Ramadan is here, and it’s already been our 3rd day. I just got back from Fajr at my local mosque. My heart yearns to go back to Makkah. I cannot explain the thirst… the wistful tears… the sense of emptiness. I just want to be back there, looking at the beautiful black cover of the house of God. Just stare at it without track of time. Just stare at it… from afar, from near. Touch it, smell it, hug it. I just want to be back there. Dear Lord, please enable me to go there.
I got back from Australia less than 48 hours before Ramadan started. The travel experience was smooth, where I was able to make all the trickiest connections. It was interesting how I left Sydney on Friday at 10am and arrived in LA on Friday at 7am. My first time travel. Of course, I experienced a heart break in Sydney and I was trying to “escape” from my own life this Ramadan until something dawned on me last night during Taraweeh as I was having hard time concentrating despite the beautiful recitation.
I cannot escape my own life. I am stuck in my own body and in my own life. I cannot switch, change, alter, or trade my life with anything else. I am here; these days are meant to live by me in my own body. Come hell or high water, I am going to make the best of my time. No, I won’t take a drive just to escape from living my life. I will schedule things; and get things done.
This Ramadan – I will embrace life, to the fullest, with all the pain, and joy, I am going to LIVE. Because, Allahu Akbar – I am alive.
I got off the train at the Domestic Terminal here in Sydney. Printed my boarding pass to Adelaide.
As I walked through the security line, I didn’t notice anyone checking ID or I just fell through the crack. I don’t know the Australian protocol. The security guy at the scanner asked me to just put my bag through the scanner. I asked if I needed to remove the shoes. He said, nah- just throw in your back pack there. Make sure you pockets are empty. I exclaimed, “you guys are so much more relaxed than America!”
“Yeah- we are chill! Why not make this your new home then?”
I said, “why not?”
She drove down Parker road, and then a left on Peoria and then a right on E Pacific. It’s just after dusk, the newly darkened sky in the mountain-esque city of Denver. She had forgotten the way around this city she once called home. Aurora, to be specific. Ever since she lived there, she was fascinated by “Aurora”. She always wanted to see one of these phenomena in the northern sky. She even went to Iceland but it didn’t work out for her.
She decided to hit up the Utah Park swing because at night, that is where she used to go, under the open sky. And, right at that moment, an empty feeling overcame her. This was the park where she first met someone who made her skip a heart beat. Down the street a few blocks over, an Einstein Bagel is where she write a note making herself so vulnerable; to feel loved, to feel that she belongs, to feel valued. Oh the things she was willing to give up on just to feel loved. And, one after another, doors closed on her.
A decade later, she still looks for a sense of belonging. She’s moved countries and continents. She’s changed jobs, and schools. A decade later she comes back to the place she once called home, and she finds herself wandering and wondering. She keeps fighting this sense of emptiness, the feeling of not belonging, the feeling of being rejected by the world. A decade later, so many stories changed, and yet, it is as though, nothing really changed. Nothing changed.
She put on her gloves to do the dishes. Ben Rector playing in the background. Warm, salty tears of sadness overcome her. It’s been a while that she’s been carrying this sadness with her. How could loved ones hurt so bad? It hurts. It pains. She let her tears flow. She doesn’t wipe them.
She tells herself that it is good to feel this. It’s good to feel the pain. Don’t have to forget this pain. Pain makes us human. Our ability to feel our pain makes us human.
Today they left after a brief visit from up North. While it was enjoyable, she felt the pain. Just being around them hurts her. They left and her tears started rolling.
She tells herself, “This is pain. This is sadness. Tears of sadness feels warm and salty. Taste it. Feel it. Let it hurt. Let it cut deep. Just feel. It hurts. Take the time you need to hurt. If you don’t fully hurt, you won’t fully heal.”
She looked up to look out the window. The city lights are too bright for the stars to be seen in the beautiful winter firmament. She thought about the snow-covered Great Falls earlier today. The amazingly beautiful lights and sounds of a warm winter day that surprised the inhabitants of this vibrant city today.
She bought a few interesting things from a home decor shop. A country mug that has the word “love” etched on it. She took out the fridge magnet that she bought for only a dollar. It is a little piece of chalkboard. As her tears continued to flow, she wrote,
“Choose life, everyday.”
One last time, I get to write 2015 on a current date. It’s been a rather interesting year with wins and losses, but mostly with developing maturity.
I want to write about many things, but for now, I just want to focus on today, the last day of 2015.
A very beautiful Thursday it was. I got out of my apartment on Columbia Pike to go to USDA HQ to pick up an ID. DC looked empty and desolate. I passed by the beautiful Smithsonian Museum building; it looked particularly beautiful with the grey cloud above us, the red brick building and the green grass below. As I walked into the gorgeous building, the security guards, as usual greeted me with friendly smiles and “Good Mornings”. I pick up my ID and walked back out of the building to my car.
I stopped for sometime, to take in the beauty of the National Mall, much of which is going through renovation. But our Nation’s Capital is just simply so beautiful. the fresh morning air, the grey sky above, the colors all around me, the runners around me – it was too beautiful to go home. I decided to stop by the tidal basin and the Potomac just looked so beautiful. After gazing upon the river I came home.
It turned out, like me, E and R were also fasting. I ended up joining them for iftar. I brought Makluba and Mulukhiya from my favorite restaurant Jerusalem. Had a hearty iftar, prayed together, and had our usual hangout here at this blessed place in Silver Spring.
I must go to sleep, but it’s been a good day, Alhamdulillah.
My Lord, please do take care of my affairs.
Another year to reflect upon. I don’t know why, but this time of the year makes me extremely introspective. I drive for a bit longer and think deeper, it seems.
Lately, I have been getting a lot of rejections. I was really hoping to go to Greece to volunteer with the refugees, but that plan fell through. Planned to attend a spiritual retreat, but that fell through too.
It’s been a few eventful days. Last night (Sunday), I went out to dinner with folks from the State Dept and USAID and whenever I get to hang with folks from these places, it’s such an enriching experience. Talking about work and life abroad, in Chad, in Bangladesh, in Cameroon. Talking about our global security issues and what not. And, of course, just catching up with BigBehen (name altered) after a while – after her 25 years marriage ending in a swift divorce, selling her house, her being diagnosed with RA, and then grappling with all these… coming back home for a visit, buying a new house, and starting anew. Life is indeed made of moments.
On Friday night, my friend theNerdyFellow took me out to paint-nite for my birthday gift. This was my first time painting. And, it was a magical experience. The class started with laughter and joy. The instructor, from Cameroon was ecstatic to find a few people in class who knew where Cameroon was. My picture turned out to be ugly. I didn’t bother listening to the instructor. I got lost in my own art. I loved my ugly picture [will post picture at some point].
Today, on my birthday, as I went to work, my team did something amazing. They brought a dozen cupcakes. Beautiful ones. The card they signed was so very cute. I just felt so special! After work, I went to my favorite restaurant, Jerusalem, to pick up a Chicken Maqluba and a Lamb Kabsa and headed out to MejhBehen’s in Silver Spring. After the harira soup, the maqluba and kabsa, two sappy movies, green tea with mint, a cupcake and a small sprite, all of a sudden, I just felt so good about things.
I should go to sleep. It’s a little past midnight. The 15th has already started. The next couple of weeks will be spent on doing some planning for 2016. I think, things are finally going to come around. inshaAllah to a great year ahead.
My heart skipped a beat as I heard my dad’s somber voice on the other end of the telephone.
“She is not doing well. One of her lungs gave up this morning and they had to put her on ventilator.”
Choking on my own tears, I asked, “is she conscious?”
“We don’t know. They are arranging for an air-ambulance to take her from Dhaka to Singapore.”
And, I thought, that must be a huge medical bill. She’s been waiting for a kidney for about 5 years now; she’s been on dialysis for the past 3-4 years. She went to Bangladesh from Denver, to see if there would be better luck finding a kidney donor. And, while we were trying to figure out all these things, she contracted pneumonia and apparently, that case became too severe.
This morning, I received a note from her son, my cousin, that they have safely arrived in Singapore and that she’s doing a little better but undergoing lots of tests and still on breathing support. Her brain is somewhat conscious. Some folks flew in to Singapore from Denver to provide moral support. And, I said I would stand-by and remain to take off if needed.
And, all these thoughts crowd my mind. Here is a family member fighting to have few more days/weeks/months/years in her life. And, then we have days when our depression overcomes us when we don’t want to wake up and greet the new day, we don’t want to wake up another day, we don’t want to live.
I thought about every time I felt hopeless about my life, every time I wanted to stop living, every time the thought of carrying on with my life overwhelmed me – I thought about all those times and wanted to repent to my Lord for thanking Him for life, the gift of breathing on my own, the gift of touch, taste, smell, sound and sight. I am not deserving of these and I have all these and yet there are so many others, including my beloved aunt, that are willing to do anything to live for another day, to see another sunrise, to smell another rose, to see the grandchild’s smile one more time.
May Allah forgive every single instance of ingratitude.