Everyone Needs A Grandmother

Okay, the next few entries are kind of one mass one, split over a few days. I’ve been making notes for the past weeks as I see things I want to write about, but not had net access. I seem to have some time now so I guess I should spend it showing anyone reading this that I’m till alive and this blog isn’t dead yet 🙂

First a bit about now. It’s raining. In the desert. Only a person who lives in this country and sees no rain all year long can possibly get this excited about a little rain and a few gusts of wind. My cousins are talking long walks in the gentle drizzle, getting excited about catching the odd rain drop on their tongues and prancing around yelling: “Look! A puddle!” It’s a whole fresh look at rain for me. I wonder what they’d do if they ever smelt the heady, earthy scent of almost-rain that we get back home…

Ever since we got here, I’ve been reminded of what it’s like to have a grandmother again. My father’s mother used to live with us and when she moved to another town, we visited at least three times a year (every holiday) to see her. But since she’s passed away, life seems to have lost some of its richness. I’ve tried to collect her photos and keep a journal about what I remember about her, but there’s so little I wonder if I’ll ever understand how much of her character has influenced me.

Will I be able to explain to my children what a wonderful ancestor they had? But that brings up the uneasy question – will there be any children to tell? Let’s leave that one for now.

My mum’s mum is so totally different. There is no doubt that I get much of my habits and thinking from her. But despite the fact that she is more voluble and outgoing than my dad’s mum was, there is one similarity in both of them. They are true elders. They carry their experiences and wisdom in every nuance of their speech and actions.

I look at people who are now growing old and those who are young – I’m in that wonderfully amazing position in life right now where you can see both sides from the outside. The top of the hill if you please. And it scares me to see the kind of elders my kids might have to rely on in the future.

I have visions of elegance when I think of my grandmothers. Stories of a time I can only imagine and dream of living in. Their palms are worn out with honest hard labour, the kind no one does anymore. Their hands are wrinkled with experience, each line speaking of the sacrifices made by them. Their skin has taken a full circle, from the softness of youth through the harshness of the rough work until it was sandpapered by time into a cool, leathery smoothness.

And through it all they posses a transparency, a sincerity, an honesty that makes you trust them completely. I feel sorry for the people in my family who will never know my grandmothers, never hear the clarity of their low voices, the music of their trembling lullabies, never see the visions created by their descriptions.

But I am grateful that I knew them and had a chance to learn about them – however little it was. I can pass that on, and I can preserve my own stories in a way they never thought to do. Just in case, someday, someone wants to know me as well as I wish I could have known them.

That’s the thing I want to say today. If you have a grandmother, sit by her feet, ask her to tell you all the wonderful history hidden inside her memories, see them through her eyes and then write them down and keep them safe as one of the greatest treasures of your family.

And for yourself, look around, experience life and write about it from your perspective – what you love, what you hate, what you’re afraid of and what you desire and dream about. That way, some day your sons and daughters will be able to know not only the parent you are to them, but also the person within you.

Bint Ali

Treadmill Woes

Ok, so I tried out an electric treadmill the other day.   First time in my life.  The one I have is a manual one, so this was literally a brand new experience.  I loved it.   I used to love walking, but because I can’t do much of it back home I wasn’t sure if i still did like it or not.  Now I know I do.

But here’s the actual tale of woe.  On my second day at the gym, I was walking merrily away at 5. 5 km/h (in good form – arms at side, swinging back and forth like it says in all the manuals) and then this woman walks in.   She’s dressed in shorts and a sports top – while I’m in long pants, long shirt and a scarf (the gym is empty when I go but I dress that way just in case).   So Wonder Woman stands astride the machine next to me, sets the belt spinning so fast, I could hear the speed.  And then she leaps onto the mill and lands running … and keeps on running for the next 20 minutes while I’m puffing and panting and cooling down.  I slunk out at the end of my session with the steady beat of her running still echoiing behind me.

I’m hoping I’ll be a little more on the running level at the end of two months.  I don’t want to be next to Wonder Woman again, but I will miss that treadmill 😦

* * *

The one thing I’ve realised is how easy it is to fit into a different lifestyle.  We’ve been here less than a week and yet it feels like I’ve lived like this all my life.   Home is so different – the place, the weather, the house, the routine.  Sometimes I think that when I come here, it’s a sort of glimpse into that life that seems to have passed by.   The alternative life that is going on somewhere in a parallel  dimension.

I’m content where I am, but i’m only going to be here for two months.  That’s all the time there is before things go back to the normal, still-waiting-for-something kind of life.

Bint Ali

Hot on the Outside, Cold on the Inside

I’m here finally.  And it’s wonderful! 🙂  There’s so much to write about and yet I can’t seem to sit down and put it all down in words.  It’s not for lack of time, I have a lot of that, but a fear that I might not be able to capture it all.   

I have to write about my grandmother – a legend in her own rights – and about my aunt’s home (a fantastic, colourful place) and my nieces and nephew.

But all that in a day or so.  For now, if you’re checking.  I’m here and will be around insha’Allah 🙂

Bint Ali

Home and (Not Quite) Away…

So. I’m still at home, typing this out on my trusty old, audible-click keyboard. I shouldn’t be here. I should have been checking out of the airport right about now and looking through the crowds for faces that look just familiar enough for me to recognize them, yet different enough to show the passage of time since our last meeting. But I’m not doing any of that.

Today was a lesson amongst lessons. When Allah (SWT) destines something for you, you cannot escape it. From the moment we began the day, we did everything in our power to make on that flight and although we managed to make it through every single obstacle and deadline, the end result was what it was meant to be.

And then we came home and tried to get on the next flight 7 hours later and despite a dozen calls – local and abroad – they still didn’t manage to sort out one simple issue. So I guess when I say: “I’m here”, I actually mean: “I’m where Allah (SWT) wishes me to be”.

So we fly tomorrow, God-Willing, and our visa expires the day after so we’ll lose all that money if we don’t go. But I think we’ll make it.

The interesting point I’m left to contemplate is that everyone is saying there is some good in this delay. Something bad was averted. Yet, thankfully, the flight went okay for all those who did board and go forth. How complex must the network of human destinies be – each connecting to another and yet each essentially independent.

Was our not going good for us? Or was it good for the other passengers? Did it avert an evil for our entire family or just one member? Ditto the entire plane or just a single individual? Or, even more amazing, did it make a difference and each and every one’s life who was involved?

Only Allah (SWT) could create such a mind-boggling system in an instance of Kun! (Be!) and have it run so perfectly and smoothly.

I am grateful to Him whatever the consequences are, because He only does what is best for me.

Bint Ali

Missing: One Blogger

Hah! I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last blogged, and yet there’s been so much to say! We’re finally leaving on the much touted trip and I’m not sure if the Middle Eastern city I’m going to be in for the next two months (insha’Allah) allows access to livejournal.

It looks like the self-imposed hiatus of the past few weeks might becomes a compulsory one!

You might either see lots of me over the next 8 weeks, or I’ll be back in the new year with stories from this one and PP’s vision for the next. 🙂

Fi Amaanillah! (I leave you in the safety of the Almighty!)

Bint Ali