Mishka and Tanya
by Dave Potter
Mishka Basharov looked down at the land below as his plane came in to land at Örtük International Airport. The Duvaqistan that he saw out of the window was not what he had expected. He’d imagined mile after mile of pristine desert sand, broken only by mosques, mud block houses and the gleaming glass skyscrapers of the country’s new-found wealth. Instead though there were mountains of brown rock peppered with scratty green bushes and houses with tiled roofs. It was more like the Balkans than anywhere else he’d been!
Once again, for perhaps the hundredth time, he wondered if he was doing the right thing. Fresh out of university in Moscow, he had accepted the offer of employment from Vladimir Mironov at his real estate company located in Örtük, the capital and heart of the Emirate of Duvaqistan which, with its gas and oil reserves, had an economy growing faster than any other in the world. The money was good, and the sense of adventure too but he’d heard bad things about the country; strictly Muslim and following some obscure sect of the faith called the Cilovlamaqi, there was no alcohol allowed and women lived extremely restricted lives. He looked around at the other passengers in the plane; virtually all were men and the couple of women that there were travelling were covered in strange tent-like garments called burqas, similar to those worn in Afghanistan. From what he’d read it transpired that even foreign women had to wear them which was why people like Mironov had trouble getting any female recruits or males whom were married or courting. Even with the salary he was offering – ten times what Mishka could have hoped to have earnt in Moscow – he had still had to search for over a year before he could find a suitable and willing candidate which was enough to put doubts into Miska’s mind. Vladimir had asked him at the interview what he thought about veiling and he’d given a vague reply, “Interesting yet perhaps difficult for those who have to wear them.” He looked at those covered women and thought. What would it be like to live like that, cooped up and hidden whenever you leave the house. It wasn’t very appealing and yet, at the same time, he found it sort-of exciting. Shit!” he whispered to himself. “How will I survive here without women and vodka? How can any Russian survive without these things?”
At the airport the all-male theme continued. After some lengthy customs procedures and the throwing out of a small bottle that he’d secreted, he was met by Mironov who showed him out to a brand-new Mercedes with tinted windows. As they drove along Miska could see clearly the wealth of Duvaqistan, with towers of glass, clean wide streets filled with expensive cars and pedestrians wearing designer suits and glasses. The only thing missing were the women; Miska only saw two on the entire journey and they were being shepherded along by a male, covered in their burqas, hidden from the outside world.
The car pulled up outside a swish housing complex where Mishka was domiciled. “This place is yours, Mishka, one bedroom, a lounge, bathroom, kitchen and balcony; I hope you like it. We’re only a couple of doors down, No. 7 so when you’ve recovered from your flight, please pop round!”
“I’d love to,” replied Mishka, knowing that it is always best to humour a new boss.
Two hours later, refreshed and showered, Mishka rang on the bell of No. 7. To his surprise, it wasn’t Vladimir who answered, but a woman, or at least, what he thought might be a woman. She was wearing a variant of the burqa in black with a white strip and grille where her face would be. From the colour scheme, Mishka assumed that she must be the maid.
She bowed towards the guest and a black gloved hand gestured for him to come inside. This he did, following her down a corridor and into a large, well-lit room where his new boss was stood holding a glass. “Mishka, come on in! Have you recovered from your flight yet? Good, good. Sit down and please, have a drink. I can’t offer you any alcohol of course, but we do have fruit juices or some genuine Russian tea if you wish? However, before we start, please let me introduce my daughter – and the light of my life – Tanya to you.”
Mishka’s eyes had already drifted in that direction anyhow. Sat by her father was another veiled figure, this time in a finely-embroidered yellow burqa. Mishka was surprised; ok, so all Western women had to conform to the local dress codes when out of their houses, but here she was indoors with her family? Why was she still veiled? Mishka stepped across to her and said, “Pleased to meet you, Tanya!” He held out his hand to shake hers but the gesture was not reciprocated, nor to was the greeting. Instead, the covered girl merely bowed her had at him before sitting down again. Puzzled, Mishka looked into the grille at her face to gain some idea of the girl beneath, but it gave nothing away, and he realised that behind the grille there must be further veiling – a piece of black cloth perhaps – that hid every feature completely.
Vladimir smiled and put his hand on his employee’s shoulder. “It seems that you don’t fully appreciate the veiling laws here. Tanya here will neither answer you nor shake your hand for she cannot. Virtually every woman in this country is gagged under her burqa and that’s only the start. I’ll give you a leaflet explaining it all, but basically those laws are what make it so difficult for me to recruit, for which woman – or man with a wife or daughters – wants to come here and live in that way? It is hard, yes, it is hard.” He flashed a sympathetic smile at his daughter who nodded softly.
“But I can understand about wearing these clothes outside the house, but why does she still wear them inside?” Mishka asked.
“It is part of the law. These laws apply everywhere except a girl’s private bedroom which must be windowless, have an attached bathroom and a door that locks from both inside and out. These maids, they are not just to clean and cook you know. They are also acting as an eye to see that we follow the rules. You cannot not have a maid here if you have a female in the house because a female, properly dressed, cannot survive without one. It is a trial, make no mistake about it. But anyhow, here, read this and talk to me more about it later.” He rummaged around in some papers in a magazine stand by his chair and handed Mishka a short booklet. “And now, we eat, and let us talk of happier things; business, which is good and how you will fit into it all. Come Mishka, to the dining room…”
That evening, when Mishka was snuggled up in his bed, he picked up the booklet that Vladimir had given him and decided to give it a read, partially because it is always best to be enthusiastic about things that the boss tells you to do but also because, well, for some strange reason, the veiled and gagged Tanya Mironova fascinated him somewhat.
A GUIDE TO THE PRACTICES MANDATORY FOR FEMALES LIVING IN OR VISITING THE EMIRATE OF DUVAQISTAN
PRODUCED BY THE MINISTRY FOR HOME AFFAIRS OF THE DUVAQISTANI GOVERNMENT
One of the most unusual aspects of Duvaqistani society that visitors to our country have to encounter is the position of women in the Emirate. Compared to Western ideals, Duvaqistani women live a most different life, but to any follower of the esteemed Cilovlamaqi sect of the Glorious faith of Islam, for it is entirely in accordance with the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and the Mevlana Rubiaq (apthn) that our women live out their lives. This booklet is designed to help our foreign guests understand the way in which our Duvaqi women live and also to instruct visitors who may be bringing wives or daughters with them to Duvaqistan on how the females under their supervision must dress and behave so as not to run counter to Duvaqi law and culture.
In the Western sense of the word, Duvaqi females have few ‘rights’. However, conversely, many Duvaqis, (both male and female), would consider the Duvaqi female far better off than her Western sisters as what she has lost in rights, she has gained in protection, safety and spiritual well-being.
In childhood the position of the Duvaqi female is much like that of her Western counterpart or for that matter, the Duvaqi male. Few restrictions are placed upon her and there is no dress code of any type although it should be mentioned that some Duvaqi parents, particularly those of the higher castes in society, do dress their daughters in lighter versions of adult female attire so as to accustom their daughters to what their lifestyle shall be later on in life. However, essentially, childhood is seen as a time of playing, learning and exploring for all children in Duvaqistan and consequently even the most pious of parents place few restrictions on their daughters.
All of this changes however, when the girl reaches puberty and becomes an adult. This stage is reached at her first menses or her twelfth birthday, whichever occurs first. On that day – a day of great celebration for Duvaqi families – she is taken into her adult chamber and prepared by her maid and mother as an adult for the very first time. How that adult life shall be spent however, depends largely on the girl’s social status. Duvaqi society is very highly structured and is divided into four classes or castes. These are as follows:
- kübar – this caste corresponds very much to the aristocracy in some Western societies. In Duvaqistan it essentially means members of the Royal Family and lesser nobility.
- burjua – this caste is something like the upper portions of the middle classes in the west. It includes professionals, businesspeople and the educated.
- fæhlæ – this caste represents the smaller businesspeople, for example shopkeepers and farmers who own their own land.
- çöllü – this caste corresponds to the Western idea of the peasantry. It includes the landless farmers and low-skilled workers in the city.
These four castes have been outlined as the dress and lifestyle of a female in Duvaqi society depends mostly upon which caste she, (or to be more exact, her husband or father), belongs to. The details of these shall be entered into later, but first we shall discuss the restrictions and customs that apply to all Duvaqi females, regardless of caste. The most important ones are as follows:
- Property: Under Duvaqi law a female does not have the right to hold any property. Instead, she is seen as an item of property belonging to her father and then later her husband. If her husband and father are dead and she has no sons, then ownership passes to her eldest brother. If there are no brothers, then the eldest male cousin and so on. This system, whilst perhaps unfair to Western ears, is actually very comforting to Duvaqi women as it ensures that they shall always have a responsible male to care for them. Some scholars have tried to argue that this law goes against the spirit of the Quran, but it should be noted that as the Mevlana Rubiaq (apthn) himself decreed it, it is undoubtedly the decree of Allah.
- Marriage: Under Duvaqi law, it is mandatory for all females to be married before their eighteenth birthday. Sixteen is the most common age for marriage in Duvaqistan. As the opportunities for social interaction with males, (or ‘dating’ as it is termed in the West), are minimal, then it is unsurprising that all marriages in Duvaqistan are arranged between the girl’s owner and her future spouse. It is common, (but not mandatory), for Duvaqi girls to be present at their weddings, but as it is considered bad luck for them to see their spouses before the marriage consummation, then they generally wear a blinding burqa in white, which signifies their virginity. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Duvaqi weddings for the outsider, is the consummation which is seen as an integral part of the ceremony. After the documents have been signed, the bride is taken to the bedchamber and lain on the bed. Then the groom enters accompanied by his father, (or another male witness), the bride’s father and – most crucially – the bride’s mother or husband’s first wife. Then the bride’s mother, or husband’s first wife, lifts the bride’s burqa up and undresses the bride down to the geyimlæri, (a white undergarment with an opening to allow intercourse to take place). She then takes the groom’s member, stiffens it and guides it through the opening into the bride’s vagina. Once penetration has occurred and blood produced, then the marriage is considered final. Incidentally, as with all Muslim countries, a Duvaqi male is allowed to marry four wives although, polygamy is rare except in the higher castes.
- Social Interaction: Under Duvaqi law all social interaction between males and females is illegal unless the male is mahram. Mahram males include the father, brother, cousin, grandfather, husband and son of the female. However, even amongst mahram males, interaction is generally frowned upon and as a rule most married women only ever speak to their husbands and sons and only then in their chambers and if the son is below puberty. Interestingly, amongst many pious households, it is common for the wife and husband never to have spoken or seen one another, their only interaction occurring with the sexual act where the bride remains covered. Interaction with other females is also limited to mahram family members and that too is limited. We shall go into the details later on when discussing the individual castes.
- Children: In Duvaqi society, the main purpose of a female is to produce healthy sons and so children are highly valued and much loved. After birthing a child, a female is allowed to live with it in her room until it can walk and then interact with it until it reaches puberty in a manner decreed by the father. After puberty interaction is as with other adults.
Having dealt with the generalities relating to all Duvaqi females, we shall now move onto the specifics relating to the four castes. As we have already demonstrated, the life of the Duvaqi female is quite restricted but higher up the caste system one is, the more restrictive the lifestyles are. This restriction may seem quite disturbing to some Western ears, but it should be understood that most Duvaqi women do not see it in that way and instead look upon their restriction as an honour. The more restricted one is, the less able one is to engage in manual work and the more able one is to contemplate divine matters in the manner which Mevlana Rubiaq (apthn) taught.. Here, in brief, are the main restraints imposed upon the females of the four castes in Duvaqi society:
- kübar – females of the noble kübar caste are the most restricted of all in Duvaqi tradition. As with all females, it is mandatory that they be veiled at all times outside of their own bedrooms but in addition, kübari females are required to wear a veil that blinds them completely whenever they leave the house of their father or husband. This generally comes in the form of a burqa with decoration symbolising a grille but with no holes in the material. In addition to this, the arms of the kübari females are required to be restrained at all times when out of their rooms by the means of a silahsædd, in essenece a bar to which both arms are strapped, wrist to wrist, elbow to elbow behind the wearer’s back. Furthermore, kübari females are gagged at all times and allowed to speak to no one save for their husbands and/or children under the age of puberty. Impediments are generally put on the ankles for walking but this is tradition only and not mandatory. It is common practice for kübari brides to never leave their husband’s chambers following marriage save for removal into a small private room adjacent provided for the birthing and rearing of children. During their extremely protected lives, when not required by their spouses, the kübari bride lives in a small pitch-black cupboard or compartment where she can relax in silence and where she is drip fed nutrients to keep her healthy and her mind focussed on the Divine and her spouse.
- burjua – females of the burjua class again live restricted, pious lives, but not to the extent of their kübari sisters. Burjua females have their arms restricted by the silahsædd but are allowed use of the arms if alone indoors with another female family member. As they are both gagged, communication is achieved through the silent exchange of notes and it is for this reason that most burjua females receive some basic schooling. Outside of their homes they are allowed limited sight but must be accompanied by a male relative at all times. The only exception to this is when they meet a member of the Royal Family; for this they must be blinded. As with the kübari females, gait is often restricted, though this is by tradition, not by decree. Under their burqas, the burjua, like the kübari, wear a garment called a kæfæn (lit: shroud), a tight-fitting, hand-fitted shroud that covers the wearer from the head to the ankles. These are generally cotton and often embroidered.
- fæhlæ – as a visitor to Duvaqistan, it is the fæhlæ females that you shall most likely encounter as they provide virtually all of the maidservants in the country. Fæhlæ women are always veiled but their hands are free, (although always gloved). Like the females from the higher castes, they wear a kæfæn under their burqas, though the kæfæn of the fæhlæ are generally less restrictive, having holes for the arms and more room for leg movement. The gait of fæhlæ females is generally not restricted. Fæhlæ females must remain gagged outside of their own home but within their home the gag may be removed in the presence of close family.
- çöllü – females enjoy few restrictions as their work makes wearing them an impossibility, (most çöllü work with their husbands in the fields). They must however, remain veiled outside of their homes, although the kæfæn is not worn and their burqas tend to have more opaque grilles. Çöllü women are not required to gag themselves although they are implored to keep silent whenever strange males are around and virtually all adhere to this.
Having covered the restrictions placed upon the lifestyles of the four castes of Duvaqi females, it is imperative that we now turn to the status of foreign females whilst in Duvaqistan. In his wisdom, the Mevlana Rubiaq (apthn) indeed addressed this very issue some seven hundred years before our own time when he decreed that, ‘All sons of Adam and all daughters of Eve must abide by the will of Allah when in the land consecrated by the Almighty.’ In practice this means that unlike in some other Muslim countries, (where the glorious Cilovlamaq Path is not followed), there is no one rule for nationals and another for foreigners. Instead all females are required to abide by the Duvaqi dress code whilst on the sacred soil of Duvaqistan.
This makes us ask the important question therefore, as to what caste do our foreign visitors nominally belong? Virtually without exception, they are privileged to become members of the burjua caste. Naturally, to be ascribed the status of the kübar would be unfitting as this would place all outsiders on a par with our glorious monarch, but at the same time in Duvaqistan we honour all our guests highly as the Cilovlamaqi way is to honour the stranger, and thus burjua status is accepted. The only exceptions to this are when a foreign female marries a Duvaqi male; naturally she then belongs to whichever class he is a member of. Whilst these conditions may seem harsh and strict to many and indeed may dissuade some females from visiting Duvaqistan, it should be noted that through living a pious Duvaqi life, many foreign females have come to embrace the beautiful CilovlamaqI Path in particular and the Glorious Religion of Islam in general, thus bringing joy not only to themselves and their hosts, but also Allah Himself.
Whilst the ideal of one sacred rule applying to all is maintained in Duvaqistan, our glorious monarch, Sheik Yahya Bazargan III does recognise some of the extra pressures that apply to foreigners and not nationals and has allowed for a few minor yet clement alterations to the law. Firstly, is that concerning burjua females only being allowed to communicate with other female family members and that by the writing of notes. In his wisdom, our Sheikh has recognised that foreign females often have no other female family members and so, if unmarried and without a female relative to recourse to, she is allowed to have one female Duvaqi friend – a girl of the same age and caste – who she may communicate with. This not only helps to combat loneliness, but also helps the foreigner to learn about the beautiful Duvaqi culture and helps the Duvaqi to practice their foreign languages. The other exception allowed by our glorious monarch is that foreign females are not expected to be married by their eighteenth birthday, although single ladies of above that age may be refused a visa to enter.
Mishka put the book down and sat back in his chair. “Jesus Christos!” he exclaimed to himself. “I never guessed that it would be like that! And foreign women expected to live in the same way as well!” He thought back to Tanya Mironova in her yellow burqa living as a, now, what was the name… burjua, yes, that was it… living as a burjua female, veiled, her arms pinned behind her back, gagged, unable to converse with anyone, a young Russian girl! It was terrible and yet, at the same time, it excited him.
Mishka did not go to sleep for a very long time that night.
“I read that booklet that you leant me last night, sir. I never realised that it was so tough for women here. I mean, I knew they were veiled and all, but not all the other stuff and not that foreign women had to follow all those rules as well.”
“Yes indeed, it is hard for them. My Tanya finds it very difficult. She is coping better now than when she first arrived but even so, it is hard for her and I worry.”
“If that is the case then, well, and I don’t mean to be rude, but why keep her here? Surely she is better off in Russia?”
“If only that were the case Mishka, if only, but the thing is, well… you know Russia and you know what business means there. We both left for a reason, I didn’t grease the right palms and so they came after me. They kidnapped her and her mother; I paid the ransom but it was too late for my dear Olga. As for Tanya, well, she emerged unscathed, they weren’t interested in her as she was only fourteen at the time, but the experience shook her and at school she couldn’t settle afterwards. I thought about sending her to Europe, to some boarding school there, but how could I make sure she would be safe, thousands of miles from me. That’s when I thought of here; yes, it is harsh, but Tanya – and I – are in no danger, and she is well protected. It is just the other things, the lack of contact with other girls her own age and that. Of course, there is her friend, but it is only one…”
“Do you mean a Duvaqi friend, as the booklet talks about?”
“Yes, Fazila. She is seventeen like Tanya, the daughter of a business associate. He wants her to acquire some Russian as he does a lot of business in Kazakhstan and wants to marry her to some businessman working in that part of the world. She comes round about four times a week for an hour or two and they exchange notes in silence. That is all the interaction that she has though and once Fazila is married even that will end. Actually though, I was wondering if you could help me in that department?”
“I’d like to but how?”
“Well Mishka, I’ll be honest with you; when filling out your forms I told a little lie and said that you were a cousin. They won’t check as we’re foreign, but what it means is that you are allowed to escort Tanya on some trips out. At present she rarely goes out as it is imperative that she be accompanied by a male but there is only me to do it and I am always working. To be honest, it’d be such a great help to me, you can’t imagine. Tanya has taken to staying in her room all the time; I think it is due to all the restrictions that she has to endure when out of the room, but staying in like that is not healthy; she needs exercise and mental stimulation as well as some human company. So, how about it?”
“Well, certainly, I’d be glad to but where should I take her; I don’t know Duvaqistan at all.”
“Well why not use this as an opportunity for both of you to explore the country a bit. You’ll need a working knowledge of the geography to do your job and whilst you’re out you could spy out potential investment opportunities. Look at it as work and pleasure. In fact, here, take an hour off, go into the city centre and buy a travel guide, Lonely Planet or Rough Guide, something like that and I’ll tell Tanya tonight that you’ll be taking her out tomorrow in the company car.”
Mishka wandered the streets of Örtük, his eyes ablaze. Every time he saw a burqa-clad woman he wondered at the restraints hidden under the cloth, how she lived in such a constricted manner. All the while this excited him for reasons that he wasn’t sure of. He went into a bookstore and bought a Rough Guide to the country and then went to a pavement café to peruse it. The café, a high-class one, had separate sections for men and women. None of the women drank as they couldn’t not with their hands pinned behind them and large gags in their mouths. Instead they just sat there, silent and motionless, each accompanied by a black and white maid. Some, in beautifully elaborate burqas, had to be helped to sit down and stood up and were guided when they walked. ‘They must be totally blinded by their veils!’ Mishka thought to himself, realising that these were women of the elite kübar caste. His reading revealed to him that some ten kilometres away, on the edge of the city, was an old fortress on a mountain top that commanded fine views and was where several of the early Duvaqi sheikhs had had their home. The guidebook recommended it highly so Mishka decided that that was where he would take Tanya Mironova.
The following morning he arrived at Vladimir’s house to find Tanya waiting, stood silently in the hallway clad in a beautiful plum red burqa. Around her neck was a silver chain attached to a silver pouch at her front embellished with rubies. Beside her stood the maid. Both bowed when Mishka arrived and the maid handed him a note. It was from Vladimir:
Thanks again for this, when I told her she seemed to become more cheerful. Around her neck is her purse; it is full of money that you may spend. The maid cannot open it, only Tanya knows the code. When you need it, she will nod and shake her head so that you know the code. Enjoy yourselves!
They all got in the car, Mishka in the front and the maid helping Tanya into the back. Mishka tried some conversation, but it was difficult as it was all one-way. He asked if she was comfortable and she nodded but that was all that he got. Instead he began a monologue about himself and what he thought of Duvaqistan so far, but after a while it became embarrassing so he stopped and silence reigned. At the fortress, he needed access to the purse. The maid took it off Tanya and passed it to Mishka. Then she faced away as Tanya gave him the code. Five nods, then three shakes, then eight nods and finally one shake. 5-3-8-1. That was it! It opened and Mishka took the notes out to pay the entrance fee before closing it up again and handing it back to the maid who took it with her gloved hands and placed it around her mistress’ neck again.
The fortress was amazing as the guidebook had promised and the views from it, all the way across Örtük and beyond were spectacular. Mishka had to remember to slow down as they explored as Tanya couldn’t move very fast in her burqa and her confined arms made her balance unsteady. However, when it came to the view she just stood there for ages, drinking it all in. At the end Mishka asked if she had enjoyed it and she nodded enthusiastically. Mishka was pleased and relieved. It was so hard to tell what she was thinking and feeling, impossible as it was to convey any emotions wearing her costume and yet if she’d enjoyed it, well, that meant that Vladimir would be pleased with him but more importantly, well, it was hard to explain but Mishka felt a liking for this strange, trussed up girl and he wanted her to enjoy herself. With a smile on his face they set off home.
“How did it go, Mishka?”
“Well, sir, I can’t really say. I mean, I enjoyed the trip, the fortress is fantastic, and I asked Tanya if she did and she nodded but there’s nothing more I can say. It’s difficult when she’s so… covered to know anything.”
Vladimir Mironov smiled. “Mishka, call me Volodya please, not ‘sir’, and yes, I know what you mean. Before she came here Tanya was such an expressive girl, always something to say, a sparkle in her eyes, but wearing the burqa and all the other stuff… well, it is difficult. However, I can say that your trip was a success. Last night she wrote me a note saying how much she’d enjoyed it, how kind and gentlemanly you were and what a nice time that she’d had. She said that you started off really talkative but quietened down and she worries that it is the maid that made you do that, but don’t fear, the maid doesn’t speak a word of Russian or English or French or anything but Duvaqi, so you can say what you want. Tanya is desperate for you to take her somewhere again and is not staying in her room so much so I am also am happy. We have plenty of work to do today on the Cænnæt Apartment Complex, and besides, Fazila is visiting today and tomorrow, but on Wednesday you may take her out again, that is, if you don’t mind?”
“Volodya, I’d be honoured to.”
Two days later, Mishka was again at the Mironovi apartment. This time Tanya was waiting for him dressed in a beautiful green burqa with exquisite embroidery, her purse again around her neck. “Good morning Miss Mironova,” he greeted. “Are you ready to go on another trip?” She bowed and nodded and let the maid help her out to the car.
Heeding Vladimir’s advice, he decided to talk incessantly in the car so as to keep Miss Mironova interested. He explained how he had chosen a lake to visit this time that was renowned with the locals as a beauty spot and discoursed on his impressions of the fortress that they had visited the other day. He then went on to say that he had read a book on how women live in Duvaqistan and stated that he thought it incredible that she could endure such restriction and mused as to how it might be for a Russian girl unused to such clothing to live in such a way. Finally he was going to start talking about his life in Russia when they arrived at the lake, and so conversation ceased and they stepped out to have a look.
The lake was a large one and most popular with the locals as some kind of holiday resort. As Duvaqistan is landlocked, most Duvaqis have never seen the sea and so the lake is the nearest that they ever come. It had a smart promenade along the shore with cafés and souvenir shops. Outside one Tanya stopped dead and refused to move, making him suspect that she wished to buy something. “Do you wish to buy a gift?” he asked. She nodded enthusiastically. “Ok, when I lift up the right one, then nod.” She nodded again and he went over to the stall which sold knick-knacks of the usual touristy kind. He started picking them up one by one; ornaments pictures of local scenes, dolls in national dress and the like. Eventually she nodded when he picked up a beautiful picture of the fortress that they had visited before. The maid went over to her, got the purse and then handed it to him. He typed in the number and it sprang open. There inside was the money and also a small piece of folded paper with the words ‘DO NOT LET THE MAID KNOW ABOUT THIS’ written on it in Russian. Quickly he secreted it into his pocket, paid for the item and then left. They strolled further along the promenade and they came across a café. Again Tanya stopped dead so they went inside, she and the maid to the ladies section (not that they could drink anything of course), and Mishka to the men’s where he ordered a coffee. There, unseen by the maid, Mishka took out the paper, unfolded it and read it.
Thank you so much for the trip out the other day; it was the happiest day that I have spent since I came to this country. Back in Russia I loved to take trips out to different places – history is my passion – but here I was like a prisoner until you came. I told Fazila about it; she was so jealous! I know that it is difficult for you to talk with me as I cannot reply but do try. You seem such a lovely man and I would like to know you better. If you wish to ask me questions then I shall answer them by letter on the next trip out but please, never let the maid know about the letters as it is illegal for us to correspond in this way and the police might fine you or force us apart. Thank you once again,
PS The present is for you!
Mishka sipped at his coffee and thought. The note was touching and his fascination with this strange veiled creature was piqued even more. Even though they had never seen one another or spoke a word, he was beginning to feel as if he knew – and liked – her. He reread the note, folded it up again, drained his coffee and walked out to collect the girls from the ladies section. “That was a lovely cup of coffee,” he said to Tanya as they were walking along the promenade looking at the deep blue waters of the lake, “and that was not the only thing that I enjoyed there. But please, call me Mishka…”
The following day Mishka breezed chirpily into the office and began working on the Cænnæt Apartment Complex. When Vladimir came in he was in full swing, a smile plastered across his face.
“Well, you certainly were a hit yesterday,” said Vladimir.
“My daughter, she is very happy. She told me that she looks forward to your trips out eagerly; she finds you great company. She rarely stays in her room now; it’s a pleasure to see!”
“I’m glad, since I enjoy the trips too and whenever you can free me, I have some more planned. I’ve been looking through that travel guide; there’s plenty to see here.”
“And it’s always better when one’s not alone, eh? Listen, why not pop round to mine tonight, eh? Tanya will be glad to see you and we can have a chat afterwards.”
“Sir… I mean, Volodya, I’d be glad to.”
That evening, after work and a shower and change of clothes, Mishka knocked on the door of the Mironovi apartment. To his surprise Vladimir, not the maid, answered.
“Oh Mishka, you’ve come too early; the maid and Tanya are still engaged.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Shall I come back later?”
“No, no. It’s just that Fazila is still here and we males are not meant to see them whilst their hands are free for writing. However, just walking past the room on the way to the kitchen won’t harm. Come!”
Mishka followed Vladimir into the apartment and passed the sitting room. He glanced in and his heart quickened as he saw two burqas – watched over by two maids – hunched together writing a note. One was blue and the other white and Mishka wondered which one belonged to Tanya.
Once in the kitchen Vladimir made him a coffee and bade him sit down. “So, how are you settling in then? Liking Duvaqistan?”
“Fine, yes, it’s a pleasant country with good food and coffee and there are real investment opportunities here. It is the place for a young businessman. It is only the thing with the women that I find strange, off-putting…”
“In what way off-putting, Mishka?”
“Well, it is strange to talk about Volodya, because half of me is thinking how terrible it is for them to be restrained like that whilst the other half finds it kind of exciting and mysterious…”
“Do you mean that you wonder incessantly about what they are like beneath those burqas, what they look like, who they are? That you follow a burqa lady in the street and try to make out her curves but the garment gives absolutely nothing away and so your fantasies take over…?”
“You have the same thoughts?! It’s not just me?!”
“Mishka, it is all men. I never felt as I do now until I came here. It is the mystery of the veil, it is powerful. It makes me long for a woman one day again.”
“Why not remarry then?”
“Oh perhaps I shall. My colleagues want me to; it is a distinct disadvantage to be unmarried here; they don’t trust you the same, and I have received propositions from hopeful fathers, but I am not sure, what with my age and all. I would want a girl who speaks Russian…”
Just then there was a noise in the doorway. Mishka looked up to see four figures standing there, the blue and the white burqas and their two maids. “Mishka, my daughter’s friend Fazila,” announced Vladimir.
The blue burqa, who evidently had her arms suitably restrained now bowed. Mishka bowed back and at Tanya inside the white burqa. Then, as silently as she had arrived, Fazila left. “Tanya, come and sit with us!” said Vladimir and his daughter came and sat by him – but not touching – on the settee. Mishka looked at her and wondered; what are you like under that burqa Tanya, and when may we next go out? He was still amazed at the comments of Vladimir; he was not alone in his strange thoughts.
“Tanya here has told me that she needs to go shopping, Mishka,” announced Vladimir with a smile. “How are you fixed tomorrow?”
“Oh, erm… it would be a pleasure, except that I have work,” replied Mishka, wrenched away from his musings.
“Indeed you do but I am sure we can manage a few hours off in the morning. You know, whenever you help Tanya here, you are helping me too and this trip is important. We – that is, all three of us – have been invited to the Sheikh’s annual birthday bash and it is imperative for a girl to have a suitable outfit. However, now we must eat! Into the dining room please!”
The following morning Mishka found himself in the car again with Tanya and her maid. The burqa that she was wearing on this occasion intrigued him as it was quite different in design from all the others, not having a single grille for the face but instead two separate flower-shaped grilles around the eyes picked out in silver embroidery against a black background. It looked beautiful, but even more difficult to wear than her normal attire. Once in he had complimented her on the burqa and then asked if it was more difficult to see out of and she had nodded enthusiastically.
Their destination was the Sheikh Rashid Shopping Centre; a huge out-of-town retail complex where all of Duvaqistan’s elite shopped. Mishka parked up the car and the maid helped her mistress out. Then she took the purse and handed it to Mishka. After she had turned away he typed in the code and found a large piece of paper with ‘SHOPPING LIST’ written on it. Inside it was an envelope with ‘Mishka’ pencilled on the front. Quickly, he secreted this into his pocket and then unfolded the list.
- Underwear (including a geyimlæri).
- Outfit for Sheikh’s birthday banquet
Mishka was surprised – yet pleased – that so many intimate items were included on the list. He had long wanted to learn more about what lies under the Duvaqi burqas and here was his chance.
Inside the mall it was cool and well-lit. As they walked down the malls Mishka scanned the passing ladies, trying to work out which caste they belonged to. The fæhlæ girls he could easily tell apart from the burjua ones for not only were their burqas of a lower quality, but also the way they walked was different. With more freedom in their gait, and pleats at the back of their burqas, the fæhlæ women almost floated along whilst the burjua glided slowly, their burqas hardly rippling at all due to the tiny movements of the person within them. Of the low class çöllü there were hardly any to be seen, the shops in the Sheikh Rashid complex being far out of their price range, but most distinctive of all were the kübari whose burqas – always made of the finest fabrics and richly embroidered – blinded them totally and thus they moved at a snail’s pace, guided by two fæhlæ maids. Mishka let his eyes follow them with fascination; what must it be like to live as they did, never seeing anywhere but the bedchamber of their lord and master? The thought bought him out in goosebumps and almost caused him to miss the first store that they were due to visit.
This was a Western clothing store and Mishka was surprised that they sold such thngs in Duvaqistan, but he supposed that underneath their burqas, so long as they were suitably restrained, the women could wear what they wanted. They took Tanya to the jeans section first of all and the maid held up pairs of blue jeans which her mistress either nodded or shook her head at. The jeans were off the figure-hugging type popular in Russia and from the pair that Tanya nodded at, Mishka could see that she evidently had a slim, lithe body that excited him even more than previously. This feeling was exacerbated when they then looked at some tops and Tanya picked out a couple of skin-tight numbers that would evidently look great on any girl with the body to carry them off. These paid for they then moved on to a quite different shop indeed.
The burqa emporium was a wonderland that Mishka could have spent hours wandering around. Whilst the girls looked at and tried on burqas, he wandered around. There were burqas of every size, shape and colour, with single grille, eye grilles, peep holes and no holes at all. He wandered into the kübari section and took a couple off their hooks to examine them. Inside these burqas not only admitted no light, but contained built-in hoods with padded ears that would render the wearer virtually deaf and extremely hot. There was also a section of burqas designed for heavy rain, made entirely out of plastic, which, whilst they would undoubtedly keep their wearer dry, they also would cause them to heat up in no time. Scariest of all though was a corset burqa, (‘for the man who wants to keep his wife in perfect harmony’), which incorporated a full inner corset suit that laced up from ankles to head and boasted ‘waist reductions down to forty centimetres’ and ‘a unique collar lacing system that can compress and lengthen the neck leading to an ethereally graceful appearance designed to gladden any good husband’. That as may be, but the wearer, Mishka reckoned, would be able to do naught but sit or stand motionless, so confining was it!
If the burqa and Western clothing shops had been fascinating, the underwear was more so. Looking a bras and pants had always appealed to Mishka of course, but what was most intriguing were the geyimlæri. These traditional Duvaqi undergarments were akin to one-piece Western swimsuits, but with a rosette to conceal the opening where the intimate parts could be accessed. Mishka picked up and examined a white, wedding geyimlæri and imagined partaking in the ceremony where his wife’s mother would remove the rosette and open up the garment, guiding his swelling member into the passage beyond. These thoughts coupled with the fact that Tanya had just chosen a stunning silver geyimlæri with large red rosette made him almost explode with excitement.
Then it was onto the most expensive shop of them all, the Boutik Bædiilik, a shop specialising in gowns for kübari women. Although Tanya was not of the kübar caste, being at a party of the Sheikh’s meant that she had to dress to their standard, and beyond, for one always goes one further for a party. This shop was the least interesting for him, as Tanya was given individual attention and whisked away to be fitted in a female-only area whilst he was taken to a male room where he sat with another man and was served tea by a fæhlæ woman in a stunning blue burqa with black silken gloves that he longed to stroke and carress.
After an hour, the girl’s re-emerged and they went on to their last port-of-call; the shoe shop. Shoe shops are much the same wherever you are in the world and Mishka was bored of shopping now. Once again Tanya was whisked off for fitting and he escorted to a male room for coffee, but after a few minutes the effects of the tea in the last shop caught up on him and he asked the fæhlæ assistant for the toilet. She nodded and directed him down a corridor with doors on either side, pointing him to a door at the end. He duly went in but on returning happened to glance through an open door to his left to see a sight that he would never forget. Sat on a bench was Tanya, (or at least her black flower-grille burqa), and kneeling before her the maid who was fitting a white high-heeled shoe onto the loveliest white silk stocking-covered foot that Mishka had ever clasped eyes on. Luckily neither saw him and he hurried past, his heart pounding. Never before in Russia had he found feet so attractive, but when one hadn’t seen anything of a woman for ages and spent all day fantasising about what lies beneath those burqas, then such a glimpse was like a peek into heaven; the equivalent of seeing a girl naked in Moscow. As the girls rejoined them and they drove home laden down with bags, Mishka could think of nothing else. Nothing else that was until he was safe in his bedroom, alone, and with the opportunity to read Tanya’s letter to him…
In the quiet and warmth of his double bed, Mishka read Tanya’s letter:
Thanks for letting me call you that, it means a lot to me as it shows that we can become closer than just acquaintances. Here in Duvaqistan I rarely get to call anyone anything and when I do it is always formal. The only other person that I call by their first name is Fazila so that puts you amongst my closest friends.
Again I must say thank you for taking me out all the time. I know that you do it partly as a favour to my father who is after all your boss and so it is worth it for you to keep him happy, but I feel (hope) that also you do this because you like it. You will never understand just how much our trips out mean to me; unless you have lived as I do, you never can. For you these are only trips out to see nice places but for me they are the only reason for my existence. Before you came I spent all day in my bedroom, my only time out being a few hours exchanging notes with Fazila, but now all is changed. Before I was getting depressed with the Duvaqi life but now I am loving it, looking forward everyday to seeing your face, (well, a blurred image of it!), and hearing your voice. The things that you talk about are so interesting, your mind is lively and quick, and the places that you choose are fascinating. Please, let us go on many more trips to castles, mountains, old towns and all the beautiful places that Duvaqistan has to offer. But first there is today’s trip; just a woman’s shopping expedition, very boring for you I am sure! I’m sorry of course, but we women have to do these things and I will try to make it interesting and exciting for you as you shall see!
But first you asked me about how I can live like this and how I was living before. Well, what can I say? Two years ago I was just a normal Russian girl like so many others you can meet. I went to school where I enjoyed History, Geography and Literature most of all and in my spare time I read books and listened to music, especially DDT (Yuri Shevchuk is my hero!). But apart from that, nothing special, just like any other fifteen year old in our country.
Everything changed though on that terrible day when they took my mother and I. ‘They’ were some business associates of my father who demanded crazy sums of money off him. He tried his best to raise it of course but it wasn’t quick enough and mamma was killed. Not that I knew of this of course, not until after I was released, but even without that experience it was terrible, being bound and blindfolded and gagged and locked in an attic in Dagestan for weeks, (although thinking about it now, was it not good training for Duvaqi life?!). So, after that I was a mess and then I learnt about mamma and I fell apart. I saw a psychologist and they said that I couldn’t stay where I was as I was always watching over my shoulder. That is why we came here to Duvaqistan.
Before we came I knew nothing about this place. I knew the name of course and where it was on the map and that they were Muslim but that was all. I was very shocked when on the plane my father handed me a burqa to put on saying that it was mandatory here. I had never seen one before and when I went to the toilet I couldn’t work out how to put it on! I can never forget how shocked I was when I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a blank black grille staring back at me.
That first day was such an experience for me. Walking in the burqa, (and that was a free one like the poor women wear), trying to see through the grille, getting accustomed to being unseen and silent was all so different for me. And once we got to our apartment it got worse. I was shown to my room, a large windowless one and the maid, (to this day I have never seen her and do not know her name), dressed me up in the full burjua Duvaqi garb. As nothing was explained to me and I had no warning, the experience was very overwhelming and traumatic. When I emerged from the room thirty minutes later, gagged, restrained and hidden, tears filled my eyes behind my veils and I wondered what part of hell it was that I was now living in.
Since then things have changed. I have got used to the clothes and the lifestyle although it is not always easy. Before I was active and I had to learn to slow down and to appreciate the quiet things in life. The burqa has taught me patience and a love for solitude. But in those first months I was so lonely, nobody whatsoever to talk to and I couldn’t even use the phone or the internet, (as this is banned in Duvaqistan because it shows uncovered women). Later, when my father arranged for Fazila to become my friend things got better, but even so I only wanted to leave my room for the few hours when she was here; I didn’t want all the restriction at other times. That has only changed since you came, Mishka.
I should say a bit about Fazila here as she is such a darling, I love her like a sister even though we have never spoken or seen each other. She is my age exactly, (well, three weeks younger), and the daughter of my father’s business partner. She is a true Duvaqi girl and has taught me so much about this country and how to cope with living here. Whenever she comes I am allowed to have the silahsædd, (this is the terrible bar that restricts my arms), removed and, after putting on two pairs of thick gloves, we are allowed to write notes to one another, (although even then our arms are still chained to our belts and we are not allowed to touch). It is through these notes that I know her, her hopes and fears, ambitions and desires, and it is in the same way that I hope to continue communicating with you. At the moment though I am getting afraid for Fazila is almost seventeen and under Duvaqi law a girl has to be married by eighteen so her father is busy searching for a suitable husband. Once she is married though, she will no longer be able to be my friend and we will communicate no more which saddens me immensely and causes me worry as who will I talk to then and share my life with?
But anyway, back to my life. So, here is my typical day. In the morning the maid wakes me and I exercise, perhaps thirty minutes on an exercise bike as I don’t want to lose my figure. Then I have breakfast and after that I bathe, (I have a bathroom attached to my bedroom).Then it is the ordeal – dressing. First I put on underwear, normal Western bra and pants and then perhaps jeans and a top. Then it is the time for the dreaded silahsædd. This is a metal bar with straps along it. My arms, (which are gloved in silk), are strapped to it at the wrists and elbows, so they are held quite useless behind my back. You cannot imagine how strange it is not being able to use one’s arms; it is like being a baby or some kind of handicapped person. My maid has to do everything for me, even take me to the toilet and feed me; it is terrible and what’s more the position they are in makes the arms go numb after a few hours. Then I have my stockings put on and my gag fitted. There are lots of kinds of gags used here in Duvaqistan but I use a special one that was a gift from my father. It has slots for my teeth so that they do not grow out of place and get goofy, and it covers the lower half of my face. Inside is a bulb that inflates so that I am silenced completely yet comfortably. After the gag the kæfæn is fitted onto me. This is a cotton garment that is hand-tailored and covers me from head to toes, clinging to my body exactly and covering my eyes leaving a white haze. Although only cotton at the bottom it is strong and so my steps are restricted to tiny minces. Then finally is the burqa.. I have over thirty burqas in different colours and styles and I go over to my wardrobe and nod at the one that I want. Then my maid fits it on me and I am ready to go out.
My days I spend in a boring way, sitting, listening to music, watching TV or my parrot whom I call Yuri after Yuri Shevchuk. The only changes are when Fazila comes, when I return to my room to eat and of course, when you come. At first it was very hard to live in this way but now, weird as this may sound, I am used to it and like a good Duvaqi girl, I actually enjoy the protection and being hidden from the world and I think that if I were asked to go semi-naked like we do in Russia, I would find it difficult to do so.
Anyhow, that is my life, now please tell me about yours as I am desperate to know all about you dear Mishka. Oh yes, and one more thing, to help you get a better idea of me, I have enclosed two photographs from Moscow but please, please, never show them to anyone, even my father, as it is illegal to carry such things here in Duvaqistan and both of us could be whipped soundly for having them.
Until next time,
Mishka picked up the photos and looked at them. They showed a brown-haired teenage girl in a red T-shirt and jeans posing next to some apartment blocks that were unmistakably Russian. The images were pleasing ones and Mishka tried to imagine how she would look with a couple of years more age on her. That thought was even more pleasing. He reread the letter and fancied that it read not too dissimilar to a love letter. This was crazy; a girl whom he had never seen or spoke to was falling in love with him and what’s more, the feeling could be mutual? And she was his boss’s daughter! Mishka lay back on his bed and finally took care of a pressing issue.
Following that letter, Mishka’s trips out with Tanya became a regular affair. Every few days they would get in the car and ride out to some beauty spot or place of historical interest, thus filling themselves with the best of Duvaqistan whilst at the same time deepening their own, increasingly intimate relationship. As he drove, Mishka would talk of his life and ask Tanya all about hers, her opinions on various issues and for details or clarification on items that she had raised in the last letter. All his questions would then be answered in the letter secreted in her purse on the next trip, as well as her views on the last place they visited and the things that Mishka had told her about himself. And so it went on, a love affair in which the two protagonists had never touched one another and one of them had never even seen nor heard his belle.
A month after that first long letter from Tanya, both young Russians were invited, along with Vladimir, to the birthday party of the ruling sheikh of Duvaqistan, Yahya Bazargan III. That event, the highlight of the the annual Duvaqi social calendar was important to Vladimir Mironov as it was at that event that many of his business contacts for the years were made, as well as giving him the ideal opportunity to renew his positive relations with the ruling personages of the land and thus it was imperative that a positive impression was created.
“Anyone in the presence of the Sheikh has to wear traditional Duvaqi dress,” Vladimir explained to Mishka two days before at work. “I have ordered a set for you and it will arrive tomorrow in time for the party. You shall travel there separately to myself and we will meet in the reception rooms.”
That traditional dress turned out to be baggy breeches and shirt made out of thick material and heavily embroidered in gold thread. On his feet were velvet shoes and for his head a small velvet skull cap. Finally, around his waist was a broad leather belt with a fine, curved Duvaqi sword attached to it. Putting them on Mishka looked at himself in the mirror and thought he looked quite dashing. More importantly though, he wondered what impression the outfit would make on Tanya.
Getting to the party was easy as it was held in the royal palace in the heart of Örtük. He drove his car up to the entrance where a servant – similarly robed to himself, though not as magnificently – took it and drove it off to be parked. Then he walked through the arched entrance and into the huge reception room of the palace.
The sight that greeted his eyes was unbelievably; an enormous room filled with the most gorgeously dressed individuals that he had ever seen, crystal chandeliers sparkling about and a traditional muğam band playing in one corner. The men were all dressed as he was, regal and dashing, but it was more the women that grabbed his attention. Gone were the traditional burqas of the Örtük streets and in their place were costumes – or perhaps ‘structures’ is a better word? – that were even more astonishing. From what Mishka could make out, all the women were covered by a thick, all-encompassing, black shroud with no grille for the eyes. Whether they could see through it he couldn’t say but he imagined that even if they could, it would not be a lot. Then, over these shrouds were overlaid a variety of coloured ethnic cloth, much embroidered or woven in a variety of shades and patterns and an astonishing amount of jewellery, the more important the woman, the more the jewellery, so that some seemed like a mountain of coins, necklaces and chains. Underneath all that he also suspected that there were changes to the normal attire, as at the bottom these costumes flared out as wide as a Victorian crinoline, although how much movement their wearer’s had he couldn’t say as it seemed to be minimal as all stood stock still or moved – guided by a male – at a snail’s pace. The sumptuousness was amazing, though so overpowering were these costumes that it was almost impossible to believe that there were living, breathing humans underneath them all, only the black cloth at the face being an indication that this was anything different than a mound of material and gold.
Mishka moved around the room in search of his boss, greeting a few business colleagues on the way. Then, he found him, stood near to a door, a glass of juice in his hand and by his side a mound of opulence; a mound that could only be Tanya Mironova.
“Vladimir, here you are! What a magnificent party! Tanya, you look marvellous tonight.”
“It’s no use talking to her, Mishka, she probably can’t hear you and she certainly won’t be able to see you. The costume that she’s wearing, which, yes, I agree with you, is stunning, does not permit such things.”
“Really?! But why?”
“It is customary. You see, the Sheikh may only have ladies in his presence of the kübar class. Now, Tanya of course, is burjua, but for parties such as this she is allowed – or to be more exact, required – to don a kübari costume, and not just any kübari costume, but a dress specifically for parties. It has taken her most of the day to put it on as it hides far more than it reveals. Apparently under all that there is some sort of full-length body corset that encases the arms and leaves only a few centimetres for foot movement. This I can believe as she walks intolerably slowly and is always in danger of falling. What’s more, over her head she has to wear a fearsome hood which has some kind of lacing at the neck which forces her to keep her head upright and over the ears some padding. Most disconcerting though is the face which is covered by a blank mask which omits no light and smooths all her features into a black plastic sphere. Seeing it is quite disconcerting as she looks more like a droid than a human being, but as you know, that is the Duvaqi way. Look, you can see no trace of her nose and mouth, only a smooth rounded surface. Then over all that there are dozens of other layers which is why the dress is so wide, and so expensive I must add. Still, it creates a good impression which is why we’re here as much of my future business success for the coming year depends on this party and…”
Vladimir was about to continue but the muğam band stopped and a fanfare of what sounded like bagpipes was sounded. “Ah, the Sheikh is arriving, we have to put the ladies in position!” remarked Vladimir. Slowly the entire crowd moved to the sides of the room where there were strange fabric compartments set up. These compartments, perhaps the size of changing rooms in a department store, were formed by thin sheets of coloured cotton stretched over frames of brass and although opaque, gave an aura of mystery to the inside. Within them was a small circular railing, perhaps a metre high, again made of brass. Into each compartment a woman was guided and her name, pre-prepared on plaques, placed above the entrance to each one, with the cotton door then being let down. All of the women remained standing, partially because of the restrictive body corsets under their dresses, but also because the brass railings in which they had been placed, prevented them from falling. The women secured, the men then turned to the centre and the great doors opened and the Sheikh strode in, followed by his entourage.
The Sheikh himself was a small bearded man in a costume similar to – but more opulent than – that Mishka was wearing. What more caught the Russian’s eye though, was what followed him; four mounds of solid gold and jewels that seemed to float, not walk, along behind him and behind them, around twenty ladies dressed much as Tanya and the other female guests were. “His four wives,” Vladimir whispered to Mishka, pointing at the mounds of jewellery, “and those are his concubines.” Once all had entered, the fanfare stopped, the concubines were guided into compartments whilst the four queens remained in the centre of the room, motionless. A loud toast was drunk to the Sheikh’s health and he gave a short address thanking his most loyal subjects and friends from overseas. Then the muğam band started again and the party relaxed.
Now was the time to mingle and establish connections and so Mishka followed Vladimir closely, leaving Tanya alone in his compartment. They spoke to several connections in business and government, Vladimir introducing his new employee and important issues being discussed. Several large contracts were agreed upon and Mishka could see why it was so vital to create a good impression at this party. Generally this was done, with Duvaqis congratulating Vladimir on his work, on his knowledge of the local language and of his willingness to allow his daughter to live in the country, (all the other ex-pats it transpired, chose to leave their females at home). The only sore point was that each and every person they met expressed dismay that both Vladimir and Mishka were as yet unmarried and several advised Vladimir to find a wife, “otherwise there will be consequences for business as the single man is not trusted in Duvaqistan.”
The highlight of the evening however, came when the Sheikh himself strolled across to them and started a conversation in English.
“Mr. Mironov, how good to see you again, and this must be your protégé, no?”
The Sheikh’s accent and mannerisms were impeccable and the product of an Eton and Cambridge education, or so Mishka had read.
“Your Majesty, permit me to introduce Mr. Basharov, my deputy who has been in Duvaqistan for three months now and is settling down well.”
“And how do you find Duvaqistan, Mr. Basharov?”
“It is fascinating, Your majesty. I have been taking Mr. Mironov’s daughter… my cousin, Tatyana, out to see the famous sights of your kingdom. It has so much beauty and also history.”
“Ah, your daughter, Mr. Mironov; she is here this evening?”
“Over there, Your Majesty, the fourth from the left.”
“I shall admire her later. You have made a name for yourself Mironov, no other foreigner is brave enough to bring their women here. I know that it is very different – I have lived overseas myself and experienced the women there – but still it is disappointing. I suspect that a lot of your business comes from the fact that you keep a woman here; just a shame that it is not a wife; your business would do better then. I myself would give you a contract to manage a development that I am planning on Lake Dava-Dalaşsız were you to be married. In Duvaqistan a man must marry; I know only too well, I have four wives and of course all those concubines. Trust me, Mironov, it is the only way. You too, Basharov.”
“I am considering the matter seriously, Your Majesty.”
“I too, Your Majesty,” lied Mishka.
“But pray tell me, your daughter, how does she cope here. Does she have a friend to converse with?”
“Yes Your Majesty, the daughter of Kerim Kazembek, one of my associates.”
“Kazembek, oh I know him well, very well indeed, and he is a lucky man. His eldest daughter is one of my concubines, my favourite in fact. What a girl, so beautiful, a flower of Duvaqistan. It is said that all his daughters are the same. This is why we have the burqa, eh, for without you knowing you have a beauty in your house most days! But of course, your own daughter must not be bad for you are a handsome man and when I was in Russia, my the fun that I had with the girls there. Perhaps it does not befit a good Muslim, but I am a sensuous man and I lived for the senses in Moscow, and in England when I was there. In fact, whenever I go overseas I always like to sample the local produce as they say. I wish you could do the same here, but our traditions prevent it. Now, I must be going, but please, have a think about what I said; I am planning a large hotel with baths and around two hundred luxury apartments on Lake Dava-Dalaşsız and that is only the beginning. Knowing that you have respected the Sheikh may help you more than you know. Also you Mr. Basharov; becoming Duvaqi in your ways can aid business more than you realise. Goodbye, gentlemen…”
That evening, Mishka thought a lot about what the Sheikh had said. Marriage; he hadn’t considered it before, but if it would help business? And besides, would it not be marvellous to be able to unwrap one of those burqas and sample the forbidden fruits beneath? But when he thought of such things, Mishka realised that there was only one burqa that he wished to unwrap. The following day he took that burqa out again and received another letter. It was short but fascinating.
The Sheikh’s Party, what a night? Well, for you it might have been, but for me it was a trial. The corset under that dress squeezed me mercilessly, (I was laced to 50cm at the waist and my neck was held in a vice so that I could hardly breathe, whilst it was all so heavy and hot that I panted and sweat streamed down my body. I hadn’t a clue what was happening, but sometime I passed out but didn’t fall, (papa says that this was due to some brass railing). I know that I looked gorgeous outside, but inside it was purgatory and I do not know how those kübari women manage to dress like that whenever they leave the bedroom, (probably they never leave!). Still, it is good for a girl to dress up sometimes, and papa took a photo of me in the full regalia and the Sheikh was happy and reportedly admired me greatly. My only regret is that I never saw you dressed as a dashing Duvaqi noble. Sadder too was that although you were there, I never once saw you or heard your voice. No, the party was an empty night for me.
After reading those words, Mishka felt surer than ever as to his need to marry and of whom his choice was. The only problem was that he had to introduce the idea to the girl’s father first…
The following day Mishka went into work intending to speak to his boss about the thoughts that had been playing on his mind. To his surprise though, when he got in, Vladimir was in a rush, gathering some papers into a briefcase and making preparations to leave the office.
“Mishka, glad that you’re here; I have to head off on important business to Lake Dava-Dalaşsız; following last night’s conversation the Sheikh has ordered me to speak with his project manager and view the site. I shall be gone for a few nights so I’ll need you to hold the fort here, but then on Thursday you’ll have to go and take my place on the Utancaqlıq project which will mean spending a week there. I need you to do a good job for me on that one as it’s a huge contract and if we get it right then we could be in the big time.”
Utancaqlıq was Duvaqistan’s second city and the company was in charge of developing and selling a complex of mansions specifically designed for kübari customers.
“I shall take care of it, don’t fear, but if I may ask, what about Tanya? If you are not here, do you want me to take her out or call in?”
“No need, but thanks for asking. She’s gone with Fazila and her maid to the hospital for piercing.”
“Yes, it’s some custom here; before a girl gets wed then she has certain piercings done, to prepare her for marriage. I wouldn’t have bothered but Fazila’s father insisted on paying for it and as you know, following the customs here goes down well with the locals so I agreed to it. Must be off now, anything else?”
“Well there is something…”
“Can it wait?”
“Well, when I get back then; see you in a week or so…”
Mishka took the train to Utancaqlıq. Since the journey was a long one he figured that it would be worth getting something to read and as the complex was designed for kübari customers and as he had been fascinated by the world of the kübar ever since the Sheikh’s party, he fired up the computer, went onto Duvaqipedia, (as Duvaqistan is not on the internet, it has it’s own, modest Duvaqinet and Duvaqipedia is the encyclopædia), and printed off all that he could find on the kübar in general and the lifestyles of kübari women in particular. Then, as the train rumbled through the Qaya Mountains and across the Düz Plain, he read what Duvaqipedia had to say.
IN PIOUS PURDAH
Exploring Western Orientalist Myths concerning kübari females
By Prof. A. D. Mirzabek of the University of Örtük
There has been much written, most of which being Orientalist fantasy about the lifestyle and position of females of the kübar claste in traditional Duvaqi society. Tales of harems filled with debauchery, chaste chattels and unspeakable impious acts abound in the Western World; a hypocritical world whose females prance around semi-naked on the streets whilst society at large shuns religion and its Creator. The reality however, is far different. The kübari female is perhaps the most pious and devoted female on all of the planet and her lifestyle is one of absolute holiness.
The rules governing female conduct within the kübar caste are simple: they must be veiled at all times outside of their own bedrooms and when outside of their home they are required to wear a veil that blinds them completely; they must only leave their home when accompanied by a mahram male; their arms are required to be restrained at all times when out of their rooms by the means of the silahsædd; they are gagged at all times when outside of their bedroom and allowed to speak to no one save for their husbands and/or children under the age of puberty. These are the rules which a kübari female and, aside from the rules applying to all females such as those governing marriage and social interaction, these are the only rules. Thus, within but one paragraph we have already blown apart the common Western myth that kübari females live under a burden of unimaginable restriction.
Another common Western myth is that concerning the leaving of the house. The Belgian cartoonist Hergé in his infamous comic strip book Tintin in Duvaqistan puts these words into the mouth of his hero: “And the women of the noblest caste may never leave their bedroom. After marrying they enter the room and that is it until they are carried out in a coffin. They spend each night with their husband and then are locked into a cupboard until night comes around again.” Such Orientalist fantasisies are scurrilous lies that defame the good name of Duvaqistan but as with many myths they have some basis in fact which I shall now outline.
It is common practice in some kübari households for the wives of the head of the household never to leave the bedchamber. This is based not on slavery or punishment but as a means of protecting these treasured jewels from the evils of the outside world. If only the hypocrites in the West considered treasuring the jewels that Allah has granted unto them! The girl enters the chamber on her wedding night and copulates with her husband. She stays with him until morning and then, after suitable preparation, is guided to a small compartment where she may relax, contemplate the Divine and restore herself until she is next called upon to perform her wifely duties. Traditionally, these compartments were small antechambers built onto the side of the main bedchamber, with padded walls for comfort, ventilation, a drain for waste disposal and enough room for the female to stand but not so much as to allow her to fall or curl up. On occasions these were built to accommodate the female in a lying down position instead, but this was not common as bedsores often developed. These chambers emitted no light so as to help the mind relax and meditation to take place. Throughout history there are records of thousands of women desiring to live in such a pure, pious and protected manner; it is a shame that our Western Orientalists chose not to read these accounts!
In modern times these compartments have changed somewhat. Some husbands utilise thick leather bags instead of compartments as doctors believe that these aid rest and prevent sores developing and furthermore are much cheaper to install. The most modern approach is to immerse the lady in a vat of gel, placing a mask over her face for breathing and feeding purposes. This gel prevents all sores, vitalises the skin and, when a small electrical current is passed through it, stimulates the muscles so that her fitness is maintained. The Orientalist decries the Duvaqi yet who else cares so much for his females?!
Polygamy is another common feature of kübari life as it is in the highest caste that males have the financial resources to look after many females adequately. However, this polygamy is a million miles away from the debauched harems of the Orientalist’s imagination! As with any Muslim, the Duvaqi male may have up to four wives and no more. Concubinage, similar in so many ways to the Western system of adultery and mistresses, is unknown in Duvaqistan save for the royal family itself; it is a privilege reserved for the Sheikh.
The Sheikh serves as a model for the most pious Duvaqis. He keeps his wives in the most total purdah of all. Each Sheikh must marry four wives upon his ascension to the throne, one from each of the four major clans, the Abdullayev, the Zadeh, the Mustafazade and the Khuramide. By doing so he maintains Duvaqi political stability by not favouring one clan over the other. This stability and neutrality is further maintained by the fact that the Sheikh never develops any personal affection for his wives, endeavouring to treat each one perfectly equally. Upon marriage they copulate with a sheet between them with but a hole for the Sheik’s member, (the order of copulation is decided by drawing lots and the acts are watched by elders from all four clans). Then the Sheikh leaves and the wives are led away by their maids to be dressed in an all-encompassing suit that is only removed for bathing. Following this, they sleep with the Sheikh once every eight nights, (he sleeps with a wife one night and a concubine the next). But these future copulations are done in a most pious manner. In the Sheikh’s bedchamber is a special two-part couch so constructed that it permits the lady to lay supine, her body was angled upward toward the legs, whilst her pubic area is exposed to the top portion of the couch, upon which lies the Sheikh and his concubine of choice.
In preparation for the accepting of the seed, the queen is fitted with a device which diverts the Sheikh’s tool into her vagina and blocks the way into the concubine’s. Since the two pubic areas are in essence next to each other, it is not uncomfortable for the Sheikh but to a would-be onlooker, he would be seen as making love to his concubine, but, in reality, he is implanting his seed into the queen. Such is the ingenuity and piety of the Duvaqi!
The lives of the general population of the kübar class are of course, much different to that of their monarch. The couch is unknown outside of the Royal Palace, as too are concubines, but nonetheless he still serves as a moral model for many. It is quite common for pious kübari males to never see their wives and for them to copulate through a sheet. However, many more who are not so religiously inclined do allow their females to live different lives. The Western Orientalist’s claim that the kübari female never leaves her chamber is of course a lie; even the Sheikh’s wives leave once a year for his birthday party when they are presented to the nobles and many other wives and daughters leave on special occasions or are even allowed on shopping or excursion trips and so long as the few mandatory rules are followed, this is perfectly acceptable in the eyes of Allah. However, protective as the kübari husband is, often additional measures for the female’s safety and moral well-being are used such as impediment – generally a chain – that restrict the stride. Indeed, one might observe that if only the Western Orientalists looked after their own females in such a caring manner, then would not their lands be plagued with nudity, immorality, adultery and sinfulness? And still they dare to criticise the Duvaqi!
In this short article I hope to have demonstrated to all whom are close to Allah just how the kübari females live and to what lengths their husbands, fathers and brothers will go, not to punish and imprison them, but to protect, care and cushion them from the evils of this world of Shaitan.
Mishka sat back in his seat and watched the sun set slowly over the vast Düz Plain, contemplating that this was a scene that no kübari woman would ever see, and that whilst he relaxed in the comfort of a railway carriage, thousands of hidden kübari ladies were locked up in their cupboards, or floating in their vats of gel, waiting only to be released so that their husbands and masters can take their pleasure before re-entering that dark and endless eternity…
When he arrived in Utancaqlıq early the following morning, Mishka first betook himself to a hammam to freshen up and then went directly to the apartment complex. Vladimir had been right when he had called the project ‘huge’ for there were over two hundred apartments planned in the complex which was located on a beautiful hillside with each flat commanding magnificent views of the city below. At present though, only a half dozen or so apartments had been completed and Mishka’s first task was to check that they were done to the required standard.
Shown around my the site manager, Mishka checked every socket and made comments regarding the shoddiness of some of the glazing and tiling which he ordered to be redone completely. Then he asked to be shown the master bedroom and once in there sought out the compartment where the owner might store his wives. The site manager duly opened it up and Mishka’s heart leapt a beat when he saw four leather bags hanging from a rail in it.
“Forgive me in my ignorance, but being a foreigner, how exactly does this work?” he enquired.
The site manger took a remote control and demonstrated it to Mishka.
“Aha, I see, and so you are saying that the lady goes inside the bag?”
“Would you like me to demonstrate, sir?”
“Alright then, I’ll be the lady.”
The site manager lowered the bag to the floor and Mishka stepped in. Slowly the sides were raised and he was encased, enclosed in a black void. The feeling of helplessness and isolation excited him immensely.
“Do you see now, sir?” asked the site manger.
“In here I can see nothing,” replied Mishka, his breathing heavy.
Once he had been let out, he asked if all the apartments were similarly equipped.
“Oh no sir, some are more up-to-date and sophisticated; they have a compartment of gel for the Lady to relax in.”
“Is it possible to view this?”
“There is one that has been finished, sir.”
Still excited from his brief experience in the leather lady’s bag, Mishka could barely contain himself when they reached the next apartment. The door to the compartment was slid back and four glass boxes, the size of a telephone box each confronted him, each one full of some sort of pink gel. He climbed up to the top of one on a stepladder and put his finger in the gel; it was almost solid.
“So how does this work exactly?” he asked.
“Well sir, the gel at the moment, as you can see, it’s quite hard. So first it has to be heated, through this device here, and once it reaches about thirty degrees or so it gets more liquid like and then the lady gets in, naked, except that they wear a mask so that they can breathe of course. Then the heating is turned down and the gel goes back to how hard it is now and the lady then, well she can’t move. She is completely safe and that you see sir, and although it is hard like, it is not so hard so as to bruise her body or cause sores, or at least, that’s what they say. Also, they pass a small current through it, here is the supply sir, and this stimulates her muscles so that she gets all the exercise she needs whilst she is in there and also there’s nutrients in the gel so she stays really healthy like.”
Mishka stood in front of the glass box and tried to imagine what it would be like, literally entombed alive in gel, only let out to pleasure your master; kept fit and healthy by a machine. The thoughts, coupled with his memories of being inside the bag excited him beyond measure…
“Excuse me, where’s the toilet? I need to use it!” he said to the site manager.
Mishka returned from Utancaqlıq to find Vladimir still absent from the office and a message waiting for him on the answering machine. “Mishka, Vladimir here. I’ve been waylaid for a few more days up here at Lake Dava-Dalaşsız so please take care of things at the office. Also, if you can, take Tanya out shopping as she hasn’t left the house for days and she needs urgently to buy a new outfit. Thanks.” Mishka smiled, taking Tanya out was something that he didn’t need to be asked twice to do and so he got up, went round to the Mironovi apartment, knocked on the door and told the maid that he would be returning at one to take the mistress of the house down to the Sheikh Rashid Shopping Centre.
When one came, as per usual, Tanya was ready and waiting, dressed in a very fetching pink burqa that Mishka thought emphasised her femininity. Mishka watched with pleasure as the maid escorted her out to the car but also with a little puzzlement for Tanya’s movements, normally so slight and smooth, were jerky as if under all those clothes she was flinching. Confused he shut the door behind her, got into the front seat and started driving, trying to strike up a conversation about what he had been doing in Utancaqlıq, but whenever he looked in the rear-view mirror he noticed that the flinching continued and that the Russian girl continually squirmed about in her seat. “Are you well?” he asked. The burqa nodded. “Are you comfortable back there?” This time she shook her head furiously. This surprised him. “Is it my driving? I can slow down if you wish?” She shook her head again. “Is it anything that I’m doing?” Again a shake. “Your clothing then?” For a second there was no reaction, but then she first shook her head and then nodded it. “It is and it isn’t?” he asked. She nodded. ‘Curious,’ thought Mishka to himself, eager to find out more but unsure of which questions to ask.
Upon arrival, the usual routine of receiving the bag, opening it, removing the secret letter and returning it was entered into. Along with the bag were his instructions which stated merely that they had to visit the burqa shop. Not that Mishka minded this of course; after his investigations into the world of the Duvaqi woman he could spend hours in that place, admiring the wares and imagining what might lie beneath them so off they went, but as they walked again Mishka noticed the squirming and flinching and what was more, even under all those layers, he was sure he could here laboured breathing whenever he got close to Tanya.
Once in the shop, Tanya and the maid disappeared into the boutique section and instead of waiting, Mishka decided to head for the café. Although he knew it was an almighty risk, he was desperate to find out the cause of Tanya’s disatifcation and he had an inkling that her letter might contain an explanation. And so, after ordering a coffee, he opened it up and began reading:
The last few days, I can hardly begin to explain what has happened to me; what has been done to me. I need to talk, to tell somebody, but who can I speak to bound, gagged and hidden as I am? I write this note to you as you are the only one, my hope, my salvation. Please do not think that I’m being too personal, too close, discussing things that I should only discuss with women but believe me my dear, there is no one else whom I can turn to.
I was taken to the hospital, Monday, Tuesday, I am unsure of the day. Once there the doctor – a female – gave me an injection. Immediately I felt drowsy and then the world went black. When I awoke it was all finished. They tell me that I was only out for a few hours but for all I know it could’ve been days.
What they did to me is what all Duvaqi girls must endure before their marriage or their seventeenth birthday, (depending upon which comes first). It is said to prepare one for the wedding day and to make one a woman. Well, I don’t know about such things but it has made a difference I can tell you! They pierced me in four places. The first is my tongue, a bar through it with a small ball on the end. I can imagine the thinking behind that one; it was the same for girl’s who had the same in Russia. Then came my breasts. They took my nipples and somehow made them erect. Then they have pierced them both, putting a ring over them so that they remained engorged and erect for all time. They are sensitive and distracting all the time; I long to touch them to relieve the tension but only in my room, when that damned silahsædd is removed can I do so. For the rest of the time they irritate – and excite – me endlessly. But all of that is nothing, no nothing at all to what they did down below. Oh Mishka, I am sorry to talk of such things to you but whom else can I turn to except you, my hope and my strength? When I awoke the feelings down there were indescribable and little wonder! It was explained what had been done; a golden ring has been fitted around the base of my clitoris, its diameter carefully chosen to restrict blood flow and keep my clitoris constantly engorged and at peak sensitivity. Then a golden bar was passed through the ring – and the base of my clitoris! – holding it in place and keeping me forever on edge and desperate – oh how so desperate! – for stimulation. And if that was not enough, they then pierced my crotch, fourteen times in total, seven on each side. Fourteen tubes with rivets were pierced and inserted and then some coloured lace was pulled trough the fourteen tubes like the laces of a corset. The laces were pulled tighter then securely knotted and the excess cut off, but not before an egg-shaped piece of wood was placed within. Finally, a metal chastity belt was fitted, its waist band so tight that I can hardly breathe.
Mishka, you cannot believe my life now, I cannot bear it, truly I can’t. Night and day, 24 hours, seven days a week I am tormented, desperate for release, desperate for a man inside me yet never do I get close to any satisfaction. I push myself against the wall, rub against furniture like a cat and yet it never comes and instead the longing gets greater and greater, driving me mad with desire. This is the lot of your Tanya now, a pierced Duvaqi girl dying for a man to release her from her torment. My love, I know that this is all too forward and personal, I apologise once again and wish to become once more, just that silent burqa whom you escort to the shops and mountains, but I am so no longer. By Duvaqi standards, I am now a woman and you can only begin to imagine what suffering that means.
Mishka drained the last of his copy and muttered, “Blimey!” under his breath. Reading about Tanya’s torment had caused him some tension of his own and he was desperate to return to the burqa-clad girl so that it could get even worse…
The following day he arrived in the office early to find, to his surprise, his boss sat in his desk looking tired and miserable. “Are you alright?” he asked, putting his bag down.
“In short, no,” replied Vladimir. “Fucking terrible if I am to be entirely honest.”
“Just got in from Lake Dava-Dalasız; haven’t slept all night, haven’t had a wash…”
“Do you want to go to the hammam; it’s good…?”
“Dirt is the least of my worries, Mishka, I’m afraid to say.”
“Would it help to talk about it?”
Vladimir Mironov was silent for a second and then he smiled thinly. “Yeah, I guess it would. We’ll go to the shisha house on the street and I’ll tell you there.”
One of the pleasures for a (male) visitor to Duvaqistan to enjoy is its shisha houses. The tobacco grown in the area, reputedly the finest in the world, gives one a feeling of light-headedness when smoked from a shisha pipe, similar perhaps to a joint, but with no after effects. Many times already had Mishka enjoyed a smoke in the shisha house below the office, watching the burqas pass by on the crowded street with an aura of placidity. Today however, the atmosphere was different; there was tension as the landlord filled up the pipe and poured out the glasses of tea. Then, when he had left, Vladimir began to explain.
“You were there at the party, you heard what the Sheikh, and everyone else, was saying to me about getting married. Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I finally decided that yes, I would take the plunge. The only question was who? After all, the chances to meet girls here are few and far between. Anyway, it was a note off Tanya the other day that finally made up my mind. She had been crying at dinner and I’d asked why and she explained that Kerim Kazembek was busy searching for a husband for Fazila. This is only natural considering her age, but what was upsetting Tanya is that once she’s married, then Tanya will have no friend with whom to converse, as Fazila will be forbidden to her and no other Duvaqi spinster will be allowed near a girl over marriageable age who is still single. Yes, we foreigners are exempt from the mandatory aspect of the law, but we are far from exempt from the stigma. After Fazila’s marriage, Tanya will be alone except of course… well, except for one scenario; that being except if I married Fazila for as the wife of her father they would be mahram!”
“You marry Fazila?!”
“Yes, me! At first I thought the idea was crazy; after all, she’s my daughter’s age and I know nothing about her, but then I thought, why not? A large difference in age is common here and what’s more, she’s one of the very few girls in Duvaqistan who understands some Russian. Furthermore, her father is known to me, we are the same caste and well… did the Sheikh not say that the Kazembeki girls are noted for their beauty? Marry Fazila and all my problems are solved; I get a wife which is good for business; Tanya keeps her friend; I get a father-in-law whom I trust; Fazila gets a good husband… what better solution could there be? So, at Lake Dava-Dalaşsız I spoke to Kerim Kazembek – he was part of the prospective deal there too – and told him of my proposition.”
“…And good and bad. He was honoured and desired fervently to accept and unite our two families, but there was one sticking point; the one that I always knew would come along. He said that whilst he was happy with me as a son-in-law, and that whilst he appreciated that our customs differ from those of Duvaqistan, the fact that Tanya remains a spinster would be viewed as a great shame upon both families and so, unless she is married before her 18th birthday, then there is no way that he can consent, but if she is married, then he will be the happiest man alive. Well, in the heat of the moment I did something stupid, Mishka, something very stupid indeed: I declared Tanya on the market for a husband. Within hours I had two offers, both from burjua business associates of mine who desire her for their sons or as asecond wife for themselves. This was not so bad though; being an equal field I would allow her to choose and reject which ones she saw fit, but then came a blow direct from the devil himself. Yesterday evening, late on, I received a proposition by special delivery from a kübari business associate desiring her for his son. If he were burjua it would be alright, but it is a great honour, a proposition from a caste higher than our own, and to be a first wife as well for the eldest son; a man of impeachable morals and standing. There is no way that I can refuse or prefer one of the other candidates; I would lose all standing, all respect here. Nor too can I take her off the market, yet at the same time, how can I accept and sentence her to a life as a kübari wife, locked in a compartment for all her remaining days, taken out only to fuck and give birth. For a Duvaqi woman it would be an honour but for my darling Tanya it would be hell; it would drive her around the bend, my darling, darling girl!”
Silence reigned. Mishka took a puff on his pipe. “Have you accepted yet?”
“No, yet I can’t put him off much longer. My darling, darling Tatyana!”
Again silence. Then Mishka spoke once more. “What about religion?”
“What do you mean?”
“Is not religion a factor? Tanya is Christian; they are Muslim.”
“They will overlook it.”
“But can you?”
“I am not religious.”
“But they don’t know that. Can’t you say that you wish you could accept the offer, but as a man of faith and a father, you can only accept a Christian candidate for your only daughter?”
“But there is no Christian candidate.”
“What if there was?”
“But who? No one in Duvaqistan is Christian!”
Mishka puffed on the shisha again and smiled. “Vladimir Andreiovitch Mironov; I, Mikhail Stefanovitch Basharov wish to ask for the hand of your daughter Tatyana Vladimirovna in marriage.”
Vladimir Mironov was silent. He puffed on his pipe and stared out into the street. Then, after some thirty seconds or so, he spoke:
“I cannot accept, Mishka, for two reasons. Firstly, it would mean that my Tanya is taken away from me, but secondly, and most importantly, I know that you are only saying such things to help me and this I cannot accept: a man must marry for his own happiness, not that of his boss.”
“Volodya, you misunderstand me; I say that I will marry Tanya because I wish to, not to please you, although God knows, you are more than a boss to me. You probably don’t believe this, but on our trips out, even though we haven’t seen or spoken to each other, we have grown close and I feel that she can make me happy.”
“But that doesn’t change the fact that you will take her from me…”
“I don’t understand…?”
“If you marry Tanaya you shall both return to Russia or somewhere else, Germany, France, Britain, America… But I must stay here; my livelihood and now my wife are in Duvaqistan. If you marry Tanya I shall lose both a daughter and the man whom I wanted to carry my business on after I retire.”
“It is true that I planned to leave, for Tanya’s sake more than my own, but if your consent rests on it, I shall stay here…”
“…for ten years…?”
“If that is what it takes, then yes, for ten years. I am happy here, but it is Tanya that…”
“Then you have my consent and my eternal gratitude Mishka; you have made an old man very happy, very happy indeed!”
A week following that fateful conversation in the shisha house, Vladimir Andreiovitch Mironov held a small party in his apartment. Amongst those invited were his employee Mishka Basharov, his business associate Kerim Kazembek along with his two wives and three unmarried daughters, and his own daughter Tatyana who was wearing her stunning new purple burqa with exquisite yellow embroidery. An outfit for a special occasion you might think? Well, you’d be right, right indeed, for at that party, Kerim Kazembek stood up and toasted the Russian, declaring to one and all that he was honoured to have such a great man become engaged to his daughter Fazila. Then Vladimir Mironov himself stood up and toasted his employee, Basharov, whom he said was a credit to the company and a credit to the esteemed Basharovi family. Then he turned to his daughter in her special outfit and declared that she was the most important person in his life and that in a month’s time, she too would become a creit to the Basharovi family.Then, without further ado, the two elders declared both Fazila and Tanya formally and irredeemably engaged to be married.
Mishka didn’t see Tanya again until the day of the wedding. Not that he’d ever ‘seen’ her before then of course, or even on that day, but even so, the fact that he could not even be in the same room as his burqa-clad belle and receive her heart-felt letters weighed heavily on him. Still, he had plenty else to keep him occupied; preparations for the big day of course, and also the announcements that both he and Mironov would be marrying had gone down well in Duvaqistan and business had trebled overnight with Vladimir landing the prized Lake Dava-Dalasız contract off the Sheikh, so following the engagement, he spent virtually every waking hour in the office although things got easier in the last week when Vladimir’s new employee from Russia, a gay gentleman named Simeon Dobromoslov came over and helped share some of Mishka’s duties.
On the day of the wedding, he went nowhere near to the office. Instead he woke early and was fitted in his wedding outfit. Again, with an eye to business, it was traditional Duvaqi in style with baggy breeches and an embroidered shirt, topped off by a sword and a skull cap. Unlike at the Sheikh’s party however, this was all in white as befits a wedding ceremony.
Following dressing he then got in the Bentley that had been hired for the occasion and was driven to the Hyatt Hotel where the ceremony and reception were being held. As both families concerned were Christian there was no religious element to the ceremony and instead a government registrar presided with Kerim Kazembek acting as Mishka’s best man. Following the legal arrangements, was the reception where the bride herself appeared for the first time. She was guided into the room by her maid and her mother-in-law, (for Vladimir and Fazila had married a fortnight previously), wearing a stunning white burqa with exquisite embroidery and teardrop eyeholes that were decorative only, thick black material being pinned behind them. Under that was a wide wedding dress and under that, Mishka was informed, much to his delight, a thick leather hood with holes only for breathing, padding at the ears, an inflatable gag and severe neck lacing. Tanya may have been present in body, but that was all. Before an admiring crowd of the finest burjua and kübar notables, she was guided towards a plush carpet (a present off Kazembek) in the centre of the room, where she was seated whilst the guests ate, drank and danced to the music of the traditional muğam band. Following this toasts were made by the groom, best man and father of the bride and then it was the time for the actually confirmation of the marriage itself. With great ceremony, Fazila Mironova and the maid picked up Tanya and guided her out of the room and up to the bridal suite. Then, half an hour later, it was time for Mishka himself to leave.
Vladimir Mironov came up to Mishka and Kerim Kazembek and escorted them out of the room, along the corridor, into the lift, out of the lift again, along another corridor and into the sumptuous bridal suite. There, in the centre of the huge bed with its silken sheets, was the burqa-clad figure of Tanya. Immediately Mishka grew excited in anticipation. Fazila went across to the bride and slowly yet methodically pulled her burqa up to her waist and then arranged her voluminous skirts so that the waiting party had a clear view of her bottom half, the top now being covered by a multitude of layers. Mishka marvelled as her hands, covered in silken gloves, undid the baggy silk trousers and removed them, revealing two shapely legs covered in pantyhose which was then also removed by the bride’s mother-in-law and best friend. All that was left was the mythical geyimlæri, that smooth white surface punctuated only by the rosette that hid the treasures beneath. Fazila beckoned her husband, her father and son-in-law over and then knelt down in front of Mishka and undid his wedding breeches. These were removed and then his underpants also, their removal causing his straining member to spring free from its prison. Although it was already hard, she symbolically stroked it with her gloved hand before going back to Tanya and ceremoniously removing the rosette. That gone, the exquisite work of the piercer could be seen beneath; the criss-cross of laces like those of a corset, adorned with jewels. Carefully Fazila undid those laces to reveal the waiting vagina beneath and then guided Mishka’s member into the hole that it had so long yearned for. As it entered he gasped and a gasp too was heard from his bride under all those layers. Vladimir and Kerim Kazembek applauded and Mishka started to pump away. It did not take long and as he deposited his load within his new wife both witnesses applauded again and declared Mishka and Tanya to be man and wife.
That evening, in the privacy of the bridal suite, Mishka saw the face of his wife for the very first time. She was as beautiful as he’d imagined and the pleasure that they shared was unimaginable. Afterwards they sat and talked for the first time. They agreed to abide by Vladimir’s request, but afterwards to migrate, not to Russia, but Europe or America perhaps. Tanya did not wish to live veiled and restrained any longer, but she admitted to no longer despising it as she once had and indeed, quite enjoying some aspects. And so it was that they prepared for ten years in Duvaqistan and then a life elsewhere.
Those first few years passed well. The business went from strength to strength and Simeon Dobromoslov proved to be a valuable addition in whose hands much could be trusted. Tanya also became more and more settled and happy in Duvaqistan now that she had a marvellous house and husband and a good friend whom she could pass notes to everyday. Then, three years after their marriage, things got even better when Tanya got pregnant and gave birth to a handsome baby boy. All in all, things it seemed, couldn’t get better but then, only a year later, tragedy struck. There was a crash on the highway and Vladimir, who was travelling back from a job in Utancaqlıq was killed at the wheel of his car. Both Fazila and Tanya were devastated and Mishka too was grief-stricken as Vladimir had been both a good boss and father-in-law to him.
His death however, changed things and after the funeral, Mishka sat his wife down and explained things to her.
“Tanya, this changes everything. The Will was read today and we receive half of everything, whilst the rest goes to Fazila. Your father was a rich man, Tanya, the company did well and he’s given me control over it. As he is no longer with us, we have no need to abide by our agreement; we can emigrate immediately and we have the money to live comfortably until our dying days. Therefore, do you wish to move now, for I know that your life here is hard?”
Tanya sat back and was silent for a moment. Then she spoke; words that surprised Mishka immensely.
“My darling husband, I know that on our wedding night I told you that I was not so happy here and that I wished to emigrate when we could. That however, it was four years ago and today things are very different; we have a beautiful house now, our darling Volodya and we are settled and happy. Here we have friends and security and the company, which belongs to you now, it can be a job for Volodya when he gets older. But more than all of that, something in me has changed. Before I used to hate the burqa and all these restraints that we women live with here, but now I have been wearing them for so long that, well… I wouldn’t dare to show myself to anyone else but you and Volodya. Yes, yes, I know that you wouldn’t mind, but I would and nowadays I actually love being covered and restrained. I long for you to fit me with my gag and my silahsædd every morning and when the burqa is draped over me I feel safe and protected. After so long in Duvaqistan, I don’t feel that I could live anywhere else and besides, what about Fazila? She is my best friend and yet she is now a widow. We could return her to her father but with a child, what chances are there that she could ever find a husband again and besides, back with her family, I would never be able to speak to her. Darling, you must look after Fazila!”
“But how Tanya, what can I do?”
“Only one thing Mishka, but I want you to know that it is my heartfelt wish that you do it!”
“But what? Just tell me, you know that I’d do anything to make you happy.”
“You must take her as your second wife my love, marry Fazila and then we shall be one big happy family!”
And so, two weeks later, Mishka went through his second Duvaqi wedding ceremony, only this time the woman who originally guided his member into his bride now played the bride whilst the woman now guiding it was the one who had previously lain on her back to accept it. And so, the wheel had turned, and Mishka was a true Duvaqi. He and his two wives lived happily in Örtük for the rest of their lives, the beautiful Fazila bearing him three sons and another daughter and Tanya giving him two more of each sex. And so it is that today if one visits Duvaqistan, one finds the seemingly foreign name ‘Basharov’ listed amongst the greatest families of the land.
Before leaving I should like to say a few words about the composition of this story. First and foremost, as some of you may have guessed, it was largely inspired by Nye North’s A Most Welcome Ambassador’. In this story a heavily veiled daughter is allowed to go out with the son of the Sheikh as her father hopes that it will lead to marriage and her staying in the country. This idea fascinated me; how can one date and develop an attraction for someone whom one cannot see, hear or touch? This story hopes to explain how and what’s more how a determined father, (for unless you haven’t guessed, Vladimir planned it all from the start, from his questions about veils in the interview, to letting Mishka take his daughter out, to creating the threat of a kübari suitor), can make sure that his beloved daughter stays veiled and protected forever. Perhaps the only bit that he couldn’t have forseen was her decision to remain veiled after his death but even there, one wonders if his motives for marriage to Fazila did not include such considerations. Consequently, in all of this, I should like to extend a large thank you to Nye for the inspiration and also to Bo_Emp whose ideas have influenced the vision of the kübari female lifestyle, Tes Staylace whose tale ‘The Daughters of Deuteronomy’ inspired the Sheikh’s couch, Ben Fan whose story ‘Tale from the East’ inspired some of the piercings and ‘Playful Beauty’ whose tale ‘The Educational School Camp’ gave me the inspiration for the genital lacing.
As for Duvaqistan, well, it has elements of Trisban in it and also modern-day Azerbaijan, (although veiling is rare there). All the words and names are either Azeri or mean something in the language. The names of all the characters are also Azeri save for the names of the Russians which were borrowed from my favourite Russian film, ‘Svadba’ (‘The Wedding’) with the beautiful Maria Mironova leading. The character of Tanya however, was inspired by a sprightly Bulgarian whom I met in Budapest. The pictures aren’t of her though; those I nicked off Flickr.
Also, even more hearty thanks must be extended to Bo_Emp for discussing the plot, suggesting improvements and helping with photo manips. For those of you who did not like the ending however, please do not blame him; he wished for Tanya and Fazila to end up living a kübari lifestyle with the Sheikh promoting Mishka in caste status due to services to Duvaqistan. Rightly or wrongly, I preferred for them to remain burjua.
An finally thanks to you the reader for reading it and commenting upon it.
Copyright © 2009, Dave Potter