What I have learnt.
Today has been, Alhamdulillah, an introvert-y day. A rainy day on a Sunday. I love days like this. Fridays and Sundays, I think, are the best days of the week.
Today, my parents went out — B&M-shopping. These days, a lot of people are obsessed with B&M and Home Bargains. Secondarily, perhaps, The Range, and Cost Co. My parents, my uncles and aunts, colleagues. Even some of my students would appear to be quite passionate about B&M.
When my family goes out, and when I am home alone, I refer to these times as my ‘Matilda Moments’. I enjoy doing my own thing. And I firmly believe in the beauty of home, and inside. There are always things to do, and always things to notice. There is a peace to be experienced; a shelter to feel, especially while, outside, it rains.
Today my space became a field of white roses. Figuratively. The ‘white roses’ are… disgusting used tissues. That cold that I woke up with yesterday… had probably been worsened by being outside in the rain for much of the day, yesterday.
Today has been one of those Sundays on which 1PM quickly became 3PM, and now it’s 10PM. I tidied my room; cleaned my mattress; tidied my ‘crafts drawer’, while listening to Nasheeds, including the Muslim version of ‘Hallelujah’.
Today I learned that my friend Tamanna is probably the best person to go to, for comfort about things. And I know that she’s being honest, because *looks at her directly, virtually* she’s a Muslim, and she has to be.
I made some masala chai, to help soothe my cramps. Pain. But never too much to bear. Besides, it is quite a blessing to have a week off of having to do Salāh. Mercy. Still, there are other ways to try to continue to cultivate Taqwa. Du’a, conversations with friends, books, Dhikr.
Normally, I make masala chai with cardamom, and a hint of ginger. This makes for a more Kuwaiti-style karak chai drink. Today I added lots of cloves, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Deliciosa. Warm and aromatic drink, rainy day. Nobody around. Solitude is such a wonderful thing, in decent measure.
Masala chai is something that I had learned to make when my dad took me to a chain restaurant called ‘Chaiiwala’. I came home and wanted to replicate it. I experimented with different ways of making it, and I think I’ve mastered the Chaiiwala way:
For one mug: roughly 3/4 of a mug of water, in a milk hundi, on low heat. Teabag in – or loose-leaf tea. Loose-leaf assam tea is probably best for this. Add Carnation to taste (that is, evaporated milk. Not condensed milk. Made that mistake once… while I had been trying really hard to impress my Aunt [Mami] with my tea. Turned out wayyyy too sweet that time). More Carnation = more of a Rasmalai-like taste, and a creamier consistency.
Add roughly three cardamom pods. Open them up (you can crack them open by pressing a spoon on them) and chuck ’em in. And a small piece of ginger. Add sugar or honey, to taste. Mix it all together. Let it boil, and rise and fall once. And then turn the heat down. Let it rise and fall like this twice more. Et voila! Masala chai. Great for soothing cramps, and for around-campfires, and for basically everything else.
Today I learned that I really want to stay on at _______ school. Everything is telling me to stay. Somehow, in some capacity. But I have to go to uni this year. We shall see what happens, Insha Allah.
I learned random things from the internet. My ‘tuition fees’ for this corona-themed academic year have not amounted to £9250. Rather, I have opted for a free trial of YouTube premium. Which I will probably keep my subscription for. YouTube, but you can turn your phone off, or use other apps, and still listen to things! Awesome… (£11.99 a month thereafter)
Well, I really love errand-y days. The ‘Hygiene’ part of Sundays. Cleaning is actually – or, perhaps, can be – so fun, Masha Allah. Indoor, homely things. I think they are necessary for that ‘Good Life’. The value of home, and how Sundays often function as a door towards appreciating our home spaces better.
Anything else I learned today? Well… that I love talking to my brother. I always have — ever since he first learned to talk. After reading one of the Freshly Grounded cards to him [“How do you think you can improve your relationship with one another?”] he told me that he wants me to spend more time with him — and then quickly added that I should stop being so annoying. Because how I am is “annoying”. Self-contradictory, much? I told him to plan and deliver a lesson to me on how to stop being annoying, and then maybe I’ll learn. [Dear reader, I will never stop being annoying, I don’t think].
Have I spent today’s time wisely enough? I still have much to do… I believe in getting things done. I also believe in the importance of the relative slowness of Sundays. Listening to what is being said, through the silence, for example. Appreciating the ‘small things’.
In a FaceTime call with my friend Aatqa, today, she had been wearing an upside-down moon necklace, and brought up the topic of the stars, and how awesome they are. I said (because it is very much in my nature, to be cheesy) that the stars are always there: we just have to change our perspective. She added: that the birds are pretty much always singing, too; we just have to listen.
An interesting quote from a great YouTube video I watched today: “On social media, we have a level of control with how we want to be perceived. Believe it or not, nobody shows you everything.”
Everything links together so well, Masha Allah, and Allahu Akbar. Another card I had picked out for my brother had read, “Are you the same person, in public and in private?”
And earlier I’d been thinking about ‘inside’ versus ‘outside’. And how we really do not know anybody. Except, in accordance with what is said in the Islamic tradition, if you, a) live with them, b) travel with them, and/or c) do business alongside them. These are through what our essences, our characters, can really be revealed to others.
Everything else is glimpses, and snapshots, engineered impressions, and things like that. And we should never, ever, ever, compare the entireties of ourselves with highly edited (i.e. edited in terms of how they are presenting themselves, and edited in terms of what our minds are brought to make of it all) pictures of others.
“Grown-ups are just kids that got big”. This was from a YouTube video too. Dawud Wharnsby (the hippiest Muslim you ever saw) quoting his daughter.
This morning, my room had been très messy. [Well, actually, these things are very relative. Whenever I complain that my room is messy, my cousins reassure me that, in their eyes at least, this is not messy. When I catch a glimpse of their living spaces when they are ‘messy’, I understand exactly why…]. Things are now clean. And the past few days have been sort of filled with social interaction, for me. And today has been quiet, Alhamdulillah. Knowing the values of things, through knowing their opposites.
Without the opposites of things, things are just… the default state of being, and this is when we are known to just take them for granted. [Can you believe that we need to breathe, all the time? We do it so… without thinking. It is the default thing, so taken for granted]
I so hope I wake up feeling better tomorrow, Insha Allah. I miss my Year Seven students, and I love their energy, Masha Allah.
Auf Wiederschen (I don’t know how to spell it).
Today I learned that it is spelt: Auf Wiedersehen. And that Capri-Sun tastes very weird when you pour it into a cup to drink it. I’m not sure if, objectively, it’s a nice drink. Or if it’s just an artificial concoction that we ‘enjoy’ because it brings back childhood memories…
[There is no ‘if only’ or ‘what if’. There is only Qadr, and blessings, and our struggles through our tests].
“Put this on the family group chat.” — Saif Ahmed (pictured above. With a piece of cat furniture on his head.)
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.