Thursday, September 27, 2012


In the movie Aladdin, the princess Jasmine has grown up without a mother. Taking her feelings to heart, I wrote this short story in which the seven-year-old princess Jasmine experiences the trauma of her mother’s death.

Father rounded the corner with physician behind him. The man was short and fat, his round legs painfully walking dutifully behind my father. The physician is a fool, I thought my dark eyes following my father’s tall, gaunt form, wishing I could go with him, to see my mother one last time. Mader was going to die, I was certain of it. I was going to live the rest of my life without her. At seven, the words “rest of my life” had monumental meaning. Many, many years without Mader. Curse Ashtu, I screamed inside my head, Curse death. I curled up on the hard marble floor and pressed my hand to my mouth to stifle my sobs. Servants crossed the corridors with their heads down, trying to avoid my eye contact. The only person able to touch or calm me, other then my family, was my Nah.
I don’t know how long I laid on the cold floor before strong arms lifted me away, but when I came to my senses, I realized I was in my large bed in the quiet castle. I slid my feet out of the bed and walked across my room to my window. The dark night settled over Agraba like a heavy fog. A tiny sliver of the moon shone in the darkness. I looked up to find the moon grinning at me. I knew then something had happened, something important, for the moon knows everything and only smiles when something big happens. For the moon loves change. I ran out of my room, my bare feet slapping on the ground. My heart pounded against my chest each step I took. The corridors leading to my mother’s room seemed to stretch on forever. A single candle was lit in front of Mader’s room. Hesitantly, I pushed on the door with my small hands. It opened easily. I walked in, smelling the heavy incense. A small fountain gurgled in the corner, water jumping up and down. Mader was lying on her bed, a thin veil over her face protecting it from evil spirits as she slumbered. I stared at her stomach, until I saw it moving slightly up and down. She was still alive. I breathed a sigh of relief. Mader opened her eyes. I walked over to her and touched her thin hand. When she spoke it was with the barest wisp of a voice.
            “Yes, Mader?”
   She paused, taking a long breath. I placed my hand on her forehead.
   She spoke the last word, her last word with as much force as she could muster. Her stomach moved up and down twice and then stopped. Mader’s forehead grew cold under my hand. A rush of air wisped past me, Madar’s spirit on its way to Final Judgment. Let her go safely, I prayed to Ashtu, the goddess of death.
    My father entered the room, his dark form filling the doorway. I turned and bowed. “Father, Sultan, Man,” I murmured. My customary greeting seemed strange to say under the mourning circumstances. My father nodded his head, then crossed over to Madar’s bed. He placed two of his fingers on her forehead for a slight moment. He then reached in his robe and pulled out a small knife. Slowly, he raised it to Madar’s side. I felt Madar’s spirit cry out in terror. I closed my eyes as Father cut Madar above her hip. Nothing could stop my ears from hearing the blood that dripped down onto Father’s waiting hands, though. The blood glistening on his fingertips was the first thing my prying eyes saw when they peeked open. My Father’s head was bowed.
            “She is dead.” he pronounced, “The mourning time will be six months.” With this he swept out of the room, his slippers soundless amid the tricking of the fountain. When Father was gone, I walked back to my mother’s side. A window was open; the sheer curtains blow back by the night breeze. The smiling moon looked down on me. Thank you Kaysuau, I prayed to the moon goddess, without your guidance I would not know to come to Madar. I unfastened the necklace around my neck and removed a blood red jewel. I laid it on the windowsill as an offering to Kaysuau. When I turned around, my Nah was behind me.
            “Jasmine,” she whispered. “The mourning time has started. We must leave.”
   I turned back to the window and breathed in the faint scent of violets that caught on the breeze. The thin curtains fluttered and I could feel Madar’s spirit one last time as it wrapped around my body and headed into the distance. A tear dropped onto the ornately carved windowsill as I turned to follow Nah.

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