Holding Hands


"Virtually all acts of greatness are the acts of an ensemble" ~ @keithyamashita

"I know you are not Muslims, but that is shameful!"

It was an hour before dusk, on the first day of Ramadhan. Superstitious Muslims believe that dusk is the witching hour; when the buffer between the worlds thin. Magical beings are then allowed to pass through. Even in Jeddah. Especially near the crossroad.

We were shopping for iftar. Inheriting gait from our mother, we scuttled rather than walked. We moved faster than the traffic along our side, where vistas of congested cars, food fumes and hypoglycemia mangled on each other. We controlled our breaths by not talking and held hands for cues instead.

The man yelled from his car in English. He yelled with the kind of certainty that is typical in an empty stomach. It was enough for him to deem us foreigners and kafirs for my uncovered hair and our interlaced hands.

My brother did not miss a beat. He tapped my arm to excuse himself before releasing. Then he dove into the middle of the road, squeezing between crawling cars and straight to the caller's window. In full-fledged Makkawi Arabic, he said, "Did you just commit murder?"

The man's face crumbled but my brother did not spare him. The canons that protected his cinematography in a country where cinema is outlawed, fired from his mouth in rapid vehemence. And, just like in the movies, he left dramatically before the onset of apologies.

He groused about it until sahoor, but his hand, whenever he clasped mine, was always warm.

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