Sajid Naqvi by Daljit Nagra


After we found our friend spread in his student room in Neasden,

overtaken by a freak heart attack, we were cordially invited

to the mosque. All the relatives who'd come flying out

of the woodwork packaged him into white cotton garments, 

the kind they all wore as they stiffed straight past us. 


They'd oiled and patted his hair, dismantled the grungy look

which had gone with his black clothes. His face was varnished

into glazed fruit and put on display. He'd sit nocturnally

crunching his way through Maths equations with The Smiths. 

Instead, someone croaked endless hymns from the Koran. 


His divorced mother was forbidden by custom to show up   

so his father from Derby was there to bring him in line

and give him a fitting ending. He helped to seal the lid, 

load him on. We shadowed the hearse outward through narrow

roads, winding up in deepest Surrey, at a Shi'ite cemetery


where the prayers raged again, chanting over his lowered

coffin, hitting the box with the force of the hard soil

his family threw, as they tucked away our Saj. 


From 'Look We have Coming to Dover!'. Reproduced with permission.