Veiled PAGE


Veronika Lichter

Sitting with the women in the madrasah, we celebrated the shahada of the former Katrin - now called Zarah (the flower). I missed Caroline sometimes. I suspected her in the vestibule to meet with her Kemal.

I set off. I saw from a distance how she disappeared behind a pillar. I approached her quietly and watched her knocking on a door three times, facing the wall and waiting for something. It lasted a while and I got impatient. As I was about to approach her, the door opened and she quickly slipped through. I tried to make a kitten, but the door was made of thick oak and tight. When nothing happened after a while, I returned to Zarah's celebration.

As it became time to go, a black ghost approached me and handed me her display. It said, "I am Rana! In four weeks Caroline will marry my son Kemal Khan, the Imam. In the meantime, she remains in my custody. She has much work to do." She took her display from me and left.

I felt like I was hit in the face! Didn't I have a word to say to them? And so I headed right to him. I knocked on his office door, but nobody opened it to me. I remembered Caro knocking three times and then waiting with her face towards the wall. That was humiliating! I swallowed three times till I conquered my pride to do the same as her. Now I stood face to face with the wall and waited, waited, ... "You want to know about your daughter, so stay obstinate," I said to myself again and again.

Sheik Hussein Nabil and Kemal Khan watched Veronika patiently stare at the wall for ten minutes.

"She's a good mother! I like that very much! I will have her blessing!" Kemal Khan said and walked to Veronika to open the door.

"Come in, please, come in, Mother," he said to her. I thought, "He calls me mother and it warms my heart. I like him very much, a nice and experienced man." He led me into the living room, where an older Arab sat who was introduced to me as Sheik Hussein Nabil. He radiated such a dominance that I felt small and insignificant towards him. That' s never happened before in my life.

"I will marry your daughter in four weeks. I hope you're happy with us," he said."What's the matter with me? I feel so small in the presence of these men," I thought, then started babbling:

"Oh...ahem...yes, yes, of course, I'm happy when you marry my daughter. May I please see her?" I asked, very embarrassed.

" When your daughter marries, you lose her to her mother-in-law and when your son marries, you get a new daughter," said the Sheik. " Rana's the only one she may see till marriage. So everyone gets used to it in time. You may leave now."

"I am grateful for the instruction and look forward to the wedding of my daughter. She and Rana please send my love," I said submissively and trustingly.

"Rejoice and be proud and happy! You will soon be the mother of a well-married daughter," said the Imam as he accompanied me out.

Calmly I went to the apartments to talk to Zarah. Some women were still celebrating her Shahada there.

"Hello, Veronica! Please come in," she said. When I saw the other women, I didn't want to disturb them and wanted to go.

"Nonsense! Dear friend! You're more than welcome to my joyful Day! Naturally, you're staying!" I was greeted friendly by everyone and they offered me tea and biscuits. However, I refused the offered Shisha.

"I was hoping you'd bring Caro. Where is she actually?" she asked me.

"She is in the care of Rana, the mother of our Imam, and Rana is preparing her to be married to her son," I answer her truthfully. This caused disbelief on Zarah's face and after she had digested the novelty more or less, she said:

"Well, that' s a pace! When shall the wedding take place?"

"In four weeks. The masters are giving us time to get used to it," I said. Zarah hugged me and congratulated me. All the other women did the same to me and I sensed that all was well.

I decided to rent my room. I just wanted to be as close to my daughter as possible till her wedding.


Sheik Hussein Nabil

"I like your future mother-in-law. She seems to be full of love and at the same time a lioness for her child. She knocked three times and waited patiently for ten minutes with her face to the wall, only to hear that her daughter as well. I was amazed at how submissive her attitude was towards us. What's her name?" I said to Kemal.

"Her name is Veronika Lichter. Maybe she's a natural sub. Well, how am I supposed to understand what you're saying? Are you looking for a third wife?" he asked me.

"I was quite satisfied with my two wives and did not intend to take a third, especially since it is the policy of the Brotherhood to prevent polygamy among staff in Europe. I could leave my first and second wife in the care of my family in Egypt and follow them with the third in two years at the latest," I said.

"Sheik! But why do you want to leave us?"

"For five years in a Kufrland must suffice, and because the Fraternity in Europe is far too liberal for me and is waiting for me to resign to give you the leadership," I stated to his amazement.

"That was and never has been my goal, I promise you that," he said in dismay.

"I know that, and I'd be happy if you'd take my place. I know everything's in good hands with you," I told him.

I was already tired of this Europe with its bad weather and loose morals. I was homesick for my familiar surroundings. Kemal was a Turk and grew up here. He'd be a much more patient representative of our guild than I am.

"Look! You're thirty-five, I'm fifty-five. You grew up here and you're going to marry a German. You are perfectly suited for future tasks, I certainly am not, now I would like to finish the topic and still work a bit."


Veronika Lichter

I buried my husband recently, now my Caro leaves and marries Kemal Khan and I am sitting here in a tiny room rather than at home in a nice big house and all the time only thinking of the Sheik. A man well over fifty, a Muslim who's probably already married. A man of a sheer incredible presence, at least to me. I cannot keep from thinking of him! Goddamnit, I'm an emancipated woman almost forty years old. I am an administrative officer in the middle service and have almost always worked. After the death of my husband, I took a leave of absence for a while, as I now get a lavish widow's pension thanks to my husband.

And yet: I only have to think about this man and already I get heart flutter like a teenager. I urgently need to inform Pete of Caro's imminent marriage and I too now urgently need his wise advice.