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me? Anisa wouldn’t believe me if I told her. And Amina, who believes in spirits, is sure to tell me that some wraith wrote me the note. At the time I thought: might Ahmad’s spirit have written it? Or maybe it was the fairy godmother who used to appear to me as a child when times were hard. Even my mother would see her dressed in her long white gown and headscarf! Is she the one who did it?

“Spirits and angels don’t write to people. My mother told me when I was little that we have angels on our right and left shoulders that are constantly on the watch, and that write down all our good and bad deeds: what we do and what we think. At that time, during my childhood, I figured angels were God’s scribes and that Heaven was full of books. So I figured I wouldn’t know my own story until I got there.

“Whoever wrote those words, I convinced myself that they were a message to help me understand what had happened to me. The strange thing is that even though they were oozing with pain, they made me happy! It was as though they’d taken hold of me by the very thread that had been escaping my grasp. Just then, the electricity went out. I got up, lit a candle, and placed it in front of me on the table. Then my eye was caught by the wings of a white butterfly that had made its way somehow into my room. It hovered around the candle, but without coming too close lest it get singed, its wings forming the number 7 in Arabic, which is shaped like a V. The sight of it thrilled me. If you only knew what that luminous number has meant in my life!

“Then, with my eyes wide open, I saw my body running away, though I didn’t know where.Taking advantage of a fleeting moment of pain so acute that it had robbed me of consciousness, it had separated itself from me and escaped.Terrified, I felt myself falling into a vacuum. I was bodiless, my limbs torn asunder and falling away from me. Letting out a loud moan, I peered outside, and what should I see, standing outside the door, but Basma, her body intact, ringing the doorbell. Overjoyed, I cried out: ‘There’s my long-lost body! It’s come back to me after all this time!’

“After wandering for so long in places unknown, it had come back to me. It had come back to embrace me, and to be embraced by me.After all, what place but me did it have? Then I found myself swaying to the rhythm of music that welled up from somewhere in

BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021 89

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