The Golden Switch

I wrote this poem to welcome the wife of my cousin Zubair into our family. Thanks to Abi Mustafa for bringing this poem to life with a moving recitation at the wedding reception yesterday. 
There are footnotes at the end.

Best Wishes to Zubair and Rida on their wedding.

“Unmoor!” It’s time, the whistle blows,

The weather’s bright and fair,
As you begin your voyage on
The Morning Star Zubair.

That’s right, your man is Master of
This vessel wide and long,
She carries all you need within
Her golden hatches strong.

The crew is sharp, the first mate walks
The bridge with eagle eye,
While down below the engineers
Keep engines humming high;

A dozen sailors swab the decks,
The silver taffrails, shine,
While stewards fill your goblets with
Non-alcoholic wine.

Ah! How your taste buds will delight
When foods exotic play
Upon them notes so magical
From Bombay to Marseilles.

And each day as the sun so grand
Sets on the sparkling sea,
Like Jack and Rose, you and your man
Glide in serenity.

And so you sail for days and days
Without a worry till
The seas begin to sparkle less,
The food tastes blander still.

And that is when the tide does turn,
And waves frightfully vie
To splash upon the shiny decks,
While clouds assemble high.

The hull begins to shudder free,
The crew tries hard to mend
The damage, but the boatswain’s luck
Is on a downward trend.

Disease and hardship wrack the crew,
The engines fail to fire,
The first mate tries in vain to steer
Despite the ocean’s ire.

You run to stand beside your man
As he surveys the scene:
His ailing crew, his vessel strained,
And all that’s in between.

You turn to look into his eyes
That show no sign of fear,
And sense a peaceful moment when
He nods with hope sincere,

Then suddenly, he takes your hand,
And to the bridge makes haste,
To find his first mate ‘neath the wheel
Which once his hand had graced.

He presses on with you, Rida,
Still keeping by his side,
And stops before a cabinet
Of tungsten and carbide.

A golden switch sits well encased
In glass so clean and clear,
With shiny letters that proclaim
Its role in times of fear.

Pause for effect, mood changes to mild comic irony

“Mummy Hona” 1, you read the words
A bit questioningly;
Zubair smiles back as if to say:
“My darling, you shall see.”

With one hand holding yours, he grips
The lever with the other,
And pulls down on that golden switch
To beckon to his mother.

The vessel starts to shudder now,
Its ribs moan shallow, and
The Master and his lovely bride
Look out from where they stand.

A rumble low accompanies
The sight before your eyes,
A golden hatch slides open to
Reveal a golden prize.

“Salaam alaykum” everywhere,
“Salaam” that fills the sea;
And thus emerges from the hatch
Zubair’s good family,

His mother leads them all as they
Proclaim the greeting high,
Her hands do bear a tray of her
Best anday ki mithai 2.

And even as she draws up close
And holds you in embrace,
The family of good Zubair
Sets off to work a pace

Of restoration everywhere;
Jenan assumes command,
Her father in the engine room,
With wrench and more in hand.

Ali gets on the radio
That Tariq works with speed,
While Zohra stirs a blend of Bel-
Ladonna and seaweed

Which Nadiah dispenses to
The sailors, some of whom
She carefully helps get into
The operating room.

Where Saqib and his father work
To render every care
And get those sailors up to run
The Morning Star Zubair.

Samina Chachi oversees
The scrubbing of the decks
And brings those sailors to their knees
With her repeated checks.

Tahseen restores the cabins, makes
Them cozy, warm and trim;
Maryam, Iman and Zaynab sing
A Dawud Wharnsby hymn.

And Salim Uncle at the helm,
To get her back on course,
Amin at radar, Sulayman
On charts; oh what a force!

And all of this is possible
As Javed babysits
Noor, Ibrahim, and Mustafa
With toilet humor hits.

And then, Rida, you look around,
And all over you see
A fleet of submarines with the
Remaining family;

All standing by and waiting for
A sign they can’t ignore:
Mohajir, Chida, Mehkri,
Ghias, Papa and more.

The vessel sets to float anew,
In even better form:
A crew and craft to weather yet
Another crazy storm.

The kitchen and the galleys burst
Biryani, halwa and
A host of other dishes of
The grand Navaitha 3 brand.

Pause for effect, return to reality

And as niwaalas4 supersized
Of meetha5 fill your mouth,

Pause 3 seconds

You wake up from this dream, Rida,
A little farther south.

Pause 3 seconds

…In Frankfort.

Pause for effect, concluding verses
There’s no condition, Rida, and
There is no moment which
You need await to pull down on
That “Mummy Hona” switch.

But this is all you’ll ever need
On any given day:
Love God, and love the one He loves,
(SalAllahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam)
And you’ll be on your way.

Pause for effect

Welcome to the Morning Star Zubair.

Pause for effect, read slowly.

Welcome to… our family.



1 I want my Mommy
2 A family specialty
3 The name given to our larger family
4 Mouthfuls
5 sweets

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