Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Bint Noor"

Another short but sweet one from my Singaporean friend : )

I had only one afternoon in Tarim to look for my uncle (he was actually my step-uncle, my grandfather had two wives, one in Tarim and one in Singapore). The houses had no number but persons with the same surname tend to live in the same village. I had his photograph. I knew that, like my grandfather, my uncle was an Imam.

At the village where people with my mother’s surname lived, we stopped a passerby, showed him my uncle’s photograph and asked where we could find him. We were pleasantly surprise to hear that he was leading the prayer in the nearby mosque. We were told to come back in an hour.

We came back, a little less than an hour, and waited. We recognised my uncle (from the photograph) as we saw him leaving the mosque. I approached. I gave my peace greetings. I held out the photograph, pointed to myself and said “Bint Noor”.

He did not ask me any question. There was no conversation. He looked at me, teary eyed with joy, extended his arm and welcomed me. He gestured us to follow him home.

We got to my uncle’s home and met my aunt (his wife) and cousins (his children). Within five minutes relatives from the whole village came (they had no telephone in the house, much less handphones).

The usual restriction against men and women being in the same room was not applied – both my male and female relatives wanted to meet us since it was not usual to meet relatives from Singapore. The language barrier was overcome with facial expressions, gestures and a dictionary."

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