Latitude

by Shamima Rahman

Rain trickled down the fogged window
smearing the luster of the world.
Jumping water hitting the window
Bars. Reaching greatest of heights
could even awaken the City that never sleeps. 

Slowly, the veiled sun glided toward the West. 
Ripples began to fade, pungent acid rain fused with
leather stench stuffed with clothes of fancy, cottons for comfort
The daily necessities. Mother. One brother. Two sisters. And I.
Packed ready to go our prized possessions
sealed tightly by masking tape and string. 
On schedule we waited anxiously reviewing our
imaginary checklist making sure nothing was forgotten. 
It was going to be a long trip. 

Three weeks later, thousands of miles away,
in one of the world’s most scorching, sodden place.
Bangladesh. Asia. South.
Where my ancestors live on in memory.

The sounds of honking cars echoed in my ears. 
The heat suspended in the air, frozen in time.
Darkness engulfed the night
the silence proliferated.
Among the mosquitoes, the coconut trees,
my sister and I spoke with our humble driver. 

A man who has no money, but lots of love
For his wife, for the kids he did not have yet.
I can barely remember, piece together
what those 90 minutes of conversation entailed. 
It felt more like hours.

Despite his worthless paycheck, clay-made hut, social inferiority,
his wide smile remained intact. He spoke wonderfully, deeply. 
His words genuine and sincere, but best of all, somehow hopeful
with a dash of trepidation. 

Sitting in the car with no doors my skin became sticky
from the thick moisture in the atmosphere. 
A tiny mosquito buzzed in my ear. 
Water withdrew from my mouth,
leaving it dry and coarse. 

My memory crept back to worn look-a-like buildings,
cracked sidewalks and littered rain gutters.
I stood before the rustic white window
in my second floor apartment in
Queens. New York. America. North
Never did I ever imagine we would venture all those miles away. 
I lingered in disbelief. 
The clamor of the engine whittled through my thoughts. 
It was time to get going. 

As the car with no doors swept passed shoeless children
who wandered aimlessly down the battered path,
I could smell the thick, rotten water that inundated the sides of the road. 
We entered our village.  Endless miles of narrow roads
plastered against vast fields of rice with men in straw-hats. 
Around and around in circles we went until we reached our destination.
Seeing beyond soaring buildings and flashing lights
old countryside houses on narrow roads and tin-roof bungalows
plagued red-clay gridlocks.

My Bangladeshi Uncle had tea with the Queen.
England. Europe. West.
Memories that to me is filled with blazing hot days,
dark surreptitious nights realities that I can only watch, not prevent. 
From American Airlines to Gulf Air,
we stood on endless lines, they tagged our baggage checked our bodies
for weapons.  As the plane ascended slowly from
JFK Airport, the lights grew smaller and dimmer. 
I waved New York good-bye, and in return,
it cried a deep storm, washing itself clean.

Akin TeamComment