Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Lesley Dorman
But I want to tell you something interesting for history in the Sudan about Muslim thinking, which is very interesting. Saddiq had two wives, which is interesting in the first place, because he'd attended Oxford University. One brother, Yechia, had one wife. He was killed in Geneva, and then his wife married again. Ahmed had more than one wife, so that it seemed to be customary in the household. Saddiq's first wife was Hafia and his second, Sarah. I just loved Hafia and also Sarah, but in a different way. She (Sarah) had been educated in the United States at Sarah Lawrence, I think. When Saddiq went out to dinner where the Americans or foreign nationals might be, he would take Sarah with him, because he felt, although Hafia spoke beautiful English, Sarah was more up to date...
Q: More cosmopolitan?
DORMAN: More cosmopolitan and could hold her own better in a mixed group. But I used to go visit Hafia, who had her own house. Sarah used to live in the big house with Saddiq and Sayeda Sakina, but Hafia had her own house. And Hafia would say... (there would be a pair of Saddiq's shoes ... and I got to know her well enough that I could ask her certain questions and she was willing to answer) ... she said, “You have to understand, Lesley, we have our alternate nights. And even though Saddiq may be taking Sarah out to dinner someplace, if it's my night, he has to leave her and come back to me. And if he gives me a bracelet, he has to give Sarah a bracelet.”
Q: Did you feel either one was a favorite? We found this in Pakistan. We had a friend whose first wife lived upcountry in Baluchistan, and his favorite, was the most cosmopolitan and lived in Karachi. Yet, six months of the year, he would go upcountry to be with Farida and six months with Soroya, who was definitely the favorite. Did you feel that?
DORMAN: No, in the Sudan, what they feel in their own hearts is something that we would never know, but their dictum is to be absolutely impartial and to treat each one alike as Hafia gave the example ... if she gets a bracelet, so does Sarah. I think that possibly, because one doesn't really know if he enjoyed going out more with Sarah than Hafia, but I doubt it, that he merely felt that Sarah was more Americanized and, therefore, when he was with people from the United States at a dinner (he wasn't sitting with her after all), it was easier to take her to these dinners. And Hafia, I'm sure, went with him to other places. No, I think there was really fairly strict impartiality. But, of course, we do know about the great building of the Taj Mahal at Agra. That was definitely a favorite, wasn't it? So, that is an example where it does exist indeed. But I think in this case, I would say “no.”
Q: Now, do you want to move on to Iran? That's another Muslim country that you have lived in. What were the years you were there?