Ramadan Day 13 – The Time of Surrender

“Love, do not ask for my old love again.”

– from Muhjse Pehli Si Mohabbat by Faiz.  These words from Faiz were shared with me by Saimo O’Husain.


Other than walking to the train stop from my apartment to Union Square today, I did not spend much time outside.

I missed the sun, but I found I was needed inside.

In this way, I surrendered.


It is in the darkness and it is in the daylight that the children of Palestine scream from their burning. In this country, the waiting line is long, for we have killed Muslims.


Dear Faster,

I would like to show my love for you in this way:

When you are unhappy, I simply cast my own eyes toward my own shoulder,

In this downward sweep,

I observed your sadness, and in this manner, I surrendered.




The time of surrender is almost upon those of us who are fasting. I’m describing the condition where the penitent, where the faster, begins to weaken. This year’s fast, comprised of the longest days of the cycle, is a hardship upon the body. The exhaustion is terrifying, waking up, eating, drinking, praying – all before Fajr, all before 3:50 AM at the start of Ramadan. By 8:30 PM, the weakness is the body.  The faster embraces their hunger.

The faster may cross the threshold.

Nearing the mid-point is especially difficult for those who have already broken their fast because of their menstrual cycle.  A disruption of the rhythm of fasting is like being startled awake in one’s sleep then being told that they must somehow turn toward their dream.


Excerpted from “Climb Up and Over” by Elmaz Abinader (see her blog post And So I Cry)


I run my finger along each symbol, each road designation, each color, each touchstone

How do you mark a barrier? Make it part of a landscape? What is the symbol of restraint?

What is the color of confinement, disruption, loss and separation? Of sorrow? How do you

hold that pen, diagram the atlas, sketch the captivity? Do not draw the wall

of the Great March to liberation, just mark a slow death to the earth that inhabits

it and the people who make it home.


I scrambled to grab a pen before the filament of my dream fell away. No pen hit the floor. Did I imagine that I wrote this?

The floor is bare. Broken puzzle pieces are scattered everywhere. I must examine this piece with its odd shape. Please do not let it be parts.

I have forgotten who I used to be. The ocean’s call is not unlike the window after the windowsill. I am only a bird looking out. That tiniest peck, no scratched glass, is my complaint. I cannot survive this, I think. Lightning strikes the tree outside where once I built a nest. It falls.

When playing tug of war with anger, it is best to simply let go and watch anger continue to pull. The drums are an approximation of my heartbeat.

I have read that the greatest compassion is to forgive oneself for our inability.


In the field dotted by clover where the sweet grass grows up in blades, I laid myself down. I was not alone for long. In the distance came a semblance of my body, but it was a mere container, upon a palanquin. Sealed inside were my ill will and hatred, my rage and consumption. All four of the bearers were my ghosts. They cried red tears in unison.

Why? I asked. Why carry me off?

They were mute and staunch.

I stopped my questions and laid back, in wonder.

It seemed days and days of such suffering.

I could not stand, could not shake my fist in outrage. The return is supposed to be sweet, is it not?



Patina: A Triptych

24-hour service, a woman.

Tonight, the sky is read 
as woman. It is 3 AM. The sun has not 
befriended the sky in hours. Regrettably, 
a red stain (name it: blood, menstruation, the failure
of sperm to saturate egg, said again:
the failure of woman to invite man into her body, to penetrate 
one        solitary        lonely         fretful        egg: yes,
blood) has summoned a woman from the heat 
of a tongue she could sink her body in. 
It is 3:00 in the morning. 
The blood that swelters her stomach is not 
(like) the sky swelling night.

Three teenagers, 24-hour service.

Teenagers sit on a sidewalk, clothed 
in smoke and asphalt. It is too 
early to ponder desperation, 
the veins of place. Loneliness,

here, is a placemat 
for boredom, a bloat of violence, not
(unlike) the moon pressuring the sky.
Their eyes, unnamed stars or 
icepicks. It is three a.m.

A cigarette’s ash falls, unprovoked,
into the night’s sky. There 
is no wind to lift
and float the ashes, no 
brushstroke will transcend
cancer into the relentless 
beauty of dust.

No. It is three a.m. The sky is red as 
red. Three teenagers, dressed in silvers 
and blacks, sneers and cigarette 
ash, fold into a sidewalk.

24-hour service, woman prowled.

Teenagers, sticky as asphalt, salty 
as smoke, follow her, dogs (im)pulsing
from heretic blood. They tread their tar,
leave it sticking, as evidence, 
on boxes, metal shelves, a wrench.

She heads to hardware, selects a weapon. 
She feels weathered, races from aisle to aisle, 
forgets how she arrived in these betweens. 
Has she provoked these teenagers 
or they her? The difference

between daybreak and 3 AM 
can kill her. She walks the outline 
of her body through the aisles, grabs 
white sheets, hanging name tags, a stopwatch. 
The woman is a woman, and the boys,
boys. What will happen to her 
in Greensburg will ruin her chances 
of love, will violate her skin, paint her 
body the swollen white lie of sky.

– From Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts, Spring 2009, Vol. 8 No. 1 


I am grateful that Allah cries for me.

My child, she says, you fast.

Those who fast must not ask to be spared.

In fasting I surrender to the truth of my existence: my flaw, my stubborn nature, my complicity. The other day, I forgot how that my mother loves me, and I raised my voice to her.

When I am fasting, I hold a peaceful countenance because I am too weak to hold anything else. Those who look at me have remarked upon my kindness, but I am too tired to show my terrible will. I was not too tired to yell at my mother.

Imagine that the tree has eyes and looks upon the bird behind the window.

Imagine a hug given by a Friend.  The Don is with me and I with him.  So it is with us who fast for Allah.

What are you doing over there? I ask.

Those who fast are not spared.


Have you ever tried writing while fasting during Ramadan? It actually takes more energy to block the words and to attempt perfection. I conserve energy by allowing the words to come out. This too is a surrendering.

In the morning, awakened, my stories are fully formed. I am awed.

For I was present during my own birth, but I did not notice myself until I stood in front of me. My shape was new.

It was, James Baldwin said, as if we had grown up.




Do not look for me.

I am here.

In the fast.


Muhjse Pehli Si Mohabbat by Faiz Recited by Zohra Segal

*gifted and remembered — through the correspondence of my thoughtful dear Saimo O’Husain.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: