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Volume 9

Tall Tales - January 2012


Written by
Shabana Mir

Shabana Mir lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma where she is assistant professor of social foundations of education at Oklahoma State University. She spent her childhood years in Britain, grew up in Pakistan, and moved to the USA for a PhD, a career and, as it turns out, marriage and motherhood.


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Immigrant Eid


my house is silent, husband at work;
i hear more sirens than usual outside.

this morning
i couldn’t get out of bed and go
to Eid namaz.
i really should push myself, i thought,
and go, but thought, then, go for what?
so my husband and i can part
at the front door of the building to go and sit
with our respective strangers inside?
o aunties in abayas can look
at my pants, because they’re shabby and
because they’re pants, and then look up
at my face unseeing -

when we’re done i come out and wait
for him in the cold parking lot
watching people hurry to cars
and segregated parties in their
tight little colour-coordinated groups-
while a bearded man in a jalabiya
stares at this female body jammed
outside in a twisting river of men.

when i got out of bed at last, i couldn’t stop crying
in the shower.

in Lahore,
Ammi has cooked two types of sivayyan
and put them out in glass bowls,
with carrot halva and Kashmiri chai.
my Eid outfit complete with sequins
has been ironed and laid on my maiden bed.
Auntie Shaista in the drawing room loudly
waits to see how my outfit looks.
Little Izza is knocking at
my door, asking when I’ll be ready,
when I will come out to admire
her pink sharara and bright new shoes

Abbu and Imran are just returning
in white kurtas from Eid namaz.
but here
in the fortunate First World
where I’m supposed to be bettering my life
and speaking English all the time–
where there’s no dust, there are no flies,
here, in the warm clean tiled shower,
I can’t stop sobbing

alone, with sirens screeching outside,
I prayed two rak’ahs afterwards
with seven takbeers
and seven tears hit the ja’inamaz
and then I read some pages of Quran
and sent sawab to the Prophet, my pir,
my uncles, aunts, grandparents, like my Ammi does,
and then I said,
I’m sorry I didn’t go to Eid namaz

and I said please don’t be mad at me.
look, I’m here, and my outfit’s in Lahore,
and Izza’s knocking on the door,
and I have no sivayyan,
and my heart, the poor tattered heart
that I know You love
is broken today.

He looked at me, with those quiet eyes
and said, yes, I know. I cried again
and said that Eid is Eid
only because You’re here with me.

they said it’s Eid today, but there,
on the rooftops of Lahore, young boys
saw a little sliver of moon that shone
through smoggy clouds and snaky cables
as an eagle swam across the sky.

here, I saw no moon, I saw
moonsighting.com, and wrote an email –
eid mubarak exclamation point –
and cc’ed it to everyone.

I thought of calling Ammi to say
eid mubarak. but I was afraid
my voice would catch, and she would hear
who I am here

and then I’d know for sure that she
was there, and there are no sivayyan
on my IKEA table, no halva
on the stove, no kashmiri chai
steaming in pretty china cups
no smiling niece outside my door
and no red kurta on my bed



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