Ask Ali !

The Bingergread Cottage
The Bingergread Cottage

 You can’t  say  that  the  Bingergread  Cottage  (upside-down Gingerbread  Cottage)  is  haunted  because  that  would  mean  that the  spirit  came  with  the  house.  Like  everything  else,  I  do it  back  to  front  and  I  brought  my  apparition  with  me 10 years ago when I bought the house.

Ali is  a  Djinn  and  he  has  been  with  me  since  I  was  about seven.  My  aunt  Helen,  who  lived  in  the  Sudan,  brought  him back  when  she  came  for  a  visit  and  he  decided  to  stay.   Ali  is  not  a  ghost,  nor  a  poltergeist  but  he  is  a  thief.

Ali hides  things.  I  used  to  worry  about  it  but  these  days  I just  accept  him  as  part  of  the  household,  as  much  as  the dogs.  My  husband  was  initially  freaked  out  but  finally  came to  realise  that  I  wasn’t  lying  or  having  “delusions”. You  can  always  tell  when  Ali  has  taken  something.  You  look several  times  in  the  place  where  it  should  be  and  then  you find  it  lying  where  you  could  NOT  have  missed  it.

Example? I  lost  an  earring  when  we  were  away  camping  in  the caravan.  I  am  absolutely  sure  that  it  slipped  out  when  I was  removing  my  jacket  in  the  café  but,  having  missed  it, I  asked  Ali  and  it  was  found  in  the  centre  of  my  pillow, plain  to  see,  where  one  would  notice  it  instantly.  That  was what  convinced  my  other  half.

So now,  even  though  he  is  still  sceptical,  he  will  lose something  and  call  out  “Ali!  Could  I  have  it  back please?”  I  laugh  because  I  can  SEE  Ali  –  he  is  a little  boy,  about  nine  years  old,  in  baggy  trousers  and  a short  waistcoat  with  a  fancy  skull  cap.  He  laughs  all  the time  because  he  is  amused  by  hiding  our  stuff.  He  also finds  it  hilarious  when  we  get  cross…  so  we  try  to  be pleasant  and  ask  him  nicely…but  it  is  an  effort.

Ali! Sweetheart!  Could  you  bring  back  my  belt  loop,  please?  I would  appreciate  it  because  the  damn  thing  is  new  and  I need  it.  Would  you  please?”  ….  all  the  while  fuming because  I  really  want  to  wear  my  nice  new  belt  with  the skull  and  crossbones  buckle.  But  we  have  to  ask  Ali  and wait  til  he  feels  like  returning  it. (PS – my Aunt Helen was apparently very pleased to dump him on us, but I wouldn’t be without him… he is very good at finding things.) Ali the thief, son of Ali the thief, son of … well work it out for yourself!

8 thoughts on “Ask Ali !

  1. I have an Ali, too! And the older I get the more active he becomes. Luckily I have a husband who doesnt believe in such things, and meticulously searches and searches – until he finds the missing bit.
    Always in a place where I do remember vaguely putting it.
    Years ago, though, “Ali” was a wily old house-servant, whom we called “Mzee” (a sign of respect for an old man).
    I’d lost my Parker 51 fountain pen, with my name etched on by my parents after I’d come first in some exam or other.
    I used it to write ALL my exams.
    I couldnt find it anywhere – looked high and low, in all nooks and crannies, including the waste-paper basket.
    Asked the children, my husband, Mzee. Three days later, still no pen. But I would not desist. If one REALLY wants something, one will ALWAYS get it.
    Every day, I mentioned that darned pen.
    ‘It’s got my name on it,’ I told Mzee, meaningfully.
    Finally Mzee suggested he look in the rubbish hole (we didnt have rubbish collectors in darkest Africa – had to make our own arrangements).
    ‘Found it?’ I asked.
    He shook his head, ‘Hapana.’ No.
    The next day I rummaged in the waste paper basket beside my desk, for a piece of paper I’d torn up my mistake (I’m always doing that).
    There was the pen. Pristine, with a smudge of wet ink down its length…
    I picked it out. And held my peace.
    Sometimes things are best not said –


  2. Thank you both! Yes, the A – Z was a bit of a marathon but I’m so pleased I did it because I made lots of new on-line friends and one can never have enough of those! I’m not sure where Ali’s name came from apart from the fact that at the time, Aunt Helen’s houseboy in Sudan was called Ali. The connection didn’t hit me til years later. Who knows?

    Jane – my husband is a total skeptic about these things but even he has had to accept it (but then he accepts that his wife is a witch so….) I Love your story too. Kindness and discretion got you your pen back where screaming and accusations would have lost it forever. Well done you.

  3. We have Cyril. He’s an 8 yr old chimney sweep who has looked after my youngest son through 2 liver transplants, encephalitis and epilepsy. Now he’s 27 and lives independently but on the next street to us and Cyril is still with him but finds it hilarious to come ‘home’ and hide things. He seems to have a fascination for watches as he’s ‘borrowed’ one from each and everyone of us only to return them when and if he sees fit! I can’t see him but my youngest daughter can smell him and I swear my 5 yr old grandson can see him and has played with him since he was born!
    I wouldn’t be without Cyril for a moment and am so pleased he still comes home

    1. Looks like most of us have our very own Ali. It’s a great shame that “muggles” don’t acknowledge their presence because it’s the fastest way of getting things back. Oh and remembering to thank them! That’s important too!

    1. He understands English perfectly well having lived with Aunt Helen but sometimes I’ll drop into Arabic to make him feel special. I always thank him in Arabic and he makes rude jokes about the old feller in the same language – not realising that Badger doesn’t understand a word of it, nor why I am creased up laughing at the description – he’s not just old, he’s mad!

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