What I have learnt, Episode Nineteen: Kids’ Cars and a Country Park.
Currently, I am at Ranga Mama’s house. Dawud has turned one of his big sit-down cars – his Mercede-ay-dee-ay-dees – over, and was using one of the wheels as a steering-wheel.
My Dawud Biyya is obsessed with cars. Right now, he is wearing car-printed pyjamas, and all over his easel-whiteboard, there is a nebula of car stickers.
I have just learnt that on Monday, temperatures may rise to around twenty-five degrees Celcius! It might be the hottest day of the year (2021).
Dawud just held my black-framed screen glasses up and asked me, “why are you wearing this one? I’ll get you pink one. Dis boring. I don’t like dat.” Little man has also said that he will buy me pink shoes: he probably finds my black trainers ‘boring’, also.
“Come, play Day Station [Play Station]!. Okay, I’m gonna take your phone. Ha ha, your phone!” — Dawud Biyya, 29th May 2021, 23:53 GMT. Update: he has now managed to get my phone disabled for a minute. And then he went to enthusiastically play a game of ‘HULK SMAAASH’ with his dad.
“Oh, where do we be-gin?
or our sins?”
Yesterday, on the car journey here (much of which is a wonderful straight line, past glass-sharp, shiny, Canary Wharf) Dawud had managed to stay awake, somehow. It was around 1AM. He looked out, at the expanse of red-light car tails, in front of us, and said, extremely endearingly: “look! It’s the whole wewld!“
This morning, I awoke in the (really gosh-darn comfortable) guest room, and overheard a conversation between my uncle and his son. “Dawud, you’re my whole world!” Children are such wonderfully imitative creatures: this is how a great article from ‘TLS’, a couple of months ago, had put it. And so are we: we, grown-up children.
Yesterday, while we waited for Fajr time to come around, Suto Mami and I stood in the bathroom, while she plaited my hair. It reminded me of a movie we have watched together: ‘Letters to Juliet’. “One of life’s greatest pleasures is having one’s hair brushed.”
Physical forms of intimateness are very strongly linked with emotional/spiritual intimacy. The conversations that you have when one person is braiding the other person’s hair: they would appear to be quite different from the ones you might have, say, over FaceTime. And perhaps this is why people in the beauty-service sector – manicurists, hairdressers, henna artists, makeup artists – are known to obtain access to people’s secrets and such, so effortlessly. [The same idea probably holds true for nurses, also. Not for dentists, though…] It reminds me of when I watched my cousin Nabeelah do Mendhi on my mum’s friend’s daughter’s hand: Nabeelah, in a matter of minutes, quite quickly got to learn so much about Aaminah. I guess it’s: I’m trusting you with a part of my physical being. You are proving to be trustworthy with that. Ensuing comfort, ease. And open-er, more flowing, (generally) organically sustained, conversations.
The night-time too: an excellent facilitator of the truest of dialogues. Connection. I really want to travel with my friend Tasnim, at least once, Insha Allah. To see the ‘Gilmore Girls’ set in LA, or something(s) like that.
Incidentally, in this life of mine, I know I just want honesty. Its synonyms: authenticity, genuineness, truth. I want this of and from and for myself; of, from, and for others, equally so. And I want for this to always reflect, in what I write. If it’s true, even if it is not deemed to be particularly ‘excellent’: it’s true.
I want for others to be comfortable, also. The idea of breathing, and of being: the sheer beauty of genuineness, and our presences in it. And uncomfortable truths, I really do consider to be far better than beautiful-seeming lies: at least the former are true.
Currently, Stomami and I are watching a psychological thriller (and I am, in a way, learning more about agoraphobia. Likely not a very accurate representation of it, here, but still). I’m drinking water out of a wine glass: I love doing this. Stomami and I are going to stay up until Fajr again, Insha Allah.
“Well, I’m haunted, but… I can’t see by what.” — a random quote from this movie. Separately:
And then Dawud proceeds to tell me something, or ask or show me something, or say “I love you. Fuldi, I love you. I love you, Fuldi.” Five seconds later, again: “Fuldiiii,” and the process repeats itself. I do not mind one bit, though. I love my Dawud Biyya so much.
“Echo, Fuldi’s calling you!”
This morning, we sat on Dawud’s sit-down cars: Dawud on the Mercedes, and I on the Range Rover. Dawud asked Alexa (Echo) to play a Peppa Pig song. The song chosen began with an enthusiastic line about the “POWER OF VEGETABLES”.
This made me laugh so much, and then we started jumping and dancing around, and I never want to forget that beautiful moment. [To connect with a three-year-old kid… one must become a three-year-old kid].
Dawud, at this point in time, mispronounces words in such impossibly adorable ways. ‘Traffic’ is “saffek”. ‘Puzzle’ is “cuzzle”. ‘Yesterday’ is “lesterday”. And so on.
Ranga Mama asked Alexa to play a song called… I forgot what it’s called. But it is catchy: “What do you do, when you’re feeling kinda blue,
in an English country ga-a-rden.”
“Family’s… complicated.” — another quote from this movie. The intricacies of our networks; of our connections. You must take all the good, with the necessary downsides. And it takes a lot of trying to emphasise all that is good, in one’s mind and heart, while overlooking whatever might not be so.
I’ve just learnt, again from the movie, that ‘apple’, in French, is ‘pomme’ Le pomme. I just Googled the etymology of the word ‘pomegranate’: The name pomegranate derives from medieval Latin pōmum “apple[/fruit]” and grānātum “seeded” [Wikipedia]. Dang. Pomegranates are ‘seeded apples’. And pineapples are ‘apples’ that look like pinecones. [I need to visit some botanical gardens reallll soon, Insha Allah].
No wayyyy: I started thinking about how, in French, the way of saying ‘chips’ (i.e. ‘French fries’) is ‘pomme frites’, which literally translates as, ‘fried apples’. Turns out: ‘pomme frites’ is an ellipsis (a shortened form) of ‘pomme de terre frites’. The French call their potatoes ‘apples of the Earth’! Whaaaat. [What a great potential pet name, also. Mon chéri… mon… pomme de terre. Hoh hoh hoh.]
Next: since ‘grānātum‘ means ‘seeded’, then… this must be where the word ‘grain’ comes from! ‘Granary’. Wot abahht ‘granite’? Seeded rock?
Quick Google search, and… yep, it means ‘grained’, and therefore ‘seeded’! Sigh. I love words. Ain’t played Scrabble in a long time though.
Dawud is never going to be this young again. What a beautiful little kid, Masha Allah. Ranga Mama says that he isn’t too distressed at the idea of Dawud growing up and leaving behind his chubby-cheeked babyhood: he can’t wait to see what the future holds, Insha Allah. The teenage years, the having children of his own, Insha Allah. But R.M. did say that there will be a last day of him being able to physically pick up his son. He said that this would get to him, truly, and that it would make him go to the bathroom and cry a little at the sadness.
It is now 08:32 AM, the next day. Sundaaaay. In a cottage-like home (Masha Allah) in a cottage-like place. I’m just waiting for Dawud Biyya to wake up, to commence his adorable tired babbling.
Yesterday, we went to Ranga Mama’s local ‘country park’. It is huge and it is gorgeous. Trees, streams. A wooden adventure playground, which we discovered. The way the sunlight filtered through the trees, also: only one word, really, for it. Ethereal. Shivers down yer spine, sometimes.
While waiting on the side, near a bench, while Dawud went back to the park with R.M. to play some more, we saw a most quietly remarkable (Masha Allah) yet subtly terrifying thing: a majestic tiger-orange fox. Stealthy creature, and an unassuming one, also.
When we came to a little wooden bridge, and had to cross it, Ranga Mama and I seemingly had the same thought at the same time: ‘Bridge to Terabithia’. A wonderful movie.
Yesterday, I looked at all the plants I could. Dots of flowers, dotted around; hexagonal and pentagonal arrangements of petals and of leaves. Wilderness: I love the word. And then:
While at the adventure playground part of the park [points for alliteration? Perhaps.] we bumped into (not literally, although that is something I would probably do) my mum’s cousin — my uncle, whom I maybe haven’t even spoken to once in my life. Or maybe just once. A passing “Assalamu ‘alaikum” and “I’m good, thank you,” at some family event at some point. He was there with his wife — Raheema Mami, who (before she got married to him) was one of my teachers at a Summer Islamic school. She also has her own cake business; her cakes are genuinely to (I won’t say ‘die’ so I’ll say) cry for!
Yesterday I learned that… I have two more cousins to add to this endless-seeming list of relatives. Guljar Mama [he has two brothers, called ‘Gulshan’ and ‘Gulraj’. In my head, however, they are all the same person.] has two children: Ya’qub and Sabrine.
Mama and Mami had just been sitting on a bench, talking, chilling. They pointed out their son Ya’qub to me: a boy probably the same age as Saif, my brother. He had been sitting, with a football in front of him, on the grass. Specifically, on a part with shorter grass. “He’s searching for insects,” his parents said.
And what a cool kid he is, Masha Allah. So sweet, so clever. We had a nice conversation, and bonded seemingly effortlessly. His three main hobbies, apparently, are 1. collecting (and examining) insects; 2. reading; 3. playing football. I sat with him for a while, to look for insects. He told me his sister Sabrine had found a beetle earlier, but that he hadn’t been having any luck with it.
We started talking about worms and snails. He pointed out a tiny lil ant-hole. I told him that worms tend to come to the surface when the rain falls [a Google search later reminded me that birds are known to mimic these sounds of rainfall, using their beaks, to get their food to come out and play]. Ya’qub had an idea: he went to get a water bottle from his parents. He was going to use it to drop water on the mud in the style of rain, to inspire the worms to come out. [I guess I used to love insects, and inspecting them, too, as a kid. I would sit in the playground, naming ‘pet ants’ names like…. ‘Anty-She-She’. It became a whole thing, in my class: our pet ants].
Later on, when Ya’qub had gone to play football with some boys he had just met — according to his parents, he tends to be quite shy initially, but then, specifically right when they are about to leave from places, he goes ahead and becomes real good friends with new people — I saw, on the ground near the swings, a most gorgeous creature, Masha Allah. It was a tiny beetle, weaving in and out of all the rocks. It rather resembled… a tiny, elegant, walking (or, crawling) bronze bullet. I wanted to keep it somewhere, for Ya’qub. But alas, to no avail.
I also met Sabrine. Adventure-inclined little girl; she is four years old. [When I asked her how old she is, she just showed me four fingers]. So, so cute, Masha Allah. She was climbing on the climbing-frames; climbing up the slide, swinging; helping her brother look for insects; standing around the boys while they played football. I have a feeling that Ya’qub must be a wonderful big brother to her. What good, cute, and clever kids, my heart. Allahummabārik.
Yesterday, Dawud learned how to go down the slide without being scared anymore. A short metal tunnel slide. I still remember how terrified Moosa, for example, used to be, of going down the tunnel slide in the ‘school park’ in Wapping. I remember making up some elaborate lie that if you go through it, there’s like a nice shop, halfway through, where you can buy chocolate. Something like that.
Yesterday, I went down the slide with Dawud. I tried to sit Dawud there first, and then sit myself behind him. But then Sabrine, this very very clever little four-year-old, Masha Allah, politely asked me why I don’t go ahead and sit there first, and then carry him over. Her idea worked!
And then: inspired by Sabrine, most likely, Dawud braved the slide all by himself.
I can’t believe I have such cool cousins, Allahummabārik. Can’t believe I didn’t even know about the existence of these particular ones… until my Qadr-ic meeting them, yesterday.
Dawud, Ya’qub, and Sabrine. My cousins who live sort-of-in-the-city, but sort-of-in-the-countryside, also. I can really imagine them all having horse-riding lessons and stuff in the future, maybe.
Also: I really think that ‘countryside-y’ air is just better for skin. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I’m using Stomami’s ‘Clean and Clear sensitive skin‘ cleanser, while here. Sumfing about sumfing. Happy skin, happy me. That is how it goes.
After traversing the rugged paths of that beautiful park, we hit the local town, in order to eat. Stomami is a foodie, just like me. When we go Green Street shopping together, our first (shared) thought tends to be: Food? We usually go to ‘Chaiiwala’, there.
Yesterday, we went to ‘Pepe’s’, and ordered a platter. I discovered that their pilau rice is actually really good! After food, we went for dessert: Ranga Mama took us to the mall, to get milkshakes from a shop called ‘Shakeaway’. The pun in the name: R.M. said that, once, he’d wanted to open a restaurant. He had plans to call it ‘Typo’ (but I told him that, now, there’s a stationery shop that has the same name). The USP would be: lots of typos in the menu. Calling ‘chicken burgers’, ‘bicken churgers’, things like that. Offering 5% discounts to people who use the menu names for things.
While waiting for our shakes [there were so many combinations to choose from!] Dawud (and I…) sat in one of those shopping-centre moving car things. I put a pound in, and skrrrt skrrrt. Off we went… to nowhere at all.
Yesterday, I learned that … blech. Some people are really not whom I guess I tried to make them be, in my head [ref: weird-as-heck rumours. And, disgustingness. *Vomit vomit*] . My fault, probably. Character is shown, over and over again, through our actions. Lies might be made about you, spread like fire; trust will be broken. I believe in forgiveness, but sometimes I don’t think that trust can ever truly be repaired. Disappointment. But the signs were already there, already. I just wish I’d trusted my intuition, then, instead of forcing it into silence, in pursuit of this ‘love-rooted connection’, which I’d found myself chasing after. Open yer eyes. [I am super glad that I care way less, now. I’m only in this Dunya for a while. No need to get so attached to things; what and whom are for me are what and whom are for me].
Yesterday, while Ranga Mama had been changing Dawud’s nappy, Dawud said that he is going to chuck his dad’s car in the bin! Grand plans. He also told me that he would throw me out of the window or something. I said, “pick me up then”. And in that moment, he realised that his plans had been foiled.
And, yesterday, Ranga Mama and I had some of our usual sorts of conversations. Speaking about gossip culture in terms of ‘Occam’s Razor’. Talking about just how high-maintenance the human body is. Child Psychology. Things like that.
Yesterday, Dawud scribbled all over my TLS paper. The dude on the front cover: he drew all over it, then called it “Sassa” (‘paternal uncle’). Dawud also sometimes calls people his “babes”, with an emphasised ‘s’ sound at the end. “You’re my babes”.
All of these ‘perfectly imperfect’ things, in this here world. They’re actually… far more perfect than we, at present, can ever fathom.
Also, random, but: sort of a while ago, I found out that someone I knew in a particular capacity has… changed his name (from a very ‘ordinary’ one) to… the name of a particular flower. He seems to have journeyed, as many people do, through the very academic/corporate path, right into the very ‘spiritual’ one. He used to suffer from bad panic attacks, and it seemed as though there was an atmosphere of anxiety at his old workplace: which, ironically, had been a private healthcare centre. [This process is something I had first came across, I suppose, in a book that my aunt Avelina had gifted me, in Year Nine. ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’. I think I’d gone through sort of the same process. In Year Nine, I wanted for people to call me ‘Sasanqua’… … .]
‘Spirituality’: connections with things greater than ego, greater than ourselves. Fitrah. I thoroughly believe that the ways to connect with Fitrah are… 1. Salāh / Qur’an. Conversations with Allah. 2. Nature. 3. Spending time with children. Professional fun-havers, and closer to Fitrah. 4. Good food, probably. 5. The spousal relationship. Physical, emotional, spiritual. Eternal, Insha Allah.
All, such very healing stuff. The only way to be truly okay is to shed ourselves of Dunya’s pollutions. Other things: maintaining good hygiene: purity. Sitting on the ground.
Walking through the woods: very… thought-inducing. Peace-provoking. Healing; reassuring.
Ranga Mama, Stomami and Dawud have just woken up. Ranga Mama said: “you’re my life, Baba. You’re my life.” And Dawud said he wants to go back to the country park.
Finally, to end this entry slightly abruptly: everything, everything, everything (the trees, and the stars, our passions and our lives) tends towards God Alone.
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.