Abdul was our family driver. His age was indeterminate, though he looked old. Fair complexioned, he had a flowing snow-white beard and could have passed off as a tall-thin version of Santa Claus. A distinctive feature on his face was a dark swollen mark on his forehead which, according to him, was due to the prayers he did five times a day.
He drove our old blue Ambassador car. His driving was so impeccable that we never felt any jerk even when the car went over potholes. He drove at steady pace and scorned those who overtook him, “Why to take so much risk to arrive a few minutes early!”
His loyalty to everyone in the family member was equally distributed, which I discovered later. Abdul maintained a log-book and he noticed the inflated odometer readings. After further investigations, he zeroed on me.
My father would often go out on tours. At night when my mother and sisters would be fast asleep, I would quietly sneak out in the car all by myself.
I was scared, and muttered, “Abdul Chacha1, please don’t tell Dad…”
He assured me that he won’t but put a rider, “Okay Sanju baba2, but from now on always take me along. You don’t have a driving licence, and anything can happen in the night.”
The subsequent week my father left for an outstation tour. I told Abdul to come late after dinner. At around midnight we sneaked out. I was driving and Abdul took the front passenger seat.
It was a moonless dark night. We took the state highway and pretty soon hit the outskirts of the city. Spread around was the desolate wilderness, and the density of the trees on either side of the road thickened.
Soon we entered the forest area. The headlights illuminated the road but there was darkness beyond the spread of light. It was thrilling. After about an hour’s drive, Abdul said, “Sanju baba, let us turn back now.”
I stopped the car, and managed to make a U-turn. The return journey was equally thrilling. Suddenly something red and shining on the side of the road caught the lights. As we drove closer, it raised itself and turned out to be a woman in a red bridal dress.
Abdul’s jaw dropped in shock. He began muttering, “Bismillah, Allahumma janibna ash-Shaytaan 3….”
He whispered to me, “Do not slow down. Dive past from the side.”
With trembling hands, I held the steering wheel and drove on. We reached home. Abdul was still shaken up. After ensuring I was safely inside the house, he took out his bicycle to go home.
Abdul did not turn up the next day, and the next day. Meanwhile, my father returned from the tour. Abdul’s son came to our house and told us that Abdul was running high fever for two days and succumbed to it.
Abdul never disclosed to anyone what happened that night.
“Sanjana!” My husband called me aloud, “Get ready. You have to take me for a long after-dinner drive.”
I quickly grabbed the car-key ring that had the precious amulet that Abdul had given me that night.
Disclaimer: This story is entirely a work of fiction. The writer does not support or encourages superstitions in any form whatsoever.
Glossary and References
- Chacha – Uncle and also a term of endearment and respect for an elderly person.
- Baba – A term of endearment for a young person esp. one who is in a higher social position.
- “Bismillah, Allahumma janibna ash-Shaytaan wa janibish-Shaytaana maa razaqtna” An Islamic prayer that can be loosely translated as, “In the Name of Allaah, O Allaah! Make us distant from Shaytaan and make Shaytaan distant from what you bestow upon us”.
Islamicexorcism. (n.d.). Demons or Spirit or Ghost « Simple Guide on Islamic Exorcism. https://islamicexorcism.wordpress.com/category/demons-or-spirit-or-
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