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Photo by Michael Cover (copied from Flickr)
So the plane is landing and I’m sitting next to my friend Sara who is going to NYU — in business class, mind you — we got upgraded — and she is whispering to herself so I realize that, hello, she is saying a prayer. Like reciting ayat-ul-kursi, okay. And I’m like I want to remember this moment, I want to immortalize it, I want to always remember what it felt like when I landed at JFK for the first time in my life.
And all of my life’s moments, the defining ones, are associated with one prayer or another: bismillah, ayat-ul-kursi, surah-fatiha. And so I kept listening to Norah Jones’s “Carry On” over and over and over. Norah in my ears as the green patches became trees, Norah in my ears as the ground hit the wheels. Carry On, Carry On. I felt bad too because I always feel like God is waiting for me, specifically for me, to fuck up. And like if everything in America turns out to be a bad experience, God will be like, honey, go complain to Norah Jones.
Rabia Saeed is from Kohat, Pakistan. She was a finalist for the Editor's Prize in Prose for Meridian, and awarded the Harvey Swados Fiction Prize. She teaches Creative Writing at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.