Series 2: "The Djinn" Part 2 Hercules
Having met the djinn once, I was looking forward to meeting him again. So a few days later, I went into the study and knocked on his ‘door’, the drawer at the bottom of my grandfather’s hat stand.
“What?” responded an irritable voice.
I opened my mouth, intending to ask him to please come out, before recalling that I didn’t know his name. What does one call a djinn in the absence of a name? Djinn sahib? Djinn ji? Or plain and simple ‘djinn’?
He saved me from this dilemma by appearing just then, all six inches of him, complete with bikini, spats and veil.
“The name is Hercules,” he said. “And if you want to talk, sit down.”
I stood up with the intentions of pulling up a chair and almost fell into one that had mysteriously appeared behind me. The large chair was not even from this room.
“How... did you?” I gasped.
The djinn raised his eyebrows.
“Are you asking me ‘how did you’? as in modus operandi, or once again do you refer to my size?”
I hastened to reassure him, and a line from a favourite writer floated into my mind. But before I could quote it, he said it for me.
“All right, I know, size is no guarantee of power.”
“You can read minds!” I gasped again.
“Yes, but I’m also big on Harry Potter,” he muttered.
A six-inch djinn, who lived in a hat stand, wore a bikini and a veil, read Harry Potter and could produce chairs out of thin air. Was life bizarre, or was life bizarre?
“The only thing that’s bizarre is all the preconceived notions you have,” he said acidly. “You are the most ‘conditioned’ person I know.”
It was my turn to feel nettled.
“What do you mean?”
“Well look at you. You find it odd that I live in a hat stand, and that I wear what I do,” he gestured towards himself. “You find it amazing that I can conjure a chair into this room from somewhere else. But Inuits live in lumps of snow, many people wear veils and bikinis – although not together, which is hardly my fault – and conjuring a chair from far away has been done before. No, the thing you find the least amazing of all is that I am a creature neither you nor your relatives have ever encountered before. Why is that?”
I swallowed, never having thought of it like that before.
“Have you ever read your Book?”
At the look of incomprehension on my face, he snorted and added irritably,
“The Quran, laddie. Specifically, the verse which speaks of my ancestors and how they brought the Queen of Sheba’s throne into the Prophet’s presence in the twinkling of an eye, complete with her. They weren’t any lightweights in those days.”
There was no mistaking the note of pride in his voice, although it was uncertain if he had been referring to the Queen or to her throne.
I bit my lip. His habit of reading my mind was disconcerting.
I tried to recollect the particular verse in the Quran, the one about the Prophet Solomon’s dominion over creatures, including djinns, and how they had brought the Queen and her throne to him from across the seas in the twinkling of an eye.
“So which part of it says that the djinns were large ‘ho ho ho’ creatures?”
I blushed at his words. That, exactly, had been my previous conception of djinns, one that I had to abandon briskly when I met this one.
“One presumes...” I began lamely.
“That’s because we can transport heavy things. We are physically big and heavy too,” he finished for me. “You know, if I may give you a piece of advice...”
“I'm sure you will, whether I want it or not,” I said bitterly.
“You see? There are times when you are right, it just goes to show as I was about to advise you that its worth your realising that the world is full of people more than willing, indeed insisting on filling your head with ideas which have no basis. And that is one of them.”
Now I was confused.
“The one about djinns being very large. Well some of us may be, just like there are all sorts of humans.”
The word ‘unfortunately’ floated almost tangibly between us.
“But it doesn’t follow that it is necessarily so. There are things you have no conception of,” he added, with an almost unbearably superior look on his face.
“It’s a natural enough mistake,” I said defensively.
“Natural is as natural becomes,” he said. “You must remember that when you read, read with your mind, not just your eyes, and with your mind wide open. Just as you cannot read with your eyes shut, reading with your mind closed to possibilities, to options, is a stupid, impossible thing to do.”
“So what do you suggest, how should I read... things?”
“Whilst you read in another language and about another time, you will need some help, naturally. But why allow anyone complete dominion? Why allow them to take over your mind and lead you into minutiae? To push you into views you and your brain would never accept if allowed to function as a team?”
I willed him to read my mind, to explain, to give me a solution to problems I was unwilling to put into words and he did, to a very small extent.
“There is no blasphemy in questioning things, even people,” he said, his voice gentler than I had ever heard it. “Questioning is how you learn. It’s better than learning by being fed the words and being made to gabble them back. That in fact is the blasphemy.”
He stood up and stretched to his full height, half way up my calf. Then he clicked his fingers, my chair disappeared and I fell on to the carpet.
“The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters, you know,” he said. “So tell me when you’ve defeated Voldemort for me, will you?”
He waggled his fingers at me, and was gone.
Part III of the “Djinn” series will be published on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. Stay tuned to see how the story unfolds.