Monday, June 13, 2011

Cotton Djinn

I went over to my cousin's house for dinner with my mother and she decided to stay over. I was wearing a red dupata and almost escaped Mom's emphatic cries for my protection in the dark from creatures of the night. I was already out the door when I heard her yelling yelling djinn! djinn! djinn! djinn! running towards me with her arms out trying to cover over the red headscarf I was wearing with the black headscarf scarf of my sister.

The last time we were in Kishtawar she taught me that the creatures that live beneath the ground are attracted by water and the cold and the color red. And probably by cold red water. While walking home from one house to another in the dark, we were taught not to wear bright colors. But since we only ever go to Kishtawar for weddings we usually had to cover ourselves in black cloaks or abayas like we were hiding from animals that could sense the heat in the warmth of the color. I wonder if it is because they are made of fire.

I was taught this and I believe it but I am careless about it. By force of habit, I ducked away from my mother's attempt at being superstitious and motherly, but regretted it immediately on the creepy drive home and subsequent walk up the lane. I had a sinking feeling. And chose the wrong night to read the story that made note of the time when the killer hit the girl over the head with a frying pan from behind. I looked at the clock at that moment, knowing it was not going to be 11:11, but also wondering if maybe it was 11:11. And it was. But it has been over two years now since I read that tory and so far it has been nothing but fear that hits me over the head from behind.

Tomorrow we are shifting from one house to another, a mint green house, the same color as the one that burned down in the same place before I was born. It is likely the reason that mint green is the best wall color ever.
This is a room we have stayed in before, with a history of housing djinn.  I was taught that sometimes the members of this creepy non-human race settle in empty houses before a new family moves in and then refuse to leave, and sometimes a house is built on a plot of land where djinn families with little djinn children are already living underground. They were minding their own business until provoked- not that I am justifying the mischief of these mysterious creatures, capable of producing that terrifying feeling that your blankets are pushing down on you and shadowy figures are standing beside your bed. Vivid, sinister dreams keep you up all night and steal your breath.

I hung my white slip on the wardrobe handle in front of the rotating fan and every fifteen second it looks like Casper the friendly ghost floating around me. A friendly ghost protecting me. I dreamt of a mint green house and did the math of how many walls I have painted that color, or small rooms in apartments I moved into because they were already that color. When I feel the sheets move and the walls shift I hear my mother yelling djinn! djinn! djinn! djinn!
I think I have enough walls to build an empty house to start a family in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm drinking from a mint green cup my mom bought at CVS when she came to visit me last month because she assumed none of the glasses in the kitchen were mine. ALL of the glasses in the kitchen are mine, even the Buckeyes shot glasses. I hope you read your comments. You should totally be able to tell who this is without my telling you. Thanks for your email this morning, I miss you a ton.