The clerics watched in awe. The weaver birds anticipated as wise men stroked their varying shades of grey. There wasnt one man this side of Shindaga, who with an honest soul might watch her dance and proclaim it to be anything other than a message from the man up there himself. Some cried out in praise of his creation. Others tried hard to move away from her flowing hands and down to her streamlines; so they might find a hint of the unholy. That was not to be. Her dancing was pure. Not celebration nor seduction nor whimsy nor venom. She loved the way her hands moved and her self love thus manifested was what sucked so many in. All but Al Bilini and Al Jamilah who turned their faces away in disgust.
Truth be told, under the make up and bed sheets they wore they too were quite smitten.Al Bilini -less beautiful but with a magnet for the common mans eye- because of the way she danced. Al Jamilah - wish-listfully beautiful - because of the way her dancing had inspired all the musicians into silence. All the takht (orchestra) except Karim the blind rababah player, who took the opportune silence to sroke his string with a love uninterrupted by the pedestrian bubbling of hookahs. Silence grew with every passing movement in her dance and Karim fell deeper and deper in love with his solitary string and bow.
She wasn't born to this land of opulence, but was gifted here by travelers from a distant land. Some say that her father, part bedouin part businessman could wander and waste away with equal ease and so gave all his children away to spare them his inconsistency. Others say, the moonlight shining off her smile would give their location away to marauders sitting miles away. Whatever the reason, she found shelter here in the midst of humanity, survival and sand.
"No no" cried Al Nakhra, jilted lover several times over. "This is sacrilege. How can we open ourselves to such corruption? Cant you see the way her hands draw your eyes? Why, they move with such ..... such enticement that her own eyes are drawn to them. Let us cut off her arms and be done with the devils doings. By the man up there himself! even the cats are following her movement"
"Hadash!" Bashkak rasped a shut up across the floor.
"Why Bashkako do members of the royal family now endorse public display of such obvious enticement?" asked Nakhra
Akela, sitting in the corner, marvelled at and beyond her streamlines. Nakhra went on goading the sedated clerics. " I got 80 lashes for the mischief of the wind when it blew the veil off madames face. Here we watch while Karim plays on his strings with the hairs of the devil and she draws our sould away with her fingers." Karim erupted into an erratic staircase of angry notes knocking the rest of the takht out of their stupor. Bake when the oven is hot. Percussion stepped in sounding like an ensemble of cicadas on raw arack and Ghazni blew a desert stormthrough his Minjayrah.
Bilini could wait no longer and lost herself to sexual gyration. Hormones boiled over and bubbled through every shisah in that smoke filled room as Nakhra, still protesting, had Bilini's turn-on rip through his innards and knock at his resounding skull.Ali the big dropped his pipe, shed inhibitions and better judgement and joined the dance. Followed soon by little Ali who was known to do anything validated by Ali the big. Then Ghantoot and his missing incisors and Burzin and his false pregnancy and Khan wali khan with his opiate eyes and Shu Fi - turbaned and too tall to dance anything more intricate than a sway.
Ghazni, one with his Minjayrah and true flunky to the devil, began a dark rythymic hum. Clerics encicled the troop scrutinizing them as if about to pass judgement but secretly tapping their concealed feet. By now Nakhras lament has almost taken form of a song and he sat up on his knees swaying and speaking out against the works of the devil - but never taking his eyes of either Bilini or Jamilah (who was not one to be left out).
Unable to get the groove and irked by Nakhra's rant, general Qasimiyah took a swipe at Nakhra and missed. Instead he put a slant to Cleric Zubair's nose. Not just any cleric - it was cleric Zubair. Cleric Zubair, senior cleric, age old opponent to the instatement of general Qasimiyah and with too many chinks in his noseline to afford another. All hell broke loose and Ghazni smiled at the effervesence of vice from his Minjayrah.
Turbans flew and beards were pulled. Weaverbirds raked in the harvest and Karim made secret love to his Rababah. A senior cleric passed away silent and unnoticed in a corner. Somewhere away, Akela sat alone still entranced by the real poetry in her movement. She smiled and with the serenity of underwaterness moved closer to Akela. He longed for a moment to posess her. Might his pedestrian yet genuine offerings be good enough for her? He had just begun to wonder when she moved to utter her only words that evening.
"No" said she. First pursing her lips and the smiling with grace. Her hands slowed to a gentle halt, and then, with half permission, she disappeared.
Breathing deep, akela adjusted his place on his teal green cushion and settled down to watch the melee with dilated pupils and half a tear. He moved his toes to the percussion and synchronised the cracking of his toe-jonts. He would remember her thus - a fraction of her grace but unique and fresh like all about her. Karim put down his bow and settled down to eat hisbread and blood splatter.