Friday, April 15, 2011

MAKING HIJRAH 28 "Not Possible"

Asalamu Alaykom,

It was not possible for me to stay in my apartment.  That idea of moving out was scary if I was going be out on my own.  It made me scared and excited if I thought of moving out and into a new marriage.

In many ways, we were already functioning as a married unit.  If I went out, I informed my man.  If he was going to the market, he asked if I needed anything.  On Thursdays, we'd go out and celebrate the weekend.

Except Thursdays were ending with a good-bye a block away and I'd go home alone.  We were engaged and not yet married.

If you've been reading, you know all this. 

There were moments when I almost laughed with joy at the pure bliss of being together. 

There had been the drying rack caper.  That was when I decided that I had to dry my clothes inside the house inside of from the line.  My downstairs neighborhood had sent her big son to pound on my door and yell at me for dripping water on her pavement.  I didn't feel like a repeat so we went out shopping for a drying rack.  I saw the one I liked and was set to buy it but Ahmed didn't feel the "fixed price" was cheap enough so he passed on it. 

Another week I went without that drying rack until the next weekend when I insisted we go back to the supermarket.  There were none left!  I've since learned to strike while the iron is hot in Egypt; if you see and want it BUY IT NOW!  So, we searched and searched the nearby stores to find another.  I didn't get mad at him and he didn't get mad at me---even though there was some stress in the situation.  We we found one eventually.  It was from the same little old man I'd previously bought my iron from and he stopped being grumpy long enough to sell a drying rack to me.

The three of us (assume Mr. Boo is always with me like my little shadow) carried that drying rack through the streets like firefighters ready to rescue with a ladder.  It was comical really.  About half way home, I realized that this wouldn't fit in my suitcase.  I was gulp!  buying something BIG.  It felt like such a commitment.  Was I ready for such a new level of living in Egypt?  I guess I had to be OK because we had arrived with it on my street.  I carried it up the stairs alone.  Remember that my man could not be seen accompanying me any where in the vacinity of my apartment.  It was those moments when I wished for a relationship that didn't end at the corner.

As the end of December loomed, I knew that I didn't want to stay in the apartment into the new year.  I wanted out.  I was nervous though to talk to my landlady.  I didn't want any problems.  I mean, I had problems like no hot water, the family's clutter which remained around me, the furniture which fell apart, and the noisy dirty street which was actually being completely torn up.  I just wanted a quiet retreat from all that.  So, for the first time in my life I made a secret plan to escape.

Ahmed's sisters came over and proved how strong women are here.  Don't let the galabiyas fool ya!  Those ladies carried really heavy suitcases down to the waiting car.  It was crammed full of stuff!  How did that happen?  How did I go from four suitcases to a carload?!  It's human nature, I guess to acquire junk treasures.  The only thing that couldn't fit in the car was...

the drying rack. 

So, for the second time, I helped carry that metal monstrosity through the streets.  I thought for the second time how it was really BIG.  I wondered if I was doing the right thing.  We arrived at the house and I couldn't think any more.  I had to do too much; unpack, organize, figure out, clean and collapse.

But I had done it!  With a LOT of help (may Allah bless them all), I was able to get out of an unpleasant situation and into a peaceful place.  It was still going to be us alone.  The plan was that it wasn't going to be us alone forever.  Inshahallah, we would get our guy just as soon as the marriage ceremony took place.  All my hope rested with that.  I wasn't 100% sure it would happen---because I'm Muslim and we always put in our heads the possibility that Allah's plan might be different. 

It was.  It was different.  It hurt.  It really, really hurt those moments right after Ahmed told me in Tahrir Square that maybe we weren't "naseeb" or destined for each other.  I cried that day because I had started to believe the hype.  We had been playing family.  We had moved all my stuff to his sister's former home.  Everything was riding on us getting married.  I was there alone and lonely.  As much as I felt troubled by my former neighbors, I suddenly felt immensely isolated.  To think that I had done all that to be rejected on the street was so harsh.

I couldn't handle it.  I couldn't.  BREAKING POINT!  We all have one.  I found mine that day.  When I returned to his family's home that afternoon, I had not eaten.  I just wanted to sleep.  All the people around me thought they could fix me.  I felt broken.  I felt so sick.

I was sick.  I was very sick.  Somehow I made it back to my new home and Ahmed's sister stayed with me.  She helped put my clothes away in her former armoire as I slept on the bed.  Her kids played with Mr. Boo.  I would get up, pray, and go back to bed.  That's it.  I felt awful.  My energy was gone.

The next day was much the same.  That night they loaded me in the brother-in-law's boat of a Buick and drove me to the doctor.  I hate going to the doctor.  If I am going to the doctor then it's serious.  This was serious.  I was not able to function.

After questions and examination, he wrote a prescription and we left for the pharmacy.  I still don't really know what it was.  I was ready to take any pill he prescribed.  It wasn't a pill.  It was a shot.  Here, in Egypt, they often do injections.  Though I had very little fight left in me, I tried my best to get out of it.  NO, it didn't have to be a shot.  There had to be a pill for this----right?

Nope.  What's worse is that the doctor at the pharmacy would need me to drop trou in the back room so he could stick the needle in my gluteus maximus.  Oh, man!  So, I was now scared and embarrassed AND because we were not married I was going to do it alone.  I told Ahmed that in no uncertain terms he would go with us into that backroom, close his eyes and hold me while the shot went in.  I had not eaten and was so weak.  There was no way I could handle that alone with a man I didn't know.  NO WAY! 

That shot hurt like hell.

So did the next one the following day.

I was supposed to get a third shot but kind of disregarded it.

By that time, I felt better.  Ahmed felt better about me and about us.

Once again, Ahmed had been with me when I needed him.  Did that mean we were destined for each other?  If someone is with you at a time of need, it doesn't mean you have to stay with them forever.  I knew that from before.  Not every man who opens the door for you is meant to escort you in.

I looked at the days on the calendar.  Soon, school would be starting again.  I had such a short time left of my winter vacation.  I felt that we really had one chance left; both in terms of time and in terms of endurance.

If our attempt to marry didn't work this next time, then we couldn't keep bumping our heads against the wall.  It would mean that we didn't have naseeb.

If you want a man and Allah wants him for you, then mountains will move to bring the two of you closer to each other.  Your name will be written all over him and his name will be written all over you.  That is naseeb.

If you want a man and Allah doesn't want him for you, then no matter how many plans and plots you cook up, it will never happen.  People can smile and say, "You look so good together!" but only Allah knows if your hearts are made for each other.  Submitting to that idea is tough.  Realizing that your plan may not be God's plan is tough.

That December, as I recovered from a move, a heartbreak and a sudden illness, I readied my soul for what Allah wanted.  Allah's plans are always best.

Chapter 29

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