Dec 21, 2007

The Soothsayer of Doha

I was, by most accounts, a demon-child. I was avoided, taunted, and warded off by the pious and the superstitious daily. Had they but given me a chance, they would have realized what a sweet child I was. Or so my mother thought.
She had the sweetest hands. Sweet and brown like halvahs. And whenever she smoothed my unruly auburn hair, I would think of them and she would lead me into the kitchen where they were always fresh.

“It's hot,” my mother warned. I engulfed one anyway, relaxing as it melted in my mouth and released its sapid flavor.

“I wuv eze,” I said, mouth full and crumbs on my cheeks. I swallowed. “Oh! Guess what?”

“What,” she said, as she covered her coarse black hair with a khimar.

“I made a friend! There's a new girl in school from America and today when Asiya made fun of my eyes she said they were the prettiest she'd ever seen and that if Asiya had a problem she knew where to go.” My mother raised an eyebrow.

“Oh yeah? And where's that?”

“Uh. Nowhere, Umm.”

After that day there was no girl who had a more dear friend than I was to Simoni. She helped turn me from a people-shy bookworm into someone who would meet the eyes of others. Of course, that made things worse. The more people saw my eyes the more they thought I was witch.


Time passed, I hit puberty, and I began to have strange dreams that sent my social status plummeting. One night I had a dream that made me wonder if I really were a witch.

The moon hung full in the sky. I was lurking amongst shadowed green plants and peering into the window of my neighbor's house. Through the shiny glass I could see mahogany four post bed with rumpled silk sheets.

On the bed there were several packages of various shapes including a small semilunar bundle. Somehow I knew they were drugs and contraband goods. Harsh voices whispered inside the room and then there were gunshots. I fell back into the mud, feeling sick at the sound of their baby crying and the death rattle of one of the men.

I tumbled from bed, reaching for my phone. I paused briefly in the mirror, more out of praxis than anything else, and looked out of my window into my neighbor's bedroom. Everything looked as it had in my dream, down to the semilunar bundle. I called Simoni and recounted my dream.

“Wha?” Simoni mumbled.

“I said I think I'm having mantic dreams.”

“Manic? You're bi-polar? What?”

“No, mantic, like an oracle.”

“Why can't you use normal words? Look, we've talked about this before. Do you remember what happened last time you told people your dreams?”

“Yeah. They thought I made those bad things happen.”

“Right but it was just chance they came true. Hey, don't worry about it, okay? I'll come by later.”

I sighed knowing I'd gotten no better than a lick and a promise. But maybe Simoni was right. The dreams coming true could be a result of bad luck and serendipity. Still, I was uneasy until I had the idea.

By nightfall, I was standing at the window, armed with my phone. There were door slams and mens brusque voices wafted in the night. Soon I was talking with the police and crouching by the window as in my dream. Everything happened as in my dream: the gunshots, the crying, the sickness. But then the police arrived. Then more gunshots and the police slammed a man against the window. He looked into my eyes and screamed. I couldn't blame him, for I was bathed in moonlight but still inky dark, hair aflame, and eyes piercing blue.

I awoke early the next morning, the scent of halvahs fresh in the hair. I looked in the mirror, tied my hair in a knot and hurried into the kitchen. There Simoni was, smiling and scraping the confection from the pan.

“You were right. It's all over the news. I just wish there were a way to get your predictions to people without scaring them.”

Later Simoni blamed the zeitgeist of our age for the idea. Whatever the case, my “fortune halvahs” with predictions printed on them, gave me an unparalleled ataraxia and improved my relationship with the community. No longer shunned, my life was filled with grace. No longer hated, my life was filled with joy.


Kris said...

I really enjoyed this story! I was definitely drawn in hopes of knowing what her eyes held. It's a wonderful tale.

Anonymous said...

great story! merry christmas