h2>Dating : The Admirer Made Of Fire
“You’re not supposed to walk under a tree with your hair down in the evening. Hasn’t anyone told you?” Zoya rode her bicycle, looping around Aasira.
“Why not?” Aasira asked.
“Because of the jinns, obviously. Gosh, Aasy Baaji, for a grown-up, you don’t know very much,” Zoya teased.
I watched the two, hoping Zoya’s comments wouldn’t affect Aasira’s plan. Each day, after she had fulfilled the responsibilities of her life, Aasira sat under this tree and wrote. I loved watching her.
“Do you really believe that?” Aasira laughed.
“I don’t just believe it. I know. I’ve seen one at this exact tree before.”
“Oh really?” Aasira plopped down in her favorite spot, leaning against the trunk. “What did he look like?”
The bicycling came to a halt. Zoya’s face looked confused as she tried to describe the image.
“I don’t know if I would call the jinn a he,” she began. “Actually it looked a lot like you if you were made of fire.”
My eyes widened. How had I not noticed this girl watching me?
“Well, I’m not scared of an imaginary woman who looks like me, Zoya.”
“You should be. You’re pretty scary-looking,” Zoya retorted, wheeling herself away from Aasira.
“Very funny!” yelled Aasira.
“Don’t be too late Aasy Baaji, or I’ll eat your plate of biryani too,” Zoya yelled back.
Aasira settled into her writing pose. Legs crossed, back arched, notebook and pen ready to go.
As noiselessly as possible, I moved to stand behind her. I was curious to see what she would come up with today.
She shivered and turned to look directly at the space I occupied. “I guess Zoya did creep me out,” she whispered.
I wanted to touch her, to talk to her, but I knew I had only one shot at an introduction. If I scared her off, she would never return, and I was bound to this tree. I couldn’t follow her.
I had waited every evening for years to spend a few minutes, maybe an hour if I was lucky, sitting under the tree with Aasira. I had watched her write intently about her family, her mother who rarely made time for her, her father who worked so much she barely saw him, and her sister, the only person in the family Aasira felt happy with.
I was the one who sat quietly beside her for weeks as she mourned Ahmed’s marriage. She loved him, but he left her to marry a girl his parents had chosen. Spineless.
She still wrote about him from time to time, but she had never again let another man close to her, at least not close enough to make an appearance in her journal.
Her loneliness was a companion to my own, and I wanted so much to share my own story with her. Alas, I was a jinn, and she was a human. I was made of a fire that does not burn, and she was made of blood that runs cold at the sight of us.
If I mustered up the courage to show myself to Aasira, there were several considerations, the biggest of which was that I needed to decide what I should look like when I first meet her.
Jinns are shape-shifting creatures. We can appear to a human as their beloved or their nightmare. It really depends on our relationship with the person. When Zoya had seen me, I was experimenting with transforming into Aasira’s fiery lookalike. I thought that perhaps appearing as someone she was most familiar with would ease her initial anxiety.
I could do this all wrong. I could enter Aasira’s body through her beautiful, loose black hair. I could possess her and talk to her from within her mind, and I could escape this tree too, that way. She would take me with her wherever she went.
No. Then I would be nothing more than a parasite, and any true relationship between the two of us would be forever impossible. I knew it. I wanted so much to be close to her, but she would first have to choose me.
If Aasira did ever decide to love me, I could take her with me into my own world. It was much more splendid than this one. We were not as limited by the laws of matter. However, our nation would never let her return to her own world. It would be too risky to have a human walking about with so much lived knowledge of jinns.
Anyway, Aasira would never leave Zoya. I smiled.
I could stay here with her, but I would require a body. My fiery likeness of humans would not allow me to blend in.
I surprised myself with the lengths I took to be near her, but she had the most beautiful mind I had ever come across. Her words, even the ones she often crossed out, were love poems to me. She understood the depth of emotion in ways that transcended our differences.
Maybe it was time to say something to her.
I moved closer to her ear.
“Aasira,” I whispered, “Please don’t be afraid. I am not here to hurt you. I just want to talk to you.”
She jumped up and turned to face the tree.
“Who’s there?” she yelled.
This was the moment. If I didn’t show myself, she might never return.
“Ahmed?” she asked, “What happened to you?”
“I’m not him. I just made myself look like him. Let me explain,” I replied.
She backed away.
“Please stay,” I pleaded.
She began to run toward her house, away from the tree, from me.
I’d blown it. I had squandered my one shot. I lowered my gaze. It was too painful to watch her go. I knew she would never come back.
When I looked up again, I felt a jolt of surprise. Aasira was walking back toward me. For a moment, I thought I was hallucinating.
“Why did you come back?” I asked her, utterly bewildered.
“Well, I looked at you one last time, and you seemed too sad and defeated to be a killer, especially when you probably could have caught me,” she said.
“I don’t want to harm you,” I repeated, “But, my sadness can’t be the only reason you turned around.”
She paused, “It’s not. I came back for the story.”
She waved her journal at me, sat down in her usual position against the tree, and patted the ground next to her.
“People won’t believe you,” I said.
“So I’ll pass this off as a work of fiction,” she shrugged.
I sat down beside her. She really was something special.
“Once upon a time,” I began, “A jinn fell in love with a human.”