Anisa Rahim

7 Things I Know about Him


He was the first to fawn over a guest to enter his house. He would offer local sweets in 7 different varieties just bought from the market. He paced in the courtyard, smoked a cigarette, then inspected the table to see what hadn’t been eaten and asked why. What else do you want because I will bring it. And he would. He had that type of heart.
He was drunk for much of his life, a preference for whiskey. Why he couldn’t hold a job or take care of his crops. The last of the farmers. For his habit, he was willing to ask anyone for money. The relatives avoided him, everyone except his sister.


He carried a small pocketknife with him. He gifted it once to his niece. It was a moment when he thought he should give her a gift. A small wooden knife that could peel an apple, pick a lock maybe. It was the only thing he had on him of any worth. But it was lovely, that dark chocolate wood.


He got the disease and no one called it by its name. His stomach was bloated, he was so angry. He knew he was dying. When his sister visited, he was hopping up and down, blaming her. He knew it was over soon.


When they cut open his stomach for the surgery, it was a mess. As if our insides could be clean or orderly. But even in the world of intestines, there are variations on order and disorder, on the mess of veins, bloods, guts. His insides, the doctors led everyone to believe were dirty green, like gutter water.


Before he died, he spent 7 years applying for an American visa. Some men in Pakistan told him that he could earn money as a cabdriver. Send American dollars back and then everyone would love him. Wouldn’t it be nice to start all over again?


Where were all the people in these spread out suburbs? He couldn’t find his special cigarettes. He had to warm food in an electric box. He left for Brooklyn and met the cabdrivers and Dunkin Donuts staff, 4 to a single room, early morning shifts. Long commutes on a bus. This was harder than raising crops. This was for chumps.

He spent one day wandering New York city. He could tell others where the Brooklyn Bridge is and how he fed pigeons in Central Park.

After 7 years of trying to get a visa, he left America in 7 days.