Dec 4, 2010

The Mystery

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 17; the seventeenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Dorri Jun’s face had a frozen expression. She stared deep into Erum’s eyes. It looked as if Dorri Jun was boring into the mind of the belly dancer through her beautiful blue eyes. Laila knew better. Laila imagined Erum’s past and future lying like an open book before Dorri Jun. Laila patiently watched on.

Dorri Jun had scribbled onto some blank sheets of paper all that Erum had told her. Erum’s problems in taking her belly dancing career ahead were all noted in a neat hand.  After meditating a while on these passages, the expression on Dorri Jun's face was one of great satisfaction. Laila was  imagining the connection between her and the spirit of the Grimoire established successfully."Tuwrel must be whispering in her ears by now!" Laila imagined. Then  Dorri Jun did something that even Laila had never seen before. 

She picked up her steaming cup of ghaveh and poured it onto the sheets of paper lying before her. At first it looked like a rash and impulsive action. The sight was simply a major mess with the brown liquid trickling off the corners of the paper onto the kaalin, making an ugly stain. It was in a moment that Erum and Laila realized that there was more to Dorri Jun’s irritable actions.

The steam rose magically, in an aromatic, misty smoke.  They saw that the wet patch on the paper was slowly taking shape and as it dried into the paper it left a faint watermark behind.  At the same time, the drops that had seeped into the threads of the kaalin had dried too but instead of an ugly patch, five whole coffee beans now lay there.

Erum’s eyes kept travelling from the paper to the beans and back. Mouth agape, the lissome beauty was now staring into oblivion like a dimwit.

Laila had begun to believe that the answers to Erum’s problems were out and that Dorri Jun would now begin to explain. Just then she caught the puzzled expression on Dorri Jun’s face.  “Chi hai?” enquired Laila. Dorri Jun handed the sheets over to Laila for scrutiny. In neat letters, three sentences in Urdu ran from right to left, in the centre of the page.

Mystic spirit speaks
Oh! Majnu’s Laila hides behind a veil
Mystery unfolds

“It is most unusual Laila that here is a puzzle to solve another.” A worried Dorri Jun whispered to Laila.

These lines were like a beacon light for Laila. Erum continued sitting in her trance-like poise, only eyes shuttling from Dorri Jun’s face to Laila’s.  “I know what I must do.” Laila exclaimed aloud and rushed up to her room. She returned in no time and dropped it into Erum’s lap, the way it had fallen into hers! The soft touch of a pearl coloured veil brought Erum out of her reverie. The translucent material with golden sequins that shone in all the colours of the rainbow enchanted Erum completely. “Merci!” Erum thanked Laila running her fingers over the hem of the beautiful piece, thinking it was a gift.

“ ....but why? This must be such an expensive thing. You musn’t!” squealed Erum and squeezed Laila’s hand. It looked like Erum had already forgotten her problems. The coffee coloured sheets fluttered in Dorri Jun’s lap like they were quivering with happiness too.  Dorri Jun carefully wrapped the five coffee beans in the folds of the silken veil and pressed the little packet into Erum’s palms.

 “Inshallah, mark my words, when you go dancing wearing that veil, no soul will be able to escape being enchanted. My girl, however you must never forget to wear the coffee beans on your person. You understand? ”

Balleh Dorri Jun. Your ways are very different. You had blessed me with a career last summer and since then there has been no looking back. Now you have blessed this career, I am sure I will never have any problems ever again. You are most kind. Merci Dorri Jun, Merci!”

Dorri Jun and Laila accompanied Erum to the door. She again planted a sweet smelling kiss on Laila’s forehead and stepped out. It had started snowing outside and a drift of cold wind hit Laila’s face. The duo waited at their doorstep until Erum crossed over to her house across the street and pulled the door in after her.  Dorri Jun really had a soft corner for Erum. After all she’d seen all of Rashid’s children grow up, besides her own brood. 

Erum had left leaving Dorri Jun and an elated Laila to their ambiguity.

“What was that, Laila?” Dorri Jun enquired. “How did you guess what Tuwrel had implied? The mention of Majnu and Laila in the same breath had left me wondering why Tuwrel was speaking so of your future?”

Laila had a hearty laugh at her grandma’s worried look. Dorri Jun however was secretly rejoicing from within.

The spirit of the Grimoire had addressed Laila. The very mention of her name in those lines had indicated that and yet the purport was directing somewhere else. Before even she could comprehend what it all meant, Laila had already come up with the solution. This could only mean that the spirit of Tuwrel had not only accepted Laila as the torch bearer of their secret legacy but also trusted her capacities.

Dorri Jun was elated to see that her grandchild was far more intelligent and matured than any girl of her age. She seemed to have chosen a perfectly. Laila was turning out to be worthy of inheriting The Secret Grimoire of Tuwrel.

Her musings were cut short by Laila's voice. “ Dadi Jun, the minute I read those lines I knew Tuwrel was saying more than was obvious in those lines. And on impulse I headed for the silken veil in my dresser drawer. On my way down I was more than convinced that I had the solution to Erum’s problems because I clearly heard Tuwrel whisper 'Behtarin Arezuha' to me, Dadi jun”

“ ..but my child, do be kind and tell this old lady who this Majnu is?” Dorri Jun teased the ten year old.

Blushing a plum red Laila answered, “Now Dadi Jun that shouldn't be much of a mystery for Erum. You will have to pose that question to her for it wasn’t my story Tuwrel spoke of. The lady who hides behind the veil is she not me and her future is the mystery that will unfold isn’t it?”

“How can you be so sure Laila?” Dorri Jun continued to tease little Laila. “It is a fact that your name has mention in those lines. And it is you who gave the veil that fell into your lap to her.”  

“Do not scare me Dadi Jun. Are you accusing me of having misunderstood the purport of those lines? You mean to say that those lines imply more than what even I have understood?  How could my life and Erum’s have anything in common? Do you remember Dadi Jun that Tuwrel had said , 'In cheh ser.reh nemi:dunaem?' Then why hasn’t Tuwrel communicated the actual meaning to you? Why did the spirit of the Grimoire evade you today Dadi Jun and choose me?” Laila had doled out a volley of questions to which Dorri Jun, for once, seemed to have no answer.

These questions left Dorri Jun stupefied too. “I only know that you have given the right solution to Erum’s problems for now but the future is indeed turning out to be a mystery Laila. We can only wait and see it unfold!”

To be continued...
To see the mystery unravel keep reading this short story series 'The Grimoire'....
If you have missed out on the previous stories you can catch up HERE

Persian Glossary:
1. Chi Hai? : What is it?
2. Ghaveh: Persian Coffee
3. Kaalin: Carpet
4.Behtarin Arezuha: All the best!
5.Merci: Thankyou
6. Inshallah: God Willing
7.Balleh: OKay (with respect)
8. “In cheh ser.reh nemi:dunaem?” : What is a secret I don't know?

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

This story has also been written for Mag 43 
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