This short story “Haifa” by Nauman Mir is lyrical, temperamental, cathartic, emotive and volatile. Human identities and emotions are indeed multifaceted and “Haifa” reveals disruptions—from lust to love to broken hearts to incest. You will be left temporarily dazed as the narrative approaches its closing.
by Nauman Mir
The green grass swayed in the summer wind. French words mingled with English ones as hundreds of graduates posed for family photos with the Victorian and Gothic university architecture in the background. Dark gowns fluttered and different colored velvet hoods reflected in the sunshine. Haifa and Huda walked silently hand in hand as they saw Ayesha approaching in the distance. Montreal was beautiful in the summer, though Haifa missed Toronto. It held a certain charm for her that was just irreplaceable.When would she visit her hometown again? She was not sure.
“I wish she could have been here today. May she rest in peace,” Huda’s voice was filled with melancholy.
“Iknowsweetie,”Haifareplied.“Mymomwantedtocome over so much, but of course, my dad didn’t let her.”
Five years earlier.
The TV show host with a neatly trimmed beard and puffed up blow-dried hair moderated the calls on the weekly show Call the Imam. People phoned to ask Imam Kutty, the local preacher, about different social issues. The camera remained fixed on both men for the one hour show.They sat on two chairs with a round table in-between them. Some white sheets of paper along with two crystal clear glasses of water were on the table.
“Our second call today is from Dr Leila, a prominent family physician in our community. How are you, Doctor?” the host asked.
“I am well, thank you.”
“Your question for Imam Kutty?” The host moved the blue-colored pen between his fingers.
“Imam sahib, with all due respect, the question I want to ask is about a very taboo topic.”
“Go ahead, Doctor,” Imam Kutty said.
“My husband is against the idea, which is why I wanted clarification.What is our religion’s view of anal sex?”
The bluntness of the question caught him by surprise but he quickly recovered. “It is forbidden,” he replied after a moment.
“As I said, it is forbidden.”
“I want to know the reason,” Dr Leila persisted.
“Our respected scholars consider it a minor form of sodomy. It’s an act that equates us with the beasts.”
“But won’t you agree that what two consenting adults do in the bedroom is no one else’s business?”
“We should remember that in all matters including the sexual, consenting adults also need the consent of God.” He smiled cunningly. “That is what makes us different from the unbelievers.”
“Hmm.” Dr Leila couldn’t instantly come up with a reply.
“Thank you, Dr Leila. Let’s go to our next caller.”The host abruptly ended the call.
“Imam sahib, I found The Perfumed Garden in my seventeen- year-old daughter’s room. I didn’t know anything about it but the subtitle, An Arabian Manual of Love, alerted my senses.”The caller spoke in a deep voice.
“The 16th century book by Sheikh Nefzawi?” “Yes.”
“Where did she find that?”
“She said some friend gave it to her. I looked through it and it had such filth about the…you know…intimate…relations between men and women…I couldn’t believe a scholar like Sheikh Nefzawi wrote this book.”
“Yes, sadly he strayed from the path of decency.”
“I threw the book out and now my daughter is being very rebellious.What should I do, Imam sahib?”
“You did the right thing, brother. I was talking about this in my sermon last week that we as parents should keep in check what our children read. One woman came crying to me at the mosque.”Hetookasipofwaterandclearedhisthroat.“Herson had said to her that he didn’t believe in God anymore and that life was meaningless. I asked her to find out what he had been reading and she discovered The Gay Science under his pillow. He had gotten those perverse, ungodly ideas from that book which contains the random thoughts of a German madman called Nietzsche. My advice to you is the same I gave to that woman; cleanse your home from such vile literature and try to convince your daughter to read the Qur’an daily. It is much more eloquently written than any book in the world. God willing, it will provide her with guidance and understanding. I would also suggest thinking about getting her married.The only place to enjoy sexual activity is within marriage. It will help curb those urges toward destructive self-pleasure.”
Haifa lay on the bed next to Huda watching the television programme unfold. Their hands were on the footboard and their feet just above the pillows. Haifa was repulsed by the answer her father had given to the concerned caller. Her father ran his fingers through his long dark beard before Haifa changed the channel.
“He is such a stranger to what is happening in his own home.You know one of my favorite lines from The Perfumed Garden?”
“Which?” Huda asked curiously.
“The intelligence of each man is in an inverse proportion to the length of his beard.” Haifa laughed infectiously and Huda loved how her eyes squinted a little when she chuckled. Haifa’s thumb came to rest next to the channel button on the remote as she admired the suntanned heaving breasts and grinding asses in one of those countless rap videos that seemed to have the same monotonous drum beat. Their shoulders touched and she fondled the double-heart pendant of her necklace; a Valentine’s Day gift from Huda. She let it go and the silver interconnected hearts dangled just above the beginning of her curvaceous youthful bosom. Her straight dark hair covered her red spaghetti strap tank top till the middle of her back. In the confines of her room or any place where she was away from her parents’ gaze, Haifa dressed how she liked, and so far her secret had been safe from her parents. Haifa and Huda had known each other all their lives and their relationship had become even more intimate in the last couple of years. Haifa always forgot her worries when she was with her. Huda just had a way of making her happy.TheTV was still on but Haifa muted the volume; its images faded into the background. A wisp of Huda’s hair came down and touched the side of her nose. Haifa moved it back and saw the kindness that Huda’s brown eyes possessed behind those long dark lashes. She placed a kiss on her forehead softly.They enjoyed the taste of each other’s lips before they took off their tops. Her nipples gradually hardened from the warmth of Haifa’s mouth on her breasts. Her eyelids closed in satisfaction as Haifa licked the inside of her belly button; something she always waited for her to do. She moved down and the soles of Huda’s feet tickled a little by the moving tip of Haifa’s tongue along with the occasional touch of her quivering lips.“Your feet always have that sweet apricot smell.” Haifa patiently nibbled on her toes one after the other.The saliva-moistened fingers of Huda’s right hand moved up and down as the edge of her palm rubbed against the patch of hair between her legs. Haifa moved upwards slowly, kissing her legs along the way. Her hand felt the slight roughness of her legs. She placed more kisses on the inner side of her thighs before resting her head more comfortably to enjoy the beautiful folds of the delicate pinkish skin that lay in-between. Huda tried her best to keep her voice low at the height of pleasure so no one else would hear her outside Haifa’s room. How long would they be able to keep this a secret? Haifa wondered later as they both lay in each other’s arms.
“I’m glad you’re staying the night, Huda.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“I wish we could be together like this…all the time.”
“Yeah, in university for sure.”
“Summer will end in a month and off we are to university.” “It’s so exciting. Finally, we’ll have the freedom to live
together like we’ve always wanted.”They cuddled and talked as the balmy evening breeze through the half-opened window lovingly touched their bodies.
They stood outside for a few minutes before Huda left for her home the next morning. The sun was shining bright. No clouds were on the horizon. Haifa stood at her door so she could see Huda, who waved before she turned onto her street. She had noticed her father sitting in the living room when she had come down the stairs with Huda after taking a light shawl. In the summer heat, she didn’t need the shawl; it was just to cover her tank top.The tulips in the porch were in full bloom.A girl dressed in all black with raven dark hair, blood red lipstick, geisha white facial makeup, and several rings on her fingers passed by Haifa’s home and gave a gentle smile. Haifa nodded and admired her Gothic look. It was not a look she would adapt herself, but she thought the girl had a certain beauty. An old couple strolled on the opposite sidewalk.The convenience store opened and the owner put the Sunday newspapers on display. The freshly cut grass in the neighboring lawn emitted a slightly metallic but pleasant smell. Haifa always liked the calmness of Sunday mornings. She climbed the three small stone steps and opened the lid of the black mailbox knowing it would be empty. She walked back inside.
“I want to talk to you, Haifa. Come here,” her father said. Haifa sat down on the chair across from the couch.“A month from now, at the end of July, we will have your wedding.”
“What?” Haifa was stunned.
“It’s the best thing for you.You’ve been engaged to Anwar for two years and it will be good to have the wedding now. He is a decent boy and will get your mind off that misguided girl.”
“Huda? What do you know about me and her?” She wondered whether he had heard any sounds from her room last night, though that was not the first time she and Huda had been intimate in her room.
“More than I wanted to know.” “What do you mean?”
“Haifa, how could you do this?” Her mother said as she sat down on the beige microfiber sofa moving the cushion aside.
“Maa, what is it that both of you know.”
“Tell her Fauzia,” Imam Kutty said.
“Your father suspected for some time that there was…
something going on between you two girls. He told me about it and at first I didn’t believe him and I felt bad about spying on you two, but reluctantly, I agreed.” Fauzia looked toward Imam Kutty.
“You did what?” Haifa stood up.
“Calm down,” he said.
“My privacy…” She was going to speak more and express
her shock at the invasion of her privacy, but realizing that the truth was already out in the open, she decided not to pursue that thought and sat down.
“We saw parts of the videos of you and Huda in your room on three separate occasions. I could never imagine that my Haifa would ever do such a thing,” Fauzia said.
“What do you have to say?” Imam Kutty asked Haifa.
“I am not sorry about what I did. I wish I could have told you but I knew you would never accept me. I love Huda more than my own life and I want to be with her. I cannot marry Anwar. How could I? I am not attracted to boys.” He gave her a stern look but she felt a kind of relief at finally saying the truth.
“Why are you intent on destroying our family’s reputation? To live a sinful life, is that what you want? We have a standing in the community. I am an imam,” he said, his tone filled with anger.
“Yeah, if only people knew the truth about you,” Haifa retorted. He paused for a moment. “People respect me… respect us for our religiosity, and if anyone finds out about this we will hear taunts for the rest of our life that we failed to raise our daughter properly.You’re getting married and that’s that.” He got up and left the room hurriedly.
Haifa spent most of the day crying in her room and late at night she called Huda. She stared at the ceiling deep in thought after the hour-long conversation and then turned off the lights. The night gradually merged into morning.The rays of the sun had not yet peeked through the clouds that filled the sky.The dewy sweet softness of the wind caressed her face as she got to the corner of the street and turned to look at her home. Images flashed before her eyes: playing in the street with friends, long talks with her mom on the porch, and kissing Huda for the first time underneath the spring snow magnolia tree. She held back her tears and walked through the deserted early morning streets that calmly awaited the hustle and bustle of everyday life. After about a ten minute walk, she rang Huda’s doorbell. She saw Huda’s mom approaching behind the stained glass.
“Come on in, dear.”Their supple cheeks met as they kissed the air tenderly.
“Thank you for having me over.” Haifa put her two bags and a stone-colored purse next to the shoe rack near the coat closet.
“I’ll make you some tea.”
“Thank you.” Huda came up from the basement. Her eyes were a bit puffy and there were sleep creases on her left cheek. They hugged and Huda’s lips touched Haifa’s ear. She didn’t let go for a few moments.The comfort of her arms was something Haifa badly needed at this time. Leaving her home was not an easy decision.They sat down at the kitchen table and Haifa tried to distract her mind. She noticed that Sadia’s silk nightgown tied firmly around her waist made her hips look slightly bigger, though she was of slender build. She had always liked Sadia’s bob-cut brunette hair, whose sides gently swayed when she moved. Sadia spoke constantly as the water boiled on the stove with tea leaves, cardamom, and crushed aniseeds in it. The reddish orange glow of the stove burner became lighter as she added milk.The tea slowly simmered in the open pot for the next five minutes. She then added two cinnamon sticks to the mixture, and less than a minute later poured the tea.
“You want some too, dear?” she spoke a little louder.
“No, I have to get going,” a man’s voice came from upstairs.
“Once they get what they want, they can barely wait till sunrise to leave.” Sadia put the tea mugs on the table. Huda’s parents had divorced many years ago and disapproving rumors of Sadia having different boyfriends were rampant in many households. Haifa had always admired Sadia for her independence and for having the courage to do what she liked without caring for the approval of people, religion, or God. Haifa saw Sadia share a light peck with him before he left. Sadia was accused of many other social and religious sins; some true, others not. Her atheism had begun the downfall of her reputation in the community. She was raised by religious, devout parents who had immigrated to Canada when Sadia was twelve years old. She had practiced her religion since the age of seven and continued till her early twenties. In university, she was exposed to many new ideas and philosophies that held more appeal than traditional religion. Thus, God slowly became absent from her life, though, looking back, she had never really felt his presence anyway. She did not declare her nonbelief at the time because she was married to a religious man. She had agreed to the arranged marriage at the age of twenty-two knowing that it would be the biggest mistake of her life. Her husband was a decent man; not abusive in any way but their marriage was a loveless one.To make up for the intimacy and passion that was lacking in her marriage, Sadia looked elsewhere. The revelation of those sexual escapades along with the declaration of her independence from God led to the end of her marriage. Huda was eight years old at the time. Sadia became a single parent and never remarried; instead, she preferred to take lovers. Her relationships were only for bodily satisfaction and contained no emotional attachment. Occasionally, she had even called male escorts to dingy motel rooms that barely had any ventilation and fulfilled her many role-playing fantasies. She had thought at times if it was “un- womanly”of her to do such things.Women are supposed to feel guilt, she was taught, but she didn’t. One can live life without love but not without sex, Sadia believed. Love tended to make things unnecessarily complicated and was hugely overrated in her opinion.
“You make yourself at home, ok? Don’t worry about anything,” she said to Haifa, who noticed a touch of sleepiness in her voice. “What your parents are doing is wrong. I would confront them but this is a delicate situation.We’ll call them later today and try to resolve things step by step.”
“I really appreciate what you’re doing for me, Sadiaji.” “Oh it’s the least I can do, sweetheart.”
“Your favorite omelet,” Huda said as she put the large plate in the middle of the table.
“Oh, thank you.” They devoured the spicy ham omelet that though Haifa had not requested today like before, Huda knew she would like. The conversation between the three continued.
“If you try to force me to marry, I will reveal the secret about you that I have kept for many years to everyone,” Imam Kutty read Haifa’s handwritten note in which she had simply stated that she would not marry Anwar and was leaving home to be with Huda. His feelings of anger and resentment were followed, surprisingly, by sexual thoughts; the mention of the secret reminded him of several events of the past.The electrifying sensation that had gone through his entire body the first time his middle finger moved against the smoothness of her vulva just as she had finished urinating. She must have been two or three. Her rosebud like skin had excited him. Her tiny hands had innocently touched his face.At a rented summer cottage, years later, he intentionally opened the door of the room where he knew she was getting dressed.She had hurriedly covered her body but he had caught a glimpse of her adolescent naked back and hips. He could not curb the intensity of his desire one day and walked into the bathroom while she was showering. He locked the door behind him and moved forward.That day had re-enacted in his mind many times, but today, all of a sudden, his thoughts were interrupted by a tap on the window. He looked to the side and it was a pigeon. His left hand loosened its grip on his penis while he put Haifa’s note on the table. He thought seriously about the consequences if Haifa were to reveal the secret. Local newspapers often contacted him and printed his opinions. If they were to get wind of this secret, the scandal would crush his reputation in the city. How could he trust that Haifa wouldn’t reveal it? He thought about this all day and late at night decided to end the possibility of that ever happening.
“I have an assignment for you, Jabir.” He called from his cell phone.
“At your service, Imam sahib.”
“Don’t worry about money, I’ll give you as much as you
want, but the job must be done.”
“It will be done, guaranteed.Tell me the details.”
“Let’s meet tomorrow and I’ll tell you then.”
They met the next day, outside an old warehouse close to
the airport.They made the deal and it was decided that one of Jabir’s men would do the job, but the day was not yet set. Imam Kutty gave the green light to Jabir three weeks later. Sadia had somewhat successfully mediated the tension between Haifa and her father during this time, though Imam Kutty had privately expressed derision toward Sadia.The boiling issues between father and daughter had cooled down, at least on the surface. Imam Kutty had reluctantly agreed to not proceed with Haifa’s wedding. He still held a great deal of contempt for the lifestyle that Haifa had chosen and had told her that he did not wish to see her any more. Fauzia too had a hard time accepting that which she had never anticipated arising in her family— homosexuality. She held herself guilty and wished she had done more to protect her beloved daughter from the hedonism that pervaded western culture. Despite that, a mother’s heart could not resist a daughter’s affection. Haifa called her at those times when she knew her father would not be home and they would talk for hours.
Fauzia would send Haifa’s favorite meals from time to time like the aloo keema today. Haifa rolled a small piece of roti filled with it between her thumb and the next two fingers. She dipped it in the homemade cucumber yogurt sauce that was sprinkled with cumin seeds. The well cooked spicy minced meat mixed with small cut pieces of potatoes and a touch of coriander leaves made her mouth water every time. Fauzia sat next to her in Sadia’s living room and remembered in nostalgia how, when Haifa was nine, for about a year she refused to eat anything else but that for lunch and dinner. Haifa didn’t mention to her mom that since she had left home, the one bad dream she used to have occasionally had become more frequent.This was because it would reveal the secret about her father that she had held for the past three years.The dream had recurred last night as well:
“You’re so tight, you’re soo tight,” Haifa spoke in her sleep.
“Haifa, honey?” Sadia came into Huda’s room upon hearing Haifa.
“Hmm?” She woke up drenched in sweat.
“You sounded so anxious, that’s why I came into your room. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No, no, it’s ok, Sadiaji.”
“Here, have some water.” Sadia turned on the lamp.
“Oh, thank you.”
“Yeah. It’s one that comes to me from time to time,” she
said, after placing the empty glass on the side table next to The Embroidered Couch. The familiar book cover reminded Sadia that she had read the erotic Chinese pillow book during her university days.
“Really?” Sadia said.
“The dream again?” Huda sat up with her back against the pillow. She moved her arm around her.
“Yeah,” Haifa replied.
“What happened…in the dream I mean,” Sadia asked caringly as she sat down at the edge of the bed.
“Umm, I don’t like to talk about it, Sadiaji.” Haifa looked down on the blanket.
“We can talk about this later, mom.”
“Oh, ok,” Sadia understood in Huda’s expression that she wanted to be alone with Haifa.“See you in the morning.”
“I’m here with you, sweetie,” Huda said when the door closed.
“I know, my love, sorry that I woke you up. I know you won’t be able to sleep for a while now.”
“It’s ok, baby,” she held her hand. “Hey, you wanna go for a walk?”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s so nice out. I know you like walking in the warm nights.We’ll just go around the block and come back. I’ll buy you that raspberry yogurt you like so much. It’ll make you feel better and then we can sleep. Ok?”
The yellow autumn leaves on the sidewalk crunched beneath their feet.They walked back from the grocery store that was open twenty-four hours and were singing in a low voice.Their arms were around each other’s backs.They stopped for a few moments and giggled at the sounds of a woman moaning in pleasure from the open window of a house.
“You think she’s faking it?” Huda asked amusedly.
“If it’s with a man, then of course she’s faking it.” The giggling continued.As they turned left onto their street a hand tapped her shoulder and they both turned around.The face of the person was not clear in the darkness.
“Why didn’t you call before?” Imam Kutty said angrily. He had been waiting for the call for the past several hours.
“Things didn’t go according to plan,” Jabir replied.
“What do you mean?”
“At first they were awake in their bedroom when Sam got
there. I told him to wait till they go to sleep. Then they left home and I told him to do it on their way back. He called me a half hour later. He was bleeding. They stuck his own knife in his arm.”
“He rushed back badly injured and I had to send one of my other men to go into the fuckin’ area and clear it up.The only thing he found was a fuckin’ torn T-shirt.”
“Listen, I’m paying you a lot of money and you can’t even do your job? She knows a secret so grave that she needs to be silenced.”
“It’s never happened before. I mean, I…”
“I don’t care what did or did not happen in the past, I want this done fast.” Imam Kutty slammed the phone on the glass of the desk where it slipped and fell on the other side. His nostrils flared as he sat in the chair. His thoughts were muddled and a cold sweat dripped from his armpit onto the side of his chest.
“Who’s calling this late?” He hadn’t even noticed Fauzia standing at the door.
“Just some business. Go back to sleep.” He looked at her and then at some papers in front of him pretending to be busy. She wanted to probe more but decided against it.
“I feel scared, Sadiaji.”
“I am too,” Huda said. Sadia remained silent while her eyes
slowly followed the handmade patterns on the red Turkish rug that lay in the middle of the room. Haifa and Huda looked at each other and then at Sadia.
“You girls need to be in a safe place.You were both lucky this time thank God and I have to say very brave too.The fact that you actually hit him and then attacked him with his own dagger required a lot of guts. I don’t like bloodshed, but what you did is something to be proud of.”
“What if he’s still around?” Haifa said worriedly.
“He probably escaped but he might try to attack again so you girls have to go from here.The only person I can really trust is my friend, Ayesha, in Montreal. I know she can keep a secret and she will take good care of you. I will talk to her now and get you on the first bus.”
“How long will we stay there?” Huda asked.
“I don’t know, a week, two weeks, more…until we can be a little sure that things are ok,” Sadia replied.
“How will we be sure? Shouldn’t we tell the police?”
“We could, but for how long? The police protection will come to an end someday.”
“I guess you’re right,” Huda said.
Haifa looked at the skyline and then the lake with the longing in her eyes as the bus left Toronto. It felt like she would never return.The city she loved to call home was one where her life was in danger.There was no guarantee that if she returned after a month or two, some killer would not be waiting to take her life for money. She was pretty sure she knew who gave the order to have her killed. “Only a snake kills and eats its own offspring, how could a human do the same?”This was a thought that repeated itself in her mind several times.
Sadia was relieved to know that Huda and Haifa had arrived safely in Montreal and were now with Ayesha. She had to think about what to do next and to calm her mind and body she decided to take a late afternoon shower. She gently scrubbed her soft feet.The tiny apricot cleanser granules resisted the flowing water between her toes. She bent down and brushed them off with her fingertip. She stood still for a few moments as the warm water glided down her face, followed the contours of her body and swirled a little above the drain before disappearing. She massaged her scalp with lavender oil shampoo and cleared the lather above her eyebrows. She closed her eyes and took in the soothing gardenia and honey fragrance of the soap. Imam Kutty peeked in through the slit between the door and the frame.The image aroused him as he slowly walked in and opened the opaque misty shower door. He had done this before. It was afternoon then, too, he recalled. She turned around in shock and the soap slipped from her hand and fell between her feet. Before she could say anything, he quickly put his right hand on her mouth but instead of his skin, she felt thick duct tape on her lips. He moved behind her and tied a long white shoelace around her wrists. She screamed but her voice remained muffled. He put his right hand on her stomach while his left hand forcefully pushed her. Her back arched forward and her head hit the tiled wall. He unzipped his pants and moved faster and faster.The shampoo stung her left eye.The water from the shower splashed between his crotch and her hips. A few moments later, he groaned as if in pain and a slimy warm liquid slowly dripped down her lower back. Her hair touched the side of his face as she felt the pull of the shoe lace on her throat. She choked as he tightened his grip more and more. She tried to move left and right but to no avail. “Where is she?” He slammed her head against the glass and it tilted to one side. He moved backwards and loosened his hands as her hips touched the floor; she had lost consciousness.There were drops of blood in the water and some blood dripped down her buttocks. He let the water wash her body for a few minutes before turning off the faucet. He sat down on the toilet seat and smoothed his beard within his fist a couple of times. Three men came in, covered her in garbage bags and took her in their van.
“Tell us where she is,” a fat man said to her.
“I don’t know,” Sadia replied anxiously as she came back to her senses.
“You don’t know or you don’t want us to know, huh?” The fat man with a thick mustache splashed an ice-cold jug of water on Sadia’s face.The water trickled down her naked chest settling in the middle of the chair she was tied to.
“Please, I really don’t know.”
“Spare yourself the trouble.We won’t do anything to your daughter.We just want Haifa,” Jabir, a slim tall man sitting on a metal chair to the right continued.“Don’t try to be a martyr. Just tell us her address and we’ll let you go. If you don’t…”
“What if I don’t?”
“Ah, so you do know indeed.”
“Do whatever you want, I’m not gonna tell,” Sadia said. “Whatever we want? Oh, if you only knew what we are
capable of, you wouldn’t say that.” Sadia looked at him with terrified eyes but tried to keep her composure. Her head felt heavy and there was a painful burning sensation in her anus.
“So what does she say, Jabir?” Imam Kutty came down the stairs to the left.There was a phone in his right hand.
“She’s resisting, trying to be a tough woman.”
“Ha ha…she is not tough, she is a harlot; I hear she fucks a different guy every night,” Imam Kutty said.
“Fuck you!” Sadia spat on the floor.
“Oh, see the fire that is raging inside that body,” Jabir smiled.
“Fellas, treat her like the whore she is. I am gonna sit here and watch the bitch moan and groan,” Imam Kutty sat down on an empty chair where his hand quickly went to work between his legs. There were no windows and the stairs indicated to Sadia that she was in some kind of basement.The floor had glue stains that looked like carpet had been torn off of it. Her body shivered in the damp coldness of the room. Jabir pointed at her and a younger man from the group proceeded to come behindSadia’schairanduntiedherhands.Shehesitantlygotup and the men in the room, who circled her now, grinned. She was pushed forward by a harsh slap on her cold hips.They all laughed out loud and spanked a different part of her body and shoved her toward the guy who stood next. She had completed the circle about three times like this when suddenly someone pulled her left leg and she fell face down on the floor. More laughter continued as she felt two strong hands around her waist followed by a forceful breach into her vagina. She kept her teary eyes closed while six men ejaculated inside her one after the other.
How long had she been unconscious? She didn’t know. It seemed a few hours had passed. She got up from the cold floor and looked around in the empty room. The laughter still rang in her ears. She moved her hands over her body to remove the gooey glaze, but they remained dry. Inner and outer dirtiness were hard to distinguish.Two of the men came back; tied her to the chair again and asked the same questions over and over. She remained silent. Finally, one of them took out a razor from the back pocket of his jeans and the other spread her legs.
Fauzia went to the mosque and walked into the room where ablutionary baths were given to dead bodies before the funeral service. She would generally perform the ritualistic baths. A woman on her early morning jog by the water’s edge of Port Hope had discovered a naked dead body. After identification, the body was transferred to Toronto, and following an autopsy, it now lay on a wooden plank in the incense filled room of the mosque. Fauzia had been warned about the gory state of Sadia’s body. The head had been shaved clean. Her left nipple had been cut off. Her right breast was completely removed and Fauzia had heard that when the body was found, the torn blood covered breast was inside Sadia’s mouth. She poured lukewarm water gently over the belly and washed it away with her hand. Her labia lips seemed to have been chopped off by a sharp object.There were cigarette burns all over the body. Fauzia continued to wash it but her tears were uncontrollable and nausea swept through her gut. Later that night, Fauzia was in bed miles away from any trace of slumber. She couldn’t shake off the images from her mind that she had seen. The only solace she could find was in silently reciting Qur’anic verses from memory that asked for God’s protection from the evils of this world. Her eyes opened when she heard the sound of the door lock. Imam Kutty came close to the bed and she could see the lust in his eyes and the hardness that had risen beneath his pants. He quickly took off his clothes and she felt the blanket slide off her body completely. She detested the fact that he wanted sex on such a gloomy day, but she didn’t refuse. After twenty-one years of marriage, their occasional sexual activity was very mechanical. His sexual intelligence had remained undeveloped, not that he was that bright otherwise. She knew he would be done in seven to eight minutes at most and she just wanted to get it over with. He turned her around so she was on her hands and knees. He hurriedly pulled up her white, blue striped cotton caftan and stretched her hips with his hands.There was something different about him tonight.
After a few patients, Dr Leila saw a familiar name on the next file. “Fauzia Kutty!” she announced in the waiting room. A large, overweight, distressed woman got up and walked slowly. Leila greeted her warmly. She had been Fauzia’s family doctor for years.
“How is Haifa these days?” She sat down in her black leather chair.
“She’s in Montreal, she told me secretly. I got so worried after I heard about what had happened to Sadia. I begged her to come back home but she says she will stay there for some time.”
“Any chance her father will forgive her?” Dr Leila asked.
“He’s a stubborn man, I hope he will one day. Still, I am thankful to Sadia, may God bless her soul. It was because of her that the tension between Haifa and her father was reduced. They still don’t talk but at least I have contact with her. Imam sahib says to me that she has dishonored the family; people look down upon him and whisper behind his back,‘His daughter is a lesbian’.”
“Just tragic what happened to Sadia.Who would do such a thing?”
“God only knows and He will do justice…one day… inshallah.”
“How are you feeling, Fauzia?”
“Ah…a lot of pain actually…since last night.”
“What kind of pain?”
“Well, bleeding…between my hips.”
“Oh, really? Why don’t you lie down, I’ll have a look.”
Fauzia took off her pants and underwear and lay down on her left side on the cold examining table. “I talked to Imam sahib on the phone a month ago…on the TV show. I asked him a question I had been thinking about a lot.” She gently put her gloved hands between Fauzia legs exposing the area between her ample hips. “The sphincter muscles seem to be badly ruptured. How did this happen?”
“I told him to stop but it was like he was in another world… he was so overcome with desire that he just kept shoving it in me harder and harder.”
“You mean…you mean…Imam sahib did this?”
“Yes.” Fauzia looked down on the gray carpeted floor. “Anal sex? He told me…it’s forbidden.” A startled look
prevailed on Leila’s face. Fauzia’s tears dampened the white paper sheet underneath her.Leila patted Fauzia on the shoulder. “With treatment, the pain will go away. Don’t cry, Fauzia. It’ll be alright.”
“It’s not that.” Fauzia wiped her nose with her fingers. “What is it?”
“He has never done that to me ever before but…but as
I was trying to hold back my screams from the pain of his thrusts, I heard him say something several times.”
“Haifa! Haifa! Tight like Haifa!” Her voice trailed off. A chill went through Leila’s body.