Azra brushed aside Yusef’s bangs, wet from a spiking fever, then kissed his forehead and pulled him close. The pain shot through his knee, a distraction from his delirium. Although the Haq Madrassa had been his refuge it was unkind to his youthful body. Ostracized for resisting indoctrination, he was disciplined in a bunker of stones on his knees, his only companion the Qur’an and the stilted sound of his own voice.
Soaked as the fever passed, he followed his mother to the three foot wide bathroom, careful to choose the one at the rear of the plane. She leaned in to pull some paper towels from the rack and hand them to him. Like the dutiful mother, she waited outside for what seemed an eternity, wondering what was taking him so long. He was looking in the mirror, staring at those umber eyes so seductive they could slay armies if he had not been born a boy.
“Yusef,” Azra was calling to him. “Are you all right in there?”
Before he emerged from the tiny cabinet, he had to tuck himself in, conceal his genitals, ones he had no use for, ones he would have gladly relinquished in the battle against non-conformity. Should he tell her that she had adopted a person of no known origin, of no known species, imprisoned in a body that was alien and intrusive?