Sheik Arruffat El Hachbedel had two daughters: the oldest was called Msida, and the other Gzira.
When he was visiting them, he couldn’t avoid going back to the time when they were living together.
On the contrary, the two women could barely wait for the moment he would leave. Not for lack of affection, as they loved him, but for fear that something could go awry, that he may get angry, a quarrel start abruptly and they may not see each other once again.
Indeed, the good sheik had a fierce temper, and was incapable of mending relationships; he was as a tree plenty of broken branches.
Whilst he was there, a strained atmosphere pervaded the house, made of few words, restrained gestures and some faint smiles.
One day, one of Gzira’s girls wanted to bring her grandpa a cup of coffee and, bumping into his kaftan, spilled the boiling beverage over his legs.
The Sheik’s yell led to a flood of shouting and fighting throughout the house in which everyone released their pent up feelings. Every lack of attention was reproached, every suspect, every concealed regret.
They almost came to blows; then, out of the silence, they waited for Arruffat’s reaction.