Written and Experienced by Stephanie Siam
… We left off when my husband had just told me that he has a jinn attached to him. A female jinn. And she’s jealous.” …
I start thinking about what I know of jinn, and about things in our life together, and about my health problems, and my mind starts racing. Like I said before, I believe jinn exist, but I’d never thought about them ‘attaching’ themselves to people. I cross my arms over my chest and attempt to get more comfortable. “And. . .she’s jealous of. . .?”
He looks at me, and I can see he’s wondering whether to tell me the truth. “. . .You.”
I laugh. “Me?”
“Yeah. He said she’s jealous of you, and she’s causing problems for us. Like, she’s affecting your health and my personality, and other stuff, too. . .”
“So, this jinn is supposed to be the reason I’m sick?” I ask. This is preposterous, I think. Some bad spirit is causing my back pain and reproductive issues? And he learned this from a man he’s never met who claims to be a ‘healer’?
“That’s what he says. He also told me other things—”
I hold up my hand. “No. I don’t want to know. This is making me extremely uncomfortable. Please. Stop talking about it, and please promise me that you will never discuss me or our family with this man again. And that you will never let him in our house.”
He can see the apprehension on my face and nods. “I promise. I’m sorry I brought it up.”
“It’s fine. It’s no problem. But, just, please promise me.”
“Okay, I promise.”
We’re quiet for a few minutes. I’m still processing what he’s told me. To me, it’s ludicrous that a spirit – a female spirit, no less – has attached itself to my husband and caused problems for us beyond repair.
“I have dinner plans,” he says, breaking the silence.
I nod. “Okay. Good. I’ll take L and we’ll grab a bite. I need to go to the grocery store anyway.”
After hubby leaves for his dinner with friends, I take L, and we go eat at a completely unhealthy fast food restaurant of her choosing. While we chat over sandwiches and fries, my mind keeps switching back to the conversation I’d had earlier with my husband.
A feeling of discomfort pervaded my entire body since speaking to my husband. I wouldn’t say that I felt sick, but my hands were clammy and a cold sweat persisted on my forehead. My stomach rumbles, and the food I’d been eating suddenly loses its flavor. “Are you almost finished?” I ask L.
The ache in my back has grown into full-blown spasms, and the closer we get to going back home, the greater the tension in my stomach becomes.
As I turn on the street that leads to our apartment building, an icy shiver races down my spine. I glance at L, who is preoccupied She appears perfectly content and unaware of my change in disposition. I park the car, and we climb the stairs to the second floor.
On the landing, I fiddle with my keys to find the right one. “Don’t forget,” I say to L. “You need to change into your pajamas and then you can watch your Kindle for a little while before bed.”
“Okay,” she affirms. “Mommy, can I watch it in the living room?”
“Sure. I need to pray isha’a (the night prayer) before bed, so I’ll join you after.” I jam the key in the door and turn the deadbolt. What was that? I ask myself. I could have sworn at the moment I unlocked the door some kind of energy brushed past me.
I look around the landing briefly, careful not to let L see me unnerved. She is already so anxious about the dark and our overly-spacious apartment.
L pushes past me and flips the light switch on the wall next to the entrance. The overhead lights flicker a few seconds before coming alive, and the coolness of the room washes over me. My mind registers that although I have been experiencing chills on and off for the last couple of hours, it is actually quite warm and muggy outside. The skin on my arms prickles, despite my long sleeves.
“Sit on the couch while I change and pray. I’ll be there in a few minutes, in shaa Allah.”
I hear her walk into the living room. I glance through the doorway to see her sitting in the recliner, poring over her Kindle.
I continue down the hall, warily glancing to my left toward the other bedrooms – a matter of habit – before turning right into the master suite. I make wudhu (pre-prayer ablution), go into the bedroom and take my prayer clothes out of the closet.
As I pull the long cloth over my head, my eyes catch the reflection in the mirror on the dresser. I make a point of moving out of the line of reflection and survey the room around me. It’s empty, I tell myself. It’s just you.
I face the qiblah (direction for prayer) and focus my gaze on a spot on the rug. With a heavy feeling descending into my chest, I take another step toward the door and look into the hallway. All appears normal. I close my eyes and lean my head back, exhaling slowly. Stop. Now. You are psyching yourself out.
But here I am, standing in my bedroom with the lights on, checking the lit hallway for. . .what?
“Mama! Are you finished praying?” L calls from the living room.
“Not yet. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“Okay. Hurry. I’m lonely.” That’s her way of saying: I’m not comfortable sitting in here alone any more.
“I just need to pray, baby. I’ll be there soon.” Casting a final glimpse over my shoulder, sufficiently assured nothing is following me, I go back into the bedroom. I take up my position to pray and whisper one of the most comforting dua’a (supplication/invocation) I know, “Authu billahi min al shaytaan ir-rajeem*,” and commenced my salah (prayer).
As I begin to recite Surat-al-Fatiha (the opening of the prayer), it happens.
I am overcome by the feeling of being watched. I close my eyes, pronouncing each word slowly and with as much focus as possible.
It is behind me. I feel the heat on the back of my neck. Not like breath, but like someone staring at me, willing me to turn around.
I’m not turning around, I think, still trying to focus. I continue through the first rak’ah (the first repetition of prayer movements).
It is now on my left. Involuntarily, my eyes shift to the left. There is nothing. You know there is nothing, I tell myself. I struggle through another two rak’ah. As I do, it shifts from my left to my right. It hovers over me as I make sujood (prostration). I can feel it down my spine. My heart quickens. Breathing is more difficult.
As I complete the fourth, and final, rak’ah, I hold my hands out in front of me, supplicating, “Please, God! Please protect me. Protect my daughter. Please wrap your arms of protection and grace around us. Ameen.”
Standing quickly, I pull the cover over my head and fold it. I replace it in the closet and sit on the bed, trying to slow my breathing. My hands have begun to shake, and I can’t stop looking around the room in anticipation of something presenting itself to me. Another rush of coldness passes over me. No. This is not real. You are just. . .I shake my head. Shut up! I yell, internally. “Just stop. Breathe. It’s okay.”
I pick up my phone off the desk next to the bed and look at the time. It’s nearly ten-thirty, and my husband is still not home from dinner. Usually, I would not care if he stayed out late. On Thursday evenings (our weekends are Friday/Saturday), after a long week of standing and talking and being surrounded by people, I like to have quiet time to just sit. After L goes to sleep, I read or play computer games. I catch up on news and often phone my family back home. It’s Me Time.
But tonight is different. Tonight I do not want to be alone, in silence, pondering my thoughts. I don’t want to be in contact with my thoughts at all. I want my husband home. I unlock the screen on my phone and find his name in my contacts list. I press ‘send’ and wait for the dialer. After a couple of rings, he picks up.
“Hello,” he says. He’s in the middle of laughing when he answers. How can he be happy when I’m having a heart attack? I think. This is HIS fault. He made me think about this.
“Hey,” I answer quickly, no time for pleasantries (or Islamic greetings, either, apparently). “When are you coming home?”
I can hear in his voice that he’s not really paying attention to me. “I don’t know, why. . .?” He trails off saying something in Arabic to one of his friends. I wait for him to come back to our conversation. “After while.”
“Do you think you’ll be really late?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” he says. “Do you need anything?”
Taking a deep breath, I shake my head and try to come to reality. “No,” I say. “I just. . .just was wondering.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to you later,” he says.
“Bye.” I end the call and toss the phone on the bed beside me. I look at the ceiling and then close my eyes, letting my head drop as far backward as it will go. Suddenly, I sit straight up.
It’s like a blanket. It wraps itself around me, and I feel like I’m choking. I jerk my head to the left, catching my reflection in the mirror. Nothing. There is nothing there.
I walk into the hallway and stare at the solid wooden door that separates us from the outside world. I wonder if anybody else can feel the negative energy churning in our apartment. I question whether I would be able to open the door. Would it let me?
L still sits in the recliner. She is cross-legged, leaning on one arm, staring at the 7” screen. I hear the familiar bantering of our favorite web show. Alhumdulillah (thanks to God), as of yet, she is completely unaffected.
I turn and slowly move back to the bedroom. Peeking toward the other bedrooms, I am relieved to see the doors are still closed. Why would that matter? I ask myself. Thanks for thinking of that. I take a deep breath and go inside.
Thoughts fill my head. My back aches, and I think back to the accident mom and I had so many years ago. Apprehension floods my veins, and I remember how I told my mother to let me go first. She was holding a five-month-old L, who was asleep on her shoulder.
I envision the steps, the railing. That spindle. The landing. My mother’s scream. The slam of my back against the wall. The relief from not going through the window. The panic of not knowing whether L was crushed between us. The fireman helping me up. The hysterical scene – me shrieking and wailing over L, who was unscathed, alhumdulillah rabb-il al-ameen (thanks to God, the sustainer of creation).
No. No. No. I think, vehemently shaking my head. My lungs feel like they are being run through a wringer.
Tears begin to well in my eyes, and I scan the room. It is all around me, and I have to get it out. I have to move it somewhere else.
“L!” I shout. “Come in here!”
She has to be with me. We have to stay together.
She doesn’t respond.
“L!!” I scream, louder this time.
“Yes?” she calls.
“Come here!” I yell.
“Okay. Just a min—” she begins.
“NO!!” I bellow. “Come in here. Now! Come here now! Hurry up!”
Within five seconds, she is standing in the doorway, holding her Kindle, a terrified expression on her face. “Mommy, what’s wrong?”
“Come in, quickly,” I exclaim.
“I’m here,” she says. “What’s the matter? Mommy, are you okay?”
“No, over here. Come here next to me!” I close my eyes, squeezing them tight. “Shut the door. Lock it. Hurry, now!” When I open my eyes, my heart sinks, and I feel the overwhelming urge to kick myself.
At this point, L’s almost as petrified as I am. She stands in her spot, her eyes searching my face for an answer. “Honey, please. Shut the door and lock it. Quickly. I need you to come over here with me,” I say, slower and softer.
She turns and shuts the door, turning the deadbolt above the handle. Then she runs over to me and jumps on the bed. “Mommy, I’m scared. What’s wrong?”
For a moment, the feeling of being watched passes. My back eases, and I lean against the headboard, pulling L close to me.
“Let’s snuggle,” she says. She holds the Kindle in front of us. I see the time. It’s almost half-past eleven. I’ve been battling this feeling for almost two hours. Could I now relax? Did L shut it out when she closed the door?
She relaxes into my arms, and then she sits up. “I have to go to the bathroom.”
I glance at the doorway of the bathroom, darkened and across from the entry of the bedroom. “Can you wait?” Can she wait? Wait for what? I think.
“No, Mommy, I have to go.” She edges toward the side of the bed and places her feet on the floor. Dropping her Kindle on the bed, she walks to the bathroom and flips the light on. When it comes on, she enters, and I hear her moving about.
Leaning my head back, I close my eyes once again. I take a deep breath, but what fills my lungs in not air. It is thick. It is heavy. It is the thought of impending doom. When I exhale, it does not go away.
I open my eyes, turning my head to the bathroom. “L?”
“Yes?” she answers.
“Hurry up, honey,” I say.
I hear the flush of the toilet, and I can see L washing her hands at the sink. As she comes out of the bathroom, it is there. It is following her. It is still here.
“L, get on the bed. Hurry.”
“Why?” she asks.
“Please!” I plead.
“Mommy! You’re scaring me!” she shrieks, jumping on the bed and turning to look behind her. There is, of course, nothing there. Nothing visible, at least.
But I know it’s there. Waiting. Trapping us in this room. This room that grows smaller with each moment that passes. The walls are closing in on me. L is clutching my arm, her head resting on my shoulder.
My computer is on my desk, but I am not sure if I can reach it without getting off the bed. I can’t put my feet on the ground. It is under the bed. So, I reach over and pick up my phone. If I call the hubby, he’ll think I’m ridiculous. He’ll think I’m being silly and childish.
Help. Who will help?
I open my Facebook Messenger app and scroll through names. Oh, please, please respond! I beg. I touch the icon next to her name. If anybody I know on this earth can tell me how to get rid of it, she can.
With fear swelling in my stomach and tears threatening to spill over, traumatizing my daughter in the process, I type in the short message and press send.
Please respond. Please be there!
*Translation: I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed one (Satan).
To Be Continued …
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