As I read a line of scripture,

or pore over a prayer

as I listen to a warning tale

or a shard or two of poetry.

When I hear a new, old word

from an old timer in the majlis¹

- slow-moving but quick of tongue (subhanallah²) -

as he sips his darkened tea.

I thank God and my forebears

from Abraham to Muhammad

and blood-fathers and blood-mothers

for teaching us how to be.

They taught us so we never

seek refuge – head bowed –

with another nation or religion

to teach us how to speak.

¹ Literally “sitting place” where men gather socially.

² Literally “glory be to God”; here meant to express bemused admiration that the old man’s tongue is quick despite his slow movements.








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