The Funeral

The Funeral


Version for “Tales of the Veils” website.
Not for reproduction on other websites or in any other publishing format without author’s permission.

Lydia Curtis, a thirty-year-old photographer, met Viktor 35, who worked as a journalist. Viktor lived with his father and brother Alexander.

Soon the employment was replaced by love and married. Lydia and Viktor received many congratulations from the wedding guests. An Arab also congratulated her, who dressed completely Western European and spoke with a strong accent. In his company was a woman veiled in black. She also congratulated and embraced the bride with her gloved hands. Lydia asked her husband with astonishment:

“Viktor! Who were these people?

“My brother’s boss,” the man replied.

“And his wife?

“No! His daughter! Maybe there will be another wedding soon.” He smiled.

When he saw the questioning face of his wife, he continued:

“Alex told me that his boss wanted him to marry Shila and then join the company to run it as a joint family business.

“What does the girl say?”

“I think she’s behind it and she made it all up and he fell in love with Shila, I’m pretty sure of that”, Viktor laughed.

He was right. As an unmarried woman, Shila achieved everything with her father. The veiled girl longed for a man, how good it would be if she could marry. Of course she wanted to be the wife of pretty Alexander.

So only a few months later Alexander invited his brother and Lydia to their wedding.

” I will not go”, Lydia protested.

“You have to come with me! They were also at our wedding,” Viktor urged.

“But you told me your brother became a Muslim and it would be a Muslim wedding. I don’t want to go there!

They could not agree. Finally Viktor went to the wedding alone. Shila was deeply offended and the two women remained at odds despite all the efforts of their husbands.

Two years passed when Viktor’s father suddenly died. Viktor and Lydia, who had moved away, immediately travelled to the weekend. They stayed with Alexander, now officially called Ali, and Shila.

When Lydia unpacked her clothes, she noticed that her newly bought black dress was wrinkled. She took out the iron and started ironing. Her phone rang. She chatted with her friend for too long. Because she didn’t notice that the iron was burning her dress. Only when she smelled the smoke did she notice the misfortune. But it was already too late.

“Oh, damn it! Viktor! I burned my dress! We must buy a new one quickly, because tomorrow is Sunday, there will be nothing to buy! she said desperately.

“And where? It is already 20:00 o’clock all shops have already closed! said Viktor.

Ali said when she told him what had happened:

 “Then Shila must help you.”

Shila shook her veiled head.

“I’m not helping her! Lydia got herself into trouble!

“I said, you will help her! That was not a request, but an order! Ali said.

Shila bowed obediently to Ali’s order.

“As you command, my lord. Come on, Lia!

She bowed, grabbed Lydia’s hand with her gloved hands and pulled the woman out of the room.

“I don’t think I’ll ever love you, Lia, but my husband wants me to help you.” If I have to help you, it has its price! I want you to do what I tell you! And now you can undress completely!” Shila commented when they entered her room.

Lydia reluctantly obeyed.

“I don’t understand why I should change now when the funeral is tomorrow,” she told her arab sister-in-law.

“And I don’t want to be named Lia by you all the time.”

“To check if the clothes fit and to become used to the new clothes you change now! I don’t want to hear any more of you contradicting me,” Shila said and brought her some black clothes. She first gave her black underwear. Then followed black Abaya and Hijab. Then Lydia put on the black shoes that she had been given by Shila and she pulled the black gloves up her hands and tied the niqab in front of her face.

“Perfect! And now the prayer, you muslim lady! “Shila said.

Lydia wanted to protest, but Shila said:

“If you don’t obey, Lia, I’ll take the clothes back and go to the funeral any way you want!”

She bluffed only because she never could disobey her husband, and she wanted to teach her a lesson.

And Lydia listened annoyed as Shila told her how to pray. She didn’t like it when the arab woman gave her orders, but now she needs Shila! Rather would she go to the funeral in this black veil than in the colorful clothes she had arrived in. She had no other black dress with her because after the funeral she wished to drive home.

After prayer, Lydia heard somebody speaking behind her:

” Everything is all right! You prayed very well for the first time. It was nearly perfect”, Ali said.

“I now have an arab woman to wife with” said Viktor.

” Go to the kitchen now and make dinner!” Ali said.

Both veiled women rose and started to make dinner. When Shila put only two plates on the table, Lydia was surprised.

” We eat after the men.” Shila whispered.

After they had eaten, the women were allowed to sit at the table.

” You must eat like I do in a veil!” Shila said.

Lydia did not let her down. She raised the veil with one hand and dined with the other, like Shila, without any problems.

” That’ s good! It is not difficult. You’ ll easily get used to wearing the veils all the time as my husband said you’ ll stay with us until it’s all over,” Shila said.

” And I should wear this the whole time? That was not part of the deal! She shook her veiled head.

” But now! Now you’ re going to help me make order! “Shila ordered her severely.

In the evening was Lydia the first one in the bathroom. Shila admonished her to hurry because they had only one bathroom. Lydia was happy to finally get rid of the black veils. When she finished, Lydia heard a knock on the door. It was Shila. In her hands she had white silk dresses.

” I brought you some nightwear.”

When Lydia realized they were the same clothes and veils, just white silk, she was surprised.

” Look how beautiful you are! As a bride! Get into bed, the first prayer begins very early in the morning! Shila said.

Her husband came to bed with her very soon.

“You are beautiful in these veils!” said Viktor.

“Are you sure that I wear this veil at night? Isn’t it enough if I cover up during the day?

She smoothed her dress with her white gloves.

Her husband took his wife’s head and looked through her white eye slit into her eyes.

“We’re here for the hospitality, so let’s adapt to it! Accustom yourself to it! And the death of my father is bad enough for me, so don’t make trouble by resisting them.”

“Forgive me, I didn’t mean to annoy you!” said Lydia, her white hands stroking her husband’s face.

The following day, at the funeral, Viktor and Ali received their condolences.

And Lydia stood in a black veil next to Shila. There weren’t many at the funeral. And no one asked who stood in the same black veil next to Shila. Everybody knew that it had to be Lydia.

Many people believed Viktor and his wife had become Muslim.

After everybody had left, they went to Ali’s car. The two men in front, the two veiled women in the back.

“I know a good restaurant nearby. You are invited to lunch.” Ali said.

The Arabian restaurant was equipped with partitions.

Ali and Viktor sat down at a table for two, and two veiled women went to the other.

As the waitress arrived, Shila ordered something in Arabic.

“Try it! It’s one of the best arabic dishes.”

Lydia liked the food that Shila had ordered.

When they finished their lunch, Shila took Lydia’s glove hand and said peacefully:

“Look at you, Lia! And now that you wear the veil like me, you are praying with me like a real muslim woman. May we make peace!

Lydia looked at the woman in black in front of her. The lunch was really delicious. And nodded.

Both men looked at each other with satisfaction.

“Finally! We have been awaiting this for so long. The poor Father first had to die to reconcile you.” Ali said.

” And a burnt garment,” Viktor said exuberantly.

“Let’s go home! I’d love to change,” said Lydia.

” Dear friend! You should also wear it as long as you live with us”. Shila said.

Lydia and her husband were already Alis and Shila’s guests for one month. Both men were pleased to see their veiled wives becoming friends. Sharing the housework, the two went shopping together.

One month later, they went to the notary. The attorney recited the will to them. The testament gave the wealth in equal parts to the two brothers. It only contained one condition:

Both women had to be reconciled.

Then the lawyer looked at the two identical women, veiled in black, sitting next to each other, holding each other’s gloved hands. He smiled and said:

” Indeed! I think the women reconciled.”

Shila whispered, ” Lia is not only my brother-in-law’s wife, she’ s also my girlfriend. Lia wanted to be a Muslimah, just like me and wearing the veil.”

” Why did you say that I was going to become a Muslimah?” Lydia asked her when they left the office.

” Maybe you missed it? However, it was my husband who persuaded your husband to become a Muslim. He’ ll be speaking the Shahada soon. And what about you? So I don’t think that you want to be divorced? So you must become a Muslim to maintain your marriage. Then you stay here with us. Victor is also supposed to join my father’s company. Do not be scared, you will soon get used to this stricter life, for you have lived like that for several weeks! Now we hurry. We have to stay at home till then!” Shila laughed.

Lydia was following Shila and they followed the men. She glanced sideways and saw two black figures on the glass of a shop window. Leave her husband? She loved Viktor! He’ s the only man she wants! Shaking her veiled head. No! No! I prefer to be a veiled Muslim woman than to divorce!

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