The Muezzin’s Call – Salman Sowdagar

KB FINAL

Illustration by Shreya Malpani

Deep in slumber,

It hits my ear,

The muezzin’s call,

From behind the minaret’s wall,

Summoning for the dawn prayer.

The sound very faint though,

In a flash opens my eyes,

In surprise.

“Whoa! There’s no minaret here.”

Why? Not a mosque,

In this dreary desert,

The Thar,

Where the feet only feels the sand,

And the eye only sees,

A few lonely huts,

Scattered here and there.

I had moved into one of them,

The last towards the west,

Not before yesterday,

To collect sandstone,

And carry it to the nearest town,

To use in construction.

 

I was afraid,

My eyes won’t open,

Early in the morn,

To quickly start my day’s work,

And wrap it up,

Before the sun reached

The middle of the sky,

And to leave the hot desert

Before it got any hotter,

For the town,

Only to return after dusk.

But here I was

Already up

In the wee hours,

Because of the muezzin’s call.

 

I walk out of my shack,

Into the sandy air,

Which blinds my vision.

But my ears good enough,

To catch again and again,

The faint voice of the muezzin.

After a lot of struggle,

When the winds slowed their pace,

I see through the dawn-dark desert,

Into the direction of the call,

Not with exactitude.

After a few anxious turns of my head,

I see a speck of light,

Miles away.

A light so light,

One can barely notice,

Unless it’s a moonless night.

It surely belonged to a mosque.

“Which town is that?” I wonder,

And in the next tick of the clock,

As in a response to my thoughts,

A lightning flashes across the sky,

For a few fleeting moments,

Laying bare to me,

Somewhere halfway towards that light,

The electric fences,

That divide India and Pakistan.

 

“Good heavens! That mosque is in Pakistan,”

I utter in utter disbelief.

But its azan reaches my land,

And has actually woke me up,

On time for my work.

A Pakistani muezzin helping his Indian brother.

I look up to the sky,

And thank the Almighty,

For giving me such a lovely neighbour.

And then I pray,

“Let the two brothers continue

To love and serve each other,

In ways the world will never know.”

Salman Sowdagar is pursuing Bachelor of Arts in English from Indira Gandhi National Open University, Vijayawada. His short story ‘Twisted Love’ has been published in an anthology titled Half Baked Love. His poetry has been selected for two upcoming anthologies – one by Hall of Poets, and the other by Lab Academia Research and Development Centre.

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