By Rafiq Ebrahim
Glen Ellyn, IL
Whisked away from the comforts
of Pearl Continental, I found myself in a small,
but decent house in North Nazimabad belonging to
Uncle Yusuf and Aunty Zulekha, my aged relatives,
both in their early eighties. They had insisted
that I must stay with them at least for a couple
of days before going back to Chicago, and I couldn’t
disappoint them, for they were two of the very few
relatives who had always cared for me and my family
and showered love when we were in Karachi, prior
to settling down in America.
Having got their seven daughters married off, they
now lived alone in their house, and in spite of
their age managed to get all the household chores
done - even enjoy an occasional romantic, candle-lit
dinner, the fact which Uncle Yusuf confided in me.
After a mouth-watering dinner prepared by Aunty
Zulekha, expert in the art, I was taken to a room
which was supposed to be my bedroom for two nights.
It was small, but cozy and I hoped to have a good
night’s sleep. Just as I dropped down on the
bed, everything turned dark. The power broke down.
I opened the window to get some cool air, but instead
of air an army of buzzing mosquitoes invaded the
room, and in turn started feasting on my blood.
I picked up an old newspaper lying on a table and
tried to beat them away, but it was a futile effort.
Covering myself completely with a bed sheet, I tossed
and turned around, and somehow passed the night.
“Looks as if you slept well,” remarked
Aunty, at the breakfast. I said I did, not wanting
to tell her about how really I had passed the night.
Her love and care outweighed the discomfort I suffered.
I didn’t go out anywhere that day, for I wanted
to pass as much time as I possibly could with them.
Something happened in the evening. I was watching
Aalim Online, when I heard a deep, heavy voice saying
Allah at the door. I thought Sabri Qawwal had paid
us a visit, but Uncle Yusuf, before opening the
door, briefed me that Bawa Sai has arrived and that
I must kiss his hand in respect, because he was
an enlightened soul, helping people in distress,
and it was he who was going to drive away a big
jinn who had made Uncle’s house his abode.
I was stunned, and couldn’t believe my ears
that Uncle could even think of such supernatural
invasions. He opened the door, and a tall, well-built,
dark complexioned man of about forty entered. He
was wearing a saffron qurta and a gold embroidered
skull-cap on his head which had a massive growth
of hair, flowing at the back. A rosary in his hand,
he walked in like a monarch on a mission to bless
He was offered an easy chair, and I stepped forward
to kiss his extended left hand which had stone-studded
rings on all the fingers. Was it marijuana that
I smelled? Well, I could be mistaken. After chanting
Allah a couple of times, he clapped his hands and
submerged in silence, vigorously shaking his head.
The he started murmuring some ”mantra”
and went towards a wall. He scratched it for a while,
then closed his fists and threw out an imaginary
object through the door. He clapped again, breathed
heavily and collapsed on a chair. Bawa Sai was offered
a plate of rice pudding, a specialty of Aunty Zulekha,
which he consumed quickly and asked for more. I
was sure he would finish the whole dish, leaving
nothing for me. He burped aloud and turned his gaze
on me. Suddenly he began to laugh. “He likes
you,”said the aunt. “Naturally, now
you will be blessed.”
Bawa Sai now spread his hands, palm upwards. Aunty
got the cue, went to her bedroom and came out with
an envelope, full of currency notes. This she placed
in his right hand. He pocketed it and patted her
on the shoulder.
I was witnessing a scene, all too familiar in the
sub-continent. Tens of thousands of innocent, gullible
people fall victims to such fake “pirs”
and get themselves robbed. I didn’t want my
old relatives to be continuously cheated. Something
ought to be done, I felt. I thought for a while
and said, “Bawa Sai, I have a problem. My
business has taken a downturn and I am afraid I
might go bankrupt. Could you do something for me?”
“Where do you do your business?” he
He raised his eyebrows.
“America,” I clarified.
“Ah, Amrika! He said. “Amrika. Full
of jinns. Every third person is carrying a jinn
He asked me to describe the location of my place,
which I did.
Bawa Sai heaved a long, sonorous sigh and said,
“Bachha, I can clearly see two male jinns
residing together in your store, making a mess of
things and devouring all the profits.”
“Two male jinns, living together?” I
asked. “Are they gay?
He again raised his eyebrows.
“Never mind,” I said. “Forget
it. Tell me how to get rid of these jinns.”
“Ah! ”he said. “Let me think.
Yes, you will have to get me a visa, return air
tickets and provide me with boarding and lodging
for forty days in Amrika. I”ll pray in your
store. You will also have to sacrifice black goats
on alternate days.”
“God!” I gasped. He was asking for a
cool five thousand dollars!
“Is there another option?” I asked.
He closed his eyes, swirled his hair from left to
right. “I’ll have to go to a mountain
resort in Mangho Pir, and do a chilla for forty
days. I’ll myself sacrifice black goats to
be purchased by you every alternate day and feed
the meat to the crocodiles.”
Twenty black goats! I wondered.
“And during this period,” he continued,
“you will have to be locked in a mosque with
your head shaved. You will pray silently like a
hermit all the time.”
“I’ll do as you say. Would the jinns
leave my place?”
“Definitely! They will come flying here.”
“Will I have to provide them with air tickets?”
He clapped his hands and was lost in a reverie,
probably congratulating himself on getting one more
victim who would make him richer by a couple of
I went to my room, took out a couple of one million
Turkish Lira bills. I had brought with me a number
of such bills when I visited Istanbul two years
ago. At that time one million Turkish Liras were
equivalent to 80 US Cents. Then I scribbled a note
in Urdu, which read: If you are ever seen again
in this neighborhood, or if you bother my relatives,
not only the local police, but the Anti-Terrorist
Squad and the CIA will be alerted to look for you.
You will not only be arrested, but may be sent to
Guantanamo. The foreign currency notes enclosed
can be cashed at any currency exchanged. That should
I put the note and the bills in an envelope and
put it in his extended right hand. “Allah,”
he uttered loudly and before departing asked me
to see him the next day at his place.
Next day, I went back to the hotel. A couple of
weeks later, before leaving for Chicago, I visited
my relatives. I was informed that Bawa Sai never
again came to their place. They looked concerned,
so I said, “Don’t worry. I met him recently
and he said his job at your place is finished, and
that you should now live happily.”
“Did he do away with the jinn?”
“Of course! Didn’t you see him scratching
the wall and throwing something out of the door?
The jinn was hiding in the wall. He took him out
and now he is Bawa Sai’s prisoner.”