On Pain and the Masjid//


When you have a chronic pain disorder, even your own sofa cushions and bed pillows feel like they are attacking you from all sides and in your own space. It hits you soft and, hard like a rock, relentlessly. If you could imagine the millions of times your prayers have been unheard of and your hope has gotten you nowhere, imagine what that can do to you as a person.


I wonder how you talk to your pain. Do you talk to your pain in the shape of ruthlessly flying pillows and cushions that come in all sizes and patterns? Or do you try and ignore it.

Do you have the courage to look at it into its face, pull it by the nose? Do you have the courage to be confrontational or do you avoid it at all costs? The dilemma…yes, no, yes…wait no.


Getting rid of pain must be like speaking after having spent an entire life in a dumb body with lips sealed, stitched together by a cruel creator.  Now, Pain, tell me, did I invite you to come into the sacred temple of my body? How did you find your way into me? How did you find a safe haven in the crevices of my body?


I am meditating in the masjid. Turning around the axis of my own body as though I’m a virgin babe- not yet confident enough to be born. Walking, stepping, sneaking…Avec un pas ralenti…slowing down. Slowing down. Slowly. Meditating through the masjid. I am looking outwards into the night sky, and looking down to the earth, the dirty ground marked with chai spills and the remnants of gutka. Hundreds of people huddled on the ground, eating, cuddling, talking, lying, begging. You give one poor man a bread and you will see five other hands reaching out to you, asking not only for bread but for butter, for chole, and even chai. It’s not so bad, having invited a gang of possessionless beggars for dinner tonight!


I was standing near a blind beggar and wanted to feel his gift of blindness. Feeling the world around me and soaking the moment in. He stubs me with his elbow, his eyes deeply sunken into the eye sockets, witnessing the absence of light, no light getting into the multiple chambers of his body. I finally bid him goodbye by pressing a rose into his hand. He ungratefully throws it away, and wants needs food and money. What’s wrong with him, I wonder. I let go of these thoughts and find my way out through a sea of eyes looking at me, making it glaringly obvious that I am a stranger to them and an intruder in their world.  I gently swept out into the narrow galli by the prayers emanating from the mosque.






Your music is composed with ancient sighs, laughter and tears, the sound of the qawwali on a Friday evening still fresh in my memory. You left a little dance mark in my heart. I fell into a trace at your resting place, a high I couldn’t find anywhere else. And a trance I don’t want to find anywhere else.

The author wishes to remain anonymous.