I went to go help out at Ammi's work today, namely the Northern Muslim Center. She's sort of like a social worker there, helping new immigrants out with applications and other troublesome matters.
Ammi was thankfully more calm after visiting Hamid Nana and she asked me to help her with some boxes of files that she needed to bring up to her office from the car. I told her she could go ahead and settle inside while I brought it in for her.
It was still morning and the air carried a cool breeze. The sun was out but I hardly felt the heat, which was a good thing cause I didn't want to get thirsty at nine in the morning.
I took the boxes from the car and put them down on the sidewalk beforeI shut the hood. I bent over to pick them up again and started walking towards the building.
NMC was located on a side street just off of Devon Avenue, which made sense since many of Ammi's clients were Muslims that lived in the neighborhood. The streets were not that crowded, since it was still a Wednesday morning. Devon was mostly crowded on Fridays because of Jummah prayers and during the weekend for shopping purposes.
As I headed towards the building, I noticed a guy walking towards me from my peripheral view. I directed my attention towards opening the door without having to put down the boxes again.
He broke into a jog and appeared next to me within a couple of seconds. I stepped back, clearly wanting my space. He opened the door for me so I could go in.
"Thanks," I muttered. He looked a little older than me, but he was definitely Muslim and by the look of him, he didn't seem to have been here for very long. Maybe a F.O.B? Oops, did I just say that?
Anyhow, the guy needed some manners.
"Lower your gaze!" I wanted to yell at him. "It's Ramadan, you idiot."
I quickly went up the couple of steps and into the center. It was decorated with a large banner at the top, bold green letters saying Ramadan Mubarak in English, Urdu, and Arabic.
"Iman! Ramadan Mubarak!" I heard a familiar voice while I put the boxes down on a table.
I turned to my right to find Zubeda, the woman that worked with Ammi and led the immigration workshops.
"Zubeda Aunty! How are you?" I greeted enthusiastically. She came to embrace me with a big hug.
"How come you didn't come earlier? It's been days since you last came," she scolded lovingly. The lady wishes I was her daughter. She has told me on several occasions.
"Summer flew by so fast and then Ramadan started," I told her, remembering that I only had two weeks left until school began.
"Oh, well at least you were able to come in today. We need so much help from you! Come this way," she motioned me towards her cubicle.
I spent most of the day organizing files and entering data in the computer. It was very tedious, but the time went by pretty quickly.
Around 1:00, Ammi asked me to help one of the other aunties to dust the only classroom in the center.
"We'll have a lot of kids for tutoring when school begins," the auntie made conversation with me in Urdu while I dusted tables.
"Oh yea," I answered, remembering the chaos of kids jumping, chewing their pencils, and all of them calling my name at the same time.
This is why I will never be a teacher, I had told myself that one day when I felt like pulling both my hijab and my hair off.
"You're a good girl," the auntie complimented me suddenly.
"Huh?" I asked her, surprised. She was new to this center; I hadn't met her before.
She pointed to my hijab. "You wear a scarf, and you help here," she remarked. "That's very good. And everyone here says you are very smart."
"Aw, thank you," I replied, touched. I wasn't really that great, I thought to myself. But if she wanted to think so, I didn't have a problem with that!
After we finished cleaning, we brought in the boxes Ammi had told me to bring in earlier. We took out school supplies, pencils and markers from one, paper and scissors from another.
Later that evening, Farah called me to invite me to her house for Iftaar the following day.
"Tomorrow?" I asked.
"Yea, did you already make plans? Please tell me no!" she said.
"No, I didn't," I reassured her. "It's just sudden, but that's okay."
"Awesome! I can't wait to see you. It's been so long."
"Don't get too happy. You'll be seeing me everyday in two weeks," I reminded her. We had been given our class schedules earlier this week during orientation. Farah practically squealed with delight when we found out we had art class together.
"Yea, like I'll really be annoyed by you," Farah said.
"Ah, don't bet on it. It's our third year in high school, which makes it more special and should be worth remembering. Hence, I will make it memorable for you," I promised
"My sister would disagree with that. She says her high school life is one she hates remembering because she acted so immature and it's just that phase in life where you have to get through it."
"Oh, older people. I never understand them sometimes. They like to make it seem like it's so much better to be their age. But I say, let's live in the present and enjoy it."
"Sure thing," Farah agreed and hung up soon afterward.
The thought of starting school again wasn't such a pleasant thought. I couldn't sleep until ten or eleven in the morning on a school day, and sometimes it felt like being imprisoned being in school for seven straight hours. But once I got over my summer lazy self and adjusted to the school pace, I didn't mind it so much.
But I sure was glad most of my Ramadan is during vacation, because that way I can at least ensure more time is spent praying.
Do continue to enjoy your Ramadan!
American Muslim Girl