Wednesday, October 20, 2010

MAKING HIJRAH 9 "Arriving Alone"



Egypt at night is a reprieve from Allah after hot days.  The breeze blows away the heat and everyone relaxes in the freshness.

Except, I couldn't relax that night.  I was traveling with a man I didn't know.  He was a driver hired by my former brother-in-law.  He kept offering me food which his wife had sent along.

"Grapes?"

"No."

"Guava?"

"No."

I was still full of the food which Mama had lovingly prepared.  Saying goodbye to her was hard.  I missed her already.  As I looked out of the window at the speeding scenery, I wondered when I would see her again...if ever.

Inshahallah.

I remembered Allah and lifted up my worries to him.  The whole reason for my journey was truly to please Allah.  With that in mind, I smiled at the thought of a new life on my own.

Sure, I had wanted to feel the protection of the outlaws but there is a stiffling effect which comes along with that protection.  I might never truly explore this country or myself if I were so intertwined with people who no longer were my family.  How healthy is that?

No, I'd be OK.  We'd be OK.

Inshahallah.

My phone rang.  It was AbuBoo and I let him know where we were.  Actually, there had been many phone calls back and forth because of all the arrangements.  Everything had been pleasant...until now.

He had arranged for me to get picked up tomorrow and taken around to look at apartments.

That's when the fight began.  My son was asleep in the car.  The driver was pretending not to listen.  And I just took out a week's worth of culture shock and anxiety out on my former husband. 

Bottom line was that I couldn't trust anyone sent by AbuBoo and I told him that.  So, it was better not to send anyone.  I hung up and did my best to explain that the man on the phone was my boy's dad and not my husband any more.

Then, I remembered how I needed to keep my mouth shut.  That is hard for Americans.  We want to blurt out everything and then some. 

I shut up and looked out the window.  It was time for isha and the call to prayer was on.

I tried to calm down.

Why was it that a man who wasn't even married to me anymore thought he could call the shots in my life?  Just because I had his son with me didn't mean that..

whatever.

It didn't really matter.  I was here and he was there.

Where was I?

I had to ask the driver.

It was one of many, many times I asked the driver where we were.  I was literally lost without him.  He was the man I needed in my life at that moment.  He would get me to my next location.

Close to midnight he did just that.  He pulled up to the gate of the school and I wondered how this was all going to work.  In the dark, I felt like I was in the middle of nothingness.  He got directions to the nearest hotel from the gas station and off we went.

Was it the bomb-sniffing dogs that put me off?  Or was it the alcoholic drinks getting poured in the lobby?  Or maybe it was the lounge singer?  No, in the end, the thing that put me off the first hotel was the price.  It was over $200 a night.  I didn't have enough to stay more than three nights. 

My goal was to stay at a hotel only long enough to find an apartment.  How long would that take?  I really didn't know but I knew it wouldn't be in one day.  I had to be careful with my money.  There was no other money until the school reimbursed me for half my plane ticket.

The hotel staff were very nice and called around.  We got the name of another hotel which was cheaper so we headed over there.  It was good enough and it was late enough to think that almost anything was good enough.  So, the driver and I started negotiating my stay.

It was not the same price which had been quoted me over the phone.

Shoot.

I didn't have it in me to pile in the car again and try another hotel so I did the only thing which we desperate women must do.  I acted like a royal b. 

It was truly acting since I wasn't mad at the people.  There must have been a miscommunication somewhere but  I needed that cheap room I had come for, even if they didn't want to offer it to me.  I knew that being in Egypt meant showing upset when I needed something done and done now.  So I fumed in English and Arabic until they gave it to me.  Alhumdulillah I got what I needed. 

"No breakfast," was the managers way of recouping some of the cost of the room.

Slow burn and then I replied calmly in Arabic with all the righteous indignation in my body, "Subhanallah.  I'm a Muslim.  I'm fasting.  If you don't want to bring me suhour tomorrow..."

And the men behind the counter replied in unison, "No! No!  Sorry!"

I had shamed them into giving me...us...food with the room.  And seriously, who else needed that food more than we did?  We no longer had a family looking after us. 

The bags went up to our teeny-tiny room and the driver went back to his wife on the coast.

I was alone with my little boy in the biggest city in Africa.

I had begged, borrowed and ...ok, not quite stealed---but darn near---to get that room and that food.  I was inshahallah going to get three hours of sleep and begin the next day's fast.

The next day would be momentous to say the least.


Chapter 10

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh good for you!!! Masha Allah
~Brooke

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Brooke!

I am happy to have you here! Nice to see you again. It's been a while and inshahallah I'll stay put so we can catch up :)

Shabana said...

that was awesome, masha Allah!