Photo credit: Flickr / user: Rafiq HMZ

kafir daughter

Dawn reminds me of my father,

when I hear the morning birds

I think of him waking me

in the still-dark gently,

his voice softer and older

than I remember.

‘It’s time to pray, habooba,’

he says.


Like my visits home,

nights bookended in salah 

are always too short.

My eyes are heavy,

‘Ok, baba’ I say.

For these few days,

we are family again.


In the bathroom

I pretend to make wudu.

I turn on the faucet

and let it run

long enough

to be convincing.


We pray and we hug after we pray,

and in the midst of rituals,

I sometimes forget the years

haven’t been easy on us.


I used to fit in the palms of his hands.
‘Look,’ he says, ‘I held you like this!’


I remember saying goodbye to him,

at my new university, standing under a tree,

waving and crying as his old car drove away.

For the first time I suspected what I know by now:

there would be no going back. I am an unbeliever.


The Qu’ran says that Allah

has placed a cloak over my eyes

so that I cannot find the straight path again,

and he has sealed my heart,

so that I cannot have faith again.


But my blind eyes still see you, father.

And inside the heart Allah sealed shut,

I will always love you.