Dr. Niqab: Part 1
Version for “Tales of the Veils” website.
Not for reproduction on other websites or in any other publishing format without author’s permission.
1. The Clinic
Munira’s husband had got a long term building contract in the remote province of Khita. He had already been there for some months and recently got a house to stay in, and next week he has a meeting in the capital and she will now be able to return to Khita with him. Munira just has a small problem. Khita has a climate where a number of rare diseases exist and for people not raised there a special vaccination is recommended for those intending to go there. Her doctor has advised her to try getting it from Vacsera. Vacsera is a government owned company that works under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health and has a department which specialises in producing and supplying vaccines and serums. Being a government owned company, Munira is confronted with bureaucracy and red tape, being sent from one counter to another, one room to the next, receiving slips of paper to be signed and stamped by other officials. Finally after about an hour walking corridors and waiting she is sent to a clinic having the vaccine with the added bonus of getting the injection right away.
The clinic is located in one of the more conservative districts of the city and working as general health clinic to the locals is it’s main object. The conservative environment shows in the clinic as separate waiting rooms for males and females. Munira is glad she has been dressing more conservatively lately to test her wardrobe before going to Khita. However the calf long flower printed dress with long sleeves in mainly light blue, along with a small likewise colourful scarf on top of the head makes her look scantily dressed compared with the local women. None show more skin than hands and face. Everybody wears subdued single coloured items. Many are veiled and some are entirely in black, only their eyes showing through a narrow slit. Munira just has to accept being stared at, but only expecting to stay for a few minutes to get the important vaccination she doesn’t care. The woman behind a counter receiving people isn’t showing much either. The long white medical coat is to be expected, but above that is a black scarf covering head, neck and shoulders with a further thin see-through black scarf tied over nose and mouth and thin black gloves coming out of the white sleeves. But Munira is politely received, a welcoming smile can be seen through the scarf and a few minutes after looking at her papers she is called upon and shown through an open door.
She walks happily into the room where two nurses are chatting animatedly. They are completely identical, each wearing an ankle length dark green surgical gown and a large black scarf like the woman at the counter. Instead of a thin scarf covering nose and mouth they are wearing a green surgical mask made from cloth and completely opaque,resulting in only their eyes showing. Their hands are different as well, covered by thin slightly yellow latex gloves going up the forearms over top of the sleeves of the gown. But the latex being a little transparent reveals that they probably wear black gloves underneath. The one talking stops her stream of words directed towards the other nurse to inform Munira, now hearing a slight muffled voice from talking through the mask, that the doctor will be there in a moment.
She doesn’t come as far as continuing her broken conversation before something enters the room. Munira is slightly shocked to see this mass of black. A black niqab, where even the two tiny slits where the eyes would be are covered in black gauze, has entered the room. Thick black gloves sticking out of two wristbands attached to the shapeless black garb, tightly fastened, allowing only the black gloved hands up to the wrists to escape the dark cloud are placed the right hand on top of the left one on the chest, as if in a silent prayer. Munira starts wondering how this woman is going to get her injection and where she will start to unravel the various black layers to bare an arm. Before she can complete her imaginative answer to that question in her head, the nurses bow and one says “Good morning doctor.”
Munira is sorry she didn’t take the first opportunity to escape, because for even a split second she wouldn’t have imagined this is the doctor everyone has been waiting for. Doctor? This perfect image of the angel of death is a life giving healing angel of mercy? A doctor! For a few more panicky moments, while the doctor looks at her papers, Munira is trying to figure a way to flee without insulting the doctor and making a complete fool of herself. The shapeless, formless black niqab then rattles down a few questions with a very low and muffled voice, almost like a strangled whisper of a machine gun staccato “Name? Age? Type of vaccine?”
Munira knows she has to verify what the papers say, but her immediate thought is that the doctor asks because she is unable to read with her covered eyes. For some seconds she is too speechless to answer and her mind is racing frantically in dread, trying to come up with a dignified way to flee from this scene, which more and more resembles a farce from a surreal play. Finally she mumbles and stutters her name and age to the black back, as she has turned towards a closet. In utter shock and complete terror Munira witnesses her extracting a pair of latex gloves from the closet and putting them on, right over the thick black woollen gloves she is wearing. She just can’t believe this, and more and more the surreal farce is turning towards becoming a horror movie. It seems to her like trying to do open heart surgery while wearing welding gloves and a deep sea diving suit.
Before she can pull herself together and run away, the latex gloves have found the box with the precious vaccine and proceeded to ‘load’ the injection. Munira manages to stammer “I would like the box thank you. I have to go home now and can have my own doctor do it.” The barely audible muted whisper answers. Munira can only make out a few words, sounding like “…out of the refrigerator…not more than 20 minutes…transportation…on ice… not allowed to freeze…better here and right now…only a minute…over before you know it…no need to be afraid.” This torrent of words washed over her while she was trying to seize her valuable vaccine from the double gloved clutches of the black creature and murmuring defiantly “How can you even feel what you’re doing with those thick gloves on under the others, I simply refuse…” Alas, it is too late and Munira watches wide-eyed as the prized yellowish vaccine is being sucked into the syringe held by that black creature. Her resistance fades into nothingness as that black being, now dangerously armed, suddenly and very forcefully grabs her arm pulling the sleeve up the forearm and ‘shoots’ the vaccine right into it.
The black niqab while turning to go then mumbles something which Munira at first thinks is directed towards the nurses “Same time tomorrow then?” It’s a question but the doctor doesn’t wait for an answer. Munira, having relaxed for some seconds, happy she right now seems to have survived her meeting with the black pile of cloth now disappearing through the doorway feels a shiver going through her body. Does she have to experience this nightmare again? One of the nurses sees her bewildered expression and says “Being prepared for Khita requires five vaccinations with at least twelve hours in between each. Being Saturday you can just come in on the four following days.” Munira lets her head sink down, which the nurses take as a nod, and walks out through the waiting room, where the half of the women showing tightly cloth framed faces now seem like a confirmation that people still exist.
About twenty four hours later Munira again enters the clinic. She knows she won’t like seeing the doctor, but being stared down while waiting she has prepared to avoid. Looking through her wardrobe she has found her most conservative looking long coat in light grey to put on top of her dress, has put on stockings and replaced the small colourful headscarf with a large brown one wound around the entire head and neck, revealing only face and hands like the most liberal women in here.
She is received at the counter like yesterday. She is uncertain if it’s the same woman the veil hides even though it’s thin enough to reveal how the lips are formed. Waiting is again short, but Munira has enough time to see that no one takes notice of her – her dressing is successful. She is shown into the same room with two nurses seeming to have little to do when it comes to vaccinations. From their nod of recognition Munira assumes it’s the same two as yesterday, but what is unique is only dark eyes above a mask. Most women here are like that, Munira even has difficulty telling the two nurses apart. Munira now apparently being a regular to the nurses there’s no need to inform her about when the doctor is expected. The nurse who was talking when Munira entered only stopped long enough for an acknowledging nod. Munira doesn’t listen to her low slightly muffled stream of words, only thinking she must be explaining something quite complicated because she’s the only one talking. The other nurse just confirms she is listening with a nod now and then.
After a few minutes of waiting the sight Munira has been dreading appears. Dr. Niqab, as Munira has chosen to call her, when going over yesterday’s unpleasant experience in her mind, enters the room. There are no head movements showing recognition and of course no facial expressions or eye movements can be seen. The mass of black cloth just passes Munira as if she were not there and goes to sit behind the desk where Munira’s papers have been placed. One nurse has actually been active while listening to her colleague by receiving the papers from Munira and placing them on the desk. Dr. Niqab has just changed her form from a sort of rounded cone to a circular S-shape, in other words seated herself, before her low muffled mumbling reaches Munira’s ears. It’s her personal data and why she is here, and Munira confirms everything until the doctor says “The dress has improved, but for visiting Khita there is still some way to go.”
Munira is completely taken aback by this comment said with a louder voice and outside what the doctor needs to say professionally. The nurses are surprised as well, both turning from watching Munira to look at the doctor. All three follow the doctor closely with their eyes as, just after making the comment she gets up and goes to the closet to put on latex gloves. But not a sound more comes from the black mass of cloth.
The rest is like yesterday except Munira co-operates by unbuttoning her coat sleeve to get the shot of the day in the opposite arm. Dr. Niqab walks out the door and after buttoning her sleeve Munira leaves as well. During the vaccination she has been too tense, afraid of what might go wrong when depending on this probably half blind restricted object with her thickly covered fingers, to try to make the doctor clarify her comment.
Coming for her third vaccination Munira has of course been thinking about the statement of Dr. Niqab. Her conclusion is that women have to be veiled when walking in public in Khita. To perhaps make Dr. Niqab say ‘This is sufficient’ Munira has put on thin black gloves, replaced her brown headscarf with a black one and tied a partly see-through black scarf over nose and mouth to have her head covered like the woman behind the counter.
Seconds after putting her papers in front of the woman, having read them she lifts her head to say with a big smile “The coat looked familiar to me, but what is above has improved beyond recognition. I’ll call you in a couple of minutes as usual Mrs. Hamid.”
Entering the usual room just one nurse is present, who, after taking a glance at the papers handed to her, and, realising who is behind the veil, makes a deep bow. Munira immediately asks her “Do you know why the doctor said yesterday ‘There’s still some way to go’ about visiting Khita?” The nurse just lifts a hand to cover her mouth and to further emphasise she lets her finger draw an X in front of the mouth. Munira is shocked. The nurse is not allowed to speak and perhaps unable to speak. Seeing her wide questioning eyes the nurse takes Munira’s hand and leads it to her mouth. Pressing at the surgical mask Munira senses a hard spherical form – the nurse is gagged. Of course it’s none of her business, but now Munira has more questions to ask.
In a minute the other nurse arrives. Munira lifts her veil as if seeing her lower face instead of her eyes would make her look as if she was unveiled, before saying to the second nurse “I’m Mrs. Hamid, who the doctor told yesterday ‘There’s still some way to go for visiting Khita’. Do you know what that means?” The nurse says “No not really, except I think the doctor comes from Khita. I know nothing of Khita but the fact that the doctor, has chosen to live in the most conservative part of this modest, conservative quarter of the city, is perhaps because it is closest to the Khita way of life.” Munira asks “Your colleague has revealed to me she is gagged. Can you tell me why, and perhaps why you’re not?” The nurse says “I was yesterday. Rafa and I are gagged on alternate days. Everybody working at this clinic comes from the most conservative part of town, where all families believe the voice of women should be heard as little as possible, in the same way as we believe in showing the face and body as little as possible. But being allowed to work at all, even in this sex segregated clinic, implies we belong at the liberal end of this conservative society. Practical needs can be allowed to be taken into account. It’s necessary at least one nurse for each doctor is capable of speaking with the patients. Rafa and I share this load. But we wear these surgical masks just as much as modest covering and will never show our faces here at the clinic.” Munira sounding worried says “From what you say and seeing you showing eyes and wearing normal hospital gowns I will conclude the doctor is even more conservative than you, and if she is like that just because it’s the norm in her native province, then I fear it won’t be easy for me living there. May I ask have any of you seen the face of the doctor?” Both nurses nod making Munira worry a little less and the nurse able to speak says “I think you’re right. Her family is more conservative than ours. She has never been covered less than what you’ve seen here at the clinic. Although not socialising much both of us have been invited to her home for tea, where she doesn’t wear the niqab and showed her face.”
Munira is just about to ask a new question when the black form is seen through the doorway approaching by gliding across the floor on unseen feet. Now knowing the black form really contains a woman with a face she’s no longer frightening, but still very inhospitable and inhuman looking. Passing Munira, the black niqab for some seconds keeps turning to be face to face with Munira, and the subtle head movement just before turning the head towards the desk could be seen as a nod of approval, acknowledging that Munira is now veiled. Munira now answers the usual questions with a clear voice and the second the doctor doesn’t turn her head back to the papers she asks “What is the right dress for going to Khita doctor?” To her disappointment there is no response to the question. The doctor, as on the previous days, moves to the closet to put on gloves and find the vaccine. Knowing the doctor has acknowledged her answers about her personal data by not repeating them, Munira is sure her question has been perceived, but it’s rude repeating it, and disturbing the process of vaccination could be risky as well. Munira unbuttons her coat sleeve and gets her injection, and while buttoning again Munira starts thinking about if she should just pose the same question again tomorrow or say something different, perhaps start talking when the doctor arrives.
To her surprise on looking up, the black mass of clothes isn’t on it’s way out through the doorway but is half facing her and the low muffled voice says “Follow me please.” The words indicate they are not directed towards the nurses, but Munira turns to see their reaction anyway. They have both started moving towards her clearly signalling she should be moving as well. Munira now trails the black back with the nurses close behind her. The doctor moves down a corridor that gives the impression it is a staff only area. They enter a room that looks as if it might be used for meetings or having lunch as it contains only a simple table and chairs for something like ten people, a coffee maker and a small fridge. Dr. Niqab gestures the nurses to close the door and for Munira to take a seat.
In an unchanged voice, still muffled nearly whispering, the doctor says “I am Dr. Ibrahim. All staff here at the clinic come from the surrounding conservative neighbourhood. My family have chosen to live here and I to work here to be able to maintain much of our conservative lifestyle from the Khita province. But compared with most Khita families I was brought up in a liberal family and am married to a liberal husband who acknowledges that some women have to be educated and need to work outside the home to give women access to areas like healthcare treatment by women only. But while working I still maintain our lifestyle as much as possible. Although this is a women only area it’s still public space where covering as much as possible and speaking as little as possible is mandatory. This is the only room at the clinic where I allow myself to speak non-professionally. Yesterday’s comment was an unreflected outburst violating my own principles, and you have to come to my home to see me less covered. As you have seen from the way I dress, I’m perhaps the strictest among the staff here. My nurses, clearly not with a Khita upbringing, when able to talk, chatter whenever possible even though they should stay with speaking professionally as I do when with patients. But being young they forget principles and equals not gagged with permission to speak.”
Munira quickly looks in the nurses’ direction. They nod to confirm Dr. Ibrahim is right, but with their faces hidden shame or an ‘as long as we don’t get punished’ attitude can’t be seen.
After a short pause the doctor continues “I made a mistake yesterday by commenting on the way you dress, probably because non-Khita women going to our province is quite rare, and you showed already yesterday, and even more so today, an interest in not offending local Khita customs. Now I take your veil and gloves as your guess for a dress acceptable in Khita?”
Munira says “You’re absolutely right. I’ve been thinking about the meaning of your comment, and found that veiling the face perhaps was the answer. I’m going to join my husband, who will be doing business in Khita for some time. I would like to know what to wear to avoid offending out there and not do something which might harm his business.”
Dr. Ibrahim says “Something good might come out of me speaking wrongly after all. I’m glad you like to be dressed decently right from the time you arrive there. I have to say the traditional way of life in Khita is the right way for those who want to enter Paradise after our short time here on earth. May I ask how you intend to get there?”
Munira replies “My husband has a meeting here in the city next week. He will be driving himself.”
Dr. Ibrahim says “Very good, being accompanied by your husband is the best. If you had travelled on your own just that could have degraded your husband’s reputation, because in Khita, no woman walks in public without a male relative. We have to get back to work. Your initial question was what to wear in public in Khita. Well there’s no traditional garments as such, but everything needs to be black. Something like niqab with eye cover for covering the face, completely opaque except at the eyes, and then both arms and legs have to be totally covered. This abaya I am wearing wouldn’t qualify as the hands, although gloved, are not hidden. See you tomorrow.”
The doctor has got up from the chair to demonstrate her words by holding her hands up and out clearly showing the butterfly shape of her abaya completely hiding the arms, but having the hands always showing at the tips of the ‘butterfly wings’.
Munira says “Thank you Dr.Ibrahim. I’m very grateful for you taking time to giving me advice. I understand that not having met you I would have arrived in Khita looking like a whore in local eyes. I need two more injections. If you manage to think of something more I need to know before going there, I would very much appreciate your information. I can stay after any of the appointments waiting for sometime until it fits your schedule. Until tomorrow.”
There’s no shaking hands, embracing or even a nod for goodbye. Dr. Ibrahim just walks slowly around the table towards the door to pull it open the moment Munira stops talking. Walking out Munira realises what she has just been told means she will have to dress much like the doctor. She will be a black mass of cloth with little resemblance to a human, unable to speak and see clearly, and it looks like something very unpleasant to wear when outside in the hot sun. Perhaps knowing this strict dress-code for women can’t be avoided is why her husband has waited so long before having her move to Khita. Although spending too much time at work Naser is a considerate husband and Munira loves him much.
Between the third and the fourth vaccinations Munira has been clothes shopping, mainly conservative modest black garments. She arrives at the clinic having replaced her grey coat with a thick, ankle length black abaya with long loose sleeves covering most of her hands. Further the see-through scarf over her lower face has been replaced with a black niqab having an additional eye layer, which she, as most people in the streets and in here, wears flipped back showing her eyes. Like yesterday only her eyes are uncovered, but now completely in black, she presents a much more modest conservative look.
Five seconds after handing her papers to the woman at the counter the woman lifts her head to say in a surprised voice “Mrs. Hamid! If you keep changing like this you’ll arrive more covered than Dr. Ibrahim tomorrow. She’ll be ready for you in a few minutes.” Munira says thank you with a nod and a smile to signify she understands it’s a logical next step, but she forgets answering with facial expressions is not possible wearing niqab.
Within five minutes she is called to the usual room. As usual the door is open and while approaching she sees the nurses observing her. It seems to Munira seeing her makes one of the nurses stop talking with them both just awaiting her arrival. Being unrecognisable from yesterday it can’t be because of her they have stopped talking with patients in the room. Dr. Ibrahim scolding them while talking to Munira yesterday may have made them reduce their chatting, at least for some days to come. One of the nurses greets her with an outstretched hand and, after taking a glance at the name in the papers, makes a deep welcoming bow, while holding the papers for the other nurse to see, making her bow as well. A latex gloved hand touches the rim of one of her sleeves and another hand touches her niqab, as if caressing a cheek, and both movements are followed by approving nods from both nurses.
Munira says “I’ve been shopping.” The only response from the nurses is more nodding. No more unprofessional chatting, at least with Munira right now. Then they wait in silence for a couple of minutes.
Munira, upon seeing Dr. Ibrahim approaching the doorway, suddenly sees her as a reflection of herself. A few days ago this would have been a terrible nightmare. Now she knows there is a human inside, but Munira is still unsure if she will be able to handle a much more restricting abaya, thick gloves and, at the worst having her eyes covered for long periods. She has tried wearing her new niqab with the eye layer down for some minutes inside her apartment. It was unpleasant but she didn’t panic. But her eye layer is very thin compared to some she was shown at the shops and certainly compared with how Dr. Ibrahims eyes are covered. In fact they are not covered by the eye layers of her niqab, which like Munira she wears flipped back. She wears something beneath the niqab covering her eyes.
Dr. Ibrahim, not knowing who she is, has of course just passed her without greeting. And when reading and speaking at the desk no sign of their special relationship is showing. Munira just hears the low muffled voice and has to confirm her personal data once more. Then the dreaded walk to the closet takes place and Munira pushes her long sleeve up the arm to let it be taken by a latex glove on top of something black. But as the glove lets go of her arm it comes from within the niqab “Please wait for a quarter of an hour. A nurse will come for you.” Now Munira sees a heavily covered woman walking away.
In a little more than ten minutes a nurse bows in front of Munira who is waiting in a chair. She follows her to the same room as yesterday where Dr. Ibrahim and the second nurse are seated at the table in a way that suggests they have been talking. But as Munira seats herself opposite Dr. Ibrahim, Dr. Ibrahim makes a welcoming nod to her and her low muffled voice says “Rafa told me you have been shopping. I have to compliment you on getting closer to dressing like a Khita woman every day. What you wear now could be part of a family gathering in the women’s quarters or perhaps with close liberally thinking friends, if of course you flipped the eye cover down. But I didn’t ask you to wait just to say that. You want to know much more about Khita lifestyle and I like a favour that is too big to be asked here. If you come here for the last vaccination tomorrow a little later than today, perhaps at two o’clock, then I’ll invite you for tea at my home only a fifteen minutes walk away?”
Munira, happily surprised, says “Thank you doctor. But when I said yesterday I would appreciate a little more information, I didn’t mean to invite myself to your home, only for a little talk like we are having now. But yes thank you I will gladly come home with you.”
Dr. Ibrahim says “Firstly, visiting our apartment, where we live as if still in Khita, will tell you much more than I can tell you here. Secondly there’s no such thing as a free lunch as someone once said. When you hear my request you’ll find inviting you for tea to ask is very appropriate. But as I started saying, I like your new clothes, but even for visiting liberal Khita people like my family your current look would spoil the feeling of a Khita home. It just requires a few changes in your dress, and if you haven’t got the items, there will be nothing lost in buying them as they will be very useful in Khita. First your gloves need to be more opaque, perhaps a little thicker, but most important of all longer. Try placing your elbow on the table hand up. – You see, now the skin above your wrist is revealed even wearing an abaya that nearly covers your hands. Second, your niqab is okay for being only with women. Although you’re invited when no males are expected in our apartment, it’s a small apartment, not designed for sex segregation with separate living rooms. If a man enters it is likely we’ll have to cross his path. Khita men will be ashamed if they get even the slightest glimpse of a visiting woman through a semitransparent face cover. You have to replace your niqab with one with at least two eye layers that are totally opaque in indoor lighting. That’s all. Are you still willing to accept the invitation?”
A relieved Munira, fearing having to dress like Dr. Ibrahim tells the doctor “Yes thank you, you haven’t made me change my mind. It seems I’m taking steps towards being ready for Khita every day, and what you ask of me is perhaps the smallest step so far. I even think I have some appropriate gloves. Now I’d better let you all get back to work. I’m looking forward to tomorrow afternoon and will be here no later than two o’clock.”
Munira slowly rises from the chair waiting to see if anyone has more to say. A clear nod from Dr. Ibrahim is her way of confirming they have an agreement and say goodbye at the same time. Before Munira has turned away from the table the doctor is on her way out the door with the two nurses moving, almost running to catch up with her.
Walking out of the clinic thinking about which of the shops from yesterday had the best selection of niqabs, Munira subconsciously lifts her hand to her chin. She is wearing a niqab right now and has had her face covered during her entire visit to the clinic. It is fairly easy to breathe through the material of this niqab and does not bother her, and wearing the eye layer flipped back it’s like good footwear, forgotten about until at home. This niqab will only bring itself in focus if she gets hungry or thirsty.
Ten minutes before two o’clock the following afternoon Munira enters the clinic for her last vaccination. Since leaving the bus three minutes ago she has been walking with the first of the two eye layers of her new niqab flipped down. In the clear afternoon light a little attenuation of her sight is actually fine, but Munira doesn’t like the slight blur and dulling of colours the eye layer adds. Entering the coolness inside the building emphasises it was actually quite hot walking outside totally covered in black with no skin exposed so sweat can evaporate more easily. Her feet and legs were covered in an identical way yesterday and it’s the same abaya. Do longer gloves that practically seal her arms and the new niqab, being much thicker in it’s basic layer make such a difference? And of course she has covered the eye slit as well. Perhaps it’s a little here and a little there.
Seeing her papers the woman behind the counter says to the black smooth surface facing her “Mrs. Hamid. It’s your last visit. You didn’t make it. You haven’t passed Dr. Ibrahim in covering. But you have passed me, at least in my working attire. Have a nice trip.”
Munira says “Thank you, and thank you for an always smiling welcome and short waiting times.”
The woman says “Most people coming here are sick, needing a little cheering up. I hope my attitude helps them get better.”
Munira, her eye cover still down says “It does. I’m smiling widely. Can’t you see?”
They both laugh.
To be closer to the style of Dr. Ibrahim, of whom she expects to see little of until inside her home, Munira has decided to leave her eye cover down unless asked to lift it. Entering the vaccination room the doctor is already behind the desk. The nurses of course recognise her abaya but take a look at her papers before touching her eye cover and clapping their gloved hands. Dr. Ibrahim just starts asking the required questions as if Munira was just another patient and not someone she will take home afterwards. Munira realises this may be the right way to behave in public in Khita, just doing what you have come to do no matter if your best friend appears in front of you. With strict covering it is very likely women should act like not being present, totally anonymous in public. But always accompanied, they are never anonymous.
Watching Dr. Ibrahim putting on the latex gloves is still a strange, frightening sight, but this being the last time for Munira it’s a little sad as well. Having pulled her abaya and dress sleeves up the arm doesn’t reveal any skin to inject into. The doctor makes a quick turn of her head towards the nurses. One of them quickly pulls at the glove covering her arm to nearly the elbow. The doctor waits until the glove is completely off before taking hold of the arm and injecting the vaccine. Then, while the nurse is putting Munira’s glove on again, Dr. Ibrahim leaves without a word or any other sign. But the arm covered again the nurses gesture for Munira to follow them.
The doctor, now wearing a floor long khimar on top of her niqab and everything else, is waiting for them inside the meeting room. Except for the niqab front she is one uniform black almost contourless surface from top to floor. But the khimar front neck opening isn’t closed yet. The khimar is just hanging loosely from the top of the head and the niqab eye layers are now resting on top of the khimar.
The nurses immediately leave again closing the door behind them. Dr. Ibrahim says “You’re probably not used to this, but to look like us I would prefer you to walk with both eye layers down. It’s very dark but you just have to follow us, the nurses are used to finding their way safely like this. Keep both layers down inside the apartment until someone lifts them or tells you to do so. A male could unexpectedly be present. Likewise we do not speak in public nor in the apartment until allowed to. To avoid making unintentional sounds we’re all gagged. This means questions regarding the trip have to be asked right now. If you have none then please open the door to let the nurses know I’ve finished speaking.”
Munira has no questions for a walk of a quarter of an hour, although this one seems to be rather special. She opens the door. She sees the doctor’s hands moving up under her niqab for a minute. When the movements stop it looks like the khimar neck opening beneath the niqab has been closed.
For another minute absolutely nothing happens, Dr. Ibrahim doesn’t move but perhaps she is looking out the door. Two women looking much the same as the doctor because of their khimars on top of a niqab, enter the room. Their khimars are only calf length, showing long black dresses or skirts reaching the ground beneath.
One woman seems to have finished her covering even wearing the niqab eye layers down, making her look even more alien than the doctor before putting on the khimar. Like the doctor, before she showed her hands, she is not showing any human features with the face being two black covered eye slits surrounded by black. She is nothing more than a black cone with a black flap close to the top. But the calf long khimar allows her to show it’s a human inside. Coming up close to the doctor the khimar lifts to let a glove covered hand and forearm appear and reach for the doctor’s head. Both the doctor’s niqab layers are being flipped down to make her look like an exact copy of the creature covering her from the calf up, but with a floor long khimar an even more perfect cone overall.
Then the third woman, her voice nearly as muffled as the doctor’s says “It’s Rafa. I haven’t gagged myself yet in case you wondered who had come to take you and Dr. Ibrahim to her home. But although we now look much like the doctor we are still her nurses and not anyone else. If you haven’t got any questions I will complete my dressing now and ask you to flip your second eye cover down. It was a pleasure meeting you. We are not as strict as the doctor, but seeing you change from a half naked tart to a respectable woman in five days deserves respect. Congratulations. Remember to stay quiet. Has the doctor offered you a gag?”
Munira is glad her face is covered, being moved to tears by hearing all these touching words coming from an inhuman cone to one just having made part of the way towards what these women think is the right appearance. To avoid letting her sobbing voice be heard she just shakes her head.
Rafa says “Just one minute,” and quickly leaves.
Munira worries. Will two eye covers and then a totally strange and untested item like a gag make her panic while walking in the heavy afternoon traffic with three alien cones? But not saying no she has to accept it. If it feels totally wrong she can just tie it around her neck instead of over her mouth, nobody will see it and she can stay quiet for a quarter of an hour, probably in loud traffic noise.
Having returned Rafa hands her a hard black ball and a black scarf saying “Just tie both top and bottom of the scarf over the nose and mouth to hold the ball in. It looks and works like a veil as well, making it unseen that you are gagged. And don’t bother remembering to give it back to Dr. Ibrahim at the end of your visit for her to bring it back to the clinic. Keep it as a gift from us for complying so well with our lifestyle. May I finish my dressing now?”
Munira says “To not offend here at the clinic I would have stopped with the coat. But going to Khita it seems I need to go further, and here your gift may be useful as well, thank you very much. Please excuse me if I lag behind at some point. Being covered this much is all new to me and I might panic and need a little break to catch my breath. I hope we can meet again some time. Now I’ll put the ball in.”
Rafa nods and movements are seen at her chin beneath her veil. Munira has calmed herself down by saying she might panic. Now at least she won’t fear panicking as her guides are informed about her feelings. The ball just slips in to it’s limit when she opens her mouth, and then her mouth hardly closes again before her teeth clenches the ball. But squeezing her tongue and getting an aching jaw is just unpleasant, not scaring. Munira realises that by putting the scarf on she is only adding another layer to her already covered face, perhaps making her feel hotter and restricting her breathing a little more, which is part of what she feared when realising that going to Khita not only meant she had to expect seeing inhuman black creatures instead of women all the time, but she herself had to be inside a mass of black cloth. Two scarves and a thick niqab with eye layers is a mass of cloth over the head to Munira.
Seeing Rafa with both eye layers down to make her look like the other two cones makes Munira instinctively lift a hand to her head to start her own nightmare by pulling the second niqab eye layer down. For some seconds she is totally blind. It is as if the lights in the room had been turned out. Then her guides and host are seen as black silhouettes against the light walls. Now they all three are perfect cones, the niqab surfaces go in one with the khimars and it can’t be seen where the khimar stops and the skirt appears. Then the cones start moving through the doorway, showing as a brighter shade than the walls. With the others moving carefully in floor sweeping clothing leading the way, Munira has no problem following.
2. A Heavily Veiled Visit
Munira find that upon going outside into strong daylight, sometimes even direct sunlight, the surroundings change from surfaces in shades of grey to something like a dark extremely misty morning, which means Munira is able to orientate without any problem. In a few minutes the sun baking on her black garments makes it completely clear to her it’s not morning but mid-afternoon and she is following three black objects to have tea. It’s surrealistic but real. Looking more closely at the black backs, Munira realises that the two nurses are not only accompanying them because they live close to Dr. Ibrahim. One is always walking a little behind and to the side of the doctor with her khimar stretching to touch the doctor by holding a hand up inside the khimar. The doctor is being guided because she is blind! Munira figures that if the doctor wears a niqab with eye layers at least as thick as her own and she also has her eyes covered under the niqab, the result is no sight remaining. That this is the case becomes clear when they are going to cross a street. They nearly stop at the kerb to make the doctor aware of the step and this is repeated when reaching the opposite side.
As she is able to see much better than anticipated, Munira’s fears have vanished. After walking a few minutes in streets full of traffic, her fear of being involved in an accident is reduced further as they walk into small pedestrian only streets. Here, seeing women entirely in black becomes quite common, and many have their eyes covered, although Munira’s own sight doesn’t allow her to judge thickness. Less than half wear entirely black, but from height and posture it seems nearly every woman between fifteen and fifty is veiled. Still on the conservative side it is clear that they are an integrated part of the people here. Munira has to admit her outfit makes her feel like she belongs here. Now breathing and the heat in general is a problem.
Suddenly they stop and the nurse leading turns around and leans forward letting her niqab meet the doctor’s niqab in a cheek to cheek touch. She steps to the side to repeat the gesture with the other nurse, and then comes to Munira, who is touched in the same way, then she opens the nearest door. She is at her home, but before disappearing she turns and nods towards Munira and the remaining nurse, who are able to see her. They both nod goodbye and see the door close behind her. Their walk continues, but for less than five minutes.
They stop outside a similar door to another apartment building. With a nod towards the door the nurse gestures Munira, who can move her arms freely, to open and hold the door. Carefully the doctor is guided up a step and inside to the rail of a staircase. After sensing the rail and the steps she starts moving upwards on her own. The nurse follows right behind her, ready to stop her if an unexpected obstacle should have been placed on the stairs. But from Munira’s own sight in the poorly lit staircase it seems more likely the nurse will prevent the doctor to fall down the stairs if bumping into something. The lighting conditions are worse than when starting at the clinic and Munira, while staying close behind the nurse, mostly senses the stairs like the doctor. They move two floors up without problems. The nurse leans over and touches veil to veil at the cheek of the doctor, and then at both cheeks of Munira to say goodbye like the first nurse. To Munira’s surprise the nurses hand appears from the khimar holding a key. After opening the door she guides the doctor through the doorway, grabs at the doctor’s niqab to flip back her outer eye layer and hangs the key on a hook next to the door. Gesturing Munira to step inside, she nods to Munira while walking out pulling the door closed behind her.
The door has been open for less than ten seconds and Munira is now alone with the doctor in the corridor of her apartment. The corridor is just as dark as the staircase but five meters ahead is an open doorway showing as a rectangle of light. The doctor moves towards the light and Munira follows. Just inside the door the doctor has moved to the left and stopped, expecting Munira to stop next to her to take a look at her home. Munira just gets a glimpse of the right half of the room containing a dining table before the sight in the left half of the room makes her stare intensively. Around a large low coffee table three women completely covered in black can be seen, and because the largest dress item is an abaya with long sleeves, it’s like looking at three identical images of herself. Her current public dressing is close to the private dressing here.
Behind the coffee table in a low sofa, two women are relaxing and perhaps talking to each other. At the right end of the table sitting on a large cushion the third woman is looking in a magazine although her eyes are covered. Are they family, neighbours or friends invited to meet Munira? She has some time for looking and guessing because it takes a little while, perhaps fifteen seconds, before one of them notices the doctor and Munira have entered. The woman to the right in the sofa pats the woman beside her on the shoulder and points to Munira. Quickly she gets up and comes towards Munira, stopping a few meters away to bow and then, with a voice low and muffled but clearer than that of the doctor at the clinic says
“Welcome Mrs. Hamid. I’m Faiza, second wife of Abdullah Ibrahim. With the magazine it’s Subira, the first wife. Our doctor, Layla, is third and in the sofa is our latest co-wife Hasina. I’m sure we’ll have a lovely conversation this afternoon. Being four wives we take turns doing a lot of things, one of these being speaking. Only one of us is allowed to speak each day, assuming it’s a situation where we’re allowed to speak at all. You are here to learn about the customs and dressing of Khita. Start by going and watch Layla undress while the tea is made.”
Munira just bows and turns to follow Layla, still being gagged and wearing both eye covers down, not having been told to uncover. Inside a large bedroom Munira is just able to see activity at the chin under Layla’s niqab. Moments later the khimar is lifted totally off and placed on the bed. Next Layla lifts her hands behind her head and unties her niqab. A hand moves to Munira’s niqab and flips the outer eye layer back. Munira’s vision is now close to as it would be if not veiled when compared with the two layers combined.
She sees Layla’s face is entirely covered in a semi-transparent piece of cloth, just transparent enough to let her see that behind it everything but the eyes are covered further. While Munira has been paying most attention to Layla’s head, Layla has been untying the wrists of her butterfly abaya and, with some difficulty due to the thick gloves, she undoes the top buttons of the hooded abaya until she is able to lift the hood down and take the abaya off by letting it fall to the floor. The thick hooded butterfly abaya gone Layla’s body is now covered by a thin, but still opaque, abaya with long sleeves, and the semi-transparent cloth covering her head and just touching her chest, back and shoulders hangs loosely. As far as Munira can see she will be dressed identically to her co-wives after removing the thick elbow long gloves she has started pulling off.
Now that Layla seems to be uncovered as much as their dress-code allows Munira points to her own niqab where the mouth is and makes what little sound her gag allows. Layla nods and, so as not to be misunderstood what she is allowing, she reaches for the back of Munira’s head and unties the scarf over her nose and mouth holding the ball, and then reaches up under Munira’s niqab to let her spit the ball out into her hand. She hands the scarf to Munira pointing to the handbag she is carrying over her shoulder, but keeps the ball pointing to a small sink in the far corner. All this gesturing makes Munira say as the first words she speaks
“Thank you for allowing me to come into your house Dr. Ibrahim, or may I call you Layla?”
“Did I understand Faiza right that you won’t be speaking at all during my visit here?”
Layla nods twice.
“I can’t even be sure we can talk if we meet again outside the clinic?”
Layla nods again.
“I’m not sure what I think of that system, but Faiza is right, I have come here to learn about Khita, where she can be just as good a teacher. After all it’s one line too many from your mouth that brings me here, not a real friendship yet. Are we going back for tea?”
While shaking her head Layla lifts her hands to the top of her head to remove a cloth pin holding the semi-transparent cloth and she removes it. Now Layla’s eyes are uncovered and Munira can see she enjoys surprising by uncovering further. What is now seen is a large headscarf covering everything except the face and on top of that a veil hiding the face below the eyes. The veil in fact is more like a black version of the face mask the nurses wear at the clinic. With ties both at the top and the bottom it doesn’t hang down like most veils but goes under the chin to directly overlap the headscarf. Before Munira can ask the logical question ‘How do you drink and eat?’ Layla puts a hand to her neck and easily pulls the lower edge of the mask out showing the lower tie is made of an elastic band. There is no need to tie and untie to eat or drink. By reaching behind her neck Layla demonstrates that untying is actually very easy with the lower tie just being held together by a hook. She continues directly untying the upper tie and Munira realises that in a few moments she will see Layla’s entire face.
It becomes true. Layla has in some minutes changed from an inhuman cone shaped cloth form to show at least the pretty face of a woman in her late twenties. She wears no makeup, but has a face that wouldn’t need much anyway. Makeup would either be smeared by all the fabric rubbing the face or melt and run due to the heat build up and the sweat quite visible. The beauty in most peoples eyes is spoilt by the mouth being forced wide open and the opening filled by a large black ball. Layla is gagged and, with not allowed to speak, will probably remain so. On seeing that the gag contains a tube in its centre Munira assumes it is to allow her to drink without removing it.
After letting Munira watch her for about a minute Layla goes to the sink to wash her face. Soon after being handed a cloth soaked in hot water Munira asks “Do I have to keep this niqab on with it’s eye cover down for my entire visit?”
After towelling her face dry Layla goes back to the clothing lying on the bed and takes up the mask and the semi-transparent cloth and holds it to Munira’s head making Munira ask
“I can borrow and wear a head covering like all of you instead of the niqab?”
Layla nods, her eyes smiling.
“The niqab hanging far down on the chest and having a layer flipped back to the back of the neck looks much heavier than your covering. Further, if it’s customary in Khita, it will be interesting trying it myself. Let me be covered like you please.”
Layla opens the door of a large closet to reveal huge amounts of clothing, all in black. At waist height she pulls out two drawers, shortly afterwards closing the closet again. Seconds after handing a mask and a cloth to Munira her own lower face is covered by a fresh mask, and before Munira has even moved her arms a cloth covers her entire head. She finds the cloth pin removed and is ready to have tea.
Munira, momentarily stunned by seeing the face turn to black cloth, starts reaching for the tie of her niqab but Layla stops her. She leads Munira’s hand with the mask up under the niqab making it clear she doesn’t want to see Munira’s face today. Munira then fits the mask, removes her niqab and puts the cloth on top of her head while Layla is turned away to find another cloth pin. With the cloth pin fitted Munira is ready for tea as well and they leave the bedroom.
During the few steps to the coffee table Munira senses her current head covering, even though it looks smaller than the niqab, it is far tighter. The mask doesn’t allow airflow from below to the lower face. The nose and mouth are sealed and breathing has to be done through the fabric of the mask. Second, although appearing semi-transparent the cloth actually reduces the sight more than the first eye layer of her niqab. Munira can still see acceptably in here but it’s darker and a little more blurred, completely hiding even the outlines of moving eyes inside, this cloth plays a large part in the frightening look Layla gave at their first meeting at the clinic, the reason why Munira call her ’Dr. Niqab’.
On seeing them Faiza asks “Is it Layla who has persuaded you to dress like a Khita woman at our home Mrs. Hamid? If the cut of your abaya wasn’t a little different from ours I would not have known who is who. Among ourselves we often loose track of who is who. But please come and sit with me here at the back in the sofa. As our guest and me as the one to entertain the guest we will be served by the others. You can just quench your thirst and have a little cake before the afternoon prayers.”
While sitting down a cup is poured from the hot pot by one of the other wives. Munira is thirsty, but hasn’t said a word in here yet she has to speak first “Thank you for allowing me to visit your home Faiza and the rest of you. Please call me Munira. It was me asking Layla if I could take my niqab off. I’m used to seeing it as something worn when males are present, but I was only allowed to if I wore this instead. Are Khita women always veiled?”
While talking Munira has learned how the others drink. The left hand goes up under the transparent cloth to take hold of the lower edge of the mask. This is pulled out, taking the cloth out as well, to leave room for the cup to be taken to the mouth with the right hand. The three gagged women have to place a straw in the cup into the tube of the gag, but that is not Munira’s problem. Having taken her first sips of tea she comes close to spilling the rest as she lets go of the mask while putting her cup down, the elastic tie contracting rapidly resulting in the lower edge of the mask hitting her neck with a surprising slap. Faiza politely suppresses a giggle and for the others it’s an advantage being gagged.
When a rather shaken Munira has managed to place her cup on the table Faiza says “Yes. Khita women in general never show any skin, not even the eyes. Being covered as the norm there’s no fear of being glimpsed unintentionally through an open door, a window or by someone entering the wrong place. But most nights husband’s will kiss the wife they are sleeping with goodnight lip to lip. Seeing another woman’s face is a privilege and unveiling the face is only done at home, implying female friends cannot uncover to see each other at the same time.”
While Faiza is talking the other women have got up and are placing prayer mats on the floor making Munira unsure who is Layla, so she says loudly so all can hear “Thank you for regarding me as your friend Layla! I hope I can do something in return.”
The abaya to the left turns towards Munira and nods several times while holding her closed fists in front and moving them a little up and down. Munira doesn’t understand this gesture, but Faiza says “After the prayers I’ll put forward your request Layla. Please rise Munira as the prayer call will sound within a minute.”
The five mats have been placed in a diamond. The other three have already taken their positions and Munira is guided to the centre mat with Faiza taking the one to her left. While they are waiting Munira guesses they are placed in rank with the first wife at the front leading the prayers, Munira directly behind her as guest, the second and third wife to her left and right respectively and finally the fourth wife behind her.
The prayer call suddenly sounds loudly all over the neighbourhood and into the room through open windows. Subira immediately starts doing the prayer movements. For a couple of minutes they can listen to the muezzin then what prayers are said is left to the individual, women do not say their prayers aloud. After less than ten minutes Subira stops and except for Hasina, who is removing the prayer mats, they all immediately go to sit around the coffee table again.
Faiza reopens the conversation by saying “Now I’d better explain why Layla is so keen on making a good impression on you. Let me start by saying Layla and I have known each other all our lives. Our families live next to each other, we have played as children, been together at school and our husband, being a relative of mine has seen both of us as children. He had grown up in another part of town, but had so many relations to our neighbourhood that he had met most of the girls at our age before we started veiling and ended up marrying the three of us at once, but with Subira being a little older, she was chosen as first wife. Going to Khita we all have lots of family and friends to stay at and visit. But only Layla has a nephew fit for being her chaperone while travelling. In other words Layla is able to travel to Khita and stay with her brother without our husband. Knowing your are driving there with your husband next week, she would like to ask if she and her nephew can make use of the empty seats in your car.”
Munira says “Well, the husband is the head of the family. I assume Layla has the permission of your husband. I owe her something for being treated as a close friend after a few short meetings, and her and all of you introducing me to Khita lifestyle. Also I wouldn’t mind some female company for the long drive. Layla, wherever you are on the other side of the table, I will do all in my power to persuade my husband. What can be said in favour of the nephew?”
At this remark Layla rises from her place on the opposite side of the table, moves around the table to put her veiled mouth to both of Munira’s veiled cheeks before returning to her place.
Meanwhile Faiza answers Munira’s question “The nephew is a grown man, unmarried, fifteen years old. I don’t know much about him, but Layla will pay his ticket to come here. He will come at least one day early to experience city life, and Layla will give him some money to spend while doing so. If it fits with the schedule he will spend some of that money going to a soccer game to boast he has seen …”
Munira interrupts “Please stop. If he likes soccer my husband will like him as company no matter who or what he brings. He played himself until a few years ago and if you ask him it was simple misfortune they never won The National Championship. You have a lift Layla. Is being here as guest different from being co-wife?”
Munira’s question makes one of the other abaya’s lean over the table to attract attention by taking hold of her abaya sleeve and the transparent cloth and then counting with the fingers of one hand while with the other pointing to herself and then around the remaining women, clearly hesitating between four and five.
Faiza says “Dear co-wife, I feel wrong as well. In a Khita home you would never find more than the four wives allowed by the Prophet dressed in private clothing. Guests are served and of course don’t have to work and because of that allowed to cover better.”
Munira says “I don’t like you to feel wrong. I am the guest, if it’s wrong that I borrowed this mask and cloth I will put on my niqab again?”
Faiza says “It’s certainly not wrong. All Khita women wear what you wear all day. But entering a house as guest you just don’t undress down to what we wear now. Now you have been dressed like you would at home in Khita for a while, would you like to be dressed as the guest you are for the rest of the visit?”
Munira says “Yes please. I don’t know where I’ll be staying when arriving there. My husband has just bought a house, but I don’t know if it’s ready yet. I could end up as guest in some other home for some days.”
One of the anonymous abayas gestures wildly to Faiza for some moments, then Faiza says “I think it’s Layla saying that if you and your husband need a place to stay for a few days while your new house is being made ready then his brother has a room in some part of his house. Layla, it had better be you to find some clothes for Munira.”
The abaya has nodded to the brother having a room and now nods again, gesturing Munira to follow her. In the bedroom Layla goes directly to a closet, opens a drawer and hands Munira a pair of thick long black wooly mittens with thumbs. While Munira starts putting them on Layla opens another closet filled with black abayas on hangers. She takes one out and holds it until Munira has pulled the mittens over the sleeves of her current abaya up to the elbows. Layla holds the abaya to show it of course is a hooded butterfly abaya like she took off herself earlier on. Likewise only the buttons needed to step into the abaya are open at the top. Layla keeps holding the abaya, but now low down so Munira can step into it, and then Layla pulls it up over Munira’s shoulders and lifts the hood up on her head. Munira’s hands find their way out through the hand openings, and Layla closes the abaya tightly at the wrists by knotting the tie strings. Next Layla closes a couple of buttons more at the front of the abaya and gestures the rest are left open to allow eating and drinking. Finally she takes Munira’s own niqab from the bed and when Munira has placed it right over her face Layla helps her tying it. Layla then flips the eye layers of Munira’s niqab back and leads her to the full length mirror.
Munira suppresses a gasp of shock. It’s like a flash-back to when she first saw Layla at the clinic. She is looking at Dr. Niqab. A thick black shapeless abaya topped by a niqab where the niqab eye slit shows only black fabric and below thickly covered hands locked to the abaya but now mittened. But of course when the doctor is working she can’t wear mittens. Munira turns her head to face Layla to remember the thing in the mirror contains a human and get a few more seconds to strengthen her voice fearing it sounds frightened before saying
“I am you Layla!”
Layla nods. Munira didn’t need to worry about the sound of her voice, she sounds like Dr. Niqab as well. She is only able to produce a low, almost whispering, extremely muffled voice showing no emotional characteristics. Having overcome and not revealed her shock Munira goes on
“You undressed in here to end up looking like me. Now the way I have covered I look like you do at the clinic. Faiza said I can be dressed like this as a guest because a guest doesn’t have to work, but you dress like this at the clinic.”
Layla nods and goes out in the corridor to the front door. With her back to the door she encircles the apartment and grabs at her abaya, then she turns as much as possible pointing at the door and then grabs at Munira’s abaya. Munira says aloud how she interprets Layla’s actions
“What you wear now is only allowed in your own home. What I wear is the minimum covering outside the home and if you want to work you have to accept being covered this much.”
Layla nods several times and then puts her back to the door followed by walking down the corridor and opening another door where she points in. Munira looks into the bathroom where Layla is pointing at the shower. Munira is nodding – this much covering is hot, and a bath is needed when returning from outside.
They walk back to the coffee table where she is immediately offered some more tea and cake. Eating and drinking haven’t been made more difficult, there is just a niqab hanging over her left hand and forearm when pulling the mask out. In fact, having learned the hard way to hold on to the mask until it’s back at the chin again, it feels good holding the mask out. Not only because it allows her to quench her thirst and taste a delicious cake, but she gets air to a part of her face and she can breathe much more freely.
Now after putting the niqab on there is the matter of her voice. Munira decides to hold on to the mask when speaking after taking both food and drink. With a voice just a little muffled she says “Let me start thanking you all for this lovely tea and cake. I bet it’s home made …”
Faiza pushes the hand holding the mask inwards and says “The covering is not only for your looks. Speaking through layers of cloth minimises the risk of being heard by males in adjacent rooms or by someone down in the street through an open window. Also if you are heard the heavy muffling ensures no emotional or personal characteristics reveal the speaker. Khita women never speak while holding their veils out for eating and drinking. But thank you for praising our cake. Hasina and I are housewives only, doing most of the cooking and baking. Then after dinner, those working outside the house are free to do the washing-up. Subira by the way is working as well being a lawyer. She is helping poor families of the neighbourhood getting their rights in the public system, by house owners and much more. But what I would say was that we should not discuss recipes and such no matter how interesting an subject. You are here to learn about Khita and speaking clearly was another lesson. You’ll have to leave soon as our husband is expected in a few minutes, so please ask your questions in order of importance if possible.”
Munira, again in a voice she barely recognises as her own says “Walking here it seemed to me Layla was being guided as if blind. Are Khita women always blind in public?”
Faiza says “Mostly. There are situations, while shopping for example, where it is necessary to be able to see. At these times a veil may be lifted if non-mahram males are not close by. With women always being chaperoned in public there is always someone to guide them and they can walk blind. Often the opposite principle, no need to see, is being used. Many Khita women will remain blind when visiting in women-only company or only flip their eye covers back while eating or drinking. Other guests look like themselves and the hosts look like themselves at home. Of course someone now and then shows a new abaya design or some other clothing detail, but then it will probably be said out loud to make the blind woman flip her eye layers back for a minute to look.”
Munira asks “Are women allowed to watch television? I don’t see any television in here.” Faiza says “The individual family, or rather the husband decides. We have all agreed on not having a television. Even if there are many decent programs they are surrounded by and interrupted by commercials showing all kinds of wrong situations much worse than by our occasional glimpses of public life in the neighbourhood. We get our news from the radio and our husband goes to a cafe to watch soccer. Families allowing television rarely use them and often hide them when having guests, because otherwise they could be accused of showing indecent material or that some women only visited to see what is forbidden to them at home.”
Munira says “It seems there is a certain variation allowing each family to make it’s own set of values to some extent. How is it about speaking? If I came here with two co-wives would only one speak, or would none because it was the day of the fourth who was elsewhere?”
Faiza says “Complicated question because there are no fatwas or other official rulings about this. The meaning of the rule is to avoid co-wives quarrelling all the time. We are a liberal family and only use it if more wives are together. If not, Subira and Layla would not be allowed to speak at work most days. We use it when visiting as well, only one speaks, and if the one allowed speaking that day isn’t present then the one speaking the day before is allowed. If all guest were allowed to speak with several families guesting a dozen women could be chatting or even worse asking the host, and there is only one to answer and represent the host. Such gatherings would be chaos and noise.”
Munira says “Excuse me for asking and it’s okay if you don’t want to answer, because it’s just my curiosity and not something regarding me going to Khita, but the bedroom is rather large and there are not four chambers in this apartment. Where do you sleep? …”
Munira stops talking because she is overpowered by a male voice from the corridor saying “I’m home dear wives.”
Sensing Faiza’s immediate reaction Munira turns her head to see Faiza has her hands at the back of her neck, a few seconds later she holds her gag up for Munira to see with a finger at her mouth. Munira has only made a half nod when a hand from Faiza flips the eye layers of her niqab down to make her blind.
Some minutes later the voice of Mr. Ibrahim says “Ah, Mrs. Hamid is still here, and properly dressed I can see. I hope you haven’t put pressure on her. Behaving like a Khita woman she can’t walk home unchaperoned. Layla, your nurses are respectable local women walking on their own at least in this part of town. Do you think you can ask one of them to come here and take Mrs. Hamid home? You are permitted to use the telephone in the bedroom.”
Some minutes later Mr. Ibrahims voice sounds again “Within ten minutes? Do we have some home made cake or anything else to give the nurse for her service. – – – That’s all right, give her that. I can do without. And now take Mrs. Hamid to the bedroom, it’s not proper to have her staying in here any longer. – – She may borrow whatever you find necessary for as long as needed, if Mr. Hamid is so kind to let Layla travel with him, then we can get it back when he collects her.”
Munira senses a hand taking her arm and gets up. Then, sensing a hand at her back, as she saw when the nurse guided Layla earlier, she starts walking slowly towards where she thinks the door is. After some meters it’s like she is pushed to the left and she turns. Not until inside the bedroom her eye layers are flipped back and she sees an anonymous abaya, but Layla would be logical, holding a finger to the mouth to make her stay silent. From a drawer the abaya produces a ball gag and shortly after Munira need not worry about speaking. The top buttons of her hooded abaya that had been left open to allow eating and drinking are closed. The abaya signals she will leave for a moment and when coming back Munira is shown a piece of paper with her address. She nods and is then hugged tightly, the abaya touching cheek to cheek on both sides.
Munira is handed her handbag to hold on her shoulder and then the abaya opens a closet to produce a full length khimar. A touch at her arms signals that Munira can leave them at her sides. The khimar is lifted over her head making the eye layers of the niqab fall down. The khimar is then tied at the top of her head with the niqab out of it’s opening, and the khimar neck opening under the niqab is closed so that it fits tightly around her head. After some seconds of nothing happening Munira realises her eye covers won’t be flipped back again. It is very likely she won’t be allowed to see until in her own apartment.
A few minutes later the doorbell sounds. She is guided down the corridor and then hears the door close. Her visit at the Ibrahim apartment has ended quite abruptly and totally different from how she could have imagined it. She guesses she has said goodbye to Layla, but she is the only one she most likely will meet again.
Now she senses the rail of the staircase. She has to walk down two floors totally blind but whoever is guiding her knows how to do it. Munira is placed front to the rail leaning against it and then she can walk down sideways even sensing her guide is just below her, if she will make a wrong step. In some minutes they leave the building and Munira can sense the sun. It’s a totally indescribable experience just walking with a little correction now and then without having the slightest clue about where she is or what is going on around her. From time to time she is nearly stopped because there is a step down or up a curb. After some minutes, or is it hours, the sounds of her surroundings change, she hears traffic close by.
A few minutes later, when being stopped, maybe again for a step, her ankle hits something. The step is up and high, Munira realises she is entering a bus. She is seated for some time, perhaps ten minutes, then it’s up again and a few steps from the seat more hands support her making her confidently step out in the unknown to end safely with her feet on the ground.
Munira lives close by many bus stops, but it takes something like five minutes before she senses entering a house. She is guided to a rail and senses steps, but can’t recognise her own staircase. After climbing up one floor, which matches her apartment, she is patted on her side for her handbag. Munira lets it drop to the floor. Within a minute she hears a door being opened and is guided a few steps forward. Her eye layers are flipped back and Munira senses someone moving away behind her and then the door is closed from the outside.
Confused Munira turns around only to see she is at home with her handbag on the floor just inside the door and the key next to it. Munira walks directly into the bathroom, takes everything off and takes a long bath. While towelling dry she sees the pile of clothes on the floor and realises she has not been dreaming. She has been Dr. Niqab and will be again soon.
3. Going To Khita
Munira has decided to dress as a Khita woman at home to get used to doing the household chores like this. At first she is in doubt if she really can thoroughly clean with her eyes covered. But over the days she lifts the eye covering less and less, getting used to working everything over and then liftng her eye cover for a few moments to check if she has missed anything. She leaves the house for shopping or even just fresh air dressed completely in black as well, the transparent cloth is left at home. She shops with her face uncovered when buying niqabs, khimars, abayas and gloves. She calculates she needs to have at least five complete sets of Khita women’s clothing as she might have difficulty accessing washing facilities at first and the clothing will quickly become soaked in sweat, requiring to maybe have to change her clothing half way through each day.
Two days before going to Khita Naser arrives back in the city. She opens the door to him veiled as a Khita woman would. After hugging tightly for a minute they separate and Munira is about to unveil when he says “Wait! Have you been dressed like that since visiting the Ibrahim family?”
Munira says “Only at home when alone.”
Naser says “I think the life of Khita women is very different from here. It was wise of you practise and get used to being fully covered, but why get out of the routine just because I’m here. We both need to get used to interacting the Khita way. I can wait to see you until we go to bed, perhaps it’s even better, if we do not spend the rest of the day kissing passionately. Do you have a gag? I’ve been informed that Khita women are always gagged in the presence of men including their husband, only allowed to speak if no other men are present and being asked or gesturing for permission. Didn’t the Ibrahim family tell you something like that?”
Munira nods. She has bought a number of gags like the one she borrowed at the Ibrahims. After half a minute in the bedroom Munira returns gagged. Of course she should have been wearing a gag as part of her Khita home dress knowing the Ibrahim women are wearing it three days out of four nearly all day and at all times when their husband is home, but she thought of their turns in speaking and being without co-wives herself she will always be allowed to speak in women only company.
Naser grabs her arm and violently forces it to her back. Munira cries in pain but only a few muffled sounds escape. Naser tells her he is sorry, but it was the only way to prove it’s buckled sufficiently tightly. ”Now we’re sure you won’t forget asking me for permission to speak or make sounds involuntarily. Please make some tea, then I’ll tell what has been arranged.”
A little later Munira serve tea with biscuits. Seeing her fumbling with a straw to drink Naser says “Smart that you don’t have to unbuckle and buckle all the time, but it looks like it requires some skill. Have you done it before?”
Munira shakes her head, then points to the biscuits placed in front of Naser and shakes her head again. Naser continues “In the coming days a lot of things will be the first time for both of us. There will be no punishments for making errors until I say so. But the schedule. Mr. Ibrahim contacted me, I guess it was the day after you visited his home. He has a lot of family and many connections in Khita and he easily found me. You promising his wife she can go with us has made him very friendly towards us. He could have found us ten places to stay if our house wasn’t ready. But then the nephew, Ali, came to me and asked if he could drive with me here as well. It’s nice to have company for such a long drive and he proved to be a talented young man who I really came to like. It brought back memories of myself at that age, and he’s already playing for the best youth team at one of the major clubs in Khita. He will be staying tonight at the Ibrahims, and then I invited him to a Premier League match tomorrow night. It is then much more practical that he stays here tomorrow night, then I don’t have to spend time after the match driving him to the Ibrahims or he going himself by public transport. The chamber is ready for a guest isn’t it?”
“I know it usually is but you could have changed things to make the apartment ready for renting. Well, the rest of the schedule. I’ll go out tonight to see some old friends I haven’t seen for long while being away and won’t be able to see again for some time. Tomorrow there will be business meetings all day. I’ll go directly to the match and just have some fast food with Ali. I’m sorry we won’t be seeing much of each other right now after so long, but my meetings tomorrow have made it possible we can be together nearly every day in Khita long before we anticipated.”
Munira nods understandingly.
“You use tomorrow for packing I guess because I’ve agreed with Mr. Ibrahim to pick up his wife quite early, at eight o’clock. That way we can drive quite some distance before it gets really hot and stop just after noon to make the journey more pleasant. Also, being there early I can say hello to Mr. Ibrahim personally before he leaves for work. Any questions?”
After thinking for some time Munira shakes her head. She has lots of questions about the house and the neighbourhood they are moving to and much more, but these having nothing to do with the journey they will have to wait. She would have liked to have known if Naser had been in any private homes? If so did he meet the women and how?
As he gets up Naser says “I know we both have lots of questions about family life out there. I may be able to answer a few, but first let’s get there. I’ll take a shower, get dressed and then leave hoping to be back before eleven. Nice tea, thank you. Will you be eating the remaining biscuits while I’m bathing? If so I’ll find a padlock for your gag.”
Munira knows he’s teasing her and gets up to hug him while caressing his cheeks with the soft cloth covering her head. They hug once more just before Naser leaves and then Munira is alone. Drinking with a straw wasn’t easy and she decides to stay gagged while alone except while having a simple quick dinner.
A little past eleven Naser returns home. After a minute of silent hugging again he says “I had a long day today and we have a long day tomorrow. Do you mind if we go to bed right away? We can play a little longer before sleeping he teases her.”
Munira nods with an eager expression, which Naser can’t see. Naser’s expression on the other hand shows he has something on his mind and says “Talking of bed reminds me, I have a present for you. Where is my briefcase?”
Munira nods and excitedly hurries into the chamber to return with the briefcase. When Naser opens the briefcase Munira can see lying on top a folded item of black cotton in a clear plastic bag. Exited she tears the plastic off and unfolds the fabric to find she is holding a gown or suit. It looks like a nightgown that is a size too large. She sees that the end of the sleeves are sewn shut, the bottom hem has a zipper to close it completely and the neck opening is replaced by an integrated full face hood. If Munira wasn’t veiled a questioning look would have shown on her face.
Naser just sees she holds it hesitatingly without knowing what to do and says “It’s a Khita nightgown. Khita women do the utmost to preserve their modesty and not be seen even in the unlikely event that a male guest enters the wrong room or an intruder enters the house during the night, so it covers everything including the face. I asked the shopkeeper how to make love with my wife wearing this. He told me there is a slit at the crotch. Also notice there is a circular opening at the mouth. That is so the lovers can kiss and afterwards the gag can be strapped on the outside to fill the opening. I asked what if I wanted to touch her somewhere else or she wants to caress me. He said that the bottom zipper is opened or left open and the gown rolled or folded up as much as the husband wishes. If he likes being caressed by the fingers of the wife then the body of the gown is pulled up over the head to just above the breasts and the arms can be taken out of the sleeves, but the head is still protected because the gown is quite tight around the neck as it contains a wide elastic band that requires some force to slip over the head. Another reason for this design being popular in Khita is that many families are polygamous. All wives but one should not excite the husband or be excited by seeing him. They all change one by one in the bathroom to avoid being seen and then the husband can make love to the one whose turn it is, as she is, or by pulling her gown up. That’s what the shopkeeper told me adding his wives love it and both he and his wives would recommend it. The gown makes you blind, but making love is mostly about the images created inside the head by the sensations when being touched, and those images are not disturbed by contradicting visual input. I’m sure it will be highly exciting at least to try, then we can decide if we like to stay with it in a week or so.”
Right now Munira just wants to be intimate with Naser, and looking at his pants he wants her as well. She gestures if he or she should take the bathroom first.
Naser says “You do, but remember a Khita woman is always fully covered. You should only leave the bathroom gagged and with the zipper closed as much as possible.”
Naser opens the door to her. After a little wash and applying perfume she is ready to put the nightgown on. She drops it over her head where it falls down over her body until the tight elastic neck is resting on her head. She is completely blind and realises she will stay blind until back in the bathroom in the morning. Reaching up inside the gown she widens the elastic and has it press against the back of her neck from where she can pull the elastic band forward over her head to let it contract around her neck. The gown is soft and loose, even around the neck, and she can get plenty of air through the mouth opening. To continue her dressing she first has to lift most of the gown up to get her arms outside. Feeling blindly because she has forgotten exactly where she placed her gag, she can enter the black ball in her mouth and buckle the strap. The gag straps now hold the fabric close to the ball and her skin forcing her to breathe mainly through the fabric after all. She lets the gown fall down over her body and legs again and bends to reach the opening in front of her feet. Holding with one hand at the side from where the zipper closes, she can easily pull the zipper until she has to stop to get her hand inside the gown. Finally she puts her arms into the sleeves and her dressing is complete. With such a small space at her feet she has to wiggle to move. She feels for the door handle and blindly wiggles out into the corridor.
A hand grabs her wrist and Naser says “I’ll guide you, but first the zipper must be fully closed.” As she wiggles into the bedroom Naser says “For a gown so loose it doesn’t reveal any form, just a few sexy details can have a large impact. The way the gown moves at your feet looks sexy and the ball showing in the uniform surface of fabric covering your face as well, but a red ball would be really exciting.”
Munira is placed on her back in the bed to wait for Naser. Wearing this at night she will be covered almost 24/7 living in Khita. They can make love with the gown lifted more or less, but it seems it has to be closed again before sleeping. She can uncover completely only while alone in the bathroom. Apart from these situations she will only show skin if showing her face to other women like Layla did to her but she will have to be very careful doing that, being completely assured that those knowing who she has shown her face, regard the friendship between them close enough, or she will be considered a tart, loosing their honour. For most of the time in Khita Naser will be the only one seeing her and the only one she sees.
She can hear he has entered the bedroom and things start going on in her head that clear all other thoughts. Naser was right, having to imagine what he is doing and will be doing is very exciting to Munira. When he actually comes close to her and unbuckles her gag to kiss her, it’s such a strong experience that nothing else enters her mind and from her mouth comes only sounds of love. When Munira starts thinking normally again she has been gagged for some time and Naser is sleeping soundly.
She wakes when being shaken gently and in a sleepy voice Naser says close to her ear “Good morning. I have unzipped your gown sufficiently. I would like breakfast in half an hour. I hope you can find the bathroom without my guidance because I’d like to stay here another ten minutes.”
Munira nods, senses for the edge of the bed, gets up and very carefully wiggles towards the door. This being the first morning with this nightgown Naser probably doesn’t doze until she’s out and Munira knows he smiles as one of her hands hits the closet having missed the doorway by more than a meter. After bathing a new lesson is learned. She has to leave the bathroom fully dressed, but only her used clothing from yesterday is available in a pile in the corner. She will have to remember to put fresh clothing out here the evening before. For now she will have to put on yesterdays clothes and change when Naser has left.
They pray and then he has breakfast with Munira as his mute servant. Only when he is ready to leave do they hug and he says have a nice day. Munira has plenty of time for packing and making the house ready for renting. After the noon prayer she decides to get some fresh air. She removes the transparent cloth and is about to remove the mask when thinking that going out her face uncovered is deviating too much from how she dresses in here. Veiling the face with a niqab is not very common in this part of the city, but not a totally strange sight either. She leaves the mask on, which won’t be seen, and takes one of her now quite many niqabs which has the narrowest eye slit. If after all these days having her eyes covered at home she feels uncomfortable showing her eyes she can just flip down an eye covering layer or maybe even two layers. In a city, to have fresh air means going to a park.
Munira selects a park closest to the more conservative part of the city and finds a nice bench in the shade. After seeing a couple of niqab wearing women pass by she flips down her eye layers and enjoys the combination of tranquility around her and privacy of her clothing for half an hour. A drop of sweat hits her eye lid. The freshness outdoors is more a way of speaking than reality. Even in the shade it’s much warmer than indoors and wearing a mask and niqab over her air intake not much fresh air gets inside. Munira flips back the outer eye covering layer to see better than used to wearing the transparent cloth and walks home, much of her clothing already needing to be changed.
After a bath she spends a quiet afternoon and evening just checking that everything is ready for the journey. With both Naser and the Ibrahim family expecting her to follow Khita dress-code she has to travel in Khita public dress, but that doesn’t worry her anymore.
At about half past ten Naser, accompanied by Ali, arrives home. With Ali present there’s no hugging and of course Ali acts like she isn’t there, but he shows some discomfort in seeing her. Naser suggests they have some tea. He takes Ali to the coffee table where they quickly continue discussing the match and the players they have just seen. Bringing a tray Munira pours three cups of tea and sits down at the opposite end of the table.
Within a minute Munira suddenly catches some words not connected with soccer or sports at all. In a lower voice than when talking soccer Ali tells Naser “In Khita you only discuss family in very general terms, but knowing your family have never been there, and you only for some months, it’s understandable that the woman behaves wrongly. She should not be sitting in the same room and certainly not at the same table. That is not the Khita custom. If you wish her to serve, although for a city woman she is very well dressed, a Khita woman would only show herself like this to women and close male family.”
Naser replies by thanking him, saying “Both my wife and I are very grateful to you for making us aware of this Ali. We would certainly rather behave wrongly in front of a friend like you than if having business contacts visiting. You, having experienced city life are probably not too offended, but please tell me how my wife has to dress?”
Ali says “Naser my friend, saying what is wrong I know with you it will be corrected immediately, making me soon forget it wasn’t right in the first place. My mother, when serving male guests, puts on a knee long khimar to hide her arms and hands when not absolutely necessary for her service and on top a niqab with one eye layer down to be better hidden from male eyes and seeing less of the guests. She will wait in the doorway where she can only see her husband and he is the only one that can see her.”
Naser says “Thank you. Can I get you another cup of tea?”
Munira has quickly left to dress as instructed. Returning to the small living room she can’t avoid seeing Ali while watching if Naser wants her service, but they now sit with the guest having his back to the kitchen, and wearing two eye layers the room is dark and everything a little blurred. Munira didn’t get much tea, and although she could have a cup in her hands while just waiting, the khimar is closed around her face and prevents her from lifting the mask and veil. If having to service male guests like this for longer periods of time Munira can see it’s a clear advantage to have more wives so they can take turns.
After about an hour Naser says “We could keep discussing this fine match and soccer in general all night Ali, but we have a long journey ahead of us tomorrow and have an early agreement with Mr. Ibrahim. I think it’s time for bed. Come let me show you where to sleep.”
Naser and Ali leave the living room, allowing Munira to clear the coffee table and do what is possible in the kitchen with her long khimar. After some minutes, while Ali is in the bathroom, Naser comes to her saying “What time do you need to be woken to have the breakfast ready at seven o’clock. Of course you have to be dressed as you are now when Ali is ready for breakfast, which means you have to remember to eat your own breakfast in the kitchen before seven and then you’ll only have about a quarter of an hour to clean up after breakfast and get ready to leave. Is that possible? I’ll take care of waking Ali.”
After thinking for a little while Munira walks to the clock on the wall and points.
Some minutes later Munira is lying blind and gagged in bed dressed in the Khita nightgown waiting for Naser. The gag feels a little different being strapped on the outside of the nightgown causing Munira to recall that she has only been without the gag while bathing and eating alone today. The little communication she has had with Naser has been gestures on her side. She hasn’t spoken a word to anybody all day or shown her face to anybody for that matter. In a few minutes a few little kisses will make up for that.
Naser enters the bedroom and says while getting ready for bed “We have to get as much sleep as possible and can’t spend much time enjoying each other right now Munira. Please accept I’ll just get relieved without spending time unbuckling and rebuckling your gag. I’ll kiss your covered cheeks and we can hug until we fall asleep.”
Munira has had a relaxing day and could do with less sleep to have some minutes of intimacy, but she realises Naser has been working hard and has to drive all day tomorrow so she nods at the moment she senses Naser entering the bed. They embrace tightly, then she senses pressure on each cheek one after the other, then it happens at her crotch and a few minutes later Naser’s grip loosens because he is sleeping. To Munira it hasn’t been lovemaking. When unable to see Naser she needs to have skin to skin contact.
Munira has decided to dress as much as possible before breakfast. She puts on the thick woollen ‘out of home’ mittens and the thick butterfly abaya immediately following her ‘normal’ home dressing in the bathroom. If Layla can work as a doctor like this Munira decides she will be able to make breakfast, and not closing the top buttons she can eat as well. Naser looks surprised when Munira comes to him in the bedroom to ask him to tie the sleeves of the abaya, but he’s too sleepy to make any comment. Munira eats and has her morning tea while making the breakfast table ready for the men.
Five minutes to seven the table is ready and Munira closes her abaya fully and puts on the khimar and niqab she wore last night to serve at breakfast. Having everything ready after pouring the tea she can just wait for Naser and Ali to finish, which they do quickly knowing they have an appointment. After a little more than ten minutes Munira hears Ali say he will wait down in the street to let them do the final preparations without him to disturb them. Munira immediately takes the niqab and khimar off to make the final clearing easier. A quarter of an hour later the knee length khimar is put in the last bag to be closed and Munira puts on a floor long khimar for going out as a Khita woman. She takes a look around the bedroom to find everything ready, takes a last look at the apartment where she has lived for so long and a last look at anything for hours to come. Lifting it’s mass of fabric up at the front she can get her hands out, take the niqab and signal Naser waiting for her to tie it around her head. Seconds later she is completely blind. Naser doesn’t touch the eye layers, he just gives her a gentle push to signal her to move. The journey to Khita has begun.
Munira is guided to the stairs. She senses her way down, sure that Naser is beside her if she should stumble. Once outside she is guided to the car and into the back seat. After a little more than ten minutes driving they stop and Naser says “Munira, we’re at the Ibrahims. As a Khita woman can’t be left alone waiting in the car you’ll have to come with us while I say hello to Mr. Ibrahim.”
Naser has to follow Munira the two floors up the stairs, while Ali quickly reaches the apartment and announces their arrival.
In the doorway Mr. Ibrahim receives Naser saying as Naser takes the last stairs “Welcome to my home Mr. Hamid. It’s a pleasure meeting someone face to face after having some agreeable conversations on the phone. Come inside and lets talk for a few minutes, driving on your own there’s no train to catch.”
They shake hands and Naser leaves Munira at the rail. In a minute she is touched by someone not speaking and guided into the apartment and through to the bedroom. Munira senses it’s the bed when she is guided to sit. No one flips back her eye layers and she can hear nothing but street noise through an open window but she senses someone sitting next to her. It’s probably Layla, fully covered, blind and ready to travel as well. She then hears sounds close by and a hand signals her to stand up. Two hands take hold of her head and both her cheeks are touched. One of the Ibrahim wives has greeted her. The touching is repeated twice – Munira has been greeted the three wives who will stay at home.
Something is pushed against her feet. Munira reaches down with her hands and senses a large bottle has been placed between her feet. She picks it up and then a pair of hands come up under her niqab and opens the khimar a little. Next they unbutton the top of her butterfly abaya and a finger comes under her cloth and mask. Something is moving along the finger and suddenly Munira feels something in her mouth. Another tube has been entered through the tube of her gag. It makes her tilt her head backwards a little, and this movement makes the finger move away and her abaya and khimar are closed again. Munira lifts a hand towards the neck and senses the tube on her chest on top of the abaya and inside the khimar where her hands and the bottle are. The doctor knows that driving for hours in a hot car covered in layers of black requires some fluid to counteract sweating. Munira, without knowing where any of the Ibrahim wives are, bows to say thank you.
A minute later she is guided out of the apartment. The men are talking, she can hear Mr. Ibrahim coming with them down the stairs, perhaps he will continue directly to work. As she moves down the stairs she touches Layla who is just below her several times. She’s guided to the car, seated and her seat belt is buckled. She places the large bottle on the floor between her feet and leans slowly, to allow the seat belt to extend, aiming to meet with Layla. Their shoulders meet, their lower bodies can’t move much in the seat because of the belt. Munira blindly faces where she is touched and niqab meets niqab. All they can do is rub against each other for a minute. When Naser and Ali have finally parted from Mr. Ibrahim and closed the doors, Munira and Layla move away from each other to sit comfortably while driving.
For some time they drive in the city with frequent stops and accelerations. Once they enter a road where they can go faster and the car just runs monotonously for a long time. The regular movement and higher noise level causes Munira to doze off, now she can’t even hear the men discuss soccer clearly. At some point she becomes fully aware again. Is it because she has slowly moved to an uncomfortable position making her legs sleep or is it because she is hot and sweaty, drops irritating her eyes? Has she just relaxed so much she is unable to sleep anymore? Has she been sleeping? What time is it? Munira knows she neither can nor needs to answer the questions going through her head. She remembers the bottle of drink and raises it to her lap, unscrews the cap, leads the tube down and sucks. Would she have fainted from overheating if Layla had not been with her and ensured she had a drink? No, because then she would just have been sitting in the front passenger seat unveiled and able to drink without problems. But then very likely she and Naser would have been harassed by bypassers seeing her and making rude gestures and honking, or it could have been even worse if they had stopped to rest, eat and drink. Munira is convinced that travelling while conforming to the customs of the Khita province is the right choice and she is happy Layla chose to explain to her the Khita rules.
Without warning Naser suddenly stops the car. In the silence following she just hears the voice of Naser saying “It’s time for the noon prayers. We are out in the open country, you’ll have to stand up during prayer.” When the door is opened she has to quickly cap the bottle and let it slide to the floor. Munira is unbuckled, guided out and led a few steps across some rubble. Moments later she hears the voices of Naser and Ali as they pray. Munira has to admit to herself she mostly enjoys being able to stretch her limbs and then senses how the hot sun is now burning on her head without the shadow of the car and the wind of motion to cool. She remembers that when she was a little girl being told the reason for the daily prayers is to get a break from everything else and think about the greater aspects of life such as the conditions of nature. The prayer has made her feel better.
They drive on, but not for long. Naser tells her “We are at a place to eat, but unfortunately only for men. What do we do with the women Ali?” He tells Naser they must take the women with them as they should never be left out of their sight.
Munira is guided into a building and then after less than ten meters down onto a chair. Ali says in a low voice “Women, put your faces to the table in front of you and stay like that until we leave.” Munira leans forward until her forehead touches a surface. She senses that sitting like this, in a few minutes she will be sore and her back will hurt. Naser sits right next to her and Ali opposite him. She hears Naser say “I need to use the bathroom. Is it permissible to have you guarding my wife or do I have to take her with me?” Ali says “If you trust me as a friend, it’s okay for you go alone. With my age, it’s in fact more likely both women are your wives and I’m your son than we’re not related and one is a relative of mine.” Naser gets up and says “You can go in a few minutes then, Ali my friend.” In a short while Munira smells freshly made food right next to her head. It makes her feel she is hungry, but she realises she will only have liquids until sometime in the evening. When finally she hears Naser and Ali get up from the chairs and then is touched to get up herself she is longing for the relatively comfortable seat of the car.
Back in the car seat and buckled up, another bottle is placed at her feet. Now it’s lunch time for Munira and Layla. While picking up the new bottle to taste what it is Munira senses Layla leaning towards her. Layla touches her niqab and then she senses she lets a bottle touch and rub Munira’s chest. She assumes Layla is probably trying to tell Munira that they can now enjoy a cold soda instead of the now warm water they had before. Munira leans to be as close as possible to Layla. She lets her own bottle touch Layla’s chest and then makes her own chin touch Layla’s chin to make her understand she appreciates having got a tube. They both sit cheek to cheek for some time while drinking their ‘lunch’.
After a while Layla leans back while still touching Munira at the shoulder. Munira senses Layla dozing and moves to get herself leaned back as well while still touching Layla. Now they are as close as they will get on this journey and words are not really needed. Munira dozes off thinking about the new friendship she has got and friendships in general.
She becomes aware again because the monotonous noises of the highway have gone. After listening for some minutes she is sure they are driving through a town. Layla is still asleep. She has slumped down hanging in her seat belt and now her head is resting in Munira’s lap. Lifting a knee up and down Munira gently shakes Layla’s head and after a minute she sits touching cheek to cheek with Munira again.
In less than ten minutes the car stops and Ali says quite loudly “We’re at Abdul’s house. You’ll both have to get out, as I’m sure Abdul will want to say hello to Naser.”
Munira is guided into a house having to walk much longer than for the apartments in the city. A few seconds after the guiding stops her outer eye layer is flipped back and she sees a quite large living room with low tables and cushions. Two women in home Khita veiling embrace her and touch her cheeks. Within a minute another woman in a knee long khimar and niqab greets her and is followed by a woman in butterfly abaya and niqab. Then Munira notices the tube hanging down under her niqab – it’s Layla! Nothing happens, it looks like no one is allowed to speak in the current situation. The woman in the khimar has moved behind Munira listening at the door which is slightly ajar. They wait for someone shouting when Naser wants to leave to continue the journey. Munira looks at Layla who is dressed as if working at the clinic, except the gloves have been replaced with mittens. Munira realises that Layla, as a guest in her brother’s house, will probably have to be dressed like this from morning to night during her entire stay. She will only open and close the abaya at the neck to ungag and gag when allowed to speak and for eating.
After about fifteen minutes just standing and waiting a male voice is heard. The three women of the house quickly embrace Munira again and then Layla leans against her putting her head on Munira’s shoulder, letting their cheeks touch for many seconds. After something like a minute the woman in the khimar lifts a hand to Munira’s head and the second eye cover is flipped down. Munira is guided to the car.
Just having started to drive Naser shouts to be sure Munira hears him in the back seat “Abdul was a very nice man like his brother-in-law. We were of course invited for a visit, but I said we would like to wait a couple of weeks until getting used to our new house and the Khita lifestyle. We’ll be at our new house in about five minutes.”
The car turns off the road and stops. Munira’s door isn’t opened, instead after a minute with Naser away from the car the other back door is opened. Someone is seated next to Munira. It has to be another woman! The driver’s door closes and the car is started again. In less than two minutes it turns off the road and stops again.
Munira is guided along with the other woman. Both eye layers of her niqab are lifted and Naser says “We’re at home Munira, say hello to Fatima. Take off your public dress both of you and you’ll be allowed to speak when serving some coffee as soon as possible.”
Munira has reciprocated Fatima’s bow and the touch on both cheeks, although she would like answers to the big questions of who Fatima is and why she is here. As instructed they both start removing their clothes just inside the door in what appears to be a living room much like the one she just saw, but a little smaller. Fatima is faster and helps Munira with her hooded abaya. She gestures for Munira to follow her and they enter the kitchen where Fatima immediately starts preparing coffee and putting cups on a tray, apparently knowing where everything is.
While the water is heating Munira notices Fatima is in home dress, only wearing abaya with sleeves and head covered in a slightly transparent cloth like herself. Faiza had told her only women living in the house are without the outer hooded abaya and niqab, and Naser has just told her she is home. Looking closely it looks like Fatima has her face covered differently beneath the cloth. Is she from another part of Khita or is she some kind of serving woman, perhaps a maid?
A few minutes later the coffee is put on a low table where Naser is already seated on a cushion. Fatima pours all three cups and Munira is about to lift her hand to her neck to ungag when Naser after a quick sip says “Please wait until I give permission Munira. First I have to tell you something. This house was owned by a Mr. Tawfik, who tragically died from pneumonia three months ago. Fatima was the wife of Mr. Tawfik. When I talked with her guardian, a distant relative, about buying the house I learned that the price of the house and a little jewellery would allow her to stay at a widows home for some years. After that her fate was uncertain, probably having to go to the city to work as a laundress or even a prostitute. I asked the guardian if that was the fate of all women loosing a husband before they had adult children. He said most women were taken as third or fourth wife by a close male relative of the late husband, but Mr. Tawfik didn’t have any. He then told me that any man could of course marry the widow but most men prefer young virgins or someone they have a family or business relationship with. If I married Fatima I would get the house as dowry, only having to pay for the paperwork and a little jewellery as a wedding present. Fatima is the perfect companion for you, gentle, hardworking and just two years younger. The Khita lifestyle in many ways takes for granted there are more than one wife in a family and as such life is easier if there are, from having someone to help with tying abaya sleeves to sharing the household chores and share the serving of male guests. Please ungag and have some coffee now.”
Munira quickly ungags and shouts “You have taken Fatima as a second wife?”
Naser nods. Munira fills her lungs and continues shouting at her husband “Without telling me you have been sleeping with another woman. Tell me why I should stay for just five minutes more?”
Naser says without changing his voice “Because I love you. We have just had some wonderful nights together. You have nowhere to go to, even if you go back to the city, and if you walk the streets here without male company, you’ll be arrested and have to stay in custody until I come for you. Of course it wasn’t right not telling you in advance but you, having always lived in the city and never been here, I didn’t know how to explain it to you. Won’t you give it a chance for some time? Fatima has told me you can have me as much as you like in bed for at least a year, and I think you’ll like having someone to help keeping the house clean.”
For the first time Fatima speaks in a muffled low quiet voice “Please accept me Munira. Naser really loves you. He has just slept with me once to consummate the marriage. All other nights he has said he wouldn’t touch me until approved by you. We’re not equal wives as the laws and the scriptures say. Until you say otherwise I’m just a servant, your maid and cook. Naser isn’t right when he says I’ll do half the household chores. Both before and after my late husband’s death I have kept this house alone and I’ll keep doing just about everything. You can do whatever you like all day and yet Naser will be welcomed in a clean house, with clean clothes waiting and dinner ready when he wants it. You’ll only have to serve female guests because it is customary wives not speaking do the serving.”
Munira thinks about it. Naser is right, she doesn’t know enough about how women travel here to get back to the city. She has just spent days cleaning and packing to be ready to go here. Some days not working would be nice and apparently she can ask Naser for anything and order Fatima to do whatever she likes.
Now with a normal sound level and just a harsh voice Munira says “Fatima correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re saying I could stay in bed all day and you’ll bring my food, or I could read and doze on the sofa all day and you would bring fresh tea or coffee and food whenever I snapped my fingers, or I could invite all the female neighbours and we could chat all day, you bringing coffee and home made cakes?”
Fatima says “The first two cases are completely true and you may invite all the women of the neighbourhood and I’ll make cakes, but you would have to serve the coffee. Naser would you please explain how you’ll ensure we live according to Khita rules and preserve the family honour?”
Munira has, because it’s natural to her, been looking at Fatima while she has been speaking, even though there is nothing but a smooth cloth surface to see, and now that a touchy subject would have showed an embarrassed expression Fatima pushes the subject to Naser she turns to see the expression expected.
Naser says “Fatima has been brought up here in Khita and having her in the house we’ll avoid a lot of mistakes and violations of the strict social rules here. She knows how to dress correctly and how to behave when there are guests in the house. From your visit to the Ibrahim family I’m sure you’ve learned that only one wife at a time is allowed to speak. What I have permitted right now is very special, but it’s a special occasion. I think until you, Munira, are fully accustomed to the Khita way of life, it’s better if only Fatima speaks to avoid speaking in the wrong situations and saying things which aren’t appropriate here. Family honour is much more important here than in the city and something that is perhaps innocent in the city may be interpreted differently here, leading to rumours, lost honour and making business difficult. I’m hungry and I’m sure you are as well, not having had any food at noon. Fatima would you bring me the newspaper please and then start preparing the dinner. It’s your favourite lentil soup, Munira , isn’t it Fatima?”
Fatima gets up and nods, but then stops momentarily as Naser adds “Bring a straw for Munira. As we’re in Khita Munira and I will follow Khita rules from this moment. Both of you may ask all the questions you like tonight and in the coming days, but Khita women are gagged in the presence of their husband and should gesture for permission before asking.”
Fatima nods. Munira notices that Fatima gagged herself as soon as she rose. Munira has realised she can’t run away and has decided to obey until finding a way to escape or see if it’s true Naser still loves her and has married Fatima out of compassion and to have a loyal, cheap maid. Munira nods for both of them to see and buckles her gag. While Naser reads the newspaper and Fatima cooks, Munira practises using the straw for drinking her coffee. She is feeling completely exhausted from the long hot drive and the way her life has totally changed in minutes.
Some time later pleasant smells begin emanating from the kitchen. She watches closely while Fatima lays the table and would have jumped up to help her at the slightest sign that an extra hand would have speeded the cooking. But it is the other way around. After laying the table Fatima puts prayer rugs on the floor and a couple of minutes later she even interrupts Naser’s reading by patting him on the shoulder to make him aware it’s soon prayer time.
While getting up he says “Come with me to the bathroom Munira. Covered as you are you will have to make do with putting a damp cloth to your face as washing for prayers.”
They wait only a minute before the prayer call sounds all over town. Ten minutes later they sit down to have dinner. After serving all three of them Fatima sits down just facing her plate. Naser has started eating, but Fatima with not eating Munira waits as well.
A minute later Naser notices and says “You may both ungag to eat.”
Munira quickly unbuckles and hungrily eats as fast as possible. It’s good, very good. She would call it delicious even if she wasn’t starving. After having satisfied the worst hunger she has to compliment the cook. She taps the table in front of Naser, who looks up and says “You have permission to speak.”
Munira says “This soup is my favourite. And the way it’s made is even better than when I make it myself. It’s very delicious Fatima. You have to teach me how you prepare it. Perhaps I can stay in the kitchen while you cook, if I lend a helping hand when you need assistance?”
First Munira only gets a short nod from Fatima and unable to see if complimenting her has made her happy, it’s not easy to know if she thinks Munira is being formally polite or wants to break the silence. Fatima leans over embracing Munira and touching her cheeks. It’s like no one has ever complimented her cooking before.
Then Naser says “I agree with Munira, it’s a very delicious dish. I know you have done your utmost to please Munira making this soup, and I’m sure both of you can have a good time discussing how to make it next time and perhaps even improve what we have now.”
Fatima nods and leans over to touch Munira’s cheek once more. Munira taps for permission to speak and Naser just nods.
Munira says “I can’t accept living with Fatima without knowing how she looks and her knowing how I look. When are we allowed to unveil to each other?”
Naser says “Fatima you’re allowed to speak. Please explain about the traditions here.”
Fatima says “On the first night a new wife is at her new husband’s house all the husband’s wives bathe together, beautifying each other and making the new wife in particular ready for the husband. Naser wishes us to do that tonight, as this is the first night we’re all together.”
Naser adds “Both of you go to the bathroom right after the evening prayers and stay there as long as you like. I’ll use the bathroom at the male reception room if I can’t wait.”
Despite everything new nothing more is said by Munira or Fatima that night. Asking questions not absolutely necessary outside meals when they are gagged doesn’t seem right to Munira, and Fatima seems to be a quiet type, only speaking when directly requested to do so.
After the night prayer Munira watches Fatima put the prayer rugs away and then follows her, not to the bathroom, but first to the bedroom. From a closet full of black clothing Fatima takes two night gowns and a black plastic bag placed next to the gowns. Their next stop is the bathroom and once inside Fatima locks the door.
This being a Khita tradition there might be some rituals or a certain procedure to follow and Munira lets Fatima take the lead. Fatima starts with removing her abaya. As expected it doesn’t reveal any of her skin, she’s still completely covered in black fabric, but without being figure hugging the blouse and trousers now shown are quite tight. The sleeves and legs are tight enough to allow the gloves and stockings to be pulled over the top of them. This is clearly seen because both gloves and stockings are full length, reaching the armpits and the crotch respectively. As all the items are made of a slightly shiny satin-like material, Munira thinks it makes Fatima’s body look quite attractive. Meanwhile Fatima has gestured for her to remove her abaya as well, it’s clear they are to undress concurrently. Munira wears looser fitting blouse and trousers and seeing coloured clothing is like the light in the room has increased a little. Her matching blouse and trousers, patterned in bright red and yellow is coming from another world, even though not seen in full, because she wears the gloves and stockings on top of them like Fatima.The gloves she is wearing are only elbow length and her stockings are only knee high in the style that the Ibrahims wear. Munira will not wear these shocking items anymore. This is clear when Fatima touches first her trousers and then her blouse and shakes her head. She next points to the rim of the gloves and the stockings and lets the finger continue up to the next joints. Clearly Fatima adheres to more strict values than the Ibrahims.
They both bend and remove their stockings, which reveals the first sight of skin. Munira looks at Fatima’s feet seeing a slightly darker skin colour than her own and some perfectly manicured and red painted nails. Just from seeing the feet it’s clear that she takes care of her body even though it will only ever be seen by her husband – which Munira has to remind herself is now Naser. Coming to a new house Munira had expected Naser would take more time to admire her body and has made herself up as well in case he wouldn’t allow her to spend very long in the bathroom. Fatima claps her hands to show she likes what she sees, and Munira claps as well to show she finds Fatima’s feet just as beautiful.
Surprising Munira a little Fatima lifts her blouse a little to untie the trousers and let them fall to the floor. Munira copies her. Fatima continues with her panties, only seen because she lifts up the blouse. Munira wears a shorter blouse and already while reaching for her much sexier panties with lace edging Fatima gestures she would like to borrow them some day. Munira blushes a little now with her short blouse clearly showing her sex while everything above is still covered, but her face doesn’t show and Fatima doesn’t make a point of it.
They both remove their gloves to show beautiful hands as they are turned seductively in front of the black surface of each others face. Fatima lets her moving hands end under the cloth covering her head and unbuttons her blouse, revealing an ordinary black bra matching her panties, but the blouse isn’t removed. She just reaches behind her back and unbuckles and removes the bra, only partly showing her breasts in the opening of the blouse. Munira does likewise, but after Fatima nods to indicate she recognises that the bra of Munira is much better than her own, she pulls at Munira’s sleeves to make her remove her blouse completely. It’s like she wants Munira to go a little ahead of her now.
This is confirmed as she touches the cloth pin on top of Munira’s head holding the transparent cloth in place. She lets Munira remove the pin and the cloth to let her eyes show, giving Munira a completely clear sight. Fatima only spends some seconds looking at Munira’s eyes with her own veiled sight before she reaches for the cloth pin on her own head. Munira is now able to see that Fatima is covered much differently beneath the cloth. No hint of eyes can be seen and a horizontal curve below the eyes indicating the top of the mask can’t be glimpsed either. A few seconds later Munira’s gag blocks a cry of surprise as she sees Fatima’s face. It is completely hidden behind a black leather mask tightly framed by a hood of cloth attached to the blouse. The mask is quite tight fitting, contured to the shape of a human face, but where colourful moving eyes should be seen are just two black eye cavities with small circular openings over black pupils. Under the nose are even smaller holes, much smaller than the nostril openings, and the mouth area is covered by a circular black flap, its shape showing that the mouth is filled with a gag.
As Fatima doesn’t lift her hand to the mouth to open the flap and ungag, Munira puts her hand to the mask to sense it feels much softer than it looks. Fatima lets Munira look, touch and smell for a minute. It’s clear she is aware the mask is a surprise to Munira. When Munira’s eyes stop staring Fatima lifts her hands up under the chin to untie the drawstring holding the hood closed tight around the head. The leather mask is now shown to be part of a leather hood completely covering head and neck. With the satin-like hood of the blouse down the blouse can be removed making Fatima stand naked except for the black covered head looking much like Munira, still wearing scarf and mask. The well trimmed young looking body doesn’t cross Munira’s mind, neither as a sex object nor as a source of jealousy. She just stares at the black leather hiding hair and face, thus giving no clue as to what the most important part of Fatima looks like or how she feels about surprising Munira. Fatima instead turns away to go to the sink and open the closet on the wall above. From there she pulls out a small key hanging from a chain attached inside the closet. She takes it to the back of her neck to unlock a small padlock securing a hidden zipper going up the back of the head. Soon the mask can be removed.
What appears is the glistering face of a mid-twenties dark beauty with black curly hair, practically cut just below the ears, and eyes anxiously awaiting the reaction of Munira. The mouth doesn’t contribute to the facial expression as it is still forced wide open by the black ball inside, and Fatima, even after dropping the hood on top of the pile of her other clothes, doesn’t spit the ball out. Instead she pats Munira on her chin to make her aware that she is still masked and scarved. Munira quickly starts untying her mask to let Fatima see her entire face gagged as well. While Munira unbuckles her gag Fatima opens a drawer to have a large gag ball without straps ready for Munira. In the moment Munira pulls the ball out of her mouth by its straps, Fatima pops the new ball inside. Changing within the same movement of her jaws Munira can clearly sense the new ball is a fraction larger, but perhaps it has to protrude more from her mouth to be held firmly inside by a leather mask. Finally Munira removes her large scarf, and Fatima is able to see her like she can see Fatima.
Two beautiful women, marked a little by sweating from being covered in layers of hot clothes for so many hours, and facial expressions distorted by a wide open but filled mouth. Remembering Fatima responded to praising her cooking by a tender embrace, Munira chooses to end this process of seeing each other and begin their partnership of some kind by tightly embracing Fatima and putting her head on her shoulder. Now they touch skin to skin over a large part of the body. Being without real skin to skin contact for so long except for Naser touching her through the openings of her Khita nightgown, it is a wonderful feeling going through Munira’s body, without her wanting to have sex with Fatima however. After a minute she changes to the other shoulder to touch a little differently with the other cheek as well. While changing shoulders for some seconds their eyes meet and Munira sees Fatima’s eyes are filled with tears of joy. She lets Fatima decide when their embrace should stop.
After a minute Fatima stops by turning to front Munira’s side, and then surprisingly Fatima takes her gag ball out and whispers “We have not got permission to speak, but after being understandably angry because of Naser having married without telling you and without your consent, you have been much nicer to me than I would ever have imagined. I don’t mind if you and Naser choose to go on like I’m just your maid, because he saved me from a fate much worse and I will be forever grateful to him for making my life continue as a respected married woman. Knowing you had learned about Khita lifestyle from a liberal family with women working outside the home, I expected what I wear might come as a surprise to you. Not many women wear leather hoods unfortunately. But Naser has decided we have to continue the way I was brought up, as deviating from that requires deep moral and theological reasoning, which none of us have the knowledge to do. You’ll have to dress and act as I do from now on. Don’t be sorry, I’m very happy with this lifestyle, and it increases your chances of entering Paradise, hopefully many years from now.”
Fatima puts the ball back in and goes to open the taps of the tub. Until knowing what to do and how to do it Munira has decided to enjoy her stay here. They play like children during the bath splashing water and making funny gestures and faces while cleaning each other. Fatima introduces Munira to a closet full of fine oils and perfumes and their nails are painted again. When Munira gestures she would like to pretty her face and eyes as well Fatima shakes her head.
Instead she takes the plastic bag lying on top of the nightgowns and hands its contents to Munira. It is a leather mask identical to Fatima’s. Munira gestures if she will have to sleep masked. Fatima gestures there is only the one key, kept in the closet in here and she must always leave the bathroom masked. If Naser wishes to see more of her head than the mouth he will bring her here. Munira then gestures when will they see each other again unmasked. Fatima gestures they will probably cut each other’s hair. Fatima reaches for her mask, which she has been drying with the hair dryer to remove the sweat it has absorbed. Munira, still holding her own mask, stops Fatima by embracing her again. Munira just has to have some seconds touching skin to skin, cheek to cheek, before being unable to do that for she doesn’t know how long, unless begging Naser for a real kiss on her cheeks. Fatima lets Munira decide the duration of their embrace.
After two minutes Munira separates and lifts the hood over her head. She lets it rest against her face without closing the zipper for some time. Like this she can get used to it’s feel without getting claustrophobic. Having the hearing attenuated, being enclosed tightly and loosing all peripheral vision at once for the first time would be a shocking experience. With the hood unzipped she watches Fatima put her hood on and zip and lock it in one continuos sequence.
The pin-hole eye openings are like looking through binoculars without magnification. She is only able to see just where her head is facing, moving the eyes has no effect and what goes on around her can only be perceived if she turns her head to look at another small circle of the world. After some minutes she gently pulls at the hood to be able to close the zipper. Her hearing then deteriorates a fraction further, but more importantly her sight improves marginally as the mask is pulled closer to her face. It is well designed and doesn’t feel really tight anywhere. Only what feels like built-in straps from the mouth and back are annoyingly tight to ensure the mouth flap puts pressure on the gag ball.
When Munira finally faces Fatima as if asking what to do next, she is handed a nightgown. Fatima then immediately starts putting on her own gown. Munira waits, watching Fatima. In seconds her naked body disappears as the gown drops to the floor covering her completely. As Fatima’s gown drops down it goes through Munira’s mind that it might be weeks before she again sees the skin of a woman other than herself. With no gag straps to buckle on the outside, putting on the gown is much easier. Munira notices the gown’s mouth opening exactly matches the mouth flap of the mask, making the flap the only part of the mask visible with the gown fitted on the head. Fatima has bowed to zip the bottom of her gown. She must be expecting that Munira is watching her because she taps the floor and waves the hand sticking out to pull the zipper. Munira understands and bows down to shake the hand as a sort of goodnight before closing the last part of the zipper. She then puts her own gown on.
Blindly she moves until gently hitting Fatima and then with hands touching they wriggle towards the door. Having only seen the bedroom for a short time Munira lets Fatima lead. They reach the bed and climb onto it without Naser having to guide them. Is he somewhere else in the house or does he like to watch his two blind wives going to bed on their own? Munira senses Fatima next to her, but blind and knowing Fatima is blind and covered like herself, she is not disgusted by having another woman in the bed. Besides she is tired from the long drive, being heavily veiled and the shock of learning Naser now has another wife, and all this makes her not particularly interested in sex tonight. With Fatima having accepted Munira has priority, Munira will not give away that right on the first night. But will Naser peek through the openings to select Munira, or will he just see two identical nightgowns, both able to fulfil his desire and let chance rule?
When hearing Naser in the bedroom Munira, despite of being tired and sort of having accepted Fatima next to her, gets worried she won’t be chosen, but seconds after sensing Naser has entered the bed he is on top of her. Then it strikes her Fatima might have arranged this by placing Munira at the side where the bed is entered, or lies turned away so that Naser does not see two identical shapes.
The first thing that happens is that Naser opens her mouth flap and tells her “My hand is waiting for you to let your ball out. You have the right to me each night, so we will kiss each night for as long as you like and perhaps while doing more.”
Munira opens wide and then senses Naser’s lips making her own lips form a kiss. After some minutes kissing they take a break, but Munira doesn’t use the chance to speak. It’s already deep within her mind that she has to ask for permission to speak even if not gagged.
Instead Naser says “Here in Khita a woman’s body and particularly the face is considered something very private only shown on special occasions and to close family and friends. You’ll now be covering in the tradition of Fatima’s family, which is stricter than the liberal Ibrahim family. Not even I am allowed to see your face each night. To make it clear and simple when I might want to see your face, each wife is assigned a fixed day where the husband may unmask her if he likes. As first wife you’ll be assigned Saturday and Fatima Sunday, but seeing her mouth and perhaps kissing a little doesn’t change that you have the right to sleep with me. This means you won’t be uncovered any further tonight.”
Munira touches her mouth with the closed end of a sleeve making Naser say “You may speak, if that is what you ask for.”
Munira says “While I’m in Khita I’ll live as Khita women are supposed to do. This is my home and in this house we follow the traditions of Fatima’s family. Now let’s make love the Khita way. If you want to spend some minutes with Fatima afterwards that’s all right with me, but I’d like us to fall asleep arm in arm every night like we have done until today. Then perhaps I’ll still love you. You may gag me whenever you like. Goodnight.”
Soon Naser makes Munira forget they are not alone in bed as pleasure fills her mind. Just before falling to sleep she senses Naser move to Fatima, but she is sleeping herself before finding out if he falls asleep in her arms.