Owner of a Heart

Once upon a time, in a place far far away and a time that was neither happy nor glorious in a small town, there was a man who knew the secrets of the earth and plants and who used to heal the hearts of young girls...
Zainab Magdy
5 December 2009

A short story

Once upon a time, in a place far far away and a time that was neither happy nor glorious in a small town, there was a man who knew the secrets of the earth and plants and who used to heal the hearts of young girls and wenches. When a young girl was hurt by her husband or a sweetheart, she went to the man – a physician - to cure the wound with a strange magic known to no one but him.


This physician was cunning and believed in the proverb “hide your candle so your flame is kindled” and accordingly he wouldn’t disclose his secret to anyone whether kin or distant. He knew that in order for someone to know what he knows, that person must take away from him the book of secrets which he had founding the depth of the sea after having searched and roamed around for years.


As he was a savant in the matters of wounded hearts he made his patients pay a dear price and would not tell them what it was until after their hearts were cured. Using his strange magic he would sentence them to make love to him for ten days and they weren’t allowed to tell anyone. Not only that, but he used to take away their hearts without their knowledge so that they couldn’t fall in love again unless he gave them permission.


One day a girl called Malak went to the man with a heart heavy with lover wounds. Having healed her wounds he locked her up, putting chains on her legs. On the first day Malak’s sister Maleeka tried to see her sister through the window,but instead she saw the physician looking at a book making powders and potions and talking to himself aloud “the day will come when I will seize the hearts of all the girls because no one but me has the book of the secrets of the earth and plant”. Just then, Maleeka realised where the power of the cunning physician came from,and she sat in conference with herself figuring out a way to take her revenge on him and to regain the rights of all the girls and women.


On the third day Maleeka knocked on his door, sighed loudly and said ”open up physician and I’ll pay you a dear price”, the physician opened the door for her and Maleeka entered telling him her story. “Healing physician, my sweetheart wounded me and told me to come to you as you can cure me”. He said “ well done girl, now listen, for a while I am going to give you a drink that heals you in ten days during which you must help me and here is where you get violated


Maleeka agreed to his terms in order to carry out her plan. She was thinking how to defeat him, while he was thinking how much he would like her heart. But because Maleeka was neither wounded nor in need of a physician the remedy did not affect her, and the physician – assuming that she was already his property, tried to take her heart and it was then that the magic turned on him. Fire flamed in his heart burning and scorching him. When the cunning man disappeared amidst the smoke and the dust Maleeka took the key of the room where Malak was and freed her.

Afterwards, little by little, Maleeka learned the secrets of the Book that came from the depth of the sea and used it to heal the wounds of all women and girls who loved hearts with pure intentions.

Clover Clover the story is over.

This story was written as part of the Women and Memory workshop and will be published in a collection by the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Research Consortium in 2010


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To mark World Refugee Day on 20 June, and the launch of our multimedia project 'Parallel Journeys', join us as we explore returns without reintegration.

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