Saturday, October 16, 2010

MAKING HIJRAH 8 "Staying or Going"

The morning of my interview at the school I dressed to impress:  the pressed pants, the high heels, the long red tunic top and carefully pinned hejab.  I left my little boy with his grandma and headed out with the oldest nephew.  I was going to be open to the possibilities.  Maybe being in town with the family was better than going back to Cairo.

The interview went so well.  I had every paper he asked for.  I answered every question with enthusiasm and intelligence.  At the end of our school tour, I wondered if I could find an apartment nearby.  Yes, I could see myself walking to school each day with my boy in hand. 

Originally, I had thought to leave town by now but the interview had kept me staying longer.  Now, I was adding another day so I could meet the school's headmaster.  The family was excited for me.  Maybe I would be able to raise my son with them.  There were a lot of hopes.

Yet, the next day was a completely different story.  I returned to the school to meet the headmaster, who was absolutely indifferent.  He was a beefy British man who was unconvinced about me and my abilities.  He curtly dealt with me as if I was wasting his time.  What's more, he could not promise my son a spot in the same school.  He could however get him a spot at a school nearby.

That was the deal breaker.

During my planning, I had always known what a hardship the move overseas would be on my son.  He would not know the language.  He would not have familiar faces or places.  He would be be counting on me more heavily than ever before. Seperating us was unthinkable.

My hopes for staying in the town were dashed.  I walked out shaken from the experience.  Why had I stayed two extra days?  For this?  To be treated with such disregard?

The recruiter tried to talk to me afterward.  He couldn't believe that I had not secured the position.  He tried to offer a different position at a different school.  I didn't feel it.  I felt like I had to leave and leave NOW.  I had wasted time dreaming of what was never supposed to be. 

When I returned home, I got a super big hug from my boy.  He needed me.  I felt it in the hug.  I could have cried but didn't.  Single moms can't afford the tears.  There's no one to dry them.  You have to be incredibly strong to feel so weak and to suck it up and keep going. 

May Allah reward all the single moms.

Keep going is what I did.  I informed the family that I had not gotten the job and that I had to leave as soon as possible.  I honestly didn't know how I was going to do it.  We had four large suitcases.  My former brother-in-law arranged for a car to take us after dinner.

I was leaving.

I was really leaving.

As I packed, that reality sunk in deeper.  I was not meant to be here.  I had a different plan and it was waiting for me; about ready to unfold. 

I saw my camera and took it out.  I aimed it at the photo on display in my bedroom.  It was Baba Ahmed's picture.  He had always cared for me and for Mr. Boo.  I had not made it to his grave.  I had wanted to go and hadn't gone.  I clicked the camera and captured a memory. 

The past really is dead to us.  We can't live in the past.  We truly have no choice but to move on.

So, down the steps I went that night.  Down the steps was easier than up and I prayed that the next part of my journey, my hijrah, would bring about more ease; not just in my life but in the life of my son.

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