Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Rapture- short Islamic novel

A friend of mine, called "NesteaHidra" has been writing short Islamic novel I think it is a very good aim Alhamdulillah and such aims should be supported. Here is one from Nestea:

After the Rapture
Andalusia, 1490

Leaning her elbows against the sill of the turret window, she gazed lazily outside and enjoyed the breeze and the splendid view from the lofty height of her boudoir gave her. It amused Ayesha to watch the arrivals of Caliph Mustapha’s guests. The wealthy vizier and ladies were all occupied with constant preening, a habit which Ayesha had once jeered at and mocked openly, until she was taken under Mustapha’s wing. Now she had been taught better manners despite the arduous tutelage she had received, she found that many of her old beliefs and attitudes were too deeply deep-rooted to change. She had been brought upon a world vastly different from this, in which the polite affections of the gentry were looked on with contempt.
                Another carriage approached the manor, having made the mile-long journey through the carefully wooded drive from the gate. The colours of the carriage were red wine and black. According to gossip about the guests that would attend the Caliph’s hunting game red and black were the Llorente colours. As the elegant pair of bays pulled the vehicle to a halt in front of the portico, Ayesha leaned a little further out the window, her hazel-brown eyes focusing on the figure of Diego Llorente, Count of Castile stepped view.
                He looked much younger than she had expected, and he was substantially fine looking, with bronzed skin aid black hair that had been cropped short at the back of his neck. There was unconscious arrogance in the way he straightened his coat and walked to the front of the carriage. In a smaller man that stride could have been called a swagger, Ayesha thought, and smiled slowly as she stared at him. She rested her chin one her hands as she watched him extended a brown hand to one of the horses and stroke its mane in an absentminded gesture. He grinned at something the coachman said, his teeth gleaming against his skin.
Andalusia, 1492

“Hurry,” she whispered, tugging anxiously on his muscular arm. She slammed the door behind him. “Do you think that anyone saw you? I hadn’t thought that you would simply appear at the front door. Aren’t men of your profession trained to show some discretion?”
“My…profession,” he repeated in a bemused manner.
Now that he was safely concealed from public view, Ayesha allowed herself to stare at him thoroughly. Despite his apparent dullness of wit, he was remarkably attractive. Beautiful, really, if one could apply such a word to an obviously masculine creature. He was big-framed and sinewy, with shoulders that seemed to span the width of the front Moorish door. The layers of his gleaming black hair were thick and neatly cut and his tanned face glowed from a precise shave. He had a long straight nose and a hedonist’s mouth.
He had a pair of brilliant blue eyes that approximated no other shade she had ever seen. Except, perhaps, at the shop where the local apothecary made batches of ink by boiling Indigofera plants and copper sulphate together for days until they formed a blue so dark and deep that it approached violet. And yet his eyes did not have the cherubic quality one might usually associate with such a colour. They were shrewd, hardened, as if he had gazed far too often at an unpleasant side of life that she herself had never seen.
Ayesha could easily understand why women would pay for his company. The thought of hiring this masculine, opulent-eyed god to do one’s bidding was extraordinary and tempting. Ayesha was ashamed by her secret response to him, the hot and cold chills that chased through her spine, and the burning colour that rose to the crests of her cheeks. She forced herself to stare directly into his extraordinary blue eyes. “I intend to be frank, Senor…no, never mind, don’t tell me your name, we shan’t be acquainted long enough for me to require it. You see, I’ve had a chance to reflect on rather hastily made decision, and the fact is…well, I’ve changed my mind. Please do not receive this as an insult. It has nothing to do with you or your appearance, and I will certainly make that clear to your employer, Senora Isabelle. You are a fine-looking man, in fact, and very punctual, and I have no doubt that you are very good at…well, at what you do. The truth is, I have made a mistake. We all make mistakes, and I am certainly no exception. Every great once in a while, I do make a small error in judgment -- ”
   “Wait.” He made a defensive gesture.
No there was no way for a woman like her would give away her faith for the sake of satiating her sinful carnal hunger. She knew she would be in a great danger to be caught with a man in a room, what more when she was about to commit an abomination? The danger and the guilt were too overwhelming. Her initial thoughts were revised. Her daring prospect to lie next to a man was halted. Her hatred to her uncle could never overcome the wrath of God. If she would ever escape the earthly tribulation, there was no guarantee that she would be able to escape the hereafter’s trial. “O God, have mercy on me.” Ayesha’s body froze as she remembered one of the verses from the Quran that she learnt like a maxim and recited it as tremor shook her body. “Please forgive me…o Lord.” For everything she was given, the wealth, the beauty and a guarding almost perfect uncle, she disregarded them all just because she was rebellious against her uncle’s overprotectiveness. God had given her everything. Had she was born crippled, had she was born pauper she would have experienced worse.
“Please” Ayesha’s poise eroded more rapidly with each second that passed. Her face was boiling, and her heartbeat reverberated in every part of her body. “Please leave.” Blindly she turned toward the satinwood demilune table against the wall where she had placed a small bag stuffed with glistening gold coins. The stillness of the parlour was underlaid with the gentle snapping of the fire in the hearth and the sounds of their breathing.
Twelve years earlier

There was no goodness in him. He had been raised to sleep on hard ground, to eat plain food and drink cold water, and to fight other boys on command. If he ever refused to fight, he was beaten by his uncle, the Count, the dominant in his family. There was no mother to plead for him, no father to intervene the Count’s harsh punishments. No one ever touched him except in violence. He existed only to fight, to steal, to do things against the Muslims.
Most Spanish did not hate the doughy Caliph who lived in a tidy mansion, carried pocket watches, and read books by the hearth. They only distrusted him. But Fernando’s family despised Muslims, mostly because the Count did. And whatever the leader’s whims, beliefs, and inclinations were, you followed them.
Eventually, because the Christians had inflicted such mischief and misery whenever they settled down, the Muslims had decided to scourge them from the land. They had come on horses, carrying weapons. There had been gunshots, clubbings, sleeping Christians had been attacked in their beds, women, and children screaming and crying. The settlement had been badly scattered and everyone had been driven off, the houses were set on fire, many of the horses were taken away by the Muslims.
Fernando had tried to fight them, to defend his territory, but he had been struck on the head with the heavy butt of a gun. Another had stabbed him in the back with a bayonet. His family had left him for dead. Alone in the night, he had lain half-conscious by the river, listening to the rush of water, feeling the chill of hard, wet earth beneath him, dimly aware of his own blood seeping in warm runlets from his body. He had waited without fear for the great wheel to roll into darkness. He had no reason or desire to live. But just as Night yielded to the approach of her sister Morning, Fernando found himself gathered up and carried away in a small rustic cart. A Muslim had found him, and had bid a local peasant to help carry the dying Christian into his place.
It was the first time Fernando had ever been beneath the ceiling of anything other than a house made of straws. He found himself torn between curiosity at his foreign surroundings and rage at the indignity at having to die indoors under the care of a Muslim. However, he was too weak, too much in pain, to lift a finger in his own defences. The room was simple with little indications of ornamentations that he would have expected from any aristocrat. The room bore little resemblance to a mansion, what more to a castle? Books and piled of papers filled the room with pulpy smell.
The Muslim who had brought him there…Caliph Mustapha…was a tall, slender man with brown-like colour hair. His gentle manner, his reserve, made Fernando hostile. His muscle tensed. Why had a Caliph, a Muslim saved him? What could he want from a Christian boy? Fernando refused to talk to the Caliph and wouldn’t take medicine. He rejected any overture of generosity. He owed this Caliph nothing. He hadn’t wanted to be saved, hadn’t wanted to live. Therefore, he lay there wincing and soundless whenever the man changed the bandage on his back.
There was only one time Fernando spoke, and that was when the Caliph asked about the tattoo on his back.
“What is this mark for?”
“It’s a curse,” Fernando said through gritted teeth. “Don’t speak of it to anyone, or the curse will fall on you too.”
“I see.” The man’s voice was kind. “I will keep your secret. But I’ll tell you as a Muslim, I don’t believe in such superstitions. A curse has only as much power as the subject gives it.”
Stupid Caliph, Fernando thought. Everyone knew that to deny a curse was to bring very bad luck on oneself.
It was an ear-splitting household, full of children. Fernando could hear them beyond the adjacent door of the room he had been put in. But there was something else…a faint, sweet presence nearby. He felt it hovering, outside the room, just out of his reach. And he yearned for it, hungered for relief from the darkness and agony.
Amid the clamour of children bickering, chuckling, singing in a strange language, he heard a murmur that raised every hair on his body. A girl’s voice. Lovely, comforting. He wanted her to come to him. He willed it as he laid there, his wounds mending with torturous delays. Come to me…
Andalusia, 1492

Geometric tessellation filled the planes on every inch of the dim lit room. Meticulous arabesques perfectly adorned the pale red archways in the vicinity. Two stalled figures tried to parry the awkward silence.
“Ayesha. It’s me, Fernando.”
At last.
Fernando drew in the scent and sound of her, his heart pounding. He opened his eyes. He had never thought any Moor could compare to the beauty of a Spanish woman. But this one was exquisite, a heavenly creature with alabaster skin, her hair draped with the soft cashmere pashmina, her features formed with tender gravity. She looked warm, innocent, and soft. Everything he wasn’t. His entire existence responded intensely to her just like when he was that innocuous boy he was years ago. He reached out and seized her with an inaudible groan.
                She gasped a little but held motionless. He knew it wasn’t right to touch her. He didn’t know how to be gentle. He would hurt her with without even trying. Yet she relaxed in his captivity, and stared at him with those lazy brown eyes. Why wasn’t she frightened of him? He was actually scared of her because he knew what he was capable of doing. He hadn’t been aware of pulling her closer.
“Let go,” she told him gently.
There was a loud knock at the door, and it opened. Fernando’s lips parted to snarl at the visitor.
                “My lady…there’s no time to explain. We have to escape from this place…”
The Alhambra and the majestic city of Cordoba fell into pieces during the “Reconquista”. Men and women fled but only few survived the large-scale massacres in every major city in Andalusia. Children were slaughtered as they begged for mercy. Over the next century, half of the estimated Spanish Jews converted to Christianity and became “conversos". Over the following decades, Muslims faced the same fate and they were compelled to convert and became “moriscos" or be expelled.

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