[Allahummabārik. May Allah bless my writing endeavours, as well as you, the reader. Ameen]
I reckon there are things we will change for ourselves, once we are all grown up. Our catalysts for these changes will be borne from experience: we know what works; we know what does not. We know which strategies may help to nurture the mind and soul; we know about the ones our recent ancestors have sworn by, but have been proven, time, and time again, to be so darn damaging.
But I swear, in our future households, all of this will change. Ours will be the homes that our children’s friends want to go to, when things become difficult at their own. Ours will be homes that are designed for free expression, rather than for making ‘good impressions’. We will not cry over spilt milk; we will not chastise our children for being what they are.
I hope we have library rooms; telescopes; perhaps an exercise bike that we rarely ever actually use. And we will not care too much about appearances: the pictures we take shall all be candid ones, never engineered to pander to some fools’ invented expectations.
At our houses – in our homes – the women will always eat first. We will not let men speak ill of their wives. We will not let children suffer from even the most minute of emotional wounds alone. We will pray together and we will eat together and we will also respect each other’s privacies. At our houses, we will treat all people – and all rabbits, and all teddy bears – like royalty. There will be jugs of milk and plates of freshly-made cookies on our tables; journals lining our shelves, quietly telling the stories of our lives; a fireplace where the TV ought to be; plants on every window-sill; plants even in the bathroom: nature of one variety meeting nature of another…
At our houses, mango juice will be drunk from wine glasses; there will be Turkish lights and astronomical lamps and vintage globes. We will leave all our phones at the door; our neighbours will be sent lasagne and Indian yoghurt and Arabian-style pies.
And maybe our smoke alarms will go off a little too often; our children will come home from school with grazes on their knees; Eid parties will leave over a lot of mess to clean up in their wakes; the smell of fire will emanate from burnt tins in our gardens. But we will simply let humans be humans; we will water little seeds in order to make them great. And we will make our love as unconditional as reality will permit us to; we will forever be taken by fancies of one project, and then of another, and then of another… until suddenly, our houses become known, collectively, as “that house” – the “why-are-they-trying-so-hard-to-be-quirky?” house, the “because-in-order-for-things-to-change,-we-must-do-things-radically-differently” house. At our places. wisdom and creativity and weirdness will come together, to make, of a house – of bricks, of cement, of wooden floors – a home.
Sadia Ahmed, 2020