The Boy In Love

The Boy In Love

there is commotion in the house
raised voices
sucked breaths

a very young man has fallen
in love
with an older woman, who
has children his age

the father waves his arms around
crazed, angry
says it is wrong

there is a glint in his eyes
as he suggests the son
look instead
at girls his own age

the mother is silent
only her body twitches
in agreement
or disagreement

the boy shakes his head:
you don’t understand
he utters
feeble and breathless

shouts the father:
what is there to understand?
it is unnatural to be in love
with a woman who is
past her prime
old enough
to be your mother!

the mother blushes and
looks away

the boy opens his mouth
with great effort
but words don’t form readily
pulled by the force of
his silent, enormous
exertion to speak
everyone leans in,
listening to what
he says:

you don’t see what i see
i see the kind of loveliness
that leaves no room for
any other vision

this love
is not what you
know and call love:
wanting, owning, getting

it is a blazing fire
an ocean
inside me
outside me
bigger than everything
all rules and logic
any temptation
of reward
or fear of punishment
even death

look how i suffer!

they see the pain twisting his face
and limbs
they see suddenly that he is
an ancient man

would i choose this?
no, he shakes his head
this has chosen me!

the mother is worried
her heart aches for her son
but she is scared to say
she no longer knows
her own child
or what comforts him

an uncle in old fashioned
white clothes,
grey beard
comes closer

he speaks softly
but his words are steeped in
cruel righteousness:

you are remiss in your prayers
boy, you must learn the postures
and words perfectly

the boy laughs

my heart is so full of love
for Allah
he says
that i accept whatever he
puts in there
i no longer have an option
you see

this is a test
and a blessing
a curse and a gift
the ailment and its cure
it’s the path i must walk
it’s all my prayers
and their answer

the uncle raises his finger
about to speak

but suddenly
the grandfather jumps up
the old man has not moved much
or spoken in years
he only watches TV
and eats soft food

he hears the truth
in the boy’s voice
recognizes the quickening,
its perfume

he stands erect
eyes brimming
with a very bright light
thumps his chest loudly
kisses his grandson
first on his hands
then on his forehead

raises his hand
pointing to the sky


the Name reverberates
swallows every breath in the room
every sound
hushes everything, everyone
to silence

18th august 2011

shahbano aliani


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