“Pakistan. 2005” Poem by Kate Reilly

Pakistan. 2005

Poem by Kate Reilly

I am sitting on the edge of a red Persian carpet. I watch Noor’s soft brown feet glide against the ground; her thick layer of anklets clang with each beat. She looks in the corner and addresses an imagined audience: her long lost lover. Sometimes he’s dead, sometimes he’s fallen in love with another woman, sometimes he doesn’t exist at all. She bounces; the high-pitched voices match her lips perfectly. I laugh as she grabs my hands. I’m nervous, but I throw my arms out and join her bouncy dancing. “Inhi lagonne liya dupatta merra” Don’t look at me when I’m wearing my dupatta. We throw our red duputtas up into the air and catch the fabric, placing it over our heads. In my mind, I’m teasing Hamid. He’s sitting to the side, watching my body as it moves to the music. I can see the twinkle of his eye. I place my dupatta over my mouth and nose and taunt him with my eyes for a moment, hoping he’ll be able to see their twinkle, too. I drop the cloth and twirl to the other side of the room.

“You’re good at this,” Noor belts as the song ends. She’s breathless and I feel a tingle of sweat drip down my back.