The Dervish and the Little Girl
Austin Boston | Sayantan Halder
Remember you were seven once, and you had a baby brother of ten months, your papa was off in battle with the Spanish, your mother sick with post-partum depression, so it was up to you to bring the counsel of the Dervishes in the Lodge up the plateau. They were to tell you to bring your mother there, but the act was symbolic for a seven year old, you had to do what you had to do, and that’s what you needed to bring your mother, your home, yourself, out of the broken and into the light.
Remember your name. It was Isabelle, and you were not born in the desert where you live, not in the mud-baked houses sunk in the sand, but rather, in the lands to the north, above the torrential sea. You may not remember these things; you may remember instead the pulsing calligraphy on the heavy oak doors, turquoise engraved with oak lining, ancient rivets on a desert plateau. You were pounding with your fists and crying, “Help my mother!” before the glazed eyes of the hash-ish smoking guard, covered in resin, leaning on the mango tree. You may have instead remembered the ritual of the Dervishes, in which when you stumbled into it you were branded with the burning letters of Allah onto the face of your bold green heart.
But even if you don’t remember these things either, you must remember the Dervish that held your hand as you glimpsed into the Infinite, a man with eyes twinkling behind his robes and cap, beard longer than you were tall. You took his hand in his twirl, and the Infinite gazed down at you from His Merciful place in the heavens, holy blue fire pulsing as We took Our fingers and placed them to your neck. Closer than the jugular, We said. You pulled him outside and sailed down the hill with him muttering “Oh, child,” in-tow.
Further down the hill you brought him to a shady sand-sunk house, covered in palm leaves. The Dervish halted when you proceeded to push him through the door. “We must protest, your mother can be helped, but what of your father?” You averted his gaze and sobbed. “Come here, my child.” And you fell into his arms on your mother’s porch, an infant noisy inside. The birds started to circle around you and him, his cloth filling your stomach with soothe. The birds made seven revolutions around you and him, healer and healing, wise and rash, but a song lulls you into slumber, hummed by the Dervish.
“Row row row your boat,
gently down the stream,
merrily merrily merrily merrily,
life is but a dream.”