By Ahlam A.
i thought about my family. i thought about the complexities of my fucked up identity. i thought about my queerness. my somaali-ness. my relationship with allah. i thought about jamila. i grab my headphones from the depths of my backpack. i try my best to hold back tears. but i cried a cry that i could feel throughout my spine.
the train halted at its final stop. i grabbed my belongings and rushed down the aisle towards the exit door. the air was cold and breezy. i remember the conversation i had with aabo last week over the phone. i could hear in his voice that he’s aging and that he’s heartbroken. i don’t speak much. i haven’t told him about jamila. we never speak about marriage and we never speak about hooyo. after a long pause he says, “i haven’t seen you in so long, when will you come see me?” i remember the smell of his ‘attar, his hearty laugh, and sad eyes. “soon aabo, i promise, soon.” we hung up the phone with silence lingering on both ends.
i came home to the smell of warm caanjeero and lianne la havas plays lightly throughout our shabby apartment we called home. i slip off my shoes and toss my hijab over the couch. i make my way towards the kitchen. i kiss her temples and grab her waist. she laughs. i hold her tighter. through her skin i can smell jannah and home. jamila loves me. every night after we recite our duas together, she whispers to me, “macaanto, don’t forget i love you.”
“hey love, come home soon. i need to know you’re alright.” jamila sends me a text. and i rush to the nearest taxi. my palms start to sweat. i run up the seven flights of stairs with my heart sitting in my throat. i struggle finding the house key to open the door. i yell for her name. last week jamila told me she wanted to tell her family about us. about our love. she sits with her phone in her hand shaking. “i was going to wait and ask you first, but i didn’t want you to stop me.” i wasn’t mad. i was looking at her deep brown eyes. and then her soft lips. “jamila, what did they say?” she looks at me with earnest eyes with grief painted on her face. “hooyo told me she is sending curses upon us.. abdirizaq told me to fuck off and to never claim somaali again. ruwaydah says she will never claim a dyke as her family.” she paused. she hadn’t mentioned her ayeeyo. “and ayeeyo says she’ll pray that allah shows us mercy and that he’ll find a spot for us in jannah.” she fell to the ground yanking her hair and screamed.
last night i found jamila huddled in the corner of the shower. her hair matted against her face. water was running with red streams. i grab her hands furiously. she told me she stopped. i ran to grab the first aid kit inside the kitchen cupboards. i shut the water off and wrapped her in a soft yellow towel. i gently wrap her arms with an ace bandage and apply pressure. i kiss both her arms and pick her up to the bed. i grabbed her favorite baati, the one i brought with me from my visit with my auntie, and dressed her. she’s unresponsive. i walk towards the stereo and turn surah al-baqarah on. it plays softly throughout the house. “i’m sorry,” she manages to say through her quivering lips. i lay her down and tuck her into bed. i shut the blinds and dim the lights. she gestures for me to lay by her. i grab my gold and black quran and place her head into my lap. i read to her until she drifts off to sleep. i turn the lamp off and say my duas for the both of us. before drifting off to sleep, i whisper, “i love you macaanto. may allah sustain us both.”
jamila left yesterday to do umrah. something has changed with her. i lay in bed naked smoking a cigarette i bummed off a man at the train stop. i haven’t prayed in 3 weeks.
we made love three times that night. until our sweat was the only thing familiar between us.
photo credit: http://atlin.cc/