Ghazal as a Translated Conversation Between Two Women at the Side of the Kasbah, by Munira Tabassum Ahmed
Ghazal as a Translated Conversation Between Two Women at the Side of the Kasbah
(“As-salamu alaykum, sister.”
“Wa alaykum as-salam.”)
They both walk along the outer wall of the citadel, resting on the side,
Streets blue-heavy / mirror sky / sun rose in the east this morning, now shining on the north side.
One woman has blue shoes to match. She looks at the other: “How are you in this soft midday?”
“Alhamdulillah, and you?” “Alhamdulillah. My niece was born yesterday, in the countryside.”
“Mashallah, sister’s daughter?” She nods. “Will you be visiting her?” “Soon. There is still much
to do here. Sister has asked me to give her daughter a name, and pluck it from the coastside
where our mother found hers.” “Has she given you any options?” “Three handfuls; each one
not enough for her daughter but too perfect to let fall away. It is too much to decide.”
“My mother did not name me after I was born. You only name the daughter if you want to see her
again. But I knew she had something to call me by, while the world turned nightside.
That girl is dead now. She could’ve been called Rabia or Jasma, and maybe she would’ve loved
the springtime a little more, but it doesn’t matter. My mother only whispered it to her bedside.”
The two women look down and let the sun move further west / still above them for a while longer /
silent / setting. “But what is your name, sister?” “Iqra. Iqra Syed.”
“Cleaved from the spine of a book.” Iqra smiles. The woman with the blue shoes looks up at her as
they enter the kasbah / mirror sky / mirror smile / the land is less steep on this hillside.
In time, they will find new words to call each other by.
For now, Iqra’s name will be plucked / placed on the newborn’s bedside.
Munira Tabassum Ahmed
Munira Tabassum Ahmed is a 15 year old Bangladeshi-Australian writer and creative. Her work has been recognized by the Australian Poetry Slam, Sydney Writers' Festival, Express Media, UN Youth, AELA and Australia Remade. She has received national honours and international publication for her poetry, which is published or forthcoming in Voiceworks, The Lifted Brow, the Sonora Review and elsewhere.
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