My grandfathers fought bloody wars to establish a land of peace
Where the mountains kissed the earth and rested like giants over us
Where we could meet them from our rooftops, drinking chai, and eating sweets.
To the west, we prayed, and to the east, we remembered.
When I visited my grandparents’ house in Modelltown on E block,
I saw how little it was. My feet felt tender
Against the concrete as I walked in with bare feet.
Pictures hung on the wall
Showed Nani Ammi and Nana Aba
Married out of love, nine children in all
To stay in this land, only seven of them agreed
Now my uncle is in this house with his wife and his daughters
They moved some furniture around, added a rug, made a new space
Some things from the past have been erased, some have been altered
But the walls speak and my mother keeps looking at these pictures to retreat
On the floor, we gather to play ludo
Whose turn is it to roll the dice?
Now you die.
The maid cooks aloo pratha to eat.
Climb up to Mari at the very top
A civilization that lay the ruins of a palace
They look similar to the stones of the Kafirkots
The rulers and the ruled now lost
In a rickshaw we ride through the streets.
Our family’s favorite flower is the rose, and our favorite metal is gold
That’s what we cover our bodies in, in marriage,
And in death when we’re old
La’illa ha il Allah
On my janamaz, on my knees
I pray for my family
For being born in New Jersey
For being a woman of a high breed
For fathers of the Syed caste, descendants of the Messenger
Peace be upon him, for protection from the angels, for avoidance of the jinn
For the colors of the sands that match my skin
For the richness of my blood that cleanses sin
Green and white, crescent infinite
Pink and passion,
black and Heaven
under my mother’s feet
Photo courtesy of Google Images