Not going on the computer for several days rouses a strange feeling. You are detached from the Internet bubble and you get a chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of sensing. But once you reattach, you find your email inbox filled up dramatically and after one link leads to another, oh look, it's Asr Salaat! Better not delay it!
Ramadan has made me so preoccupied that alhamdulillah, I am not wasting hours away on Facebook, Youtube, or even the Old Navy shopping page.
But that doesn't mean I can't go on the Internet to read QuranFlash, listen to Ramadan lectures, mull over the Ground-Zero mosque controversy while settling internal arguments, and of course, entrench my experiences in this blog!
Yesterday, I busied myself with writing a shopping list with an actual notepad and paper. And no, this shopping was not for clothes, but for school supplies, which is indeed a very exciting thing to shop for! Though the arrival of Fall and beautiful colored leaves on the pavement (although none are present yet right now) bring with it the beginning of the school year, at least I can comfort myself in the thrilling prospect of school supply shopping.
I sat down with the Staples sales paper, along with the Office Depot, and Office Max (how much more variety can I ask for?). Using the tactical skills my dear father passed on to me, I calculated that buying the colored index cards in Staples versus the boring white in Office Depot would only cost $0.79 more, and that the binders in Office Depot are $0.59 cheaper, which would amount to a lot of savings if I purchased, say 6 binders for the 6 classes, and the pencils in--
And then the phone rang. "Brinnnnnnnnnnng. Brinnnnnnnnnng."
I couldn't tell Humza to pick up because as always, he was outside again with a friend.
"Iman, we're going to the hospital," I heard Abu on the other line. He sounded a little worried, but otherwise, very direct and quite calm.
Images rushed through my mind. Was it Ammi? Nani? They had all gone to the supermarket together. Car accident? Sudden seizure?
"It's nothing to worry about," Abu replied to my unspoken question. "Hamid Nana is recovering from a heart attack and we want to be with him."
"Oh, ok," I replied, relieved. What else could I say? I didn't remember much about Hamid Nana. I know he used to give me chocolate as a little kid whenever he came over. But ever since moving to Aurora, I hardly saw him.
"Is he hospitalized here?" I asked.
"No, in Aurora, so it'll take a while to get there," Abu said. I could hear Ammi's voice in the background. "Here, talk to your mother."
"Listen Iman, where's Humza?" Ammi asked me. She sounded much more tense than Abu.
"He told me he would be at the park with a couple of friends," I replied.
"Well, make sure he comes home soon. And, beta, I'm not sure if we'll come home in time for Iftaar. I've taken the chicken out of the freezer, but you can leave it. Why don't you grab something from--"
"Ammi, don't worry about it. I'll manage. I'll cook the chicken and besides, what will you all eat once you come home?"
"I don't know if that's a good idea. You're fasting."
"Ammi, you forget sometimes that I'm not a little girl. And stop sounding so worried! He's passed the worst, right?"
"Alhamdulillah, but still..."
Ammi should get an award for being the most worried Mom in the world.
"Ok, don't worry Mom," I said, sensing more background noise.
"Don't make a mess in the kitchen Iman! Make sure you clean up!" Ammi said just before I hung up.
I went to our kitchen, feeling the rush of excitement about cooking. As Mom had said, the chicken was thawing. I opened the refrigerator to see what I could cook.
After stirring up my creative juices, I decided to go with Chinese topped with a little Italian: chicken chop suey, stir-fried vegetables, and a regular veggie pizza. I had to pace myself because I only had three and half hours before Iftaar.
I was in the middle of preparing the dough when Humza walked in.
"Oh, man that smells good!" he remarked.
"Why thank you," I replied, smiling.
"Woah, what are you doing? Mom's not here?"
"Why?" I asked. "Only Mom's supposed to be in the kitchen?"
Humza walked over to to the refrigerator to get some orange juice. He's not fasting today.
"No. Mom would've freaked if she saw the mess you made."
He was totally right. Sprinkles of dough had settled on the counter top, which also housed noodles and more than half the contents of the refrigerator.
Humza was thoughtful to face his back behind me while he drank the orange juice. "Are you going to be full with just that?" I asked, surprised he hadn't asked for any food.
"I should leave space for all that you're making," he replied rather maturely.
"Smart. By the way, Mom and Dad are at the hospital to visit Hamid Nana. They won't be back until later."
Humza nodded, not seeming very interested. He instead observed me kneading the dough.
Three hours later, we sat together on the floor in the dining room. Dad had called to tell us they were on their way home.
Before breaking my fast, I tried to focus and pray for the things I wanted most, both in this life and the Hereafter. I had so many endeavors, so many goals, but in the end, I only wanted happiness. Looking at Humza sitting across from me with his white topi on his head, I wondered what he was asking for.
We silently ate our dates and fruit. Just as I was about to give Humza a slice of pizza, Dad arrived with Mom and Nani.
"Iman! Look at all that you've cooked!" Ammi remarked, surprised. I was hoping the smile didn't disappear after she looked at the kitchen. I tried to clean up, but I didn't have much time to leave it clear and speckle-free.
"My daughter is a great cook," Abu commented as he dug in.
I hugged Nani who saw after a week. "Will you be okay with this?" I asked, knowing she didn't like bland food.
"Beta, I'm so hungry right now I'll eat raw broccoli if I had to!" she said in Urdu.
I was overall pleased with my cooking. The chop suey could have used more salt and pepper and the soy sauce was a little too much in the vegetables, but it's not like I could have tasted it while I was cooking! Well, I could have but I don't think I could have rinsed my mouth right away like Ammi does.
Surprisingly, Ammi wasn't too upset about the kitchen. She was pleased with my efforts.
"See? If only you'd let me cook more often," I told her while I washed the dishes.
"True, but don't forget the time you stayed up late to bake cookies instead of studying for your Chemistry test."
"Oh that," I said. "I ended up getting an A in the class anyway," I reminded her. I quickly regretted the way I said the words. All success is from Allah only, I reminded myself.
"And I'm asking you for the third time now. Cut your nails."
I sighed. My nails were not that long, but Ammi always bugged me to cut them. I didn't argue.
After Maghrib Salah, I sat down to cut my nails. Nani and I took turns to massage oil in our hair. Closing my eyes and feeling the soothing sensation in my head, my thoughts drifted into an open body of reflection and gratitude.
So very pleased,
American Muslim Girl