Sunday, 1 November 2009

Shame - 6

Chapter 6 
Three weeks later, there was a small meeting in the evening at the family home. The mother was sitting down with Kamal, Nader and Salwa. Only one person was not there – Moustafa. As usual, he was at the store in the city centre, which was a fair distance from home. Everyone was waiting for him to come for dinner. Kamal was waiting to see his brother more than anyone else. Kamal had some questions for Moustafa to answer and these questions were serious. Kamal kept looking at his watch and checking the time. He looked nervous too but no one could tell why.

A few minutes later, Kamal arrived. He kissed the hand of his mother as a sign of respect, huged his two brothers and joked with his little sister. Now everyone was ready for dinner to be served. Nader took a seat next to his mother. Now Kamal sits in the same chair where the late Haj used to sit. After all, Kamal is the head of the family even though he was not that old. He was only 40 years old. This was also a chance for the family to get on with life.

Nader started talking about his workday. All the family starts a normal conversation the same way they used to while having dinner. Kamal started talking to his brother asking him about the documents that still needed to be signed for the inheritance. Moustafa said every thing was OK and it was a matter of days when the accountant got every thing ready. He asked his brother not to worry much. After all, government documents sometimes took a very long time to be done.

Kamal asked Moustafa if there were any problems with the business finances. Kamal assured him that the money in the bank was increasing day after day thanks to the good planning of the late Haj used. At that moment Kamal seemed to lose his temper a bit. He asked his brother why 5 million dollars were withdrawn from the Haj’s account on the day he died. Now there was sudden silence in the room and everyone’s’ eyes turned toward Kamal who didn’t expect to be asked in such a manner. He looked hesitant and reached out for a glass of water in front of him. Kamal said that only Moustafa could withdraw money from the account because the Haj gave him authority in the bank to do so.

Kamal said that the money was a payment for a big shipment of spices that was on the way from India. It was a matter of days when the shipment arrived and the business made a good profit. Moustafa expressed his discontent at the way Kamal asked the question.

Moustafa started to raise his voice and asked Kamal to come up with the documents about the imported spices. He declared to everyone that something fishy was going on but he didn’t know what it was. Tempers in the dining room were very high at that point. Nader tried to calm everyone down. He asked why Kamal would lie about money. After all they were a very close family and everyone knew exactly how much they were getting.

Mother looked at her children sadly but didn’t understand why things were not clear. Still Kamal wanted clear answers to be given. Moustafa tried to dodge direct questions and reminded everyone he worked hard building the family’s business with the late Haj. Kamal still pressed on with demands that documents be produced to support Moustafa’s statement about the bank account. Everyone could see that Moustafa’s blood was boiling at that stage. Kamal asserted that if Moustafa couldn’t produce such documents, that would prove that he took money from the family’s bank account without any right.

Discussion reached a boiling point and tension in the room was very high. Mother was on the verge of collapsing seeing her children having such a heated discussion. Tension in the room got higher and higher. Kamal and Moustafa kept shouting at each other. Then Moustafa asked Kamal and Nader to come out for some real talk outside the home where he would give them serious answers to the questions going on in their minds. The three brothers left the room ignoring their mother and sister who begged them to stay inside the house and calm down. Moustafa lighted a cigarette and left the room with Kamal and Nader.