Tag Archives: history

The Jinn of Sevilla – Visual Fiction

taken in Sevilla, Spain

taken in Sevilla, Spain

It seems that after all these years, I have become a Spaniard, and a Sevillano at that. I have fallen in love with this city of luxuriant plazas and opulent cool groves—so similar and yet so different from my faraway home of burning sands and frigid nights of crystal-dusted skies.

I first came across the strait with Tariq ibn Ziyad, landing on the rocks that still bear his name. I was in the sparks that flew from his horse’s hooves and the light that flashed along the blade of his sword. I was the fire burning in his heart that spurred him and his followers on to victory.

I was with Jabir ibn Aflah as he planned and built the Giralda where I now live and look down on the city that I have adopted over centuries of residence. It has grown slowly but I always stay the same.

There are no other jinn here. Sometimes I think about returning to those hot, dusty expanses of my youth, far over water and sand and lands that have become strange to me. The moods come but then pass. Here, in my Sevilla, I carry on an austere companionship with the people. At sunset, when I come out to bid farewell to the Great Lady for another day, the people see my fire gleaming on the edges of the shield of Faith at the top of the tower.

“¡Mira!” they cry. “The spirit of the Giralda is shining.” That is what I have become: the spirit of the Giralda. And even when the tower is finally laid low, I will not abandon this city.


The Great South Gate of Jeonju: Pungnammun Remembers

The Prosperous South Gate they named me, and I have borne that name with pride for centuries. I have been a rampart against attackers and a conduit of prosperity to my people within; the First Fortress of the Honam region, I was the first, the greatest, and now I am the last. I am Pungnammun.

Pungnammun sign

I do not track the passage of time itself beyond remarking the change from the bitter cold that grips at my mortar to the sweltering heat that bakes my stones and slate roof. Still, I remember. I remember the people, the little ones that have walked over and through me and I feel for them in their brief little lives, so full of tragedy and desire.

I remember the day when they passed judgment on three of their kind for worshipping a deity from a faraway land. They beheaded them and hung the heads from my walls. That night the skies poured down rain and soaked my stones with tears that I was unable to cry, washing the martyrs’ blood from my walls and into the eternal soil for burial. I remember an endless stream of peasants and goods entering in to sell at my markets; I remember the bodies being carried out for interment on the mountain slopes. I remember each and every one of them.

Pungnammun in the 19th century. Source.

Pungnammun in the 19th century. Source.

What I remember most happened long ago, back when my walls were intact and people and animals passed through me every day. Invaders were attacking the country from the east and a young lieutenant of the city guard left to aid in the defense. The night before he left, he met his beloved in my gatehouse and pledged to return to her, if he could. Her name was Seon-Mi; I know because he said it over and over as they held each other. I did not know his name, for she called him only “my lord”.

I never saw him again, or felt his feet on my stones and planks. Seon-Mi came every day to sit in my gatehouse and watch for his return. The tears that she shed soaked into my planks and I kept them for her, pledging silently to hold and guard her until her lord could return. I kept the rain and snow off her as she sat and waited through the years and then, one windy night, I held her body as her soul flew at last beyond the reach of my protection and help.

I am alone now. The wall has been demolished and my sisters and brothers, the North, East, and West Gates of the city, have been torn down to make way for the insatiable step of progress. Their places are forgotten, but I remain. And I remember.

Pungnammun at night

The above account is a mixture of fact and fiction concerning the iconic south gate of the city of Jeonju, South Korea, written in part for the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge, whose theme this week is “Iconic”.


The Book of Time

A man built a house on a plot of land. He lived through good and bad and when he died, his house stood empty. People soon forgot him, but the house remembered.

It remembered his first night there, when he woke, alone, in the middle of the night and almost cried from loneliness. It remembered the joy of his wedding, the trials and worries, the accumulated pain and blood of scraped knees and new babies. The faces that came, and changed, and passed on through its rooms, it remembered.

The house was sold, and sold again, and then finally abandoned, until its windows were empty and vacant and its roof settled slowly into the floor. The years passed until the house was gone but its memories passed to the land. Even when that was built over and paved and excavated for basements and sewers, the land remembered the stories of those that had lived on it.

It remembered until the land sank into the oceans and water covered the area where the man had built his house and lived through good and bad. Its history was eventually forgotten by everyone, but it still remains, written forever in the book of time that only One can read.


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