Abu’s Jinns returns to narrate the tale of a jinn attaching itself to a woman wearing strong perfume. Read on to find out how Adnan Sahab deals with this.
‘Aap apni beti ko samjayein. She doesn’t listen to me anymore. Apke pyaar nay isay begar dia hai.’
‘Beta, please listen to your ami. Kya hou jaye ga agar nahin laga kar jain gi tou.’
‘Abu,’ Ayesha scoffed, ‘yeh dekhain bottle. I don’t understand what’s wrong with it.’
I looked at the bottle and sniffed the cover.
‘Taez hai beti,’ I replied, ‘why can’t you wear something else?’
‘Abu, ami has taken all my perfumes. She only gives me these weird stick perfumes. I’m twenty-two yaar, abu. Itne dil say layi houn.’
‘Yeh channel koyi nayi trending cheez hai?’ I inquired looking at the glass bottle.
‘Abu jaan, channel nahin, Chanel. Sha-nell bolte hain. And no, it’s old, but this specific fragrance is new.’
I knew that Ayesha wouldn’t listen and would end up spraying some anyway. Therefore, I decided to keep the bottle. Couldn’t let her use a scent that strong.
‘Acha ap iss brand ki baaki cheezain use karo -’
‘But, abu,’ Ayesha cut in, ‘Ami uses it too!’
‘Beta, she’s married. And the scent is never this strong.’
‘Likun abu yeh baat -’
‘Ayesha, no arguments.’
I looked at Ayesha and with her arms folded as she sat on the edge of the living room cushions. ‘Okay, don’t be upset. We’ll go for that dessert you wanted to get at night with Jameel uncle.’
‘Abu,’ Ayesha continued. ‘I want to wear this perfume. Obviously aap cover say sniff karein gay tou zyaada smell ayi gi. Mujh per try karein na. Aur wesay bhi. Farhan ke saath try ki thi. Bilkul nahin achi. It’s just vanilla with peanuts that aren’t even caramelized. Might as well order some banana bread from Sugar Courted, I’ve heard it’s the best in Lahore.’
‘Chalo jo ap kaho gi raat ko kar lain gay. Abhi meri baat sunlo aur yeh na lagao.’
Ayesha nodded and frowned. ‘Acha jee.’
Beti, if I go out flashing a gold wristwatch on the streets, sooner or later, someone will snatch it from me and that too, not because they need it but because gold fascinates them. Similarly, if you’re wearing a strong scent at Maghrib or at any time of the day, jinns, churails and all these entities that are passing by might end up being mischievous, and an evil one might get attached. Zaroori nahin hai yeh Maghrib k waqt hi hou.
You can go to Jalal Sons and bring a demon attached to you because of a particular strong scent, and unmarried women, unfortunately, get targeted easily.
Maghrib kay waqt yeh cheezain bahir ana shuru hoti hain iss liye there is more emphasis on that specific time. Aik apni hi family ka kisa batata chalta houn.
We’re from Sherakpur as you know, but your dado was from Vehari. Wahan gaoun tha unka. Kaafi chakar lagta tha in what you now call summer vacations. Sab behen bhai ja kar tube well main nahate they aur aam kay darakhtoun per charh jaate they. Wahan tou mujhe cheezain bhi bohut ajeeb kisam ki nazar atein thein.
Once, I was playing with your phupo. She was drowned in ami’s itar.
She had broken her perfume bottle an hour before, and even though your dado had instructed her to bathe, she had come with me and the siblings to pluck mangoes. I believe that she was seventeen at that time. And I know that she classified as a beautiful young lady. 1983 ki baat hai aur us waqt rishte aa rahe they for her.
Khair, khael khael main we were all running away from her because of the smell and wesay bhi baraf paani ki game thi and she was chasing us. You know how baraf paani works right. It’s similar to tag you’re it, but if the person touches you, you become a statue and have to let one of the others free you. Main baraf tha and I could see your phupho running after the others. Ab dekha maine kuch yeh.
Your chacha was running towards the baskets, your phupho towards him, and a black colored dwarf lady with crooked feet running behind your phupho.
I tried to move, but one of my younger siblings yelled, ‘Adnan baraf hou, hilo mat, foul hou jaye ga!’ At that point, I wondered if anyone else could see the little black lady, but everyone else seemed busy doing their own thing. I was staring at your phupho make her way in different directions. The dwarf woman kept running after her so much so that at one point, the woman and your phupho became one person.
In the car, I couldn’t sit next to your phupho, not because of the odor of raspberries, but because within her was a presence, and my head hurt the entire way home. I remember going straight to bed. I woke up ten minutes later because there was a racket outside my room. Apparently, when ami had told your phupho to go bathe instantly or else, she had slapped ami across the face. Ami, in shock, had started weeping and your dada, furious, had locked phupho in the room.
Over ami’s sobs and abu’s lecture on behavior, I could hear two voices coming from your phupho’s room. One was of your phupho yelling and the other was a series of manly groans, heavy ones. I was young and naive, but I started weeping in front of my parents. Startled, my abu called me to sit on his lap. Ami thought that I had started crying because she had been crying. I thought that maybe if I had told someone about the dwarf woman with ulte paoun, she wouldn’t have taken over baji’s body.
I told my abu exactly that. My ami thought that I was just worried, but abu understood. He believed me.
He sent your dado and me to the living room and called our qari sahab home. I do not know what he did, but for a week we weren’t allowed to go to baji’s room. She was down with fever, and your chacha Mazhar came out of the room one day saying that baji had vomited all over qari sahab and had climbed the wall like Spiderman.
At night, I would hear baji calling out to me, but abu wouldn’t let me leave his bed.
‘You’re too young to help,’ he’d say, ‘I wish you never could see, Adnan. Jo bhi dekho beta, kabhi kisi ko na batana aur mujhe bilkul bhi nahin.’ I had known that abu was scared and he feared that like my grandfather, who had the gift as well, I would end up stabbing my own eyes. But, I didn’t beta.
Khair, baji got well after a week. I looked for the dwarf woman everywhere around the house, but I knew that she had left because my head didn’t hurt anymore. Baji was never allowed to go mango plucking with us and she could only use rose water instead of deodorant as informed by our qari sahab. Aagey unki shaadi kay waqt bhi masle aye they but that’s a story for another time.
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It was a fine morning. Fine, as in Farhan had left for work and I had the bed all to myself. I had my body wrapped in the afghan quilt, perhaps like one of those colorful sushi rolls I had gobbled up in Phuket. and I was in-between that state of sleep and wakefulness where the aftertaste of kashmiri chai still seduced my lips. My futile thoughts were disrupted by the door knob turning and massi rukhsana stepping into my room. Her lilac dupatta had parted ways with her hanging milk packs and had been carefully placed on the top of her head. In one hand she held a phool jaroo and in the other, a cardboard box, suffocated in duct tape. 'Baji, tuwade liye parcel aya hai.' the Korean noodles that I had ordered weren't due till next week and it wasn't my birthday either. I said salam, unwrapped myself from the snug position and sat down on the faded, nylon carpet. In silence, I stared at the box. The top said, Miss Ayesha Muzafffar. People usually tend to miss the double ff's but this man, or woman, had gone the extra mile to write three. I started to open it neatly, bit by bit but then it gave me a paper cut, so I punished it by ripping it apart to pieces. It snuggled in itself, my first fan mail. A fan mail from Ganish village, Hunza. Out came a box of apricot cake and a couple of letters. One titled, 'I read your stories to ami in bed.' another titled, 'The greatest story teller'. I do not know who sent it. 'from love, a friend who lives on Silk road', it said. So friend, if you're reading this, the edible delight was scrumptious, it was devoured by my father-in-law in a matter of minutes, the letters made me twinkle for a week, but how in God's name did you know my address? To celebrate such affection, I'm giving away five laminated copies of the original Abu's Jinns. Whoever lives in Lahore and happens to message me first, please get them picked up from the address (DHA) I provide. It's alright if you do not come with apricot cake.
Cover image via @rebeccaparkinartist/Instagram