My neighbors are throwing sharp words at each other, piercing the wall that separates us. Very Manila, I tell myself. Sleep is becoming elusive the past days. The least I need are loud people crudely airing their dirty laundry at 1:30 in the morning while I prepare to do my Tahajjud. At this time at home in the province, everyone is halfway finished with individual supplications–no commotions in the neighborhood at all. After the prayer they would go eat the food that is already served in abundance. I glance at the table my househelp made.
Ya Allah, please bestow upon my parents a longer, healthier life. Please grant us a harmonious relationship within our family and relatives. Ameen ya Rabbul alameen.
Continue reading Amirah
Bismillah. I smoothen this cream liberally on my face covering every inch of skin, looking at the mirror for missed spots. I read the label on the product again and again. I wrangle with doubt. The cream is authentic. It is from Saudi; purely pharmaceutical. Unlike the intertwined reasons for my divorce. Katao. Maratabat. Hormonal imbalance. Our lack of blood relations. But I am still wearing my wedding band. As if I am still his wife and he will be at arm’s length at the slightest ruffle of my malong.
The walls at home box me in regret. I become a coward. I run somewhere else, slipping off convenience. I watch luxury slip away.
Continue reading Sakeenah
I start my day with Subhanallah and feel the last bead of my pasbih with Allahuakbar. They agreed to forego the dialaga. The wedding is set a month from today. Baba said the mahr is more than generous enough.
You could give your friends, apart from your cousins and other family of course, their adat. No worries about that, Sittie Mouhminah. How much would they want? Give me your guest list too. We are drafting the probable guests. Your Mama has started on some relatives from her side of the family. Compose yourself, atakolay. This one is way better than him. Bangsa, atakolay. Bangsa.
Continue reading In Thy Glory
Khadijah and I have become the wisps of the royalty that you have surrendered.
The mirages of the bai-a-labi in you are constricted inside our ancestral house. They occasionally find their way to your old room, probably lamenting the four-poster brass bed now coated with the dust of abandonment.
Do you remember the landap you have asked your distant cousin to weave for us? You said it would be better if we have the same color, but the design of course shall depend on whether we like ours to be intricately shaped or modestly lined.
Continue reading Salimot
His name was.
We met under the guise of longing—for salvation, for liberation. We talked about the crescent atop every roof of masjid one sees around. I commented on the bais who wear their hijab with such zeal that only their eyes are unveiled. Such niyat to cover their aurat—not all women willingly envelop themselves in symbolic black. He nodded his agreement while looking at me. I was, on that day, wearing my favorite white blouse and my red veil draped on my neck.
He was from the other side of the Lake.
Continue reading Sukran