Will Heaven look like Zeenat Aman?

My mother used to tape Indian movies illegally all day long
there'd be three or four movies going
two VCRs whirring
getting all technologically horny
with the high-pitched songs
of the young female stars
the lucky ones
who got to dance with Amitabh
Their bodies would be bursting out of their saris
their lips would be all moist and warm
But untouched
and Amitabh would be there all funny funny
with his long long body and his eyes brown and warm
My mother used to tape Indian movies illegally all day long
there'd be three or four movies going
two VCRs whirring
their frequencies all turned on
by that subtle pre-orgasmic flurrying
that filled every lovesick song
And it filled me
so that even as a child
loving and kissing
were in my dreams
And I could never quite walk
from point A to point B
But would instead jump and bounce
humming something about eyes
looking like oceans or the sea in a storm
And at night before going to sleep
I'd think about the kids
who went to kindergarten with me
and imagine all sorts of adventures
and all sorts of dances and songs
But my mother
she's different now
she faces Mecca
not Namak Halal
Will Heaven... (cont'd with stanza break)
And although she's still singing
verses from the Quran
It's not the same
There isn't any kind of tingling
in my feet or in my gut
When I go home, I wrap my dupatta around me
my mother hugs me in-between prayers
she doesn't get off her janamaz
But I remember her being different
I remember her smiling or angry
but always something
at least something
that felt like lightning in a storm
That was her before. Now
she's like a volcano rumbling
as she sits there reading namaz
And I wonder if when her spirit passes
when her souls starts and leaves her body
and she goes to that place she'd rather be
Will Muhammad look like Amitabh
or will heaven look like Zeenat Aman?



Note: For many South Asian immigrants, Indian movies are a connection to the homeland. They are watched in homes, by both parents and children, despite the fact that they are highly erotic musicals.

Zeenat Aman: Indian actress

Namak Halal: A popular movie starring Amitabh Bachhan

namaz: Muslim daily prayer

janamaz: Prayer mat

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