The Far Away Colony
Julie was through a period of youth which didn't leave her indifferent to the interest that men shown towards her. Although she tried to be vigilant and circumspect in delicate situations, she made no effort to reject the advances of the admirers she crossed on her way, and who wanted to pass some pleasant moments in her company.
When she was really overcome with the desire to appeal to somebody, she exhibited on purpose, to attract their attention with her fashionable manners full of mischief, her hidden charms. Her young girl face, embellished and blossomed by the possibility to evolve in a society she was discovering, witnessed the enthusiasm that accompanied her when she moved and the pride she pulled out due to the position she occupied which represented a success and an achievement symbol.
Her cheeks made pink by the freshness of the Highs changed its cast and color under the coastline sun. This didn't disturb the effect she produced when her enchanting looks touched those of men. Slim, her young girl's body had given up its place to a precocious woman's one; she had beautiful legs she hid under long pleated skirts she made with curtain's fabric. She had a slender face, a turned-up nose, thin glowing lips often touched by her moist tongue, big hazelnut eyes and a large forehead that betrayed her intelligence; all this was embellished by thick light hazelnut hair which revealed a beauty the best artists would argued to have as a model to create a masterpiece. If she had known that such a beauty could work as an effective weapon to make her way through the existence’s traps, her innocent mind would have known a long time ago the pangs of corruption, which would have dragged her where she could have got lost. She was spared from such an influence.
She had no experience and didn't look like those courtesans who knew the tricks to take advantage from the situations; she hesitated a lot before throwing herself into adventures that could have made her enjoy life and learn to know the world. On several occasions she was approached by men who were struck by her beauty, and who, sometimes, followed her into the deserted streets of the town when she did her mistress' shopping. She could have accepted an appointment and started an adventure with no future but the idea of behaving in that way didn't touched her mind. Even so, she didn't refuse to talk to them. She felt an infinite pleasure to reply to them with a disconcerting frankness and some irony that astonished them. She couldn't help to be delighted with her rudeness and got rid of them the way one repels a cockroach from the back of the hand when it inopportunely sets down on oneself.
Such an attitude reduced her chances to find a husband and to set up home, as her mother wished. However, her intentions were far from dreaming on a marriage and she had promised to her parents to help them with the lands; she wanted at all costs to respect her commitments. She leaved in an environment that had left in her mind consequences from the time that has run away into her imagination. She didn't feel any pleasure to revisit the past. However, the evening, when she was all alone in her bedroom and suffered from insomnia, how could she reject the sequences of the past? Was she condemned to endure those obsessions all her life? Wasn't she right to keep going at work and enjoy the home warmth? Was she becoming an easy prey for the men who didn't stop running after her? She accepts she has let thing go too far but she didn't despair. She thought she could discourage them during the following days and convince them that it led to nothing to seduce her. They were her little bosses and she owed them respect. But when she started to run away from them and take refuge with the other members of the family, they found other ways to be alone with her. She defended herself not so bad. To one of them she answered:
“If your parents get to know that you are chasing me they are going to dismiss me. I am here to work and you are bothering me. Could you please leave me alone?”
“I am not chasing you. Don't I have the right to speak with you? What's wrong about that?”
“If you speak without saying silly words, there's nothing wrong, I just don't like to be touched.”
“I have no intention to touch you. I like you and I want to have a conversation with you.”
“Why do you want to speak with me? I don't see what we could say to each other. I am just a poor house cleaner who wants to carry out her tasks in peace. Therefore, it's better to keep our distances. In any case, it's important for me to do my work and nothing else.”
Next time, when the little boss said:
“Why are you so afraid of being fired? Don't you see I am here to protect you? Besides, you do your work well and everybody loves you.”
“That's enough for me. You don't have to love me in another way. By continuing to follow me like that, you embarrass me. I don't want the others to think badly.”
“Nobody will think badly. We are doing nothing wrong.”
“You say that; but the others may not think this way. You don't need to be acquainted with me and tell me things I don't need to know. It's your life and I am not interested.”
“I like to tell you my life. You inspire me so much confidence. Maybe I need someone to confide to. I like you and I think I have feelings for you.”
“You say anything to grant the favors of the women you desire and then get rid of them. You let your instincts drag you to commit all sorts of ignominies without considering their consequences. You want to have women at your feet so you can pamper yourself and satisfy your dalliances.”
“You are wrong to think like that.”
“Men usually don't reflect before acting. That brings them to ruin most of the times. Just consider for a moment the happiness a woman seeks when she imagines to find in a man some love, some affection. You have no idea how important it is to the eyes of a woman to feel she's really loved. You don't care about anything. What counts for you are the way you want to live, the pleasures you are looking for, without thinking about the harm this can cause.”
“Isn't it true that everything starts with the interest we have on the person we love?”
“Love! What do you know about love? Are you insinuating you love me? If that's the case, I don't believe in a single word of what you're saying. First of all I don't come from the same backgroung as you and that makes the whole difference.”
“That doesn't make any difference for me.”
“How can you say that? How can you dare to behave in a way that makes things difficult? It's quite simple though. You evolve in a world in which I don't have a place. You are going to bring me many troubles by trying to convince me to give myself to you. I am not an idiot and I am not so ready to commit such a fool thing. Can you imagine for a while the situation in which I will find myself if your parents discovered you are having an affair with me?”
“So what? I am free of doing what I want.”
“Listen to me, Sir. Find yourself a nice little wife from your community. There's quite a lot of girls who can make you happy; don't distress your parents at this point of their old age by bringing to them a girl chosen among the servants. They have made so meany sacrifices for your well-being and you expect to reward them this way?”
“I know those girls who want to twist you around their little fingers. I've been engaged twice; the first time with a girl from a rich family and the second with one from a humble background. I can say that in both cases I had quite a lot of personal and romantic issues. There's no need to make a big deal about this but I am in a good position to say that it's not easy to find a good girl.”
“I find hard to believe you. Two engagements broken and you still think it's the other's fault. Do you think the kind of life you have is normal? Have you at least found the fault? What if you change the way you live? Maybe you will find the solution to your situation. Do you know you have so many defects women don't like? You would do better to correct them before it's too late. Despair always tends to muddle up your thoughts. Today you show interest in me because somehow I represent a consolation for you. What do you think are the advantages of passing your existence in my company? I am just a poor woman without a fortune or a past. Later, when you would have ordered your thoughts you will discover the mistake you have committed. What will you do? You will get rid of me as if nothing had happened. It's also my duty to prevent you to commit such a madness. I have a part of responsibility since I've been challenged. I care for taking you back to reason and making you become aware of your acts.”
These conversations were held during the several occasions Bakar was alone with Julie. She was somehow waiting to find herself in similar situations, in front of the one who wanted to seduce her. She knew his intentions and felt fear. She was astonished by the fact of having found some courage to say what she thought about the man towards whom she had obligations and owed obedience. She has been living in this environment enough to understand the situation in which every member of the family was. In the beginning, when she was just arrived, when she understood her young boss was interested in her, she was on her guard, verified if nobody was hidden in her bedroom the evening, closed the door with the key and paid a lot of attention to noises. She was so scared that she did stupid things while accomplishing her duties. Her boss, who was extremely kind, didn't reprimand her. Sometimes she was so pale that, looking at her, it could have been possible to imagine she was having a difficult moment. It was only her imagination and when the confidence settled in her mind, she made everything to give satisfaction with her work.
Alone in the vast and immense rooms, sometimes Julie allowed herself short pauses to admire the beautiful paintings hanging on the wall and decorated with nice golden and silver Arab writings. Those paintings, brought from Mecca by the boss during his pilgrimages, represented the aspects of a Muslim world Julie was discovering and admiring with the enthusiasm that accompanied the people curious to know and understand. Her eyes crossed those sacred places where here a crowd of people swarmed around the Kaaba, there the pilgrims dilapidated Satan. She tried to imagine the height of the minarets, understand some ritual gestures when pilgrims quenched their thirst with the water coming from the sacred well of Zem-Zem, watch them run, wrapped into their Ihram. Her eyes passed from the cupolas to the interior courtyard, from the pitched roofs to the patio. To those images impregnating her mind she was not indifferent. When entering into the prayer room, where oriental rugs in sober colors covered the floor and a clock hanged on the wall, she had to take her shoes and apron off. She didn't have the right to touch the Coran to wipe or move it. It was the room where it was so pleasant to stay, loose oneself in deep meditations, make prayers and invoke God-Almighty. She went there once every day to give a sweep when the mistress had finished her prayers.
Julie had a woman's heart. The fact of assisting the decline of a man who wanted to cling on to her couldn't leave her indifferent. She still didn't know the pangs of love. She had no intention to cause any harm to somebody. She still ignored the vices; her innocence sheltered her from dishonesty; She didn't want to be indifferent towards the man who had confided himself to her. This was probably her weakness. She was far from taking advantage from the occasions that could have opened her doors to a future. Yet, as all the young girls who find themselves many times alone with their imagination, she searched the possibility of planning her future, spreading the perspectives she foresaw, or even overindulging the idea of living this life of pomp and splendor she desired so much. What a pleasant image of a reassuring future full of joy the one that filled her mind. But when she noticed that she was but dreaming, she became sad and told her that, after all, she had the right to let out from her imagination the most fantasist sequences.
At April 1938, five months after her arrival to the house, Julie was still rejecting the advances of Bakar.
Sometimes, late in the evening Bakar slipped into her bedroom. He got into the habit of laying down next to her when he wanted.
“I feel so good close to you.”
“You don't have the right. You know it. Somebody can come in and discover us.”
“I just want to have a rest next to you. It's so cheering. I dream about the moment when I would lay down next to you.”
“Do you think what we are doing is right? Aren't we doing a stupid thing? I risk to be dismissed if somebody sees us here. It's really necessary to go so far?
One night the showers pattered on the roof, the cold became evident and Julie wanted to warm up. She gave herself over to him. Similar nights have got them closer in this forbidden game.
A morning of July 1938 she had nausea and started to worry. She had to wait two months without having her period to convince herself she was pregnant.
Before the scandal burst and she got fired from the house to have slept with her young boss, she went back to her parents.
Such a relationship was not tolerated in respectable families, relationships born in the shadow of all suspicion, in absolute discretion. Involved persons who wanted to live their life and take some liberties without thinking, not even once, they would be the victims of their own acts. They were aware though about the problems that would arise for having challenged the moral laws. They were ready to face the eventualities and to stand up to the numerous persons who were going to rise up against them for having dared to enroll in the bad way. It was too late to listen to reason and they had no regrets to break up with people to whom they owed so many respects. All the existence of a family can be overwhelmed when getting acquainted with news which go against what they wishes.