It’s a night to celebrate when the Almighty decides to fling open His gates and sends you a personal invite. A rare moment in time where there aren’t any blurred lines to separate the mundanity of humanity from the divine. Like a parent in the mood to let loose, for those few hours, we revel in the suspension of conventional rules. Our past sins no longer etched into our skin but worn like cheap tattoos slowly washing away as we watch the iron curtain dissipate, and for this one night, walk down a hurdle-less path to Him straight.
My third-grade teacher had told me that there is no such thing as sins too big that God won’t forgive. She swore how people all over the world were bowing their heads to pray, regardless of their mistakes. A resumé of piety is not a prerequisite as the open gates call out loudest to those gone astray, reminding them they still have a home here even if they don’t remember always.
So we spend the night in celebration of this union, tap-dancing over the lines of separation between the celestial, the dead, and the living. Under a silver-dusted canopy, we return to the graves of those whom left too early, painting them in candlelight and rose petals soaked heavily. Our whispers like flying kisses and our prayers the rickety bridges that allow all souls to come together and coexist. Homes doused in sweet incense and decorated with prayer mats as my mother prepared his favourite food after forever and we welcomed back a part of my brother that is hidden behind this iron curtain.
I decked myself out in colourful clothes, caked myself in make-up and wore his earring too. I spent the previous week mumbling Arabic words I had become a stranger to, when they stopped feeling like a prayer and more like voodoo. Living in a foreign world for the past five years seemed to wipe the memories of belonging to a community that brought me closer to the larger human tapestry. But here I am tonight, spilling with regrets and apologies, the anticipation pumping through my arteries. Behind the iron curtain hides somebody to whom I owe a lifetime of sorrys but all lines of communication are interrupted or busy. Tonight promises to be different so I step up with incomparable excitement for it is the night of atonement, one with all gates wide open and with God Himself present –
Until a little blood trickles down my thighs and I am shunned away for my vulgarity because God forbid, the very reason we can procreate is somehow given permission to cross over that bridge. A night of atonement, a moment of celebration, a joyous reunion, for everyone except the sinner with menstruation.