“Akmed! Akmed!” a bristled mother calls to her Bedouin son in Petra.
The poor mother is ignored. Little Akmed is too busy shaking down a couple tourists with his wit and charm to heed is mother’s calls.
Chaya and I are the tourists.
We were sitting in the shade of a huge sandstone cave/skyscraper when this little boy came up to us trying to sell a box of rocks. I did not want a box of rocks; Chaya did not want a box of rocks. So Little Akmed moved on to other forms of negotiation:
He grabbed my shirt sleeve and rolled it up as far as it would go. I laughed at his lightning quick vigilance: the little kid had me undressed and showing my tattoos in a matter of moments. He laughed at me. He then tried to steal a carabiner that was attached to my shoulder bag. I prevented the theft.
Little Akmed laughed. I laughed too. This kid had charm enough to shake down a scared cat caught in a tree top. He then tried to trade me a rock for the carabiner. By automatic reaction, I almost gave in. Then I remembered that I do not want a rock, and that I want my carabiner. I said no way. Little Akmed put the rock in my hand anyway and tried to unfasten the carabiner. I squirmed away.
Everyone was still laughing.
Akmed went back to frisking at my tattoos. I showed them off.
“Akmed! Akmed!,” his mother continued calling. I became afraid that she was going to come and get him. I became scared that she was going to come and get me.
“You better get out of here,” I warned Little Akmed.
He laughed hysterically at my dorky warnings, and promptly sicked his attention upon a silver ring that lives on one of my fingers. I watched him pull in vain on the silver loop, unable to get it over the knuckle.
Everybody was still laughing.
I the realized that if he somehow managed to free the ring that I would be going home with a rock in its stead. So I again squirmed away.
“AKMED! AKMED!” his mother was mad now.
Chaya and I ran away, leaving Little Akmed to his fiery fate.
Children of Petra