The imam who died

Abu Bakr Solomons, Southfield

The imam who died

You were this nattily dressed man

who drove a smart station wagon

‘a salesman’ someone said

You lived in this beautiful

double-storeyed house

in Repulse Road

it stood out amongst

the other ordinary buildings

it had a balcony

Someone mentioned

that you were important

but then as a child

I measured authority

by the kind of clothes you wore

car you drove

the neat black fez with tassle

(that hajis donned)

perched on your head

I could see you chose

your outfits meticulously

with good colour combination

you always waved

and smiled as you drove past

looking through the window

as if you knew everyone

I never saw your wife

nor your children, you

were always driving alone

Then one day my mother said:

The imam who lives in Repulse Road

was killed by the boere

I didn’t know about security police

She added: His kifaait may be today

if they release his body

I understood very little

Then I heard there was going to be

a huge gathering on the

new rugby field, City Park

behind our house

but my mother ruled:

Don’t go there, kanallah

it will be dangerous

but she didn’t elaborate

So I climbed onto our neighbour

Mrs Finnan’s back wall and looked

onto the rugby field

There was a sea of white fezzes

and a bier covered with a black

cloth embroidered with gold

calligraphy, stood in the middle

of the crowd like a precious gem

glistening in orange sunlight

The crowd was silent until

I heard a few men exclaiming

something about greatness

and sacrifice that never dies