She’d expected the blindness to be black, as if she were blindfolded. Instead, the first few days were spectacularly colorful, with nuanced streaks cascading across her field of vision — not ‘vision’ any more, but something like it. She’d sit for hours watching the show in her mind. The colors were so much more precise and vivid than the colors of the world had ever been when she could see that she wondered if they had made some mistake in the ritual. Could it be that this was supposed to happen, but no one had prepared her? Or perhaps they hadn’t actually traded her eyes for the Sight?
Perhaps something had gone wrong.
She didn’t voice those doubts to anyone. She was too mesmerized by the formless show to do anything but watch in awe. Then too, so many were depending on her that she didn’t dare disappoint them.
So she said nothing about the explosion of colors that painted her waking and dreaming moments alike, not even when the colors began to fade. It happened so gradually that some time passed before she fully realized what was happening. The purples were affected first: in the beginning there had been indigos and violets, lavenders and orchids and lilacs, galaxy swirls and evening shades. They’d shift and meld so quickly — like all the other colors — that she barely had the chance to form a fleeting impression of one purple before it transformed into another hue. But then the purples lost their luster, and the blues started fading as the purples became … just purple. The greens settled down, and still she told no one: not the shaman who changed her bandages every day, nor her little sister who brought food and drink and guided her to the pits where she could relieve herself, and certainly not the villagers who came for her blessings. By the time the yellows faded, she could focus on conversation, no longer distracted by the dazzling show.
In the end there was no darkness, but neither were there any colors. When her world became completely white, she knew she was ready.
She left the healing tent for the last time.
Born in Baghdad, raised in Brooklyn, living in Texas, Bint Arab is perpetually out of place and comfortable with that.