“You think that was Uštāna’s spirit in the black shroud, Dadi Jun?” Laila was thrilled at that thought but she couldn’t deny that she was a bit scared too. She felt safe in the warmth of the closed attic, in the knowing company of her caring grandma and the protective Mithra. “Why should you be scared of him? He is your ancestor my darling and can never mean you any harm”, assured Dorri Jun who was sensing the fright in Laila’s voice. “I am aware you are very little to be exposed to such powerful spirits but that is how your destiny seems to have been written. You seem to be a far greater soul than even I am, Laila and you must never misuse your powers”, reminded Dorri Jun once again.
Simultaneously Laila had been drawing on a clean sheet of paper all the symbols that had mystically fallen before her eyes all through the day. First it had been the Star of David followed by the ‘X’ that had four rounded tips. She wasn’t sure that the Yin and Yang was a symbol to be considered in the sequence but never the less she drew it and pushed the paper towards Dorri Jun for her scrutiny.
Dorri Jun instantly drew The Secret Grimoire of Tuwrel closer. The pages spun like the spirit of Tuwrel had read their minds. What fell before their eyes threw new light on the puzzle of the random symbols. The left hand side page, though stained with age showed a clear and neatly constructed ‘Star of David’ but it was nothing like the simplistic shape Laila had seen formed by the twigs. Here was a much complex diagram of a huge pentagram. The arms looked like linear pathways that wove in and out, without a beginning or an end. Laila put her finger down on one arm and began to follow the shape of the star but was soon lost midway. As they peered closer, Dorri Jun and Laila both realized that there were little ‘X’ marks all over the star. The ‘X’s looked like little ants marching down, in and out, crawling all over the pentagram.
“What can you make of this, Dadi Jun?” asked Laila. “Nothing yet!” Replied Dorri Jun plainly. “Is that all?” she enquired. “No!” said Laila pulling from her Jacket pocket a small leather pouch. “Un chi hai?” exclaimed Dorri Jun as Laila pulled at the drawstrings of the bag. “This is what that stranger had hidden in the pit he’d dug under the Fir tree.” Laila replied pulling out the contents of the pouch.
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It was a tiny antique hour glass in a wooden frame. “..And I don’t remember very clearly now but I think the stranger in black had not only waved at me but also gestured me to come hither. I was so scared that I’d shut my eyes tight. The next I saw he was digging.” Laila enumerated but Dorri Jun continued to stare at the hour glass for a whole minute until Laila put it down on the Kaalin. “No, don’t do that!” Dorri Jun scolded Laila. “Don’t you realize how valuable this is? You must keep it close to your heart and treasure it, almost like the Grimoire itself.” Dorri Jun tugged at Laila’s sleeves pulling her closer once again. Flipping through the pages of The Secret Grimoire of Tuwrel Dorri Jun showed Laila a page that they had missed, all the while only concentrating on the passages and spells. There was a magnificent illustration representing Uštāna in a black shroud holding the very same hour glass. “Now isn’t it confirmed that the stranger shrouded in black was none other than Uštāna himself? Please look at this hour glass as the baton being passed right into your hands!” Dorri Jun now looked jubilant and excited. “If that hour glass means so much then why didn't Uštāna come over to our house and give it right into my hands, literally?” Laila had asked but no sooner were these words out of her mouth that Laila realized how vain the question was.
The sand in the hour glass was still slowly trickling. Dorri Jun began pottering about the attic, fumbling and searching for something. “Time is running out, Laila. We must be quick. Come give me a hand here!” Dorri Jun had instructed but Laila continued with her volley of questions “Time for what, Dadi Jun?” staring at her grandma in wonderment.
“Dear girl, don’t you want to know what the series of symbols mean? They obviously are a part of bigger sigil. We have to get to the Segulah, dear.” Explained Dorri Jun.
“…And you have a separate book of sigils that you are hunting for, right?” exclaimed Laila, almost convinced that things were clearer to her, now.
“Nah!” retorted Dorri Jun trying to hide her slowly rising temper. She sometimes found Laila to be extremely immature, just when she was about to conclude that her grand-daughter was a very bright girl. “…but I know where the sigil lies. And that it is time for me to take you there. Now will you please lend me a hand, here?” Dorri Jun’s voice was full of scorn enough to get Laila on her feet.
Out came a huge scroll from behind a huge pile of Dorri Jun’s old belongings. Neatly wrapped in a thin muslin cloth, the old lady had kept it safely away. Laila was given charge. She carefully took the scroll out of its cocoon, rolled it out, flattening and spreading it down on the floor. They put their heads together. One was trying to figure things out while the other stared blankly at the ancient map. The book-worms had made a hearty meal of it almost eating up all the important markings.
“Bebin Laila, the five arms of the Star of David represent the 5 elements of nature.” Dorri Jun flipped to the diagram again in the Grimoire and pointing at it began to enumerate, “Since the hour glass came out of the earth, we must consider that tip of the Star of David that represents the Earth. Can you see, this tip points to the South-West? The small ‘X’s must be us travelling to where the Star of David points.” Dorri Jun was speaking so fast that there was a catch in her breath.
“Now my dear, do you remember I had once mentioned to you years ago that I will take you to Uštāna’s tomb when the time is right? I think Laila, Uštāna is indicating that it is time!” Laila gasped to hear what Dorri Jun had to say. Her heart began beating like a thousand hammers and as if to confirm that Dorri Jun had hit the bull’s eye, the glow from the Grimoire grew a richer golden. One beam of light magically swam over the room, finally settling like a spot-light on the South-West corner of the map that lay spread out on the ground. “….Be baksh shid Dadi Jun what map is this? This is clearly not a map of our country. Then where does Uštāna's tomb lie, on which land? It is all in Hebrew and I can make neither head nor tail of the indicators. And the beam seems to be pointing to a spot in the middle of nowhere.”
Dorri Jun was much too deep into reading the map to hear any of Laila’s questions. She remained baffled while Dorri Jun made all the calculations.
To be continued....
This has also been written for Theme Thursday- Map