A Slice of Cake

“I come from a land of desire and destruction. I’m a real son of Ādam.” — a random poetic line that my cousin Moosa came up with.

A slice of cake when a new baby is born. Blue soft icing shells might say: boy. Pink, and a splash of edible glitter: girl. A slice of cake on Eid day. A bite of it when you’re feeling bored. Cake between colleagues, dipped lovingly in coffee. A cake stashed away: gateau, to eat in instalments. Cake when a knot is tied; when two, and more, hearts come together.

Cake: the centrepiece of a picnic. On a platter, a small wooden table. Cake-knife. Slice: someone is retiring from their job, or has just been promoted. A treat for breakfast; after-school-lunch.

Custard, sprinkles. Upside-down, pineapples. A welcome to new neighbours; goodbye: the end of school. Cake: it’s just something you make, when there is some space for something sweet to be done. Graduations. Charity bakes. From a friend, for you to break your fast with. The believers: we make Du’a for each other too. How sweet, and

How special

We say things best, I think, through our eyes, and through our smiles. All that we say, and all that we do not; things that seem to spill from us, beforehand unexpected. Slices of cake, and flowers, and all the ‘small things’: iceberg gestures, and things that mean things. Though so much here is ugly, I know that beauty runs deep.

And that the most accurate slices of someone might be shown in: whom they are, in Salāh. And: whom they are, say, to people who are ‘subordinates’ to, or in service of, them. Who are we, when nobody else is watching? When there will not be negative social consequences? Who are we, when we have ‘power’, and others do not? These things will tell us everything.

A spoonful of cake: makes for an aeroplane. A conveyance of thanks. ‘Shukr’, in Arabic, sounds a lot like the English ‘sugar’, no?

Like when the newborn tastes that first lick of honey that first time. [Thank you Allah]. Fix someone’s coat before they leave, to make sure they don’t get cold outside. [Thank you Allah]. Pinch their nose; a reassuring pat on the back. Know that they are there, and you are here; the maps point to these people, and these places, as springs of Home [Thank you Allah]. Remember that they like the corner bits; prefer the spongier parts, actually. Eat with a fork, maybe, instead of a spoon. And: give them their slice first.

Shukr lillah. For all that I have, and for all that is not mine. You, surely, know best. Thank you Allah.

With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.

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