Duha was honored to receive the seed of the jinn.
It was a wicked thing to do of course, to allow an evil spirit to mate with her. The jinn have souls and free will, so when they turn to evil, they are as abhorrent as man in doing so, for their natures could have been good. It mattered not however, for this put her above all other women. She reigned above her married sisters, above her scowling mother, and above the tittering women of the village. She was beyond the reach of any hand, stick, or reproach when in his arms. He came to her alone; she alone was charming, graceful, and beautiful enough to receive his attention.
It had started after she had been disallowed to go to school anymore. No longer a girl but a young woman who bled, her parents declared she was to now to prepare for marriage, and the first step in doing so was to become tied to the home. Duha wept and wept to see her dream bolt away from her like an antelope, disappearing into the mountains of obscurity forever.
She had wished to be like her teacher, an intelligent and confident young woman that even while unmarried was respected and listened to. No one ever told her teacher to be silent, to know her place. For if they did they would receive such a cutting glare that their tongues would roll back in their throats. Even the men gave her berth though they whispered such vile things about her behind her back. She made them as powerless as little boys and Duha had thought this such a magnificent thing. She wanted that power, for her words to have meaning and to not be the grunting of a mute.
They took her away from those kind and gentle arms however, those lithe hands that had tended her wounds and had stroked her hair in soothing. No one again would ever say, “Don’t listen to them Duha, you are as intelligent as anyone, and as worth as much.”
Oh but he called her as beautiful as the moon and as graceful as the canary in flight. She was worth everything to him, he loved her. She didn’t care if he was a servant of Iblis, sent to tempt man to evil. If evil wore such a handsome face, let us all fall! Better to be magnificent and wicked than good and ugly. For modesty was hateful, honor was corruptible, charity foolish, and decency laughable in our world of insensible paradoxes.
For example, the most modest and lovely young woman in the village had proven whore on her wedding day. The groom had locked the door when they came to parade her blood-stained knickers about to show the bride had been pure in the consummation of the marriage. In the morning he had confessed the terrible truth, there had been no blood, no maidenhead, nothing to celebrate.
There was gossip after the girl’s family had deserted in shame of course. Who had gotten her, how, and when? How could they have all been deceived by that girl who used to cower at even the most innocuous male glance? Who had observed hijab in every nuance and had been of careful word and walk?
Duha had known the truth; it was simply the act of a cruel God. A God that let a modest and devout girl be shamed on her wedding day for the world is twisted in cutting angles. Virtue becomes pointless when you cannot show it. The world of the good man is nothing but a pageantry of hard earned medals, and when there is no prize to display, that world becomes senseless and useless. Allah had taken away her maidenhead to show them all that good is not a medallion to wear, but they all ignored the subtlety of the disfavor of God.
Evil gave just as many rewards and punishments as being good, so why not be evil if given the chance?
Evil had given Duha her chance to escape being pinned under a man and made to bleed. Her virgin blood must become a chain, but she could decide who held the end of it. If she was ruined, if she was like that girl who had been shamed, then she could flee at last. It was fine if no one else but Baqir, her jinn, hewr companion in the night, wanted her. He was all she needed.
All she wanted to do was fly in his arms, far, far away. Far away from the grasping hands of her mother who dictated every aspect of her life and future. She would not fly into another cage. She would not be like her sisters who grew big with mortal babies and cried when their babies occasionally died. She would be beyond the reach of any mortal man with his bulk and sour smell. Her offspring would be perfect, strong, and lovely. And she would never treat them as her mother did her, like a slave.
He only came to her at night, when everyone else was asleep. When only she was awake and may see him. The first night he had been small, to make her feel less afraid of him. He had been a tiny flame of blue upon her windowsill. He had sang and danced, telling her all manner of amusing stories and they had stayed together until dawn. She wept in sorrow when he left and cried in joy when he returned.
He had become larger and larger each night, gaining more form, more stature, and more presence until he eventually stood like a mortal man before her. He was unbelievably beautiful with warm indigo skin, bright eyes, and crowned with lovely tresses of black curls. He was always dressed as a prince of old in dazzling Egyptian cotton and intricate Chinese brocade. His mannerisms were that of a splendid young nobleman. He looked barely older than her with a sparse beard upon his chin but he assured her he had been created at the very beginning of man and creatures like him. He was as graceful as a cat and spoke with the cadence of a flickering flame.
He told her secrets about the universe and things no other human knew. He told her stories only the jinn knew and gave new names to creation none living had ever heard before. He danced as no man could and taught her the steps to a taskiouine to celebrate the loveliness of a battlefield strewn with corpses. He made her laugh as he related the follies of men and angels.
He took her to unbelievable places. He recited poetry to her at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean by a volcano that flared with steam. He fed her upon elephant meat on a dazzling African summit. They swam in a gasping cave of crystals. He gave her rubies and emeralds upon an ancient temple in the Andes and fed her exotic fruits in a verdant rainforest. They visited all those places she had longed to see with her own eyes when she had been shown them in her schoolbooks.
They made love in an ancient graveyard, full of onyx and marble tombs. For a child conceived in such a place always becomes a great man. It had been nothing like what she would have expected with a sweaty and entitled mortal man. Her mortal flesh was consumed by his glorious flames and burned away until nothing but bliss and passion remained. She was filled with splendid light that seared her body and her virgin blood spilled in marvelous drops across the primeval earth. She writhed beneath him and her very innards convalesced against him as they awoke to sensual need. Nothing else had existed for her that night. Nothing but him and his touch like a blazing wildfire.
She asked once why he had chosen to serve Iblis. And he told her what she already knew, that suffering is given to all, good or evil. Iblis must one day fall to Allah, but was there not pride in saying you had at least raised up your head? Duha had given a breathy sigh of agreement and in daylight hours as she kneaded bread or washed dishes, she imagined what their child of rebellion would look like.
And as the months went by she grew. She became ill like her sisters complained of, the nausea, the bodily pain, the headaches, and swelling. She would crack open with life as they had and all her suffering would be rewarded. She nurtured the life within her by singing the songs its father had taught her and by eating the thin soup that was the only thing she could tolerate in her pregnancy pains. She began to wear her clothes loose to hide the swell of life within her.
She joyfully showed her marvelous Baqir the life he had thrust into her. He approvingly laid his incandescent hands on her distended stomach and she giggled at his warm touch. She asked when he would take her away to some fabulous palace.
“Soon, after the child has been born,” he promised in his sonorous voice and for the first time she didn’t weep when he left her.
Eventually her mother guessed the reason for her daughter’s illness and lack of menstrual blood. How her parents despaired when she informed them she was with child. She was vindicated in the face of their tears and shouts.
“No, no, impossible! You were never out of my sight!” her mother lamented.
“It was at night,” Duha informed her blazingly.
“Impossible! It would have been impossible for you to escape; I have always locked every window and door! I checked on you in the night, you never left!” Her father countered and his eyes narrowed as Duha looked away in spite.
It was decided they would take her to a doctor in the next city. The perverted miracle was too much for their hearts to take and the grieving parents needed an explanation. Duha was spirited away and the neighbors were told she had appendicitis. Only her sisters had some inkling what was going on, for they knew their mother’s heart. The oldest one came to Duha before she left, her five month old baby in her arms.
“Duha, no child should be conceived in love, for it will eat away at you. Please, accept our parent’s advice in this matter.”
“I would want it to eat me sister,” Duha informed her stolidly. “For at least I would die with an upraised head.”2: II: Scream
Duha was no longer impressed by human cities. When she was a girl a trip to the nearest large city had been a bountiful adventure of amazing sights, sounds, and smells. Now the parapets and roofs looks like so many rocks upturned in mud. The entire earth looked wretched and listless, a stagnant microcosm of rooms and streets that lead nowhere. The dazzling white hospital hovered above its verdant courtyards like a grotesque monolith of illness. She should not be here! She was not ill! Only blessed.
She walked with grace and poise however as they presented her to the doctor. She was the bride of a jinn, an untouchable noblewoman even as they stripped her and exposed all that had belonged to Baqir alone. They poke and prodded her with their cold instruments and frigid fingers. They took blood; they glided machines over her body, looking for the origin point of the perverse.
It was determined she was a virgin with "no signs of penetration."
"It was a jinn, named Baqir," Duha said in rapt romance. The doctor stroked his long beard with a frown as he considered this answer.
"She has not menstruated because she has become so underweight in her condition," he informed her mother staunchly. "The pregnancy test was negative; she carries no child, and has been touched by none."
"A jinn leaves no sign of his presence, not even the faintest burn!" Duha countered with a sneer at science's cold rationalism that all that was wonderful in life didn't really exist. The man continued to speak as if she was not present, nothing but a deaf-mute.
"It must be removed," he finally pronounced with heavy authority and Duha felt her blood crystallize in cold fear in her veins. They wanted to kill her baby! They wanted to tear Baqir's gift out of her! They wanted to cut out of her what made her above all other women, special.
She howled with a furious rage and made certain to scream so loudly that every man, angel and jinn could hear her. She was not wordless! Without sound! Here was her voice! Ripping across their ear drums! Let them all hear her wrath and cower in terror at her fury! She would render them all deaf, mute, as they had her! She would show them she was not a passive simpleton! Let them all look away from her in her glory as the beloved of a jinn!
She shrieked so loudly she cracked glass, made her mother cry out as the pain in her ears, and didn't stop even as she was held down by no less than five men. She continued to wail and howl like a wild creature, beyond civilization, beyond grace, and beyond hope. Her hands became claws, her teeth fangs, and she tried to rip apart her fellow man like a relentless lioness. She was the lover of a jinn, and mortal men were no match for her!
Evil gives as many punishments and rewards as good however. In the end they their needle at last found a vein. She was only rendered silent however by her vocal cords collapsed in an exquisite agony. Her cacophony became a dull chorus of whimpering growls. She would always cry out! She would never be silenced again! As the sedative swam towards her brain she called out the one who could save her, must save her.
"Ba..qir…my….love…" she wept into the encroaching darkness. A warm hand found her wrist and spoke of castles in the air. She gave one last cry of anguish before all was torn away.3: III: Reconciliation
When she awoke she was alone. Her mother slept on the bed near to hers, as far away as the moon and Baqir. Duha's fingers curled and she gave a low groan as the world seemed to fall around her. She struggled against the last echoes of the chemical death knoll that had been injected into her. She sat up in her bed, vomited off to the side and onto the floor in spite, and raised her blanket.
Nothing remained but a scar, a livid line of thread sewn into her flesh, the child gone, and all her hope.
"I want to see it." She whispered to the doctor, ignoring the livid pain in her throat. He had come some hours after dawn to check on her. Her mother protested, but the man demurred, thinking it would perhaps at last break the illusion his patient suffered under. He called a nurse and had the woman bring forth a specimen jar. It was an ugly reliquary of glass and a plain black plastic top. It read her name, age, and the date of the surgery.
Duha took it into her shaking hands, her baby, nothing more than a twisted mass of malignant cells. A tumor that had tried to devour her from the inside out. This is what evil had given her; a grotesque child that couldn't live without its mother. It would have died when she would have, and they would have been with Baqir forever.
She kissed the glass, and informed those gathered her daughter's name was "Hala", for she would have been as beautiful as the moon. The doctor kindly wrote the name on the jar, and deposited it among all the other life that had died before it could be born.
"I am ruined." Duha smiled at her mother as she was discharged. The nurse had told her before she had been released. They had removed the organ her child had grown in. She could not bare any man a child, she would never bleed again, and she would never again be a mother.
"Yes," her mother sighed and glanced at an early nightingale upon a blossoming peach tree in the hospital courtyard. "You must go back to school, for now you must work, or you will be a burden upon your father."
And at that moment Duha loved both of her parents as she never had before, for now they understood. She walked hand in hand with them towards their car. And when she would get home she would brag to her sisters of her marriage to a jinn.
For she was above all other women, mutilated, useless, and beloved of evil. She belonged to no man but demons and spirits of the night. And every night, upon her window sill, would sit her jinn, her husband, her love, who had taken her to his magnificent palace of the mind. Her Baqir, who ripped open Allah's creation to expose the false hope of evil.
But they would die with upraised heads in that false light.