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Mosques and Bad Listeners

There is indistinct chatter & the sound of a white noise machine signaling I am steps away from the light. This mosque reminds me of blue roses & the Pont des Arts. Beautiful, symbolic, geographically stable. But modified. The overwhelming smell of oud stops me as I walk into the office.


It's my third time coming here. I tell him about you like you are a portrait I never got to complete & say, “I don’t know if I will ever be able to love someone else this much.” His expressionless face tells me he is either disinterested or mentally absent.


My tongue traces the syllables in your name like a wish never granted. I draw blueprints to sprain the ankles of time & distance before they stretch us any further apart. But I'm bad at art and you are gone.


So I tie the memories to the back of my throat in case anyone asks.


“He's a good person,” I am prepared to say. But nobody asks anymore.


“You’ve got to re-evaluate how you want to live your life, Nur," the sheikh chirps, "You’ve got to be honest with yourself. You don’t get to keep one foot in Islam & the other in the street.”


My eyes are flooded for the first time on the last Jumm’ah, hearing your name recited in a Qur’anic verse across the Minbar & I feel better knowing that at least you & I are stable somewhere. Maybe in a parallel universe we would’ve been stable.

But the Quran suffices to carry both our names

& it will remain as such for longer than our lives will stretch.


I am tempted to tell you that I can make tomato soup now. I am tempted to tell you about the man who passed by me on the street last week & smelled like you & how my heart physically hurt.


I am tempted to tell you that I never visited that Sheikh again, not because I didn’t want to, but because people got tired of hearing about you.


And I got tired of unsolicited judgement.



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