He asks me if I believe in jinn.
Of course he asks this. I’ve seen him around. First thing he’s ever said to me and he says it with a smirk. Patronizing. In the way one might ask, “So you believe in little green men in spaceships, do you?” or “Do faeries come to watch over little girls in the night, ya think?”
Do I believe in jinn?
He hasn’t yet so much as heard my voice and I am being set up for ridicule.
I tell him about the Dera Bugti Road. About how an hour and half northeast of Jacobabad, I pulled over at a petrol station. The only building in the world. The car thermostat read fifty-one degrees (~124° F).
I pulled over for petrol and mid-day prayer only there was no petrol. Still, at the back of this tiny, middle-of-nowhere petrol station was a prayer room. Just washing basins, prayer rugs and quiet. A mini-mosque for travelers such as myself.
I got along well until afterwards when I walked out the wrong door somehow and wound up behind the petrol-less petrol station.
Behind, there was nothing. No car, no dry pumps, no Dera Bugti Road. Nothing. Utter emptiness like I’d never known.
Only – and here’s the thing – after mere moments, it wasn’t empty. It never had been. The heat from the sun weighed me down as if it were a beast upon my shoulders. The white sands whirled in the distance, around and around whistling ancient tunes to me. Even the too-blue sky looked suspect.
This was not emptiness.
Here, where there was no life, there was a consciousness, and it had seen that I’d seen it.
Am I making any sense?
“So yes,” I say to the cute smirking guy. “Here we are, in a big city library with air conditioning blaring and iPhones at the ready and we can all laugh at some ignorant bedouin and their old superstitions.
“But go stand in the desert on the Dera Bugti Road and try and tell me, even if only for a split second of a moment there, you don’t believe in jinn.”
He’s not going to be calling me, is he?