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*Wigleaf Top 50 (2019): Longlist*

In 1994, Raheem Kader became the first and last Lajiristani to walk on the moon.

A youthful engineer, athletic and handsome, Raheem was an attractive choice. Lajiristan’s space program had begun as one of President Firaan’s vanity projects, and as such, was able to survive through years of austerity and regime brutality. When Firaan, live on state TV, officially announced a launch date and shook the hands of a nervous but photogenic Raheem, Lajiristanis couldn’t believe something so hopeful and miraculous was happening to their nation.

And the entire nation indeed stopped to watch Raheem lift his space boot out onto the moon. With millions of eyes on him, Rahim tried to shut out everything but his training, to do precisely what he’d rehearsed: walk a few steps while reciting the regime-approved script, gather a sample for posterity, plant the flag straight, and get back on the shuttle, where the task was blissfully technical rather than theatrical. But once he was clear of the shuttle, and lifted his head to assess his surroundings—he realized he was on the moon, and before the shock could wear off, there was the crystal blue Earth suspended in perfect dark before him, and most shocking of all, his mind had begun to ring with the azaan.

It wasn’t coming from mission control, and he wasn’t replaying a vivid memory, memories were never this vivid. It was the azaan (entering his mind) on the moon.

Continued at Smokelong Quarterly


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