Aha. The painting. I call it The Uncovered Wife. I took it from the storage boxes of the Syrian Prince, Faisal Raheem.
I was away at war, a dire time it was. The streets was full of golden sand rushing towards us like a billion bullets. There had been no gun fire for almost a week and I was beginning to appreciate the sound of the silent screams fleeing on the winds.
Their voices, running from me, running toward me and resonating within me. At first it tore away at the mind, conscience batteling with the patriarchal teachings. But then, as I have said, the sound of those voices in the wind served as a reminder that there was life outside of these barren dunes.
I had been convinced that all native life had seen its end. The life that I would again meet with would not be here; it would not be on my sweep. This was a daily thought and there was hope. I was interrupted by a hollow bang. It echoed through my body and soul. Was it hope it was it fear? Until this day, I am unable to say.
I was alone in the world with nothing but the embrace of dying screams and golden bullets of the wind. I had even begun to question if I had survived the war, if I had made it out alive. Certainly not. There was no life about me, the was no life within me. But the bang.
I turned and turned again. In the distance I saw a house, a palace which had been under construction since we had arrived. I was sure it was empty, we all were. When the tanks drove us inland on the very first day we saw it. The crumbling walls and the blackend windows encourages our thoughts away from the possibility of finding inhabitants there. So we moved on.
The palace represented a choice, something that I did not understand at the time. You see, I could have continued on to the boarder and have been done with nationalism. It could not have been far off. Or, I could have gone in search of the unlikely inhabitants of the deserted palace, which I did.
When I found them, him, I felt that death had gripped us all. I, myself, was no inhabitant in that land of the living, for that land of the living did not exist for us. I stood over them, on my way to The Gates, had I not already unknowingly passed them. She lay there having already descended into a place from which there was no return. He lay beside her, deciding whether or not to follow her now or at another time.
It was a dark day. I remember the wind beating at the house. I went back in my mind, it was exactly as they helped us to understand it. If we did not fight relentlessly, they would come to and beat at our home. At our women, at our children, at our souls.
He shuffled. He pushed something back into a large wooden box that lay flat behind him. He looked into the box, then he looked at me and attempted to avert my gaze. He spoke and I stepped closer to the place where the box lay flat. That bang.
He sat up and moved away from the dead woman on the ground. His strength and energy took him towards the box. He shook. I remember the sound of his bones shaking.
I could see that he was dying and this was his dying wish, that I should not look inside the box. I disregarded any wish from a man that was capable of beating my home, my land, my women and my children. I stepped into the box and it crumbled under my feet. He tried to stand before me, but he crumbled just as the box did. I pushed him away with my foot and lifted the painting.
The naked, celestial body of the women, dead on the floor, stood before me; such grandeur beneath that burka. He looked up at me, searching my face for some sympathy and some remorse but there was none. There was only lust. He mumbled something to me in that dark room, I did not hear and when I managed to look away from the still beauty to him, I found that his body lay as lifeless as hers.