, or if a man would force himself upon us. We slept safely enough, though the weather was colder and the air thinner the higher we climbed.

One night, after the evening meal of snared rabbits, Immel Uzmir came and sat near me, a gourd of camel’s milk in his hand.

“You eat little food, Tin Hinan. Is our tribes cooking that bad to your mouth?” He was smiling and held out the milk to me.

I bowed my head in thanks. Camel’s milk was like mother’s milk to me, and I had not had the taste of it since I had left my tribe now so long ago. Drinking deeply, I could have cried for it reminded me of all I had thrown away.

In truth, my liver was nervous, and I was uneasy. It is not peaceful to be amongst men without the presence of women. Many times I caught the eyes of a man looking at me with that particular hunger. I adopted a veil to keep the cold from my face, but also to keep obscured from curious glances.

“Your food fills the belly, but could use some salt. All in all, women cook better than men. But I imagine you will be home soon and the women of your tribe will rejoice with a feast.”

Immel Uzmir laughed softly and shook his head. “You are of the age, Tin Hinan, to be married. Why are you not so?”

I can be stubborn and when I am, I retreat into silence. It would take a donkey pulling hard to open my mouth and pry out my voice. These many weeks alone, with only the company of Takama, had taken its toll on my solitude and nature. I was, if the truth be known, lonely and miserable. Perhaps this trek up the mountain had taken more than my strength. I was tired and out of my element. The mountains were beautiful, but this relentless climb upwards challenged more than my stamina. I was a desert woman, and out of my element. I felt as alien as if a star had dropped to earth and could not fly back to the heavens.

I was silent with my thoughts. What should I tell him? His name, Immel Uzmir, meant ‘powerful, constant one’ and he certainly had the respect of these men. To be able to control a score and a half again of Berber men meant that he was a powerful man in his tribe. The Goddesses had been silent to my demands and I had little else for comfort. I must be grateful.

Sighing, and casting my eyes on the ground, I spoke in a low voice. Low, not because I was worried that others would hear my tale, but because I was almost overcome with sorrow. My heart and liver ached and our people say that it is better to let out demons than to trap them inward where they multiply day after day.

“I was to be married. There is not much to tell. My intended broke the contract and the wedding gifts were returned to my parent’s tent. We heard then he had married and left his tribe.”

I kept my eyes on the ground, feeling shame before this stranger. His own voice was low and I struggled not to let foolish woman’s tears fall down my cheeks.

“Ah, Tin Hinan. You blame yourself for a man’s inconstancy? He knew what he risked in doing so. He would not be able to do what he wanted if he was not backed by his parent’s agreement. You are comely and brave for a woman. There is no need to feel shame. Did your tribe prepare to war with his?”

I looked up at him, glancing quickly into his eyes.

“Our tribe is small. If we did, over this broken promise, many of my kin would be killed. Hasim’s tribe was much stronger.”

In speaking his name, I could not hold back the tears. They fell down my cheeks, though I tried to pull my veil across my face to hide. Immel Uzmir reached out from where he was sitting and raised my face with his hand. He looked closely at me, his eyes searching. I pulled my head back with a grimace.

“So, you cut off your hair and took your slave and went into the desert? Did you think of the risks? Foolish girl, you could have easily died out there, or be taken prisoner by Arabs.”

“Hah! Instead I lived to be taken by Berbers, my own tribemen! What difference has it meant? I am still a prisoner, probably a slave now like Takama.”

My voice was bitter and my eyes flashed through my tears.

Immel Uzmir had his own temper.

“Are you bound like a slave? Do we starve you? Are you made to bear burdens like the pack beasts? Ungrateful girl, if we left you in the mountains, you would be bones by now. There are black bears and wolves up here and you and your slave would not have survived more than a few nights.”

My eyes grew wide. Bears and wolves are not a problem in the desert. Poisonous snakes and scorpions are.

“What do you plan to do with us when you get home? Are we to be slaves to your tribe?”

He shifted his weight and looked around at a noise from the men. “ I don’t know what your fate will be, the Gods are silent on that score.”

He scowled at me, trying to scare me, and he was succeeding.

“ It’s not my decision. When we get to our tribe I will turn you over to our elders and they will decide what to do with you. We are Berbers, not monsters, we do not harm women. They usually find a place at our fire, and sometimes a husband. Your luck could change.” He tossed me a smile and a wink and rose to his feet.

Standing over me, with my head craned back looking at him, he was an impressive man. He was named correctly, and his appearance seemed to bear it out. I was still prisoner, but it could have been worse.

Our travel across the mountain became a constant journey, for we were trying to avoid the start of the snow season. Already the nights were freezing, and frost made the ground stiff and brittle at dawn. We slept only a few hours and rose before the sun and still we climbed upward. We reached the top, walked across a plateau and started to descend, the snow already falling. Immel Uzmir pushed the men and beasts as much as he could. To be stranded in a blizzard, even an early one, could mean death. We did not stop to cook or make fires, and ate what could be eaten raw, mostly dried dates and camel milk. It was another rise of a moon before we came in sight of a valley, and on the other side of that was the settlement of where Immel Urzim and his men lived.

I was glad to leave that mountain, and so was Niefa. She had a hard time with her feet on that mountain, for camels get sore pads with the rocks and stones. She was born in the desert and the soft sands were hot but did not cut her pads like the mountain terrain. On the descent, she talked and bellowed, and I realized that even at this distance, she could smell other camels in the valley below us. She was young, and was coming into heat. A camel in estrus has her mind on only one thing. She was becoming a handful, and her gait suffered from the descent. Immel Uzmir saw that she was giving me trouble, and tied her behind another bigger camel to make her slow down. He placed me behind him on his large horse, and I was forced to hold on to him as we hit rock slides and uneven terrain.

We are a clean people, and ablutions are important to our culture, but the smell of a man so close was new to me. Given the fact that he had not bathed in the mountains, the smell of male sweat and robes that had not seen a good washing was a bit ripe to my nose. Perhaps I smelled the same to him, but men seem to tolerate these things better than women.

We came out of the forest and into a large valley. His settlement was across the wide valley and clinging to another mountain range. We would make camp in the valley to give the pack animals, horses and camels a good feeding on the grasses. That evening, before the sun dipped completely under the horizon, I looked over to the next mountain where he pointed out his tribe’s ksar. I had never seen one before and was curious. My tribe was from the desert. We lived in large tents, woven from the hair of camels. The trees, oaks, twisted olives and walnut groves obscured the actual buildings, but the purple cast of the mountains before us and long shadows thrown upon the valley was beautiful to eyes that up to now, had only seen sand and hot sun.

That night, Takama and I walked down from the men to a stream where we tried to bathe ourselves, but of course we did not strip off our clothing. The water was cold, at least we were refreshed, exchanging our robes for the last of clean clothes. I was nervous what the next day would bring, for we would be able to cross the wide valley and appear in the mountain village before sundown. I had no idea of how we would be received, but we both knew our lives now were not our own. We were at the mercy of a mountain tribe, and though we spoke the same tongue, we were strangers in a very strange land.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2007, 2009

Again, I am a bit overwhelmed with the responses

September 16, 2008

from people, Dom and submissive and slave. It seems that the Heavens have opened up and poured some important insight down onto my head at a time where I and others seem to need the clarity.

One woman, shia, wrote something today on her own blog. She sent it by email and it really moved me. It’s about ‘service’. This has been a pointed issue for me because I didn’t understand it, or made too much of it intellectually.

shia’s words gave me a particular view of where and how it develops and what it can mean. She has given me permission to post it here today.


I thought about this for awhile now. When asked to post, I wondered what I would write about. I have put some feelings on another board and my own blog. Am I submissive? Am I slave? I know for sure I am a submissive. I can not be a slave until I am fully owned and collared as such. However, I have a slave heart.
My good friend Jane, asked me to write a few things about the how’s, where’s and when of the whole thing. I think for me it happened as I grew up. I was nurtured to be a slave. My father’s family is very traditional and my father is first born American generation. They believe a woman is for service and for making babies. I learned how to stir a pot of sauce at the age of 5. I learned that every Sunday men waited to be served food and wine, how the women cleaned the dishes and how they served again. My mother never held a job while married. He was the man of the house and the sole supporter. When times were rough, he took odd jobs to keep five kids and his wife fed. We always had wonderful Christmas’s even though he was laid off in the winter months. I learned to serve my father, no sexual innuendo here. It was just being pleasing, clean all the time, hair and clothing neat. Toys put in their place, and that made him happy.
However I was 21 when I left home to get my first apartment and my father turned to me and said “When you go to leave, make sure you run, because if I catch you, I will break both of your fucking legs.” See he was the boss and I was leaving his house in an unconventional way for an Italian girl.
He said “You leave my house two ways. You get married or you die” For three years he never knew where I lived and would never even think about coming to the apartment.
So that is a little history. For me, I believe I am submissive by nature, and also by being nurtured. I love the fact that I can serve and make a man happy with my service. I love that making him happy, makes me happy. I am complete when I do that. It is my nature to be of service. I live now, unhappy because I can not be what I am meant to be. Sure I still do my jobs of cleaning and laundry, the mundane but it doesn’t please someone the way it should. Never am I told I am pleasing or a beautiful slave.
It does make you yearn for the strongest of males, one that recognizes your nature. The longing is sad when you can not be who you want and were meant to be.
You can claim to be submissive even though you have no Master. You just know what you are and keep things to yourself until a male recognizes it in you. Trust me; a strong male will recognize these things in you. They are beautiful and not meant to be ashamed of. Even though friends will call you nuts or think you are a result of an abusive relationship from long ago. It takes strength to be a slave or submissive. It is not given to anyone without much thought. Surrender, complete surrender is a gift, and only a Master knows how to nurture and make you the best submissive, for him. It may just please him for you to dress a certain way, to wear a certain perfume. To kneel before him, or just complete your daily chores he has listed for you. Every Master is different every Master has things that pleases him. You will need to learn about them, and what will be pleasing.
Do not take surrendering lightly. It can be a contract; you must be sure who you submit to. You must trust that person with your life. Your submission to him must make you feel complete and happy.
Be wary of impersonators out there, and there are many. You should be able to feel it is right in your gut, in your belly. You should feel the fire that will make you want to grow into the slave he wants you to be.

Lady Nyo: Thank you, shia, for sharing your experience and early history with us. It moves me deeply and will contribute to this continuing discussion on all of what was started. You do good service with what you write!

%d bloggers like this: