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2019 / 11 / 24
The Chain of Mountains.
By Churchill Al Temimi
Finally, on the first day of Eid, Zainab and Omar were married after the initial and prolonged resistance and objections from their families and close relatives.
The resistance from the families came from the fact that Zainab and Omar came from different sides of the mountains. But finally love conquered all objections.
The celebrations were mighty, with many people present from both sides of the mountain.
It had been six months since they were, casually, introduced to each other, with some members of both families present. Zainab, from the west side of the mountains and Omar was from the east side. Family members were always present whenever they needed to meet afterword.
The land of that event was somewhere in the Middle East. A chain of high and rugged hills, the people of the land called them mountains, spanning for over three hundred miles, from north to south.
Some people would possible say, “They were from south to north”. It worked both ways… It was as people visualised -dir-ections.
It was how people visualised life. No one gave much attention to the name…No one really cared what the name was. Everyone knew what was being talked about.
That happened early in the twentieth century, before the “Oil Producing Culture and the feeling of governments to get rich fast” came into existence and influenced all “Middle Eastern Countries” and penetrated through the ways of their life: every one’s life.
Throughout their history, all villages lived in total harmony and peace on both sides of the mountain chain. The situation was a simple geographical orientation of land. All were happy enjoying a peaceful life-;- the way it had always been, for as long as people remember, with no trouble´-or-complaints.
For many past years that cannot be accurately counted, people were contented with cultivating their lands, raising their livestock, manufacturing tools and other bits and pieces of their local simple life needs.
They were trading with each other, making a living and raising their children in the best way they knew how-;-
Be a good person, work well, be honest, worth knowing, serve society and be part of it…Respect your elders, value the opinion of others, be fair and non-judgemental and most of all respect yourself and be responsible for your actions, opinions and choices. Make the right choices in life. Choices make your life and you can be helped by your family and friends.
The people from both sides of the mountain were inter-marrying and were joyously enjoying their community’s life.
They enjoyed the great weather, the sun and the blue/black skies at night. The Poets wrote many poems of joy and harmony and the musicians played in the nights for the community’s joy and emotional rewards.
They believed in the first word in the holy Quran…
” Equara’(Read)” …meaning read and learn.
Most of them read and learned and were happy with what they learned in the fields of simple sciences, literature and religions etc... They had organised mobile libraries, that travelled on donkeys, mules and camels. Most people read most of the books, and they looked forwards to get new ones.
They traded with others outside´-or-travellers from outside, of the mountain communities. They bought such items as books, new furniture and jewellery…etc, in exchange for food and other items from their own manufacture and writings.
The villagers on the East Side of the mountains named the mountains “The Mountains of the Setting Sun”,´-or-sometimes, “The Western Mountains.”
The people on the West side called the mountains as, “The Mountains of the Rising Sun”.
Sometimes, they called them “The Eastern Mountains”.
People did not think of of the names as being something of great importance´-or-a big item in their life…They just took the names for granted…The mountains existed the world existed, and the people existed on whatever… They all existed together.
They just accepted the names and life as it came. There were no objections from anyone.
Memories and experiences of the past came in stories. Fables were told in the evening sittings of one family´-or-another…Metaphors played a large meaning in their story telling.
As time passed…The Earth got older-;- the Moon moved through many hundreds of cycles, people got, somewhat wiser, in education and in, what some people called, learning and civilisation.
Then the Oil era came.
And to keep up with the world demands, life necessitated that drawings and maps were to become an important factor of documented life… It was necessary for the oil companies of the West, and to move the wheels of what was called modern knowledge, the world must know all about all places, under their control and later about all people who work for them and under their influence…
The world of Oil Production Companies needed maps to be drawn in order to fulfil the full requirements of profit making.
The names of the mountains and the surrounding villages had become necessary for the documentation and the maps of those Companies.
A group of surveyors and map makers, aliens to the people of the land, suddenly poured in and occupied parts of the villages’ accommodations, accompanied by government officials who imposed their will around, as Government officials normally do, in that part of the world.
Some of the map drawing people went to the villages on the Western of the chain of mountains. Others went to the villages on the Eastern side.
All the visitors were well received, welcomed, well fed and well treated.
Such was the hospitality and generosity of the mountain people.
Zainab and Omar welcomed the foreign people, as paying guests in their guest house. Their own house had two extra bedrooms to accommodate others.
The couple made their living helping others making the best of their own living…
Zainab was a volunteered worker in the one Hospital in their village. Omar was a volunteered teacher in a local school…
They, both loved their communities and their people.
When asked, by the foreign visitors, about facts, names and figures, the elders of the villages were so relaxed in their attitudes.
They gave the name of their villages, the mountain’s (hills) names, the names of the field around them-;- who owned what field and whatever else. They had nothing to hide and no reason to hid anything.
It was an open simple society.
Everyone knew everyone else’s business. They even knew who ate what meal, what day and what reaction they had from it. Their custom was to send a portion of their tasty recipes and meals to their friends, and relatives. They, often, talked about the recipes and what primitive plants and herbs they added in the meals for many days afterwards.
The groups of the map makers were happy with all the hospitality and information they received.
They completed their work quickly and very well.
They paid well for their services.
The villagers grateful for the business of their visitors. They hoped for more in the future.
The visitors had promised to come back with clear maps and with the names of owners, as stated by the villagers.
And they did.
Zainab and Omar had a young boy they called Samuel and were very happy with all what was going on. Samuel was an usual name for the locality and the society…Yet the couple were happy to their sun Samuel. The name appealed very much to the foreigners, and it attracted more customers and their business was flourishing well.
Their spare two rooms in the house had become constantly occupied by guests…
Their boy grew bigger…He was starting to talk and to understand…His third word was” They”, after “Mum” and “Dad” …
And “They” had become im-print-ed in Samuel’s mind…just like “Mum” and “Dad” …And the gusts loved chatting with him and laughing at hid actions and moves.
Two months later, and as promised, most of the map makers came back with clear maps, with -print-ed names for all the villages, and markings of the various terrains.
It all looked good and very professional.
Only the name of the mountains was not finalised.
Some villagers wanted to call them the “The Mountains of the Rising Sun”.
Others, from the other side, wanted the name-;- “The Mountain of the Setting Sun”.
Half of the Mountain people were not happy about these names… They were confused. People did not know what to think…
A problem…A challenge…Or a way forward.
Everyone was wondering, what might come next.!!!
A formal meeting was organised and announced.
The Elders from the East and the West sides of the mountains were invited, and they all came.
Coffees, teas and local sweets were served… and many of the people, waited outside.
They waited, in anticipation and the wanting to know…
People living on the Eastern Side of the Mountains were annoyed at the idea of calling the Mountains” Mountains of the Rising Sun”.
How can they live with this when they see the sun sets through the mountains every day?
The villagers living on the Western Side of the mountains could not comprehend, nor accept the idea of calling them the Mountains of the Setting Sun when the sun rises through these mountains every morning. The mountains must be called “The mountains of the Setting Sun.”
Half of the villagers thought these names were utterly preposterous and totally unacceptable. They thought, “Typical advisors and typical consultants”
Discontents and unhappiness started to broil in the atmosphere of all villages on both sides of the mountains.
Discussions, arguments, loud voices and hateful thoughts started to bubble up.
Most villagers, in every small village, were agitated. How could they come out with a name like that...?
“We will not accept this-;- we reject it and we will fight for the right name”
The thought of fight had started.
First, in the mind of everyone.
Then, it was clear in the words of most people, in their body language and in their sensing of reality.
Suddenly people seemed to forget the peaceful past and the atmosphere of friendship and joy of the mountains.
People from one village actually started refusing to talk to people from other villages from the opposite side…
” They are from the other side”, they started to call them.
They, sadly, started to identify and label people as from “the West”´-or-from “the East”
Some villagers reduced, to minimum, their mixing with people from the other side and they stopped the practice of marrying from them. They avoided trading with them and even talking to them.
They started to think of them as “THEM”. And THEM started to mean enemies.
Human relations with the people from the other side had nearly totally halted.
The loud talking and the arguments continued between the alders of the two sides of the mountains.
Neither side was willing to accept the new name, nor were they were prepared to discuss it.
The young ones were prepared to fight, and even die for the correct name to be documented.
“It is in our blood”, they shouted, “It is in our faith in life”, they started to shout and believe…” No one can take it from us” …
” We are people from Eastern Side”
And others were saying “we are form the Western Side.”
Some married couples even thought of divorcing each other because their wives´-or-husbands family belong to the other side of the mountain.
Never mind about the children and the years of family love.
Zainab and Omar, with their son Samuel, who is now walking, running and talking well, were in the middle of all that new feeling and unrest.
They continued to accommodate guests and kept well out of the brewing troubles…
However, they were tensioned by their respective families. Each belonged to different sides of the mountains. And they were constantly “kept knowing” it and “aware of it”.
With all that tension going on in the mountain areas, the news had travelled fast all over the world. Newspapers and reporters were making a good living out of the odd news of the mountains’ name.
New interested parties started to visit the area. Strangers, traders with all shapes, sizes and forms arrived at all the villages. The hospitality trade was booming. Omar and Zainab -convert-ed a third room as a guest room. All their gust rooms were fully occupied.
Traders, they called themselves. Most of them were selling weapons, security and defence practices and general advisors for health and safety. Others were selling training course-;- to negotiate, to sell, to fight and to win.
The foreign people’s favourite words were,” We will provide whatever you need to convince the other side to accept your vision, your version of the world, and make sure that the mountain is named correctly.”
Some villagers did buy some weapons, others needed time to think and others just could not afford the high prices. There was doubt in the mind of others and there was much more doubt and suspicions in many other villagers.
The arguments about the names, however, were continually fuelled. The emotions were, dynamically spiralled, and they continued to raise tempers and blood pressures.
The elders and other wiser men, from both sides of the mountains were very concerned. They kept on talking and negotiating. Though neither side could see an easy way out´-or-a possible solution. They kept the dialogue going in the hope that the whole issue will go away.
Yet, the young ones kept on being agitated and being influenced by the foreign traders, who wanted to sell their products in whatever way they can..
The map makers, the weapon sellers and the training to fight people, kept on pressing the young element of the society to make up their minds. They proposed easy loans and easy terms of payments. The weapon merchants kept on knocking the doors and the tension of the people kept going in cycles of highs and higher heights.
In the middle of all that tension, Zainab and Omar were very busy accommodating their guests and looking after Samuel who now reach his fourth year of enjoying childhood.
And the old Mountains remain the same mountains, the sun rose every morning above them, and it set every evening as usual, like it had done for millions of years.
Time passed, so slowly.
Agitated people, from outside who had business to complete, felt that there was money to be made, decisions to be made and time pressures to be met. They urged the local people of both sides had to act very quickly. The pressure of the civilised world was on. The weapons people wanted to sell.
The oil people and the government were becoming impatient. Their needs were to be satisfied quickly…Impatient money makers and politicians.
Some young natives thought it would be right to take up arms and settle the matter once and for all.
Others preferred to wait and use peaceful persuasion.
Other older intellectuals thought “how stupid the whole thing was, and people should leave the matter as it had always been-;- unchanged.
The process of the sun rising and setting, and the pressure of the outsiders eventually resulted that some villagers sold some of their possessions to buy weapons and to hire some experts to couch them in how to fight and how to keep honour and dignity intact.
Groups of arms users were formed, training grounds were established and many “I owe you cheques” were signed.
People, on both sides of the Mountains, were now thinking “the only way was to settle this is by proving the point, by fighting, winning and forcing the name they want for the mountain”.
Zainab and Omar were very early risers. They normally got ready to satisfy and serve their guests. Samuel, a healthy and joyous five years old boy usually helped his mother and father to serve the clients in their home. The boy was a focal point with all the guests…They liked talking to him and the foreign guests practiced their little knowledge of the local language.
That day, it was different for him. His friends and other children asked him to come and play ball and other games early in the morning.
The children of the mountain people usually rose early in the morning. They started to play long before their parents had breakfast and went to work. Life was so safe, no one bothered to, ever-;- ask what might happen and what might go wrong. It had been like that for many and many years to come.
One morning, through all the turmoil of events, a few children from the west side of the mountain, were playing a game of “find me if you can”, where children hide and other children look for them to find them.
Two boys, it seemed, have found a “very difficult to find” hiding place. None of the other children could find him. The search lasted a while and the children finally gave up and became very concerned.
Some young ones started to cry. Others went to shout their mothers’ name and the whole village became agitated. They moved fast and the whole community was divided to many search parties.
People searched all the known hiding places. They also ventured to places they have not been before and the search and all the people were involved for many hours.
News spread quickly. People from the other villages joined in the search. People from the other side of the mountain came over to help too, despite the looks they got from some of the villagers.
Zainab and Omar were frantic looking for their son. Their gusts, two English men and one American man, were with them…Very nice of them to be concerned…
Zainab and many women with her were crying, looking and hoping.
The sun was getting closer to its setting time and the children had not been found.
Mothers were crying and fathers were accusing the other side of the mountain for kidnapping. Some of the other side people were present and were helping, but they were accused, nevertheless. And the search continued.
At sunset, people of the village gathered in the village marketplace. Discussions, shouting and heated accusations were exchanged.
The Elders of many villages came to share the burden and to help.
It was a warm evening with a very calm atmosphere. The emotional atmosphere, however, was very much opposite.
Some young men were agitated above what was normal. Some produced guns and were scouting. The Elders stepped in to stop violence and avoided unnecessary anger.
Threats and counter threats were exchanged, A few bullets were fired in the air with many more screams and cries heard.
Accusations towards the people of the other side of the mountains with many more threats were raised. The drums of accusations were loudly drummed and groups people from either side of the mountains were threatening each other with the thundering sounds of their drums.
But suddenly, there was a loud shrill from one woman in the crowd in the noise of the square. She screamed and pointed in one -dir-ection.
Little Samuel and several other children walked in the middle of the square. One was crying and other run towards the arms of their families.
All heads turned towards the -dir-ection of the coming children. The loud angry voices turned to Zagribs and loud laughter.
With loud screams Zainab and Omar rushed towards the children and hugged Samuel him and hugged him to near choking.
Other children came in and there were many loud cries.
All others were quiet, subdued and may be a little confused.
Then his mother asked him where he had been. He said quietly, I was hiding at the top….
“Where were you hiding”, The mother asked. The Boy, innocently, said” At the top of the “Mountain of the Sun.”.
And there was a sudden freeze of noise and feelings. The atmosphere turned to stillness and no sound could be heard for a few seconds. It went all quiet, and the breathing was slow.
The elders of all villages eyed each other and considered the name” The Mountains of the Sun”, with their eyes without uttering more words.
After a short silent period, the crowd cheered and clapped, and their drums were creating a loud thunder of musical tunes.
And all went home to celebrate more.
And shortly after that event, the world maps started to show the name “Mountains of the Sun”.