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A Million Different Ways to Die
Youmna Mohammed 
(Inspired by ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini)


She snapped out of what were fifteen minutes of staring at the mirror, remembering that she was not able to pray ‘Isha”, the night prayer, last night because she just couldn’t, however much she tried, bend her back and put her head on the ground where she knew that God would be waiting for her. She couldn’t, although it had been a source of comfort to her for the past two years, perform the ritual she was taught by her father when she was seven: bend forward, hands on your knees, then bend forward, head on the ground, again and again depending on what time of the day it was. If it was before sunrise, you did it twice. The afternoon, you did it four times. At sunset, you did it three times. And at night, you did it four times. The Muslim prayer. She fell in love with it. But now, she prayed out of hope of staying sane. Without her ‘Namaz’, her prayers, Ameera would have taken the rusty kitchen knife that she has looked at every day for the past two years and made her way back to God a long time ago. 

Able to bend her back today, she laid out the prayer rug on the far corner of the room, took a deep breath, and began the ‘Isha’ ritual, imagining her father praying with her, side by side, as they try to put their heads next to each other on the small rug, silently and playfully fighting for space. Finishing the fourth and final part of the ritual, the final ‘Rakaa’, she recited the Shahada, the profession of faith, that her father taught her. “Ashadu an la ilaha illa illa-ilah, wa ashadu anna muhammadan rasul ullah” (“I testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.”) “If you converted to Islam, you said the Shahada, and if you were about to die, you said the Shahada. It is the essence of Islam, Ameera,” her father told her.  

Folding the rug and placing it on her bed, Ameera went to the kitchen, headed towards the drawer with the knife, and was about to open it when she suddenly froze.

Omar was gone. 

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