Friday, October 15, 2010

MAKING HIJRAH 7 "Breaking My Fast"

In my pursuit of a breezy day at the beach, I had completely forgotten everyone and everything---including the time.  I arrived at the house about half an hour after the iftar had been consumed by the family.  There was the family; my outlaws.  I had forgotten about them too!  Suddenly, I was dealing with a houseful of interrogators, an empty stomach, a light head and a heavy boy asleep in my arms.  It was too much.

"Kullu qwis!"  I tried to tell them everything was fine.  They didn't believe me.  Egyptians don't.  They want to really ask again and again because if there's a problem they want to make everything better---which of course makes everything worse.

I ate with everyone talking loudly around me (and about me).  I ate and enjoyed the fish and rice.  Mama was still a good cook, even if she was no longer my Muslim Mama.  She was always going to be my boy's grandma.  And the others?  Ah, it was nice to see them from a distance afforded me by the divorce two years before. 

I had already been told, "Oh, no, Yosra!  Enti fat!"  which perhaps doesn't need translating. 

It's the strangest mix in Egypt of force-feeding until you could burst and then ridiculing anyone who gains weight.  For me, I couldn't blame Egyptians for added pounds; I knew that I had been stuffing myself (and my sadness).  On the first day of Ramadan, I steadied myself to once again conquer emotional eating.

I looked around the room.  The little girls I had last held on my lap were now young ladies.  The baby boy was now a school boy.  Young moms were now older and tired of a life of cooking, cleaning and children.  It had been seven years.  The last time I had been with all these people was...

I caught myself.  Yes, there was a lump in my throat.  I knew there were two people missing:  the father and the son. 

Mama asked me to show the pictures I had on my computer.  I showed everyone the pictures of AbuBoo.  There were lots of grimaces and comments.  I guess while I was too fat, he was too thin.  They all worried out loud for him. 

They eyed his Egyptian kids now living in America.  What a strange sensation to be once again the facilator between the family and those kids.  During our marriage, I would take the photos which the former-and-current wife would send to America (but not to the grandparents).  I would make copies and send them back to Egypt.  Here I was again trying to bridge a gap.

My boy woke up.  He was so hot and sweaty that he refused to wear clothes---just his tiddy whities!  All the pictures I have of that night are of the Egyptians, dressed like they are in chilly climes, right next to my Jungle Boy in his loincloth.  Funny!

He loved being with his cousins.  I loved seeing him enjoy the time.  He was given his first toy fanous; the Ramadan lantern.  I had to keep herding all the cousins away from the balcony for fear of my guy going over the edge.  As long as there was a pretty girl on the couch, I could get him inside.  One cousin in particular was so sweet with him and she loved him up with hugs and kisses.

The whole night made me want to stay--and not just for one more night but permanently.  I wondered if my slated interview with the school recruiter might lead to a job offer so that we could stay.  We could perhaps live in the same town with the family ---if Allah decreed.

Chapter 8

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