Day Twenty-One

Subhan Allah, (Glory be to God)

Alhamdulillah, (All praise and thanks is for God)

Allahu Akbar. (God is the Greatest)

What I have learnt, Episode Twenty-One: B e a u t y… and the Bleach.

Bismillah.

It is currently 22:11 (GMT), Monday 31st May 2021. I am sitting at the dining-room table, with six red roses in a vase, in front of me. A mug full of water [the one Suto Fufu had gotten me, from Paغi]. A postcard filled with nice messages. A Qur’an. Sweetie and Mama. My dad and his banter.

They… are discussing their plans to go to ‘Peppa Pig World’ on Thursday, Insha Allah, for Dawud and Siyana. They kept asking me if I wanted to go: they plan to stay there, and then, on the way back or something, visit the zoo. I don’t think I’d particularly enjoy a trip to… a ‘world’ filled with anthropomorphised pigs and such. I’ve said no on this occasion; I will probably stay here, with Nanu, and live out my introvert-y homebody cottage-core desires.

[I am looking so forward to doing errand-y things in p e a c e. The idea of washing one’s water bottle… has never sounded more exciting!]

Today, we had our Khayr event. Our first one ever, Masha Allah, Alhamdulillah. And it all happened because… someone had moved my salsa from the staff room fridge. Actually, even before then: ’twas because of mine and Safiya’s initial conversations, in Year Twelve, about Arab supremacy, and about how we wanted to better ourselves Deen-wise. We reminisced on those beginnings, today.

Today, I decided to wear the silver-y abaya that I had worn on Eid day, with the scarf I had found at the same shop [that shop assistant had been so lovely. And I saw her again at a different book shop; again at the Palestine protest; the other day, again, at Tesco]. I took it down to iron it, but the ironing board wasn’t there. So I decided to put it on the sofa to iron it, as I sometimes do.

I ended up… leaving a burn mark on the sofa, in the shape of an iron. Alarm bells! My parents had been out, and I needed a way to deal with this mark. I had been stressed and excited about the event; I had also been quite stressed out about this.

I Googled ways of dealing with scorch marks on upholstery. Again and again, cleaning sites and YouTube tutorials made use of… hydrogen peroxide to deal with them. Hydrogen peroxide. The stuff that had been sitting, right there, in the corner of the school lab. But, alas, school is currently closed for the half-term holidays, so there was no way of asking Sweetie to get me some for this purpose.

I used the new bag that Rushna Khala (my mum’s friend) had gotten me. It is a nice shade of dark blue: a backpack. And today I discovered that yessss! It has an extra strap in it, to become a satchel! Incidentally, I’d been thinking about the whole satchel-bike-teacher aesthetic lately.

I got a bus to the place. But first I went to the hybrid veg-shop/florists’ on W. Lane, to look for flowers. I was looking, specifically, for roses, but there were none there.

At the café, I signed in [just Covid things. Flower heart flower heart. Cursive font] and was shown downstairs. We had been given half of the basement, for this event. And, since most people had been running late [just TFL things. Knife bus knife bus. Comic Sans MS] I decided to go on a little shopping trip. To Tesco – yes, the one near work, which I basically fund the existence of with my clientship, at this point – to get those roses. I got three bunches: yellow, white, and red. My hands were shaking: I felt excited, but stressed. I also looked around for… hydrogen peroxide. Or products that I could use, which contain the stuff [hair bleach contains it. So do some cleaning products. And mouthwashes].

Eventually, I settled on buying… silver-y hair dye. Contains HP; matched the colour of our sofas. I literally also made Du’a to Allah to help me with this.

Back at the café, what lovely scenes. Dim-lit, people from Khayr coming in. A rose for each of them. People genuinely do tend to love receiving flowers: it’s quite a universal joy. One of my friends from Khayr, Sitra, said this is the first rose she has ever been given. My friend Tamanna later said the same thing. [Can’t wait to inform Tamanna’s future husband Insha Allah that I did dat. Not you, buddy boi. Me.]

[Romancing my friends is a big hobby of mine.]

We rearranged the tables, to make one long one. What a sight, Masha Allah. These awesome Muslim women. Roses. Cups of coffee, cakes, ice-cream [I had two scoops of ice-cream, today. One chocolate, one coffee. And most people ordered red velvet cake]. Such lovely, intriguing, soulful, beneficial, funny conversations.

Discussions on how you pronounce ‘diaspora’. On dealing with anger. Reminiscing on days long behind us now. That sort of stuff.

There, I had a friend whom I have known since we were in nappies: Tamanna. I had a friend whom I have known since Year Nine, at secondary school: Aya (whose nickname from me is ‘Anteayer’. She’s Spanish-Moroccan, and helped me so much with my ol’ GCSE Spanish exams). I had friends whom I met at sixth form (Safiya, Nadia, Sitra, and Hanan). And then some of their friends, from uni. Subhan Allah.

Those hugs were so lovely: many of these sisters, I’d only seen them/heard their voices on Zoom. They recognised me [I tend to talk quite a bit, in these Zoom sessions. Then worry that I’m being annoyingly too-talkative]. One called me “so cute” upon seeing me. I asked her if it’s because I’m small; she said no. Maybe I should stop being so low-key bleddy defensive with this ‘cute’ thing. Embrace it. I’m ‘cute’ in my own way.

Today’s event consisted of: nice conversations. Food. Flowers. F.G. cards. Postcards [I had a box of flower-themed postcards at home. Idea for a mingling activity: give each person a postcard, and get them to go around and get it signed by the others].

Tamanna, Aya and I left sort of early. Tee had work [during this gap year of hers, she is tutoring] and I had… a bit of an unfortunate sofa situation to go home and try to deal with, you know?

The believers are but brothers/sisters.

Today, I have learnt, again, that I love being Muslim. It is the greatest gift, from Allah, to me. It is crisp cleanness, and natural beauty. Ice-cream, and a sense of togetherness, away from Dunya’s numerous stresses and sinkholes.

Later on in the day, Nadia, Safiya, and Safiya’s (awesome, sporty, outspoken and confident) little sister Sabrina came to my house, to pray Salāh. We had another really nice conversation. And, Masha Allah, I am quite glad for this day.

I have learnt that the Somali language doesn’t have a word/phrase for ‘thank you’; that cheetahs do not roar — they meow. That I have some silver hair dye left… I really want to make a bit of good use of it, Insha Allah.

Furthermore, the HP on the sofa thing… kind of worked, a bit. But there is still a scorch mark. I… will likely never iron on the sofa ever again……………………. But the stuff helped a little at least.

Further-furthermore, if our family spoken word night does ever happen, then here is the poem for that. It’s about anxiety and security and this search of mine, for ‘home’; its first lines are a play on Emily Dickinson’s ‘Hope is the thing with Feathers // That perches in the soul’.

Home is the thing with flowers,

That opens up the soul. Should make lightnesses of heavier things;

Should make poetry of our bones. // Well, I can’t say it doesn’t hurt me:

The way you speak of me so low. You blame me for all your troubles;

And if you’re right, well then, I guess I’ll never know.

Home is the thing with flowers;

I’m not sure where I went wrong.

I’m doing the very best I can, but

you seem to, and with violence, muffle out my song.

Why do my hands shake this much? Why does my neck feel so tight?

Why do you exaggerate others’ faults, and think you’re always right?

I guess I’m really hoping for

Another way of seeing things: I’ve got to lose this one for good.

I’ve got these own eyes of mine, through which to see the world, though. I’m growing into myself far more,

As I think I really should.

Do I continue to live my life, in apology to you? No, with gladness, I part from here.

I call out to Ilaahi; with certainty, I know that He is near.

I’m quite glad to be alive, while you freely say you wish that I were dead.

Well, I choose to live this life of mine //

in an outpouring of gratitude to Allah, instead.

Nah, kidding. This one’s too much; it’s not particularly ‘spoken-word-y’ either. I’m not going to edit it, and probably won’t read it in front of everyone.

“Until Allah opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway.”

[Source: Le Tweeteر. I can’t say I don’t love it.]

On our way back from Khayr [we should 100% call it ‘THE KHAYR CONFERENCE’. Just to be all dramatic and stuff] Tamanna held my flowers for me [I’d nabbed what remained of the red ones], as well as her own. A random middle-aged man asked her if the flowers were for him, and, “Masha Allah sisTah. Where are you from?” Tee just said, “no,” and we carried on walking.

Tamanna gave me some excellent advice today. Things like: if there is a difficult choice between two things, then it is definitely not the first thing. Otherwise, there would have been no difficult choice. And all these things are tests from Allah; the signs were always there. We’re in the ‘hallway’ right now, and we must praise – and exhibit due trust in – God.

[Gross, gross, gross. Ref: my – probably really terrible – annoyance when people whom I really don’t know anymore confuse me with their actions. It mek no sense to me, but then again it does. The signs are there, and the simplest explanation is the one we have got to accept, but not tolerate. But I’m going to take Tee’s advice. And I’ll take this advice and run with it, Insha Allah, while pinning it to the memory of how wonderfully Parisian Tamanna’s aesthetic had been, today.]

I want to look back at this entry in 365 days, though. What happens?! Fear and excitement: same energy, just expressed in two different ways.


With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.

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