Page 34 - Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT
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36 Vladimir Bartol ALAMUTThe singing and music lesson was a pleasant diversion for the girls. Miriam gave them complete freedom. Changing places frequently, they would play Tartar flutes, strum on the harp and the lute, light into the Egyptian guitar, compose and sing humorous songs, critique each other and argue, while Fatima and Zuleika tried in vain to command their attention. They laughed, told stories, and enjoyed the chance to let go.Sara once again clung to Halima.“You’re in love with Miriam. I saw it.”Halima shrugged.“You can’t hide it from me. I can see into your heart.”“So, and what of it?”Tears welled up in Sara’s eyes.“You said you were going to like me.”“I didn’t promise you anything.”“You’re lying! It’s why I’ve trusted you so much.”“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”It had gotten quiet, and both Sara and Halima turned and listened.Fatima had picked up a guitar to provide her own accompaniment as she began to sing. Beautiful, old songs full of yearning.Halima was entranced.“You have to write the words down for me,” she said to Sara.“I will, if you’ll like me.”She tried to press close, but Halima pushed her away.“Don’t bother me now. I have to hear this.”After the lesson they stayed in the classroom. Each one took up herown work. Some sewed or wove, or headed over to a huge, half-finished rug and resumed work on it. Others dragged several beautifully carved spinning wheels into the hall, sat down at them, and started spinning. They chatted about ordinary things, about their former lives, about men and about love. Miriam oversaw them, walking through their midst with her hands behind her back.Halima thought about her. She didn’t yet have any work of her own. She listened to one conversation, then another, until finally her thoughts focused on Miriam. If she and Sayyiduna were “close,” what was it that took place between them? When she was in the harem, did she also do the things that Apama had described? She couldn’t believe that. She

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