Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Short Story from Sufi Tales An'Qarin

by the modabid al-Adel Hassan


The little sliver of whatever passes for the woman's day sits as a line of faded color on the distant horizon.

She sighs a prayer, hopes that the poet Bem-Salef will reconsider and end it all - until she falters. And then sometime later, with the moon looming large and magnificent over her head the woman turns from her position at the window to once again ponder the obscure shadows hidden deep within the room's dimly lit interior.

In her hand she clutches a strand of prayer beads, clutches them so tightly that her knuckles crack in protest. She has done this many times before, the Yasmin. The sunset, the dunes, and the moonlight are her eternal companions.

There is the sound of paper rustling like silk veils lifting as one and hovering over an oasis that is many realities in the same moment - an imaginary heaven whose bestowment the Yasmine may not abide nor even consider lest it hem her in, jumble itself together in a tangled scheme, or come apart altogether at unexpected moments.

Sometimes the story abruptly ceases, ending in corridors with ascending stone steps; sometimes dissolving mid air amidst a song recalled from her own distant past.

Once upon a time not long ago she had passed through a section of verse that was somehow corruptly poised above a confused proliferation of neurotic viewpoints which had a flickering , sparse and uncertain illumination. Discarded ideas floated freely in the sky like clouds. Their relevance lost between pale wisps of pungent sweet-smelling blue smoke. Multiple visions had crowded the same low ceiling. It had been a nonsense of design and had subsequently been destroyed.

She was close this time
, very very close ....she could see it now: The story had a spiraling design!

Each level written as a separate existence that was completely negated by the level directly above it; each level's existence thereafter was completely negated by the level directly above it, so that the pattern and style of each successive negation always varied from the manner in which the levels below were negated by the levels above.

The Yasmin found she could not quite focus on their content however. The levels were cluttered with crossed out lines and clustered dots, eclectic marks and cryptic anagrams so distorted that she could make no sense of it at all.

Her hands were locked in a paralyzed grip of agony. Her knuckles
were pale. The ends of her fingertips were turning a dangerous shade of blue. She had been gazing at the written and unwritten pages for so long she had lost all track of time. Her legs were numb. She herself, frightened and dazed. She stood and stumbled, then slumped to one side; the floor rose up, and - flumpf!

Bem abruptly started, reached out. Too late. The manuscript had fallen. Gone was the visionary other side of Bem's cloudy curtain. The reverie faded. His precious poem was lost.

And here the poet's narration ceases altogether; and when the end to our tale comes, the Yasmin ed-Dallal has forgotten she ever existed anyway. Old words, new verses. Each gathering dust.

For that is how things invariably went with the poet Bem-Salef, ever since the loss of his fair Alyoucha. Every poem of his eventually mentioned dust. Dust in a wilderness where nothing ever transpired.

Not this. Not anything....

modabid al-Adel Hassan copyright 2009

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