What I have learnt, Episode Twenty-Four: Mazhar’s Marriage Talks, and Declined Pizza [Dang!]
Yesterday had been day six times four of this thing. You know how I keep pointing out that, a) my life is a sit-com, b) that everything is connected, and that c) I don’t believe in ‘coincidences’ and ‘serendipity’ per se: I believe in Qadr?
Well, after randomly writing about Mazhar’s upcoming Nikkah (Insha Allah. Just two months left!) and about Sadia [still super weird to write my own name in reference to the-cousin-I-grew-up-with’s to-be-wife] I received news that we were all invited to Lal Mama’s, for Maat*. I thought Sadia would have been there, but no — apparently talks with her had already taken place, before.
I could have stayed at home and not have gone for this meeting. But I wanted to see what happens: Mazhar is my cousin who is three months my senior. We were in nappies together; we lived in the same house for a while, in early childhood; we played Power Rangers together. He was a dork when I was ‘cool’ [he used to snitch about me all the time, after school], and now I am a (proud) dork, while he is ‘cool’. ‘Cool’. Interesting word, which I want to explore more in my next entry, Insha Allah.
So, to satisfy my curiosity, and my wish to be there for all this, I decided to put my scarf and abaya on; I was going to walk (or cycle) it, while the others went in Mazhar’s car. But Mazhar said he wouldn’t mind taking one person extra [please don’t find this, dear government] so I got in to what is usually a death trap (e.g. 50 mph on 30 roads). Saif had to sit on Khalamoni’s lap: poor him.
At Mazhar’s: random conversations. I said something along the lines of how everything is going to change now! Mami (Mazhar’s mum) said: no, not really. Still her house; still the same pretty-much everything.
But I really do think everything is going to change: as everything always does. To welcome a whole new person – a whole new world in and of herself – into our lives. I wonder how her presence will change us; I wonder if our presences will change her world, too. Well first of all: I announced that I would no longer like to be called Sadia in the family. Sadia is my government name, for government things. In the family, I’m Jannath [it means ‘garden’ in Urdu/Arabic]. Time to disassociate myself from so many years of being called ‘Sadia’ by them, completely.
Yesterday, when they made reference to ‘Mazhar and [his] Sadia’ it just felt so weird for me. Yeesh.
Maryam had texted Mazhar to ask if anybody wanted bubble tea: she works at the local (very hipsterrrr) bubble tea shop. She gets us drinks quite often. And, sometimes after work, I look into the window to see if she’s there. She never is, when I go there.
The brown sugar bubble tea from her workplace is probably the best one. And the taro one is pretty nice too [the taro one, she had gotten for me once by accident. I’m glad she did though: it was peng. Brown and peng like taro tea. And then I looked up what taro actually is: it’s a root vegetable, rather like a tropical potato!]
I enjoyed a mug o’ hot chocolate in the garden, while being subjected to extraordinary meanness by Isa and Saif [they just flip from kindness, and wanting to talk to me about everything, to rejecting me completely]. Although I do love socialising, sometimes: I guess, when the conversations at hand aren’t really ‘for me’ — I feel extremely awkward. In these moments, I have found that it is just best for me to be alone for a while. The garden is a nice place in which to be by oneself: the sky looked amazing yesterday. And, background music: Saif and Isa in an argument with the kid from next door, who hid behind the fence (and tried to deepen his voice and talk like a roadman, bless) to act all tough.
Yesterday I saw Bilal again. Bilal is one of Maryam’s neighbours’ cat. A big cat, a ginger-coloured one. His real name is Blake. Apparently, he sort of gets neglected at home. He spends a great deal of time at Mazhar’s: they’ve even got grooming materials and snacks there for him. It is pretty much only when he needs to relieve himself, and when he sleeps at night, that he returns to his ‘actual’ home.
Yessssss it’s raining right now. This is why I love Bri’ain.
Yesterday, the entirety of the Ahmed-Ali-Alam family had been there, save for Didi and her family. Dawud Biyya had come, wearing a Jurassic Park T-shirt, and stripy trousers. Siyana had come too, wearing a pink ballerina outfit. Hackerman has range.
I think Dawud is a little like me, I suppose. I think, whenever there are so many people in a place, his mind maybe gets a little overwhelmed, and he goes a little quiet. 10/10, little brother: can relate.
Yesterday I stupidly (sillily. What?! That’s actually a word?!) had that mug of hot chocolate, thinking Maryam would get home way later. But when she arrived, and gave me my cup, I… just drank it. I felt sick afterwards: milk often has this effect on me. Like when I made that milkshake in Ramadan, thinking it would power me through all the work I had to get done. But, no: it gave me vertigo for like a day straight.
Yesterday, while we were all playing, Maryam decided to put me in a headlock on the ground, and kept telling me to “TAP OUT”. And gone are the days when I used to be stronger than her. Dawud came and punched her on the head. She eventually let me go, and then I acted like I did that. I’m Hulk.
The talk itself: very relaxed. I loved that I was really invited to sit down with them all. I guess it’s because I am, technically, one of the ‘kids’… but I am also an adult now. And this is Mazhar’s Nikkah talks. And first I sat on the counter. Then on Maryam. Then I got my own chair.
They are thinking of having the ceremony at a restaurant — maybe the Sudbury one. I thought they’d be doing it in their garden: they have these really nice sage green chairs there, which would look great with satin bows and flowers behind them.
Mazhar wants for the colour theme to be black, with hints of purple. I don’t think the extended-extended clan will be there. Safwan probably will be though — Mazhar’s wife before having a real wife. The Shawn to his Cory.
What did I learn yesterday? What did that day — the third of June, two fousand and twenty-one — have in store (through Qadr) for me? Well. I learned that I love people who are deeply emotionally intelligent. And they are probably also generally the ones who talk less. They are known to speak words of value.
Incidentally, I hate it when people make unfiltered, pointless comments. About how tired others look; about how skinny they are. Little pointless comments. And there is a way of saying things, if you are genuinely concerned about someone, about something. e.g. rather than an abrupt, “you look TIRED!” in front of everyone: “…hey, you look a little more tired than usual. You okay? Did you get enough sleep last night?” and in private. Pet peeve: when people run their mouths so freely, and without consequences, and why would they “put certain things out into the universe” [to quote R.M.] like that?
Yesterday, after a while of sitting around the table (and trying to cajole Mazhar into telling us what Sadia’s other name is — he just wouldn’t tell us) I went to the front room. Mazhar had brought pizza – five or six boxes, maybe – for everyone. And I didn’t want pizza: generally, the idea of it sounds real good in my head. And then a few bites, and I know it’s bad for me, not-that-great-tasting-anyway [pizza in Italy, though. That’s a whole ‘nother thing], and not especially good for my skin. Somebody (M), yesterday, looked at me as though I’d just committed arson, by (quietly, politely) refusing pizza.
Stomami and I also made plans to go out for Korean food next week, Insha Allah. I love drives with her, and she tends to pick the best restaurants. Apparently, this one is riverside and really nice. A treat for Jeba Khala, who is also getting Nikkah’d soon Insha Allah. I asked if Tanjin and Jannah Khala (Stomami’s sisters) could come too.
After the Maat, Ranga Mama came to the front room and said they’d all reached an agreement: that they’re all going to start ‘looking’ for me. Not even as a joke anymore. Sounds so strange. But I’m at the point in my life where it isn’t a joke anymore: they are literally going to start ‘looking’ for a person for me. I trust Ranga Mama’s judgement the most, probably.
I asked him which three traits he would immediately associate with a man who is meant for me. He said, “self-confident, humble, and grounded”. An “anchor” for me. Somebody who is very passionate about what he does, but is not a ‘careerist’, in the sense that the value of the work itself matters, and not necessarily the ‘next career marker’. Somebody deeply emotionally intelligent. I agree. And it is in the nature of women to pursue hypergamy: some women are really attracted to height; money; social status; older age. These are natural inclinations: nothing ‘wrong’ with it. For me… it’s intelligence. 150%. And moral/emotional intelligence, I think, is probably the foremost marker of true intelligence.
I think, because I love words so much: maybe my ‘person’, Insha Allah, is somebody who loves… numbers… so much? What I seek [in line with Ustadha Kaamila’s advice — that I should try to deeply consider who I want to be, and whom I want for them to be, in general terms] is:
Security. To be secure in myself, and who I am, and where I come from. In my pursuits; in my relationships. And for my person – my man-wife who makes me sandwiches sometimes – to be secure in themselves also. And for our lives, individually yet deeply together, to be filled with security. And with comfort. And with learning, discovery, and adventure: things we could never have seen coming. Islam: how we begin the day. Matching yin-and-yang rings (which I’ve already got saved, in my Etsy ‘Favourites’).
I like it when people pay attention to things. I love it when people are grateful: making a lot (of goodness and beauty) out of a ‘little’. Shakoor. Those things that people obsessed with distraction and ‘plenty’ and noise tend to call the ‘little things’: I feel very much in my heart that those are the biggest things; the best, most beautiful and worthwhile ones. A round of Freshly Grounded cards, over mugs of hot chocolate and homemade cake. That is one of my ideas of a really well-spent evening. Visiting places like Turkey, and Palestine. Going to cafés there, speaking with people. Seeing mosques.
Somebody who does not seek to escape life, but dwells right within it. Who sees the world through beautiful eyes. And, yes, is secure, and humble, and really intelligent, and grounded (because whew, I sure am not). I know I am not someone who appreciates the idea of going to Dubai for shopping; loud clubs/parties, loud places, and such. I would like someone who really appreciates the value of home. There are some people who live pretty outward-facing lives, at the expenses of their home-based, truer, ones.
I love, love, love the idea of home being the crux of things. Where one can be most free, and most nurtured. Have the most fun. Wear what yeh want; do want yeh want. A beautiful home life, as opposed to utilising home as a kind of sad place in which to quickly eat and sleep, before work. Use our phones all the time.
“I have learned how to live, how to be in the world and of the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life. Or from love, either.” — Audrey Hepburn.
I am a whole, in and of myself, and I also have my other half, somewhere out there in the world. Self and Other. Self within the Other; Other within the Self. Similarities, Differences. Didi has found hers, Masha Allah. Mazhar, too. I guess I am *Bengali auntie voice, like how they do at weddings* next. Unless there is literally nobody for me and I end up dying a spinster-hermit who sits in her cave and just writes all the time. Ha, ha… ha.
Yesterday I received a really nice email, some of whose lines: “Your blog posts have also been a great help in trying to navigate spirituality. Do keep up the good work. There’s a lot of value in what you write, and I’m sure there are many who benefit from reading your blog. If you wanna talk about any of this in your blog, I don’t mind. You deserve to get at least some blog material out of this.” And I did get some blog material out of it, so thank you for that. It is nice to feel as though I am not merely writing into some void, and that some people find benefit in these: Jazakallah Khayr.
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” — Robin Williams. And, part of this spark of madness I have will translate into me asking for a sword as my (eventual, Insha Allah) Mahr! Swords can be gorgeous, and I want a really nice one for its aesthetic and symbolic value. And to use when nobody else is around. Yes, I would rather be a sword-owning dork than a non-sword-owning dork. Here I am, Masha Allah, being all s e c u r e about it. [Mazhar, also, is ‘cool’ now, but he told me yesterday that he has a Harry Potter Marauder’s Map notebook, which he bought for himself — once an ardent HP fan, always… — but doesn’t know what to do with it. I told him he could use it as a guest-book at his wedding].
Yesterday, Tas had sent me a (really offensive, actually!!! Jk) TikTok about… being short, and having the experience of being ‘normal-sized’. I really don’t think I would have been insecure about my height if it had not been for a) the boys at school pointing it out and making disgusting jokes about it and b) the boys at school pointing it out and being *colourful word here. Will not use*s.
Yesterday, while the boys played on the PlayStation, I saw that there was a user saved called ‘Ridhwaan Saeed’. I asked Isa if Ridhwaan comes around sometimes, and he said yes, he does. Ridhwaan had been a member of our OG gang at school: from Nursery onwards. Me, Mazhar, Luca, Thomas, Foyzul, and Ridhwaan… Ridhwaan, whom I’d punched really hard once, in Nursery [and then lied and said that I’d been playing ‘The Incredibles’, and he was just in my way while I’d been running]. And then another time, I kicked him, in Year Six, for ‘being annoying’. I really feel I need to apologise for that at some point… … … … … … …
I feel guilty but also humoured about this stuff, now. In Year Seven, a boy who kept annoying me even though I told him not to: I threw his exercise book out of the window. I didn’t expect to do that, I don’t think, but… Year Six: the boy I kicked because he started on me and Tamanna. Year Nine, I think: another boy, same. And he would keep using an ‘Indian’ accent whenever he spoke to me. I warned him a few times… and then threw hand-gel over his blazer. I miss being a bit wild — but only when it is necessary. Boys wouldn’t do this stuff to other boys: they’d be afraid of being beaten up. So sometimes, as a gewl, you have got to act.
[I learned, afterwards, to use my words instead. Ref: History, when the whole class went silent, and everybody looked at me. English: when the boy who kept making racist jokes and then suddenly being nice, and then going back to making racist jokes tried to sit next to me. I reflexively flipped on him, and felt really guilty about it afterwards. But at least I got an apology from him. And I hope he doesn’t make lots of racist jokes towards the next brown girl he comes across, with the memory of this].
The above: he was the one who’d made those comments about Tunisia, and about ‘caramel skin’. And… racism. And ‘exoticisation’. Yucky.
It is terribly strange to see, again, people whom you once knew so well. The other day, I saw Foyzul. He was standing outside No. 8’s garage [he’s next-door’s nephew] while I was going into my garage. I said hello and he basically blanked me. A while later, at work, his cousin F—iha (whom I teach, in Year Seven) told me that he’d asked about me. But… he’d forgotten my government name, and only remembered my home one. Strange, because I still remember things like, for example, how when he’d moved houses from London to Birmingham, he’d found a spider in the bathtub, and named it ‘Percy’.
On our way back to the mini-van, I saw, through the darkness, a group of boys – or, men, now – walking. Hoods up, I think. One of them had been… Amran! Mine and Mazhar’s ‘best friend’ in Year Six. He said “hello” to me, yesterday, with a smile, and I said “hey” back. I think I get a bit overexcited when I see people from my childhood, sometimes. But it is truly, truly nice when the energy is matched. And I wonder if my dad thought I was just saying hello to a random person.
People look the same, and are the same, over time. But, grown, and developed, and different. Mazhar is (Insha Allah) getting married in two months [???!!!]
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; for a slim figure, share your food with the hungry; for beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” — Audrey Hepburn.
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.