Another Life 1/?
R/T (with different names, of course!)
(Since this is not technically a Trek story, I'm not
going to use the usual disclaimer-unless Will and
Deanna of the 24th century eventually appear in it.)
Note: The last name "Chandra" is an actual Arabic last
name--I got the idea because a girl at my school who
is part Indian/part Arabic has this last name and I
just loved it! Just so no one confuses this with
Deanna Troi's best friend Chandra. Also, aside from
the names, this story, details, and information that I
am using are all entirely fictional. My apologies to
anyone of Indian or Arabic descent if the "facts" that
I am using are incorrect.
Manisha Chandra knelt in the fields behind her home,
plucking herbs and flowers for the evening meal.
Beneath the streaming Indian sun, she worked, her
veiled face beaded with sweat, her dark hair sticking
to her forehead as she reached again for another
handful of golden rod. Each handful fell into the
wicker basket at her side, and as the basket began to
fill, Manisha hummed a soft tune, filling the air with
its melodious sound. The song lived within her, a
tangible reminder of the Mother whom she had lost so
many years before.
Nabreem Chandra had died in childbirth fifteen years
before when Manisha was only five, leaving she and her
father to live out their years without her loving,
comforting presence. There was not even a small
brother or sister to comfort them, as the tiny baby
had also died, only moments after its birth. They
were alone now, Manisha and her father, and although
the losses still bruised their hearts, they had
learned to live with them.
Continuing to hum, Manisha pulled violet stems,
timbara root, and jonquils from the parched soil,
thinking of the evening's meal. Thinking of how often
she had prepared food for her beloved father, wishing
that her Mother were still there to take her place.
Although the previous fifteen years had been difficult
without Nabreem, this year was to be the most
difficult. It was the year that Manisha would be
given in marriage to one of the local boys. Her
father had saved a generous dowry, and her father's
sister Fatima had sown a wedding dress last month in
anticipation of the event. In only twelve days
Manisha was to become the bride of Salim Patel, a name
she recognized as the tailor's son. Still, they had
never met face to face, and would not do so until the
day of their wedding.
Prickles of doubt filled her stomach at the thought of
marrying this boy, this total stranger. What would he
look like? Would he like her? Would she like him?
There were no answers to be found, at least not by
staring at the fields of flowers before her. Plucking
one last handful of herbs, she rose to her feet and
hung the basket on her arm, using her other hand to
shade her brown eyes from the sun.
"It is time to go back...how I wish I could stay out
here forever, dreaming in the sunlight," she murmured
to no one in particular.
"Then why don't you?" The voice was so unexpected, so
startling, that it caused her to drop her basket.
Spinning around on delicate bare feet, Manisha looked
at the man whose voice had startled her out of her
"Who...who are you?"
The boy smiled, and as he did so, his teeth glittered,
as if made by blinding white beams of sunlight. His
eyes were striking, a surprising shade of blue that
was like nothing she had ever seen before. Most
Indian boys she knew had the usual combination of
black hair with eyes to match, but this boy had hair
as dark as a raven's wing with eyes so light they had
almost no color at all. His skin was tanned to a dark
brown, his clothing a long, black shirt over a
matching pair of pants. Like her, he went barefoot,
and in his hands he held a leather case, a wallet, no
Confused, she raised one slim brow and forced herself
to meet his eyes, "What business brings you to my
"I have come to speak with your father. Anil Chandra
is said to be the most gifted man in all of the
Natoori province, and so I have come to purchase his
She thought briefly of her father's numerous
houseguests, and the secret meetings going on behind
closed doors long after she had gone to bed. She knew
that her father dealt in unusual products, but was
never entirely certain what they were.
"If I may ask, what have you come to purchase? A
cow's ear, a bottle of rim-rah juice? A potion..."
The boy's brow raised and he smiled again. "Potions?
Is that what your father sells? And here I thought
that it was you, the lady of the house, who concocted
She flushed deeply and looked down at the soft brown
soil at her feet. "I do not know what you are speaking
of. I am my father's housekeeper and cook; I do not
have any other duties. Certainly not the ones you
"Ah, then you know what I mean. The rumor is that you
are a witch, using herbs and flowers to make love
potions to sell to young girls and regretful old
women. I'm sure that it is a very interesting
enterprise and a good way to earn gold...why are you
ashamed of it?"
Her dark eyes filled with emotion, flashing to black.
"I am not ashamed. I simply do not know what you are
talking about. Now, if you will excuse me...I must go
inside and prepare my father's evening meal." She
tromped off away from him, heading for the thatched
three-room hut behind her, completely forgetting her
basket of goods in the process.
"Wait...Miss...you've dropped your things..." the boy
picked the basket up and ran to catch up with her.
Startled all over again, Manisha turned to him and
"My thanks to you… father would have been most
displeased had I lost my meal preparations...."
"No thanks are required, Miss Chandra. Now, tell me,
is your father at home? I really must see him today."
"No. He had business in town and will not be at home
until very late this evening...perhaps I may tell him
that you were here? What is your name?"
"My name is Rashid Jordan...he knows me from the
market place as well as my father's tailor shop.
Please tell him that I was here and that I wish to
make a purchase. He will know what I mean."
"I will do so when I see him." She nodded once at
him, and then headed for the back door again, not
Rashid stared after her as she moved away, taking in
her waist-length black curls, her slim figure, her
tiny, tanned, bare feet. And he wondered whether or
not Miss Chandra was available for marriage.
That evening, Manisha stared out of the single window
in her small bedroom, looking at the stars. Their
glitter was so bright that they had woken her from
slumber, calling her to the window to witness their
beauty. She sat at the small, carved stone window
seat, silently brushing her long hair, wondering if
the boy would come back.
His face stayed etched in her mind, her heart pounding
quickly at the thought of him. He'd been unusual,
exotic; certainly that was why she could not make him
leave her mind. There could be no other reason--she
was an engaged girl of twenty, soon to become Mrs.
Salim Patel. She would move across the town of
Santuri and into his home. She would clean his house,
fix his meals, and have his children-preferably boys.
She would be a good wife, just as her own Mother had
been. She would make her father proud. And yet, even
as these thoughts held her, she could not escape the
memory of Rashid Jordan's handsome face. There was
something about him...something that intrigued her, if
she were completely honest with herself. And yet, it
was fruitless to think of him or any other boy. She
was to be given to Salim very soon; there would be no
room for daydreams of another.
Sliding down off the window seat, Manisha crept back
beneath the thin blankets upon her bed, and stared at
the ceiling. "Dear Allah, may my husband be as bright
and beautiful as the boy Rashid. Then I would be truly
happy." The words fell from her mouth softly,
surprising her, and she felt her heart quicken again.
Tentatively, she said the name again, "Rashid Jordan,"
and felt butterflies fly free inside her belly. This
was not good. This was dangerous. She must stop
thinking of him immediately. Otherwise, she would go
to her marriage bed thinking of another man and that
was not to be borne.
Turning over on her side, Manisha closed her eyes,
pulled the covers above her shoulders, and began to
whisper another name, "Salim...Salim...Salim."
But that night her dreams were not filled with the
face of the man she was to marry. Instead, the
smiling countenance of Rashid Jordan haunted her until
“Do you know her well, Muhamed?” Rashid asked his
closest friend as they worked side by side. They were
packing boxes filled with hummus, vines, vegetables
and spices to take to the local wise woman. It was to
be a gift, in exchange for her blessings over their
family’s crops this year, one that they needed
Muhamed Punjabi looked up from his work, a tiny smile
crossing his chubby features.
“You are interested in Miss Chandra, are you not?
Ah…that one…she is very lovely. I do know her, well
enough to speak to, and yet that is as well as any of
us will ever come to know her, I’m afraid.” The
little man shrugged and moved to the back of the
storeroom to fill another box.
Rashid followed him, questions dancing in his light
blue eyes. “What do you mean by that? Do you know
something that I do not?”
Muhamed lifted his shoulders and gave his old friend
a look filled with pity.
“My friend, this girl that you are so interested
in-she is engaged to be married. In only ten days
from now she is to marry Salim Patel…one of the
region’s wealthiest landowners.”
Rashid grabbed the corner of the wooden table behind
him and leaned back against it, absorbing the news.
“She is to be married? I…I do not believe it. So
young and so beautiful, she is far too good for the
likes of him….”
His friend nodded sagely as he piled boxes upon one
another, preparing to haul them out to the wagon in
front of the store. “I must agree. The talk in the
town square has not been good. I have heard it said
that Salim Patel keeps slaves upon his land, men of
African descent. They do the work for him while he
sits like a king inside his family home, snapping his
fingers for them to do his bidding. I have also heard
that he already has four wives…I cannot imagine why he
would want another.”
“Four? I see…so he is of that sect, then?”
“As were you until you realized what was involved.
Did your father not have seven wives of his own?”
Muhamed’s face was innocent of malice, his eyes filled
only with curiosity, and yet Rashid felt as if a fist
had reached in and squeezed the muscles of his
stomach. Ignoring the question, he reached for the
pile of boxes and walked down the small path to the
Outside, sat a tall chestnut horse, and attached to
him was a great wagon, large enough for ten men to fit
within its depths. Rashid placed five boxes on the
wagon, and then waited to retrieve the remainder from
Muhamed. In only a few moments, his friend stumbled
out into the sunlight; nearly tripping over his large
sandals on the way meet Rashid. “Here…take them. I’m
afraid that I am losing my footing…”
“If you would only wear shoes that fit your feet, you
would not need to worry, would you?”
Abashed, his friend grinned and sat down on the back
of the wagon, wiping streams of sweat from his
forehead. “You speak the truth, old friend. And now,
before you leave, I must ask…did I offend you with my
words a moment ago?”
“No, old friend. I apologize….I did not mean to be so
“I understand. I should not have mentioned it.”
“There are no secrets between us, Muhamed. You know
of my Mother’s troubles…she attempted to kill my
father…that can never be forgiven. And yet, knowing
that, I cannot help but feel more offended by my
Father’s actions. He brought my Mother from Pakistan,
causing her to leave her people behind forever. She
came her assuming she would have the life of a lady, a
queen. And from the moment she arrived, her life was
not much better than that of a serving girl-or a
whore,” Rashid broke off, the anger in his words
effectively choking him into silence. He looked off
into the darkening sky for a moment, cleared his
throat, and continued, sitting down on the back of the
wagon beside Muhamed. “He did not love her…she was
his prize for finally becoming Sultan…she was no more
than a brood mare; someone to bear him healthy
children. And after I was born and it was discovered
that she could have no more, he turned away from her.
In a matter of days he made it legal in this region
for a man to have as many wives as he chose…something
unheard of until that time. Immediately, he began to
find the youngest, prettiest, most fertile girls in
the land and married them. Then he flaunted his
masculinity and prowess before my Mother; showing off
his pregnant wives in the palace garden, demanding
that she be present for each birth of every bastard
that came along. My Mother was a fragile woman,
Muhamed. She was also filled with rage…a man like my
father would have no trouble pushing her to that
point…to the point of killing…”
“My friend, I am sorry for your family’s troubles.
And, I must apologize for my comments before…I did not
realize just how it had been in your home.”
“Well, it is behind me, and my Mother is in a far
better place now. I think it was a relief to her when
the illness came…she died so quickly, almost
effortlessly, I think she wanted to go. But my father
still lives on, the old goat, and is still having
children. He will never change.”
“Perhaps not. But you have changed. You are the head
of your own business, a storeowner even. Very
prestigious, I think. Such a shame that the girl
Manisha is already engaged…you would make a fine
Rashid’s eyes glowed darkly for a moment, thinking of
Salim. “I do not pretend that I know the girl well,
Muhamed. But when I met her the other day, I could
sense that she was different, special. A gentle soul.
And if this Salim Patel is anything at all like my
father was, then that gentleness will be crushed
beneath his hands.”
“There is nothing we can do about it, unfortunately.
The betrothal has been announced, the wedding will be
in ten days…I do not like this either, but we must
accept that it will come to pass.” He patted Rashid
on the shoulder and rose from the wagon, moving to
head back into the store. “Do not worry, my friend.
This girl is not your mother, and this boy is not your
father…it will not be the same situation. Besides,
there are many eligible girls in the town…why do you
not find one and ask her for her hand?”
He didn’t know, honestly. He was attractive, a
business owner, fairly well-off. And yet, there had
been no girl who had stirred his heart or his body.
Not until he’d seen Manisha Chandra. Since the day
when he’d seen her in the fields behind her home, he
had not been able to get her eyes out of his mind. Or
her hair, her soft musical voice, her attractive
Shaking his head, he tried to push the thoughts away
and smiled. “Maybe one day soon I will, Muhamed.”
A huge grin was his answer. “That is what I want to
hear. You work too hard, you need to have a woman in
your life. You are almost twenty-five, Rashid. It is
Rashid nodded and mounted his horse, tossing a wave to
his friend. Maybe it was time to have a woman of his
own. Someone to care for him, to help him in the
store, to make love with him and have his children.
He rode away, thinking of it, thinking of her. And
realized that it was indeed time. The only problem
was, the girl he wanted was engaged to someone else.
Manisha held the curtain back and stared out of her
bedroom window. She had heard the clopping sound of
hoof beats along the dirt road behind her home and
found her heart leaping. Could it be him? She stared
harder, trying to see the identity of the horse’s
rider, and then, as the magnificent beast came into
view, her mouth went dry. Atop the beautiful animal
sat Rashid Jordan-the very man she’d been secretly
His dark black hair blew gently in the wind and he
wore a beautiful smile as he moved down the road past
her house. He seemed to be thinking of something,
something so wonderful that it brought a glow to his
bright eyes that she could see all the way from her
bedroom. As she watched him, he patted the horse
gently and murmured into its ear, nudging it along
with a press of his knees. Allah, he is beautiful,
she thought, feeling a blush creep from her cheeks
down to her bare neck.
It was only ten days now until her marriage to Salim,
the days passing faster than she could have imagined.
And although her thoughts should be filled with
becoming his wife, in truth they were far, far away
from him and their upcoming marriage. They were
firmly fixated on Rashid now; it was as if he had
entered her soul on the day they’d met and now refused
to vacate it. Each morning when she rose to bathe and
dress, she chose colors that brought out her dark
eyes, knowing that they made her more attractive. The
mauves, purples, dark indigos, and fiery reds brought
light to her face and fullness to her feminine curves.
She would smile to herself in the mirror, wondering
what he would say if he saw her, if his eyes would
fill with interest….or desire.
Blushing again, Manisha moved from the window to the
mirror to check her appearance, noting with pleasure
that her dark skin was blossoming with pink, and her
eyes glittered as though they were the finest jewels.
She wished that he could see her. She could imagine
the blue eyes lightening as they moved from her face
to the length of her vivid pink sari, and the
beautiful masculine mouth pulling into a smile. She
suddenly wanted to be near him again, so much so that
it was difficult to stay still.
Her eyes darted toward the wooden timepiece on the
dresser...it was only half past twelve. Her Aunt
Fatima would be arriving in a few hours to visit and
to help with more preparations for the wedding; she
had enough time to see him, if she were brave.
Shaking with nerves, she peeked out of the window
again and saw that Rashid was far down the road,
almost to the wise-woman’s home. Feeling torn between
excitement and terror, she watched him until he was
out of sight, and then looked around at the unkempt
house. “It does not matter. Aunt will not be here for
hours and Father will work long into the night. I
Feeling as though her heart would thunder out of her
chest, Manisha slipped on her leather shoes, tucked a
stray lock of curl behind her ear, and ran out of the
front door. Suddenly, she felt the need to see the
The squat little hut carried the scent of pungent
spice and wild valerian root. Cooking smells overlaid
the scent of herbs, and Rashid felt his mouth water.
The wise woman was cooking something delectable in the
backroom, something that smelled of chicken and
onions, and possibly something more. He realized with
a pang that he had not eaten breakfast. Well, it
wasn’t the first time. Since meeting Miss Manisha
Chandra, food had been the very last thing on his
Leaning against the rough-hewn counter, he closed his
eyes and allowed her lovely face to fill his mind.
Her voice still sounded in his ears and the scent of
her clung to his nostrils as though he’d lain with her
only that day…and yet, he thought, blushing furiously,
they had not lain together at all. Not yet, anyway.
She was to be another man’s wife, and that was an
obstacle to be sure, yet he felt sure that somehow he
would find a way to stop the marriage and make her
his…he had to. Ever since looking into those
bottomless dark eyes, Rashid had felt something he’d
never felt before. Love, desire, passion, family…he’d
felt all of that and more. In fact, he felt as though
he’d finally arrived at home and Manisha, however
still unknown to him, was the answer to all of his
“Rashid, you have come at last.” The woman came
through a clatter of long beaded curtains to stand
before him, startling him out of his dream world. He
lifted his head to smile at her, and nodded. “Yes,
Glindara. I have come. And I’ve brought you many
The woman was elderly, and yet at the sound of his
words her eyes glowed with the beautiful glitter of
youth. “You are too kind to this old woman. Now,
come. Before unloading your wagon, I would like to
read your fortune. Then perhaps you will stay for a
“I would be delighted.” Rashid followed her into the
anteroom and sat at the large wooden table, looking
around at the walls. They were covered with ancient
Indian artifacts, some lovely, others almost
terrifying. Dark black and blue paintings were spaced
between the artifacts, and one in particular caught
his eye again and again. It was a scene depicting a
rite of marriage. The young girl in the picture was
fighting to be released from the arms of a
dangerous-looking man, while the holy man seemed to
read on from his book, binding them together,
seemingly oblivious to the bride’s distress.
Is that what it will be like for Manisha? Allah, he
hoped not. The very idea of that beautiful young girl
being forced to submit to a man like Salim Patel…it
curdled his blood. “Here we are. I have the cards.
As I lay them out, I would like you to close your eyes
and think of what you most want to know.”
Again, he snapped out of his own thoughts, and watched
Glindara lay the tarot cards upon the tabletop. She
looked like a wise-woman, he realized. Her long hair
was black and shot with gray, pulled onto the top of
her head with a large metal barrette. Her sari was
magenta with gold stripes, and the dark eyes within
the wrinkled face shone with knowledge, wisdom. He
would have been afraid of her had he not known her
since he was a small boy. “I’m ready,” he murmured
finally, closing his eyes.
Glindara stared down upon the cards, her gnarled hands
moving above them as though creating a magical spell.
In a moment, a tiny smile crossed her features and she
whispered, “You may open your eyes now.”
Rashid opened them, staring at the cards, seeing
nothing unusual in their colorful depths. “So tell
me, dear Glindara, am I to have a good crop this year?
Perhaps a large bounty that will take me through the
next harvest?” His light eyes glittered with
amusement, he really did not expect to hear anything
more than that. But when she opened her mouth, her
words pinned him to his chair, causing a chilled sweat
to break out beneath his shirt.
“Rashid, I see more than just a bountiful harvest for
you. That is something you will have, make no
mistake. But I also see something more. A woman. A
beautiful young woman is coming into your life, or
perhaps, she has come already. She will bring you the
greatest joy you have ever known, and yet, also the
greatest sorrow. I see a conflict around this woman,
around her situation. It is dangerous, Rashid, and yet
I also see that it is necessary. It will happen, in
fact, I see that there is nothing to stop it. But,
within this tempest comes great joy. You will fall in
love with her, and she with you. For I see that you
are soul mates, destined to return to one another
again and again in many lifetimes. This lifetime will
be no different.”
Manisha. Rashid felt his heart fall to his stomach as
his heart began a rapid tattoo in his chest. It must
be Manisha; he had not met anyone else recently. With
a dry mouth and a heart full of hope, he leaned
forward and asked, “Do you see…what I mean is…will we
marry, this woman and I?”
Glindara’s smile widened and she looked at him
knowingly. “I see that you are interested in more than
your crops, Rashid. Well, I will tell you
this….marriage does not seem possible; it seems as
though there is an obstacle in the way. However, the
future is not set in stone. I also see that if this
obstacle is overcome, you may indeed join with this
woman in marriage.”
He almost smiled as he leaned back in his chair.
There was hope. She could be his. If only he could
find a way to stop the wedding. “Thank-you, Glindara.
You’ve helped me a great deal with your words. More
than I can tell you.”
“I am glad. And now, I will bring us plates of
chicken and vegetables with rice for our meal. But
before I do, I must give you what you came for
Moving to a smaller table in the corner, she lifted a
long stick of purple incense and waved it above a
glowing white candle. “May the blessings of Allah
touch Rashid, his family, and his land. May he have
bounty enough to feed the town, and to carry him
through the lean times. May he have what he has
always wished for, and all of his secret dreams come
true. In Allah’s name I beg….”she kneeled down, blew
out the incense, and then the candle. “There you are
my boy, blessing upon your home and land, just as you
“Thank-you. Now, let me go and get your gifts,
Glindara, and then I shall join you for the meal.”
She nodded and smiled, and he rose to his feet,
walking unsteadily to the doorway. He moved out into
the sunlight, his eyes blinded from the contrast of
the darkened house and the sudden beams of bright
light. Moving to the wagon, he began to unload box
after box, bringing them into her living room, placing
them next to the far left wall. The pile grew smaller
and smaller, until there was only one box left.
He went out to retrieve it, lifting it into his arms,
his mind still focused on Glindara’s prediction. And
then, as he moved towards the open doorway, he felt a
sudden shiver pass over his body. It was as though
thousands of tiny fingers were running along his
spine, tickling him. Looking over his shoulder, he
felt the box drop from his hands as his body reacted
to the sight approaching him.
It was her.