Dec 24, 2011

Black Magic

By Zoha Jabbar

The American awoke with a groan. The bed-covers were sticking to him, drenched in sweat. David thrashed wildly till he escaped the sarcophagus of heat, cursing loudly. He picked up his phone violently and left a message with the Embassy, "I hate Karachi. Get me out of here!"

The humid night pressed against the windowpanes, fighting to come in. He walked over to the windows and threw them open, but it was even more balmy and humid outside. A quick movement in the garden caught his eye, a little boy leaped over the wall and ran off into the plot next door.

David bolted down the stairs and out the front door to see what was going on. He tried to climb the same wall that the boy had leaped over, but it was too high. "How could he have...?" David ran his hands over his face, thinking that he needed to stop imagining things. Just then, he saw something white lying near his feet. He bent and picked it up, it was a skullcap, too small for an adult. He threw it over a wall, muttering, "Damn squatters!"

He made his way back to the house, thinking about the family of squatters that the Embassy had unceremoniously thrown out of the guest-house a few days before David had arrived in Pakistan. He made a mental note to tell the officials about this incident with the boy. He now wished he had kept the skullcap as evidence.

A shadow moved across the lawn. Startled, David looked up and saw something hanging from the porch light. As he neared it, a nauseating smell hit him with full force. Trying not to gag, he examined the strange thing dangling from the light. He reached out and touched it, immediately drawing his hand back as he felt warm feathers under his fingers. The object spun to reveal itself to be a dead crow, with a long horizontal cut across its middle, its intestines spilling out. David fell on all fours, vomiting copiously before he blacked out.
                                                                                 * * *

"David baba, wake up!" Someone was slapping his face lightly, he opened his eyes and found himself lying on the porch, his old Pakistani maid and her small daughter crouching on each side of him. "Get him some water," Gulshan said to the little girl in Udru. David slowly raised himself off the ground, and rubbed his face, sore from lying on the hard porch. 
"What happened to you, David baba? Why are you lying out here?" Gulshan peered anxiously into his eyes. 
"I don't know," David replied, "what happened to the crow?"
"Crow? What are you talking about? Let's get you inside."
He allowed himself to be led into the house.

"What happened to your hair?" Gulshan's daughter asked him shyly. His hand shot up to his shoulder length hair, and he found himself grasping at nothing. It was gone, snipped off at odd angles. His nails, too, were missing; untidily cut into twisted half-moon shapes.
"I didn't do this!" he said, panicking. 
Gulshan smiled at him, "You Americans and your drinking."
David shook his head vehemently, "I don't drink,  something's wrong." He narrated the little boy and the crow incident to Gulshan, whose expression of disbelief was quickly transformed to one of horror.

"Baba, you're a victim of black magic. That explains the hair and nails. In order to cast something upon you, a person would need your hair and nails. " She looked terrified. 
"Black what? No, they're just squatters messing around. They're angry about losing their resting place." His voice took on a tone of practicality.
"Do you have lemons in the house, David sahab?" the little girl spoke from behind them.
"Lemons?" he asked, confused.
"It's a simple way of checking," the girl replied, "you cut open a lemon to see if it looks normal. If it does, then you don't need to worry."

Gulshan and the girl went off to look for the fruit, while David collapsed onto a chair with his head in his hands., trying to process all that had happened. A scream pierced the silence. David ran to see what had caused Gulshan's daughter to shriek in such a bloodcurdling manner. She pointed to the living room window, from which they could clearly see a cat hanging upside down from a tree. It's head on the ground.
                                                                            * * *

They all gathered around as David sliced open the lemon, and all of them fell to the floor at the sight of it's blood-red interior.


Rahima said...

loved it, Zoha.
The ending was brilliant.

Zoha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It was indeed. the part about the lemon chilled me to the bone!

Farwa Haider said...

Genius! I love how you showed instead of told and the story is spine-tingling! This would have made an epic book.

Neshmia said...

An incredibly exciting, goosebumps-inducing story. Feels like an excerpt out of a thriller novel. :D

Zoha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zoha said...

Thank you :)

Neshmia said...

To Rahima, the moderator of this blog:
I really enjoy reading your blog. So I've nominated this blog for the versatile blogger award! :D
But there are certain requirements you must fulfill in order to accept the award. So check out the details on my blog post here:
Thanks. :)

Noor-us-Sabah Adamjee said...

This is so GOOD!!!!!

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