Fiction by | October 19, 2008

Khadijah and I have become the wisps of the royalty that you have surrendered.

The mirages of the bai-a-labi in you are constricted inside our ancestral house. They occasionally find their way to your old room, probably lamenting the four-poster brass bed now coated with the dust of abandonment.

Do you remember the landap you have asked your distant cousin to weave for us? You said it would be better if we have the same color, but the design of course shall depend on whether we like ours to be intricately shaped or modestly lined.

I wanted mine to be modestly lined. And yellow will be the domineering color because I knew you would insist on binaning anyway. My cousin Khadijah was insistent to have hers bright crimson and intricately designed. Maybe even then she had a foreshadowing of her disgrace. You see, she wanted crimson—perhaps as crimson as the blood that comes out of her every time she has a baby to flush.

Ina, is she still your favorite granddaughter? What of the morals and femininity you have left us with?

Changes compete with the weeds in your graveyard. They happen so spontaneously rapid sometimes I have to hold my breath to keep up with them. Like how her body adopts to each abortion and how wide her hips have become and how sagging her breasts have become now. And then, how could her mother tolerate all of these.

Ah, your daughter. She claims to perform the five salahs daily and wears her hijab as passionately as she always does. She walks the streets like the Potrima-amor that she is. What does she get from this mockery, Ina? She of all the Bais in Montiya knows that no amount of the music of the kulintang can erase the wanton stain that her daughter has caused our family. People will relentlessly feed on her shame—which is our shame too.

Ina, I had to unclasp my pain. The recent man she was with was my Hafeez. My Hafeez whom I was pining for for years, sending him subtle signals, silently pushing him to see Ama-a-datu for my mahr.

Among the beautiful curves and strokes of our landap, I only see the lashes that Khadijah will have to endure before her salvation.

End Notes

Salimot- veil
Landap- a special kind of malong worn on distinct occasions
Salah- prayer
Hijab- veil; also refers to the act of wearing the traditional Muslim woman clothing (where only the eyes and the hands re exposed)
Potrima amor- a royalty rank
Mahr- bridal money

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