AFTAB VOLUME NO. 4 | SPRING 2010 The Islamic Center at New York Universityâ€™s publication which serves as an outlet for creative writing, poetry, art, and other articles. This is a publication through which members of the New York University community can exchange ideas, share their literary and artistic tales, and communicate on the topic of Islam as well as the broad range of issues facing the Muslim community.
AFTAB MAGAZINE EDITION NO. 4 ATIF WASTI CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF TABASSUM RAHMAN CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF MARIYA CAMPWALA PHOTOGRAPHY ALI REZA MALIK DESIGNER STEPHEN POLNIASZEK ADVISOR STEVEN AIELLO FRIDAY AFTER IFTAAR 4 AMIN HUSAIN PHOTOGRAPHIC PIECE 5 ALI SWABY WHO SPEAKS FOR ME 6 WHITNEY TERRILL EXCUSES 8 SAANIYA CONTRACTOR I BELIEVE 9 HENA JEHAN PAINTINGS 10 ALI REZA MALIK THE OTHER ME 12 SIDRA QAZI PHOTOGRAPHY 16 ATIF ATEEQ PHOTOGRAPHY 18 YAHYA KIERANI PHOTOGRAPHY 22 RANIA BANIA PHOTOGRAPHY 24 HANA AHMED PHOTOGRAPHY 26 SHERMEEN RAHMAN HENNA DESIGNS 28 SHEHZAHDI MAHMUD KAZI 30
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FRIDAY NIGHT IFTAAR
I had the good fortune of being able to visit Egypt for
city shut down and left everything quiet and
the first time this past Ramadan. As an American-
peaceful during iftaar was surreal. On Friday,
born Jew now living in Israel (I moved here this
Yawm Gumma1, there were hundreds of
summer after finishing my BA at NYU), I still find the
people gathered in the streets, praying. It was
whole no-separation-of-Church-and-State thing to
a beautiful sight.
be pretty weird. In Egypt, not only is there no such separation, but the people and society themselves
The unique part of my experience came
are still very religious. Although not everyone fasts
when I realized that I would be on my own
(I asked some Egyptians for an estimate on what
for Shabbat, perhaps as the only Sabbath-
percentage of people there do, but no one wanted
observant Jew in Cairo. I ran to buy all the
to venture a guess), no Egyptian will eat or drink in
Kosher provisions I could find to store in
public during Ramadan; the restaurants are open
my hostel room. Although I had met an
during the day just for tourists. The disadvantage to
Egyptian Jew at one of the old synagogues,
looking Middle-Eastern enough to pass for Egyptian
she didn’t seem to know what Shabbat was
is that I was chastised in the street for drinking by a
and certainly didn’t invite me to any meals. I
store-owner who assumed I must be Muslim.
was headed back to my hostel room on Friday afternoon, a bit dejected about having to eat
Experiencing the pyramids at Giza and the
in solitude, when I stopped at a store to pick
mummies in the Cairo Museum was amazing. But
up a gift for my brother. After giving me a
the most impressive part of being in Cairo was
“Ramadan discount,” the proprietor invited
seeing the way so many people observed Ramadan,
me to stay and enjoy iftaar with him and his
and in such public fashion. An hour before sunset,
family. Never one to be shy, I explained in
people would begin to gather in the streets and
my very broken Arabic and a bit of English
sit down at massive tables that were sponsored
to him and his son (the translator) that I was
for anyone to break fast. Then they would wait, as
Jewish and had to put my things away before
food was passed along the tables, until it was time
sunset, but that I would love to eat with them.
for iftaar. Similarly, while walking in the downtown
I ran to my room, prayed and came back to
area right before sunset, almost every store-owner
I passed would be preparing his iftaar meal and invariably would invite me to sit down with him and his family or employees.
Not only did I have my first Shabbat iftaar dinner that night, but I was probably their first Jewish iftaar guest as well. One of
There were some obvious downsides as well –
the cousins of my host family was proud to
although the city was awake until well into the early
show off the Hebrew he had picked up from
morning, daily hours of many stores and attractions
working in the Sinai and most of the younger
were on limited Ramadan hours. I passed Egyptian
generation spoke some English, so we got
police and security guards who were quite literally
along just fine. My time in Cairo was certainly
asleep on the job, often laying down in whatever
an interesting experience, and I’ll definitely
shade they could find. But the way that the entire
never forget my Shabbat iftaar dinner!
AMIN HUSSAIN THE IMAGE THAT YOU WERE GOING TO SEE...
“The image that you were going to see was of a cute blond Arab boy playing after the rain in a narrow alley of a Palestinian refugee camp . . .”
WHO SPEAKS FOR ME
Some come before Columbus come
This time like cow and horse you see
Live even with the Cherokee
Rob from all over Momma coun-try
Blend culture with Submission
Different tongue, status, and creed
In hearts they use to see
Treat them like they was the same
Sail from West Coast Momma
These of noble, varied ances-try
Come clear from cross the sea
You have to always tell the story?
Mansa father send 200 ships
February, month for your history
Only one return to he
Roots Book man name Kunta Kente
Go he he self, with 2000 more
The “never again” people always do it
Leave Musa in charge, now he big willie
So why on earth can’t we?
Sail from west coast region
Who speaks for me?
From rich kingdom of Mali Mali get richer still
Is something there you ‘fraid of,
Mansa Musa hand very stea-dy
When back to history we flee?
Take pilgrimage to Makah
Re-evaluate biased conclusions
Black wealth like this, them never see
Cross referencing things fair-ly
Writer write down Musa story
Like, why only individual story?
An’ ‘das what Musa tell all we
What about their communi-ty?
Who speaks for me?
Prince great man, no doubt What ‘bout Georgia and Carolina Island,
Mandinka reach Brazil and Peru
Bilali tribe and family
Opposite end of the land they be
What about Louisiana rice farmers
Reach Brazil then travel west
Bahians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, even in Belize
Then up north to Mississippi vicinity
Who encode and decoded Nat revolt instructions?
Arizona cave with elephant drawing
It write down in Arabic you see
Pictographs so clear to see
Black Historian, can you please tell me?
Translate Mandinka language
Why the no-learning, no-reading law?
“Elephant sick and very angry”
Was there something you want to cease?
Seem like fairy tale to you
Beat and kill them! Torture and maim them!
Read ‘bout it in book of anthropolo-gy
The Moorish savages will have no ease!
Who speaks for me?
Civilize them with the Bible! Theorize! Move quickly! That’s it!
North Pacific ‘Makah Native’
Infect them with the Ham disease!
Look, dress, name, same like Mali
Who speaks for me?
Garifuna people, same thing On all isles of the Carib sea
Can’t kill Black Religion
More you read, and look, and dig
Survival instinc’ natural you see
More evidence you see
When people force do it
Cover up, distortion, some even say conspira-cy
Religion always sync up with ease
Islam here long time and peaceful
Look Boss, Lord’s Prayer in Arabic
Momma send then in waves you see
Recheck. Quran Opening Chapter. Oh Jeez!
Been coming for long long time now
And they pitch black like you and me
“Save yourself and your family.”
Who speaks for me?
“Worship Allah as much as, and jus’ as you be.” Allah, I beg you, with them will You be pleased
Next wave get force on ships in shackles
There’s no hardship in Your submission
Not done yet,
What else is hidden from me?
But read it in the histo-ry
That show their survival compromise?
Criterion say it wrong
Would I do likewise?
Should be no part of socie-ty
Who am I to criticize?
Abdullah Son abolish it steadi-ly
Who speaks for me?
Stop access to it eventual-ly Made it detestable in the communi-ty
SUPER EPIC POEM, BRO
You said: “After difficulty come ease”
Black Religion alive and thriving
Sand Man come first with force
Church and Un-church my people be
Back Mamma push back even more forceful-ly
I see Hand of Allah
Sand Man come back later, nicer now,
You see nature
Want to build up him own economy
Different name, same tenden-cy
Black Mamma see the human side
A People striving an’ jus’ wanting to be free
Through fair trading an’ engaging intellectual-ly
As for me, force fed the cross you see
Trader teach the people Criterion
But it never really sit fit with me
Translate it, discuss it, chant it very sweet-ly
An’ just seem to leave me ill at ease
Teach Abdullah Son life
Learned Elijah, read some Malcolm
Abdullah Son always explain t’ings clear-ly
Is like I jus’ a start to breathe
Most take it, some don’t like it, sometime fight it
Introduce to Abdullah Son
This how Black Mamma take Islam you see
Now that cat truly spoke to me Now me feel thoroughly at ease
This is definite-ly
Brother of the Drum hear ‘bout it an’ say to me
How it reach to place like Mali
“Travel that road to nothing but cultural aposta-sy,
Seem like fairy tale to you?
“Sand man jus’ another master
Go read it in books of histo-ry
An’ our people has got to be free”
African write him own history you see
Who speaks for me?
Seem like fairly tale to you?
This write down in ‘tousand year ol’ African library But me learn Criterion by heart you see
Book use’ to sell in market like cra-zy
Abdullah Son clarify it so easi-ly
Me say book real cheap
Speak to my mind an’ deep in my heart
Even salt worth more money
Conviction settle in fairly speedi-ly
Literate, educated, an’ strong tradition
Stronger, Black Muslim Mamma came to be Sensible Submission you see, is the real key
Sound like they enslaved to you?
When me chant Criterion
Not to me
It make sense to me, an’ sound still so sweet-ly
Who speaks for me?
Suprema-cy not to color, nor to money Only to Allah, God Almigh-ty
Nex’ door king get jealous
“Yeah, but what about the histo-ry
t’ings break down you see
Sand man jus’ another master
When you can’t solve the problems peaceful-ly
Our people have got to be free”
War break out eventual-ly
Who speaks for me?
Loser get captured, and then put in slave-ry Better treatment than your penitentiary
In agrarian economy
Some slave even a run the country
Slavery came to always be
This was not a rarity
It was a pillar of first Greek democracy
Consistent with Muslim Mamma own book of history
By war, thru outlaw, or even treache-ry
Same thing with the oral legacy
Oppression, by custom, sometime even voluntari-ly
Who speaks for me?
Slavery was part of the reali-ty Seem like justification to you?
So my brother of the Drum,
I beg to differ, very serious-ly
Islam not strange Sand Man legacy
I read the books like you
No silly “blow up people” ideology
You don’t make sense to me
But anchor a true and vibrant universali-ty
Momma Africa took Islam willing-ly and voluntari-ly
Sand man, Brown, White, or Black Man
Submit not to Sand Man
Even Green man if they be
But to Allah, God Almighty
Mental freedom from all things
Why is this so hard for you to see?
Musa made hajj while King
Establish humanity rights
This what Mansa means you see
Predate and supersede constitutionali-ty
Won’t vote for Barack the black
For the community it means social harmony
But vote for he because he white
Some abuse it, which is normal
Or vote for she for she
That’s just a very small minority, That still leave beautiful majority
To even start campaign
Black man must have extra ability
If you follow me
Why this cultural normalcy?
When big willie right now on-ly get C?
Part of your legacy
Where Sand man shackle or he chain?
That you never talk about correct-ly
He never shackle or chain
Not in your book, nor your school,
He never brand nor maim
And especially not in his story
Momma keep her culture and tongue you see
Still, who speaks for me?
Why Ebonics disgraceful to you While in Mali 46 language alone they be
If you smart, YOU were, from start to
Who speaks for me?
You want me to do what? You have got to be kidding me. Just not this one time – Let me make it all up to You later. Just not today – You want me to do that? It’s too hard to do in front of these
other people. Just wait for them – Let me make it all up to you later. Just not in front of them – You want me to wear one of those? That is beautiful for them to do. Just not right now – Remind me when I am older. Just My own excuses.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIYA CAMPWALA
brewed every evening in my home. The chai I believe in doesn’t come in a manufactured plastic cup but it is a custom that has been passed down for several generations. My mother prepares chai every evening on an electric stove in our American kitchen. She uses American milk, American sugar and American tea bags. Despite the American products used to make it, my chai itself still resonates of India; quite possibly the only aspect of India that I will ever fully understand. If my frequent summer trips to India have taught me anything it is this: chai is sacred. Not in the religious sense but in the Indians-must-drink-atleast-two-cups-a-day-or-something-terrible-will-happen sense. Families will wake up in the morning, their maids will prepare a cup of chai for them and eventually husbands and wives and children will leave for work or school. Upon returning home in the evening, almost certainly another cup of chai will be served and drank before dinner. The porcelain cups in which chai is served will be washed and dried at least twice every day by the willing maids who have no other way to make a living for themselves. It’s possible that their husbands or brothers or sons are chai-wallah’s: street vendors who give chaiaddicts their daily high. Chai is the solution to everything in India whether it is headaches, stress, insomnia or awkward social moments. As long as there is milk, sugar, and chai mix in the cupboard, Indians can solve any type of problem. Actually, that isn’t completely true; a top-notch chai brewer is also necessary if one hopes for chai to fully work its magic. Underneath the surface, chai has a much deeper significance to me. It isn’t just about the milky goodness that is the hallmark of good chai but it’s everything else that you can’t see or taste. It’s the connection to the traditions of India I feel when I’m gulping down a cup of chai late at night when a caffeine-kick is absolutely necessary. It’s my ability to adhere to an Indian custom without fear of doing something wrong. It’s a ritual I can partake in while in India without needing someone to explain it to me. When I take a sip of my chai, it is the one thing that reminds me of India: the malodorous stench that can be smelled on all the roads, the half-built houses with questionable foundations, the children running around half-naked while their parents make food outside for all the world to see and the stunning technological advancements being made right next to horrifying poverty. I don’t understand why there is so much progress in the face of such great adversity but I do understand chai. I realize that chai may be the only thing that I ever understand about India. This is why I believe, I believe in chai.
I believe in chai. No, not the mass-produced Starbucks garbage that chic New Yorkers enjoy drinking but the hot traditional drink from India that’s
HENA JEHAN Hena, a rising junior at Baruch College, paints abstract art. She started painting in order to express herself in a creative way. She was inspired to do abstract because it is probably the only style of painting that allowed her to paint as she liked. The amazing thing about abstract painting is that it can help someone find creative solutions to problems. Hena feels that painting has been an excellent way for her to relieve stress while juggling a job, college, and other extracurricular activities. Hena believes that abstract paintings do not need any guidelines: everyone develops his/her own unique style. All of Henaâ€™s paintings are based on her life experiences and the lessons she has learned. When Hena paints and hangs the finished pieces in her room, they serve as a constant reminder of those amazing lessons she has learned.
A STORY BY ALI REZA MALIK
THE OTHER ME Earlier today, when I woke up, I looked at my clock, as usual. 10:17 AM. I stuffed my face back into my pillow, and after a few seconds, threw the blanket off myself violently. It usually takes a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to waking life. I sat up on my bed. I looked to the left. I found myself staring. Just staring, with parts of fear, awe, and confusion mixed together. Staring into a thin, translucent wall cutting my room in two. It took a few seconds for my eyes to realize this isn’t something I normally wake up to. But wow. It was a dazzling spectacle. The wall was so thin and fragile looking, yet there were hundreds electric impulses and sparking energies and things tangled together in a flat, glowing, breathing, white web. The branches looked like veins. The clusters looked like neurons. I crawled to the edge of my bed and continued to observe the wall with this childlike wonder. I’m thinking about how this could have grown overnight without my knowledge. Maybe a ghost built his house in the middle of my own, and this was a ghost wall. Maybe a hyper radioactive spider went berserk building an impenetrable spider fortress. Maybe it bit me a few times. I actually thought about the prospect of being Spiderman for a minute or two. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any bite marks on me. I raised a finger to touch the wall, making sure to be extra gentle. I felt this small spark ignite on my fingertip, but the overall electrical network seemed to flow through and around the tip of my finger. The wall cut off my nightstand on the left side, and my bookshelf on the right end. The only items within my reach were a dollar hanging over the side of the stand and a pen and notebook I bought last week, hiding underneath my pillow. I ripped a piece of paper out of the notebook and crumbled it into a ball. I took aim and threw it into the wall. Just like that, poof. It disappeared as it passed through the wall. Just as it made contact, though, about a foot to the left of me, it reappeared, just flying through the air, and landed on my bed. I picked it up and opened it up. It was blank. I really couldn’t tell if it was the same paper that I had thrown. It had reappeared as soon as I had thrown it. I took my pen, the only real tool I had, and wrote Puppies on the paper. It was the first thing that came to my mind. I crumbled it up, and threw it back, and sure enough, a ball came right back my way just a foot to the left. I opened it up, and this is what it read:
I took a moment to consider what this could mean. That
a hundred percent alike. Thus the
wall could have been some intergalactic space portal that
existence of both worlds.
bounces everything back at me. Just to mess with my head. Meaning I was eternally stuck on my half of the
You’re me, I wrote, which I promptly
room. I could run through the wall and jump and land
received back. This is some parallel
back on my own bed. Forget the ghost and the spider,
dimension gate, we said. Awesome,
Puck was now my biggest concern. Or, maybe there
we agreed. This went on for half an
was another person in some other dimension who just
hour. Everything was the same. We’re
happened to throw a piece of paper that read Puppies at
both film directors. We’re Rangers
the same time that I did.
fans. We ate three turkey sandwiches
The next test would be my pillow. I slowly pushed it
President. People still made fun of
through the wall. An eerily similar pillow poked through
Canada. Firefly was in its eighth season.
the wall next to me. I used my left hand to tug on the
Our parents were still alive, and our
Other pillow, that is, the intergalactic space pillow, and
mother’s birthday was coming up in a
felt something pull away my own pillow from my hand.
week. The same life. It finally occurred
I get a bit startled, so I let go of my pillow and take the
to me to ask about Isabelle after all
other one, inspecting it thoroughly before tossing it
these banal questions. Might as well
aside. It was the same pillow. The same pillow. It was
bring my girlfriend in this game.
absolutely the same damn pillow. I was stuck. This portal
How’s Isabelle? At this point I was the
was bending space around back at me, and now had me
master of creating paper balls for inter-
confined to that little bed forever. Just to kill time, I wrote
dimensional transport, and it flew on
some more messages. Maybe I was wrong. I wasn’t ready
through, as does my Other’s response.
to just jump through the wall yet. So I wrote message after message, and every time I threw it over, the same
Except it didn’t read How’s Isabelle?.
message, same handwriting, same crumbled up form
Written on the crumbled paper was, Do
reappeared on my side.
you miss Isabelle, too?
About fifteen minutes later, something really shook me.
I studied that note for a while. A long
I wrote The walls in my room are blue. And tossed the
while. This was the first inconsistent
ball over, and even caught the return ball in my hand. I
message since the green-blue wall
opened it up and had to read it twice. The walls in my
room are green. That’s what the note said. The look on
circumstances of that information. I
my face was priceless. Probably. Shock, confusion, and
was thinking about my Other thinking
all that. There was definitely someone else on the other
about the same thing. He was reading
side. I sucked up my fears of disintegration and put my
my note, not understanding why my
finger back on the wall. It took a little more effort, but I
message didn’t have his element of
managed to push my hand through. Just a bit to my left,
loss. The wall color was absolutely
fingers were protruding the wall back at me. It’s a pretty
marginal. This was the reason for the
creepy sight to see a hand appear through a wall. Sure
dimensional split. I still had Isabelle,
enough, the skin color was the same as mine, the same
and my Other didn’t. I got this really
fingers wiggled when I wiggled mine, the hand pulled
weird, vicious headache. One I had
out when I pulled mine. It was me. It was me on the
never felt before. My mind actually felt
other side. Well, another me. This Other me was doing
like it was splitting in half like paper.
everything I was doing in his world. Everything. Every
I leaned back to rest. After a couple
thought that was mine was his. He’s the one who pulled
minutes, neither of us making any
on my pillow. He wrote Puppies. He realized something
move, I asked, You two aren’t together
was fishy when my note said that the walls were blue, so
anymore? The message I get read, You
he put his hand through the wall. But our worlds weren’t
two are still together? Now I have so
many more questions to ask. Is he
I heard my voice coming out of his mouth. It didn’t seem
happy now? Leading a crazy bachelor
right. He had stolen my voice. And I’m sure if I spoke, he
life? Being single after three years? I’m
would have felt the same. He was telling me that I didn’t
getting really excited. The life I could’ve
deserve this life. He wanted to switch spots. He reasoned
lived. Without a serious girlfriend.
desperately. Everything was the same in his world. I could find someone else. He begged. I was begging to myself.
Then I thought about his thoughts.
Switch places. Nothing would be different. The more
He wanted to know if I missed her.
I backed up, the more his emotions evolved. He asked
His life without Isabelle, without my
about my walls. Was Isabelle still mine because I had blue
Isabelle, and my life with her, that’s all
walls instead of green walls? Although when he said it, he
he was thinking about. I wrote another
dropped the f-bomb a few times to accentuate his point.
note. Yes… she nags as much as ever,
If everything was the same, why was he suffering and not
thinking that would make my Other
feel better. The one I received though goes, No. Just that. No. I instantly felt
I couldn’t answer him. I didn’t know. I couldn’t say
regret for writing my note, and I know
anything. I knew myself. Whenever I was in a state like
that my Other knows that I instantly
this, all reason was blinded by my emotions. I was a
felt regret for writing my note. I was
romantic at heart, and I would do anything – anything
furiously trying to remedy all this. I
– for the love of my life. I backed up against the wall, still
was just kidding. She’s the world to
trying to force the tears back up into my eyes. He raised
me. I throw that one aside. I’m sorry. I
his right arm, and so I raised mine. He struck down, and
love her? Trashed that one, too. I was
I caught him. It was crazy. All of our moves crisscrossed,
writing a third one, and something
and he couldn’t land a blow. Fear and confusion had
started to come out from the gate. A
blocked my capacity for a counterattack, and desperation
minor amount of electrical interference
and fury fueled his barrage. But hell, my room is messy.
surrounded it. A hand. My hand. My
A real mess. We grappled at one point, and I noticed my
guitar case laying on the floor. He started pushing me,
Then an arm. The wall showed severe
and I pushed him back. We were the same. I put one leg
turbulence. Then a face. My face.
back for more leverage, as did he. Except when he did it, the leg caught the top of case, which slid under his
It’s a strange phenomenon, to see
foot, and he flew backwards. Back into the gate. I could
yourself with tears streaming down
see the last look of terror on his face, no doubt the same
your face. When you see it in a mirror,
look he saw on mine, and he disappeared through the
you know the mirror is just doing what
gate. My room turned into an electric volcano. I covered
you’re doing. Sometimes you adjust
myself under my blanket, a trick I learned when I was
your facial expressions and watch the
only five years old when something horrific went down
mirror mimic the actions. That, in
in my room, as electricity was buzzing and crackling
itself, feels fairly strange. But imagine
everywhere and those energy neuron things started to
that you’re looking in a mirror, and the
inflate like balloons. The wall started making this high-
mirror image starts crying. You’re fine,
pitched siren noise, and my room started shaking. Like a
but the mirror is showing that you’re
baseball through an old factory window, the whole thing
crying. What happens to you? Do you
made a deafening shattering sound and it crumbled into
cry? Do you adjust your facial features
itself. Like a mini-black hole, the thing sucked itself up.
to match what you see? Because that’s
And it’s done. A few stray pieces of paper floated down
what I did. I felt the muscles in my
from my ceiling.
face twitching, contorting, scrunching up. It was reactionary. Instinctive.
I stepped through where the gate was, and everything’s
Unconscious. I fought those urges
fine. There’s no evidence of the Other. No trace. Nothing.
to match my Other’s emotions and
I get my phone, and I go down my contacts to reach
movements. He crept towards me, and
Isabelle. The love of my life. But that gets me to thinking.
My Other was right. Everything in my life was the same,
always wanted to have the one girl in my
and I wasn’t with her. I suppose, yes, my walls were a
life, and now I do.
different color. Other than the fact that he missed her, there was no real significant change in my life with her
But maybe I saved him, because he’s
out of the picture. How often do you get the opportunity
going to live his life climbing the hill,
to see that your significant other offers no significant
while I’m sitting on the top of the tallest
effect on the way you think? On the way you act? On
mountain with nothing on me but
your life? I had gone each day just fine. Maybe not
climbing gear. I realize that he messed
100% okay, but my thought patterns were pretty much
up. He messed up terribly. That’s why
the same. The very same. Then again, he lost his mind
he was as crazy as he was, and I have no
hearing that there was another life where they were
intention of letting myself go through
still together. And that was my fortunate life. I would
that sort of desperation.
have done what he did. Without any consideration of consequence. I would have fought to get my girl. I
Then again. I was never one to just sit
would dive through a dimensional gate that grew in
around and enjoy the scenery. Here she
my room overnight. I almost envied my Other. Maybe
I just forgot her worth to me since I’ve always had her. I
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIYA CAMPWALA
As a medical elective from the Howard University College of Medicine, Sidra and eighteen of her peers traveled to Urubamba, Peru to provide medical assistance to the townâ€™s inhabitants after a flood left many in the community homeless, injured, and sick. The trip was set up by Nexos Voluntarios, a group that promotes voluntary activity and social initiatives in Peru. Sidra brought her camera along to document her experiences and her travels to neighboring cities in her free time.
“My Mother’s Brother” This photo collection was shot when Atif’s mother learned that her brother had passed away. Although it was difficult to remain composed, Atif was dedicated to documenting this tough period so he could capture raw, unadultered emotion that represents the loss and sadness his family had undergone at this time.
A veteran photographer for Aftab, Yahya continues to share his visual explorations of both human nature and conceptual still life. Focus and perspective frame our everyday experience, whether our attentions are captured by the richness of color, or the myriad shades of gray. It has been his good fortune to articulate and represent his personal view of the world, full as it is, of beauty, sacrifice, and dignity.
No stranger to traveling, Rania has a developed an extensive portfolio of images that explore the varieties of wordly cultures. But back in New York, she has developed her own style to capture those tiny yet magical everyday moments. Raniaâ€™s personality bursts with youth, and this sentiment comes out in full force through her photography.
Hana is an Orlando based photographer and a 17 year old junior in high school. She started doing photography when she was 15. Her favorite genre is fashion photos and uses her closest friends as subjects for her photography. She works as a contributor for SAPNA magazine and provides article photos.
See more at: hanaahmedphoto.webs.com
SHERMEEN RAHMAN Shermeen Rahman is a student at NYU majoring in Urban Design & Architecture. In her spare time she enjoys dabbling in a variety of visually artistic endeavors. She began experimenting with henna in high school as a hobby and has continued to build interest since then. Her skill level developed rapidly and vastly as she tried and mixed different styles, and now does Henna work professionally.
MAHMUD KAZI While waiting for the B train on Cortelyou Road’s small and simple platform, a man descends the stairs to my left. I look at him. He raises his right hand to his forehead to salut me, stopping his hand just before it touched his grey flat cap. Maybe he’s Muslim, I wonder. I say “salaam,” but I doubt he hears me over the screeching noise of the approaching train. He stands next to me as we both pretend to inspect the metallic caterpillar.
“and my son.” Peshawar, a large city in west Pakistan is located close to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. His wife, daughter and son live in Canada. Eventually, he will leave New York to see them. His daughter, 32 years old, is engaged–but “not married,” he repeats several times.
“Does this go to DeKalb?” he asks me in an accent I can’t quiet trace.
Mahmud tries to speak in broken Urdu, but surrenders very quickly.
“Oh, yes,” I respond, quickly turning back my head to face the train.
“My wife knows Urdu very well. I know Farsi, Arabic, Pashto, and English,” he says, counting each language off on his fingers. He continues to recite a verse to me in the Qur’an and then give me the English interpretation.
“Sister, where are you from?” After my initial reactions have been confirmed, that he is Muslim, I don’t mind answering: “Pakistan.” “Oh, we’re neighbors!” He exclaims, as I stand there confused, “I’m pashtun from Afghanistan.”
“What are you studying?” he asks. “Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies,” I respond. “Oh, masha’allah! Good for you, sister.”
We both enter the train and sit down together. He begins to speak his life’s story as his strong tobacco breath and taped glasses give him an another-worldly facade. Born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan, Mahmud Kazi has a six-generation family history of judges, hence the name kazi. “I’m not a judge,” he emphasizes several times. As a young adult in pre-USSR invasion of Afghanistan, Mahmud was a soldier for four years. He was only supposed to be a soldier for two years, but his commanding officer made him stay for an extra two years–a job he did not mind doing. Afterwards, he went to California to study at an American university. During the same time, however, the USSR invaded Afghanistan. “Don’t come [to Afghanistan],” his mother warned. He heeded her words and decided to remain in the US. As Mahmud explains the CIA’s role in the creation of the Taliban, his voice is remorseful. “Fourteen members of my family were killed by the Taliban,” he recalls, “fourteen.” Moments of silence fall between us only to be interrupted by a new slice of Mahmud’s life. “My daughter went to college in Peshawar,” he says happily,
After another moment of silence, he tells me that he is meeting a friend. He needs to get to a place in Brooklyn and plans on transferring at Dekalb to the R train. His rough hands fumble around in his torn bag and finally take out an aging business card. The back has a handwritten address. “I don’t know the address,” I say, not familiar with the Bay Ridge area, “but to transfer, you have to go up the stairs and go to the other side for the R.” “Thank you, sister,” he responds, putting the card in the inside pocket of his worn leather jacket. “I am very happy to see you, sister,” he says finally, “someone familiar.” As the train stops in Dekalb Avenue, Kazi picks up his bag and exits. Before he reaches the door, he turns and says: “I hope you happiness and goodness in life. salaamu alaykum.”