I met my first Hand of Fatima, or Hamsa as it is also called, 14 years ago when I was shopping at a lingerie store in the somewhat disreputable red-light-district of Amsterdam (accompanied by my toddler son, another thing he will tell his psychologist one day…) I asked the girl at the counter if I could buy it. “It protects our store” she said, explaining thus why she could not part with it.
In the wake of a terrorist attack at Heathrow airport, I had thrown away our UK stopover return tickets to Canada and rerouted us at a hefty price tag through Amsterdam. So, needless to say, I was all with her about the need for protection. Our rerouting meant that we had to spend a night. The following morning, we discovered a jewellery shop across the way in a stone building dated 15-hundred-and-something. The bearded fellow that worked there answered that yes, of course he had a hand for me. (This was long before the Hand of Fatima was sold at every bead-peddling store west of the Rockies) My Hand of Fatima have protected me for many a journey since. I have lost it and found it a dozen times, once with a whole film crew searching a mile-long studio to find it.
Walking through the narrow lanes of the old Jewish and Arab quarters of Cordoba in May, my husband and I came upon a man who practiced the old art of Spanish leather embossing. He had a lovely leather Hamsa key chain and we decided to get it for our next home. 6 months have passed and my own keychain have gotten lighter and lighter. First went the car key, then the key to the office, next my bike key, and finally, the last frontier, our house key.
I cannot recall when I last had an empty key chain. I mean truly, not a key to my name. My Hand of Fatima is still with me as we fly towards the Atlantic, and our new key chain is ready to be filled with new keys and new adventures.