Ramadhan

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in madrasah they taught us Allah has one hundred names, asmaa’ al-husna
allah ar-rahman ar-rahim al-malik al-quddus

ramadhan: dadima keeps the TV on the Islamic channel
“khabees, idhar aao” calls me over to watch the du’a with her
10 minutes before iftar, she smells like adhrak and tulsi
the day-long sweat of kitchen-labor, masterchef of how to taste without eating
i squirm to sit still and watch the names of God, blue screen taunting hunger,
as-salaam al-mu’min al-muhaymin al-aziz al-jabbar

how many hands does it take to hold an impatient child?
papa places his on my head, gently ruffling coconut-oil hair,
at the end of the day when he is tired: this is how he says salaam alaykum
“mitthu, bhook lagee hai?” does not wait for an answer,
always said it is his job to pay attention to the hunger of his children
al-mutakabbir al-khaliq al-bari al-musawwir al-ghaffar

but the room echoes with the words we call each other, the
recycled, generational terms of endearment:
khabees, ulloo ki patthee; in my family, love is directly proportional
to the creativity of your insults, we inherit sharp tongues and banter
genetic gussa and zid, the logic that slaps are remembered more than kisses
al-qahhar al-wahhab al-razzaq al-fattah al-aleem

and yet most midnights i can hear dadima calling out our names on the musallah
when she thinks we are asleep, “ya allah, meri khandaan ki hifaazat kar le na.”

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Fatima Zehra is the Deputy Editor of Kajal Magazine. She owns too many red lipsticks. Bother her on Twitter @zebrazehra and Instagram @fatimazehral.

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