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Abdul Hadi bin Jithina - Murra Guide

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        Each afternoon we have coffee with the soldiers. They invariably come with the invitation at the most inopportune moment, but I enjoy the sessions and am beginning to understand some of the conversations. Abdul Hadi provides much of the diversion. He is the only one of the soldiers who smokes, "drinks tobacco" as they put it, and being the newest he would get a lot of ribbing anyway. After smoking his pipe, which is made of a piece of bone and an empty cartridge held together with a piece of black tape, he refills it and, sitting cross-legged on the floor, holds it between his big and second toe while he drinks his coffee.

        The Bedu have a good sense of humor, but I’m not always sure about what will strike them as funny. The Emir told Abdul Hadi that he smoked too much and it made him weak and short of wind. Abdul Hadi, who is even now a tough old bird, admitted that before he began to smoke he was tough as an elephant. Then without thinking, I said, "Now you are like a jerboa," a small desert mouse, but he wasn’t offended as the soldiers roared with laughter. The Emir said, "No, I think he is more like a damusa," a little sand lizard. Everyone laughed again, even Abdul Hadi who hid his mouth with his ghutra as he laughed

        The other night Abdul Hadi gave a simplified version of a raid he went on as a young man into the country of the Sa’ar, between the Rub’al-Khali and the Hadramut, far to the south. They got 22 camels, 26 sheep and one Sa’ar, who counted discretion the better part of valor.