The Relic of Bir Hooker: The Discovery

(English version is generated by machine translation)

The Relic of Bir Hooker: The Discovery
Travelogue by Gregor Spörri (shortened version)

How Gregor Spörri met Nagib in Bir Hooker, and what he learned from the old grave robber, read in the prologue of his mystery thriller LOST GOD: Day of Judgment

 

The clay-plastered walls in Nagib’s Farmhouse shimmered in pale blue. Curtains instead of doors separated the rooms from each other. Nagib led me into a chamber and let me sit on the filthy sofa.
The old Arab crowed a keychain under his man’s dress, bent over an old chest and opened it. I stretched my neck, but Nagib’s back blocked my view. As he turned around, he held an elongated bundle wrapped in brown leather in his hands. He put it next to me on the sofa and loosened the lacing. Under the leather came a piece of linen. Carefully, he folded the dirty white fabric apart.
With a mixture of curiosity and astonishment, I looked at the musty-smelling object. It had the shape of a gag, was about 30 to 40 centimetres long, six to eight centimetres thick, flattened on the top and buckled twice in length. At the thicker end, a piece of bone protruded from the object. What is that?, I wondered. A chopped goat’s leg? Does the old man want to alienate me? I took a closer look. The hairless, partly mould-infested brownish skin had burst in some places. The fibrous tissue underneath made it look like mice were gnawatating at it. Eventually, I lifted up the creepy thing. It weighed a few hundred grams. I turned it around and froze at the same moment. An ice-cold shower ran over my back. That’s absolutely impossible!, it shot through my head. What I hold in my hands cannot exist at all! I forced myself to get away from it, and looked up to Nagib. He stood over me with his face unmoved. For a moment, we stared at each other. His black pupils reflected the knowledge of an outrageous secret from a bygone era. Again, I gimbed on the thing. Is it really what it looks like? The chopped-off finger of a human-like monster, as they appear in ancient myths, legends and the Bible?

I didn’t want to and couldn’t believe it, so I studied the finger more closely. Nagib noticed my distrust, reached into the chest again, carried a leather folder to the light and handed it over to me. In the folder were an old magnifying glass and an envelope with a yellowed document. A rusty paper clip fixed a kind of checklist to tick off, a hand-cut X-ray and a faded Polaroid photo of the finger. Nagib told me that he had inherited the relic from his father, who in turn had received it from his father. Where the finger originally came from, the old man could not or would not tell me. However, as to the existence of the X-ray, he explained that his deceased son had the relic examined by a friend of Klink’s doctor a long time ago.

My father was a style furniture carpenter by profession. As a boy, I was often in his workshop and knew a wide variety of materials. I knew what the different types of wood and leather, fabrics, plastic, etc. felt. So I looked at the finger very closely. The magnifying glass was a great help to me. However, I could not find anything that indicated a forgery. After about an hour Nagib told me that my visit time was over. In order to be able to photograph the relic, I had to have a generous Bakschisch jump. Unfortunately, the film in my camera was already half full. To document the enormous size of the finger, I added an Egyptian 20-pound note. At my request, Nagib also took a picture of me with his finger. He then accompanied me outside, where the taxi driver was already waiting impatiently. I asked the old man if he wanted to sell me the finger, but he vigorously refused.

During the drive from Bir Hooker back to Cairo, I thought hard. Had I missed something? The old man, he said, traded in stolen antiques. Why not also with counterfeits? With imitated figures, vessels, furniture and other objects from the Pharaoh era, a lot of money could certainly be made, but with something like that? Also: A forgery of this quality, with documents and an X-ray, was certainly not cheap. And then Nagib didn’t even want to sell me the thing. The longer I thought about everything, the safer I was: the relic of Bir Hooker is not a fake!

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