My mother talks about ‘haalat’, in our little kitchen, water boiling , raw meat on the counter. They’re taking away our nafs, our souls, our generation of sleepy children slowly , she says. ‘Do your prayers’ she quickly reminds me, say the words sent down from the sky for your protection. The mosques, the churches , the temples, the paintings on the roof, the rug on the altar, the light on the porch, they’re not for you, I know your angry heart and how your throat feels heavy but please turn your face away, please, for mama. Our cities will burn with lives still in them, your sorrow will be your lover for months, it will sit next to you and burst into tears. I’m sorry you have so much pain, how long nights may seem when you’re grieving. I’m sorry for you because you’ll be disappointed, longing for a man that will keep you where he keeps himself. The ‘haalat’ she says, the unfortunate brokenness of our human condition is inescapable. But keep your sanity close she says, your moments of femininity, your minutes before the dawn, on a prayer mat, your quiet ,when the first of sun rays reminds you of your gentle, your womanhood, keep it close. Do not abandon your purpose, the strength of your kindness, the length of your patience. Your sweaty palms, swollen feet, tired limb, silence so deafening ,your heart changing its beat to match the life between your legs , your children, keep them close. Be a good wife, but a better mother and the best of leaders. The religion you grew to believe is the religion that has paradise under your feet, so keep your faith. She says, sacrifice for your children, the men in your life, for the nation you love and may the white cloth on your body be the flag of peace that puts this war to an end.
– My Mother’s Lesson On Surviving by Thamanna Razak