Niniveh, Irak

Oh, Jonah, the One of the Whale, forgive my tardiness! I tried to dispatch my case swiftly and now I lie condemned. Now that my number is up, I am counting the hours I have left. Eventually, I figured it out: your journey, its import. I burst out laughing, I regretted it, I felt like crying. I didn’t hold high hopes for the future. I had managed my expectations and commended my soul to God. My muscles twitched to the beat of the clock. I had shut my eyes to the truth year after year, until the truth decided to settle the score. I don’t care whether it’s Monday or Saturday, day or night. You, my boy, acquainted yourself with miracles throughout your life until the ground under your feet drew level with the sky. Now, you are about to be reunited with your mother. You’ll have to introduce me to Christ’s mother, the Virgin Mary. May God bless you both. Over a hundred thousand men were sent to Nineveh. They had been tasked with mending the logic of the supposed infidels. You ran toward them frothing at the mouth and thus sealed your own fate.

Of the three sailors, you were the one held accountable for the howling gale. The penalty was being thrown overboard. The whale swallowed you down. You were guilty after all. Praise the Lord, who let everything come into being by use of words! He instructed the whale not to chew you up or crack your skeleton. You were not meant to be its meal. In fact, its stomach was to become your prison. The sailors had stabbed you in the back and you were about to sink to the bottom of the sea. Then you heard the singing of deep-sea creatures. The sailors pelted you with pebbles. You mistakenly believed yourself to be dead. As soon as you could feel your legs again, you fell to your knees. In the inky darkness of the whale’s interior, you prayed to the Almighty: “I hereby kneel and bow to you in this previously uncharted spot between this life and the next. God, I am a sinner, and you, with your infinite grace, are the only one who can redeem me.” You remained in the whale’s belly for forty days and were then disgorged naked and feeble by virtue of the Almighty’s will.

Had you not known how to swim, you would have stayed in the whale’s belly until kingdom come. God planted a pumpkin vine next to you to cast a shadow over your head. You lay on the ground and ate pumpkins. Owing to the fact that you believed in Him, God saved you from drowning in melancholy. Afterward, you returned to your kith and kin, only to find that everyone had already embraced God.

The moral of the story: Accept God into your life of your own accord and join the congregation. Although God may tax all your patience, obey his commands and he’ll spare you the ordeal Jonah went through in the whale’s belly. Sign up with the flock of the nearest and dearest who have found the Creator, and you’ll be sure not to wind up dead. Know that those who cherish pious hope and wait with resolve for what may be hesitant to arrive will see their love and fear of God rewarded in due time.

I subside into silence, no complaints there. I let go of my last breath and watch it curl effortlessly into outer space—God’s realm. It swims with the whales along the bottom of the sea and flies with the birds wading through the clouds until it reaches Paradise, where it drops the seed destined to sprout another jewel of a human being sentenced to die sooner or later.


Written by Yousria Salama.

Choose your own adventure

If we were to revamp the sacred scriptures nowadays,

a) how metaphoric they would wind up!

b) how much would we need to preserve from the original versions for the ensuing stories to turn out credible?