by Prachi Bhandutia, University of Hartford
–a cymose cluster of jasmine petals sewn with hand-picked, subtly roasted saffron threads. your niqāb has learned to pose as the velvety epidermis of your skin. your skin, soaked in a bath—filled with lavender scented water. suspended rose petals stick to your misty skin and stay—like a scar from a long forgotten wound. you too, are still. your eyes closed. hoping. your skin evanesces. like. the lavender oils. you have been still for years. nothing has changed. the color of your skin keeps getting darker. your lips too are tired. hot air vacates your lungs as you cantillate the verses of the holy Quran. your life is the salāh. it keeps repeating. like. the accented vowels of your mother tongue. you place your lips against the cool marble floor of the masjid. waking closed eyelids by tracing them with your fingertips. you haven’t been here in a while now. you ask for forgiveness. you have been fasting to exonerate. but that doesn’t help. nothing does. the guilt of abandoning your motherland stays. so you take sip from the steaming cup of assamese tea. the petals of your niqāb fall down to savour it. your fingertips end up smudging the blood-red saffron as you pick them after. you need a new niqāb.
you start sewing.