By Adeeba Jafri
It’s late tonight. The lights are out.
The time has come. Check every route.
Stealthily checking every door.
Windows and balconies, I’ve used before.
Drumming my fingers, nodding off
Still waiting for a single cough
I need to know that she is there.
Just one more stitch to mend the tear.
My parents’ door is closed, no doubt
They will not hear her move around.
They would not know if she is there.
It’s up to me to stay aware.
Tossing, turning. Unfit for sleep
Don’t dream, I think. Don’t go too deep.
Don’t travel far from where you are
Leave the hall light on, the door ajar.
My heart is aching. Be a little stronger.
My mind is racing. Stay awake longer.
Exhaustion finally pulls me deep
Free-falling in a fitful sleep.
Slowly walking through a dream
A cloudy type of haze it seems
And when it clears, I see a girl
Whose actions make my very heart soar
Surrounded by books, no phone in sight
Studying, I think, to my delight.
I run to her, with an open heart
For my sister would never do me harm
I blurt out a question with little charm
“Are you my karma?”
She twists her chair around towards me
her face contorts, she looks so mean
With a vicious look, she sneers at me
“Your karma is the studious one? Oh please.”
Why would I belong to you?
I study on my own, you fool.
I need no tutors, no after school sessions
I’m smart enough to teach others lessons
You’re just my sister, not my mom.
You act as though you’ve had no qualm.
You messed up one too many times
You failed your tests and then you lied
You partied late and tried to cram
You sometimes cheated. It was easier then.
This karma does not belong to you
You deserve much worse, you know you do.
I stumble away. She’s dreadfully mean.
Such disrespect was unforeseen.
What an awful thing to say to me.
My karma is something yet to see.
A few more steps, the haze then parts
I see my perfect counterpart.
My brother is fit. He makes his own shakes.
He grills his food, whether chicken or steak.
My nutrition lectures have finally worked!
The pat on my back was definitely hard earned.
With absolute confidence I’m happy to grace
I ask “Are you my karma?” with a smile on my face
The boy starts to hiccup. I’m completely alarmed
Is he choking or something? Where do I start?
He’s laughing so much, he can hardly breathe
It takes a few minutes when he finally speaks.
He looks at me with obvious scorn.
Your karma? Me?’ My heart feels torn.
I don’t need you to make me whole
To make a basket or score a goal.
My dear sister, look at your health.
You only think about your wealth.
Your own workouts are useless and small
They don’t do much for that gut at all.
So no, big sis, your karma is not in me
I’m fit, you’re not. It’s plain to see.
‘You’re awful’, I scream as I run away.
In this dream landscape, I cannot stay.
My fragile heart is torn asunder.
The tears of pain I’m drowning under.
Just wake up now, I tell myself.
Don’t break down now. Get a hold of yourself!
How could my siblings cause such pain
To break my heart and cause me strain?
I’ll wake up any minute now
And then I’ll make another round.
“Wait for us.” I hear a voice
A gentle sound. Should I rejoice?
They’re two of them. They help me up.
They wipe my tears. They give me a hug.
My siblings speak and hold my hand
To calm and help me understand.
For every ditch that comes my way
That force me down, that make me stay
The ones that I did not foresee
The ones I make with my own deeds
We know that you have learned your way.
You’ve worked to keep your sins away.
You taught me tools, you gave me the means
The drive to climb, that belongs to me
The karma that you so desperately seek
Is not going to come from me
I am as I am, a mix of genes
Of experiences lived and changes seen
I cannot say that I won’t trip
That promises won’t break and lies won’t slip
But I can wipe away your tears
And do my best to assuage your fears
So wake up Sis! Wake up from this dream
That keeps you in your slumber deep.
Be the sibling, make the rules
And I’ll do my best to follow through.
Adeeba Jafri is the writer behind the online blog dessertinthedesert.org. She is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, where she studied history and political science. After moving to Doha in 2009, she started teaching Islamic Studies specifically aimed at Muslim Third Culture kids where she continues teaching even today. She is also the author of numerous children’s Islamic stories.