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When the urchin street clown, Edy Osman performs his double act with his brahmin bull Edy Jawi he fields questions of religious faith from a paying audience, but Ayesha, a cultist religious charismatic calls on him to test his spiritual mettle, Out of his depth yet falling in love, he and his bull entrust to her guidance. But claims of divine congress with Archangel Gabriel cause Osman increasing consternation as he faces abrupt change and loss of his known world.
Divested of clothes and shrouded in a swarm of butterflies attesting to the miracle, Ayesha’s eloquent defense of her prophesies inspire a mass pilgrimage to the coast on foot to cross the floor of the Arabian Sea. Responses to the journey, whether from urbane nihilism, misguided piety or a jihad-inspired militia, all provide opportunities for the randai-esque battles of wits, of strength and even of divine power.
But despite fame and best intentions the insurmountable chasm of meaning results in loss of life, betrayal and separation. Alone, the wilderness affords an equally meaninglessness in acts of gratuitous violence. As the Prophetess fulfills her quest with its ambiguous outcome (Do they drown or not as the tide folds over their heads?) the Clown, now blind and estranged, returns a vicarious witness. Bereft of all but the goodwill at Onnay's cafe, he translates his loss of love and outward sight into a more profound discovery of self, becoming the teller, for a penny, of his own story and hers.