After Momtaza Mehri ‘Glory To Be To The Gang Gang Gang’
If everyone’s voice is abdul basit’s and we whisper to ourselves abdul basit. Abdul basit, the people in the nile, bucking against me, abdul basit, I want to help Sudan, and father says no, like a watermelon eater, guards all his seeds. Swallows them painfully. Abdul basit’s voice bucks through the mp3 in mosque we let them take our fingers and download quran into our long nails. We called Satan with our hands circling the air dialed his phone like 6-6-6-are you there. I was never at home here, maybe there was a reason our parents hoarded our blackness, held us tightly, held us slightly alive. I want the sickening slap of the wood on my hand when I missed an ayat, abdul basit glory be to the one voice every mosque remembers, I mean almost in its mortar sometimes wearing only mashallah and jilbaab
I soar through the mosque as in god may touch me but he’ll never hold me, glory be to me, glory be to the gang within the gang, black boys mouths, open to the moon, like pink moons of drink, in their bloodiness, I mean I never drank vimto like I drank you, breaking you open at iftar you were special in a way I did not understand. Glory be to the gang of pipe fillers tobacco guarding the mosque doors, uncles crowding around my air force ones popping water open I mean gathering of mecca of dust on my forehead as I prostrate for taraweeh I walk through the mosque with minshawi and mashallah but
I don’t even pray to god like that all this hijaab slinging is an endless contest of who can win the heart of God. Coincidentally I won the prize that year won a jilbaab cut out of the night and was blessed with invisibility, visited the men’s bathrooms, went to the pub across the road that had stolen some of my fathers cerebral fluid a decade ago. I still carry the smile of glass that cut him, no one saw me at all. I just covered my face with my jilbaab, and I disappeared. Me and potter knew survival over friendship forever over likeability. They also gave me in front of a scar of carpets, a cassette abdul-basit, this one hand-brought, not ripped off the internet like the mp3s and I thought damn, we really in this for life.
Illustration by Mosab Zkaria