Trial by Salt

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Those hot July days refuse to be forgotten
All those summers spent in Morocco seared in my head with the desert’s heat
How they froze time in a sandstorm, sent problems somewhere distant
I would love to say I was too young but I wasn’t
If I remember any of it I’m guilty
I remember riding down the bustling Marrakech streets on Ammu’s (Uncle’s) motorcycle,
So small that just a falter would probably fly me off the vehicle, but I still smiled.
I remember those nights we slept on the roof of grandma’s house,
Cold of the dark fought away by the land which tucked us in it’s blanket sky
I remember how every nook and cranny brimmed with people on their way to the Eid prayer,
how I held my family’s hands like limbs to a body
Age is but an excuse for delusion
Because even as children we understand death;
A loved one ripped off mortal grounds with a tangle of loose ends shambolic.
I was on my way back from school when I found out my grandfather had passed
No one needed to say anything, my mother’s knuckles on the steering wheel
went from white to clear on their own
The rearview mirror reflection turned her transparent
Her semblance of stoicism melting off her in waxy droplets
And I watched
Kept on staring, waiting for my tears to hear their cue but they never came.
I remember wanting to cry and cry and cry:
I was sad, but I just didn’t cry, I didn’t cry because I couldn’t cry,
I wanted nothing more than to cry
To prove to everyone that I wasn’t some heartless monster,
To prove my treason annulled, that I cared despite not knowing him,
Even with the cold steel towering language barrier that lined the seams of my tongue,
Unzipping its two halves split between continents,
Ships sinking in the oceans of translation between us, making bonding seem impossible.
But now I’ll never know what might have been possible
Back then I was too caught up chasing the bald eagle as it flew away
My attention riddled with western spells fallen from the ever great star spangled sky
Shame always comes with thought
But every time I try to push contemplation out it floods back in
How much time I spent complaining about the stiff beds and one bar of wifi
Sitting in the guest room counting the days until we returned home
Escaping from the moments, just pennies because
next year I would return and nothing would have changed.
If you ever somehow read this grandpa, I want you to know that I did
care no matter what I told myself
As I leaned over your headstone I finally cried
It wasn’t enough to wash away all the red still left on my leisure, but it’s okay
‘Cause when I pressed my lips to the brittle soiI
I know you heard my vows to amend the wrong
To let you know your grandchild and me my grandfather one day,
when we’re both together again
When my mother goes outside to water the plants she’s always silent
She takes the watering can from me and looks at her plants wordless
Parting the dirt, planting the seed, watching as it grows
But I know we’re both thinking the same thing
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raj’iun
Indeed we belong to Allah and to him we will return

Abrar Khan is a 16 year old half Pakistani half Moroccan aspiring writer from Cedar Grove, NJ. He hopes to work with MYM in their efforts to highlight Muslim narratives, and in his free time, loves to go biking and snuggling with his cat.

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