“It is impossible to persuade a [wo]man who does not disagree, but smiles.” Muriel Spark
On the drive back, they took me to scenic spots in Salt (which is the oldest city in Jordan and has caves filled with bones from hundreds of years ago). The terraced hills with long steps going up steep inclines, the yellowed stones and ornate window grills, the view of houses over houses over houses as they marched up the hill- it was all just wonderful. And Jafir stopped here and there for me to hop out of the car and take photos. He told me that the houses in the oldest parts of the town are 200-300 years old!
After my long week of training and this long day of playing and people, I was ready to be dropped off at my hotel. But instead we went to a store, where Jafir purchased bread that we took to Arwa’s mother. She stood on her second floor balcony and welcomed me, inviting me in for dinner. She was really quite persuasive, but I held my ground.
While Jafir was taking the bread in and we were speaking to Arwa’s mother, a woman drove up, dumped three children (including one who was screaming and kicking), along with bags, and drove off. She is divorcing one of Arwa’s brothers and wants nothing to do with her own children. It was an incredibly sad story. So now the children and their father live with his mother, who Arwa told me is ill.
We then drove back to their flat and piled out of the car to go upstairs. Once there, Arwa took a sleepy Raed to take a bath, then it was Zain’s turn. In the meantime, I noticed Jafir go into a living room and pray. (Oh, some of the older folks had had prayer beads in their hands at the barbecue. When I asked Arwa about it, she told me that she herself had had her prayer beads in the class.) Then Jafir went out for about 45 minutes.
I walked around (after sitting in the car), waiting for bath time to be over. When it was- and I asked Arwa when it might be convenient to drop me back at the hotel, she said that she wanted to make me dinner. I told her I was really tired and still full- and she said that she had hoped we could talk after the children were in bed.
Goodness only knows when that would have been, because when we left at 9:30, the children were both busy with crafts and chocolate.
When Jafir got back, Arwa made fruit smoothies with bananas and strawberries and we chatted while Zain did something in her room and Raed was glued to Tom and Jerry cartoons on the TV.
Although she said she didn’t mean to pressure me, she really wanted Jafir to be in this second round of training. M had told her the limit was 30 and I explained why that was: we only had 30 more binders printed and we could only have a maximum of 30 people for videotaping (10 in three different rooms). She persisted, saying that we had ended with only 27 in the class, so it was likely that some people might drop out of the second round as well.
Oh, she also told me that she gave Jafir a hand clapper (one of the prizes from my class) to take to a 3-hour lecture he gave at a university. He had trouble getting the students’ attention, but when he used the clapper, they quieted down immediately. He said it worked like a charm the entire time.
I finally promised to check with M (which I’ve done this evening via email) to see if we really had a full 30 people registered for the training. If not, I’m going to advocate including Jafir. Before that, I had suggested to Arwa that Jafir just show up on Sunday and if we have an extra seat because a registrant is a no show, he could take it.
I would really like to thank them for their hospitality. I had taken the flowers from my hotel room as a gift, but that was hardly sufficient.
The Jordanians say, “Yannee” like we say, “you know?” Apparently, that’s essentially what it means. It peppers all of their conversations.
Arwa and Jafir showed me a tree that has what looks like an acorn, but instead of a smooth flat lid on the top, this has a rounded prickly shell-like top. They collected some for me to bring home with me.
Arwa did not wear her scarf in the house. She has lovely shoulder-length hair. She was also wearing a very low cut flowered clingy blouse that showed considerable décolletage.
When I was taking photos in their flat (with her permission, of course) she quietly told me not to take a picture of her, since she wasn’t wearing her headscarf.
May your learning be sweet.