char·i·ty n. 1a. an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need; b. as in, Amma building her own makeshift Thursday evening sadaqah center in the blue-mosaic veranda which also hosted sliding parties in monsoon rain; c. my sisters and I following her around playing with the kids not knowing the price of flour or eggs or rice; d. as in, poverty making you cook rotis with a gun to your head. 2a. the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need; b. as in, “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (Al-Tirmidhi); c. I see lice covering a whole room, nails screeching in the dark, the color red blurring my vision and don’t give charity; d. as in, I forgot you’re supposed to take dreams seriously in my family. Dreams don’t lie, Dadi once told me. Yes, my psychoanalytic queen, whatever you say, I’d replied; e. I wake up for 8am French to find out a body has been buried and I didn’t get to see the face. Time difference; f. They said, Can you really attend a funeral through a phone? I heard Yes, yes, you coward, even if you jump oceans, don’t you know you are supposed to donate money when you have nightmares? 3a. kindness and tolerance in judging others; b. as in, I wanted to gurgle rage and spit it but let speech rest on her elbow, lonely in my ditch throat chanting it’s better that you didn’t attend, it’s better, it’s better, it’s better; c. His body cold, skin ironed so tight to his bones, no shadow of a wrinkle was left alive; d. as in, to put him out of his misery; e. A night funeral. Did I really want to hear the howling of the dogs, owls, a widow, and children? f. It’s better that you didn’t attend. What would you have done in the morning?
Hafsa Zulfiqar hails from Pakistan and graduated from Bennington College where she studied literature and psychology. Her work which has received the WNDB Walter Grant and a Pushcart nomination explores brown identity, dreams, language, liminality, and above all the notion of home; it can be found or is forthcoming in AAWW: The Margins, Pleiades, The Offing, Pidgeonholes, Fractured Literary, Figure 1, Up the Staircase Quarterly, & elsewhere. She serves on the staff of Brooklyn Poets & Muzzle Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @HafsaZUnar and Instagram @vibingwithabook