Sûrah LXIV
MUTUAL DISILLLUSION
"No calamity befalleth save by Allah's leave."

64
FOOL'S PARADISE

Emancipation!

Zahra, having placed her call to the roommates, steps outside:

daylight, fresh air, blue sky, stiff breeze spanking flags of hair, she almost soars above the sidewalks... people smile... those few she meets... an unveiled Muslim waxing joyful in the San Francisco sunshine, unabashed in her receptiveness to its welcome, to its warmth, her senses reeling from this cheerful, toasty inundation... oh, to breathe in odors, fragrances, foul to redolent—inhale deeply—is to fill the lungs with wondrous contradictions, contrasts, life... The smells of lunchtime food from restaurants mix with fumes from passing traffic to corroborate light needs dark as black needs white as sweet needs sour as soft needs rough as loud needs hushed; how cope sans opposites, flip-sides, foils? How thrive without enduring? How delight without the prospect of dismay? And how exult in liberation if never once confined?

Heady, almost giddy, from relief and jubilation, Zahra purchases a phone card. It is time to contact home. Whether prodigal child or miscreant, self-styled saint or flagrant sinner, she who dispossessed herself aspires to reinstate identity—regardless hers be fraught with conflicts unresolved.