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.