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Shabanu

Suzanne Fisher Staples

The Landlord and Spin Gul

Derawar and Ramadan

The Landlord and Spin Gul, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

The Landlord

Phulan and Shabanu are bringing water from the canal with the help of the camels, Xhush Dil and Mithoo. Phulan chatters about Hamir and her hopes to bear him a son quickly. Shabanu thinks about Hamir, who is passionate and impulsive, but also kind and fair. Shabanu begins to believe Sharma's words: Shabanu and Phulan are indeed lucky to be marrying such decent men. The girls have not seen Hamir or Murad for a long time and can barely remember what they look like.

Phulan, gloating a bit, begins to wash the clothes that she uses during her period. Shabanu, who has not yet begun menstruating, walks away from her a bit with the camels, slightly annoyed with Phulan's boasting. She notices the colors in the sky, and, almost against her will, she begins to see beauty in the irrigated patch of desert that will become her home.

A booming voice interrupts her reverie: Nazir Mohammad, the landowner from whom Hamir's father bought his land, is standing with a hunting party at the bottom of the embankment. The men look at Shabanu with cold, lustful eyes, but one young man in the party objects that she is too young. Panic rises in Shabanu's heart as she realizes what is happening: the men, Nazir Mohammad's guests, are hunting. Before the hunting begins, the men select one of Nazir Mohammad's young female tenants. She becomes the "prize" awarded to the man who shoots the most animals. He will spend one night with her and return her to her family, often with gifts or money as compensation. Shabanu knows that when the men see Phulan, they will want her. Shabanu cannot and will not allow this, and she knows that Dadi and Hamir will not stand for it either.

Sure enough, when Phulan appears, the men lustfully survey her beautiful figure and dreamy face. Shabanu takes charge, shouting that they are not Nazir Mohammad's tenants. The men merely laugh. Outraged and terrified, Shabanu throws one of the great clay water pots down the embankment at Nazir Mohammad. Angered, he tries to clamber up the embankment. His fat belly and expensive clothes slow him. Shabanu knocks the rest of the jars down toward him and climbs atop Xhush Dil, pulling Phulan with her. They begin to gallop off, and Shabanu only hopes they can escape without the men following them and finding out who they are. Unfortunately, Mithoo, panicked, makes a beeline for their camp. The men watch the camel and make a note of where the camp is.

Shabanu and Phulan race home. Dadi listens to Shabanu's story with mounting anger. He fetches a gun from the tent. Mama and Shabanu protest. They know Nazir Mohammad will kill him without a thought. He firmly instructs them to pack the camp and flee to Derawar. He promises to meet them as soon as finds Hamir and tells him what has happened.

The women pack hurriedly, looking up apprehensively whenever they hear the guns of the hunting party. They load their belongings onto the camels and head into the gathering night, using the stars as a guide.

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