National Geographic : 1987 Oct
stark barren desolate whole of the interior remained closed to outside influences. For city women like us, just about the only activity (besides living communally within the extended family) consisted of leaving our harem quarters to visit other women in theirs. Family men or male ser vants did the shopping. Older women ran the household, with younger women having few such duties. Yet despite this hierarchy of age, everyone belonged-even I, even be fore I learned to share and care as a small part of the big whole. "We love you as we love our son," were the first words I heard from my mother-in-law, Asma, and my ex tended family sailed me through my first Christmas with a roast turkey and gifts placed under the tree Mother had had flown in from Cairo. With wonderful sensitivity they helped me celebrate my religious feast. Outside the walls we had little, but what we did inside the walls was live together. Then came oil-or rather, by the 1950s, the revenues from oil found in the late 1930s.