The Heart Never Forgets

The Heart Never Forgets

A Chapter by YouoweYoupay
"

Look your monster in the eye.

"
20. The Heart Never Forgets


On the hill of purple flowers, beneath the shade of Rumi’s tree, Jaraan and I watched Uncle Helal and Aunt Tula approach us. And our mouths almost ruptured from grinning as they came into full view, their jaws dropping at the sight of good old Juria who greeted them with shiny eyes and a long, lazy moo.

“Thank the gods, Beya.” Uncle Helal muttered in my ear, “Your aunt Tula cried her eyes out last night. I couldn’t get a wink of sleep. Not a wink, I tell ye!”

Aunt Tula fell on her knees, her face crumpling in heartache. The leaves of the oaks sighed in consolation. She pulled each of us into a hearty embrace; Juria, Jaraan and lastly, me. Her warm tears spotted my shoulder. 

I suggested that we hide Juria in the safest house in the village, where not a soul would dare to search. My uncle scolded me at first,  but Aunt Tula was willing, calmly confessing that she trusted my point of view. And hesitantly, my uncle followed suit. I was eager to enlighten them that the Mad Herbalist was actually the only man sound of mind in our village. Sure, his brains were slightly rattled, but he was a kind, generous host who would sit you down on his back porch to gaze at the brightest stars as you drank warm cardamom milk together, sweetened with honey. But I warned them not to accept the drink before asking him about Yara, his goat: was she happy when he milked her? 

“Your father has done a very cruel thing, Jaraan.” my aunt accused, her nose still swollen and red from sobbing, unable to soften the bitterness behind polite formalities, “Juria is precious to us. And I thank you for bringing her home.” I had never seen my aunt like this. The woman who had always locked her mouth away from gossip was now verbally skewering our neighbor with fire in her eyes. The tears hung in her pale eyelashes light tiny pearls. 

“I apologize on my father’s behalf, Aunt Tula.” Jaraan’s mature smile was spoiled with both embarrassment of his father’s actions and hurt from my aunt’s comment. After all, Kais was his father. I wish Aunt Tula had kept her opinions to herself, because she had never read Jaraan’s future in the book of visions. She was oblivious of his suffering.

No child shall be ill-treated.

This was the law in Guloc. Despite the casual ear-boxing we received when we misbehaved, or being yanked by our collars when we tried to evade a chore, we were never violently struck in the face or kicked.

And as Jaraan and I sat on the higher branches of Rumi’s tree, I tried not to stare at the hand-shaped redness printed on one side of his face. I ached to ask him about this. I ached to complain to my father. I could imagine him vowing to protect Jaraan, shocing a pitchfork a breath away from Kais Ulia’s face just as he had done last night with the oppressive travelers.

I was leaning against the tree bark with my eyes closed, listening to the bittersweet song of a nearby blackbird.

“Beyya,” Jaraan’s voice dissolved in the breathing of the breeze, “We are leaving Guloc.”
My eyes opened. I turned to him. His eyes were filled with the warmth of summer.
“When?”
“Tomorrow. In the early morning. My father's trade moves fast and he moves with it.” 

I was not convinced by this urgency. They had only been in Guloc for a week.

His foot dangled by the large oak branch, lightly swinging as he smiled at me, “That is why I asked to see you. And I am glad you came.”
“You are the one who came to me.” I corrected, plucking a bright oak leaf, my foot occasionally bumping against his as we both swung our legs. 

I wondered how Jaraan could fearlessly sneak Juria out of their courtyard and returned her to us. Perhaps his father would not have the time to investigate.

How many times has Jaraan had to move like this? How many new houses has he abandoned, how many new friends has he bid farewell?

The desire to cry swelled in my chest and rose to my throat again.

 Not now. This was his last day. I could not ruin it with tears.

“Beyya, why did you not come to school today?”

The sun slowly sunk behind the hills, growing fiercely orange.
I told him everything; the book of visions, Fifo’s accident, Morjana’s disappearance, Uncle Helal’s forgetfulness, and Beyarnok’s bite.

“It’s not forever, is it?” Jaraan wondered. I did not understand. 
“Has your brother mentioned any permanency in his vision?” He clarified, “Did Lumio see her bedridden for life?”

No…I struggled to recall the shape of the page of Fifo’s future, Lumio’s distraught handwriting filling the papers. There was no ‘forever’. The faintest flame ignited in my heart, but it was hard to dismiss the foreboding picture of a lively, sweet dancer reduced to an old unmoving memah in bed.

“Do you remember the story of Vorun the Blind?” Jaraan asked, “His brothers and sisters read to him fantastic tales. Every day, every day. Vorun enjoyed hearing the stories so much, he almost forgot about his blindness. And one morning, he opened his eyes and he could see again!”

Vorun the Blind, in our dialect, was Worun the Blind. It was one story shared between two cultures, but told with insignificant differences in the minor details.

"When the difficult time comes," Jaraan suggested, "Read to her, Beyya. Read to Fifo until she can walk again."

The purple flowers of the meadow swayed more fervently in the exhale of the wind. There was hope that, once again, Fifo would be able to spin and twirl to the sound of our drums, under first evening stars. 

I swallowed the knot in my throat. The image returned to me of the child with short chestnut hair, giving Juria advice on womanly beauty care, imitating the grown ups with her walk and refusing my marriage proposal, the way she impatiently corrects my hand when I'm chopping onions, her wandering in the frightening depths of the woods, her red shoe at the brink of the river.

“Why did the vision about Morjana worry you?”

“Because, Jaraan, she’s so small and I just�"” I trailed off. My head hung low with the terrifying thought of losing her to the wilderness.

“I understand, I understand.” Jaraan agreed, “However, you must remember that Morjana is small, yes, and also ferocious.” I raised my head to meet his eyes, “She will probably scare the boy-eating wolves away. And she will seize the river fiends by their ears and teach them good manners. The river maidens will gather around her in admiration and ask her what oils she applies to her hair to make it so lustrous and strong.”

I blinked at him wordlessly. His face stiffened awkwardly for a moment before he continued, “Besides, didn’t she ask me to marry her?”

“She did.” I failed to fight the silly grin, infecting Jaraan’s face with it as well, the childlike dimpled cheeks, contrasting his large, wise words.

“This just means I will have to come back to Guloc some day and marry her. She must return, you know, in order to fulfill her destiny with me.”

How could he think of these ideas? How could he so simply look my monster in the eye and reason with it? I envied him.

“And whether Uncle Helal remembers Aunt Tula or not,” he reassured me, “He will always, always feel her love for him. Because, Beyya, the heart never forgets. This is what my mother often tells me.”


© 2020 YouoweYoupay


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The heart never forgets. I'm seriously going to cry right now. Ugh, this chapter is so good! And Jaraan is so nice and wise beyond his years. His interpretations of Lumio's visions soothe my soul and made my own apprehensions of the future more at ease. After all, who knows what the future brings? And knowing it doesn't necessarily make one feel any better. But it is heartening to know that tragedy and heartbreak are not the end of the story. The story continues and sooner or later things get better as well. The key comes with taking everything in stride.
These are great characters you've got here, Aysha. Great work!

Posted 2 Months Ago


If all chps are posted, then I must be almost done with your book. I'm sorry I read this in a spaced-out way, so that I wasn't deeply involved in your storyline & characters. I'm sorry I didn't give full attention to the lessons & philosophical observations you make in abundance, thru-out your book. My favorite aspects of your writing are: (1) DIALOGUE! (you convey most of the story thru dialogue, a technique I love to do, but I know it's not easy & it takes lots of time to get it right!) . . . and (2) DESCRIPTION (you keep this thing in the sensory realm, often observing what's going on in people & in their surroundings). Great work (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 3 Months Ago



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Added on December 5, 2020
Last Updated on December 6, 2020
Tags: Short novel


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YouoweYoupay
YouoweYoupay

Amman, ..., Jordan



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