Mystical Manifestations

Photo credit: Les Talusan,

Photo credit: Les Talusan,

I’d forgotten that the psychic said he was going to come to me in the spring, with a briefcase in hand. I was so heavy with grief that the thought that I’d ever be able to feel love in my heart again felt like fiction. There was room for nothing but sadness and survival. How could I ever fall in love again? Instead, I fixated on the things that she said that mattered in that moment, only seven weeks after Mom died.

It was an accidental reading – or had I subconsciously summoned her? – by a friend, over casual dinner and conversation. Things I had been yearning to hear started tumbling towards me. She said Mom was standing behind me and how that meant that she literally had my back; that I had Mom’s cheek; that Mom wanted me to have her saris, especially the blue ones, because she knew my favorite color was blue; that she wanted us to go down to the water, the beach, her favorite, and to say a farewell ritual of some sort; and, most importantly, that she was happy, or more precisely, that she finally felt free. The psychic didn’t need to tell me that. I just knew.

It wasn’t until I had moved back to my parents house, nine months after Mom had passed and one month into falling head over heels in love, that I remembered what the psychic had said. That she pictured him well-dressed, maybe in a suit, with a briefcase in his hand. (“A briefcase?” I thought. “Who carries a briefcase these days? Only gangsters or Wall Street guys – neither good options.”) That he was secure and stable. He was responsible. He’d be good for me. She didn’t see him being ‘the one’, but I would love him all the same. And, more importantly, that I’d be in love.

I texted him, “Do you by any chance own a briefcase?”



“Hand-me-down from my dad. Why? Are you planning a bank heist?”

The next time I was at his apartment, I snooped around for it. There it was. Filled with his signature, handwritten papers. He wasn’t a gangster or a financier. He was a writer.

And, sure enough, a year later, he wasn’t the one.


All those years of Sunni Muslim Sunday school indoctrination trained me to stay away from all things mystical or remotely jinn. Stay away from psychics, and ouiji boards, and magic (David Copperfield was the magical exception). Don’t look at shooting stars (“those are jinns rejected from heaven”), and don’t eat during solar or lunar eclipses (“you should pray extra nafl prayers too“). Come inside the house during sunset (“so the jinns don’t snatch your uncovered hair”). Be good. And if you get scared, pray.

But my perception of reality, or for that matter, truth and faith, changed after Mom died. It just does. You’re forced into an understanding that souls exist bodyless and earthly life is temporal. That Allah makes things happen that don’t make sense, but that He is all knowing. The wind tickling your ankles is your Mom tickling your ankle, and your missing objects were moved playfully by Mom. You start thinking that maybe our dreams are real and this reality is actually a dream. That the black cat that started hanging around the house that your sisters named Casper was sent by her to watch over us. That the dream you had the night you last spoke with Mom, with the desert and the room and the snake, foreshadowed her death.

But this October my dreams were getting out of control. I hadn’t slept well for a while, since Mom had passed, but lately I was waking up restlessly at 5 am daily. I couldn’t sleep through the night anymore. They were vivid dreams, of being on the run, being chased or – the worst ones – of Mom coming to me, undead, her face half decayed, unable to relay what she had to say. She had spoken to me in past dreams before but this time, she was unclear. Stilted. Choppy. I’d forget them as soon as I woke up, exhausted but too scared to fall asleep again.

I wanted to know what she had to say. If she had anything to say.


Over the phone, the psychics had me say my name. Three times. That was it.

There were four of them on the phone, all keying into my auras, my chakras. They said that I was in a period of regrowth, that I was still searching for a higher path, though the truth remains strongly within me. That using divine light to heal is a gift I have. That religion and the structure of religious practice is a strong part of my identity. That seeking an understanding in truth gives me a deep sense of purpose and centers me at my core. And that in my dreams I am very busy, constantly going to other universes, learning things, and storing that knowledge.

“But I haven’t been able to sleep lately,” I tell the psychics. “What does it mean?”

They told me that my body is recalibrating. I’m going from one phase into another and clearing old karma. And my trying to decipher meaning from my mother in my dreams was just me trying too hard. She is always around. “You should write to her,” they suggested. I think of what the earlier psychic had said.

“Why can’t I see her? I should see her in my dreams. My middle sister can feel her. But why can’t I?” I had asked her at the time, earnestly.

“You need to write,” she said. “You are different than your sister, you are a writer. And your mother will come to you through your words. That is your gift and that’s when her presence will be the strongest. So write.”


“I have to ask, being the single woman that I am. Will I ever find love?”

“You are attractive to men of all types. They find you intriguing, but almost frightening. Even though you project a deep level of internal beauty, men are afraid to talk to you. Slow down your energy level to match theirs. Allow them to come to you,” the male psychic responded, over the crackling phone line.

Hold up – did the psychic just ‘Auntie’ me? I thought. Did he say men find my cosmic energy too strong and that I need to slow my psychic roll?

I didn’t need a psychic to tell me that. I been told that my whole life.

“It’s someone you have met, but you just don’t know it yet. It will feel like family. And when you know, you’ll recognize it and just know…. So don’t be too concerned with it. It will take no effort. And it will happen, you just need to let it.”


What if we have the ability to manifest our own truths? Isn’t that ultimately what giving duas to Allah is all about? And if our life is already written out for us in the so-called book of our life, who is to say that our intuition isn’t a psychic connection to those words?

It was Mom who once said to me, when she saw my frustration at being single, “I believe that Allah created someone for everyone out there. Don’t lose hope, your time will come.”

I haven’t lost hope… but as a thirtysomething #foreveralone I’m tired of living my life in limbo for love on the horizon. So I’m not. Instead I’ll make some duas, manifest positive energy of love, and not be too concerned.

Maybe it’s written, maybe it’s not.

Whatever happens, I just need to let it.

To read more posts by Tanzila, click here.

Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles currently working as the Voter Engagement Manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. She was a long-time writer for Sepia Mutiny, and was recently published in the anthology Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women and both zines from Totally Radical Muslims. Her personal projects include curating images for Mutinous Mind State and writing about Desi music at Mishthi Music where she just co-produced Beats for Bangladesh: A Benefit Album in Solidarity with the Garment Workers of Rana Plaza. Taz also organizes with Bay Area Solidarity Summer and South Asians for Justice – Los Angeles. You can find her rant at @tazzystar.

3 Comments on “Mystical Manifestations”

  1. The line about the male psychic Auntie-ing you made me laugh out loud. Reminded me, oddly, of a scene from my favorite science fiction series by Lois McMaster Bujold where a young man has promised his dying friend that he will make sure the friend’s daughter gets a proper marriage brokered by a babushka, so when she gets engaged in a love match, he insists on tying a scarf around his head and “brokering” the “terms” of the wedding between the new fiance and the bride’s “family” (himself without the scarf) in order to keep his word to the dying man. It’s both hilarious and sweet.

  2. a786 says:

    moving post. especially to think that your mother’s spirit lives on.

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