The Promised Land
Version for “Tales of the Veils” website.
Not for reproduction on other websites or in any other publishing format without author’s permission.
On a rattlesnake speedway in the Utah desert
I pick up my money and head back into town
Driving cross the Waynesboro county line
I got the radio on and I’m just killing time
Working all day in my daddy’s garage
Driving all night chasing some mirage
Pretty soon little girl I’m gonna take charge
The dogs on Main Street howl `cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain’t a boy no I’m a man
And I believe in a promised land
I’ve done my best to live the right way
I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start
The dogs on Main Street…
There’s a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I’m heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain’t got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted
The dogs on Main Street…
© 1978 Bruce Springsteen
Yasmin has plenty of time to think about her future as they are crossing the last outreach of the Arabian Desert to get home from the market in Marib. She once again has passed a hot day with her mother at a market stall to sell the family produce of vegetables, while her father has bought the needs they can’t produce themselves and spend some time in a coffee shop discussing with fellow peasants. The radio plays traditional Arab music very loud to overpower the sound of the old truck engine and pass the time for the two hour drive. They are half the way. Driving across the dusty plain is a time where her colored scarf veil not only protects her modesty, but protects against the very dusty air as well. It looks like they might have to drive through a sand storm before the road turns up into the mountains. The monthly market trip always makes her dream of a different future. All day she can admire the black clothed town women, who doesn’t have to work outside the home or at all. One day she will become one of them. She believes it is possible. There is a promised land. Most show only a little less skin than herself, but the thick black abaya, the niqab and sometimes a khimar make them look much more respectable and pious. And from time to time women pass not showing arms or even eyes. Such women are nearly always accompanied by a male. Yasmin hopes what is seen of her eyes in the uncovered slit doesn’t reveal too much excitement, when such a completely veiled woman stops at her stall. Then she is able to observe her covering in detail at close range, while a gloved hand comes out from the khimar to pick a bundle of leeks. Sometimes the eye veil is so thick the hand first has to flip the outer layer back before the woman is able to make her selection. As soon as something has been chosen the veil is flipped back and always the male handles the payment. Yasmin dreams of replacing her current life working all day in the fields, and a similar future if she is married to a peasant son, with the life of a fully covered town woman at most doing house work. She doesn’t think her parents will give her such a life. She has to take charge and find a suitable husband herself. Maybe just as second or third wife, but they are pious honourable modest women as well. If she could control her dad for just a moment, she would let him ask the best possible man in town, if he would marry her daughter, who is a true believer of Allah and his prophet.
Yasmin does her best to please Allah and her parents. She gets up every morning, wash, pray and have breakfast before she ties the colourful scarves around her head ending with the scarf over neck, mouth and nose that leaves only a tiny eye slit for her eyes. Just enough to let her see the weeds, which has to be removed to grow the vegetables, which make their living. Even though she cleaned the same rows just days ago, she comes back and finds new weeds time after time. She knows this life will continue at her father’s farm and then at her husbands, until she’s unable to walk out to the fields any more many years from now. Unless she takes her life into her own hands and change the inevitable. Thinking about a future in the fields makes her feel weak. She wants to take over the wheel and turn the truck, or get out and jump into the first car in the opposite direction back to town, or just smash the truck to force her parents to return to town.
Now they are driving into a sand storm. Her dad has to slow down to be able to follow the road. Fortunately he knows every corner. If they had passed such a cloud of sand in the morning their selling could have been degraded considerably. Now just time is wasted. Yasmin dreams she is a town woman going to the market with her husband.
She is standing in the quite dark dressing room in her colorful trousers and dress, but her head is covered in black scarves showing only the eyes, as always when not eating or drinking. She starts putting on black socks and black shoes. Everything that possibly can show must be black in public. The long black gloves nearly to the elbows ensures this, even if the sleeves slide up. Then a black blouse and a black skirt touching her shoes. Her body covering is completed with a long khimar zipped tight under her chin completely covering her hands and arms, which she doesn’t show unless necessary. Her body is now just a featureless triangle with a circular face opening at the top. There her tempting eyes are still showing for a brief moment. Then she ties the three layer niqab at the back of her head to hide her face including eyes completely. She is now dressed as required to go outside, as a pious wife living a life free of worries in the promised land. In the dim light she is virtually blind, but her loving husband has been beside her for a minute. He takes her arm and guides her out in the street, out in the sunlight.
Yasmin is momentarily blinded by the sharp sunlight. But it is not a street in the town, and she is not dressed in beautiful black veils. They have reached the mountains. They are driving up from the desert, away from the sand and in shelter from the wind. Yasmin is sitting between her parents in her simple colourful peasant clothes. It was a nice dream but she will always be a peasant. But if she tells her dad what she wants, maybe she’ll get her chance. “Father, I like to be dressed in black after my marriage. Would you find me a husband in the town please?”
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