30 July 2016

Electronic mail

Miss Iqbal, Why you only tell half the story? Like mooslems don’t do anything wrong. The mooslem world is all happy people and flyng carpets?

I'll read you when you tell the truth.


Dear truth-seeker:

This blog is a happy place. I hope it is a happy place. It’s a place full of magic snakes.

There are strange skies, sleepwalking sisters, and impossibly small faces here, too. I put them here. If tomorrow I were to begin posting, let’s say, clips of terrorist beheadings, this could not help but spoil both my vibe and my brand.

I am cultivating here, sir!

Places do exist, online, where you can go should you wish to watch the latest beheading. Wish to watch, wish to watch. I cannot imagine why you would, really, as it seems like a poor way to spend one’s precious time.

If you wish to read of Middle Eastern people doing bad things, I recommend Headscarves and Hymens, which Mona Eltahawy wrote. This book is certain to put you in a suitably awful mood.

I have always doubted the safety and practicality of carpets as a mode of transportation.

Thank you for reading and writing me.

I hope your time here glows.


24 July 2016


Have I told you yet about Nice Old Mary?

We used to do household chores for her in exchange for hearing her stories, my sister and I. Dusting, dishes, that sort of thing. Nothing too laborious.

Nice Old Mary was nice and old and spoke with an accent which I can still imitate but have never successfully identified. Her stories were of her youth, full of creatures and places long vanished, for she was impossibly ancient, I should think.

If she knew of the distant past, then it only stood to reason to me that Nice Old Mary should know of the distant future as well.

I said, “Nice Old Mary, tell me of my future husband. How handsome will he be? How strong? How rich?”

Earning such a story meant clearing out her garage, a task encompassing three days’ work.

When these three days were completed, my sister and I were then made to search out and capture a particular variety of black spiky worm. A caterpillar, in fact.

The next order of business was to find ourselves a leaf of medium size. Not a tiny leaf, no, that would not do, but neither was it to be an elephant ear sized leaf, for that would be superfluous to the old woman’s purposes.

Nice Old Mary’s instructions were quite firm. I wish to be clear on this. I was to print my question upon the leaf, which was medium-sized, and feed it to the caterpillar, which was black and spiky. This I did without complaint.

I still had no answer regarding my future husband.

The caterpillar cocooned.

All seemed lost.

A creature emerged at last from the cocoon, weeks later. A moth. Pale yellow. Upon its wings were hieroglyphs in Nice Old Mary’s native tongue.

My sister and I squealed. “What does it say, Nice Old Mary?” we said.

Nice Old Mary turned the moth around. To read the glyphs right-side up, you know.

“It says your life will be a happy one,” she said. “It says you will be smart and strong and successful, with or without a man.”  

The moth flew away.

“What the hell is this?” I said. I was indignant. “What about my husband?”

Nice Old Mary shrugged. “Don’t blame me, kid,” she said. “It was your damn caterpillar.”

20 July 2016

Number sixty-two

It’s been seven months and sixty-two blogs for me.

Here, at “Groves of Spears.”

I’m having loads of fun and meeting great new people. You’re not new people but you’re new to me. I know you were around somewhere else before you were here.

Thanks to all of you for stopping by to say hello like you do. I will try to make this blog better and better for you.

Now here’s a picture called “Motherships” by an Iranian artist named Maryam Hashemi.

17 July 2016

My super power

Listen to me. I tell you that I’m always wrong. I’m quite certain of this.

It’s not that I am a liar, no; I’m just a poor guesser. If it should so happen that you are talking with me and it turns out that I am right about something, then you can be reasonably confident that it is not me you’re talking with but rather someone else entirely.

12 July 2016

The one about the screaming

I am not a person prone to emotional outbursts but sometimes I scream out in my sleep.

It begins in my sleep, at any rate, and continues on for a time after I’ve been awakened by the screaming. By my own screaming, that is.

People run in to see what is the matter. My sister. When I was younger, my parents. People run in and they usually say the same thing. They say, “Nasreen, what is it that’s scared you?”

My father or a visiting relative or that woman they took me to talk to about it: “What are you afraid of? What’s making you scream?”

I never remember but what if I did and what if it was something really to be scared of? Have they even considered this?

What if I told them of the thing that makes me scream in my sleep and then they were scared, too? What if, upon learning of it, they woke in the night screaming, too?

You know, like it’s some kind of fear virus.

What would have been accomplished in that case, really?

That in itself, that’s something to be scared of. I’m scared of that: Making the world a more fearful place. Making the world a place where more people wake up screaming in the night.

What an awful idea. A fear virus. I would not want to be responsible for perpetuating such a thing and that is why I would never, ever share what-

Oh. Wait.  

Forget I said anything, maybe?

09 July 2016

Family album

This is a picture post.

This is my family.

My family is wonderful and yours might be too. You should feel free to post pictures of your family in the comments, though you are under no obligation to do so. 

04 July 2016

I was distracted

She had an unnervingly tiny face.

In saying this, I do not seek to imply that she was tiny in body nor that her head was statistically smaller than that of the average person. Her head was, in fact, if anything, slightly larger than that of the average person in my experience. I grant you that my experience of heads might not have contained a representative sample.

Still, neither the body nor the head was at issue.

Instead, her unnerving quality involved only her face, the features of which appeared all bunched up in the middle, where only her nose rightfully should have been. The eyes, nose, mouth and associated lines all squeezed into an area no larger than a baby’s fist.

Mere moments after the commencement of our lunch meeting, I found myself unable to focus on anything save this tiny face before me. Why would Allah deem so large a head necessary for holding such a microscopic visage? It was all just wasted space, really. A veritable skin desert.

I should have been engaged and conversing. Wheeling and dealing. But there was none of that.

I imagined this woman as a normal woman with a proper-sized face on a proper-sized head. I imagined her as having had – for reasons both unknown and unknowable to me – pushed her face up, into, and through a large, flesh-colored, papier-mâché orb. Perhaps she was wearing it now solely for the purposes of our meeting. 

But there was no line visible where a makeup artist or gluemaster might have worked at hiding the seam between face and surrounding papier-mâché head. There must be a seam, right?

I stared and I stared and once even believed I’d found it. But then the woman proceeded to smile, revealing the seam to be nothing more than an ordinary dimple.

“This is great!” she said, and loudly enough to snap me out of my trance. “Once this deal goes through, we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other!”

There was no question but that I would have to hijack the deal.