Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Sticking

 “TeeCHER!  How many wives you have got?”
I’m standing in a cement classroom in the middle of the Yemen desert full of twenty-five Saudi male students.  It’s the end of the day, ten minutes before dismissal.  Teachers have been told to not let students go early, so one of the engineering masterminds has broken into the main circuit board and cut electricity to the entire school.  The classroom is dark.  The air-conditioner hangs on the wall in silence.  I’m wearing a tie and dress shirt.  It’s 105 degrees.  My skin baking.
“TeeCHER… how many ... of the wives?”
Yeah, I’m game.  
 “I can have more than one?”
“Tee-CHER!  Come on… you can have four.”
“I can have four wives?  What I want four wives for?”
“Tee-CHER!  You know!”
I stand looking at these poor helpless saps.  They have no idea how pathetic is their line of questioning.  Half the males in this room have never spoken to a female outside their sisters.  Half will marry a woman, meet her at the wedding, attempt to impregnate her on the wedding night, and not see her again for months.  Some will divorce this wife because she could not bare a son.  Some of these men will be divorced because they will fail out of this program and not afford their wives coffee.  These are all legal grounds for dissolution of marriage in Saudi Arabia.
Then of course, half are just asleep, never recovering from the huge portions of rice and chicken Kepsa over lunch.  The other half either split on extended bathroom breaks  that turned into smoke timeouts and never returned or staring at me with scimitars in their eyes.  So now it’s me in the dark with ten guys and they want to ask me about sex but won’t directly say it.  Seriously, I’m not making this conversation up.
 “Tee-CHER!  Four wives is good, yes?”
“What I want four wives for, huh?  That’s four times as many dishes I got to wash.  Four times as many garbage cans I got to empty.  Four times LESS sex I’m going to have.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh,”  They all wag their fingers in the air.   “Tee-CHER!  That is not true.”
Then they explain it to me.  It takes time, but finally Raeed, the student leader, tells me.
“Tee-CHER, this is what you do… first… you find a young one, maybe 12 or 13.  Her father give you many camels.  Camels nice, huh?  You like the camels?  I like the camels. Then you take this wife and you give her a good sticking (Raeed makes an OK sign with one hand and inserts his finger from the other over and over)  You know… the sticking?”
(I stand like a dumbstruck donkey)
“Tee-CHER!  You know… the sticking!”
“The…  sticking?”
“YESSSS!!  She gives you many sons.  No daughters.  Only sons.  Sons good.  Daughters bad.  Woman is filthy dirty beast.    Then maybe one day this wife get old.  Her teeth fall out and her bosom sinks like ship with hole in floor.  Then you take a second wife with buttocks like a ripe apple… then you know what you do... yes?"
Raeed is nodding and smiling slyly.
“The… sticking again?”
All the students begin to cheer…  “Very NICE!” Raeed walks to the front of the class to slap my hand five.  He is followed by his classmates who one by one pile past me as I try to block the door.  The bell has not rung.  There is still five minutes left to study.  Too late.  It is hopeless to even stand in their way.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you're teaching Borat.