Room Magazine - - EDITOR’S LETTER -

Tues­day and I was at the mar­ket with my mother and dress shop­ping for my cousin’s wed­ding, my cousin with the black hair down to her hips and silk and satin and tulle and a warm breeze and the slap­ping of san­dals against pave­ment, our neigh­bour run­ning to­ward us.

I was eleven when our fa­ther be­gan teach­ing us how to pray, Hamza was six. The mat I used was this vel­vet, deep red, and when our bod­ies curved in pros­tra­tion I pressed my hands hard into it and held my head just above the stone, slight touch. Our fa­ther stood in front and I would look at Hamza to see if he was look­ing at me, but his eyes were al­ways closed, his full lips silently mov­ing and our fa­ther’s slow, long Ara­bic slip­ping out of them. When we learned to pray alone, it be­came all Hamza ever did.

Im­por­tant life events in­duce a sort of split­ting. This is plainly ob­vi­ous. Hamza was born, my life split in half: be­fore Hamza and af­ter Hamza. I grad­u­ated high school: be­fore grad­u­a­tion and af­ter grad­u­a­tion. Our par­ents di­vorced: be­fore di­vorce and af­ter di­vorce. Fur­ther and fur­ther, more halves that col­lec­tively be­come tiny frac­tions. And then some­thing like a fire.

To light: as if it were some awak­en­ing or rev­e­la­tion.

1983 be­came the point at which all rel­a­tive pasts and fu­tures re­volve around. The sort of rev­o­lu­tion that is metaphor­i­cal and not phys­i­cal. As in, there is no move­ment. As in, I came home to the im­age of smoke ris­ing from my back­yard. Do you see me there? Do you see it how I saw it? Two palm trees flank­ing our small, sin­gle-storey house which we owned for six­teen years, the light blue door, the light blue sky, and the grey, the grey, the grey of the smoke frozen as I stared. My brother had turned him­self into a mem­ory.

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