The Far Away Colony Chapter 3
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The Far Away Colony
Before daylight pointed on the horizon, Mr Karim was already out of bed. He went to the bathroom to take a bath and perform his ablutions. He drank the black coffee Leila prepared the night before and the maid heated in a pan, slipped on his white shirt, put his Turkish hat on his head, took the old portal key pending from the wooden door and left the house to proceed on foot to the mosque situated not so far from the house. The streets, at that moment, were still dark and desert.
The boys had some difficulties to get up early in the morning. They went to bed late the night before and the sleep was overwhelming them. Mrs Karim should have to shake them; they hurried up in order not to lose the morning prayer. The girls slept in the adjoining bedroom. The parents preferred to have them next door to cast a glance at them.
As time passed by, Mister Abdul Aziz Karim became hardened and was then a severe man. He had raised his children himself, watched them, given them education, taught them the rudiments of religion and corrected them when necessary. He was a strong-tempered man, with remarkably intelligent eyes, a large shiny forehead, a thick beard hiding his large chicks, lips that were not used to smiles and a corpulence that represented the family patriarch. He seemed to be at ease with himself and was admirably confined to his leading role. In order to succeed in business, he led a long fight during several years in which he had ups and downs, but managed to get through after hard labor and constant struggles. At fifty-five years old he had acquired the necessary experiences to lead his business correctly. He was strict with his employees who were afraid of him and respected him. He was also a good man, with a generous heart. He listened to his employee's requests, if they had some, understood their weaknesses and offered them money when they had important events to celebrate.
The house was huge and the bedrooms immense. It was a structure dated since the colonial period. The roofs were covered by corrugated iron, which had replaced the clapboards gone off by the bad weather. The walls were repainted in white. The cement had replaced the lime detached by the time. The doors in the ground floor were remade and conditioned to discourage thieves. It was in this part of the building that Mr Karim has been running his business since thirty years. The carpentry, padding and mattress workshops were situated in the back of the building. The merchandise depot where the furniture pieces were stored occupied a considerable surface at the end of the big courtyard that completed the property.
In the first floor, the residential part of the building was composed by several big rooms and some small. Many employees were at Mr Karim's service to help him with his business activities and to take care of the house. A designer used to come and make dresses for Mrs Karim and the girls. A driver was available to drop the girls at school and bring them back, to do the shopping, to take Mrs Karim to pay visits to her relatives and friends, to drive Mr Karim to his providers, to the bank, to the notary or wherever he wanted to go. Several employees produced the furniture, mattresses, bolsters and pillows. They covered the armchairs and sofas, stuffed the chairs, covered the headboards with jute canvas, velvet and fabrics. A driver and three depot boys were in charge of the deliveries, furniture installation, maintenance and selling. A cook took care of the meals. Three maids took care of the house; Julie was one among them.
Early in the morning the house was empty; the kids had left for school and the other members of the family were at work. The servants assisted Mrs Karim to accomplish different tasks in the house. At this time of the day she was in the big prayer room, where nobody had the right to come and disturb her. She had already met Julie in the morning and given her instructions.
Calmness prevailed in all the rooms. Julie set to work very early. The beds were already done and the blankets put away in the closet. The furniture was dusted and the mirrors, the nickel-plated edges, the windows ledges, the corners, the polished wood, the mahogany or teak wood wardrobes, the dressing-tables, the desks, the libraries, the solid wood tables, the reversed feet chairs, the sideboards, the armchairs, the sofas, the couches, the glass cases and the tableware all cleaned, polished and lustred; they gleamed, shined and sparkled with the daylight. The floor was waxed and polished and the booties placed at the entrances of the glass doors dressed with happy colors and flower design curtains.