Snake tells me: shed the old.
Snake tells me: time to go.
He slips out between my legs
leaving a space.
a short story by Laurie Fraser
This is a story about synchronicity. I don’t know what to make of it- I’m not religious or even spiritual, really. I was raised without churches or mosques or synagogues. I was raised without a prayer. I knew who God was, of course, but I confused him with Santa Claus- a kindly old man who could see everything and could grant any wish, give any gift…but that didn’t mean he would.
That’s what I knew about God. In my 20s, when my baby died, I asked my parents, “Do you pray?” and they both said yes. My mother was sure and clear about it, of course she does. My father was vague.
“I don’t know how to pray,” I said. I didn’t know where my daughter had gone or if I could ask God about her somehow. I was angry with my parents after that conversation. They’d given me lots of things, nurtured lots of skills…but they hadn’t given me faith. Oh, I know, my mom’s from a nut-job family of fundamentalists, and she thought she was protecting us kids from the crazy confines of religion – I’m grateful for that.
But they had learned faith from their parents and it was a resource they used, especially when other hope was lost.
I wondered, could Beca see me now? Or had she disappeared completely?
She was the tiniest baby I’ve ever seen, born and died on the same day. She was born without a sound, total silence in that room, although nurses and doctors were elbow to elbow. They had no hope and I had no faith and so they didn’t stick her full of tubes and monitors in a little plastic house. They took her away and brought her back clean, in a blanket, and placed her in my arms.
I opened the blanket and saw a pulse right through her chest- her heart was beating! How could the doctors have missed it? Mesmerized, I reached my finger toward it, and gently, the nurse stopped me from touching the pulse.
“It’s electrical,” she said. “It’s just the brain.”
I didn’t understand. After many minutes, the beating stopped. For me, she died then. The death certificate would say Stillborn, but she wasn’t still.
But that isn’t my story.
When the anniversary of that day came around a year later, I knew I should do something to recognize the day. I was through the depression. I had adjusted to single life after her father left. I was back at work, although the two co-workers who had been pregnant with me- that club that I had lost membership in- were still on maternity leave.
I had bought a small dress, the prettiest I could find: lavender with white flowers, a white collar. I had wrapped it and put in the passenger seat of the seat of the car. And then I’d headed off to work.
Work was the best place to be. I was the only full-time staff in a community centre that was crawling with kids. We had 5 day camps chock full of children aged 3 to 12. The 13 – 15 year olds were the volunteer program, trained and supervised by me too, the most reliable of them paired with the younger children with special needs. The rest of them just ran around causing trouble. I once had to get one of them off the roof.
Once they hit 16, they could be hired. I was supervising a large group of counsellors- all students, sometimes hung over or broken-hearted or planning something wild for the kids. Like a huge piece of plastic on a hillside with a hose- a water slide for them to go crazy on, sometimes not taking turns very well.
When a flash flood poured down on us one afternoon, the campers came screaming across the parking lot from the park. The counsellors did try to get them into the community centre, but when the kids saw the parking lot had become a shallow swimming pool, they laid in the water, laughing hysterically, trying to swim, their hands and legs splashing, the parking lot looking like it had beached a bunch of fish in bathing suits.
They were soaked anyway and I stood in the downpour laughing at them, grateful the lawyers were downtown. When the thunder and lightning started, they came shrieking into the building, slipping on the floor and shaking their hair like dogs.
It didn’t rain on Beca’s anniversary. It was terribly bright and hot, just like the day she was born. I was sweaty and maybe stinky as I got into my car at 5 pm and saw the wrapped present. With a start, I realized I had forgotten the significance of the day.
I caught my breath and started the car. Guzzling a jar of water, driving slowly down the leafy suburban street, I recognized the irony of spending the afternoon in a hospital with a child.
Ali was fine now – his parents had met us at the hospital and taken him home. He’d choked on something in the indoor pool. His blue lips called it “foam” but even after evacuating the pool, the lifeguards hadn’t found anything untoward. Still, I reflected, it was never fun to be in an ambulance with a child, unsure of his condition, with parents and municipal lawyers to inform.
I was driving very slowly, marvelling at the irony, when something flew directly toward my windshield and loudly thunked against the front of the car. I stopped. Whatever it was, it had come out of the sky, dive-bombing my car.
A bird? Birds are too clever for that.
I rolled the car ahead a bit, watching behind me. Nothing on the road.
I went a bit further. Nothing.
It had been a loud thunk. It wasn’t nothing. I rolled closer to the curb and stopped the car.
I got out and walked to the front of my car.
I gasped. A bird was on the grill. I looked closer. One dead bird. I brushed it slightly and it did not fall. One stuck dead bird, a small one, the feathers splayed out as if it was flying.
“I’m so sorry,” I told it, familiar grief suddenly burgeoning in me like blowing up a balloon. “Oh my goodness.” Tears filled my eyes and I was hopeless, helpless. What to do?
I looked up and around and saw a woman walking past a stroller in her front yard toward me. She had a running hose in her hand, and I saw she’d been washing her van. She smiled and called my name. To my horror, I recognized her as well- a co-worker who worked at a different community centre, but who wasn’t working today. She was on maternity leave this beautiful summer day.
I was working on the other hand. I had failed to produce a crying baby. I had a dead bird stuck on the front of my car.
I felt shame, profound embarrassment, my baby-killing nature on display, but I smiled and quickly blinked the tears away.
We had to ask how are you and how is the baby and how is work, no mention of Beca, but finally to the problem at hand: a bird on my grill. She stepped back- the bird was clearly my problem, not hers. I was mortified. I can use that word: mortified.
Swallowing hard, I reached to pull the bird away. It was just a baby. Maybe it had fallen out of the nest; maybe it was trying to fly. It didn’t come off the grill. Horror gave way to panic; I had to do this and get away from this woman’s picket fence. The head was stuck in a gap between two pieces of metal. I put my thumb and index finger around the tiny head. I wiggled it and the soft skin moved around a hard skull the size and feel of a marble. I wiggled it loose, peeled the body off the grill, stood up and looked around.
The woman beckoned to me, and I followed her with the bird in my palm. She walked to the garage and lifted the lid of a garbage can. Newspaper filled it almost to the top. I laid the bird on it, and she closed the lid.
I walked back to my car and got in. I drove to St. Mary’s Maternity Home and gave the receptionist the wrapped gift. She promised to give it to one of the young moms.
It felt a little anti-climactic.
Now I don’t know about God or synchronicity or the Universe the way some people do. I don’t know what all that means or why that happened. I can only say that it was a very important day and that I wasn’t alone in knowing that.
allows this wound to show.
opens its tight pink bud.
dissolves the caked black pain.
Heart weeps relief.
1. Blind woman, age 92, delusional, hospitalized for lung infection, fever, anxious, fighting the nurses:
Long distance session. (Distance is an illusion that doesn’t affect energy healing.)
– affirmation for the whole healing- “I am ready, willing and able to feel safe.” From that, I am led to obstacles affecting security:
– I saw a medium-sized blond dog in her lungs. “Shirley’s” energy reported that this had been a loss. Later, her daughter told me that this was Ram, a beloved family pet who had died more than 30 years ago. I removed this old grief from her lungs. (Oftentimes sadness is held in the lungs, and anger in the liver. That’s why I say smokers are sad and drinkers are angry.) Old emotion is dysfunctional energy and when it is removed, the organ’s energy is free to reach the balance and health it is yearning for.
– I saw (using clairvoyance) and removed: a green hat (something that was affecting her brain negatively, connected to the dementia), lots of red, especially around her head and chest (anger) and water that completely immersed her (overwhelming sadness).
– I found a long black snake that had been in her spine a very long time. This is nasty old energy that I’ve removed from many spines over the years. Great relief for her body to be rid of this. My teacher called this Reptilian Energy; it also appears as lizards and tiny fast crocodile-looking creatures. Usually black snakes though. All of them lay eggs and so when I find one, I always check if they have left eggs behind somewhere in the client’s body- usually bowels.
– Next I saw 9 rats with giant teeth feeding on her body. I used 2 hands to remove each one- that’s how big they were. These rats represented bacteria. (When their energy is removed, they will die.)
– Message from Shirley’s own heart – eliminate sugar completely, immediately. (Have you seen the amount of processed sugar given to hospital patients? Apple juice feeds bacteria. Good call, Shirley!)
– Message from Shirley’s heart to her daughter: “Please bring my stuff to the hospital.” She showed me a brown cigar box with her things inside: trinkets, jewelry, an old car key, religious cards. She asked to hold these things in order to feel calmer and to remember who she is! (Again, the energy has the solution.)
– calming procedure (Biocomputer Operating System)
The effects were immediate: “Shirley” became cooperative with the nurses, cried when the cigar box arrived and is now completely occupied with it. She is breathing better and expects release on the weekend.
2. Healthy middle-aged woman with chronic lower back pain:
I went directly to the spine- between L5 and S1, I found an old emotion- “tight for space, no room”. The vertebrae were too close together and this was causing pain.
I told her: This occurred at age 35. What was happening at that age that had something to do with tight or no space?
Turns out her fourth child, who was unplanned, had arrived when she still had the third child on her hip. “One hip for each of them. On top of that, we didn’t even have a place to put another crib. Yep, it was tight alright!”
I removed the old emotion and the back pain disappeared and has not returned.
3. Baby who never stopped crying:
The cause of crying took me to a vision of a large oval red wound with blood pouring out of it. This baby was a Syrian refugee and I was shocked that he might have seen such a frightening sight. I asked his energy: Was it war? Answer: It was birth.
Still shocked, I realized that this was the infant’s view on his way out of the birth canal, and yes, birth is a scary event.
I removed the anxiety he hadn’t been able to release on his own. There was much more anxiety to remove, and I understood that he had picked some of that up from his parents, travel etc. I saw and removed images that looked like orange monsters, sharp things like needles and knives, lots of colours indicating emotion especially red and black.
His mother still hugs me on sight because he finally ceased the constant crying & everyone got some sleep.
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From What I Can Tell, energetic ties appear as cords joining 2 people. They run between chakras, usually second chakra to second chakra, but sometimes heart to heart. They can be any colour but usually black or orange, like an extension cord. They can be thin as a thread or thick as a tree trunk, like one of those bundles of cables that run under oceans.
Ties (or cords) are created by shared experiences, a matter of reaching out to give and receive, often with love. They can be created with the purpose of gaining energy or control. Sometimes these “power cords” are disguised as loving.
It is best to cut ties even when the relationship is strong and good. There is always an element that is old, and the energy is unbalanced. This is much the same as wearing the same stones/crystals for long lengths of time. Your energy becomes used to them and adjusts for them thinking they are permanent, like compensating for a bum knee. Then your energy is off-balance when the crystals are removed or the ties are cut.
Even when cords are cut, new ones will continue to reach out and grow.
Cutting ties does not affect love. The love goes on without interruption. It is safe to cut ties with family members etc.
How I Know This:
I am often directed by peoples’ energy to cut ties. I see them energetically as described above. I cut the ties with a slicing hand motion or I use my sword. I slice the cords close to the client’s chakra.
Interestingly, the person who has lost ties with the client will often get in touch within a day “to see if you’re okay”. This person is likely noticing a lack of power if they are energy suckers or if they control the client in any way. They will send out more ties immediately. (Yeah, you have to keep cutting them. I have cut ties with my mother at least once/month for years. I cut the ties between my boss and I every day for a month after quitting a job.)
I have been directed to cut ties for:
– Myself, when a friendship ended abruptly. For the ties to be cut is less painful than feeling them slowly rip apart and tear… if you pull Band-aids off quickly, you already get the idea.
– A widower who still had thick tree trunk ties with his wife. His wife, Amy, had crossed a year earlier. He wanted to start a new relationship but felt stuck, unable to clean his wife’s things out of the house and move on. Amy came to me and asked me to cut their ties in order to help her husband with his paralysis and grief. Things started to move for him then- he had an affair with the woman who helped sort out his house.
– A young woman who had been abused by her father as a child. Cutting cords (many, old, tangled, thick) helped her to deal with the past. Giving her the power to cut the ties herself every time she had a nightmare, gave her real control over his energetic presence.
– A depressed empty-nester whose children had flown. Oh my, it broke her heart to cut the ties… but it didn’t change her love for them or the fact that they were gone… it only changed her level of pain. The sadness became easier to manage. (The band-aid thing.)
– A young child who was bullied at school. I taught him how to do it so he could cut ties every day. It gave him a sense of control; in fact, the bully became interested in torturing others instead.
– An older woman feeling harassed at work. Her co-worker watched for chances to correct and embarrass her at meetings, so that she became nervous about participating. By cutting ties, the client felt strong enough to speak up for herself at a crucial moment and the bullying waned.
– A client with a schizophrenic parent and a very complicated childhood. Mother’s manipulative energy was everywhere entwined in this woman and I cut everywhere to release her. I cut in circles all around her body and limbs, cut in front of each eye etc.
How to do it:
You don’t need a healer to cut ties for you. You don’t need to see the ties in order to cut them.
Take a moment to focus. When you think of this person, where do you feel it in your body? If you do feel something, remember to cut ties coming in at that point too (eg Your wrist aches when you think of your ex. You will cut ties at the wrist as well as the front of your body.)
Say loudly and clearly, and mean it:
“I am the only authority in charge of my Being. I cut all ties between my Self, ___________(full name) and __________(full name).”
Make a cutting/slicing motion with your hand across the front of your body, or use a stainless steel knife. Do this from your throat area right down to your pelvis in one sweeping motion.
“So be it and so it is.”
You may not know the full name. Identify the being in another way, eg. Karen, the volunteer.
Repeat as often as needed. If you are in the middle of a break-up, you might do that several times a day until you get some relief from emotion.
FROM WHAT I CAN TELL, women (potential mothers) and souls (who want to be born) must come to agreement- they both have the free will to create a baby or not to create a baby, or to continue creating the baby until birth or to stop creating the baby at any point. Both the woman and the soul must agree completely or the baby will not be created and carried to a successful birth. The soul holds no negative emotion about being refused the womb; it fully respects the woman’s free will and will simply search for another appropriate body.
HOW I KNOW THIS: During healings I have seen and communicated with souls who were looking for a womb. One client had aborted 3 times, 2 of them recently. She was shocked by the 3rd pregnancy so close on the heels of the second, although, for many reasons, she wasn’t ready to be a mom. She asked me if her future children needed to be born now for some reason.
The little girl floating around the client during the healing was a giggly sweet thing wearing ladybug pajamas, about a year old in the vision I had of her. She said she loved the client from another life, but if she wasn’t ready for parenthood, then she would choose another mother close by.
The client’s sister became pregnant within months and a year later, a healthy girl was born. She has red hair. The client swears that, far more often than is normal, she will see ladybugs while caring for her niece. One on the windowsill of the hospital room, several in her sister’s house, cartoons, clothes, toys and books. She calls her niece My Little Ladybug.
A client who wanted children dearly but could not conceive after 2 years of effort, had a little boy baby appear at her healing with me. This soul told me that he didn’t see how he could fit into these prospective parents’ lives. They both worked fulltime; she was taking an evening course. Most days, they went to the gym before work, and he was starting a part time photography business on the weekends. I told the client to speak the baby’s soul throughout the days, telling him what would be different if he were there in body, welcoming him. He was born 11 months later: a stubborn boy who loves attention.
I was working on another client for childhood rape. She was raised without a father in South America where unprotected girls like her were considered fair game by the men in her village. She had been raped many times. I had removed some of the old emotion and dysfunctional energy in previous sessions, but more kept rising to the surface. At this session, a little girl appeared to me, ragged and dirty.
“Who are you?” I asked, and learned she was a baby miscarried by the client at age 13. The client remembered the event with profound shame. The visiting baby soul wanted me to tell the client that she had terminated the pregnancy herself because the life would have just been too hard. The baby had simply changed her mind.
An infertile client who was desperate for a child, had a soul hanging around her that looked almost like a little monkey. Mischievous as hell. Darting around, playing tricks on me to the point that I checked every time I saw him that he was, in fact, a soul from God and not some negative energy or being.
This soul would appear and disappear during healings, sometimes he’d be gone for weeks. I advised the client to talk to him, invite him to be her son, but the soul came less and less often. In the end, the client never did conceive. I don’t know why that soul didn’t embody, and I wonder why another one didn’t come along. She would have been such a great mother- you know the type- but there are many reasons that our lives take the turns they do. (fate, karma and other energetic laws, hey- maybe the father was wrong, or maybe there will be issues later in their lives that make it clear why a child wouldn’t really have worked for them or …)
A client who always felt guilty about an abortion had the soul visit during a healing session and tell her that there was nothing to forgive, only love; there was no sin, only free will.
My own daughter was stillborn in 1991, a term I dislike because her heart beat for an hour, and she felt alive in my arms before she felt dead. I visit her energetically, usually on her birthday. She’s in another body now; she was 12 in 2019. She lives on the west coast; she isn’t clear on states or provinces.
What she wants to show me is skiing. She is learning to ski, and she is absolutely ecstatic when she skis. Red suit and red skis with a white stripe. Her family is together and happy- she answers those questions distractedly. She seems like a child when I communicate with her now that she’s in a body, but years ago, her communication was more peaceful, with soft edges and tons of love. She always said that our experience as mother and daughter in this lifetime was perfect for both of us- I had other things that I needed to do in this life and so that was as much motherhood as I would have time for. As well, we both experienced exquisite love & loss during those moments of birth & death… and it is one of life’s pleasures and purposes to experience love in many forms.
A shorter version of this article appears in Tone magazine Nov. 2019. This is an excerpt from a book that I am currently writing: From What I Can Tell- A Healer’s Observations (C)
Laurie Fraser’s Answer to Steve Forbert’s Toast to a Midsummer Evening.
Here’s to fat women eating large ice cream cones
nattering past my bedroom window.
Here’s to vicious baseball games,
a drive to nowhere,
Here’s to Mr. Alcoholic dead at 2 a.m.
banging his wife.
Here’s to two litters of kittens in the kitchen.
Here’s to bags of charcoal and pot and Cheezies,
butterflies over the tiny uncut lawn,
old songs on the radio.
Here’s to noisy, bossy kids,
heat in my days
love in my ways
D.Q. on my waist.
Living in Mechanicsville in the 80s
Wash the damn clothes
Fry the bacon
Kiss him good morning
Retch on the way out
You’re married and you love him.
The house is burning
Oh Fat One,
and make it a home.
To the laundrymat.
Tonight he wants roast
The dog craps on the floor
And the Aidy Lady cries.
He’ll be horny
Think he was borny horny
“This is love?”
But don’t look for something better
You’ll never find it
Life’s behind it
Never ever find it.
The most shocking thing about Banaz’s death is that she had been in the UK with her family for 10 years when her uncle and father decided that she should die for shaming the family. They were Kurdish, originally from Iraq, and one would think that once an oppressed girl-child had reached the UK, had attended high school in London, that she would have reached a place of safety.
Banaz contacted the police 5 times during the years that her husband, a much older man in an arranged marriage, raped and beat her, and during the years afterward when her family had her followed and attempted to kill her twice in order to bring honour back to the family. As shocking, dozens (perhaps more) people in the ex-pat Kurdish community in London knew of the violence coming to Banaz, and did nothing to help her, In fact, they colluded to obstruct the police investigation into her death and protect the murderers. The police themselves are also clearly at fault for not helping her- a video of one of her police interviews is in the film. (See the photo above.) I don’t understand why she wasn’t taken to a shelter that very day.
For me, this film pounded home the truth that although women have reached a country of safety, they may not be safe at all. I recall a student in our ESL school who admitted to me that her father beat her, locked her in her room and took away her cell phone. This was happening in Ottawa, Canada, although he’d been in Canada for many years. She was new to our country and when I informed her of her rights as an adult here, her jaw dropped and she cried. It was hard for her to comprehend the many choices she had to remedy the situation. I put her in counselling with a professional woman from her own culture, in her language (no, not Kurdish).
I thought she was safe- the counselling occurred during class-time once a week. Her father escorted her to and from school, and there was no way she’d have been able to get counselling any other way. In the end, a member of her community, another student in the school, informed her father, and we never saw her again.
There was nothing more I could do. I consoled myself that in the year she’d been with us, her English had improved and she’d been schooled in her options as an abused woman… she had every phone number she needed for the day she was ready to make her move.
Deeyah Khan, the director of Banaz: A Love Story, was careful to include members of the London Kurdish community protesting at the trial of Banaz’s father and uncle who ended up in prison for their crime. The protesters, holding pictures of the 20-year-old, were verbally attacked by the father as he was escorted past them in handcuffs: “You betray the Kurdish community,” he accused them. A courageous woman answers that he is the one without honour.
Banaz was considered by many to have shamed her family by divorcing the man who raped and beat her from the age of 17 when she was forced to marry him. She later fell in love with a man her age and the family learned of this by following her and having her watched by many in the ex-pat community. She kissed this man in a public place. I won’t reveal too many details here as you may decide to view the documentary yourself. (I will say that it starts with an account of her circumcision at the age of 8 in Iraq- no anesthesia or pain killers, just a knife and her father.)
I was told of honour killings when I was in North Kurdistan in 1996- my husband was trying to impress upon me how very traditional the area was in order to get me to modify my behaviour and appearance. The account is in The Word Not Spoken. Leigh has come to Ahmet’s home village to be married. Jess, a South African already married to a Turk, has come along. She is pregnant, but it is Ramadan and no smoking, eating or drinking is allowed during daylight hours.
“What do you want to do?” Leigh asked Jess.
“If we sit here more than half an hour, guests will come, guaranteed,” said Jess.
“I wouldn’t mind if I could understand them.”
“Hey Leigh, maybe I should warn you.” Jess was pawing through her bag, looking for smokes. “Aha!” she pulled out the soft package.
“You can’t smoke!” Leigh braced herself. “Warn me about what?”
“You have to shave everywhere for your wedding night.”
“What do you mean, ‘everywhere’?”
“Men and women shave their underarms and their pubes on their wedding day. It’s a rite of passage for virgins,” said Jess, taking out a sigara and running it through her fingers.
Leigh tightened her mouth and considered this news.
“I really want a sigara. I don’t have to fast because I’m pregnant, but I shouldn’t smoke for the same reason. A quandary.” Jess paused and looked around. “The answer is to hide and smoke.”
The rain had slowed. They decided to go for a walk to find a corner somewhere. The two women slipped out the front door and turned toward the main street. The village was indeed tiny and remote; it had been only five years since the electrical and phone lines had arrived.
The main street, lined with flat-roofed buildings, was mud. Smaller streets branched off it haphazardly. Leigh and Jess headed down one of these, but it seemed to lead out into an open field—nowhere, to Leigh’s way of thinking. They walked back and across an empty village square. Leigh wondered if a pazaar came there once a week. Somehow she doubted it. Life looked simple. Many people had a garden in their yard. Ahmet had told her that most families had farm land in the area and travelled out by horse and wagon to work on it, but today, few people were working in the rain. A couple of children ran through puddles on the mud street.
A few people waited at the door of a small bakery for the unleavened bread to be ready. No baguettes here. Two old men in line shared a broken but functioning umbrella. Their shoes sunk into the mud, and they seemed stuck there, waiting silently for the next batch. When the steaming bread came to the window, there was sudden activity. The old men were served first, and they shuffled away.
A young boy triumphantly drove by on a bike. He steered with one hand and held bread wrapped in newspaper out with the other. The rain plopped loudly on the newspaper as he peddled by, and Leigh caught a warm whiff.
Chickens wandered in and out of yards and roosters crowed. Women were nowhere in sight, but men shadowed the doorways and street corners. Without exception, they wore takkes, white religious skullcaps. The men returned the women’s stares.
“I don’t think they see tourists here,” remarked Jess.
Leigh felt the men’s stares and shivered. “Don’t they look lost without their sigaras and tea?”
The main street was lined with dark men in baggy clothes. Many wore traditional Kurdish pants, the crotch hanging to their knees. A wide band of material was wrapped at the waist. Mud clung to pant hems.
Some men sat at tables in front of the teahouse; others stood in the street and stared. More men came to see what had quieted the others. No one pretended to be doing anything but staring at the white women: a tall blonde, the other with long loose hair.
“Kunda,” said one man.
The women smiled politely and increased their pace. A few children were following them. Every eye in the street watched their progress.
“I don’t think we’re going to get away with a sigara,” Jess deadpanned.
“The baby is happy about it anyway,” said Leigh.
They headed back to the little house, having seen almost every edgeless brown building in the village on their twenty-minute walk. As they approached, Ahmet rushed out to meet them.
“Where have you been? Everyone is worried about you!”
“Really? Where do they think we’re going to go?” asked Jess.
“Jess needs a sigara,” said Leigh.
“You can’t break the fast here, front everyone,” said Ahmet.
“Where can I go then?” asked Jess.
“Here.” He gave her the car keys. “You and Ismail go for a ride.”
“Good idea.” She was immediately cheered and went to find Ismail.
“Ahmet,” asked Leigh, “how do people know which chickens belong to them, when the chickens wander all over the streets like this?”
He laughed. “The chickens know.”
“Oh…the chickens know. What’s kunda?”
His eyes opened very wide. “Where did you hear that word?”
“On the street. A man said ‘kunda’ to me.”
Ahmet shook his head, perturbed. “It means prostitute.”
He frowned. “I don’t want you to walk alone on the street again.”
“But I was with Jess. What could happen?”
“My Angel. Nothing will happen. But they see a woman who is uncovered, and they think you are a prostitute. Good women cover. That’s what they believe. You can’t change it.” He took a breath, “Will you cover while you’re here?”
“But I’m not Muslim!” Jess said her refusal to wear a headscarf was a fight against becoming invisible.
“Leigh, it is very hard for people here to understand. They don’t see Western ways like they do in Istanbul. They spend their whole lives here, and they are proud of the old ways.”
“But I can’t change myself for them. They will learn from me that some people are different. A good Muslim will not think ill of me if I am Christian. It says in the Quran they must accept all the children of Abraham.” Leigh was tired and her mouth was dry.
“Gel.” (Come.) He brought her into the house. They settled by the heater on orange and yellow striped cushions. “Listen me. It is difficult for people in Nevsehir to accept Jess, and she has lived there one year. You will be here only a few days. What will you teach them? My family is here all the time, and you must not shame them. Do you understand?”
“Sort of.” Leigh avoided his eyes.
“Would you walk down the streets of London with no clothes?” asked Ahmet.
“Of course not.”
“That’s a ridiculous question. It’s against the law first of all.”
“It’s against Islamic law to reveal your legs, arms and hair.”
“But Turkey doesn’t have Islamic law.”
“We are very close to the borders of Iran and Iraq here. The law does not matter. The only important thing is what people believe. You know what Kurds think of the government and polis.”
“Yes, many people in Turkey like to take the law into their own hands, you included.” She was referring to his ex-partners. She traced the cushion stripes with her finger: orange then yellow. The fabric was thick as a kilim.
Ahmet raised a finger. “In this village, last year, a teenage girl had sex. She was not married. Our tradition is Islam. She must be killed by a man in her family to give the family honour again.”
“Her brother sat her in a chair, and he sat in a chair across from her. Then he shot her in the heart.”
“Oh my God!” The bit of pink in Leigh’s cheeks faded. “Did she know what he was doing? Why?”
“Of course! He must do it to her face. There are a few of these murders in Kurdistan every year.” He had her full attention.
“But they are subject to Turkey’s laws!”
“Hah. The brother went to jail for seventeen years. He was sacrificed on the family honour.”
“Brother and sister were sacrificed.” She swallowed and wanted water.
“And most people here believe it was right thing.” Ahmet clasped and unclasped his hands, missing his sigara. Leigh watched his hands.
Hey- and I’m not being sarcastic- happy International Women’s Day.
Watch the documentary about Banaz here: https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/banaz-love-story/