Sunday, April 02, 2006


Grandmother taught me to read at the mosaic table. The table stood, patiently, in the one lit corner of Grandfather’s hookah lounge. I can only guess what happened in the three darker corners of that friendly place. While tobacco bubbled, surrendering molasses and cherry fragrance to our air gulps, Grandma sounded out words while pointing to text. In another corner, my brother played the bookah drum; my uncle blasted the wookah horn; Pazadookah—our patron saint—hummed on the kazookah. Yes! Yes! My family’s music woke the royal ma’fookahs. The whole sound jived well with the frog croaking in Grandma’s lap. Nobody slept for three years because the sound inspired everyone to whistle together and walk all around the city walls for days and nights without pause. Now Grandmother paused her talk; after sipping the smoky tea, she continued reading through me. Her breath never ceases. Grandmother whispers in my ear every time I open to read a story about heroes.

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