Note: This story is based on true events. Some details and names have been changed to maintain privacy.
The Snake Jinn.
Synopsis: A couple, Farah and Arham desperate to have children visit a Pir famous in a small town for controlling Jinns and presenting them in the form of snakes. The snake talks in a human voice and answers questions the visitors ask and prays for them. The couple are required to spend the night in the Pir’s Haveli as the Jinn visits after Fajar prayers. All is not what it seems and they soon discover that the Pir gets a sadistic pleasure in instilling fear in his visitors hearts specially those who defy him. An intrusive question from Farah, irks the Pir who vows to teach her a lesson.
This is approx. 6000 words and a 20 minute read.
Farah wheeled in the tea trolley to the drawing room where someone had cracked a joke and the tinkling of laughter bounced off the walls and mixed with the warm glow of the chandelier overhead. It was the first time after her father in law has been diagnosed with cancer that the home had been blessed with a little happiness. Her father in law’s diagnoses had happened a few days after her marriage and it had affected her relationship with her in laws. She had sometimes caught undertones in conversations of how she was unlucky for the family.
It had been four years since her wedding and they were childless. She suspected the reason was that her husband never spent much time with her because he was stressed most of the time. He slept with his ailing father most nights as he didn’t trust the twenty hour nurse. She didn’t want to put additional demands on him knowing he was already stretched thin. Her father in law had headed the family business and had to step down after his illness and Arham was finding it hard to fit into his shoes. He lacked his father’s business acumen which meant they had gone from profit to loss in a few years with savings rapidly depleting due to the ongoing treatment.
She smiled with relief at the temporary lifting of perpetual clouds of sorrow in their house. Arham’s cousin and his wife had travelled to Lahore for a wedding from Islamabad and were staying with them for the night. ‘Oh ho, you shouldn’t have bothered Bhabhi, after such a lavish dinner, there is no space in my tummy for these puddings and pastries!’ Arham’s cousin, Monib remarked.
‘Then you can have green tea, bhai.’ Farah smiled at him.
‘That serves him right. I think he was counting on you to insist that he must have the sweets.’ His wife, Sarah teased her husband.
Arham directed a frown at Farah. ‘Please, don’t take it the wrong way. You must have the sweets Monib!’
‘You can spoil him if you want but he has to deal with his weight issues.’ Sarah laughed looking pointedly at his bulging middle.
‘What? This is just the fitting of my shirt. I have a six pack beneath this.’ Monib said patting his belly.
‘Yes, I am sure, just like Salman Khan right?’ His wife joked. Arham laughed and Farah stopped pouring the tea to look at him. She had missed that sound.
‘Aray, better than him. I am much younger.’
Farah looked wistfully at the interaction between the spouses. It was flowing so easily. She was envious of it. She hardly exchanged two lines with her husband the whole day.
‘I am not joking. You have to be fit, you’ll soon be a father.’
‘Congratulations Sarah!’ Farah came to sit next to Sarah. She didn’t know she was pregnant. She knew they had been married for a long time as well, almost five years and this was their first pregnancy.
‘Thank you,’ she replied taking the cup of tea from her.
‘Can I ask, did you seek any treatment for it?’ Farah couldn’t help asking, her face reddening. It was a private question but she was desperate to get pregnant herself. Maybe that would be the one thing that changed the dynamics of her relationship.
Sarah smiled brightly. ‘We didn’t have any medical problems at all. That’s what the doctors kept telling us but then we recently……’ Sarah went quiet and stole a glance at her husband. Her husband looked at her with raised eyebrows.
‘Should we tell them about Atharan Hazari?’
For a moment Monib grew serious, all mirth wiped off his face then he shrugged lightly, his expression lightening again. ‘Yes, why not? Maybe they can benefit from it as well.’
‘What is Atharan Hazari?’ Arham asked Monib.
‘It’s a place where this famous Pir lives. His name is Jamal. He is well known in the area and lots of people visit him to ask about their fortune or to pray for them. If I hadn’t seen it myself I wouldn’t have believed it either. This Pir has Jinns under his control and he presents them in snake form to people who visit him. The snake talks to you in a human voice and answers whatever questions you have.’
‘What?’ Arham smirked in disbelief.
‘I am serious, yar! We heard of him from some family friends and went to see him. He told his Jinn to pray for us. I don’t know whether it was coincidence or not but we got pregnant a few months afterwards. His Jinn only visits him after Fajar prayers so he asks the visitors to spend the night in his Haveli. This guy doesn’t look like it but he seems loaded with money, his haveli must have at least fifty rooms.’
‘Really? How does he do it?’ Arham regarded his cousin thoughtfully.
‘By the ancient art of ventriloquism,’ Farah interrupted in an amused tone.
‘Not everything is a joke, Farah,’ Arham told her.
Farah was getting an uneasy feeling at where the conversation had gone. ‘I don’t believe in all this. Humans are above Jinns in status so why would Allah listen to a Jinn’s prayers?’
The severity with which Farah spoke caused everyone to look at her. ‘You are right Bhabhi,’ Monib said quietly. ‘Allah is the only one who grants wishes but when a person is desperate they try different avenues, they ask many people to pray for them just for peace of mind, you know?’
Farah glanced at her husband who was still deep in thought. Monib looked at his wife. ‘I think my wife looks tired and we should retire before she starts feeling faint.’
Arham got up immediately, ‘Yes, sure! Farah please show them their rooms and please let us know if you need anything at night.’
Later that night, when Farah came out of the washroom she saw her husband sitting on their bed staring into space. She sat next to him and placed a hand on his arm. ‘Can I get you anything?’ she asked softly. Arham shook his head and as she was about to get up he caught her hand and pulled her gently back down. ‘We should try it, you know?’ Arham looked at her intently.
‘Try what?’ she asked.
‘The Atharan Hazari Pir.’ Farah shook her head.
‘What are you talking about? Illiterate people go to such Pirs and Fakirs.’
‘Why do you always have to have an opinion about everything. Why can’t you just go along with me for once.’
She knew he meant she had not wanted to go for IVF. According to her and the doctors there was no need for it. They had to just keep trying. It was an invasive and costly procedure and they were short of money anyway. She had argued with him if he wanted a child right away they could adopt the millions of unfortunate children who lived a life of destitution because they didn’t have a home. Farah looked away from him. It was the first time she had seen him alive and cheerful. And now there was something new, a hope in his face. He turned to catch her hand again, a little too tightly.
‘It’s not only for us. I can ask about my dad as well. Maybe he could….help.’
Farah turned to stare at him biting back the retorts that came to her lips. She understood how the business of hope and fear was the biggest money generator for such imposters but she didn’t have the heart to argue with him and to crush his hope. Besides what would happen if they paid this imposter a visit, nothing would change and they would lose some more money? That was happening anyway.
‘Alright,’ Farah gave in. Arham let out a satisfied sigh and switched off his bedside lamp. He started snoring peacefully almost immediately. Farah got inside the covers of their bed but lay awake for a while staring at the revolving fan overhead.
A few days later, Arham and Farah were on the road to Atharan Hazari. Arham had insisted they go there sooner than later. He had talked to the Pir, Jamal on the phone and had told Farah how respectful and decent the man had sounded. He had told him that he would consider it an honour if they spent the night in his Haveli.
Farah yawned, glancing at her watch which showed 10:30 pm, and then returned her gaze to the spotlighted vision of the grey road illuminated in front of them from the headlights of their speeding car. She had been busy with her household chores and her husband had been in office all day and as soon as he had come home they had got ready and headed out in their car. A few yellow street lights lit up small patches of the long stretch of gravel. She wandered if it was difficult for him to drive like this. The tunnel vision of the road gave her an eerie feeling and she turned her face to look out of the window at the deserted fields either side of the road. A few lonely trees glowed against a dull moonlit sky in the distance. Their arms stuck out awkwardly as if telling her urgently to stop and head back.
She opened her eyes wide, struggling to keep herself awake and stole a quick glance at her husband at the wheel. She saw him yawn as well and remembered the saying about them being contagious.
‘You caught it from me!’ she smiled at him.
‘Caught what?’ he asked her. He hadn’t noticed her yawn. ‘Don’t distract me from driving.’ He was tense. She could tell the way he clutched the steering wheel.
‘It’s not safe to drive when you are feeling sleepy.’
‘Should I remind you why we are driving at night? We don’t have a choice in the matter.’
The reprimand silenced her and she reclined against the seat wanting to disappear inside it. The warmth of the balmy night and the boredom of silence finally pushed her into slumber.
Farah didn’t know when she had dozed off when a sudden jerk and a loud screeching noise woke her up with a start. She heard her husband swearing beside her. She found he had exited the car slamming the door behind him and was staring at something on the road in front of the car. ‘What happened?’ she exclaimed as she got out of the car hurriedly running to him. She stepped back as soon as she was near him, her hand covering her mouth. She tried to push back the sick in her throat. A milky white goat was lying injured on the road. He was convulsing as blood spilled out of his neck where the front of the car had slammed into it.
‘How could you have not seen it……’ she shouted at him impulsively and then stepped back as her husband took a few angry steps towards her. Something changed in his demeaner as he saw her panic and he ran his fingers through his hair. He turned to face the road in front of him.
‘It’s my fault. I fell asleep at the wheel.’ He confided in a small voice. ‘You were right.’ Farah’s tense muscles relaxed as she realised this was the first time he had given her credit for anything. She was still finding it hard to have a conversation in front of a dying goat.
‘Can we help it?’ she asked looking from him to the goat. Arham rolled his eyes at her. ‘How? Are you a vet?
‘We could find a nearby residence of a farmer, they might know what to do.’
‘You want me to wade through these fields to find a farmer?’ Arham asked incredoulsy.
Farah bit her lip. ‘We could take it to this Jamal’s house, he could…’ Arham shook his head at her.
‘Yes, we’ll tell him to pray for our dying hope, my dying dad and this dying goat all at once.’ Tears sprang up to Farah’s eyes. ‘Let’s move it to the side of the road at least?’ Farah pleaded. Arham sighed and nodded.
‘Wait.’ Farah cried. She took off her red veil and tied the bleeding neck of the goat tightly with it. Arham dragged the goat off the road panting with the effort.
‘Get back in the car.’ He ordered dusting his hands. She noticed his shirt and sleeves were stained with blood in a few places now. Glancing at the goat one last time, she offered a silent apology to it. It’s eyes were glazed over in pain counting it’s last shallow breaths. As the car started and splashed through the blood on the road, Farah’s heart froze as she saw the goat through her rear view mirror stand up gracefully from the side of the road with her red veil flying in the wind, look straight at her for a moment, shake it’s head forcefully as if to say NO and then disappear. She swung towards her husband clutching his arm in fright and he jerked her hand away roughly. ‘What are you trying to do? Make me have another accident?’ Farah took a sharp breath in and turned again to look back through the window. She couldn’t see the goat this time. She wandered how she had seen him before as the road behind her was bathed in darkness now. She must still be in shock. Her husband had started talking on his mobile phone.
‘…… yes Jamal saab, we are on our way. Just wanted to know which street to take the turn, ok….right…thank you, we’ll see you soon.’
The car turned sharply into a narrow street off the main road and dust splashed upwards like a storm. Farah held on to the door handle. ‘It looks quite deserted here.’ She strained to see any sign of civilisation but there were no houses or lights. She couldn’t even make out the trees anymore and wandered where the moon had hidden. All she could see was the mud path in front of them leading to deeper darkness. Farah swallowed. ‘Arham?’ He was still glancing at the messages on his phone. He finally looked at her fleetingly.
‘Hmmm, ok now, don’t talk unnecessarily as you have a habit of doing once we are there. You know women are not supposed to be so forward in such small towns. And please cover yourself properly with your shawl.’
Farah nodded but her heart had started beating fast. A sudden premonition was pulsing inside her, growing bigger the longer they drove.
Farah finally noticed a small lamp floating in mid-air a little distance away from her. She rubbed her eyes and then as they neared the lamp she saw a tea vendor stall. Her husband slowed the car and brought it to a halt near the vendor. He lowered his window and called out to him. The vendor was seated on the stool and took his time leisurely walking up to the car, his hand holding the oil lamp. He was wiry thin with sharp glittering eyes constantly on the move. In the darkness his colour appeared a sickly grey. ‘Do you want some tea Sahib?’ the vendor asked with a grin showing his yellow crooked teeth stained with betel leaves.
‘No, I simply want to know am I on the right way to Jamal Pir’s Haveli?’
The vendor smiled, his eyes wandered to Farah. ‘Yes, you are Sahib. Follow this road and you’ll soon see the haveli. Sahib, why are you going there?’
Arham snapped his finger at the vendor, ‘Hey, look at me when you are talking. It’s none of your business. A lot of people go there to consult him, isn’t that true?’
The vendor nodded his eyes still darting to Farah. ‘Sure, they do Sahib. But you don’t look like the type who would visit there. I don’t think…..’
‘It doesn’t matter what you think…’ Arham cut him short. He started the ignition of the car. Farah looked at the vendor who was still staring at her. The car sped forward and the vendor and his stall disappeared except for the floating oil lamp.
Arham slowed the car as he saw the massive iron gate and brick wall that bordered the Haveli. A massive stone and brick structure jutted out from behind it. It had arched windows which threw shadows across each other in the moonlight. The gate was opened by a watchman and the car entered the driveway and parked. Farah looked around. Beside the driveway was a cemented courtyard surrounded with ancient trees. She wrapped her white shawl tightly around her head and covered her body properly. Arham and Farah were accompanied to the courtyard by the watchman who introduced them to an ordinary looking man wearing a black shalwar kameez. ‘This is Pir Sahib.’
‘Welcome, welcome.’ The man who appeared to be in his mid-forties, stepped forward the epitome of hospitality. He was clean shaven and had thick black hair. ‘I was waiting here for you since your call as I wanted to receive you in person. Please come this way.’ Farah was surprised. The man’s appearance and manner was simple and humble and not what she was expecting.
Jamal directed them inside the main section of the Haveli which was where his family lived. They entered a spacious living room and a dining area adjacent to it with dated furniture. When they were seated he asked Arham to tell him little about himself. When he asked about his caste and Arham replied that he was a Sheikh but his wife was Sayed (direct descendants from the holy prophet PBUH), the man turned to look at Farah bowing his head slightly with one hand on his heart as a sign of respect. ‘Sister, I have deep respect for Sayeds and I am honoured that I am your host.’
‘I have heard from my cousin that you control Jinns and they answer questions for your visitors.’
‘Yes, that’s right.’
‘The Jinn appears as a snake and speaks itself when asked questions?’
‘I choose whatever form I want it to appear in. I want it to appear as a snake so it does. It is my servant and does what I ask of it.’
‘How did you get into this practice?’ Arham asked curiously.
‘I had to work really hard to rise to this position. I went to Bengal and learnt from the masters. I did Chillas -the spiritual practice of meditation and fasting for forty days on land and even in the shores of the Arabian sea. I have been tested and have gone through torture of body and soul. My will had to be rock solid. Not everyone can do it.’ He said smiling.
‘But why did you choose to go through it then?’
‘To help unfortunate people in need. If I can help them get relief from their worries I feel my troubles weren’t in vain.’
‘Why do you choose snake as the form for your Jinn to appear in?’ Farah asked unable to stop herself. Jamal looked at her surprised as if he had expected her to be mute and Arham frowned at her. He had told her to remain silent and she had disobeyed him again. Farah felt she had to intervene as Arham was taking a keen interest and actually believing this imposter’s lies.
Jamal stared at Farah for a moment and then smiled. ‘To instil fear.’
‘I thought your purpose was to help people?’
‘Fear is linked to power and power to respect and obedience. You cannot make people respect you unless they fear you a bit.’
‘And if the people who visit you are so senseless with fear they are unable to achieve their purpose. You have chosen a form that makes them uneasy to begin with so they lose their ability to think and are intimidated by you.’
Jamal shook his head, ‘The visitors know that it’s not a real snake and has no ability to bite or harm them. I make that very clear. It’s a Jinn under my control and does nothing if I don’t want it to.’
‘Then why not choose a bird or a cat?’
‘Farah!’ Arham whispered urgently to shut her up.
Jamal laughed and turned to Arham. ‘I think your Sayed wife is very scared of snakes.’
Farah gave him a cold look. ‘I am neither scared of your Jinn, your snakes or whatever tricks you use to intimidate illiterate people. Yes, I am from a Sayed family and it is our belief that these beings cannot harm us. They are scared of us.’ She told him proudly looking him squarely in the eye.
Jamal smiled knowingly and looked back at her intently, ‘Really sister, you are sure?’
‘Yes.’ Farah answered. Jamal nodded still smiling.
The food was served in the dining area by Jamal’s second wife. Farah noticed something odd about her but couldn’t quite understand what it was. Half her face was covered with a veil but she could see big round lifeless eyes and a round doll like face that had almost plastic like skin stretched over it. She avoided making eye contact with anyone and kept her face down while serving dinner but did not join them for the meal. It was nearly 12am and after dinner, Jamal directed them through a corridor into a sparsely furnished bedroom. There were two single beds in the room at opposite ends to each other, a cupboard and a dressing table. They were on the ground floor and the door to all the rooms opened to the courtyard. ‘Sister, we’ll wake you in the morning for Fajar prayers.’
Farah paled and turned around sharply to face Jamal. ‘What do you mean? My husband will sleep here with me.’
Arham turned to Jamal, ‘We were under the impression that we would share a room?’
Jamal shook his head firmly. ‘That’s not possible. This is my private house. My wife, daughter and sisters sleep in the rooms adjacent to each other. A strange man like yourself cannot enter and sleep in these premises. I will escort you to the guest rooms where all the visiting men sleep. At the same time I cannot allow your wife to sleep in the guest house as there are many strange men there and I don’t want to take responsibility of what might go wrong, you see.’
Farah held on to Arham’s arm in panic. ‘I refuse to sleep here alone.’
‘No problem. I will fetch my daughter. She will come and sleep with you.’ Jamal assured her and walked out of the room. Upon re-entering the room he was directing a teenage girl who was so drowsy that upon entering she lay on the bed nearest to her and went to sleep.
Arham turned to Farah, ‘Look, he does make sense. There is nothing to worry about. Just call me if you need anything, ok?’
‘It’s settled then. Come Arham saab, let me show you to your room.’ The men exited the room closing the door behind them. Farah looked around. The teenage girl was now snoring lightly and the only other bed didn’t have a quilt on it. It just had a mattress, sheet and a pillow. She was thankful it wasn’t winter. She sat down on the bed heavily. An uneasy feeling was growing from the pit of her stomach and clutching her heart with ice cold fingers. She jumped a little when she heard a knock on the door. Praying it would be Arham she ran to the door and swung it open to find Jamal standing there. She stepped back in alarm. She had left her purse with her mobile on the bed. She could run to speed dial him.
‘You look frightened already, sister. I just came to check if everything is ok?’
Farah pulled herself up to her full height. She was determined not to show him any sign of her fear. ‘No, I am fine.’ She lied bravely.
‘Are you sure you aren’t feeling scared yet?’ Jamal smiled looking into her eyes.
‘I am sure. I want to rest now. You may leave.’ Farah told him coldly as if addressing an inferior.
‘Very well. I wish you a very good sleep.’ He told her, bowing mockingly and closing the door behind him.
An unknown fear had gripped Farah now. She knew something bad would happen to her but she didn’t know what. She lay down on the bed and instinctively cocooned herself with her white shawl from her head to her toes turning the edges of the shawl inwards so no part of her body was left exposed as if it was a shield. She shut her eyes tightly knowing something evil was about to happen. Within minutes of her covering herself like this, she felt something wriggling on top of her body and she knew it was his snake. She cursed Jamal in her heart. She had challenged him with her defiance and he was now proving that he could scare her. At first Farah’s mind and body froze with terror and then a Surah came to her lips automatically. She began reciting it with fervour. It was Surah Nas. She recited it from 12am to 5:00am and the snake kept wriggling all over her body covered with the shawl until the Fajar Azan resounded and the ordeal ended. Farah lay numb under her shawl unable to move. Her mouth was dry and her head was throbbing. A knock sounded on the door and it broke her terrorised stupor. She ran to the door and opened it to find Jamal and her husband standing there. Arham stepped forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. ‘Are you alright? You look pale.’ The colour was drained out of Farah’s face and her eyes were red.
Jamal stepped forward, ‘So, I hope you didn’t get scared, my esteemed Sayed sister?’
Farah took a step forward and raised her chin. ‘No.’ she replied shakily, ‘There was nothing to get scared about.’ She tried to keep her expression neutral and calm.
‘After you say your Fajar prayers, breakfast will be served in the dining room and then we can convene for what you are really here for.’ Jamal informed Arham.
When Arham and Farah were alone, Arham hugged her. Farah buried her face in his chest. ‘How could you leave me alone here?’ she asked him in hurt voice.
‘I didn’t. I was sitting outside this room the whole night. Come I’ll show you.’ He took her to the window which was open for fresh air. She looked out to see the courtyard and a neem tree in the middle of it she hadn’t noticed before. ‘I was seated under that tree the whole night to keep watch over this room. I thought there was something suspicious about this man so I didn’t want to leave you alone. I was waiting to see if he entered your room or if I heard you call for help I would come in. Hey, look at me, did something happen?’
Farah continued looking at the neem tree. ‘Not what you think. Let’s get this over with and get out of here.’
Shortly after Fajar prayers and breakfast, the couple were seated on a woven mat on the floor in a small room with no furniture except a low chair placed opposite them where Jamal was seated. There was a cupboard built into the wall and a single window in the room. It was the place where he summoned his Jinn. Farah had once again taken great care to cover her body with her white shawl.
Jamal asked Arham to check the lock on the cupboard and the window and make sure it was bolted tight. Arham got up and checked the locks. They were tightly closed.
‘When my Jinn enters this room, the locks will open by themselves. That is the sign the Jinn has entered the room. He will climb on each of you in order to get to know you so that he can answer your questions.’
Farah intervened, ‘No, I wouldn’t like the snake to come near me. Please ask him not to. I wouldn’t like to ask him any questions about myself anyway.’
‘As you wish,’ Jamal acceded smiling.
Jamal closed his eyes and started muttering something. A few moments later, a sharp sound resounded across the room of locks opening one after another. Farah was the first to see a black slithering mass on the mat next to Jamal. It’s shape wasn’t like a normal snake. It was lumpy and jelly like. ‘Salam Baba ji.’ He addressed the snake. ‘These people have come to pay you a visit.’ A child like voice emanated from the snake. Farah couldn’t decipher it clearly but it seemed like the snake had responded to him. ‘If you want you can give Baba ji a tip of your choice. Hold the money high above your head and he will take it from you.’
Arham fished around in his wallet for a 1000 rupee note. While he was busy, Farah noticed a speedy movement as if smoke drifting towards her and then a massive weight on her left shoulder. She turned her face away so she couldn’t see the creature but she could see it’s tail lying in her lap from the corner of her eyes. She tried her best to control the vomit rising in her throat. Arham had fished out the money now and held it above his head and snake leapt forward to grab it like a flash of black lightning. It climbed over Arham, then slithered down and was soon back at it’s place near the pir.
‘Please ask Babaji whatever you want now.’ Jamal addressed Arham now.
‘My father is quite sick, he has cancer. He is undergoing the best treatment money can buy. Will he be cured, will the cancer recede?’
The snake spoke in the same child-like voice. ‘He won’t survive for long. His days are numbered.’
‘My wife and I are trying for children, will we conceive soon?’ Arham asked.
Farah had averted her eyes away from the snake and the pir. She didn’t want to be part of this sick scene anymore. She had no interest in the Jinn’s answers. She wanted to get up and walk out and was counting the minutes.
‘You will have children but not from the woman beside you.’
Arham grew silent for a few minutes as if digesting this information.
Noticing the disappointment in Arham’s face, Jamal interrupted, ‘Any more questions?’
‘No,’ Arham shook his head. ‘Can you ask it…..him to pray for what we want?’
‘Yes of course, he always prays for the hidden desires in your heart. He knows what they are as soon as he makes physical contact with you. Babaji, please pray that this couple has children and the father recovers from his illness.’
The snake whispered something inaudible and fell silent.
‘Well, then Babaji will take his leave now. If you want to give him a parting tip you can hold it over your head again as before.’
Arham held out another 1000 rupee note. The snake darted towards him like black smoke, the note was snatched from his hand and the snake disappeared from the room.
‘Well, I hope you are satisfied with your visit?’ Jamal asked amiably.
Arham raised himself, helping Farah up. ‘Thank you for your hospitality.’
Jamal got up from his chair, ‘No problem at all. We consider guests like family. Feel free to come here any time you want.’
Arham nodded and turned towards the door holding Farah’s hand.
‘One more thing,’ Jamal interrupted. ‘Drive back carefully. We don’t want you to have another accident.’ He smiled.
Farah turned to face him. His eyes gleamed in the dim lamps of the room and she thought the lighting was tricking her but for a moment the reflection in his eyes was enhanced and she could see the white goat with her red veil flying in the wind. She shuddered.
‘Yes, I’ll be careful.’ Arham said and walked out of the room hastily. Walking towards the car, he turned to Farah, ‘I don’t remember telling him about our accident, did I mention it?’
‘No.’ Farah answered looking straight ahead. They got in the car and Arham started the engine. In the rear view mirror, they saw Jamal who had come out to courtyard waving goodbye.
When they were out of the house and a long way down the road, Arham whistled in relief. ‘What a weird night.’ Farah was silent. Dawn had broken through the folds of the sky and brilliant hues of pink and gold stained the distant horizon. The light was still soft and the air smelt of fragrant dew drops on wet grass. They passed the tea vendor who waved to them. Arham slowed the car down as he passed him. ‘This isn’t the same guy as last night.’ The vendor was a teenage boy who ran to greet them as the car slowed down, ‘Saab, would you like some tea?’ he asked eagerly.
‘Uh, no. Does your father mind the stall at night?’ Arham asked.
‘No, Saab, my father passed away an year ago.’
‘We saw someone minding this stall last night around 11pm.’
‘That’s impossible, Saab. I shut the stall down after maghrib prayers. I feel scared of all the Jinns around these parts. My father never minded the stall. He was a servant in Jamal Pir’s Haveli. I started this stall as a source of income after he died. I have a large family to feed, five younger siblings.’
Arham looked at Farah who was still quite and staring ahead.
‘That’s strange.’ Arham remarked.
‘No, but here is some money anyway.’ Arham offered him three 1000 rupee notes.
‘Thank you Saab, but this is a lot of money.’ The boy said surprised.
‘It’s alright keep it. Pray for us.’
‘Sure Saab, may Allah give you whatever you want provided it’s good for you.’
Arham stared at the boy. ‘Why did you say if it’s good for you?’
‘My mother says, sometimes Allah withholds something from us that we really want because he knows it’s not good for us. Obtaining it will cause us grave sorrow that we might not be able to handle.’
Arham nodded thoughtfully and patted the boy’s shoulder. ‘You are a good boy. My advice is set up your stall somewhere else.’
‘I know Saab, there are so many visitors to the Haveli that I make good money. But you’re right, I’ve seen strange things happening here.’
Arham drove on. A few miles down the highway he remarked. ‘There is no sign of that goat or the blood. Someone must have helped the animal after all.’
‘It wasn’t real.’ Farah spoke finally, her voice hoarse as if she had a sour throat.
‘The goat, the tea vendor last night, all of it…’
Arham glanced at Farah, ‘Are you feeling alright?’
Farah turned to face him finally, ‘Yes. I am feeling better.’ Her expression was blank as if all her emotions had been exhausted.
‘I just want you to know what the Jinn said back there…about us having children. I didn’t believe him, not about us and not about my dad, ok? I was a fool to visit this place and I am sorry for putting you through this unpleasantness.’
Farah smiled at her husband, ‘Why did you give the tea vendor more money than you gave the Jinn?’
Arham smiled sheepishly, ‘I was trying to redeem myself. He was more worthy of our kindness, he had a pure heart and his prayers have more of a chance of being heard.’
‘That was nice of you.’ Farah looked out of the window.
‘I know there is a but waiting to come out.’ Farah looked at him.
‘Have you tried praying yourself? When was the last time you prayed without someone forcing you to do it?’
Arham fell silent and stared at the road ahead. She was right. He checked the time on his watch. He would reach home before Zuhr prayers and would start from today. Even if his prayers were not answered he was sure he would obtain inner peace.