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Make Love, Not War
by Clare Ramsaran

Two women
One from the North of England
Salifa was her name
her parents good Muslims from Pakistan,
she laughed at her own jokes
told in round Yorkshire vowels
drove a red, convertible babe-magnet

The other, her lover
from the South
we’ll call her Sangeeta,
her parents good Hindus from India
with a good Hindu daughter
Concentrating on work
Never chasing the boys

That summer
London basked in the sun and we basked too
We jumped in the back of Salifa’s Triumph Toledo
while Sangeeta sat in the front
licking ice-cream

They kissed in the park after dark
wore matching dresses to Gay Pride
eagerly exchanged gold-coloured Sony walkmans

These star-and-crescent crossed lovers
dismissed the divide of respective religions
risked wrath with their rainbow alliance

My mother
Her parents good Catholics from Ireland
Walked into this tableau
These two poster girls for ‘the life’ impressed and charmed her
Their joy disarmed her
Their smiles showed in her eyes

But on learning that Salifa was Muslim
and Sangeeta Hindu
my mother’s forehead
became furrowed
and she frowned

It must be difficult she murmured
remembering her life at their age
when she could not bring a Protestant boy
to a home
bloated with Blessed Virgin Mary’s
crammed with crucifixes
replete with rosaries

A happy ending was needed
for the urban fairytale of Salifa and Sangeeta

Her eyes brightened
on finding a commonality none could deny
a hint of triumph entered her voice
the answer?
their gender - the same
that’s all

Maybe it is that simple
Maybe we need our own Army of Lovers
fighting religious discord
laying down - not their lives for their brothers
but their bodies for each other

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