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The djinn nestled among the row of praying women, their bodies and most of their faces covered in light floral chadors, bending, standing, kneeling and placing their foreheads to the ground in unison, softly murmuring ancient words. Their low voices were contrasted with loud angry chants of the men on the other side of the curtain, only one reason why the djinn sat on the women’s side. They smelled nicer too, than the men.

The djinn had become attached to one girl in particular- she was not a little child anymore, and even the the delicate pink chador couldn’t quite hide the swell and bloom of her figure. The djinn made sure to sit next to her, so it could catch glimpses of her strong profile and thick, full lashes. No matter how tightly she covered her hair, there would always be some soft unruly tendrils which broke free especially towards the end of the prayer, tugged out of place with all the rising and kneeling.

The prayers were over. They all turned their faces from side to side, and then the girl smiled directly at the djinn. “Hi- I’ve seen you here often but you don’t go to our school do you?”

The djinn moved its mouth to form human words. It had listened to enough conversations to know what to say. “No, my father is very strict and homeschools me.”

The girl took off her pink chador, folding it neatly. “My baba was same but my mom convinced him otherwise- anyway they would have hated homeschooling us. I have three brothers, you know.” She tucked in her escaping hair back into the folds of her headscarf, and stood up, ready to leave the mosque. Another older lady was calling her.

The djinn felt its human shape pulling, dissolving. Any moment now there would just be a puff of smoke where it was standing. It leaned forward towards the girl. “Roqaya- please don’t go. Don’t travel abroad.”

Roqaya’s eyes widened and she looked closely at the djinn. “What are you talking about? Do you know us?”

“Yes. I have heard them talking here. I live here. In the mosque. I know you. Please don’t travel. You will never return here.”

Its eyes were dissolving into smoke. Smoke was coming from its mouth. It pulled its chador closer with smoky hands.

“Roqaya! Roqaya!” The cry was becoming more impatient. Roqaya turned towards it “Coming! just catching up with Zahra from school.”

The djinn started talking again but its corporeality was more than half dissolved in smoke and Roqaya could only hear every other slurred word. “… do not go… I love you… I want you here… danger” The hands holding the chador together dissolved fully into smoke, and the chador fell to the ground.

Roqaya picked up the piece of cloth. Her mother came over and grabbed her arm. “Come!”

Roqaya felt sad for her mom, but the djinn told her what she had guessed. She had to get out.

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