My fascination with beads began when I was five years old. My dad
brought me an abacus to calculate my sums at school, but my
enchantment with numbers went beyond the mathematical. It became
associated with colorful globes with pivotal holes, rows of planets
whose interactions produced pleasant sounds like that of glass, with a
rapidity of motion that slides as in our playgrounds. As I grew older,
the sight of a string of beads in my grandmother’s hand gave those
orbs a mystic dimension, for they slowed their pace between her opal
fingers as she mumbled her daily invocations to God with a hushed
sound to express reverence. I thought my grandmother was making with
devotional beads her own prayer sums. Despite the slowing of their
motion and the subduing of their glass-like sound, they kept their
fascination in a child’s mind.
When I was in Australia hunting for a job, boarding myriads of
Melbourne’s trams, I always met the same old man, a very tall and
stout figure with snow-white hair and a silvery beard, covered all
over with fascinating rows of beads. He had them everywhere, round his
neck, his hands, and on his fingers. I called him the Beads Man. He
must have been a religious priest in some mystic cult. His eyes shone
with intelligence and gleamed as the beads with which he was heavily
adorned, his beaded armor.
I learnt lately that some people believe that beads ward off evil. In
some countries, babies have a blue bead attached to their clothes to
counter the pernicious effect of the wicked eye. I can understand that
the allure of a blue bead could distract the malicious eye, but can
beads defeat Satan with all his might. If they can, it must be the
power of prayers with which beads are endowed.
Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with
a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have
appeared in multiple venues including Down in the Dirt, Impspired
Magazine, Mad Swirl, A New Ulster, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Ink
Pantry, and the Pennsylvania Literary Journal.