Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER
Uruk king fails to get Aratta king to cower as Jehovah’s granddaughter juggles the two as sex pets
Enmerkar, the King of Inanna-Ishtar’s cult city of Uruk in Sumer, was desperate to bring the mineral-rich Kingdom of Aratta, over which Inanna had jurisdiction too, under subjection to Uruk. He vowed he would stop at nothing until this end was accomplished, his reasoning rightly or wrongly being that without him, Inanna wouldn’t be the great queen she now was – straddling two of the world’s pre-eminent regions.
“The wealth of Aratta he coveted, to be over Aratta supreme he schemed,” the Sumerian records so plainly expose him. It was not enough that Aratta had consented to paying tribute to Uruk in the form of precious stones and had made good on its undertaking: Enmerkar wanted Aratta to be a vassal state of Uruk, finito.
Thus it was that Enmerkar sent an emissary to Aratta to deliver a haughty ultimatum in which he threatened to “bring desolation upon Aratta and dispersion upon its people”. His message in a nutshell was, “submit or else …” Enmerkar strategically picked a time when Aratta was at its most vulnerable. The kingdom was reeling from a telling drought that had destroyed its crop and so was dependent on the granaries of Sumer for the sustenance of its people. If the king turned out to be stubborn, Enmerkar would pull the plug on the supply of grain and the people of Aratta so hard done by might picket him, thereby providing Inanna an excuse to depose him. In truth, the likelihood of such a scenario was a tall order given the hots Inanna had for the King of Aratta but a naive Enmerkar counted on it anyway.
Receiving the message, the King of Aratta, a very wily political operator if there was one, decided to engage Enmerkar in what the great Sumerologist Samuel N Kramer calls “the first war of nerves”. In this post-Tower of Babel era, the world no longer spoke a uniform language but several, most of which wholly unrelated to each other courtesy of Enlil’s divide and rule globalwide gambit. Taking advantage of this state of affairs, the King of Aratta replied that with due respect, he didn’t understand a single word of the message he received in the now ancient Sumerian language. “Like the bray of a donkey its sound is,” he regretted, appealing to his opposite number to send a fresh message in the language of Aratta, which Enki had devised at the instruction of Enlil.
Enmerkar was furious as he knew the King of Aratta was playing mind games with him. He there and then decided to suspend grain supplies to Aratta so as to teach his counterpart a lesson and with the hope that thus floored, the King of Aratta would come to him running, with cap in hand, and declare himself ready now to kowtow to Uruk. Enmerkar, it turned out, had miscalculated: a year passed and the King of Aratta was a no-show.
KING OF ARATTA DEFIES ENMERKAR
Even with this virtual egg on his face, Enmerkar was simply not giving up on Aratta. Since the stakes were so high, he considered that it was better to play along to the tune the King of Aratta was singing than throw in the sponge. Calling upon Ninsaba, Enki’s daughter with Ninmah who was the Anunnaki’s Goddess of Writing and who was well-versed in practically every language, he bid her to draft on his behalf a message to the King of Aratta in the latter’s own language.
This time around, the message was even blunter. “Submission or war,” it said. The ultimatum, however, was tempered with something of a sweetener – the offer of seeds from Aratta’s grain tribute of yesteryears which had been kept in the Eanna granaries and which might considerably help in ameliorating the famine that now plagued Aratta. And this time around, the emissary was no less than Enmerkar’s own son Lugalbanda. It turned out Enmerkar had underestimated the cunning of Inanna, who didn’t care a damn about Aratta being under Uruk suzerainty.
Significantly, Inanna didn’t wish to alienate the King of Aratta, her highly prized bedfellow who delivered with distinction when she wanted to be sexually serviced whilst visiting there. So what does she do? Using what we today call HAARP technology, she artificially induces torrential rains in Aratta even whilst Lugalbanda is on his way there with a view to bolster up its king’s bargaining power versus Enmerkar. “A storm, like a great lion attacking, stepped up,” the Sumerian records relate. “Drought was suddenly broken by a thunderstorm that made the whole land tremble, the mountains quake. And once again, white-walled Aratta became a land of abundant grains.”
Thus emboldened, the King of Aratta once again thumbed his nose at Enmerkar, underlining to Lugalbanda that he was not going to be tossed around at Enmerkar’s whim and that Her Imperial Majesty Queen Inanna the Goddess of Aratta was solidly behind him. “Inanna Mistress of Lands has not abandoned her house in Aratta, has not handed over Aratta to Unug-Ki (Uruk),” the king asserted in full flow, brimming with confidence. “Aratta will not submit.”
The defiant king went on to say that if push came to shove, he was ready to go to war with Uruk. He also made it clear that from now henceforth, he would no longer pay tribute to Uruk by way of precious stones unless Enmerkar was prepared to share Uruk MEs with Aratta. And as if to poke fun at Enmerkar, the King of Aratta even donated part of the strategic grain reserves he had hoarded to Uruk to underscore the fact that with abundant rain now, Aratta would no longer require food aid crumbs from Uruk.
It was a deadlock: in the final analysis, neither king was prepared to concede to the other’s terms and Enmerkar for one was not ballsy enough to go beyond sabre rattling and follow through on his threat of waging war on Aratta. “The riches of Aratta Unug-ki did not receive; the MEs of Unug-ki Aratta did not obtain,” the Sumerian records inform us. On balance though, it was Aratta which bore the brunt in the fullness of time. “In the Third Region, civilised mankind did not fully blossom,” the Sumerian texts lament as indeed the Uruk MEs, which were crucial to expediting the economic and technological headway of the Indus Valley, were not availed to Aratta.
GODDESS WHO REVELLED IN NUDITY
In time, Inanna became the most famous god throughout the Indus Valley. Although she was dubbed the Goddess of War, it was as the Goddess of Love (love-making and not the usual spiritual love) she was best known as. In paintings and clay figurines of the Indus civilisation era, she is variously depicted as a warrior armed to the teeth; an astronaut fully kitted in aviational gear; and a stark naked, bare breasted woman with rows of beads and necklaces. But it was her sexuality that struck the greatest chord with her subjects as it were depictions which project her as such that abounded in the Indus Valley. Some such depictions show her raising the hemline of her skirt to reveal her shapely thighs and her prominent, clean shaven punami.
The Persians (of Iran) and Pushtans (of Afghanistan) called her Abesind and Abasind respectively (very much an echo of her other Sumerian name Absin, meaning “whose father is Sin”). To the Greeks and Romans, she was known, amongst a clutch of other names, as Indos and Indus respectively, which was just as apt. It’s Inanna after whom the Indus River is named and since the name India derives from the Indus River, the country itself too is derivatively named after Inanna. In Aratta, Inanna was known as Indra.
INANNA’S SUBJECT KINGS
Let us at this juncture try to recap on the saga of Uruk, Inanna’s principal cult city as part of the dot.connection process so that we do not lose our bearings as we match on down the Earth Chronicles lane, which is now just over 100 articles strong with a total of just under 455,000 words, equivalent to about 7 fair-sized books. When in 3800 BC civilisation was proclaimed for Sumer, the so-called First Region, by King Anu at the insistence of Enki, a new political perch for Earthlings was instituted, the first time this happened since the Flood of Noah’s day.
This was kingship. The human king would rule his fellow humans not on his behalf but on behalf of a superintending god. The first Sumerian city designated as the seat of kingship was Kish, then the cult city of Ninurta, Jehovah-Enlil’s firstborn son. Forty years later, Enlil announced that kingship would not only be the privilege of Kish but would rotate from city-state to city-state at a time of his choosing. Thus it was that circa 3750 BC, kingship was transferred to Uruk with a view to placate Inanna, who was making petulant noises in relation to what she regarded as intentional foot-dragging on the part of Enlil to allocate her her own domain as per the promise to her by King Anu.
Now, Uruk was famed for one particular specialty – metal casting, notably of alloys of tin. The best tin metallurgists on the planet were to be found in Uruk. Even the Eanna, Inanna’s magnificent temple-house, was structurally made of alloyed tin. Indeed, Eanna, which is typically interpreted as “House of Anu”, can also alternatively be read as “House of Tin”. Anna was the Anunnaki term for tin and the Anunnaki placed a value on tin that rivalled that of gold and silver (the demigod Sargon the Great of Akkad valued the metal so much that he chose it rather than gold or silver for commemorating himself).
Before Uruk attained kingdom status, its day-to-day affairs were conducted by a high priest. This high priest was a demigod, a son of Utu-Shamash, Inanna’s twin-brother, with an Earthling woman. His name was Meskiaggasher, or Meshack in short. Mes/Mesh was the Sumerian prefix or suffix for “Master Metallurgist” “or “Master Craftsman”, the Masonic title of a dynastic king those days and up to New Testament times. Since at that juncture all kings were demigods – part-human, part-Anunnaki – Mes/Mesh became synonymous with royalty. By the same token, the Egyptian word Mes or Mses, meaning “issue of” (e.g. Thothmes), conveyed the same meaning in its original sense in that the Pharaohs were demigods or claimed to be demigods.
With kingship having been transferred from Kish to Uruk, Meshack was installed as King of Uruk. He ruled for 324 years before he was succeeded by his son Enmerkar, who in truth was Shamash’s biological son courtesy of the Anunnaki’s overly lax sex morals whereby one could sleep with any consenting woman: it didn’t matter whether she was a close relation such as a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, an aunt, or a daughter-in-law and it didn’t matter that she was married.
Enmerkar was on the throne for 420 years. Under him, Uruk prospered as never before, earning him the tribute of “The Man Who Built Uruk” which resounded for centuries thereafter. It was during Enmerkar’s reign that the Eanna was transformed from a no more than gleaming edifice to a sparkling structure bedecked with all kinds of precious stones extorted from mineral-rich Aratta in the Indus Valley.
After Enmerkar came his son Lugalbanda. Lugalbanda had the prestige of marrying the goddess Ninsun whilst he was high priest, his status before he ascended to the throne. As King, he ruled for 1200 years, the longest reigning demigod in the post-diluvial age. The mixed couple sired 11 children, the most famous of whom is Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was King of Uruk for between 126 and 150 years and was succeeded by his son Ur-Lugal, who in turn was succeeded by his son Utu-Kalamma. Altogether, 12 kings reigned in Uruk for a combined total of 2310 years. Thereafter, kingship moved to Ur, the cult city of Inanna’s father Nannar-Sin.
SHORT MAN WITH A TALL PEDIGREE
The post-diluvial age saw a rather curious switch in the Anunnaki’s relations with Earthlings in one particular respect. Before the Flood, it were Anunnaki men, “the sons of the gods”, who pursued Earthling women, “the daughters of men”. After the Flood, the status quo changed full circle: it were royal Anunnaki women, the goddesses, who sought spouses among Earthling men, particularly demigods.
We already know that Inanna was crazy about Earthling men though none of them was prepared to take her to the altar due to her eccentricities that knew no bounds. But there was one decent goddess who had an enduring and fruitful marriage with an Earthling. This was Ninsun, Enki’s daughter with Ninmah and therefore a brother to Ninurta, who Ninmah had way back in Sirius with Enlil. Ninsun made overtures to Lugalbanda and before long the two lovebirds had tied the knot. His intrinsic qualities aside, Lugalbanda’s fundamental qualification for marrying a goddess was that he himself was the son of a goddess, Inanna, and so was at least 50 percent Anunnaki.
The fact that he was half-Anunnaki automatically merited him the title “Divine Lugalbanda”, or Dingir.Lugalbanda in Sumerian. The Anunnaki had relaxed aspects of their social-status code after the Flood and one such revised convention was that any Earthling who had at least half of Anunnaki royal blood in him qualified to be called divine. When Lugalbanda succeeded to the throne after Enmerkar, he adopted the title Lugal, meaning “Great Man”. Now, every king is a great man in that he is the highest ranking personage in his domain.
In Lugalbanda’s case, the Lugal emphasis had to do with his being plagued by what is known as Short Man Syndrome. Lugalbanda was unfortunate enough to take after the slight physical stature of his mother Inanna, who was about 5-foot-5 – a midget in Anunnaki terms. His name when correctly spelt is actually Handa, not Banda. Handa meant “Shorty”. The name Lugalbanda therefore was meant to emphasise the point that he might be a small man but as a demigod he was of greater genetic pedigree and as a King he was the greatest man amongst Earthlings.
When Inanna was awarded the Indus Valley, she wanted Lugalbanda, then her high priest, to rule Aratta. Lugalbanda, however, was not keen on the idea. He was by nature an adventurer: he lived a peripatetic life and therefore was always away on expeditions to indulge his wanderlust. It was after she was snubbed by Lugalbanda that Inanna settled for Dumuzi’s unnamed extramarital son as King of Aratta.
INANNA SHAGS HER OWN SON!
Following Enmerkar’s earlier stalemate with the King of Aratta, he decided to send Lugalbanda over to take a strong line with the king with a view to get him to yield to the demand for unconditional subjection to Uruk. As related above, the mission was a total fiasco. Resultantly, Lugalbanda was gutted, for as far as he was concerned, it was he who had failed, a shame for a heir. On his return journey therefore, Lugalbanda dispensed with aerial transportation, choosing instead to travel overland by chariot, both to delay to the fullest extent possible a very likely stormy encounter with his father and to explore the wonders of nature being a naturalist himself. In the course of these peregrinations, he not only fell acutely ill but fell into a coma too.
Upon hearing of her son’s plight, Inanna enlisted her brother Shamash and together they rushed to the Kurdistan wilds in modern-day Iran by flying saucer, equipped with state-of-the-art medical paraphernalia. Touching down at the scene of Lugalbanda’s afflictions, Shamash went to work forthwith. He employed on the half-dead Lugalbanda “stones that emit light” and “stones that make strong”, whereupon Lugalbanda stirred back to full vitality. The moment this happened, Inanna staged a mental breakdown.
Remember, Inanna had, as a matter of public knowledge, always been haunted by the memory of her long-deceased husband Dumuzi. “Dumuzi she still mourned,” the Sumerian records emphasise. “When she flew about, in the sun’s rays, Dumuzi’s image she saw shimmering and beckoning.” So when Lugalbanda was dramatically revived, Inanna cried out with feigned derangement that, “A miracle has happened! My beloved Dumuzi to me has come back!” Returning to the Eanna with a fighting fit Dumuzi, she commandeered him to her own bedroom, which she specially decorated for him in the pretended belief that he was the resurrected Dumuzi.
The inevitable followed – an all-night-long bang-bang-bang by her own son who though short had a large appendage – the thing that mattered the most to the size queen that was Inanna! Clearly, she had always had a crush on him and was just waiting for the opportune time to pounce. Of course there was nothing Lugalbanda’s wife Ninsun could do about this boldfaced adultery: an Anunnaki had the right to sleep with anybody for as long as there was mutual consent.
From that point on, Lugalbanda was toast for her own mother: she would call upon him every time she had the itch, which meant more often than not being the nympho she was. Also from that point on, Inanna had a new but bogus boast – that she had powers of life and death having brought back Lugalbanda from the dead. She was, so she bragged, a Goddess proper and not simply an Anunnaki Queen.
It was all a hollow boast really since Lugalbanda had not died but was simply comatose and the person who medically worked on him was not she herself but her brother Shamash. But in those days when the Earthling masses were more susceptible to mis-information and disinformation than we are in this age of the newspaper, the radio, the television, and the Internet, Inanna’s boast was taken as gospel truth by her subjects from Uruk all the way to the Indus Valley.
NEXT WEEK: LUGALBANDA AT “MOUNTAIN OF THE GODS”
In recent years, using personal devices in working environments has become so commonplace it now has its own acronym, BOYD (Bring Your Own Device). But as employees skip between corporate tools and personal applications on their own devices, their actions introduce a number of possible risks that should be managed and mitigated with careful consideration. Consider these examples:
Si-lwli, a small family-run business in Wales, is arguably as niche a company as you could find, producing talking toys used to promote the Welsh language. Their potential market is small, with only some 300,000 Welsh language speakers in the world and in reality the business is really more of a hobby for the husband-and-wife team, who both still have day jobs. Yet, despite still managing to be successful in terms of sales, the business is now fighting for survival after recently falling prey to cybercriminals. Emails between Si-Iwli and their Chinese suppliers were intercepted by hackers who altered the banking details in the correspondence, causing Si-Iwli to hand over £18,000 (around P ¼ m) to the thieves. That might not sound much to a large enterprise, but to a small or medium business it can be devastating.
Another recent SMB hacking story which appeared in the Wall Street Journal concerned Innovative Higher Ed Consulting (IHED) Inc, a small New York start-up with a handful of employees. IHED didn’t even have a website, but fraudsters were able to run stolen credit card numbers through the company’s payment system and reverse the charges to the tune of $27,000, around the same loss faced by Si-Iwli. As the WSJ put it, the hackers completely destroyed the company, forcing its owners to fold.
And in May 2019, the city of Baltimore’s computer system was hit by a ransomware attack, with hackers using a variant called RobinHood. The hack, which has lasted more than a month, paralysed the computer system for city employees, with the hackers demanding a payment in Bitcoin to give access back to the city.
Of course, hackers target governments or business giants but small and medium businesses are certainly not immune. In fact, 67% of SMBs reported that they had experienced a cyber attack across a period of 12 months, according to a 2018 survey carried out by security research firm Ponemon Institute. Additionally, Verizon issued a report in May 2019 that small businesses accounted for 43% of its reported data breaches. Once seen as less vulnerable than PCs, smartphone attacks are on the rise, with movements like the Dark Caracal spyware campaign underlining the allure of mobile devices to hackers. Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission released a statement calling for greater education on mobile security, coming at a time when around 42% of all Android devices are believed to not carry the latest security updates.
This is an era when employees increasingly use their smartphones for work-related purposes so is your business doing enough to protect against data breaches on their employees’ phones? The SME Cyber Crime Survey 2018 carried out for risk management specialists AON showed that more than 80% of small businesses did not view this as a threat yet if as shown, 67% of SMBs were said to have been victims of hacking, either the stats are wrong or business owners are underestimating their vulnerability. A 2019 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests the latter, stating that the majority of global businesses are unprepared for cyber attacks.
Consider that a workstation no longer means a desk in an office: It can be a phone in the back of a taxi or Uber; a laptop in a coffee shop, or a tablet in an airport lounge. Wherever the device is used, employees can potentially install applications that could be harmful to your business, even from something as seemingly insignificant as clicking on an accidental download or opening a link on a phishing email. Out of the physical workplace, your employees’ activities might not have the same protections as they would on a company-monitored PC.
Yet many businesses not only encourage their employees to work remotely, but assume working from coffee shops, bookstores, and airports can boost employees’ productivity. Unfortunately, many remote hot spots do not provide secure Wi-Fi so if your employee is accessing their work account on unsecured public Wi-Fi, sensitive business data could be at risk. Furthermore, even if your employee uses a company smartphone or has access to company data through a personal mobile device, there is always a chance data could be in jeopardy with a lost or stolen device, even information as basic as clients’ addresses and phone numbers.
BOYDs are also at risk from malware designed to harm and infect the host system, transmittable to smartphones when downloading malicious third-party apps. Then there is ransomware, a type of malware used by hackers to specifically take control of a system’s data, blocking access or threatening to release sensitive information unless a ransom is paid such as the one which affected Baltimore. Ransomware attacks are on the increase, predicted to occur every 14 seconds, potentially costing billions of dollars per year.
Lastly there is phishing – the cyber equivalent of the metaphorical fishing exercise – whereby cybercriminals attempt to obtain sensitive data –usernames, passwords, credit card details –usually through a phoney email designed to look legitimate which directs the user to a fraudulent website or requests the data be emailed back directly. Most of us like to think we could recognize a phishing email when we see it, but these emails have become more sophisticated and can come through other forms of communication such as messaging apps.
Bottom line is to be aware of the potential problems with BOYDs and if in doubt, consult your IT security consultants. You can’t put the own-device genie back in the bottle but you can make data protection one of your three wishes!
“I Propose to Diana Tonight”
About five days before Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed landed in Paris, General Atiku, a certain Edward Williams was taking a walk in a woods in the Welsh town of Mountain Ash. Williams, then 73, was a psychic of some renown. He had in the past foretold assassination attempts on US President Ronald Reagan, which occurred on March 30, 1981, and Pope John Paul II, which came to pass on May 13, 1981.
As he trudged the woods, Williams had a sudden premonition that pointed to Diana’s imminent fate as per Christopher Andersen’s book The Day Diana Died. “When the vision struck me, it was as if everything around me was obscured and replaced by shadowy figures,” Williams was later to reminisce. “In the middle was the face of Princess Diana. Her expression was sad and full of pathos. She was wearing what looked like a floral dress with a short dark cardigan. But it was vague. I went cold with fear and knew it was a sign that she was in danger.”
Williams hastily beat a retreat to his home, which he shared with his wife Mary, and related to her his presentiment, trembling like an aspen leaf as he did so. “I have never seen him so upset,” Mary recounted. “He felt he was given a sign and when he came back from his walk he was deeply shaken.”
The following day, Williams frantically sauntered into a police station to inform the police of his premonition. The officer who attended to him would have dismissed him as no more than a crackpot but he treated him seriously in view of the accuracy of his past predictions. He took a statement and immediately passed it on to the Special Branch Investigative Unit.
The report read as follows:
“On 27 August, at 14:12 hrs, a man by the name of Edward Williams came to Mountain Ash police station. He said he was a psychic and predicted that Princess Diana was going to die. In previous years, he has predicted that the Pope and Ronald Reagan were going to be the victims of assassination attempts. On both occasions he was proved to be correct. Mr Williams appeared to be quite normal.”
Williams, General, was spot-on as usual: four days later, the princess was no more.
Meanwhile, General, even as Dodi and Diana were making their way to the Fayed-owned Ritz Hotel in central Paris, British newspapers were awash with headlines that suggested Diana was kind of deranged. Writes Andrew Morton in Diana in Pursuit of Love: “In The Independent Diana was described as ‘a woman with fundamentally nothing to say about anything’. She was ‘suffering from a form of arrested development’. ‘Isn’t it time she started using her head?’ asked The Mail on Sunday. The Sunday Mirror printed a special supplement entitled ‘A Story of Love’; The News of the World claimed that William had demanded that Diana should split from Dodi: ‘William can’t help it, he just doesn’t like the man.’ William was reportedly ‘horrified’ and ‘doesn’t think Mr Fayed is good for his mother’ – or was that just the press projecting their own prejudices? The upmarket Sunday Times newspaper, which had first serialised my biography of the princess, now put her in the psychiatrist’s chair for daring to be wooed by a Muslim. The pop-psychologist Oliver James put Diana ‘On the Couch’, asking why she was so ‘depressed’ and desperate for love. Other tabloids piled in with dire prognostications – about Prince Philip’s hostility to the relationship, Diana’s prospect of exile, and the social ostracism she would face if she married Dodi.”
DIANA AND DODI AT THE RITZ
Before Diana and Dodi departed the Villa Windsor sometime after 16 hrs, General, one of Dodi’s bodyguards Trevor Rees-Jones furtively asked Diana as to what the programme for the evening was. This Trevor did out of sheer desperation as Dodi had ceased and desisted from telling members of his security detail, let alone anyone else for that matter, what his onward destination was for fear that that piece of information would be passed on to the paparazzi. Diana kindly obliged Trevor though her response was terse and scarcely revealing. “Well, eventually we will be going out to a restaurant”, that was all Diana said. Without advance knowledge of exactly what restaurant that was, Trevor and his colleagues’ hands were tied: they could not do a recce on it as was standard practice for the security team of a VIP principal. Dodi certainly, General, was being recklessly by throwing such caution to the winds.
At about 16:30, Diana and Dodi drew up at the Ritz Hotel, where they were received by acting hotel manager Claude Roulet. The front entrance of the hotel was already crawling with paparazzi, as a result of which the couple took the precaution of using the rear entrance, where hopefully they would make their entry unperturbed and unmolested. The first thing they did when they were ensconced in the now $10,000 a night Imperial Suite was to spend some time on their mobiles and set about touching base with friends, relations, and associates. Diana called at least two people, her clairvoyant friend Rita Rogers and her favourite journalist Richard Kay of The Daily Mail.
Rita, General, was alarmed that Diana had proceeded to venture to Paris notwithstanding the warning she had given Dodi and herself in relation to what she had seen of him in the crystal ball when the couple had consulted her. When quizzed as to what the hell she indeed was doing in Paris at that juncture, Diana replied that she and Dodi had simply come to do some shopping, which though partially true was not the material reason they were there. “But Diana, remember what I told Dodi,” Rita said somewhat reprovingly. Diana a bit apprehensively replied, “Yes I remember. I will be careful. I promise.” Well, she did not live up to her promise as we shall soon unpack General.
As for Richard Kay, Diana made known to him that, “I have decided I am going to radically change my life. I am going to complete my obligations to charities and to the anti-personnel land mines cause, but in November I want to completely withdraw from formal public life.”
Once she was done with her round of calls, Diana went down to the hair saloon by the hotel swimming pool to have her hair washed and blow-dried ahead of the scheduled evening dinner.
THE “TELL ME YES” RING IS DELIVERED
Since the main object of their Paris trip was to pick up the “Tell Me Yes” engagement ring Dodi had ordered in Monte Carlo a week earlier, Dodi decided to check on Repossi Jewellery, which was right within the Ritz prencincts, known as the Place Vendome. It could have taken less than a minute for Dodi to get to the store on foot but he decided to use a car to outsmart the paparazzi invasion. He was driven there by Trevor Rees-Jones, with Alexander Kez Wingfield and Claude Roulet following on foot, though he entered the shop alone.
The Repossi store had closed for the holiday season but Alberto Repossi, accompanied by his wife and brother-in-law, had decided to travel all the way from his home in Monaco and momentarily open it for the sake of the potentially highly lucrative Dodi transaction. Alberto, however, disappointed Dodi as the ring he had chosen was not the one he produced. The one he showed Dodi was pricier and perhaps more exquisite but Dodi was adamant that he wanted the exact one he had ordered as that was what Diana herself had picked. It was a ploy on the part of Repossi to make a real killing on the sale, his excuse to that effect being that Diana deserved a ring tha was well worthy of her social pedigree. With Dodi having expressed disaffection, Repossi rendered his apologies and assured Dodi he would make the right ring available shortly, whereupon Dodi repaired back to the hotel to await its delivery. But Dodi did insist nonetheless that the pricier ring be delivered too in case it appealed to Diana anyway.
Repossi delivered the two rings an hour later. They were collected by Roulet. On inspecting them, Dodi chose the very one he had seen in Monte Carlo, apparently at the insistence of Diana. There is a possibility that Diana, who was very much aware of her public image and was not comfortable with ostentatious displays of wealth, may have deliberately shown an interest in a less expensive engagement ring. It may have been a purely romantic as opposed to a prestigious choice for her.
The value of the ring, which was found on a wardrobe shelf in Dodi’s apartment after the crash, has been estimated to be between $20,000 and $250,000 as Repossi has always refused to be drawn into revealing how much Dodi paid for it. The sum, which enjoyed a 25 percent discount, was in truth paid for not by Dodi himself but by his father as was the usual practice.
Dodi was also shown Repossi’s sketches for a bracelet, a watch, and earrings which he proposed to create if Diana approved of them.
DIANA AND DODI GUSH OVER IMMINENT NUPTIALS
At about 7 pm, Dodi and Diana left the Ritz and headed for Dodi’s apartment at a place known as the Arc de Trompe. They went there to properly tog themselves out for the scheduled evening dinner. They spent two hours at the luxurious apartment. As usual, the ubiquitous paparazzi were patiently waiting for them there.
As they lingered in the apartment, Dodi beckoned over to his butler Rene Delorm and showed him the engagement ring. “Dodi came into my kitchen,” Delorm relates. “He looked into the hallway to check that Diana couldn’t hear and reached into his pocket and pulled out the box … He said, ‘Rene, I’m going to propose to the princess tonight. Make sure that we have champagne on ice when we come back from dinner’.” Rene described the ring as “a spectacular diamond encrusted ring, a massive emerald surrounded by a cluster of diamonds, set on a yellow and white gold band sitting in a small light-grey velvet box”.
Just before 9 pm, Dodi called the brother of his step-father, Hassan Yassen, who also was staying at the Ritz that night, and told him that he hoped to get married to Diana by the end of the year.
Later that same evening, both Dodi and Diana would talk to Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi’s dad, and make known to him their pre-nuptial intentions. “They called me and said we’re coming back (to London) on Sunday (August 31) and on Monday (September 1) they are
RAMADAN – The Blessed Month of Fasting
Ramadan is the fasting month for Muslims, where over one billion Muslims throughout the world fast from dawn to sunset, and pray additional prayers at night. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to Allah, and self-control. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. As you read this Muslims the world over have already begun fasting as the month of Ramadan has commenced (depending on the sighting of the new moon).
‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for people, in it are clear signs of guidance and Criterion, therefore whoever of you who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days, God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful”. Holy Qur’an (2 : 185)
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built. The other four are: the declaration of one’s belief in Allah’s oneness and in the message of Muhammad (PBUH); regular attendance to prayer; payment of zakaat (obligatory charity); and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
As explained in an earlier article, fasting includes total abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, refraining from obscenity, avoiding getting into arguments and including abstaining from marital relations, from sunrise to sunset. While fasting may appear to some as difficult Muslims see it as an opportunity to get closer to their Lord, a chance to develop spiritually and at the same time the act of fasting builds character, discipline and self-restraint.
Just as our cars require servicing at regular intervals, so do Muslims consider Ramadan as a month in which the body and spirit undergoes as it were a ‘full service’. This ‘service’ includes heightened spiritual awareness both the mental and physical aspects and also the body undergoing a process of detoxification and some of the organs get to ‘rest’ through fasting.
Because of the intensive devotional activity fasting, Ramadan has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship but there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating Allah’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so by claiming to be fasting yet eating on the sly. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan.
The reward Allah gives for proper fasting is very generous. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) quotes Allah as saying: “All actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I will reward it accordingly.” We are also told by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that the reward for proper fasting is admittance into heaven.
Fasting earns great reward when it is done in a ‘proper’ manner. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. For example perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of one’s feelings and emotions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that when fasting, a person should not allow himself to be drawn into a quarrel or a slanging match. He teaches us: “On a day of fasting, let no one of you indulge in any obscenity, or enter into a slanging match. Should someone abuse or fight him, let him respond by saying: ‘I am fasting!’”
This high standard of self-restraint fits in well with fasting, which is considered as an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in our physical desires. The purpose of fasting helps man to attain a high degree of sublimity, discipline and self-restraint. In other words, this standard CAN BE achieved by every Muslim who knows the purpose of fasting and strives to fulfill it.
Fasting has another special aspect. It makes all people share in the feelings of hunger and thirst. In normal circumstances, people with decent income may go from one year’s end to another without experiencing the pangs of hunger which a poor person may feel every day of his life. Such an experience helps to draw the rich one’s conscience nearer to needs of the poor. A Muslim is encouraged to be more charitable and learns to give generously for a good cause.
Fasting also has a universal or communal aspect to it. As Muslims throughout the world share in this blessed act of worship, their sense of unity is enhanced by the fact that every Muslim individual joins willingly in the fulfillment of this divine commandment. This is a unity of action and purpose, since they all fast in order to be better human beings. As a person restrains himself from the things he desires most, in the hope that he will earn Allah’s pleasure, self-discipline and sacrifice become part of his nature.
The month of Ramadan can aptly be described as a “season of worship.” Fasting is the main aspect of worship in this month, because people are more attentive to their prayers, read the Qur’an more frequently and also strive to improve on their inner and outer character. Thus, their devotion is more complete and they feel much happier in Ramadan because they feel themselves to be closer to their Creator.