I thought I saw a Demon

I am running down the street in South Salat, soft shoes brushing against the cobbled stones, as the wind wrestles my abaya behind me and thrusts the veil covering my face into my eyes. The winds have picked up, I saw it coming. Maybe it was the pregnancy but I could sense the sudden change in the weather almost immediately.

It was not just the chill and gust that came with the wind. It brought with it, war too. War. First in my home, I can still see the roofs of my brothers’ mouths as they spread them wide, tongues lashing at me, spitting at me and yelling curses at me. Their violence filled the gurfa with a stench that tickled my nose and caused the tears to stream down my face faster than they would have normally. They wanted to kill me. If they find me now, they would kill me.

My mother sat at the dining table leaning on Hushra, my older sister, wailing and crying out to Allah, asking him for forgiveness for whatever she did to deserve me. Hushra clicked and clucked her mouth, begging mama to stop crying, telling her it wasn’t her fault that she gave birth to a demon. Me?

My father sat silently at the other end of the table, lost in his thoughts, gazing somewhere and nowhere in particular. I looked to him for some hope but I knew that he had forgotten me already. He did not turn to look at me as I knelt on the floor, instead he looked at my brothers and nodded at them once before leaving the room.

And there, death hung like a stranger in the room, it loomed in the atmosphere above me waiting to consume me, I could feel it. It turned the pallor of my skin a shade of ivory only dead people carry and caused the taste in my mouth to sour like unripe prunes. Finally, I was dragged away into my bedroom, where the door was locked and I was meant to await my certain end.

In the midnight, the other war started. The taliban came knocking at the door, a hundred youths- all young men, whose blood had churned hot and heavy inside them. They were ready for murder. I heard them, my brothers, tell these men about me. Telling them it would be an honor to wipe away filth from Allah’s eyes themselves. I shook with fear, would they leave me in the hands of the taliban?

More voices came instead, screaming ‘treachery, betrayal!’ I recognised one voice among many and my heart wept. They took my brothers out into the city and left me at the mercy of my broken heart, so I decided to break out, stealing a page from the memory book of my childhood days of hide and seek, times when females were allowed to be outside on their own. I took my secret path and here I am, running.

These men have caused me much confusion. The bump underneath my abaya weighes me down, and I fold my hand under my potruding belly as if to alleviate the weight. I know finding Zuhail now would be no help at all, he would deny the child within me and turn me over to my brothers immediately. Adding the sin of ‘lying against a religious man’ to my sac of mis-deeds. Still, something in me longs for him.

How stupid I am! I wish I could find him now, as I did then. I would run these same streets to his apartment, there I would remove the beard on my face, unwrap my taqiyah and he would laugh as he kissed my lips running his fingers beneath the black dishdasha I oftened borrowed from one of my brothers. He would then pull me onto his mattress and make love to me, calling me his one and only habibi, and trailing kisses down my face. Afterwards we would lie there and talk till I had to run these streets back to my parents’ house.

Now he is among them, the holy ones, raging a holy war and what about this child? if the father is so holy, is he not holy too? I am running away from Salat Central. My brothers who protected me and looked out for me now look to kill me cold-blooded, in the square for all eyes to see and all ears to hear. I would be made an example, of what happens when women are way-ward. I did not mention Zuhail because they did not ask me. They did not ask me who fathered this child, did I do this by myself? hypocrites!

Now Zuhail walks among them, shouting holy words with them and I am the impure one. I have run past Salat now, away from the city. I do not blame him alone ofcourse, but why do I get death and he gets life? when it was the both of us that conceived this life? I see now the folly of my naive mind and maybe just learning the lesson is not enough. If I were given the freedom to live, my life would be bound to this child still and I will forever carry this lesson for as long as I live. Yet I am to be killed, with no opportunity to speak of my mistake.

By now my brothers should be returning home to drag me to the square, my feet are beginning to ache and if I am found here by myself at this time, I will be returned home. I cannot run any longer, I must face my fate. No good muslim woman will take me into her household, lest I defile her sight before Allah.

I am sitting on the streets outside South Salat, not long now and Iblis (The Devil) will be answering these questions that are clogging up my mind.


21 thoughts on “I thought I saw a Demon” by IntheQuiet (@Inthequiet)

  1. Interesting read, using now in the start of the third to the last paragraph affected the flow of the work.The POV shifts from first person to the third person POV.@Inthequiet explain the last paragraph to me.By the way nobody hopes to meet Shaitan.

    1. Thanks for the comment @khadijahmuhammad :) the story shifts in time, from the past to the present, it doesn’t shift in persons though- I don’t think. you interpret the last paragraph as you wish :)

  2. @khadijahmuhammad, i did not see a shift of POV in the story, methinks he maintained it albeit a shift in tense, i thinks that’s what you meant and the writer should check, that plus a bit of editing and grammar.

  3. @elovepoetry. She is sitting down on the streets outside South Salat waiting to be dragged.But how does she know that Zuhail was among the people running after her if she doesn’t have an omniscient eye.

  4. @Inthequiet, I couldn’t stop till I got to the end, cos I just had to know how her life turned out. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.
    This was an interesting read.

    @khadijahmuhammad , I agree with @elovepoetry. There was no change in POV, in my opinion too.

    “I recognised one voice among many and my heart wept.”

    That musta been his voice she heard, so she, definitely, knew that “Zuhail walks among them, shouting holy words with them, while I am the impure one.”
    I don’t think the ‘Now’ @ the start of the paragraph you mentioned was speaking about what he was currently doing, but about the fact that he was no longer the man she had spoken about in the previous paragraph.

  5. The disturbing and poignant issue of ‘honor killing’ It happens in the UK. I know friends who are going through hell due this ‘honor’ system belief. Its always a sensitive issue for me.

    Well written….

    @IntheQuiet…..where is Salat??

    1. @Zikora Thanks for the comment :) Salat is fictional. This is a very sensitive issue, you’re right

  6. This was beautifully written… Maintaining the pace from start to finish. Well done.
    Such a sad tale… Hypocrites indeed

  7. This is an interesting read and the theme speaks volume of patriarchal wickedness. It was the theme that got me going and I like the ending, it makes me think of hundreds of possibilities.

  8. Wow! I love the theme, it’s something am having more understanding of as the days goes by. so i guess that is why it really got to me. Keep up the good works and I bet that the nxt read would be better than this. That’s a challenge, I hope you take it?

  9. well loaded, content filled, good language and well constructed grammar

  10. if there is fiction in literature this is what it means

  11. @inthequiet This was a very well written story, are there any Nigerians in it? Or has that clause been lifted?
    Likes: The voice, the details, the pace, the ‘real-ness’
    Dislikes: The title, a good title should draw people in like a smiling receptionist, yours put me off, I might not have seen this if the comments hadnt been there.
    Finally, well done and thanks for sharing a good story.

  12. @inthequiet This is a very good story but for very minor editing issues like @elovepoetry said. However I think the suspense can be better sustained. You know when you read stories that bother around such themes and you’re tempted to skip to the last lines before you get there. Yeah! Something like that.
    Very good work, though.
    Please keep it up!

  13. In this business of writing;I’m as raw as the words Chris Rock spews in his shows… All I noticed was the brilliant story telling and the sad message it conveys.

  14. So touching, depicts exactly what’s happening in some parts of the globe. HIPOCRITES!!

  15. I loved this from beginning to the end, narrative was fluid, appealing and oh so pleasurable to read… well done!

  16. A good read. Very touchy too. It got me thinking though, maybe she deserved her fate. Afterall, she would run from her father’s house to Zuhail’s on her own. But the real injustice lies where hypocrity was portrayed in Zuhail’s involvement in the punishment attempt. It tells a lot about how those in authority take advantage of those below them.
    The story got my attention from the start. Well done.

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