Aba

The people of the village often wondered what was underneath the old aba of Taj Hafez. He was never seen without it. Not inside the village anyway. But Taj Hafez was as old as his aba, older even, and a quiet man, save for the few nights of the year when villagers swore they saw him barking at the moon. Then again, that could have been any old man tucked inside the swelling cloak.

Taj Hafez did not so much walk as he did roll. He was unmistakable in a crowd, his swaddled head and brown skin swaying over the woolly bubble of cloth. His feet were invisible and his hands draped at his sides (though often he pulled them within his sleeves).

Naturally, everyone but the children left him alone. The children would bump into Taj Hafez and scatter themselves like grapeshot across the arcade. Wherever the old man went there followed a chorus of ambulatory giggles and the elastic thoong thoong of projectile children.

But one day Taj Hafez popped. The ground shook and the sand kicked up into the sky. No one in the village now wonders what was underneath the old aba, but we may wonder why every night a village barks at the moon.

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