Thursday, July 22, 2010

Daniyal Mueenuddin | In Other Rooms, Other Wonders | 2009

Dear Saleema,

Do you remember the first time Rafik spoke to you? He was in the shower on the other side of the wooden door of the stall where you were crying. The other men had treated you badly. Ask her what she hasn't done to me. And then you noticed the three bars of light above your head that filled you with hope.

My dog was restless last night, ears pricked when a bird called, when the leaves rustled beneath the dogwood tree, and I began to think about the way it was for me. Always the same. So little time. Always the leaving too soon.

At 10 past six, the same kind of light that gave you hope appeared like bars on the wall of my room. By 6:30 it shimmered like electricity, like water flickering in the paint farther to the right.

When you asked Rafik to tell you that he loved you once, I listened, hoping to understand, the way you must have when he said to you, "I did. I do. I loved you more." What does that mean, I loved you more? What could that possibly mean?

I want to tell you that the man I love is lying next to me. But he isn't. The man I love is neither here nor there. Do you know what he said to me? He said, I could never make you happy because I'll always turn out different from what you want me to be.

I am sorry, Saleema, that you turned to rocket pills and heroin. I am sorry. And I'm sorry for your boy. I think of him always when the sparrows clatter in the bamboo at the back of my fence. Their eyes so alert, their beaks and claws so busy.

Love always,