woman shimmied across the floor. Bumping her hips to make the coins on her
belly belt jingle, she executed a perfect, sinuous camel move, the undulations
of her lithe body casting a spell on her audience. She glimpsed the slack
mouths and vacant eyes of the watching men as she brought her finger cymbals
together with a rhythmic click click, keeping
time with the drummer on his darabuka.
The music and drumming rose in a crescendo, many of the men clapping along in
time. It spurred her to dance faster, spinning around until she finished with a
dramatic sweep of her long filmy scarf, before letting it fall to the floor.
her arms out, head high, gleaming hair cascading down her back. Bowing low, she
swept up the scarf and disappeared through the curtain, out of sight. The men,
she knew, would awaken from their trance and turn back to their meals, order
more drinks, perhaps even speak to their wives. They were like small boys, so
easily bewitched by female flesh and a sparkling dance costume. She despised
them and pitied them in equal measure.
small space between kitchen and bathrooms where the dancers and musicians
gathered before each performance, she drank a glass of water as her breathing
returned to normal.
grinned at her as he put down his drum.
“Your dance sizzled tonight!”
smiled at the compliment, and then grimaced.
men… no respect!” she complained. “Some nights it’s like a—what do you
out a shout of laughter. “No strip joint ever had a dancer like Yasmin to
entertain the audience. You are the queen of dance out there.”
sighed. “Thank you, my friend. I know you appreciate the dances. As I enjoy
your beautiful darabuka playing. I wish only that our audience were more… more…”
Zamir supplied helpfully, and it was Yasmin’s turn to laugh.
civilised! If only they knew a little about the richness of the music and dance
we perform for them, they might not slobber as they do. Now,” she stood and
collected her coin belt and bag, “I must go. I promised my little Rana I would
be home in time to read a story before her bedtime.”
Hurrying through the darkening streets, she held close the hope for her daughter. Rana would not have to dance in a restaurant to earn a living. No, she would have a good job in this new country. Yasmin would make sure of it. She had a plan.
eyes widened when she saw the envelope in the mailbox and its sender: Macquarie
University. Once inside, she opened it
and read through the document once, twice, then gave a deep sigh and looked up
at the ceiling as tears gathered in her eyes.
to study for a physiotherapy degree next year.