Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘Novels Mine’ Category

Wild Goose Chase (fiction, Chapter 17)

Posted on November 24, 2008

Artax troops were leisurely wandering in the Mongol steppes heading east and still hoping to link up with the troops of Iskander who was now on the run.  The most common of news, and the most dreaded, reached Artax:  A successful coup d’etat by one of a more “legitimate” cousin of his.  That renegade cousin claimed the title of “Khosro the Magnificent, the eldest Son-God Incarnate”.   

In his guts, Artax foresaw this kind of turn of events and had hypothetically pondered Khosro immediate reactions on receiving such news, supposing that he was not poisoned or murdered before the reversal of fortune.

As long as the troops believed that Artax was the legitimate Monarch, which means his treasure chest was plenty, then there was hope to prioritize His dreams and desires.

Artax was faced with a serious dilemma. Would he resume discovering new lands and new people or focus on his people?  What are the alternatives?  

If he gathered his army and marched on his cousin then he would be obeying a natural reaction from any monarch and the reaction would agree to his traditional troops.

The Monarch was analyzing a typical reaction that was labeled centuries later “Pavlov Reaction”, but which intrinsically was targeted toward animal reactions after extensive training to a certain behavior.

His army would urge him to march on his cousin anyway; otherwise, he might lose the confidence of his officers and soldiers to his legitimacy.  

Artax decides to keep both options.  

He reasoned that the first angry reactions were beneath a wise and forward thinking monarch.  He will then resume the exploration with a much smaller army: These wastelands up North cannot afford a large expedition anyway. 

He will also regain his throne by other means than direct and frontal assault by armies.  He doesn’t desire to mire his country in a textbook civil war.  

He opts to bifurcate south to any region that is flourishing, fertile and close to His Estate Afghanistan, and settle and refill his treasure chest and lay the ground works for a new Constitution and a Bill of Rights for the Persian Empire.  

We didn’t have GPS locators at the time to offer precise coordinates but Artax troops headed toward what is called now Islamabad.

Most probably Artax had named it Azarabad or the City of the Sun God Azar.  Azarabad was on the Indus River and close to impregnable mountain chains with easily defensible passages.

Wild Goose Chase (fiction, chapter 31)

Posted on November 29, 2008

The Persian Empire was pleased that Artax took to business and exported products at reasonable prices.  Trade and traffic to and from Afghanistan were heavy and very lucrative.  

The fat Persian merchants, at the sold of their respective High Priests, nobles, governors, and warlords were getting fatter in return for small favors to Artax.

The festivities having taken their regular course according to customs of the inauguration, Khosro the Magnificent had to act and show the illusion of serious activities beside perpetual fun loving behaviors.  

The Magnificent Khosro wanted to play the warrior and marched to the southern desert, just the ideal place to relax and be far away from the boring multitudes.  

As “Khosro the Magnificent” proceeded leisurely toward the Southern Desert his army intelligence service killed his appetite: there was confirmed news that renegade soldiers of the defunct Emperor Artax were infesting the desert and that ambushes are to be expected along the way.  

No problems. The Magnificent ordered his naval forces stationed in Basra (current Iraq) and Bahrain to get moving.  

The Magnificent decided to have a view of the battles from a comfortable seat on a comfortable and luxury ship.  What was simply a desert diversion for the Magnificent turned a serious hardship for the Southern Army of Artax that never contemplated any frontal assault.  

Worse, the navy of the Magnificent had pirate blood and they were excited for real actions.  The pirates never wasted an occasion to land and sack and loot.

Wild Goose Chase (fiction novel). Conclusion

Posted on November 30, 2008

The presumed impotent Artax the Monarch, who had gotten the throne by usurpation, long before the usurping “Khosro the Magnificent” reigned, suddenly contracted malaria and regained partial consciousness six days later.

Artax tried to walk and visit his favorite garden in order to recover from his ill health but was carried back to bed after each outing. 

His close assistants were worried to death about his health status and many army officers hurried to his side expecting some rewards in his death testament.

Artax was in no shape to think clearly about the future of his kingdom or his successors.

He stated on many previous circumstances to his close friends that succession should be for the most deserving leader who invested time, effort and good will to better his intellectual potentials, his moral values and learn to be tolerant of diversity in religion and customs.

He used to insist that the best leader of people is the one who listened carefully to the news of change and worked on finding consensus before any decision, that war was the last recourse for intelligent leaders who should reach his objectives through all diplomatic and political channels before committing to the path of destructive wars.

Artax died within nine days without designating a successor.

Note:  This end the draft of the general structure of the fiction story. If you appreciated the story, please contribute your opinions, ideas, additions, and possible alterations to the sequence and cohesion of the novel that I would like to publish with your generous aid. 

Surely, any publishing houses that are interested in finishing the novel are welcomed to come forward and contact me.

Babylon: where all start and end. (part 35)

Posted on: November 30, 2008

In order to relieve the pressure on the Northern and Eastern bases within the periphery of the Persian Empire, Artax decided to open a third front westward.  

Many of the navy pirates had defected to Artax for higher returns, but the Persian navy was still intact.  Consequently, Artax avoided any maritime confrontation and his ships dispersed in the Indian Ocean met in Aden in Southern Yemen.  The ships navigated around the Arabian Peninsula and landed in the fishing town of Aqaba in southern Jordan. 

Instead of taking the long regular route to Babylon, the troops headed by Artax crossed a difficult desert to Basra.  

A mutiny in the inner circle of the Imperial guards assassinated “Khosro the Magnificent”.  It was not that the Magnificent was more inept than his army commanders, but the reaction of the guards was a traditional exit, meant to vent frustration on the leading scapegoat.  

The next day, the mutineers realized that they put an end to the only symbol that held the Empire still united.  Chaos reigned in the Empire.

Artax army resumed its fast advance toward Babylon. The Persian Empire was as ripe as a rotten apple and the gates of Souze needed a light kick to disintegrate.

The way to regaining the throne was open to Artax and post-war plans for reconciliation, reform, and reconstruction were being readied in Babylon.

Balkh: Medium-term plan 1 (part 29 and 30)

Posted on November 28, 2008

Note: This fiction novel conjectured that a Persian Prince had indeed defeated the Macedonian Alexander, adopted his name and integrated Alexander army for grabbing the power of the Persian Empire and expand his territories.

The First Queen of the Son-God Incarnate Artax was from a district located in the north-western parts of the Empire, in Mazar Al Shareef and close to the current Central Asian States; she was not at all friendly with the usurping Monarch.

Artax made his move to establish a presence in the city of Balkh, a center for learning and commerce in north Afghanistan and close to the Central Asian Estates. He dispatched his wife, clandestinely, to her home district along with countable numbers of security officers and a regiment of the army clothed as civilians in a routine caravan trip.

She was to re-affirm the loyalty of her people and exhort youth to travel east and join Artax army. 

Antrax demanded from the Queen never to be guarded by more than 6 formal soldiers and 12 soldiers in civilian attires, as front and rear guards, during her displacement throughout the district because the smaller the number of personal guards the more confidence she would convey to her people.

The Monarch told the Queen: “Good impressions are worth an entire division of an army.”

Southern Desert: Medium-term plan 2

One of his liked viziers named Khorsheed and from the southern desert region of the Empire, expressed the desire to return home and investigate the possibility of securing a base there.

The vizier was dispatched to his district, accompanied with a security officer and another regiment.  The same strategy of taking firm hold of parts of the Kingdom in every direction ensured destroying the capacity of the usurping “Magnificent Khosro” to focus and concentrate his forces at one area.

In order to maintain presence in the desert region, frequent supplies were to be delivered from the sea.  Consequently, it was necessary to navigate the Indus River and secure a port and ships.

The town of Deb was then the ideal port.  Two old merchant ships were purchased and refurbished to play the dual task of supply and soldier carrier tanker: it was essential never to mix business with military exigencies.

The refurbished ships were not meant to belong within the business unit.  These small ships received the order to just reconnoiter the Persian sea shores for unusually military and trade activities for advanced intelligence. They also had the mission to listen to the complaints of the suffering villages and towns on the shore.

Two larger merchant ships were secured in the process of taking to the sea, as back up resources and the landing of a whole regiment if needed.

Kandahar: Medium-term plan 3

At the city of Kandahar, in south central current Afghanistan, Artax appointed a women officer to be General in Chief of all the armed forces in southern Afghanistan. This tactic secured two major benefits;

First, the woman general would hold fast to the new system that secured and solidified women rights, and

Second she would allow the force the necessary time to strengthen its grip on the region:  the enemy was assumed not to take that seriously a force headed by a woman and thus insure valuable time to taking hold on the mind of the population.

Slowly but surely, the vision and planning of Artax were materializing in flesh and bones around the perimeter of the Persian Empire.

As for the “pilgrimage journey” to China, Artax selected the famous chronicle Battouga to discover the wonders of China and to dispatch him the diaries: if Artax could not experience in the flesh the discoveries then Artax would share the excitement by the mind.

Marco Polo and before him Ibn Battouta (at least 8 centuries later) relied heavily on the manuscript of Battouga to plan for their famous journeys to the Rising Sun China.

On the Southern Army

The adventure of the Southern Army of Artax, led by the vizier Khorsheed, was fantastic.  This brave army made a series of successful landings in fishing villages and proceeded according to master plans.

Soldiers would enter a town, plaster the scrolls of the Constitution and Bill of Rights on the walls of shrines and local institutions, read them in front of the public; install one judge accepted by the inhabitants then horde the other judges and clerics to a remote training camp for indoctrination.

Educated and learned people in the community were encouraged to disseminate the new system. 

Young boys and girls were sent to schools.  People bent on mischief and who took advantage of a confused central authority was apprehended to give evidence of who is the real authority in maintaining law and order.

Dangerous news arrived to Artax from his Southern Army which stopped his grandiose plans on their tracks: unless Artax assembles a strong naval force in the Persian Gulf, his Southern Army might not hold its terrain against the onslaught of the usurping Monarch.

This vast desert area along the coast requires constant supply of fresh water and food for his army that was dying of thirst and heat strokes. Artax had to advance along the Indus River which empties in the Indian Ocean.

He had to hire and stock enough ships to rescue the Southern Army or eventually to evacuate it honorably in an orderly fashion.

The lousy desert parts of his Kingdom were of no concerns to Artax anymore, though he had to support his army there in order to divert the forces of the usurping Monarch from the more critical parts of his secured bases in the Kingdom.

The rear bases of Artax stretched from the fertile lands of current Karachi in Pakistan to Goa in India.   

Artax messengers were carrying orders and instructions to all armies and governors along secured routes.  In every region that the King authority was entrenched, municipal elections were held and the spirit of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were disseminated, gradually but surely.

Changes in societies need time, patience and genuine zeal in convictions to make any headway.

Artax primary duties to his people was to keep close contacts, involvement, and interactions with the institutions and taking close attention to the training camps programs for the reeducation of the newer generations as to the spirit of the articles in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The dissemination of information about the new cultures in remote lands was a most important ingredient in Artax educational system. 

Artax motto was: ignorance and isolation from other civilizations is the drug of choice exploited by the religious extremists who abhor civil supervision of any governing body.

Wild Goose Chase (fiction, continue 32)

Posted on: November 29, 2008

Note: I posted two novels around 2008 in category Novel. I should split them into two category “Novel Antoun” and “Novel Wild Goose Chase”. Wild Goose Chase is an imaginary story that claims that Macedonia Alexander was defeated by a Persian Prince who adopted Alexander name, and integrated Alexander army into his army to resume the war campaign…

The demise of an army. (fiction novel, continue 32)

The Southern Army had no choice but to avoid the sea shores and crossed the desert in their worst nightmare for 60 days toward the small fishing village of Bandar Abbas.

What was to be an army was no longer; it was decimated by thirst and anyone who reached Bandar Abbas was in a state of coma and total dehydration.  There are no chronicles left on that adventure; the Greek would have done a thorough Iliad.

In order for the plan to evacuate the Southern Army to succeed it was necessary to lure the fleet of his enemy that his real intention was to land in Egypt from the Red Sea.  

Actually, one of the primary strategies of Artax was to recapture Egypt and press on to Babylon and thus cut trade route supplies to the usurping Monarch; but that plan was meant for future activities and the decoy plan came much too late.

As is the case in general, military defeats are turned into victory by appropriate propaganda.  

Since the small and insignificant navy of Artax was no match to the navy of the Persian Empire, and since Artax could not entice the neighboring States to join him on naval expeditions against the “legitimate” Persian Empire, on account of ratified trade agreements and written documents, then Artax devised an ingenious promotion victory.  

The best way was to give the illusion that his intention is to discover the African continent by touring its coast and establishing commercial colonies.

As part of Artax fleet advanced around the African seashore, tales of his glorious adventures to circumnavigate the African Continent spread like wildfire amid the Persian people who were getting depressed of an authority wielded by the nobility and the cast of strict priesthood. 

Rainbow over the Levant: End notes and Post notes (fiction novel)

Rainbow over the Levant: End notes and Post notes (fiction story)

I posted this fiction story in October 2008. The characters in this novels were detailed in the novel and the setting was in the 14th century during the Mamluk Empire with Cairo as Capital.

End notes

Mount Lebanon continued to flourish at a diminished rate after the beheading of the leader Antoun in Cairo.  

And while the Mamluks of Egypt refrained from further military campaigns, because the expenses of expeditionary forces had no financial return in Mount Lebanon, the authority and unity of the Levant’s governments were disintegrating.

The downhill trend was prompted mainly by the practical and pragmatic average leaders who responded to the sobering realization that they would never be allowed to be a significant political force in the Middle East. 

Mount Lebanon reverted as a province to the Viceroy of Tripoli, with the same original conditions of self administration, and it gradually succumbed under the traditional feudal and confessional system. 

Many Emirs were successful in strengthening their hold by offering many carrots than whips, and maintaining a sort of false elective position in municipalities.

Asaad married a daughter of the Emir Shehab tribe in the Chouf. Wujdan married into the family of a prominent feudal lord of Abi Lamaa in the Capital Mtein, and Jacob the son of Noura and Antoun married from the Emir Maan tribe in Deir Kamar in the Chouf.  

Noura never returned to Lebanon and did not attend her son’s wedding, but instituted centers of learning in Rome and Florence, which were later to be acquired by the Maronite clergy. 

Samar was the official administrator of an ambulatory circus/theater business and Mariam married her lover Ignatios and took to editing the theatrical pieces submitted to Samar, her adoptive daughter, for the circus.  Mariam occasionally directed and produced drama shows for the exclusive benefit of Samar.

The consequences for the success and ultimate failure of the insurgency movement were not insignificant. 

In local politics, the Emirs and feudal Lords understood that the citizens in Mount Lebanon could not be governed in the same heavy handed tactics, by simple decrees from any Emir as was commonly done by the Viceroys. 

Most of the rules and regulations were enforced because of agreements among the main warlords and the clergy; even the local chieftain had a veto power in his district and could delay the implementation of many central orders indefinitely, unless a convenient tradeoff was negotiated.

In external politics, the Sultans of Egypt, and later in Istanbul, understood that, once an Emir from Mount Lebanon managed to unite its people, a united Mount Lebanon was to naturally expand into Syria and Palestine and prove to be a bothersome foe.

The formal strategy was that the best politics to maintaining the allegiance of the people in Mount Lebanon to the central authority was to divide the region into sectarian counties, which would insure the impossibility of uniting Mount Lebanon. 

Many foreign tribes from Iraq and the Caucasus were transplanted in the various districts of Mount Lebanon. 

However, Maronite families, for economic reasons, infiltrated most of the districts as cheap land laborers “fellaheen” and settled in the Druze districts, which would eventually cause dissents among the religious sects two centuries later, fomented by the colonial powers and the Ottoman empire, and lead to several civil wars.

After the first civil war in 1860, four European Nations claimed protection for their corresponding Christian sects: France for the Maronites, England for the Protestants and Anglicans, Russia for the Orthodox, and Austria for the remaining various Christian sects.

 Post note

Two years after Antoun’s martyrdom, a valuable manuscript was found in the cave where he was hiding and preparing for the second revolution. 

The First Emir noted his grand plans for his new Republic. The first phase envisioned a federation of States in present Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine that could withstand a Tatar resumption of hostilities, along with strong support and cooperation with the power in Egypt under proper circumstances.  This federation could enjoy natural barrier borders except in the southern region with Egypt, unless part of the Sinai desert could be used as a buffer zone. 

The desert between Syria and Iraq would be inhabited with settlements designed to map out routes of possible invasions from Iraq or Turkey.

The Torus Mountain Chain between Turkey and Syria and the Zagros Chain and Bakhtiar Mountains between Iraq and Iran were formidable natural barriers that could hamper any invasion from the North, given proper intelligence were supplied in due time.

Once these natural barriers were crossed the entire land was opened for quick advances by any invading army.

The First Emir also suggested election of a President for the united federation for a six-year term and renewable for only another six years term.

Each State would elect a Prime Minister and a State parliament and these parliaments would elect representatives to the Federated Senate that elect the President for the Union.

The whole region was under dominion of large Empires for long periods in history and it happened that a window of opportunity under a charismatic leader unified the people of Mount Lebanon for three decades, and proved that they were worth instituting a civil society that could influence positively the Greater Near East.

In fact the Levant managed to be unified twice more under the Emir Fakhr El Din of the Maan tribe in the 17th century, and Emir Beshir of the Shehab tribe in the 19th century during the Ottoman hegemony, and they naturally expanded their dominions to parts of Syria and Palestine.

There are many occasions in our land to celebrate Antoun.  Some of the Antouns have European spellings like Antoine, or Russian like Anton, or Latin as in Antonios or Greek like Antonionus or Manatios. Some Antouns are Catholic Saints or other Christian denomination Saints, some call him by nicknames like Tony, Tanios or Tannus, but to our people there is a myth that a brave martyr, and a 14th century hero, by the name Antoun unified us and defeated obscurantism.

The next leader who will be successful in unifying us as a viable geopolitical power in a united demographic bloc in this century will be given the highest honorable title of Antoun

Consolidation of the kingdom. From Rainbow over the Levant

Note: Re-edit of a chapter of my novel posted in 2008 and set in the 15th century Mount Lebanon “Consolidation of the kingdom”

Antoun had a few rudimentary ideas concerning the organization of the social fabric but he lacked reprieves for consolidating his hold on power.

Fortunately, the new leader had good qualities of listening carefully to suggestions and delegating authorities for matters considered not to affect directly his grip on power.

Miriam Najjar was an excellent counselor and was motivated to enlarge her knowledge and participate in the decision units.  She suggested that one priority was to establishing elementary schools in every town and argued that without a learned youth the future of the regime would be totally dependent on foreign experts who would deplete the treasury.

She advanced the concept that relying on the know-how of other nations was the main reason why so many dynasties had died out or been replaced by dynasties elevated from mercenaries who did not care for the well-being and stability of the societies they governed.

However, there was the realization, experienced by most families living in high altitude of over 1000 meters above sea level, of the high mortality rate in extended families during the winter season that lasted five months.

Many kids died from suffocation, pulmonary diseases, and contagious illnesses.

Psychological disorders lead to brutal physical behaviors from close contact in unfit environmental conditions.

At the time, and for long time afterwards, homes were simply of a single room. The door was the only opening to fresh air.  Around ten people on average crowded that cloistered unique room for the duration of winter.

As was the custom, large families usually dedicated their second or third sons to the clergy’s institutions to become priests and a few daughters to turning nuns. Thus, to avoid feeding extra mouths and making more space for the other members of the family, many kids were lent to work for free in return for shelter and food and some education during the harsh season.

To return the favor for the outlawed peasants, it was decided that intern or boarding schools be erected for girls and boys, separately and where children of ages ranging from nine to thirteen would dwell in for 5 months from mid November to mid April.

Boarding schools

The first boarding school was established in Baskinta and demonstrated in its first year that mortality was drastically reduced in winter when the number of family members was cut in half within their reduced dwellings.

Consequently, this facility provided during the winter season education and healthier quarters for children and lent longevity to the extended family members.

Nuns and monks would run these schools in the beginning until a new generation of trained and learned lay administrators and educators took over gradually.

The teaching was traditional the first two years until tighter administration and teaching procedures were enacted.

A single instructor perched on a cushioned flat stone faced half circles of students sitting on the ground and was responsible for all the beginners in the reading class, regardless of the students’ age and gender.

The master’s long-reaching stick would not discriminate inattentive heads. Heavy physical punishments were the lot of free spirits who dared stand for their rights or argued boldly.

A few families would even worry if their kids were not physically disciplined as signs of careless and apathetic behavior on the instructor’s part in guiding the learning progress of their kids.

Families would rather go and visit their children at school on Christmas vacation and stay with them for a couple of days benefiting from warmer lodging in barns and healthier food varieties.

Christmas was a happy period for everyone in the school where children would get busy building mock-up houses, trees, animals and figurines for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi kings and presenting homemade gifts to their parents in return for assorted delicacies.

A typical day at boarding schools started at 6 a.m. followed by house cleaning, chicken feeding, cow milking, kitchen food preparation, and carrying necessary supplies for the day. At 7:30 mass and breakfast.

Classes for reading and writing in both Arabic an Aramaic languages (language of the land) and basic arithmetic would begin at 8:30 and end at 12:30 for lunch.

A short recess, then off to working in the artisanal shops of carpentry, pottery, glass painting, iron forging, cloth making, glass blowing and farm tending until 4 p.m.  The children would then head to the supervised study lounge until dusk, followed by diner and Vesper prayer.

By 7pm everybody was already in bed in order to save on candles and oil consumption.

Children less than eleven years of age would sleep ten in a room on hay stacks with spreads of goat skin. The older ones would sleep seven in a room.

It was not the sleeping quarters that mattered for the kids but a larger freedom to move around and be outside during the day with three fulfilling meals.

Meat was scarce but the kids were frequently fed “kebbe nayyeh” for Sunday’s lunch and eggs with “kaorma” for Saturday’ breakfast and tabbouli or mjadara on Fridays.

The usual staples were cereals, beans, crushed wheat, lentils, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, soup and plenty of breads. Fruits were a delicacy, especially apples which could be stored. Sometimes, apricot and blueberry jams; and more often molasses and “rahat el halkoum”.

Most of the toys and game equipments were homemade.

They used to fabricate rectangular flat wood plates, mark a number of 3 decimals on it and a string to attach around the forehead.  They divided themselves in two groups and scattered in the woods hiding their numbers on tree trunks.  If the enemy guessed the hidden number attached to the front head then the opposite member was out of the game until everyone in one team was out.

With time, many of these masks would become marked one way or another and the unfortunate wearers soon found themselves guessed out immediately, no matter how tightly they hid their front head closely to a tree trunk.

They also made rudimentary balls and divided themselves into two teams:  the member hit by the thrown ball was “killed” and transferred to the opposite line unless he caught the ball and then the thrower was considered eliminated.

They fabricated backgammon and tic tac toe gizmos and the like games.

The most rewarding type of equipment were slingshots, wooden swords and arches. The kids would go out hunting rabbits and squirrels within a short range because wild beasts were commonly found such as hyenas, wild boars, and wild dogs.

This system of schooling was expanded to towns at lower altitude for a shorter winter season of only 4 months.

Somehow, a few of these schools constructed annexes around their grounds with the help of the military garrisons close by and were transformed into major production centers for army supplies and exported objects.

In the winter season, skilled families of the interned children would manufacture goods and help in the maintenance of the institution, while in the remaining of the year the school and its annexes would be invaded by skilled workers occupying the living quarters for 6 months.

There were cases of greedy administrators in tandem with local officials abusing children as slave workers and delaying the release of the able and skilled children.

Families got wind of these awful practices and stricter monitoring procedures of these institutions were established.  Families were encouraged to resume sending their children to the nearest parochial schools for a couple of hours during the busy seasons in return for preferential winter work facilities at the boarding schools.

These boarding schools became popular and families from afar trekked their children to Baskinta until new boarding schools were available and mushroomed to every district in Mount Lebanon.

This system of boarding schools developed into more professional institutions :  Overseas parents inscribed their children for a substantial sum of money in return for lengthier educational periods and better accommodations for housing different age groups of students.

In the newer more professional boarding schools with diverse ethnic and religious affiliations there occurred a few religious frictions among the adult students without any repercussions to the children who found happiness and joy in being together, energetic and secure in their daydreams.

Like most institutions in the Levant, the boarding schools experienced traumatic and feverish times but never took roots to grow and then suffered sudden death.

After lengthy discussions, Antoun agreed with Miriam that it would be an excellent decision to offer incentives to municipalities for arranging educational facilities.

Instead of villages constructing more churches, the central government offered to incur half the expenses for constructing schools, the wages of the instructors and lunch for all the students.  In return for free education for a 4-year period, the graduates would refund part of the expenses after securing better employment.

This edict would be formalized so that no State investment would be contemplated without local and regional investments and participation.  The rational was that if investments were shared by the well-to-do inhabitants who tend to mind a return on investments then, proper and timely execution of projects were more secured since it is founded on individual interest.

Within a year Antoun appointed Miriam Najjar as his education counselor. Mariam encouraged many visiting scholars to settle in Mount Lebanon and more opportunities for various disciplines sprouted in education that required specialized higher educational institutions.

 

Women rights and Written Constitution: A chapter in my novel set in the 15th century during the Mamluk Empire

Note: A re-edit of of a 2008 post “Rainbow over the Levant: Women rights and Written Constitution

Chapter 16: Postponement of a written Constitution (#23)

The First Emir had secretly adopted the party lines of the Aram National Party and he swore allegiance and signed the contract as a regular Party member.  He directed Miriam to be his official representative, thus propelling Miriam firmly into the highest hierarchy of the Party, which was the legislative committee.

The government allocated a budget to promote the expansion of the Party through an increase in the educational budget and proclaimed that all political parties should join efforts for the “Unity and Defense” of the nation.

Although the First Emir kingdom did not stretch beyond the Eastern mountain chains of today’s Lebanon, he recognized the necessity of unifying the people in Syria for a satisfactory defense front from any major invader.

The First Emir was willing to negotiate in due time for an alternative name of the Party and other concessions on the political principles by the opposition groups.

The First Emir felt that winning the mind and heart of his citizens to the new program was going to be much harder than anything contemplated before.

He knew that the society was enjoying wealth and stability from an open sea, an economy relying on medium size industries and tourism: the Syrian market was conquered without the need for direct interventions.

This state of affairs was ideal for business and suited greatly the institutions of the government which abhorred undue risks to their profitable businesses by hinting to probable preparation for war.

Since rational dialogue was not propitious at this stage because of the powerful institutions, the First Emir had to create a climate of emotional need for the slogans of the new party.

Before setting the propaganda machine at work, the new party had to propose its position on a written Constitution and a draft electoral system.

The new spirit disseminated in the land was highly controversial in most of the regions, but the new society had enjoyed enough freedom of expression that the fundamental issues were tolerably discussed.

Women, for example, would enjoy equal rights as men in education, work opportunities, inheritance and acquiring properties and businesses.

The suffrage of the female gender

Miriam stepped in as candidate for the coming legislative election and struggled hard to provide women all the rights accorded to men. She led a vast campaign of civic demands to alter the previous temporary electoral system into a fair and equitable Constitution that would guarantee equal rights to both gender in duties, responsibilities, and rights.

Miriam’s position as head of the Legislative committee in the Aram National Party gave her an important leverage for organizing impact lobbying pressure groups in the State administrations, propagating the new demands within the masses and concentrating their energies into a few targeted reform changes.

Miriam was installed in Baldat El Mir and had a wing in the Saraya as minister of education. She was still not married because of unusual circumstances but had a steady gentleman for many years by the name of Ignatios Doumany.

They both did not mind a formal wedding but realized that the social traditions would inevitably pressure the couple into changing their priorities; Miriam would have to refrain from open political activities and cramp her flexibility to maneuver in the political scene; and Ignatios would have to assume roles that he was not willing or capable of shouldering as head of the family and controlling its behavior according to the expected norms.

Ignatios was an academician and a linguist versed in ancient languages such as Latin, Greek, and Farisi; he used to teach at the Foreign Office Center in Baldat El Mir.(Currently Beit Mery).

Later on, during Latifa Regency, (Eldest sister of the First Emir), he would transfer to Mtein as head of the new branch of that department which was recently established in the historic Capital.  He was housed in an annex to the house of Miriam and instructed her two adoptive daughters and played the role of the adoptive father in the household management.

Samar, the eldest daughter, was already about eighteen and was adopted during the mountain outlaws’ period and was the dynamo for refueling Miriam with recharged energy and revolutionary zeal for change, especially in gender discrimination issues and females rights.

The second daughter Sahar, who was rumored that she was Miriam’s legitimate kid,  was seven and had the freckled face of Miriam but resembled more to Ignatios.

Miriam had adopted Sahar after she returned from her leave of absence that lasted ten months in Palestine; she went there accompanied by Ignatios to study the school systems of the European missionaries in Jerusalem.

During her stay, she trekked behind Jesus’ footsteps throughout Galilee, Judea, Jericho, and the Dead Sea, and then crossed the Jordan River to Jerash and Petra.

Ignatios was aware of the different treatments received by Samar and Sahar from Mariam.

Samar was encouraged to behave as boys were raised, independent and self-confident in society but Sahar succumbed to the unconscious symbiotic relationship of mother and daughter.

By attitudes, gestures, and remarks Miriam unconsciously sent messages to Sahar who assimilated them in her upbringing and generated reactions as daughters do to preserving the “love” of their mothers:  Sahar was wholly scared to part from her mother during her travels and behaved in subordination to customs with sudden violent outcries and revolts when the pressures of rivalry and jealousy aroused among her mother and her sister.

Sahar was fond of making the life of Miriam untenable in most circumstances and the kind and patient support of Ignatius was essential in keeping the peace and tranquility in the family atmosphere; the efficiency of Ignatius was far better when Miriam was away.

In the town of Antelias, Miriam called for and organized a vast gathering for the female gender active in the electoral process for holding administrative, organizational, or management positions in the government or private enterprises. This assembly lasted for two days and Miriam spoke on the first session saying:

“Compatriots, mothers, daughters, wives, single women and grandmothers; I welcome you wholeheartedly and admire your courage and determination to join this beautiful gathering of dedicated citizens.

As you can witness, male citizens are excluded from this gathering, not on the basis of our unwillingness to have a fruitful dialogue with them but because we need to be alone to boldly discuss critical issues among ourselves without shame or innuendoes, or patronizing attitudes.

As far as I know, this is a first grand gathering of its kind made possible by the new era of openness and freedom of speech and assembly. Let us take full advantage of being together and openly discuss and set up a workable agenda for our political and social platform”.

“Please, this is not the time to feel intimidated; we don’t have to work on the basis that the next gathering will be more suited to expound on your grievances because this sort of get together, among the female gender, might not happen again for decades, realizing full well the entrenchment of the patriarchal system we are still experiencing in every step of our life.  The strength of this system can handicap our development and the acquisition of our political, economic and social rights”.

“Understand that this is Not the time to dwell on what your father, or husband, or brother might think or say or do.  This is an opportunity to think and feel for yourself as a full fledge individual. What are your needs, emotionally, financially and educationally as an integral citizen of this free Nation?”

“This is an exciting time but fraught with serious dangers if we fail to unite and express our steadfastness and stubbornness for securing our natural rights and demonstrate that we are the group on which is founded the survival of our society.

We are not to dwell on survival anymore; we are here to go beyond the de facto status we have been subjugated to. We are to design the new life process that this society need to erect in order to progress and the best strategy to counter the calamities that our Nation might have to sustain”.

“First, we will form committees to discuss, study and make recommendations on the subjects of education of the girls, the inheritance both tangible and immaterial, wedding traditions and conditions both financially and emotionally, voting rights, representation in the Parliament, municipalities, and governance as half the society, mothers’ rights in childbearing and support from the public funds for medical and babies growth, travel rights, and work rights”.

“This is your golden opportunity to talk plainly in everything that is cramping your life and your dreams.

Please, I urge you to recall all your dreams when you were young and how you might be able to accomplish them if full citizenship rights are accorded to you by your valiant fights.

Remember, rights are never offered without struggle; let us fight with the firm determination to earn them publicly and in the privacy of our own homes and families”.

“We can win our rights by our union after agreeing on a platform.

Let this platform represent our youthful dreams and not what our fathers, husbands or brothers might agree with.

Let our feelings and our minds mesh to win the battle of gender equality and equitable progress of our people and children.  Long Live our First Emir! Long Live women rights! Long Live the Levant Nation!”

To protect the convention of the women, each of the three accesses to the meeting place was guarded by a phalanx of the army, located half a kilometer away, with an order to deny entrance to disturbing or curious elements.  Male supporters were assembled close to the military barracks to cater to the requirements of the convention and ensure smooth logistical supplies.

Two female phalanxes  (the army included women phalanxes) insured the internal security of the convention and participated in the military committee.

The first day of the convention was hectic in the administrative and management tasks, but a learning curve settled as the days went by.

Many bold and articulated female leaders went beyond the enthusiastic themes of claiming laws for the equality of the sexes and dwelled deeper on the other facets that were restricting their independence to growing wings.

They reminded their colleagues that they were mostly responsible for their secondary status in society because they exhibited the attitude that a good wife has the duty to efface herself in conversation among men and avoided the critical financial decisions in the household.  They encouraged the wives and daughters to voice their concerns in family matters and stop interjecting their accumulated anger as a mean to establishing peace in the family environment.

After the convention, which made the headline news in social gatherings for months to come, the female population vented their feelings and inclinations to the public and were ready to pay the price for their rights as equal to men in social status.

There were  divergent arguments.

One group viewed that individual family decisions such as who is head of the family, how to lead life and maintain family cohesion should be separate from the Constitution and only female rights as a complete human being equal to men in everything in the law should be an integral item in the Constitution.

Another group maintained that specific articles in the Constitution relative to women might harm their peace of mind and the harmony in the households. Instead, the laws should maintain her power to reclaim her rights at critical circumstances whenever she is ready to grasp them, especially for divorce and separation cases.

Securing female rights in the Constitution was the glorious fight that Miriam accepted to lead against all odds.

It was at this period that the government proclaimed prizes for anyone inventing techniques or equipments that would facilitate the printing of leaflets which were done manually.

The demand for mass writing materials generated ideas and the rudiment of a few inventions that did not materialize because of the political instability in the Levant.

End of tome I

“The Cello Player of Sarajevo” by Steven Galloway

On May 27, 1992 and at 4 pm, a shell killed 22 civilians lined up in front of a bakery in besieged Sarajevo. Over 70 persons were also injured as the shell fell behind Vase Miskina market.

The cello player, Vedran Smailovic, decided to play the Adagio on C minor of Albinoni for 22 days, at the same hour of 4 pm and at the location the shell fell.

Galloway designed his novel to revolve around three fictional characters: Kenan, Dragan and the 30 year-old girl sniper “Arrow” (Fleche or Strijela)

Kenan is married with 3 kids and is living in terror every time he has to go and fetch water. Every 4 days, the family consumes the 6 plastic gallons of potable water brought from the underground fresh water situated in the brewery, 7 miles away.

Kenan has to take great risks crossing streets targeted by shells and snipers from the hills, particularly in crossing the bridges of the river to the other side. Before starting his dangerous trip, Kenan slumbers on the staircase wall in order to capture enough courage and determination to get going: He is very afraid of this war that is harvesting people indiscriminately.

At one of his dangerous trips, several shells were lodged at the brewery as he was filling his bottles. Scores of people were killed and many injured. Kenan realized that he belong to the category of people who neither run away immediately or try to come to rescue of injured people around him.

Kenan just stays around watching the scene of carnage until he recovers his hearing sensation and feel fit to resume his trip back home… On the way, he met his friend Ismet, a soldier who gets paid with cigarettes and barter the cigarettes with goods in the semi-black market: Most of the foodstuff in the market were offered by the humanitarian aids and which ended up being handled by the gangsters and “nouveaux riches”. who drives Mercedes and have water delivered to their homes.

Kenan will keep going to the brewery for water: He is the one with all the other people who resumed their daily routine for survival who will rebuild the city, not the war criminals.

Dragan, 64 of age, managed to whisk away his wife and boy of 18 year-old to migrate to Italy as the war approached. Dragan knows that he would not see again his family: the wives who got away from the besieged city have been mailing divorce papers. He is now living with his sister and brother-in-law since his apartment was demolished by shells.

He recalls when the militia in the city dragged him to dig ditches at the front line as the war started. The diggers were forgotten for 3 days and didn’t have anything to eat. The owner of the bakery managed to locate where Dragan was allocated and got him back to work at the bakery.

It turned out that the gang leader was being paid by the head of recruits. Dragan is now on a dangerous trip to buy bread, many miles away and is not ready to cross a street where a sniper has already killed and injured many civilians who dared to cross to the other side.

Dragan is not a talker and he has been avoiding to meet and open any conversation with people he used to know. The sniper injured one of his close acquaintances Amina and he could not master enough courage to retrieve her to safety.  Amina was to deliver outdated medicines to an elderly person as a swap program among the inhabitants for lack of medication.

On the other side was a foreign cameraman trying to get interesting pictures of people crossing the deadly street. And Dragan got upset: This city would not be worth saving if dead people are not removed from the street for fear of being shot at. Dragan decided to walk the 15 meters separating him from a killed passerby and dragged the body to a safe place, even though the sniper tried twice to hit him.

Dragan will deliver the medicines in the name of his injured friend before passing and retrieving his loaf of bread.

And Dragan witnessed that stray dogs walked with a determined “dogged” mind: They had a destination to arrive at and didn’t stop to sniff the dead bodies. However, dogs knew the dangerous crossing, and would look at the hills before crossing. Maybe the dogs could be used to sense danger ahead of time?

Arrow is an exceptional sniper and she target officers in the hills. She works independently as she is entitled to select her own target.  Her commander assigned her the task of foiling snipers sent to kill the cello player. One of the sniper listened with total reverence to the music, and as he was about to shoot the player after the piece finished, and Arrow killed the sniper.

Things changed in war politics in the city. Her commander was assassinated and the new colonel wanted Arrow to work under his directives. The colonel wants to test Arrow for her readiness to target civilians, on the ground that this war is “between us and them”: There will be no difference between officers, soldiers or civilian.

As Hasan, the one designated to select for Arrow her targets put it: “They killed by father and my younger brother at home. I have no idea what happened to my mother and sister. I wish they are dead instead of slaving for these murderers…”

Arrow refused this deal of having target (civilians too) assigned to her, and resumed her unfinished job of protecting the cello player from any further assassination attempts.

Arrow is supposed to disappear and for 10 days she did just that, until the cello player finished his last “concert”. Arrow is back to her apartment, waiting for the military to barge in and assassinate her with “rashak” of bullets…

Note 1: The siege of Sarajevo (500,000 inhabitant at the time) lasted from April 5, 1992 to Feb. 29, 1996. The Serb forces had occupied all the hills surrounding Sarajevo in a valley. The only link to the outside was a tunnel under the airport.

The airport was monitored by an International force. Obviously, the Serb knew about the tunnel that served their interests: They could trade food with the city at exorbitant prices and received appliances at modicum prices, which families bartered  for foodstuff in order to survive.

The criminal barons  and gangs within the city had already invested the army as professional soldiers and officers and controlling the black market.

The UN estimated that ten thousands were killed and 100,000 injured. Over 10,000 apartment totally demolished and 100,000 seriously damaged, or 25% of the total buildings.

Note 2Vedran Smailovic managed to leave Sarajevo on December 1993 and is currently residing in North Ireland

Note 3: in 1945, an Italian musicology discovered 4 tempo of the bass partition of a burned sonata in the ruins of Dresden. He was convinced the tempo were composed by the 17th century Venice Tomaso Albinoni, and spent 12 years reconstituting how the original could have been composed. It’s a fake Adagio, but very beautiful.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

January 2021
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Blog Stats

  • 1,459,692 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 801 other followers

%d bloggers like this: