Samina Hadi-Tabassum

The Valley of Peace

The Shi’a cemetery
Hugs the curve of the concrete highway
Along a corridor of gravestones
Marked by star and moon

Suburbanites zooming into the city
Unaware of the small sign on a wooden post
Tucked under the shadow of the oak tree
Separating American Sunni grave from American Shi’a grave
In the Valley of Peace Cemetery



The Thing That Lives in Me

The thing that lives in me
Lives in my mother too
It killed my grandmother
At thirty-two

It comes out at certain times of the day
In certain days and certain months
Jumping sometimes
From year to year

It screams and howls
Throws things on the floor
Pounds heads against the wall
Points fingers in rage

It simmers for hours
Never forgets a slight
Anger and paranoia
Is what it feeds on
In my mother and me

It scares those around us
Makes them cringe and cry
Begging for it to stop
To the madness that ensues

Traced back to the mountain in Hyderabad
Where the grave of Moula Ali is perched
Cradling wailing women at the top
Who come to flagellate
With sticks and stones
Hoping the demon within
Would perish from body and soul
Moula Ali! Moula Ali! Moula Ali!





Samina Hadi-Tabassum is Associate Professor and the Director of Bilingual/ESL Program at Dominican University and can be reached at: