Prayer Rug

Prayer rug. Jai-namaj. This intricate piece of intertwined silk and cotton is a staple in every Muslim house, with each family often having multiple placed in different rooms for it to be accessible whenever the time comes. Typically, these are nothing more than a medium to which Muslims pray to Allah but to my father, it is so much more. The 1960s were a hard time to be a Bangladeshi with the country in the middle of a war against Pakistan, a war for independence and cultural identity. Buildings were burned to the ground and villages were plundered, including my father's. He had three choices: run, fight, or be taken by the Pakistani militia. My father was too young to fight, but his parents were too old to run. His mother forced him to go, packing his backpack with food, clothes, money, and this prayer rug. He ran while his parents were arrested and had no contact with them until 5 years later, at the end of the war. My father goes back home into his father's arms, overjoyed to be reconnected again. However, this joy was short-lived because he soon found out that his mother was executed before the war had concluded. My father's last memory of his mother was her stuffing this very prayer rug into his backpack and forcing him to go, to save himself, and since then, he never leaves this rug behind.

Year: 1971

– Omar Siddique

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