fajr is quiet like dusk. a peaceful pause between one time and the other. she rose to say her namaz, the muslim prayer at that quiet time when dawn is about to tear the skies aside and begin the wondrous rapture.
turning the water faucet she heard the call for prayer, “hayya allalflah ” come to flah. she wondered if god was calling man to flah or warning him. flah means a lot of things but here it is taken in its stringent meaning of betterment. linguistics is not an easy terrain to venture into; holding in it the possibility of both misunderstanding and being misunderstood. perhaps god and man never did understand each other even when he sent scriptures and signs. language failed both the communicator and the communicated.
she let the water cleanse her arms and let the droplets fall one after the other from the tip of her elbows. she was aware of her elbow and she touched it plainly and remembered how it was never a plain old elbow for him. it was the elbow like the rest of her body. he would trace his finger along her arm and turn at the elbow as if taking a leisurely drive in the lost mountains of hunza where the very prospect of being lost would entail being found; “goddess, he chiseled you with me in mind, for i was waiting to worship you.”
she finished the wazu and said her namaaz. she went around the house to open the curtains and chicks to allow dawn to enter; illuminating the shadows as they receded into crevices and corners of walls to wait till the nights allowances. she preferred dark to light , sadness to laughter, sorrow to joy solitude to company in their authenticity, for all of these were more precious than their opposites in terms of relationships. that the choice one has to make at some point in life. like which coffee will you take? light or dark. would you like printed or plain? hot or cold? will that be one or two ice-creams? life or death? the choice is the only choice in the end.
she checked all the messages on her phone. all urgent and all unimportant. all needed her presence and she could not be theirs. not now. not today. not ever. she put the phone aside and walked to the end of the kitchen where the laundry lay stacked in a pile of resignation. other than that the kitchen was immaculate. she had finished cooking for two weeks and made separate containers for the children, putting their name tags neatly so they knew what was inside was what they liked, na. she went through the list of her to-dos to make sure there were no signs of lacking for at least a fortnight. in her mind that would be the time it would take for them to settle down the children and to notify the father so he could take on the responsibility of his children.
in her mind this was the only choice she had. he would have to care for them. love they could find elsewhere after she had left but care he could. care didn’t take so much out a person as love did. caring would just take money and good supervision. it was love that drained one of all reserves and took from the soul what praying did. it could not be done without absolute devotion. how could one half love or love a quarter of a mile and then run off.
so a lifetime of love and a few years of being loved, she thought her 50th birthday was a good time to end a chapter and begin a new one. pondering on it for a long while now she had taken the cue of recent and decided she wanted to live with love. she was a parched land that awaited satiation. giving of herself she had forgotten how to take till he made her a goddess. she started looking at herself in the mirror and realized she may not be beautiful as he said but she had good strong features. chiseled cheekbones and a long nose she had a face that demanded attention if not astute attention. beauty in this part of the world was a plastic perfection which she lacked but heads turned sometimes when she walked in a crowd or walked into a crowd.
yes, the time was ripe now, to taste love in its purity. she slipped into her comfortable shoes and peeped outside. he had said he was two minutes away when she had called. love had taught her to not depend on the worth of a word but the reality of its deliverance. “im here, dee, i will always be here.” words mere or more?
she saw the car rolling towards her gate. she picked her bags and looked at the house one last time. everything was in perfect order. as she had envisaged in her absence.
closing the door behind her she didn’t look back. she latched the gate and slipped into the cool seat of the car. it smelled of someone’s cheap perfume but it didn’t matter. strangers were strangers and there was no point in spending her sense of worth on that. that went for the driver too. careem or uber … it’s always just a matter of choice in the end.
Dee is from Lahore, Pakistan. Loves dark nights and old trees.