S/he backed away from the mirror and turned slowly, feeling the smooth fabric of the nylon slip as it brushed against h/er thighs. Arms raised, s/he rotated h/er wrists so the bangles would make that jangling sound before s/he reached out with h/er toe and gently pressed the button on the Boom Box that accompanied h/er liturgy.
Sometimes s/he would play “Fallen” by Evanescense or “Trick Me” by Kelis while imagining a lover pressed up against h/er, waiting for that moment of ecstasy when s/he released the bondage to free that part of h/er s/he so vehemently abhorred. And when the ecstasy had subsided and the fantasy exploded with the rude awakening of h/er primal existence as a boy, s/he was filled with shame that s/he could not wash away in the bath as s/he listened to the Hamd, to the poetry and songs of Allah on the Bahar–E– Madeena, starting from the beginning with the Allah Ni Yeh Shan Barhar and working all the way through to Yah Nabi Yah Nabi Yah Nabi, h/er body cleansed and h/er soul called to order.
Dressed in his most traditional attire, a kurta salwar and skull cap, Yusef lifted the Qur’an from its hiding place and put it back on the night table facing out. The hours that followed were interminable when the numbness would return, that dulling of the senses that helped him through the dark chamber of punishment he had endured during his adolescent years at the madrassa.