A short story by Aditi Shah, Std. X
Aditi Shah’s essay was shortlisted as one of the best ten essays in the Albert Barrow Memorial All India Interschool Creative Writing Competition 2011, and was published by the Council of the Indian School Certificate Examinations.
It began in the year 978 B.C. The Genies and the Humans finally, after decades of unrest, had broken into war. The Humans rushed to conquer our territory and make us slaves so as to have their wishes fulfilled. We Genies had already made it clear. We were not toys to be messed around with. The humans refused to listen and under the command of the President of the United States of America, invaded our territory.
Now, we Genies have a zillion secrets that we keep from the nosey Humans. One of the things the Humans do not know about us that we were hypnotists too. As per the Genie law, hypnotism was not to be practiced, but of course, there were these rebels who tried to. However, they failed miserably since they didn’t know the ‘H’ of hypnotism and merely tried for some quick cash. The thought they could talk the Humans into giving up theirs. However, when the war broke out, we had no choice but to hypnotize the Humans. The battlefield was filled with transfixed Humans, staring at the Genies, their eyes an unblinking yellow.
It was sad, but that is how it had to be. After a total of seven decades, 386 Council meetings, and 1349 Genies, we drew a conclusion: we were to release the Humans from the hypnotic spell. This caused uproar in the Genie community itself but the decision remained unchanged. The Humans were free from the curse and the Genies went into hiding.
Andremain Jumbaaz, a reputed magician, finally revealed his best discovery to the Genies: the Lamps. We could now hide in those and the Humans would never find us, until they figured they had to rub the lamp and chant a spell. We rejoiced and disappeared into the Lamps assigned to us. Little did we know that Andremain had inscribed the spell on a rock on a cave in Libya. Little did we know that we would be exposed once again.
Back to the present. It is 2011 A.D. Greetings! My name would be Fehzrhea Waters. I am a half-American, half – Egyptian Genie. I was born inside a lamp. A rather stuffy lamp, if I may add. I was given my own lamp at the age of thirteen. Can you believe it? Thirteen years stuck in a tiny lamp with an annoying mother is not my idea of fun. It’s pathetic, really. Back in the Ze’raat (the Genie world inside a lamp), rumour is that the oracle spoke a new prophecy. Correction: a new one word Prophecy. Personally, I find it unbelievable and rather funny. Sadly, I can’t tell Humans what it is.
What I’m going to tell you now is well .. unbelievable. I was freed. From the Lamp I mean. A swarthy Human, about six feet tall did it. He spoke the words of the spell, rubbed the lamp, and in an instant, I was out! It felt rather weird at first, but it began to grow on me even if at a ridiculously slow pace. Everything around me was so different, so bizarre .. Yet it gave me a feeling of happiness, like it was welcoming me. After I realized what had happened, I felt somebody’s eyes piercing the warmth in my body. I turned to find a Human of the masculine gender giving me a cold stare. He squinted, and after a couple of seconds of wide-eyed staring, his lips twitched slightly; he was smiling. I smiled back and offered my hand. He took it, shaking it vigorously. “Fehzrhea Waters,” I introduced myself politely. “Alexander Diggums,” he replied. I stared at his face. Something was different. I looked closely. His polite and warm smile had transformed into an evil laugh.
Now I was scared, the human, probably in his thirties, was laughing his head off. “S – Sir?” I stammered. “My wish! Fulfill my wish!” he bellowed. A wide grin spread across his face revealing a silver tooth. I stood still. How could I have not known? I tried to keep my cool, but I knew this was it. I spotted a piece of paper lying near a candlestick on a small table. I picked it up and read the words. It was the spell he had used to free me. I read it again. The words looked familiar, yet strange. I knew the spell because my mother had taught it to me when I was three. After a moment or two, I realized the spell on the sheet gave us Genies what was called the ability to twist the wishes we granted. Clearly, the Human did not know that. My life just got more dramatic.
Obviously, I decided to keep it a secret. “Your wish is my command, Sir,” I said. This was going to be fun. Diggums was still smiling, lost in thought. Then, in a flash, he snapped back to reality and said, “I will brief you about the mission first.” Puzzled, I nodded. He bragged about how he was an extremely rich Human and how he owned some 350 hotels and casinos all over the world. I snorted. After some family history, he told me how his grandfather, Walter Diggums, an archaeologist, had found the inscription of the spell and entrusted the secret to him. “Now, the mission,” he began. “We are in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean right now, heading for the Arctic Circle. I plan to build a city there, near the North Pole.” This man was crazy. “I want you to provide the manpower.” My jaw dropped. Now ay was he doing that! I simply could not let him build a city right near the North Pole. “I want you to change the climate of the place to suit a Human’s requirements.” Not going to happen, Sir, I thought to myself. “You must wish properly after saying the words: Arkhen deh lemapth jesrah mhitzen,” I said. Diggums nodded. Obeying my command, he repeated the words, and wished, “Arkhen deh lemapth jesrah mhitzen. I wish for manpower to build my city and for the weather in the Arctic Circle to be warmer.” I merely laughed. I had twisted his wish.
“It will be done, Sir.” “Good. You may occupy the cabin next to mine whilst we are on the ship.” I nodded and spent an hour in the cabin allotted to me. I dreamily gazed at the painting of an apple. I sighed. Did I want to go back into the lamp? Could I? I figured I would steal it the day I left Diggums. I wanted to stay out in the wild for a longer period of time. My ears twitched as I heard a knock on the door. Somebody shouted, asking me to go outside. Apparently, we had reached.
It was paradise, like the Earth was asleep with a white blanket pulled over it. Diggums walked me over to a few other Humans. Scratch “few”. There had to be more than five hundred. Well, this was going to be fun to watch. The work began. They worked all day while I sipped coffee. By nightfall, they had managed to construct forty houses and the walls of the city. Boy, were they fast! But it was a shame; all of it was going to come down crumbling in a few hours.
I had twisted the wish in a manner that allowed the men to work all day but at night, when they slept in the houses they built, all of their hard work would collapse on them and crush them to death. And that is exactly what happened.
After dinner, the workers slept in the houses they had built. Diggums let me sleep in one of them but I secretly crept out late at night. I entered Diggums’s house only to find him fast asleep. I searched hard for the Lamp. The whole place was a mess. I had to hurry for the house would collapse any minute.
I finally found it in one of his shoes and managed to wake Diggums from his beauty sleep too. I made a run for it and just as I ran out of the gates of the city, the buildings collapsed on Diggums and his mad. A rather narrow escape for me, don’t you think?
Yes, I am evil. But it was to save the planet and to show the Humans that we Genies are not their slaves. I am finally free.