Azan and other sounds

On the day of my birthday I woke up to the sound of the Azan, the call for prayers, the first of the day, the one at dawn.

No longer dark, but not yet light.

The embroidered curtain at the window by my bed projects into the room a metallic blue shade of light. “The day has not begun yet; five more minutes; I can wait another bit before getting up”.

On the next day, I woke up to a booming noise. “It must be the road works”, I told myself. “Five more minutes; I can wait another bit before getting up”. It was an explosion, instead; it happened on the other end of town; nothing too serious, luckily.

And the day just followed its own course: a day like any other, with the vine leaves changing into their autumn colours and a mild sun trying to warm the world up.

A while ago a friend asked me whether when you live in a Muslim country you end up not hearing the call for prayers anymore, like a white noise that fades into the background.

The Azan becomes part of the landscape, but does not dissolve in it. Al least not for me; it marks the time and it is soothing and comforting – in a mysterious way I still haven’t manage to fully grasp.

It is the feeling of time that flows following different rhythms, rhythms that are not connected to labour or production, independent of individual necessities or constraints. It is an ancient feeling that gives stability and puts many other sounds in perspective; it is reassuring and works as a counterpart to the constant noise of helicopters and the disquieting roars that occasionally become part of the acoustic landscape of Kabul.

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