Excerpt from Aicha (From the Ghost Walk)

Nine-year old Muneera’s eyebrows perched questioningly, as she combed Aïcha’s long silky black hair.

“So you have two living rooms?” she said.

“Yes.  This room is where we greet men and our official guests,” said Aïcha.  “My house is designed like a Saudi home, so this is what we call the Majlis.  We always keep it clean because Saudis are very spontaneous and guests drop in all the time.”

Guests?  Muneera had never seen any.

“And we also have separate entries for men and women, so no curious peeking and stolen glances,” laughed Aïcha, “separate sinks, separate bathrooms….”

“But only one bedroom?” said Muneera, sending a blush through Aïcha.

“Look at this door,” Aïcha said quickly,“ I made it in memory. Back in Saudi, it led to my mother-in-law’s house.  Like a secret passage.  We would visit each other without wearing the Burqa. The kids had so much fun, running through it creating such a ruckus! You would have loved it, too.”

Muneera gathered Aïcha’s hair into an intricate top knot, high above her head, wrapping the white scarf around it. She fixed the little golden brooch to the scarf, just above Aïcha’s ear.

“You look beautiful!”  sighed Muneera, regarding the black fabric running the length of Aïcha’s curvy body.  “Almost like…”

“Barbie?” laughed Aïcha. “Well, you always say that.  Burqa Barbie!”

“Well, Baran is going to love you!  Please have lunch with him? Please. Pleeeeese.”

“Ohhh…alright.  Get me my veil.”

“Aïcha? Lunch…with a veil?”

“We always eat that way when we have guests!” said Aïcha.  Muneera huffed loudly as she threw up her hands and sat down. She picked the cup of tea, imagining Aïcha with her half-raised veil, on the dining table struggling with a fork full of spaghetti, while her stepbrother cracked an awkward joke.

“Aïcha, you don’t really need a veil now, I think.” Muneera bit her tongue even as the words came out.  She felt the pain as it touched Aïcha, without looking up at her face.    For she could never look at Aïcha’s face without a shiver running down her spine.

For Aïcha’s face was different.

For where should have been those beautiful eyes, ruby-red lips, and the fluttering eyelids of a bewitching Saudi nineteen year old, Aïcha had nothing.  Aïcha had no face.  Instead of a face, there was just smooth white.

“Yes,” said Aïcha through her absent lips, her head cast down.  “Things have changed now.”

“Muneera.” A high-pitched shout entered the living room.  It was her stepmother. “Where are you, you goddamned girl?”

Suphairath flung open the living room door.

“What are you doing hiding in here?” she barked,“Don’t you have your lessons now? Mujeeb has been waiting for you.” She saw the cup of tea in Muneera’s hand and her eyes narrowed, “And what the hell are you doing with the fancy tea sets?”

Muneera paled, “It wasn’t me, mamma.  It was Aïcha.”

Suphairath looked at Aïcha, her eyes tightening.  She turned to Muneera.

“If you blame on more thing on that faceless doll, I’m getting rid of it. You hear me? And don’t you dare touch those tea sets with your filthy hands again.”

Muneera made a face as Suphairath stormed out, catching the flash of red heels and the curve of a cocktail gown through the sheers of the outer black fabric.  A strong whiff of Nina Ricci still hung in the air.  Gossip Friday, thought Muneera, quickly hurrying after her stepmother, with Aïcha tucked under her arm.

Buy and read the rest of the story at http://www.amazon.in/gp/product/B014O7DXRQ?redirect=true&ref_=kinw_myk_ro_title

Aicha was inspired from an actual Sharia-compliant doll.  Hope you like the story.  Here is the related news article. http://www.rt.com/uk/214631-faceless-doll-sharia-law/


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