27 July 2016

Ramadan Salah

Sometimes in the daytime we would see each other on the street, hiding under the fat green leaves that line mainstreet and wide-brimed straw hats to shelter ourselves from the blazing Ramadan sun. People shuffled around us, hungry, hot and tired, from stretches of sweltering hours without food or water. I shook your hand, maybe a moment too long, and glanced a few seconds too many at your handsome face.

Later you would come to my door, with your own key on your own time, and lay in my bed after the Maghrib prayer. The mosque shook and thundered with the prayer that released everyone from their fast. Every night you would pray, then eat eggs and dates and salty fried bread, then barely knock on my bedroom door before entering and devouring me with more hunger than the evening's breakfast. And that is where we would stay, unclothed, huddled together in front of my fan, as the streets filled with children and families reveling in the late hours.

They were just four stories down but seemed a lifetime away from my shuttered window. I would kiss your face, bury my head in your shoulder, sometimes cry, sometimes laugh. We listened to music and made love for hours.  Your skin was so soft and dark, your beard so harsh and clean. It started with a casual ease, because I was intensely sad and needed to be held. But by the end you could make my body shake like someone I had loved for years and I counted the seconds listening for the Imam to send you to me.

When I first moved in to this apartment, I would joke about what a princess I felt like high above the center city streets. Sometimes I lock myself in for days at a time to get a break from the bustle of the souk and the schoolchildren endlessly coming and going from class. But I never felt more isolated than in those times waiting for you. The minute hand dragged in extremely long ticks lingering for you, knowing you were out there, knowing I was waiting.

And the one who sent you to me would take you away, calling out from the minaret that it was the time to have juice and cookies and prepare for another long day of fasting. As the sun peeked back into the sky I was always alone, stretched out in my now empty bed, dreaming of your kisses on my back.