Legends
Narrative

Djinn Attacking a Boat

Item (direct transcription):

So my mom tells me that, uhh, my grandma once told her of a story of something she saw when she was coming back from visiting her parents in their hometown. And this was before the Independence War in Bangladesh, so most of the traveling was done by boat, because Bangladesh used to have lots of water, lots of waterways, and traveling by boat was actually faster than actually going by land.

So, anyway, my grandma was coming back from her hometown, and she was on a boat. And it was, like, around midnight, right? So, dark everywhere and she’s on this boat with some other people who are also traveling. And they’re going along slowly. So then they see this, like, light up ahead. It’s coming towards them. And suddenly it defines itself into, like, a saucer shape. The way my mom said my grandmother described it was that it was like an upside-down pan. You know, something you cook with. Just upside-down. And under it was just fire, just fire coming out.

And, umm, apparently it attacked their boat! And… and like it circled around the boat, and made like waves, like, come up toward the boat, and, like, rock the boat quite a bit. And after, like, harassing them, like, a bit, it, like, flew up into the air, and, like, came down at them as if it was going to crash into the boat and, like, kill everyone. But then it just swerved away at the last second. It did that a couple times, and then it just flew away.

Background Information:

The informant was told the story by his mom, whom was told it by her mom, the informant’s grandmother.

The informant’s grandmother and her fellow passengers believed that they were attacked by a djinn. The informant elaborates that Islamic literature describes djinn as creatures of fire that can fly and assume any form. The informant says that Muslims are more likely to attribute strange occurrences to djinn than to aliens. He believes that what Americans think of as aliens, Muslims think of as djinn. Also, he says the that djinn are believed to come from a separate planet, so they are really quite similar to a modern American belief in aliens.

The informant himself wouldn’t hazard a guess as to what his grandmother saw, though he insisted he believed that the incident did actually happen.

Contextual Information:

The telling of this particular story seems to be mostly constrained to the informant’s family. The informant had not told it to anyone outside his family before, and only thought to tell it to me when I asked about stories of supernatural encounters than he knew of.

Analysis:

This story matches the format of a typical memorate. The informant even seems aware of this, realizing that his grandmother only thought her experience was caused by a djinn because that was a dominant folk belief in her culture.

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