Chapter Twenty-Two

The Celebration and the Feast Begin.


“In honor of our renewed friendship and trust, you are all invited to a feast to celebrate”.
A smiling old man that has led his tribe for so long reverently uttered a prayer that Allah will bless their renewed efforts. “We honor and praise Him. Let us go out together and celebrate our brotherhood and our way of life through the creation of the horse that bore our weight on their backs. It is indeed a time to celebrate.”
The mood of discouragement had disappeared. Joy replaced the suspicion we had of our neighbors. Singing and dancing, elaborate costumes adorned the horses. This was a special occasion. The tribes were united.
In preparation for the feast, camels and goats were slaughtered and prepared. Copious amounts of fruit and vegetables along with dates from the palms and delicacies that were reserved for special occasions were gathered from the stores. A celebration will ensue lasting into the night.
Gathered in large open tents, we and our honored guests sat down to a feast. A bonfire was lit. The butchered livestock was prepared with herbs and spices over an open fire. Strong coffee and beverages of fermented camel’s milk appeared. Children were allowed to attend the celebration. Their bejeweled costumes with flowing colorful material danced and sang next to a group of horses that were adorned in their native costume. A costume reserved for such special occasions.
The pageantry was amazing. I never imagined that I would witness such excitement among people. My time in Cairo seemed to shelter me from this world.
I wondered if they would accept me as a young woman instead of the young man in front of everyone at the feast. I sought counsel with Doctor Marsufi about this matter. He was the director of antiquities for the Egyptian government. He should know! This allowed me to humbly apologize for the errors I committed by bringing Dazshtan into the fray. I spoke to my grandpa about this to gather courage. He told me to be responsible for my actions. To speak to the Doctor was the first step.
“Can I tell you that I am proud of you for taking the initiative to save our precious Bint? I know your personality you have always been hardheaded and go out without thinking, but this time you made a difference. Dazshtan has proven the strength of his heritage. His sire would be proud as I am, for he is the first offspring of my soul mate Shahwan since I lost him. He is leaving a legacy for his sire for years to come. He is young yet and has not even flourished into his maturity. He and his sire will be present during the renaissance of our breed as foundation sires. You know that I am riding a mare from my jewel Shahwanyssa. Shahwan is well-represented here. Now go, face the music, Josie. Take your medicine”.
Hurriedly I caught up with the doctor. He looked at me with that strange look that he gave me when he saw me with his leased stallion. I proceeded to apologize profusely. He stopped me in my tracks.
“Josie, I would not have expected anything else from you. The courage that you possess has rubbed off on our treasured one. At first, I was surprised and concerned but when I looked into his eyes when he was standing there with you in front of the Sheykh. He told me then that you and he were a team and that he would do anything to protect you. Because of your combined effort, you saved from destruction the gift that was promised to the leader of this tribe. So, go on and enjoy yourself at the celebration. Be proud of who you are Josie. Make it well-known who you are. Do not hide behind that piece of cloth. Let your natural light shine brightly for people to see. I will be down soon for I am waiting for Walter and Mike to join me.”
I walked away from that meeting like I was on a cloud. The emotion that was building up inside of me came out all at once. I had to hide for I was crying uncontrollably. I did not want Rashad to see me like that. With my keffiyeh moistened from my tears. I pulled it off my head and headed toward the celebrating throng. Rashad found me and proudly stood by my side. We were both standing there proud that we were able to preserve the Jewel of the Desert, the name that was bestowed upon her by the people of the tribe that gazed upon Bint Shahwan.
The Bedouin created an oral system to identify each Arabian horse and ascertain its origin. They primarily rode mares and kept few stallions, and their method was based on female lines of descent. This matrilineal or strain system is hundreds of years old, dating at least as far back as 1660. During celebrations. A tradition that was handed down from generation to generation, a vaunted learned position, a practice that preserved the precious pedigrees.
The position was held by a scribe who precisely memorized the pedigrees and legends handed down over the centuries. The Scribe will sing the verses as he detailed orally the Arab pedigrees. Arabs revere mares above stallions because of their contribution to their foal’s temperament. As the foal’s closeness to their dam progresses during gestation, they inherit qualities that are embedded in their dam’s nerve endings just like the instinct that they were born with to outrun predators. If one had instilled in the sire and dam, desirable qualities, your foal will be bonded with you.
I have experienced this phenomenon. I cherish the results that come from this experience. Both of my charges, and their dam had a special relationship with my dad and me. We were psychically connected to them. I have learned from the women of this tribe that they practice the same with their mares. They trust them with like own their children, and in the tents of their master, the mares carefully nurture the children of the tribe and allow them the consumption of their milk.
I am looking forward to this experience tonight. Rashad and I sat close to the scribe to listen to his melodious tones and learn of the history of the horse-breeding tribes, The history of the Ruala people. A quiet came over the crowd as he sang. I was induced into a trance as they spoke of the legends and pedigrees over the centuries. I thought I heard something remarkably familiar come from his melodic voice. I jumped out of my stupor and asked Rashad to please ask the scribe to go back a few verses and repeat what he had said.
“Indeed,” said the scribe.
I told him that it was, oh, less than a minute ago. he gathered his thoughts together and repeated the verses that he knew by heart.
“And the precious foundation mare Oncalla Al Oneeja was such and such. All I heard was that name that rang out to me. Oncalla Al Oneeja. “Please tell me about this mare.” the mare had a familiar ring to me.
“Oh, as I recall, there is a legend attached to this special horse. Three generations in the past, this mare had survived a grave illness. Her master Darien Al Rashid was said to miraculously save her life. By the way. I know of the bloodlines that you have contributed to our herds. This mare, from five generations ago traces directly to your stallion Dazshtan. We revere her as one of the foundation mares of our tribe. Ashreen Arnaza is a direct descendant of Oncalla Al Oneeja. RA Inshalla, the dam of your stallion is out of the recently deceased mare Ashreen Arnaza. Bint Shahwan has inherited her spot. There is also a special connection to this legend that has benefited our tribe. Our Sheykh R’ Ameeri is the great-grandson of Darien Al Rashid. The person seated next to you is his great-great-grandson.
I almost fell out of my seat. Rashad had to hold me up as I looked up above the bonfire, a gust of wind stirred the embers. It had taken the form of a horse silhouetted against the night sky. In my confusion, I knew I saw Shahwan in the embers. Memories that had been seared into my brain became clear to me. I thanked the scribe for his diligence. Politely, but determined I excused myself.

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