Once the second cup had been poured, Ibrahim leaned forward
and balanced his teacup on his knee. They found her, he said, his eyes
lowered. They did? The tension drained out of Nayir so suddenly that it
About two kilometers south of the Shrawi campsite. She was in a
Theyve had men there for a week. Are they certain its her?
Who found her? Were not sure. Someone who wasnt working
for the family. Travelers.
How do you know this?
Tahsins cousin Majid came to our camp and delivered the news.
Hed spoken to the coroner. Ibrahim took another sip of his tea. He said that
the travelers took her back to Jeddah. She was already dead.
Yes. Ibrahim sat back. The travelers took her to the coroners
office in Jeddah. They had no idea who she was.
It was over. He thought about his men outside, wondered if they
would feel relief or disappointment. Probably relief. He wasnt sure what to tell
them about the girl. It was odd that the familys own search party had been
stationed near the wadi. A group of cousins and servants must have been
right on top of her, yet they had missed her completely. They had also
missed whoever had been traveling through the area. The travelers must have
returned her body to the city before the Shrawis had even figured out that
theyd passed through. All of this made Nayir uneasy, but he would have to
double-check the information; it wasnt exactly reliable.
How did the family find out about it? he asked.
Someone at the coroners office knows the family and called
them to break the news.
Nayir nodded, still feeling numb. The teapot was empty. Slowly he
stood and went to the stove. He poured more water into the pot and lit the
match for the stove with a clumsy twitch, burning the tip of his thumb. The
sharpness of the pain lit a spark inside him, a quick, fierce anger. The urge to
find her was still strong. Forgive me for my pride, he thought. I should think
about the family now. But he couldnt.
He went back and sat down. Do you know how she died?
No. There was a sad acceptance in the boys eyes. Heat
stroke, I imagine.
Its a terrible way to die, Nayir said. I cant help thinking theres
something we could have done.
I doubt it.
Why? Nayir asked. What do you think happened to her?
The Bedouin looked him straight in the eye. Same thing that
happens to any girl, I think.
And whats that? Nayir asked. Love? Sex? What do you know
about it? Ibrahims face told him that it had been wrong to ask; the boy was
blushing. Nayir wanted to know more, to pry the answers out of him, but he
knew too that if Noufs death had happened because of love or sex, then any
truthful reply would be less proper still. Modestly, he waited for an
elaboration, but Ibrahim merely sipped his tea, resolute in his silence.
Kenn Nesbitt is new Children's Poet Laureate(Jun 12 2013) Kenn Nesbitt has been named the new Children's Poet Laureate: Consultant in Children's Poetry to the Poetry Foundation, which noted that the two-year position...