Twenty years ago, today, something — someone — very beautiful, Masha Allah (and intelligent. And kind. And funny. Oh, dang, she’s got the generic four criteria!) had been born. Her name is Tamanna Islam, although there had been, somewhere during these past two decades, a dramatic change in surnames for her.
Yesterday had been Tamanna’s last day being nineteen years old, upon this Earth. And I got to spend (a part of) this final nineteen-year-old day with her. I, this veteran twenty-year-old. I’ve been twenty for seven months, and this friend of mine is a BABY. [I have a right to infantilise her, because yesterday she patronised me by saying the things I do are “endearing”, with my “little” bags and such. Heightism.]
Yesterday, Tamanna wanted to go outside for a walk, but I wanted to sit down to talk. [She: somewhat flighty. I: somewhat lazy]. We ordered some food. Good stuff, good stuff, and it arrived late by around twenty minutes. On the conversation menu for Tamanna’s final day of being a nominal teenager: gender interactions, including what Daniel Haqiqatjou and his wife’s current thoughts are, on certain matters; her current legal internship (Masha Allah) and my teaching year; notions of the ‘future’. Things like this.
And then we went to Waitrose, since I had to do my weekly food shop, and since she wanted to buy… bananas. Khola, in Bengali. Los plátanos, en español, y, fil ‘Arabee… الموز (‘Al-Mooz’) apparently.
And yesterday, we discussed ethnicities. Because we had been eating Iranian food, and Tamanna decided that I could easily pass as being Iranian, Egyptian, and/or Columbian or Brazilian. ‘Broadly Middle Eastern’. Tamanna, by contrast, looks… white. Maybe Iranian too. Half-Japanese, half-white. And, somehow, we also both look like we are Pakistani [Zindabad!] It’s pretty cool, I think: to seem like we are from many places. We are… positively Muslim-ly cosmopolitan, we are, Masha Allah.
We are both Bengali. Our families are intertwined in interesting ways, Masha Allah. Khala, Tee’s mum, will be helping to make some food for my cousin Mazhar’s family – and for their guests (his in-laws to be, Insha Allah) – today. My nan and her nan. My uncle and her uncle. Our aunts, and their connections with the same mosque.
On the way to the Wait of the Rose, we passed by that strange roadside ‘secret garden’, and noticed a poster about birds. Tamanna stopped at it. “So which type of bird would you be?” and I burst out laughing.
She decided that I would be a dunnock. She, by contrast, would perhaps, in my eyes, be a cross between… robin (classic, Bri’ish) and another one with a… slightly unfortunate name. Ebullient.
She found her bananas. I found my food. She told me to get “oats“, in some roadman/Cockney accent.
“I didn’t know you could read!”
She said that, when she goes to uni later this year (Insha Allah) she will likely miss, out of her three at-home family members, her cat (who, incidentally, is our cat’s biological brother). Apparently, during our shopping trip, she had been hitting the bananas a little, here and there.
“Just wait until we get home,” through gritted teeth. To make banana bread with, of course. A call from her sister (Nazifah, whom I like to still call ‘Fifa’, and who is something of a champion chef, Masha Allah) regarding that thing we all love: food.
Chocolate section: my then-nineteen-year-old friend had been in the mood for a chocolate bar. Specifically, a chocolate bar with just the right amount of hazelnuts in it. She found one with 37% hazelnuts, and had been satisfied. Corporate law: Tamanna looks forward to the day that she, perhaps, will be able to grab any of the more luxurious chocolates from Waitrose (‘Wai’yyyyys’) without even thinking about it. A hedonist in the making.
Yesterday I learnt about Jan the Czech lawyer, David (was it?) the clever and eccentric-seeming dude, and more about Tamanna’s cousins [many of her cousins are older than her, while I… am one of the elder ones, on both sides of my family].
And she wishes she could have met her future husband (Insha Allah) before the age of twenty. “What is he doing right now?!” And the first thing she has bought for her dorm-to-be (Insha Allah) is… a pillow (was it? The details… they escape me sometimes). Alas, though, she cannot replace the curtains there…
Everybody needs particular friends to bring out particular sides of them and such. I think I can see how Saif, for example, brings out a particular funny/silly side in Isa, perhaps. I see how it tends to be friendship, which brings people closer to the Deen, to goodness. In Tamanna, I have a very good friend, and a very beautiful one, Masha Allah. A gift from Allah.
A good friend is one with whom your soul feels comfortable. Guides you towards Deen and beauty, and this is what she has done for me over the years. There are parts of me, which have been realised via my knowing her. And I know that I have often had the tendency to review things in terms of the past: nostalgia, bringing up so many old memories. But: presentism. We have all those stories from days gone, Masha Allah. Ustadha Selina (whom I saw the other day) and such.
What matters even more, perhaps, is this moment. I now have a twenty-year-old beloved friend who has probably just made some really nice banana bread, and who has something of a (severe) chocolate addiction these days [get help <3].