• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 07

The Encounter


Kamar: Syrian Muslim woman, with veil, in her fifties

Maya: Syrian Christian woman in her thirties


Wall-size mural of grassy knoll overlooking Latakia’s harbor (1683 AD)


The younger women approaches the older one on her prayer blanket; both women stand (in front of mural) and under a spotlight facing each other

KAMAR (on her knees chanting, facing the ocean to the east): I turn to the Gate; I bow before the Name; I adore the Meaning.

[Pause/Stands up, and takes a deep breath]

I love this salty mountain air! And the view… it’s simply beautiful. I am called Kamar. What is your name?

MAYA (smiling): That’s a lovely name; mine is Maya. Are you here for the festival?


My husband is on one of those fishing boats bringing fish to market.

KAMAR: Yes. And my husband also is on the harbor.


But I came here to pray.


The Encounter

MAYA: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. I thought you might have wanted company.

KAMAR: Please, It’s okay! I’m finished. And it doesn’t matter anyway. My husband…

[Pause/Looks closely into the younger woman’s eyes]

My husband says I have no soul. He says this is what we Alewite Muslims believe.

MAYA: No! Of course you have a soul. Our creator gave us all one. He breathed it in us. They breathed it in us: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It sounded like you were praying to some kind of trinity, too.

KAMAR: Yes, we call it the Triad. Are you a Christian?


We believe we were once stars—divine lights—cast out of heaven for disobedience. We must undergo many reincarnations before we can return to heaven. We might be reincarnated as Christians if we had sinned (or animals if we became infidels). What sin has your predecessor done?

MAYA: Yes, I am Christian…

KAMAR (interrupts excitedly): It’s dangerous for Alewites to declare our faith under the Ottomans, but for Christians, it is even more dangerous! The Sultan, when he was a baby, sustained a great injury to his head—in a rage, his father snatched him out of his mother’s arms (a concubine) and flung him into the well. He almost drowned. Who knows how his thinking had been affected.


The Encounter

MAYA: I am not afraid, Kamar. And no, I haven’t been reincarnated, just reborn from above. My Father in heaven speaks to me all the time, not in a clear voice, but sometimes with a whisper in the wind.

KAMAR: I wonder about my Triad. Do they even hear me? Last night I looked up at the stars, to that glitter in the milky swath as thick as jewels, horizon to horizon. I so want to go there with the others who believe. That’s where their souls go.

[Pause/Downcast expression]

But I don’t have one.

MAYA: Let me pray with you, Kamar. Let me tell you about the Bright and shining star. Let me tell you all about Him.