A Chapter by YouoweYoupay

Juria the cow and Rumi the bird.

11. Rumi

“Didn’t I teach you time and time again?” the tiny girl scolded me, “Do I really need to keep reminding you?” 

“Remind me of me what, Morjana?” I panted as we trekked our way up the steep hill. 

“You already know that if you make a new friend, you are supposed to bring him to meet Her Majesty first and foremost.”

“Alright, alright. I’m sorry, I forgot.” I opened my palm to motion Juria, who patiently chewed on a tuft of grass in her mouth as three chickens hopped and cackled around her. With a motherly air, she regarded Jaraan’s new face, “Jaraan, this is Juria. Juria, meet Jaraan. He’s �"”

“You are hopeless! That is not how it’s done.” Morjana huffed, dragging Jaraan by the hand toward the cow, “Here, she’ll let you pet her.”

Juria sniffed the unfamiliar hand that hovered over her head. Jaraan looked into her earth brown eyes. He was caught by surprise when she stood up and began to nudge his waist repeatedly, almost knocking him down on the grass. 

“Is she cross with me…?” Jaraan stuttered, struggling to keep his balance.

“She is not!” Morjana smoothed the darker spots on Juria’s almond coat, “She is trying to read your soul. It is important that she meets you, because she’s old and wise. She will be able to tell us�"” she brushed her chestnut hair away from her face, “to tell us, um, whether you’re good or evil.”

Juria, which meant the queen, was our family’s oldest cow and the most intelligent animal in all of Guloc. She knew and remembered the difference between a nibble and a tickle, and between a friendly voice and a malicious one, and she showed affection according to what the each one of us preferred. If you ever felt sad, you could sit by Juria and she would lick your tears away. Because she was so loved, my grandmemah revered her as another daughter of hers and so any other cow, sheep or goat could be slaughtered, or sheared or milked, but not Juria. You don’t come near the queen. 

“When will you grow your hair like mine?” Morjana asked Juria, caressing her ears, “When you do, I can help you braid it, but you’ll have to �" Juria, Juria, stop!” Morjana whined, failing to escape the cow’s tongue. Almost as big as my hand, it slurped her entire little face and she stared at us angrily with pursed lips, “A thousand times I told her not to do this.”

“Morjana, serves you right. She can smell the sugar on your cheeks.” I shook my head at her, “That’s what happens when you rush up the hill toward Juria right after gobbling up grandmemah’s sweets.”

“Grandmemah never said I was not allowed!” Morjana crossed her arms.

“Oh, but you know,” I raised one eyebrow, “and I know that she was saving those jelly drops for guests and travelers.”

“Beya, quiet!” she plastered her small hand over my mouth, “Don’t embarrass me in front of Jaraan! He comes from Peham, as you know. Peham!” she was hissing in such urgent secrecy, but the boy was right there.

“Morjana, you should never steal.” Jaraan gently reminded her, allowing Juria to sniff his soft black hair, “Otherwise, on the day of resurrection, Lord Tambier might send you to the other side of the river with only one hand..”

“I know, but �" ” Morjana took a small breath, rubbing Juria’s soft leather more anxiously, “but, maybe I could explain to Tambier tha-that it’s impossible to stop yourself from stealing the things you love to have.” Jaraan and I shared an inquisitive look, “No, listen to me, you just listen” she cleared her throat, shifting on the grass to sit more maturely, “It’s true that I steal.” she raised a finger at us, “Sometimes. But I do so much good too. Looong ago, when I was just a baby, I made a lot of mistakes. Now that I’ve grown, everything changed.”

She was only five years of age.

Jaraan’s eyes squinted as he released a boisterous laugh, his long, dark lashes accentuated in the sunlight, the dimples carving his cheeks. I guffawed heartily in response. It was contagious. I thought I had been the only one trying to restrain myself to spare her feelings.

“Wait�" Morjana!” I shielded my face with my hands, still recovering from the fit of sputters, “Why are you hitting me? Jaraan is laughing too! Ow!” 

Out of the blue, Juria began to trot toward the distant long grasses swaying with the breeze, where the shape of a straw hat covered someone’s face as they lazily sprawled in the meadow. 

Our warning calls began.

“What’s happening?” Jaraan blurted out in between the chuckles.

“Just yell with us!” Morjana instructed.

“Aunt Tula! Look out!” we called out, cupping our hands around our mouth.

“Juria’s coming. She’s coming.”

“Protect your hat. The hat! She’s coming for your hat.”

Aunt Tula, her face buried beneath the hat, seemed small beneath the endless blue and puffs of cream white clouds. And without a cowbell to announce her approach, Juria casually snatched Aunt Tula’s straw hat and jogged away with it. And this time, the laughing did not exclude Morjana, our bellies unleashing sunbeams and a rainbow of high-pitched shouts. 

By the time we raced across the meadow of purple and berry-pink flowers, Aunt Tula had already managed to catch the culprit. She was humming the music of the same poem. Ever since I was a child, small as a pup, she had never sung anything else. Most of the words had been etched in my heart by now, the melody carried by the sighing leaves of the large fig tree in her garden. It was a story about two neighbors who shared a life of hard work and respect, until one neighbor stole from the other, in the dead of the night, and turned their house to ashes before disappearing forever. Just as dawn broke and the oppressed family awoke to the tragedy of their losses, the charcoal remains of the rooftop and the walls, they huddled together in an embrace of gratitude.

Not all is lost.
Not all is lost.
Our riches are taller
Than the towers of Peham.

“Aunt Tula, did she eat your hat?” Morjana asked worriedly.

“Never. She is a well-behaved girl.” Aunt Tula scratched Juria between her ears, “However, aren’t you a wee too old to be playing tricks on me, Juju? Hm?” 

Juria snorted softly, flapping and shaking her ears and huddling closer to Aunt Tula, who responded with kisses and more head scratches. Under the golden light, my aunt’s auburn eyelashes seemed to catch a soft glow of fire.

“Aunt Tula, have you met Jaraan?” Morjana announced, “He comes from the city of angels!”

“Is that so?” Aunt Tula chirped musically, “How did Juria greet you, Jaaran of the city of angels?”

“She �"” Morjana started with an excited gasp, but I intervened.

“Morjana enough already. Stop dominating every single conversation, it’s obnoxious!”

“She uh�" nudged me and then she sniffed my hair. Almost chewed on it.” Jaraan stiffly said, “I am not sure what that means, Aunt.”

“Well, this could only mean she wanted to know what you were thinking about her.” Aunt Tula smiled, apple cheeks and a crooked tooth like that of a girl.  “She wanted to impress you. Juria will only want to impress people with a good, strong heart.”

Two bright butterflies chased one another above Aunt Tula's head.

“That’s kind of you, Aunt, thank you. And may I say, Aunt, if I may…” Jaraan’s face grew a little red. We all turned to him with concentration, “You are the most beautiful woman I have seen in all of Guloc.” 

Without knowing, even Jaraan could sense that my Aunt resembled the magical fairness of a river maiden. However, he would not have said that had he laid eyes on Fifo first!

“Jaraan, you can’t marry Aunt Tula. You can’t!” Morjana warned, dramatically shaking her head, “She’s very old and �" and she’s already married to Obi Helal. She’s the poet and he’s her moon.”

I sighed at her, my eyebrows knitting sarcastically, “Do you even know what a poet is?”

Jaraan’s stifness rivaled that of a tree bark, “Forgive me, meimah. I did not know. You look… quite young.”

Mei-mah. The way he pronounced it echoed in my head.

“There is nothing to forgive.” she nodded, the breeze stirring the red curly wisps of hair near her face, “And you can certainly drop the ‘memah’.”

“If�" if” Morjana pulled on Jaraan’s hand, taking another thoughtful breath, her large coffee-brown eyes rolling in contemplation. “If I grow up to be as pretty as Aunt Tula, will you marry me?” 

We died laughing. Even the cow thought it was ridiculous, mooing in her own chorus.

But before Jaraan could address Morjana’s marriage proposal, a brown pip bird hovered over our heads and landed on Rumi's tree nearby. A brittle branch snapped beneath my foot as I approached it.

“Beya, isn’t that your father’s pip?” Aunt Tula guessed.

Rumi cocked his head at me. He was easily distinguishable among the other birds by the feathers of his belly; a lighter copper brown with faded white spots. He had landed on the same oak as always. And this is where the tree got its name.

Mail pips were round birds that fit in a grown-man's palm, with conical beaks, button eyes and long, sticklike legs, domesticated as air messengers for hundreds of years. They never shrieked or squawked the way larger forest birds did, but Rumi hopped unusually quietly between the branches.

A silent pip only came with bad news; the sorrow or illness of the sender, for instance. I softly beckoned the bird to come closer, before his letter reached my parents’ residence, falling into their hands first. Otherwise, they would certainly hide this knowledge from me, in fear of distressing my 'fragile, young' mind.

I carefully untied the tiny scrap of paper rolled against the pip’s ankle. “Thank you, Rumi. I don’t have your favorite biscuits this time.” I scratched his head with one finger before letting him go.

It was a letter from my brother.

I will not be returning to Guloc tonight. 
Do not worry about me. 
I am safe.


Usually, when Rumi departed from our window, he would jabber out a short melodious chirp. But this time, as he flushed away from my hands, swooping into the cool spring air, he did not make a sound.

© 2020 YouoweYoupay

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register


Whoa, what a shocking development at the end there! And of course we have Lovely little Morjana to make things interesting. I loved that one line: You don't come near the Queen. Excellent. More short tales intertwined within the narrative. I like it. And Juria, what a character. Even if she is a cow. I wanted to pet and kiss her too! Oh she sounds so adorable. A pet cow. Hmmmm.....
Anyway, great job with this one. Keep it up!

Posted 5 Months Ago

This chapter is a shower of inventive & lively writing. This is the kind of writing that can only come from lively thinking & dynamic observations of one's world & how life abounds. I haven't been reading your chapters close enuf together to get immersed in the longterm storyline here, but a single chapter like this is delightful to read, no matter how it fits into the larger story. This, to me, is an essential ingredient in character development: making your reader love your characters. Even evil characters need to be loved by the reader, as a compelling force that makes a reader want to continue reading chapter after chapter. This is what I feel . . . I love your characters & I want to know what happens to them, & this is becuz of the loving fun inventive ways you portray their interactions with each other (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 5 Months Ago

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


2 Reviews
Added on December 5, 2020
Last Updated on December 17, 2020
Tags: Short novel



Amman, ..., Jordan

"The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms." ~Muriel Rukeyser "There is no one more rebellious or attractive than a person lost in a book." “He allowed himself to be swayed by his con.. more..

Memah Lemon Memah Lemon

A Chapter by YouoweYoupay

Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..

The Law The Law

A Chapter by YouoweYoupay

Jaraan Jaraan

A Chapter by YouoweYoupay