By Jimmy Bangash
I stand within the kitchen gazing up to watch my mother
As she places back the huge black dustbin lid; having taken out a bowl of flour.
White snow upon winter lands captured in her hands.
She smiles down at me as I wait in anticipation.
Then she begins; as she kneads the dough; a low hum in an octave so angelic
telling tales of distant lands in languages I cannot speak
And I smile.
And I try to catch her tune with my voice though it eludes me. She now spins words within her melody, singing Urdu. A tapestry of green hills, blue sky and sunshine.
And villages with buffalo and reeds and sugar cane.
Her feet pivot, dancing Kathak in this London kitchen she glides and reaches down to take my hand. We whirl in fields as the hot breeze catches her dupatta flowing in the wind, its hue of blue a reflection of the open sky above, laughing with us bright and gleeful.
She takes me to her home of youth with her inflection of each word, our souls are kindred in this tune and our connection infinite.
I gaze in awe at her magnificence as she topples mountains with her pitch, as we tread clouds with seamless modulation and herald sunshine with…
Keys jingle in the door.
A dissonant crescendo.
Men pour into magnolia hallways
wrenching me back to lino floors.
Her dupatta flashes to her head constricting round her hair like a serpent pushing apples that are bitter to their core.
Efficiently she brews tea shutting herself within the kitchen.
Door half ajar
Allowing sound. Forbidding vision.
My father calls information and instruction.
As I’m sent to sit amongst the men watching dominance and gluttony; hands full of chai and Rich Tea biscuits
Bitterly I wonder;
Which of you holds the reins to her dupatta?
Jimmy Bangash is a gay, British, Ex-Muslim Pakistani. He grew up in a traditional Pashtun family in London where he stood in ardent opposition to the patriarchy and misogyny in his community. His poems and prose focus on Islamic patriarchy and the experience of gays of Muslim heritage. He is a co-founder and integrative coach at integratedwellness.co.uk.