Lost and Found
Amina lay in bed, staring blankly at the swirls of dust dancing in the early morning sunlight that filtered through the half-opened window blinds. Her husband Khalid was a blurred figure in her peripheral vision, standing at the dresser mirror buttoning the cuffs of his pale blue work shirt. Though he was only a few steps away from her, almost close enough to touch without even leaving the bed, the sounds of his morning routine—the thunk of his wooden hairbrush set down on the dresser, the rustle of the tiny plastic comb as he raked it through his beard, the slight crack of his knuckles as he rubbed cocoa butter over his hands and face—all came to her muffled, as if through a wall. Then came the creak as he sat down on the bed in the curve of space between her thighs and belly, resting a hand in the center of her back. It was too late for her to shut her eyes and feign sleep.
“Salaam alaikum,” he whispered.
His hand, gentle and warm, stroked her back. Don’t push him away, don’t push him away, she cautioned herself. Her eyes flicked to him, then back to the dust swirls.
“Wa alaikum salaam,” she mumbled back.
She was failing. Failing him, failing herself. Pulling further inward, instead of pushing out. The therapist’s words. “When you want to pull in, force yourself to push out.” She was failing.
He persisted. “Gonna write that best seller today?” he asked. His laugh trembled. He was failing too, but not for lack of trying.
When I see your face, I see the baby. That’s why I can’t look at you. That’s what she wanted to say, maybe needed to say. But those were the words she held back.
“Yep,” she said, with an assertion she did not feel.
She forced herself to look at her husband, to give him a tight smile. Something that resembled reassurance. Something, anything, to make him go away.
His smile faltered. He turned from her and rested his elbows on his knees, his hands clasped together under his chin. He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it.
“I just—I want—I don’t know what to say, Amina. I just want to know you’re okay, I guess. Or what I can do to make things better. For you, for me, for us.”
He tilted his head back and rubbed under his chin in the space where wiry hairs curled back into themselves, forming little bumps. Amina used to massage that space with coconut oil-moistened fingers, coaxing the stubborn hairs out of their nests.
“I just need time,” she said, following his fingers with her eyes.
Khalid dropped his hand in his lap. “It’s been six months,” he said.
“I know how long it’s been,” Amina snapped. She stopped and softened her tone. “I know how long it’s been, but I need more time to sort things out.” Her throat tightened around her words. “I need to write. That’s all. Get back to work, get back to routine. That’s all I need.”
Khalid pursed his lips and bobbed his head. “Right. Well I’ll let you do your thing.” He leaned down and kissed her forehead. “I’ll see you this evening.”
Amina held her breath, listening to Khalid’s departing steps down the stairs. At the sound of the front door shutting, she nestled her head deeper into the pillow and closed her eyes.
* * *
She was at a park, walking off the trail under the shade of the thick oak trees, away from the blinding brightness of the sun. A boy, her boy, trailed behind her, his small sweaty hand in hers, chattering away about nothing. A squirrel darted across their path to the delight of her son, who took off running after it. Amina stumbled over a tree root, trying to hold on to his hand, but he was too fast. His little nut brown fingers slipped out of her palm as he gave chase to the squirrel, who darted up the closest tree. Her son squealed with laughter and ran in circles around the tree, following the squirrel’s movements. He was in a frenzy, running faster, too fast. The squirrel had escaped but her son couldn’t stop running, and then as he circled the back of the tree once more, he was gone.
Amina stopped, alone among the oak trees. Her hands splayed out in front of her, touching nothing. She looked around among the thick trunks. She tried to call him, opened her mouth to scream his name, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t remember his name. A hollowness like hunger invaded her belly as the sun dropped down from the sky, blanketing everything in white blinding heat. She gasped and gripped the pillow, realizing it was just a dream, but not ready to open her eyes and face the truth. She laid on her back, breathing deeply with her hand on her chest. Her heart quieting, she thought she heard his laughter again, only the sound was different.
* * *
Laughter. Amina distinctly heard a child’s laughter. Not a typical sound mid-morning on a school day. And it was close, just outside her window. Amina sat up, blinking back the dream, walked over to the window, and flicked open the blinds. Outside her window was a young girl playing, running and tossing a red rubber ball with a woman. In her yard. Her fenced yard.
Amina stepped back from the blinds. She folded her arms and tapped her fingers. She stepped back to the blinds. She flicked them open again and, yes, there was a girl with long brown hair tied back in a ponytail and a woman, also with long brown hair loosely hanging down her back, who must have been her mother. The woman tossed the ball back to the girl, and it bounced off her head, causing the girl to giggle hysterically. The woman put her finger to her lips and pointed towards the house.
Amina pulled a dark brown cardigan over her gray T-shirt and blue plaid pajama pants. She gathered her dark, thick hair into a bun, the curls limp and prickly against her palms because she couldn’t be bothered lately with deep conditioning. She grabbed a scarf on top of her dresser, a gauzy taupe hijab, faded and pilling, that she wore every time she had to leave the house, and wrapped it loosely around her head. At the kitchen door which led to the yard, she shoved her feet into a pair of Khalid’s olive green rubber gardening shoes, hopelessly caked with mud, and stepped outside, steeling herself for a confrontation.
Amina treaded across the grass towards the intruders. The girl, poised to throw the ball, saw Amina first and stopped, clutching the ball uncertainly. The woman turned to face Amina, looking caught off guard.
“Oh, hi,” she said with a short laugh.
Amina stopped a few feet away from the woman. She didn’t look crazy. She had a round, pleasant face and plump cheeks that dimpled when she smiled. Her skin was a rich brown color that reminded Amina of apple cider, and in the sunlight her long, straight hair glowed amber. Standing in Amina’s yard in jeans and a perfectly-fitted yellow cardigan over a white T-shirt, she exuded warmth and kindness, the kind of woman who likely had no trouble making friends. If anything, Amina, with her disheveled pajamas and her husband’s awful shoes on her feet, was the crazy-looking one. Amina folded her arms and said hello.
The woman cupped her palms to her chest and spoke in a confessional tone. “I know this must look a little strange, but my daughter and I were looking for a place to play and there are no parks nearby. We saw this great yard, and I thought it might be okay for us to stop here. I hope you don’t mind.”
Amina looked around the yard. Was this woman serious? Who goes into someone else’s yard—their fenced yard, because they want a place to play with their kid? Amina felt light-headed. “Uhm…” She couldn’t think of a good reason to say no, other than the yard being her property. The woman and her daughter looked harmless. Would it be so wrong to let them play?
Amina let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. “Okay,” she said. “Yeah, sure,” she added, with more confidence.
The woman beamed at her. “Thanks so much! My name is Gabriela, and this is my daughter, Luz,” she said, gesturing towards her daughter, who stood behind her, smiling shyly at Amina. Luz looked to be about ten years old. Her young skin glowed with health.
“Luz. That’s a pretty name,” said Amina.
“Well, I wanted to name her Arcoiris, rainbow, but my husband shot that down,” said Gabriela.
Luz rolled her eyes. “Gracias a Dios and thank you, Dad,” she said.
“Hey!” Gabriela said. She made to pinch her daughter’s cheek but Luz jumped out of her reach, giggling.
Amina felt shy watching Gabriela and Luz’s playfulness, like she was the one intruding on their space, instead of the other way around. She excused herself.
“Well you guys just…enjoy yourselves. I’m going to go inside and get myself together. Can I…can I get you all anything? Water? Juice?” Amina wasn’t sure what to offer trespassers.
“Oh no, thank you,” said Gabriela. “We’re fine. We will see you soon.”
Amina turned and headed back to the house. She definitely needed to splash some cold water on her face. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she was in a strange but pleasant dream.
* * *
Strange as the morning was with the odd woman and her daughter, it was a break from the drudgery that Amina’s days had become. Amina was a writer, or at least she had been. She couldn’t think of an accurate word to attach to herself these days. A writer writes, a mother mothers. She was…an avoider, maybe. That was all she seemed to do now.
She still trudged dutifully up the stairs to her office every day; a tiny room at the end of the hall with just enough space to fit a desk and a window that let in plenty of light. That was all Amina had needed. She loved to write first thing in the morning when her mind was bursting with stories. She loved the process: drumming her fingers on the desk, staring at the blank screen, then typing the first few words, unsure and tentative, a short pause followed by a burst of sentences, and then the words would start to move, like a steady stream of water. She would write on for hours like this until the moment arrived—the moment when the words started writing themselves, when she couldn’t remember her fingers touching the keys. After hours spent writing, she felt empty, her fingers loose, her muscles relaxed, her mind clear.
Amina didn’t write anymore. She opened her manuscript and skimmed through the pages, without reading a word. She scanned down to the empty white space and stared at the cursor for several minutes, but she never added a single word. The blinking cursor reminded her of a heartbeat.
Instead she escaped into the Internet, celebrity gossip and mindless social media scrolling. The numbness hit her like a drug, she sank into it. It became her safe space, a space where she didn’t have to think or feel. That’s where she would have been that morning, if not for the arrival of the strangers in her yard.
* * *
Amina pulled a pan of baked chicken out of the oven, inhaling the welcoming scents of rosemary and thyme, and set it on the stove next to a pot of saffron rice. Khalid stood at the counter, the sleeves of his work shirt rolled up to his forearms, cutting fresh broccoli into florets to steam. Amina felt lighter after her morning with Gabriela, a little more energized. Their conversation had been mundane and frivolous, about how much they loved the fall season and their mutual disdain for the pumpkin spice frenzy it brought. At Luz’s urging, Gabriela had pulled out her phone to show Amina a Taylor Swift parody video making fun of basic white moms and their addiction to Starbucks. Amina had laughed so hard she had tears in her eyes. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d talked like that, let alone laughed. She was about to tell Khalid about Gabriela and Luz when he brought up trying for another baby.
Amina pulled off the oven mitts and tossed them on the counter, turning towards the spice rack. “Khalid,” she said, her chest tightening, all the lightness from the day evaporating.
Khalid gathered the florets together and dropped them in a pot of boiling water. Steam wafted up in curls around his face. He wiped his hands on a dish cloth and turned to Amina.
“The midwife said there wasn’t any indication it would happen again,” he said. “And Dr. Samra says it’s good for us to at least start talking about it.”
Amina sighed but didn’t speak. He was telling her everything she already knew. She busied herself straightening the spice jars, turning them so their labels faced out.
“We’re almost out of turmeric,” she said.
“Amina,” he said.
“I’ll get some at the store tomorrow. Some naan too. I was going to make curry this week.”
“Don’t do this,” he pleaded.
She glanced at Khalid. His face was a contortion of expressions: frustration, impatience, a faltering love. Her hands itched for some activity. She willed them not to return to the spice jars.
Amina swallowed and gestured towards the stove with her chin. “I think the broccoli is ready.”
Khalid dropped his hands to his sides, his lips a tight line. He turned back to the stove and poured the strained broccoli into a cobalt blue ceramic bowl, one of a trio they’d been given as a wedding gift, and set it on the counter. He paused for a second, his hands still gripping the bowl, then he let go. He didn’t look at her.
“Yeah, it’s done,” he said, then walked out of the kitchen.
Amina stood at the counter, her hands no longer restless. She fixed herself a small plate and sat alone at the table, forcing herself to eat. Above her, she heard the door to Khalid’s study open and shut, then the reluctant groan of his swivel chair as he sat at his desk.
This had become their routine. He would stay there for a few hours, checking work emails or reading the words of one of his history tomes, using an old rug he kept in the bottom drawer of his desk to pray isha. He’d eventually come down, after she had retired to their bedroom, fix a hurried plate without heating it, then slip into bed facing her, thinking she was asleep. Before settling into sleep he’d lay a hand on her hip or snuggle the back of her neck. She’d hold herself still and breathe shallowly through the encounter. That night though, he would keep his back to her and not touch her. She would only then realize how much she had come to expect it.
At the table, cutting her broccoli into small, and then smaller, bites, she nibbled over her thoughts. She should want to have another baby, but the truth was she couldn’t imagine herself pregnant again, hopeful and happy. Having birthed a dead baby, she couldn’t imagine life coming out of her. All she could conjure was her dead child’s face, his feathery eyelids and little frozen mouth, the bolt of seamless white cloth they’d wrapped his tiny body in for the janaza, the grief-choked voices reciting Surah Yasin as the pine box was laid below the earth. She couldn’t imagine any capacity for joy still rested inside her. She should want to have another baby, but she did not.
* * *
Gabriela and Luz were there the next morning. Washing her coffee mug at the kitchen sink, Amina glanced out the window and was startled to see Gabriela sitting in the grass under the sycamore tree, her legs extended and crossed at the ankles, her posture relaxed like she’d been sitting there for a while. Amina swore she had looked out the window just a few minutes previously and Gabriela hadn’t been there, but she smiled at the sight just the same. She set the clean mug on the dish rack and dried her hands. At the door, she slipped on a pair of brown loafers and the pilled taupe hijab. She wore jeans and a faded navy blue jersey tunic. No pajamas and gardening slippers; instead of going back to sleep after Khalid left, she’d gotten up and showered and dressed.
Gabriela waved to Amina and patted the grass next to her. The sour notes of the previous evening vanished when Amina sat down next to Gabriela. There was a freshness to the woman’s presence that excited Amina. The air seemed to shift, gaining sweetness, the sunlight brightened, the chirping of birds became more distinct. She wanted to ask Gabriela what they were doing there in her yard, why they came here, but this space they existed in together was a delicate bubble, and Amina did not want to pierce it.
Amina watched Gabriela gaze lovingly at her daughter. Luz, in a calf-length white cotton dress with a denim jacket and red high top Converse sneakers, her hair coiled in a high bun, walked the edge of the fence, her face solemn, grasping a handful of daisies to her chest. She stopped every few steps, pulled a single daisy and whispered something to it, then tossed it to the ground. Amina asked about Luz’s education.
“We homeschool her, or worldschool her, I like to say,” said Gabriela. “We move a lot.”
“Where have you guys lived?” Amina asked.
“All over,” said Gabriela with an expansive wave of her hand.
“So will you guys be moving soon?” Amina asked with a faint note of unease.
Gabriela squinted at something in the distance. “Well, we’ll be here for a while,” she said, somewhat coyly, and then followed more directly, “We like being here.” Gabriela’s words were meant to placate Amina, as if the woman could sense Amina’s anxiety at the thought of losing a friend she hadn’t even fully made yet.
“So what is your work, Amina?” Gabriela asked.
It was an odd way to ask about her profession, but Amina liked it for its assertion of productivity. “I’m a writer,” Amina said. Saying those words always made her feel just a little bit taller. But then she shrank. “Well, I was a writer. I’m…doing other things right now.”
Gabriela threw her head back and laughed a rich, hearty laugh that surprised Amina. “Oh, aren’t we always doing other things instead of the things we really want—really need—to do,” Gabriela said. She shook her head and cast a knowing look to the sky, as if she were communicating with something up there that knew exactly what she was talking about.
“My mother used to always tell me to stop dreaming,” she continued. “She said women with dreams always have problems. But I told her, ‘Mami, all women have dreams. They’re just too busy doing other things to do anything about them.’”
Amina chewed on Gabriela’s words for a minute, nodding slightly, then said, “Your mom is right though. Sometimes it’s easier to not try, to tuck those dreams away and…” Amina faltered, unsure how to finish that sentence.
“Do other things?” Gabriela suggested, a playful smirk on her face.
Amina laughed. “Okay, okay,” she said, putting her hand up. “You got me.”
“See?” Gabriela said, leaning forward, her long hair falling like a curtain over her arms. “It’s a circle. You get sucked in, going around and around. And you know the worst thing about it? You never get anything done!” Her voice thundered out into the quiet air. She shrugged and lowered her voice. “And then what are you going to say?” She raised her eyebrows at Amina.
Amina pursed her lips, not wanting to answer Gabriela. At that moment Luz walked over and stood above them, her face placid. They both turned to look at her. Two daisy crowns hung from her wrist. Not speaking, she took the first one and placed it on her mother’s head, then bowed. Then she turned to Amina.
“For me?” Amina asked.
Luz nodded. She laid the other crown on Amina’s head, then bowed again. She stepped back, looked Amina in the eyes, then giggled. She pointed at Amina’s headscarf and said, “Now you have two crowns.” She turned and ran across the yard to the raised garden bed, barren of vegetation, and stepped up, her arms stretched out, trying to walk across the small plank of wood without falling.
A never-used door in Amina’s mind creaked open as she watched Luz. Wondering crept in uninvited: what would her child have been like at Luz’s age? What precocious things might he have said? What games would he have invented to entertain himself? Then Gabriela announced that they had to leave and the pinch of intrusive light was mercifully snuffed out. Amina offered to make them lunch, she wanted them to stay, but Gabriela said no without giving a reason why.
* * *
Amina and Khalid’s knuckles brushed against each other’s as they walked down their street, but neither reached for the other’s hand. Khalid had gotten off work earlier than usual and suggested an evening stroll, but he was sullen and walked at a brisk pace, leaving Amina to chatter breathlessly in an attempt to fill the space between them. At some point in her ramble, Gabriela’s name slipped out and Amina stopped short, wondering how she could explain her strange friend without it sounding too bizarre, but when she looked at Khalid, who was now a few steps ahead of her, she realized from the way he squinted into the distance that he hadn’t been listening to her.
“Why did you even want to go for a walk?” she grumbled to herself.
Khalid stopped abruptly, causing Amina to step back unsteadily to avoid bumping into him. He turned around to face her. “Finish the question,” he said, his face hard.
“What?” Amina asked, confused.
“You were going to say, ‘if I didn’t want to talk’ right?”
Amina shrugged, knowing where the conversation was going.
“I’m not the one who doesn’t want to talk. I’m not the one talking around what we need to talk about,” he said.
Amina shuffled her feet, wishing she could run away. The tingle of tears prickled her eyes, much like the tingle in her breasts before the rush of milk she’d felt, punishingly, after the stillbirth.
“We had a baby, Amina,” he started.
“No.” She was angry now, her voice booming, but she didn’t care. “No, we didn’t have a baby. Babies cry and breathe. He was dead before he came out of me.” Her heart was hammering in her chest. Her breath came ragged. She felt like she would explode.
Khalid held her forearms gently. He crouched down to look at her face, though she avoided his eyes.
“We had a baby. His name was Noor,” he whispered.
Amina grimaced, turning away from her husband’s face. His hands moved down to her wrists. He held them between his fingers like he was taking her pulse.
“He was alive, Amina. He lived.”
She had a memory of Khalid taking her out for lunch at an expensive restaurant after the fourth month prenatal checkup. The fourth month was when Allah breathed the ruh, the divine spirit, into the baby, signifying the unborn child now held a soul. They’d celebrated the occasion, indulging in chargrilled oysters and rich, creamy eggplant pasta, not knowing the next month’s visit would bring unbearable heartbreak.
Khalid pressed her delicate wrists between his fingers, then let go. He stepped around her and walked back towards their house, leaving her standing alone on the pavement, feeling utterly broken.
* * *
Gabriela and Luz’s visits became a regular occurrence. Amina grew to anticipate them the way she used to anticipate writing. She no longer made the faithful but fruitless trek to her office every morning. Instead, she bought board games and craft supplies that she thought would interest Luz. She prepared snacks and set out bottles of juice and tea, but Gabriela and Luz never ate or drank anything. Amina noticed, but decided not to care.
Her relationship with Khalid had devolved further since the evening he brought up the baby. They barely spoke anymore. Khalid took on more projects at work that kept him at the office later, and spent more time in his study when he was home. He had an old futon in there, a relic from his college days. Amina had spied him sleeping there early one morning when she woke up to pray fajr. They didn’t pray together anymore either, something they had both promised they would never make a habit.
Gabriela didn’t know anything about that. With Gabriela, Amina could forget Khalid and her trauma, could shrug off her dead manuscript. She could be what she wasn’t—carefree and happy—for a few hours out of the day. Despite the tenuous state of her marriage, Amina convinced herself that they could go on like this indefinitely, she and Khalid orbiting silently around each other, filling her emptiness with Gabriela and Luz, or at least keeping it at bay with their daily presence.
* * *
“It looks like rain is coming,” Amina said, looking up at the muted blue sky.
Gabriela tilted her head up and sniffed the air. “Not yet,” she said.
Gabriela was quiet that morning. Absent of its usual smile, her face revealed faint wrinkles that started at the corners of her eyes and spread out across her cheeks down to her jawline, making her look much older. This change in Gabriela’s appearance unsettled Amina.
They sat in old fold-up chairs Amina had found in the garage. The fabric seats sank them low into the earth. Sunlight trickled through the gathering gray clouds, too feeble to provide warmth. Luz sat under the sycamore tree, engrossed in a Nancy Drew mystery perched on her knees. Amina stifled a yawn into the cowl of her oatmeal-colored sweater. She fixed her gaze on a spot in the grass and fell into something like sleep with her eyes open until she was jolted out of her stupor by a squeal from Luz, who dropped her book and ran across the yard, jumping up on the garden bed.
“Mira!” she shouted, pointing at something in the sky behind them.
Amina and Gabriela turned awkwardly in their sunken chairs at the same time.
“Oh!” gasped Gabriela, her smile returning.
In the distance they spotted a rainbow, its seven colored arches hazy but distinct. Amina smiled. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen a rainbow.
“It must have rained over there,” she mused to herself, though Gabriela nodded with a satisfied grin.
Amina laughed as Luz did cartwheels across the grass back to her book. A wash of bold sun came out, sweeping away the clouds. Amina looked over at Gabriela, expecting to share a laugh with her. Gabriela’s face was streaked with tears.
“Hey,” Amina said, concerned.
Gabriela ducked her head, a private smile still dancing on her lips. She let the tears dry on her face. She laughed lightly and shook her head.
“Luz isn’t my first child. I had a baby before her, but he died.” She was still smiling though her voice took on a grave tone. “That’s why I call her my rainbow. I was so angry for a long time. So angry.” She spread her hands out wide, as if to show the mass of her anger. “All I could think about was what I lost—and it was my loss, always mine, only mine.”
She sighed and shook her head again, then spoke. “Luz came after all that rain. But I had to heal first. I thought I had to accept his loss, but really, that wasn’t it. I had to accept his presence in my life, always, forever, just not in the way I thought he would be present.” She tapped her heart with two fingers. “He’s right here.” She turned to Amina. Amina knew she couldn’t look away. “If you keep looking for him, you will find him,” she said. “He’s waiting for you to find him.”
Amina stared at Gabriela, her eyes wild. “What are you?” she said.
Gabriela opened her mouth to speak but Amina put her hand up to stop her.
“I think—I think you should leave. And I don’t think you should come back here.”
Gabriela nodded slowly, like she had been expecting those words. She stood up and walked over to Luz, who stood beneath the tree clutching her book, looking fearfully at Amina. Amina stood but didn’t move. Gabriela turned back.
“Goodbye, Amina,” she said.
Amina watched them leave. The returned sun poured its warmth on her back, but still she shivered.
* * *
Rolls of thunder shook the window panes the next morning, waking Amina from a dreamless sleep. She put on rain boots and a coat and went outside. Standing before the sycamore tree, she held her hands out like she was making duaa, rain pooling in her palms and then sliding down her arms. She raised her face towards the sky, enjoying the sting of the raindrops. The verse from Surah Luqman came to her. It is He who sends down rain, and He who knows what is in the wombs.
* * *
The rain poured for three days straight, and on the fourth day when the sun came back, Amina went outside. She didn’t expect Gabriela and Luz to be there, but she lingered beneath the sycamore for a while, breathing in the air, still cool and clean from the rain.
She went inside and headed upstairs. She stepped slowly past her office to a door at the end of the hall. She hadn’t entered this room in almost a year, not since the morning of her fifth month checkup. It still smelled faintly of paint. Khalid had painted the top half of the walls light blue, the bottom a creamy white. Amina had chosen rainbow wallpaper to wrap around the middle of the walls where the blue and white met. She remembered the spot in the right corner where her hand had slipped, leaving a wrinkle in the paper. Khalid had quelled her anxiety over the wrinkle by placing a plush armchair, reupholstered in white chintz striped with periwinkle satin, in front of it. Perched on the small table next to the chair was a silver framed photo of Amina and Khalid standing under the sycamore tree after the fourth month checkup, big smiles on their faces, Amina in a long yellow sundress, Khalid’s protective hand on the small mound of her belly. Amina sat down hesitantly on the edge of the chair, resisting its comfort. The chair and table were the only pieces of furniture in the room. Amina rubbed her hands up and down her thighs and rocked back and forth, trying to control her breathing, grief building inside of her like a storm gathering force. She rocked and rocked and waited for it to begin.
Ambata Kazi-Nance is a writer, teacher, and mother born and raised in New Orleans, LA. Her writing has appeared in Mixed Company, Ellipsis, Blue Minaret, Love InshAllah, and Azizah. She is an MFA candidate at the University of New Orleans and currently lives in Connecticut with her husband and son.