Posts Tagged ‘Ali’

“The Zar Tale”, a novella, Chapter One.

June 3, 2018

It’s almost summer and nothing delights like a engrossing book to read.  My husband started to read Chapter One and kept going.  “You should post this on your blog”.  “But people have such little attention span these days.”  “It’s a short book.”  He’s right.  And this will free me up for other things.  After all, story tellers love to entertain, but even these folk need a vacation.

Lady Nyo

Shakira is Sheikha, Wise Woman, leader of the Zar ritual and general organizer of the women and women’s issues. Previously, Ali the Demon has jumped from young Aya to the arms of Shakira, a middle-aged woman. (“A Turkish Tale”) Zars have been outlawed in most Islamic countries since 1983 as pagan worship. However, it flourishes in rural areas and also in some big cities. It is considered part of ‘women’s religion’ by the officials and yet it continues in spite of being outlawed. It is one of the main mental health outlets for women in these countries. Possession by a Zar usually is a woman’s way of sassing her husband and expressing her unhappiness with marriage and her life. 


Shakira, wise woman, daughter of the veil, Sheikha to the village like her mother and grandmother before her, stood before the window of her small stone house. She could see to the village pump and watch dark clad women like so many black crows, fill their water jugs each morning and again in the afternoon.

It was still early in the morning, but a sultry wind blew in from the south. It would be no different than any other day of the season, for the rains would not return until late fall.

Mixing the humble mashed chickpeas, oil and garlic, she prepared the day’s humus. Not a task to try her powers, but one that fed her, important enough. The flat bread was already cooked, the yogurt curdling in the heavy glass jars sitting outside in the sun.

She wondered where Ali had gone so early this morning. Probably lurking around with other Zars on the mountain, playing at knucklebones.

“Shakira! Have you enough water this morning? I will draw you some if not.”

A woman walked by the window, her black dress and head scarf no different from any of the other middle aged women. Except for her voice and that limp from a club foot, she would not be distinguished from any other black robed woman.

“I have enough, Leila, enough for this morning. Later I will go draw more.”

Leila was Shakira’s relative, their families as mixed as a bowl of wheat and barley. Not much had changed in this mountain village in centuries, except the convenience of electricity, a central, motorized village pump and a few motor cars that brought dignitaries from the far flung cities once a year. New was old by the time it got to their village, for they were isolated in the mountains of eastern Turkey.

Shakira’s Ali was a Zar, a demon who came to Shakira for a man’s comfort up under her dress. He was young, younger than middle-aged Shakira, but he only appeared young. Ali was at least a thousand years old. He was killed by one of his tribesman around the age of thirty. Shakira knew very little about his circumstances, because Ali did not talk. It was a man’s prerogative to keep secrets, and Ali, though a Zar, was once a man.

Shakira first saw Ali when he appeared before her a shimmering, golden ghost at the Zar ritual a year ago. She struck a deal with the handsome devil and Ali was glad to jump into the welcoming and much more experienced arms of Shakira. He had more room to sleep than in the womb of Aya, the young women he formerly possessed. He liked the strong thighs and women’s quarters of Shakira.

At times, when the weather was cooled by breezes blown down from the mountain, Shakira would close her door and draw the curtain over her front window. In the other room serving as her bedroom she could watch the constellations revolve in the sky from a small window cut high in the wall. There she would hope to entertain Ali, dancing the slow, sensuous movements, caught in the moonlight from that window.

“Come, my Habibi, come and comfort me,” Shakira would call out, her eyes closing in expectation, her voice shaking with her need. And Ali would magically appear, materializing in the room, glowing like a golden shower of tiny stardust.

Ali would then sit on her bed, hovering as demons do, a few inches from the woven wool covering. He would smoke his hookah and his eyes would sparkle through the stardust as he watched Shakira, now naked, seduce him with her dance.

“My Habibi, I dance for you, I dance with my limbs and my heart and my soul. Do you like what you see, my dearest?”

We must remember that Ali was a Zar, a Spirit, and there wasn’t much of flesh on him…or of him.

Somehow Ali would answer her, but not in words. He would speak into her heart, into her soul and Shakira always heard this unspoken language.

“You are my heart’s delight, my beautiful and wise Shakira. Your movements would inspire the dead to rise and dance in the streets, so lovely are you to my eyes.”

Shakira’s body was mature and ripe, her skin the color of Turkish coffee filled to the brim with rich cream. Her hair was still black as the night, with just a few strands of silver, and when she danced, freed of the day’s covering, it swung in waves down her back to her full, muscular buttocks. Her belly was rounded and jiggled when she laughed, not like the slim, flat bellied girls like Aya before her baby, but full like the clay jugs made to carry the precious water from the village well. Her hips were strong and fleshed out like ripe fruit from a sacred and ancient olive tree.

Shakira had some vanity about her, and since Ali had appeared and taken up residence, she rubbed scented oils into her skin. In the dim light of the oil lamp, Shakira’s skin rolled and wavered like watered silk. She raised her strong and muscled limbs above her head, snapping her fingers like zils to her humming. Her breasts swayed and pushed themselves out proudly, and if they sagged a bit with age, Ali didn’t mind. She was a woman after all, and the scent of her body and the oils rubbed in her skin put him in a narcotic trance. Her dark eyes rolled back in her head as her shoulders rolled forward, and her hips gyrated in the age-old movements of seduction.

Ali was enchanted. Their nights were filled with strange lust and if Shakira woke in her bed alone, she was not deserted. Ali had climbed into her woman’s garden to sleep, folding himself and resting in the warmth below her womb. She would rub her belly, and say: “Good morning, dearest”, smile and start her day. Some mornings she would feel Ali rush out of her like a warm breeze and disappear into the day, off to converse and argue with other Zars around their mountain village.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2010-2018


“The Zar Tales”, published by, 2010



All Things Great and Small….

January 14, 2010

Sleeping, Peaceable Kingdom

There are three cats in there….Ali, Baba and Kiki.

Charlie on the mend

I know, I know…we have too many animals.  12 cats and 5 dogs. But we have them because people throw them out.  They are all….rescues.

I hate that term because it sounds like they are charity cases. Well,  they are in the beginning, but they begin soon to worm their way into our lives and hearts.

Charlie is a 15 year old Husky.  We found him in our neighbor’s front yard.  He was about 6 months old and you could lift him up with one hand.  I packed him and our then 7 year old son in the back of the car to take Charlie to the Humane Society and our son very emphatically said that he would adopt Charlie.  Well, he did.

Charlie has survived two cancer operations (on the foreleg) and is a very sweet and intelligent dog. Wily, actually.  He got restless and bored a few years ago, and our vet, who is now 82 years old and still working hard on animals….said “Charlie needs a job”.  Apparently working dogs get depressed if they don’t have a job. So…we made a harness for Charlie and he pulled a Radio Flyer up and down the street with either a neighborhood kid or a load of wood.  He was very happy.  He had a job.

This week our youngest, Gally (Galahad) jumped on Charlie and almost killed him.  Charlie had surgery yesterday, and had three teeth, two canines, and another front tooth, removed.  He’s doing very well.  At 15, we know that we don’t have a lot of time with Charlie left, but he has enriched our lives immeasurably.

He has the laundry room all to himself and is happy for a dog who is, in human terms….105 years old.  And, except for some weakness in the back legs, Charlie is full of life.  When it snowed last week, Charlie was the only dog of five that played in the snow, trying to get the ninnies off the porch and come join him.  He was in his natural environment.

The three kittens are about 4 and 6 months old.  Kiki, the black one, I stole this summer off a porch.  This man has bred many cats by neglect.  That’s usual for the South. Cats have no value to many people, in fact are issues of superstition. Pure ignorance.  We have been warned for years around Halloween to put any black cat up so he is not hurt or abused by the little bastards who come trick or treating.

Your valuables are safe from me, but your neglected cats aren’t.  Kiki was terribly thin, snot coming out of his nose, eyes almost closed with gunk and covered with fleas.  He wouldn’t have survived long.  I circled the block a couple of times…and sent my son in to do the snatch.  He is faster than I am with stolen cats.

Within a week, Kiki was well (loads of meds here…I have my own animal pharmacy and surgery) and Kiki is the holy terror of the household.  An extremely sweet and intelligent cat.  He will do fine in life but we tell him he is going to soon be neutered.  He is fine with that because he heard the word: ‘tutored’.  Kiki is up for all sorts of new adventures.

Ali and Baba (we were running out of names) were found in the street at the top of the hill four months ago.  Our son was going to the store and saw them run under a car.  They would have been road kill fast if he didn’t stop, grab and bring them home.  Tiny pecan sandies, Baba fluffy and Ali serene.

They also are getting tutored but I wait until they all are 6 months old.  I don’t hold with this neutering at 2 months.  Something wrong with that.

In the mist of all the economic strife and downfall of our general economy and the stuttering recovery, these dear animals deserve life and love.  I keep a large stock pot on the back burner for broths to put on kibble.  Everyone seems to be healthy and happy.

They enrich our lives in ways we can’t begin to count.  They also deplete our bank accounts by the same measure, but there is a balance here.

It’s called unconditional love.  That….is priceless.

Lady Nyo

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