“We have to keep trusting God. We can’t just trust God when he’s doing what we want. We have to trust him even when things are not as we would like them.”
– Family Life, Akhil Sharma
.. not the movie. I’ve been doing a lot of self reflecting this Ramadan (don’t laugh) in order to become a better person on the whole. I was thinking about grudges and how some of them consume us like a fire. I have decided to not hold grudges against anyone and not feel so strongly when someone else holds a grudge against me. I realize that everyone is dealing with their own issues and holding on to one hurtful thing that someone said eons ago is not going to make my life any easier. Holding a grudge is like adding on an excess weight to my shoulder that I do not want. I don’t want to waste precious time in my life from wondering why so and so was mean, rude, etc.
I’ve decided to be carefree about these things and not let them gnaw at my brain. ‘Cause really, no good can come from these resentful thoughts.
P.S : How horrible was that movie The Grudge? I despise the entire horror genre.
“If everybody likes you. you’re pretty dull.”
– Bette Davis
Yesterday I was talking to my friend S, who is from South Korea about the differences in our countries and our families. “I had an arranged marriage”, I told her.
“So you and your husband are same religion?”, she asked.
“Oh, we are not. My husband is Christian and I am Buddhist but I’ve never been to a temple. In my country we have no religion. I go to church every Sunday because it makes my husband happy. But I do not understand when the priest talks. I think, how can they believe in God. But I hope that my son believes in God when he grows up, maybe it will help him when something happens to him.”
Then she proceeded to tell me about another girl she met who was on an R (refugee) visa as she had to flee from Iran because of religious persecution.
On one end was this woman who did not have a trace of any religion yet, wanted the opposite for her child. At the other end of the spectrum was a woman who had to leave her country to hold on to her beliefs.
I realize how lucky I am to have grown up where I did – India, where the streets are dirty and cows wander by. India, where I could practise my religion freely. I went to school with Hindus, Muslims and Christians. We made Pongal on Pongal day and exchanged biriyani and cakes on respective occasions. My neighbors were Hindus and my bestest friends are Christians. I respect their belief, and they mine. I did not have to think twice about talking about prayers or wearing a headscarf. I studied in a convent where the values they taught me were the same as what my parents did. I had freedom all along and never really realized how bad it is for others who don’t.
I also understand that this may not be true for everyone who lives in India. But I thank God that the South is peaceful, that the people may not be hip and modern but they are tolerant and loving.
Honestly speaking, ever since I moved to the US I’ve been afraid of my headscarf instigating others, thanks to the countless stories I hear. But, thankfully, that all these fears were only in my mind. I have never felt awkward or threatened here. I did have my fears while riding the bus every day. There are a lot of crazy people in America and by crazy I mean for real crazy, like people mumbling stuff, screaming expletives, reciting poetry randomly, etc. I know its uncalled for but I was always worried one of them might say something to me. The only things that I had thrown at me were nice things – “You look really good in that”, and by that they meant my scarf. This made me happy. And now I finally feel like I belong.
It took me 24 years to realize how important it is to have the freedom to stick to your beliefs. But what if you have all the freedom in the world and still do not believe? Like the case of my friend S. Maybe she does not have religion because she does not feel the need for it in her life. That’s a freedom too. But what if she just never had the opportunity to experience the other side? Maybe her parents were not religious at all, and that’s a missed opportunity right there. Her country did not believe in any religion, that’s another one. But now she has a husband whom she accompanies to church every Sunday. I really hope that she gets to fill that void of God and the what, why, who’s with a little faith.
Growing up, all I ever wanted was a room of my own. We lived in a two bedroom apartment for the longest time. I never had a room of my own. The general area of the house was my refuge. I kept myself busy during drowsy afternoons but I wanted a room I could escape to. I watched a lot of teenage dramas and I was itching to ‘bang the door shut in anger’. But my wish never came true until I was sixteen.
Once we moved house and I got a room of my own, I never wanted to come out. My room was my solace. It was my protection from the big bad world outside. I filled that room with my dreams and my pains. The walls speak of my heartaches. The floor absorbed my tears and the high ceilings accommodated my dreams. My room watched me grow from a naive sixteen year old to a… well, what I am now. The crazy thing is I always thought that my room would never change, it would remain the same, always my protection from the outside world. But when I went back this time I felt disoriented. It felt like my room had changed. My once comfortable bed that held my body shape now hit me like a rock. I felt weird and uncomfortable like I was living another life.
Every night when I went to bed I couldn’t help but think about the room I left back in California. I missed my bed and my fluffy comforter. When my mind started associating that with home was when I realized, much to my dismay, my solace was where I had stayed for the past year. This realization hurt my heart like crazy. For days I kept thinking my mother had moved my things and my room had changed whereas in reality it was I who had changed. I had been living away from my previous life and walking back in to it sent my senses in to disarray.
Today, as much as I miss my room I know that the girl who lived there was a slightly different one. She was confused and naive, among other things but she always had hope. I wouldn’t change a thing about that girl, or the room for that matter (trust me, there were quite a few things that needed to be changed). That girl and that room helped me appreciate the person I am now.
Ramadan Kareem, everyone! This year is going to be my first Ramadan away from home, in a different country with a fifteen hour fasting time. This will also be my first year making **iftar and preparing for *suhoor, and I’m already starting to appreciate my mother for all the years she cooked it for me. I now realize it’s a hard thing to strike balance between your spiritual side and well, keeping house. I try to “keep” my house decent enough. It gets messy every few days and I do get lazy but I try to get by.
I know I will miss home terribly during Ramadan but I don’t want to admit it. I will miss the food and the bit of forced friendliness that Ramadan injects, both in society and family. We have suhoor together and break iftaar as a family. I will miss my annual iftar potluck with my girls (especially the one year where we went a bit wild, you know the one I’m talking about, ***Kuki). I will miss all the tiny traditions that I’ve done subconsciously. I only hope to continue with them and hopefully, create new traditions.
I will miss planning my Eid outfit. But that’s cause I already planned it in super advance this year.
Oh, I will also miss the samosas. Mmm.. samosas.
Have a blessed Ramadan, people. I pray we all come out of it as satisfied and better people.
*suhoor : Meal had at sunrise during Ramadan (fasting) time.
**iftar : Meal had at sunset during Ramadan (fasing) time.
*** Kuki : My stalker. I would named you the other thing but I don’t want people who read my blog to think I’m a pervert. Also, hi.
RM tagged everyone doing the blog marathon to do the year end tag. I’ve read the other blogger’s tag so here goes mine.
1. What did you do in 2012 that you’ve never done before?
Umm.. I got married.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolution, and will you make more for next?
I didn’t have any resolutions for last year but I did manage to lose some weight that I had been carrying. So I was happy for that. I have made a few resolutions for this year. But gotta wait till the end of the year to see if I keep them. I hope I do though.
3. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
September 2nd, the day I got married and the weekend I went to New York.
4. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Achievements? I don’t think I had any.
5. What was your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was when I didn’t push more for what I wanted to do after college. I regret for not fighting harder.
6. Did you suffer illness?
Apart from the nasty cold and cough nothing much and Alhamdulillah (thanks to God) for that.
7. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My behavior, mostly and my parents at times.
8. Where did most of your money go?
Wedding clothes shopping.
9. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
a) Visiting New York and going to The Met finally.
b) Universal Studios, LA
c) My birthday. I get excited about this every year.
10) What song will always remind you of 2012?
Gangam Style for sure. I listened to it about a hundred times.
11) Compared to this time last year year are you happier or sadder?
Happier. Much happier.
12) What do you wish you’d done more of?
Spending time with family and friends, reading and writing.
13) What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I was less stuck up.
14) Did you fall in love in 2012?
15) What/Who was your greatest musical discovery?
Umm.. Muse, I think.
16) What did you want and get?
I wanted a change and I’m glad I got it.
17) What did you want and not get?
Always want a Chanel bag. Will get myself one in the future and that’s a promise I make to myself.
18) What was your favorite film of this year?
I really liked Looper.. and Django. Oh and English Vinglish.
19) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I wore a new dress and ate pizza. I was 23.
20)What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
This year was a big cake. If I had to have the cherry on top I would say.. ah I cant’ think of anything! This year was the cherry on top! (Thank God a million times.)
21) What kept you sane?
Having the hope that things will get better.
22) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012?
Everything happens for a reason.
23) Which new places did you visit in 2012?
So many! New York, Boston, LA and San Francisco. Had an amazing time in every place.
24) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Tonight, we are young.
So let’s set the world on fire.
We can burn brighter
Than the sun.
25) Tag some bloggers whose answers you would love to read.
I tag YOU.
Eid. Always synonymous with biriyani, to me, Eid equals new dress. It doesn’t matter if I get a new dress every single day of the year, the Eid dress is the most important and should kick all other dress’ ass. This year I found the perfect dress. But then again, I intend on finding the perfect dress every year.So all the duties on Eid have been done; wear new dress – check, go for Eid prayer – check, collect Eidi from unsuspecting adults – check, get shouted at by mother for not helping – check, stuff face with biriyani – check, distribute biriyani to friends like an MLA collecting votes – check.
Once all the duties have been done, regular programming resumes. It doesn’t matter that we fasted for thirty days and controlled our nafs (desires) ’cause the next day our body wants three meals a day plus snacks. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a good portion of Ramadan revolves around food. Either making, eating or distributing food. Ramadan teaches you to respect food and not sneer at it if it is something you dislike. It teaches you to make do with what is available when you wake up late for suhoor. The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) taught us to never say anything bad about the food even if you don’t like it. Waking up late for suhoor to eat the leftovers is a very humbling experience. It makes you think of all those who do not have a morsel to eat and have to keep suhoor with just a date or a sip of water whilst we waste plates of food. So the next time you fuss about how you don’t like a single dish on the table just spare a thought for those whom even three meals a day is a luxury.
We need to remember that every single blessing that we have could be taken away from us at any second. In school we sang a hymn ‘Count your blessings name them one by one’ but I realize that it is impossible to list out the blessings. We just need to be extremely thankful for everything. You and me, we are very lucky people. We don’t have to think about where the next meal comes from or worry that we have people depending on us. Thanks to one of the greatest mercies God has given us, we live in a reasonably safe place where we don’t have to be scared about bombs being dropped on us. We don’t have to worry about shelter or a plaguing disease. We don’t have to fear poverty and deprivation. Considering that we have it easy, that we have none of these battles to fight, we should be the most thankful people.
Although the little devil inside us is unleashed now I hope we don’t go back to our old ways but that we take away some lesson, no matter how small, from this Ramadan. This Eid let us be thankful for our education, for our wonderful families and amazing friends, for food and peace. Let us be thankful for our lives and for the opportunity to mold it in to a beautiful one.