§ The Master §

My master's name was Akil ibn Ghalib al-'Attar. He was not a very tall man, and his skin was more light coffee colored than bronze or copper. His beard of deepest black was always meticulously groomed. He always bathed. H always kept his hands clean. He was always sure to patch his clothes should a tear appear at his robes or a loose thread appeared at his head wrap. Most everything on him was meticulously taken care of. Everything he did was meticulous.

His cheeks made valleys on his face and his brown eyes were normally tired looking as the dark lines hung below them. My master always seemed tired, caught in a constant battle with sleeplessness.

My master was also a very careful man. He was careful with his patients, he was careful with his work, he was careful with wielding me in making lesions and draining sores. He was careful with the other doctors at work, sometimes he was almost too careful. Timid is what he was sometimes, sometimes he held his tongue like a woman when he should have spoken and sometimes he avoided other people all together. He was a very nervous man and sometimes his hands would start to shake when he spent too many hours with wailing patients.

I do not believe his wife helped with his nervousness. Many times over he would spend his times hidden away in our hospital, reading books and working over strange inventions for healing those sick. If he was not here, I have heard tell that he would pray for hours on end at the mosque to stall having to go home to that woman. I am not sure if it was cowardice or if it was for his health that he avoided her.

I came into my master possession in the year 582 shortly before the Christians were expelled from our city by the great Saladin (may God have mercy on him). He was still so very young then, and I had never seen a man pour over his books as much as I had seen my master. He studied hard and when the Christians came back a second time to retake our city, he and his mentor would work their fingers to the bone helping those who were injured. Even though every night I fell asleep aching from the exertion of the day during that siege, I served my master dutifully. We both came out alive, my master a little bit quieter than he had been before.

He worked hard in the city hospital, and I along side him. Soon he was married and soon he had a son. I heard his colleagues congratulate and celebrate with him for each occasion. I thought he was happy, I would see him smile when he spoke of his son.
This was my master and I was bound to serve him.

Now there was one that called Amichai Continis that my master called "The Venetian". As I said before, my master was a timid man and The Venetian, God curse his house, found a way to slight him. The Venetian was a trader who came into the city to sell his goods and left before the season ended to return back home to the Christian lands.

The man had a small friend, an Indian with skin the color of dark coffee who wore his head wrapped up in a pale yellow turban. I knew not why he chose to follow around The Venetian on his travels, but wherever the Christian went, the little Indian followed along. I never understood why, he was a fellow believer so there was no reason to subject himself to the others requests. He was not a servant or indentured for my master offered to buy his freedom and the little dark-skinned man said that he did not need it.

When the two made port in our city, The Venetian would always come by the hospital to see my master. The two would come into my master's office and they would talk. My master's hands would shake when they spoke.

"Hello and As-Salāmu `Alaykum." The Venetian would say, his own tongue butchering mine and my master's.

They would pass greetings and niceties to each other as the Indian would hover around the door of my master's office, not coming in, yet never straying from The Venetian's side.

Then The Venetian, like the wily creature he was, would jump right to business. He would pull himself up to his full height, and glower down his hooked nose at my master. "Do you have my medicine?" he would ask.

My master always did. My master enjoyed taking care of those who were sick, but he did not enjoy giving over whatever medicine this Christian wanted.

"I am in pain again, you see, and I must have it."

My master was usually quiet at this, slipping away to his desk and pulling a small out a small box. He then hands it over to the Venetian.

The Christian checks the contents, pulling out small bulbs and clots of something that looks like a mass of loose hair and plant leaves. He then shuts the box and pockets it. The Christian always pays my master gold dinars for each box that he gets. After he is satisfied, he and his Indian friend leave without another word. I am unsure why that Venetian (God destroy him) keeps coming back in pain to my master.