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.