Day Two

What I have learnt.

Bismillah.

Security. I like the idea. Security in one’s own self. Secure people are not necessarily those who do not have doubts, fears, and such, I don’t think. Maybe it is like how ‘courage is not the absence of fear’… Maybe this sense of secureness that I seek to have, and to maintain, is not the absence of uncertainties and insecurities. These things are about the choices we make.

Today is Day Two of this thing. Today I learned that Muslim women are wonderful. In the Islamic tradition, we believe that we are technically adults as soon as we hit puberty. We are not, at that point, as mature as we can be. But, still, we are mature.

Some of my Year Sevens are growing into such wisdom, Masha Allah. Responsible, strong, and strongly kind. My Year Eights: some of them, I could speak to for hours. They have all these ideas, all these clever, and funny, and insightful things to say.

I know for a fact that I cannot easily converse with everybody. I have tried to fight my way out of this truth, at times. Some people can speak for ages about designer makeup that has gone on sale and such. And I can respect differences. But I do not appreciate it when people make comments or ask questions like, “Why are you so quiet?”

“Why are you being antisocial?

And, you know, when they outright mention that they think you’re ‘weird’. Oh, and when people comment on weight. This one person I know: every single time I see her she must say that I’ve “lost so much weight”. And she looks at me as though I am sick.

Dear Reader, I have not “lost so much weight”. Maybe between right now and, like, many years ago. But she says it every time. Yet, if I were to point out to the ‘skinny’-saying people that they’ve “gained so much weight!” and looked at them as though they were sick… that would not be alright at all. Understandably.

And if I were to ask the ‘quiet’-saying ones why they talk so much… that would not be okay either. The ‘weird’-saying ones: if I were to point out that they are (or, rather, I find them) boring… Hmm…

“Even Sadia finds that weird.” This is something that someone whom I do not even know like that, said. I wonder what would have happened if, instead, I had said something like: “Even _______ finds that boring!”

I have been thinking about the ‘weird’ label again. And if I am it, then my brother, in his own ways, is probably it as well. But I would never call him ‘weird’, except as a joke, because that is a charged word. My brother is something alright, and I know I would not trade him for the world and everything in it. If my brother is weird, then I certainly have relatives and such who are around his age who are not weird. I love them for whom they are. But Allah chose this little boy to be my brother, and I know that I would have been so bored if I did not have a sibling with his sort of personality.

My eight-year-old brother is, Allahummabārik, the sort to experiment with new words. To say the weirdest, (deliberately-) funniest things ever [once, for example, at a quiet and serious Ifthar table, for instance, he whispered to me that he’s pregnant. I could not help but burst out laughing]. He is a passionate and spirited kid, and sometimes his passions get him into a bit of trouble. He asks questions: lots and lots of them. He is the type of little brother to… give me detentions [???] and debate with me on things to no end, if he feels passionately about them. But there is plenty of time for him to mature, in the future. For now, however, this is his sacred childhood.

And sometimes, for example when… people who make unsavoury comments about his weight get similar comments returned to them… I have to tell him off a little, but… I actually find it hilarious.

‘Weird’ is what… orchids are: the way their roots claw out of the soil and such. And cacti. ‘Alien-like’ things. Like they are from other worlds. They are bizarre; unlike what we instinctively perceive as ‘usual’.

‘Weird’ is… Farkle Minkus. A fictional character whom – if I were a guy – I would give my left kidney away, in order to be friends with. His ‘thing’ is what (could be labelled as) weird. ‘Weird’ sticks out a little… or a lot. Intriguing, to the right eyes. Threatening, and an easy target for others. ‘Weird’ says things you would not ‘expect’ for him to say.

‘Weird’ is what you find that you cannot easily – for whatever reason – understand very well, or it is what you yourself would not do. But… that’s just you. ‘Weird’ is when a ‘should’ has been created. And it is when something does not exactly fit into the schemas created in light of these ‘shoulds’, in an active sort of way.

‘Weird’ coupled with security, though… wow. What a concept.

‘Security’, and the fear of what others might think. Pandering to others. It is all about that golden balance. Not forfeiting the truths of we, in order to earn their approval. And, yet, not always indulging in our own ‘truths’, before the people, if it leads to their deep discomfort. If it leads to complete unrelate-ability.

Today I received chocolates from some of my students. And Eid cards that I hope to cherish forever. And a book from one of them, (E.Y.L) which I am very excited to read. I think, what some may call ‘weird’, in me, they call other things — things that they have written to me about, in these cards. Super adorable. And perspective, baby. Their approvals are what should matter more!

My students are so unpredictable, sometimes. One of them was annoyed with something, today, I think, so she referred to it, angrily and dramatically, as witchcraft. Yesterday, one of them absent-mindedly raised her hand and said, “Pardon, Miss” in a Cockney accent. Lots of things like this.

I like it when people laugh, and when they smile. Not the polite ones. Not the fake laughter at jokes that are really not funny. Those genuine ones: the ones that spill. “I like it when you smile”. What a cute thing to say to someone. [My colleague said this to me, but my overthink-y mind jumped to thinking that I must look sad all the time, so maybe she likes it when I actually smile? A baseless thought, probably. But, sigh.]

You know how life is constant struggle and all… a big part of the struggle, it would seem, for many people is that choice we have to make: is it better and more valuable to be widely and immediately liked… or is it better to seek to be deeply, and over time, loved?

And is it better to fight to be heard, or to relax, and to sink in to whom we already know we are? In life, I have learnt that all of it matters. And that love will find you, hear you, and see you, in all its various forms, as and how you are. From exactly where you are. It is worth waiting for.

I do not find it easy to have conversations with everybody, all of the time. Sometimes, I really must exert myself, and I don’t enjoy what I am saying, or what is being said. And some people label me, therefore, as being ‘antisocial’. And then everything I have ever been told gets flipped onto its head when I encounter people with whom I always have really enjoyable exchanges. It feels like something glistens. That whole value-being-augmented-as-a-result-of-rarity thing. Like a bite of a buffalo wing after a long day of fasting. Unmatchable, dang.


With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.

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