115. The Golden Thread

EVER SINCE SHE HURT her leg in a scooter accident, K has been unable to pray. Unable to prostrate herself five times a day. At first she was grateful for the interruption, but no longer. She can’t wait to be able to pray again. When she used to see people crying at the masjid, she used to disapprove. Now she understands. It is a happiness of a kind to cry at the masjid. When she hears the muezzin’s salat, she feels a great longing. It is as if its movements, its very shapes – floating like a golden thread through the air – are sung with her in mind. Whenever she has such thoughts she scolds herself, but she cannot shake them. The muezzin’s voice is very high. She wonders if he has been influenced by Michael Jackson. She has convinced herself that he is singing for someone - maybe her, maybe someone else - and the uncertainty tortures her. If it is for someone else, her name is F, and she is more beautiful than K. And kinder, probably. And she doesn’t walk with crutches. K listens closely to the adhan. Is it a song of desire or a song of satiety? Is he singing for her, from atop the minaret, or is the voice intended for the other? She’s dying to know, but her parents are keeping her in strict quarantine. She tries to banish the thought of the muezzin, but each time she does it returns to torment her like a gnat. Thus K has two reasons for wanting to be able to return to the masjid, two kinds of longing: the one a joy and the other a torment. The torment stands in the way of the joy, and she cannot pass around it. But in the meantime, she needs to pray. She would like to be able to change masjid, to go to another masjid, where she knows no one and no one knows her, but her parents will not let her out unaccompanied. So she bides her time at home. One day she will have to return to the masjid, she knows that. But she can’t go just yet, not just yet. She wants to put it off just a little bit longer.