The Judgement of Malchus

Image result for the beheading of saint margaret

The Beheading of Saint Margaret. Web Source: The National Gallery.

Reposted from my blog for my Mythology and Folklore class. 

“Malchus of Antioch, do you know why you have been called before this court today?”

“Yes your lordship. I am guilty of the death of one Margaret of Antioch, a brave and noble woman of Christ.”

The provost frowned. “Far from it, for her death was upon my order.”

“Then you are guilty as well, your lordship.”

“And that is why I have summoned you all here today,” said a loud voice from the back of the room.

Looking around, Malchus noticed that he and Olybrius, the provost, had been joined not by Olybrius’ soldiers but by a dragon, an unsettling young man, and two other figures, both very bright. He thought it was one of the latter two that had spoken, but he was not sure which one.

“Tell us what you have done to the woman who was called Margaret,” said one of the bright ones.

The dragon growled at the mention of her name. “I fully intended to eat her, but she made the sign of the cross and I was forced to back down.”

“And you, Veltis?”

The strange young man shifted uncomfortably. “I am ashamed to admit that she bested me as well.” He rubbed his neck. “I couldn’t stop myself – every question she asked I answered. In the end, she made the ground open up and swallow me.

“Olybrius, son of Adam, what was your relationship with this woman?”

The provost looked annoyed. “She was the most beautiful girl I had seen in a long time. I intended to marry her, but she had betrayed our gods for a crucified one, which was most unseemly. I had her tortured multiple times, but she refused to return to our beliefs. At last I commanded my hangman to kill her, and this time there was no miraculous rescue.”

“And you Malchus, son of Adam – are you the hangman of whom Olybrius spoke?”

“To my everlasting shame, sir.” Malchus looked at his hands. “She asked for a bit of time to pray, and I gave it to her. But really it was for myself sir – I needed the time to gather up my courage. How could I kill this woman who had bested a dragon and come out alive from boiling water? But then, I’d seen the provost kill the 5000 men who converted because of her. So I wasn’t sure. But after hearing her pray, pray for forgiveness for all of us – for me – who had tortured her and were going to kill her – I couldn’t do it. And that voice – the voice from heaven – it said it granted her prayers, sir.” His voice was trembling.

“And yet the woman is dead,” said the other bright one.

“Yes sir. She told me that I might have no share with her if I did not cut off her head. So I did.” Malchus covered his face, and his shoulders shook.

“I see.”

The first bright one seemed to have made his judgement. “You all have done well in persecuting this woman. Not as well as I might have hoped, since she bested you, but that is to be expected when dealing the Enemy. You will certainly be rewarded by Our Father Below.”

“Wait just a moment,” said the second. “I believe Malchus belongs to me.”

Malchus began to be rather terrified, as the second seemed far more likely to judge him.

“Not at all. Did he not kill one of your people’s so-called saints? What more does it take to come Below?”

“He killed her, yes, but she requested that he be forgiven before her death. He has repented and believes, and that is all it takes to come Above. You have the other three, let me take this one.”

“Oh alright, have it your way. I’ve got three times as many as you.” He led the dragon, Veltis, and Olybrius away, leaving Malchus alone with the second.

“Malchus, you shall experience all the torture on earth that you have dealt this woman. But you shall one day see her again in paradise.”

Malchus knelt in gratitude.

“Do not kneel to me, but look ever heavenwards.”

When Malchus looked up, the figure had disappeared.


Author’s note: This story is based on the story of St. Margaret, from The Golden Legends. She was raised by her nursemaid, who converted her to Christianity. The provost wanted to marry her, but wanted her to renounce Christianity first. When she refused, he had her imprisoned, tortured, and eventually killed. During her imprisonment, she defeated the demon Veltis. I wanted to explore the story from the perspective of the other characters, particularly the hangman who beheaded her against his own wishes. In this story, the characters responsible for her death are judged by a demon and an angel. The demon’s language is partially based on that of The Screwtape Letters.

Bibliography: “Saint Margaret,” Voragine’s The Golden Legend, link to the reading online.

The Jackal’s Test

Reposted from my blog for my Mythology and Folklore class. 

Hello reader.

I’m three thousand years in your future. You won’t live that long of course, so here’s a glimpse of what your people have done to my world. You’ve burned it and hunted it and poisoned it. But you and your experiments also gave us minds.

Explore The Black Azar's photos on Flickr. The Black Azar has uploaded 12247 photos to Flickr.

Dystopia. Web Source: Flickr.

Yes, every one of us. From myself – Jackal, at your service – and the other animals to the surviving trees, all of us can think and feel and speak. Even the road beneath your feet. Well, my feet. You’re probably sitting in a chair in comfort.

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Caged Tiger. Web Source: Pixabay.

Despite all these changes, your people are still in charge. Somehow. I’m hoping to change that. Afterall, are you really fit to lead? Take this fellow Brahman. We – Tiger and I – were trying to see how people responded to Tiger’s plea for freedom. This guy actually let him out of the cage, which was a start. But we wanted to give him more of a feel for our plight than that of one noble beast in a cage. It’s easy to have pity on a magnificent tiger. But what about the rest of creation that suffers on his behalf? So Tiger made him go talk to three of us. He thought he had to convince them that he should live. But really we wanted to see if he could convince himself.

He heard from the trees that died for his books and newspapers. He spoke to the cow that was force fed only to be slaughtered for his meat. He spoke to the road that choked under the pollution from his car.

Yet after all these conversations, his only thought was for how he might survive. So I pretended to help him by leading Tiger back into his cage. It would not do for him to suspect our fomenting revolution.

You see, now we need another plan. You humans cannot be convinced to sympathize with us, so we must find another route to liberty. Tiger is still in his cage, and next time I will be the one to let him out. Cleverness and violence will win our earth back. As you might suspect from this glimpse into the future, I will take the reins as we rise.

File:Indian Golden Jackal.jpg

Jackal. Web Source: WikiMedia.

Author’s note:

This story is based on “The Tiger, the Brahman, and the Jackal.” In the original story, the tiger tricks the Brahman into letting him out, then threatens to eat him unless one of the first three people that the Brahman comes across can provide a convincing reason as to why he should not be eaten. The papal-tree, the buffalo, and the road see this trickery as the natural course of life, but the jackal pretends to be confused and forces a retelling of the story, until the tiger is back into his cage. In my retelling, I wanted to examine the jackal’s motivation for helping the Brahman and apparently opposing the tiger. I set the story in the future so that the personification of the animals, the tree, and the road would be more plausible.

Bibliography: “The Tiger, the Brahman, and the Jackal” from Indian Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs with illustrations by John D. Batten (1912). Web Source.

Poetry Club: الطائر الطالب

This past Friday was the Arabic Talent Show, kicking off the beginning of the end of the semester for me. Each time I go, I realize how at home I am at OU. As usual, it was great to see what the other students have been working on, as well as the fruits of my own labor.  Since I was in Poetry Club this semester, I wrote a short poem and read it at the show. Enjoy! (The English translation is below)

ولدَ طائرٌ في شجرة

في شجرة في وسطِ الجامعة

عندما كبر بدأ الدرسةَ

مثل كل الطيورِ الصغيرة

من الشباكِ درس العربيةَ

كان هناك حروف وكلمات جديدة

والطائر كان طالبٌ فعلاً سعيد


فبدأ الطائرُ ان يكتبَ

ان يكتبَ على الارض الحروفَ

ثم جاء المطار فجرفها

جرفها بقسوة شديدة

اراد ان يتكلم مع الطلابِ الاخرين

ولكن لا احد استمعَ اليهِ

اراد ان يقرأ الفَ ليلةٍ وليلة

ولكنه شعر بثقل الكباب بكل محولة


الطائرُ الطالبً شعر بالحزن

ثم سمع شيئاً سعيداً اخيراً

في اللغةِ العربيةِ اغنيةُ جميلة

وغنى الطائرُ سعيداً في الشجرة


There once was a bird born in a tree

Born in the middle of a university

When he grew up he began his studies

Just like all the other little birdies

He studied Arabic perched in a window

Learning so many new letters and words

And the little student bird was thoroughly happy


The bird began writing the letters on the ground

But they were washed away when the rain came down

He wanted to talk with the other students in the class

But they didn’t listen; they just walked past

He wanted to read A Thousand and One Nights

But the book felt heavier each time he tried


The student bird felt very sad

But at last heard something that made him glad

In the Arabic language a beautiful song

And the bird in the tree happily sang along


Poem and translation my own, with thanks to Sophie Le, the Poetry Club, and Ustaaz Barakat

The Arabic Flagship Talent Show

Friday night was the Arabic Flagship Talent Show, where the Arabic classes and clubs demonstrate what they have learned over the course of the semester. It was also the first tornado warning of the semester. Well, I guess I did decide to go to school in Oklahoma. So I waited in a designated hallway, hoping that it would not get canceled and that I would be allowed out of the building. Thankfully, the warning was lifted just in time, and I hopped around the puddles in hope of food. It arrived later, and was absolutely delicious. I’m a big fan of baba ghanoush.

Though a bit later and damper than anticipated, the Talent Show got underway. I was actually performing in four different events, though two of them had been recorded ahead of time. I had been practicing singing Mama Zamenha Gaya in class – and will likely keep singing it, as it is very catchy. In Reading Club, we had written our own stories in the style of Kalila wa Dimna. A couple of other girls and I read ours aloud. The Drama Club had performed and recorded a version of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. I played the conniving sister-in-law, which was a lot of fun. Last minute, another video I had acted in for class was added, in which I play a girl who has decided to study abroad in Egypt and needs her parents’ permission. (Spoiler alert: she’s already in Egypt). As you can see, there are lots of opportunities within the Flagship to use Arabic and expand on what you learned in class.

In addition to these acts, there was also belly dancing, poetry reading, and more singing and videos. It was all very impressive and entertaining. The saddest part of the night was saying goodbye to the graduating seniors. The Talent Show is a really cool reminder of the opportunities within the Arabic Flagship program, both for learning Arabic and for developing friendships. I felt very pleased with what I have accomplished over these past two semesters, and am very excited to see what I can explore in the fall, both in Arabic classes and in clubs.

Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair – ONAYLF

My main job as a volunteer in the Native American Languages collection at the Sam Noble museum is to digitize the collection so that it can be made available to the public. While I scan the documents, I listen to my co-workers discuss the other workings of the collection. For the last few months, I have been hearing them prepare for their biggest event of the year, the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair, or ONAYLF for short. I was excited to attend as much as I could.

The fair, which is held annually at the Sam Noble museum, was the 4th and 5th of April. It is the largest native language fair west of the Mississippi. Students from preschool to high school come and demonstrate how they have been learning and using over forty Native languages. Due to classes, I was only able to attend and volunteer for part of the first day, when the younger children were performing. They sang songs and acted in skits. At the end, I got to watch the winning videos. I also had a brief stint as a judge’s assistant and stage hand.

Through out the two days, over a thousand students performed and over three thousand guests visited the museum. It was a vivid reminder of the diversity of languages spoken in Oklahoma. I look forward to learning more about these languages through out my time here.

Tribes in Oklahoma

By Crimsonedge34 – Own work This image was created with QGIS This vector graphics image was created with Adobe Illustrator., CC0,

Language Familes of North America

Language Families of North America

CC BY 2.0,