I am a huge fan of fairytales. I can even say I am quite obsessed. This obsession actually began when I was a kid. I was so different from other kids, for my imagination was wilder. I used to make a fuss about the smallest things, and turn a dull event to a very interesting one and keep it all in my mind. My happiest days were those of my grandmother’s visits. My sisters and I used to gather around her, begging her, staring at her with our little sparkling eyes and teasing her sympathy to finally convince her to tell us a story. I used to insist on “Haina and the ogre”; it was my favorite. I even deceived grandma several times to make her re-tell the story. I used to tell her I would give her a face cream to reduce her face wrinkles, and it used to work.
I can still recollect that moment like it were yesterday. The three of us sitting, wrapping our hands around our legs, and lending avid ears to grandmother as she cleared her throat and began the narration. “Once upon a time, there was a young pretty lady called Haina. She was an only child, and her parents were super protective. As she grew up, they became even more scrupulous about every single move she made. Haina got engaged to her cousin. One night, before her wedding, Haina’s friends insisted on going to the forest and taking her with them. Her mother hesitated a lot, but at the end she gave her consent. The girls went to the forest and each one of them found a precious object: a bracelet, a necklace, earrings, etc. However, what Haina found was interesting. She found a gold spindle, and whenever she tried to tuck it in her belt it would fall. Thus, Haina’s friends went ahead and she was left behind. At last, the spindle transformed into an ogre. Haina was astonished and frightened; she could hardly utter these words:
– Hello sir!
– Please forgive me, for I was ignorant and didn’t know that that thing was you.
– Well, you can go now, you are free. But remember, when the weather will be so cold, the rain so heavy and the wind blowing, I will come back and take you with me.
She rushed towards her home shaking with fear, and told her mum everything. She urged her cousin to come back earlier than the agreed upon date, hoping he would come before the cursed night.
The promised night had finally come; the wind blowing so hard, the night so cold and the rain heavier than ever. All the inhabitants of the village were frightened, for it was a flooded gloomy night. The ogre came and knocked on the door. After a few attempts, Haina failed to escape her horrendous fate and accompanied him. Her mother mourned her for a while, and then she made her a grave and buried a rock in it.
Her cousin came back from his long trip, and went to her home to see her. He then immediately received the dreadful news, and went to the fake grave to visit her. He started to go there every day and cry his eyes out. One day an old lady was passing by, she gave a sarcastic laugh and told him the real story. He then decided to go to the forest and bring back his fiancé. He rode his horse, and after looking for a while he finally found the place where Haina was staying, where he met a cock coming out of the ogre’s house. Haina’s cousin told him the whole story. The cock sighed, and told him that the ogre had gone out haunting. Haina told her cousin that they couldn’t run away, for all the objects in the house could speak and they would tell their master that they had escaped. He then would follow them and kill both of them. They then decided to make a very cunning plan to get rid of the ogre.
At night, Haina put henna on everything in the house, except for a skillet. When they started running away, the skillet started making noise and screaming to wake her master up. He followed them, but Haina threw a bunch of nails and salt at him. His feet were swollen and he could move no more. Haina and her cousin went back to their village, and got happily married.”
After my grandmother finishes her narration, I stay motionless in my place for a while; mesmerized by the beauty of the story, and enchanted by its magical effect. Actually, it has been almost fourteen years since I have last heard this story, for my grandmother died when I was eight. However, it still has the same effect on me, just as if I am hearing it for the first time.
by Asmaa El Hansali