Five Prayers and A Widow

s-sbuH: the morning prayer sounds, and the street is not awoken by the singing of the imam but the wailing of women. The woman without a child hurries to the front door, unlocking the metal bolt, to see. She finds neighbor women speaking in hushed voices to each other in the cool, brisk Saturday morning. A neighbor died in the night. He left behind a wife and two sons. It is the family’s cries that called the alley from its sleep.

d-duhr: the neighbors surround the widow. Support becomes a physical thing as women scurry from house to house summoning more and more of their neighbors to line the streets. White plastic chairs along each side of the alley sit old women wrapped in housecoats and headscarves. Younger women and children surround them from time to time. Sounds of food being prepared in several kitchens throughout the alley echo out from windows and open doors. The prayer sounds and the tv inside the woman without a child’s house prays alongside the imam and the widow.

l’3asr: the widow takes up her wailing again. This shouldn’t have happened, her husband was young, but it did. From the windows neighbors look out to see her walking and waving her arms, but the orange headscarf reveals her blank face and empty eyes. A neighbor comes and guides her from the street into a house. Couscous starts to arrive in different homes in several massive blue and green plates. People congregate around them continuing their hushed conversations.

l’mghreb: the sun sinking in the sky casts the city in dark hues. Off in the distance, the jama3 recites the fourth prayer of the day. Women stand their watch on the streets joined occasionally by their husbands and sons. Every one is quiet, but the woman without a child makes time amongst her many duties helping the grieving family to insure some light shines in the darkness. She insists on everyone eating because it is good to be full. Humdullah. She laughs lightly, not too loudly, with sad eyes at something her guest says about eating too much and becoming fat.

l’3ishae: it is night, the alley lights are on, and the women still sit outside even in the growing cold. Houses are lit from the inside, inviting and open to those traveling to see the widow and her family.The woman without a child hosts more people for kaskrut and dinner. It will be a late night, as well as the several nights to come. She hears her name called out from the street, and she is off again to serve another purpose. The last prayer of the day is sung softly by what feels like a tired voice.

keep on keeping on,



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