Back To The Soothing Voice

On my way to my university campus this morning, I wanted to write to one of my dearest friends about how I am starting yet another semester (from hell). The speedy driver, the honking horns, and the bumps on the road don’t help if one is planning on going old school and using a pen and paper to write this letter rather than just text it all.
I decided to wait until I got there.
I closed my eyes, trying not to get mad at what got me mad the day before, and I listened to the radio as the indecisive driver finally stopped on one station.
There it was: the soothing voice I hear every now and then that recites verses from the Holy Quran. It’s the voice that, on more than one occasion, was this close to compel me to ask if anyone in the service taxi knew to whom it belonged.
The man was reciting verses from Surah Mariam, the verses that spoke of the virigin Mary’s father and later of her son, Issa (AS) – also known as Jesus.
I could tell you what I thought of when I was reminded of the story, but I want to tell you what the voice reminded me of. I’ve heard it before, not on another radio station but in a different place.
****
The Qalandiya checkpoint is tiresome, and this statement may as well be the understatement of the year. You have to spend the way hoping it isn’t packed, and when you arrive, you have to spend the time listening to “huffing and puffing”, prayers here and there, and some casual conversations. Then, you get through the “bird cage” close to a little window where you pin your identification and you may or may not cross through to the “other side”.
Then, you have to wait in the bus until it fills with other people that are headed in the same direction. Sometimes, it could take minutes and other times it could take an hour or two.
Once everyone is on board and you reach your final destination – which, in this case, is the Old City of Jerusalem – you look at your watch and think (if you’re Muslim), “Shoot! It’s about to call for prayer!”
You struggle with the things you have, your family members that can’t stand in one place, and you begin to run towards the grounds of al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. If you happen to be female and not wearing a headscarf, you have to multitask and struggle to pull out your prayer clothes from your purse while you are brisk walking.
You finally get there, and you enter the Dome of the Rock, and once you take a seat on the carpet to catch your breath, there it is again. There is that soothing voice reciting verse from the Holy Quran. The recitation isn’t too quick or too slow but paced nicely enough for each word to be articulated. The voice isn’t too hoarse or too soft but calming enough to remind you that you are finally here.
****
The soothing voice kept playing on the radio, and once we reached campus, I wanted to take the voice with me…it kept a Ramadan day in Jerusalem alive for me.

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