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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Jinn Excerpt

It's very late, but I'm glad I've finally started the Fantasy section of I've added a page on the jinn, and now I have to start working on a page for witches or dragons.

Really, doing all of this research is pretty fun. It's like I'm studying the evolution of literature. This is more than just a hobby; I actually feel like I'm in college again.

Now that I've finished the jinn page, I'm starting to have concerns about my novel again. The Jinn contains lots of references to Arab culture that I'm not 100% familiar with. I'm very familiar with Muslim culture, but all Muslims aren't the same. That being said, I wonder if anybody who is familiar with Arab culture can verify if the following passage from The Jinn sounds authentic. If you can point out anything that's definitely out of place, by all means let me know.

Though she had regained consciousness, she was sleeping when Ahmed arrived. He sat by her side for at least two hours before she cracked her eyes a little. She smiled as best she could when she saw him, and gave his hand a squeeze. Ahmed smiled back at her and leaned down to kiss her forehead.

Salaam Alaikum ibnee,” she whispered in a dry, cracked voice. Peace be unto you my son.

Wa alaikum Salaam ummee. Keefek?” And upon you be peace my mother. How are you?

She continued to smile. “Anaa mureed.” I am sick. Her reply was blunt yet kind.

“The doctors are doing everything they can,” said Ahmed in Arabic.

“I like that Doctor Fatima. She is a good person. But there is nothing she can do for me. My time is near.”

“Don’t speak like that mother. Modern medicine is very good.”

“You put too much faith in science. I will probably return to Allah today or tomorrow. I have accepted it. You should also.”

Ahmed did not answer. He was afraid of saying the wrong thing and upsetting her.

“I’m sorry you had to come all the way from America just for me.”

“It wasn’t bad. The arrangements were very easy to make.”

“I want to be buried next to your father. Do you remember where his grave is?”

Naam.” Yes.

Many years ago, when they still lived in the village of Darul Shams, his mother would take him to visit his father’s grave at least five times a year. After they moved the visits became less frequent, until they stopped going altogether. The last time Ahmed visited his father’s grave he was fourteen years old.

“And have Sheikh Nazeem perform my janaazah.”

“Sheikh Nazeem is dead mother. He died years ago.”

She frowned in confusion, and then laughed. “Then I guess he won’t be available, will he?”

The short conversation took a lot of strength and she closed her eyes again and fell silent. Her breathing was slow and labored. Ahmed thought she had fallen asleep again, but then she started speaking.

“All these years, Ahmed, it was just me an you. I tried to give you the best. I tried to be a mother and a father. I’m sorry I failed you son.”

“You did not fail me mother.”

“Pray for me.”

“I will.”

Al-an. Pray for me now.”

Al-an? Hunna?” Right now? Right here?

Naam.” She held up her hands as if she was trying to cup water. “Pray for your dying mother.”

Ahmed closed his eyes and tried to remember a prayer or supplication from his youth. But he came up blank. “I can’t.”

Her hands dropped back to her sides in disappointment. “That’s how I failed you.”

“Mother, I will graduate from school with honors. I am at the top of my class. I already have some good job offers and I’ve won many awards. One of my papers is even being published in a science journal. I have accomplished all of this because of you. You insisted I get a good education and I have. Your son is going to be a successful scientist. Or maybe I’ll go to medical school and become a doctor. But you have done a lot for me, and I owe everything to you.”

With great effort, she turned her head to look at her son. “But you cannot pray for your dying mother. May God forgive me.”

For those of you familiar with Arab culture, please let me know if this passage sounds right. If you think I westernized the scene too much, let me know. I eagerly await your comments.


Moonlight Sonnata said...

salam. i'm not Arab, but i just wanted to say that after reading that excerpt I hope to read the whole novel soon. I think it's really interesting and i reckon it's going to be different to most horror-fictions out there. I'm a fan of the genre myself. Anyway, keep up the good work. :)

Ismail said...

Thanks for the supportive comment. I encourage you to check the main site, where you can actually hear the novel being read chapter by chapter.