In the name of Allah, the Most Affectionate, the Most Merciful


Eid Festivities

I was so thrilled to skip school on Friday.  It's nice to have to go for only three days of the five on the first week of school.  But, I know that's not going to last long.

I tried to enjoy the moment as much as I could.

"Don't eat the cookies!" I yelled at Humza, who was leaning over to grab the special moon-shaped cookies I had baked for Eid.

"Then why'd you make them? So you could take pictures of it?" he asked, annoyed.  He was dressed in light blue Shalwar Kameez with a white cotton topi.  A pretty rare sight.

"You can eat only one after I'm done taking the picture," I replied, maneuvering my new Canon over the plate of cookies.  I had the best uncle in the world, who gave me a special gift every Eid-ul-Fitr.

Satisfied with a couple of shots, which were soon to be uploaded on Facebook under my album "Delightful Cooking," I allowed Humza to take a cookie.

It was midday, and people were bound to be over.  We had already prayed Eid Salaat at Holiday Inn earlier in the morning and I had said Eid Mubarak a thousand times to everyone I knew and didn't knew.

Abu came into the kitchen just as Humza savored his last crumbs, dressed in a similar hue of Shalwar Kameez.  Humza wasn't at all appreciative of my idea for him and Abu to dress the same, but I thought it would be cute, and Abu liked the idea too.

"Where is your mother?  Mahmoud's wife and children are over and you are all stuck here!" he exclaimed.  My dad loved to entertain guests, and he got upset when we didn't live up to his expectations.

"Mom..." I started, realizing I didn't know where she was.  Anyway, being the good daughter that I was, I took control and went to the living room to greet the guests.

Mahmoud's wife was petite and very friendly, and her daughter seemed to appear right out of a magazine. With her large blue eyes and light brown curls, she looked inevitably Caucasian, not Arab...and definitely not Muslim.  But there I go with the categorization again.

"Eid Kareem!" I enthusiastically greeted them, giving both a warm embrace.  During Eid, I can get very loving. I can hug complete strangers out of pure happiness, but that's also dangerous and I'm aware of my limits.

Ammi popped out of nowhere minutes later, rushing ahead of me to offer the guests plates of sweets and snacks.  She motioned me later to retrieve the Eid candy bags we had made the night before to hand to the kids.

Towards evening, we all got in Mom's silver Toyota Camry and headed to my favorite uncle's house.  House might be an, I think I meant to say underword...wait that's not a word at all. Never mind.  You get the picture.

He lives in Kenilworth, one of the richest suburbs in Chicago.  And it makes sense, considering he's a neurologist and really one of the best.  I hope his intelligence has passed down to me through Ammi.

It's the usual tradition for our family to gather at his house for Eid.  For one thing, his mansion can actually accommodate our extremely large and expanding family.  And he's rich so he can also provide food for us, which half the time is what we're really looking for.

Abu is relaxed, as usual, driving in between chatting with family and friends abroad on the phone.

"Look out!  There'a a cop," I warned him.  He slips the phone on his lap for a second before raising it to his ear again. I guess he really doesn't care if he gets a ticket, or thinks he'll get lucky and not get caught.

Speaking of luck, we really weren't feeling it while inching our way to get on the highway.  There was not one complete road in Chicago that was left untouched and not closed to traffic.  Almost every block, it seemed, was broken and under repair, or sectioned off to accommodate construction workers and trucks.

"We're going to be late again.  I told you we should leave earlier,"  Ammi complained, drawing her dark green dupatta tighter around her face.

"How could we leave with guests over?" Abu asked innocently.

"We had over an hour in between the time Mahmoud left and the time we left."  You couldn't fool Ammi, that's for sure.

But her frustration subsided quickly once we reached the house.

"Eid Mubarak!"  I called out.  The house was already crowded and more people streaming in.  I wanted to place my heels in a safe spot before I went drastic at night to find them in the messy pile of hundreds of shoes.  There is a shoe stealer in our family, I'm telling you.  One of my favorite sandals went disappearing at one such gathering and Mumaani (my neurologist uncle's wife) was kind enough to let me go home with her own five inch bronze heels.

Honestly, I didn't want anything more than to dig right into the food.  Mamu (my neurologist uncle...okay maybe I need to stop calling him that) has an exquisite taste for a variety of cuisines and I was a little eager to try it out.  But, I couldn't jump right to the food because I had to greet everyone--give hugs, say Salaam, ask how they were doing, and so forth.  Which of course I wouldn't mind if I hadn't already done that countless times earlier that day.

I can never be too tired of meeting Mamu though.

"Iman beta! Come here.  Get some food!" he ordered sweetly.

Well, thank you.  Just what I wanted.

"You like the gift?" he asked, tilting his hand.  He was very tall and somewhat intimidating when I was younger. It only took a couple of treats and him calling me like his own daughter to realize he really wasn't intimidating at all.  I mean, what do you expect a seven year old child to think of a person who cuts up people's brain?  Scary, obviously.

"Mamu, it was a complete surprise!  I tried calling you earlier to let you know I received it in the mail, but your phone was busy!"

He laughed, then pointed to the food.  "Now after a month of fasting, I want you to eat all of this. As much as you can.  And how is school coming along?"

"Alhamdulillah," I replied, before we were separated by a stream of chasing kids.

"You can't get me!" a little girl shrieked out of excitement.  She ended up tripping over Jamal, who swiftly put her steady on her feet again before getting hurt.

"Iman," he said, giving a small nod of his head.  I knew he acknowledged me only  because we had already formed eye contact or else he really wouldn't.

"Jamal, how's your Eid?" I asked, knowing my attempt to make conversation would be futile.  Jamal is one of those people who have everything but some good manners and a kind heart.  I wish he'd learn something from his father or even his two other brothers who were much more sociable and sweet.

He shrugged, and I ended it there.

I could go on and list all the people I talked to, all the delicious food items I indulged in, and so forth but I really need to get going to my class now.

Lunch break is almost over and instead of occupying myself with some reading, I have been won over by the computer.

We shall meet again!
American Muslim Girl


And the Drudgery Begins

The street where my high school stands is already crowded with vehicles streaming in to drop off students.  Fortunately, I can avoid the deep traffic because I only live four blocks away, not to mention I can get in my morning walk.

I'm not nervous as I step in; I'm actually unsure of how I feel.  I am cold, for one thing.  The arrival of Fall is bringing bursts of cold wind, indicative of the long winter ahead. 

I almost stop midstep, seeing that there is a line formed from where I stand and to the actual entrance of the school.  A freshman, whom I can identify by his short stature and nervous glances, is ahead of me.

"Imaneeeeee!" I hear someone screech my name.  I can't mistaken this voice.  It has a clear ring to it, a beautiful tingle.

"Anum!" I turn my head to see one of my best friends walking towards me.  She is looking fabulous, as always.  Her hair is sitting in loose waves around her shoulders, and she is wearing a magenta floral dress with skinny jeans.  The Prada designer frames gives her an intelligent, studious appearance.

"Love your new glasses!" I comment immediately.  "And the outfit it gorg!"

She smiles, appreciative but modest.  "You're looking quite fab yourself.  But Iman, I cannot believe they're going to be checking every single one of us."

"Checking us?" I ask, confused.  Apparently, I was waiting in line to be checked by the school security.

"Yes, and we only have a half hour before Homeroom," she pointed out, checking her watch.

"Why are they checking us?  Don't we already have those metal detectors?" I ask.

The line is moving and we step ahead, closer to the doors.  "Yes, but they want to check our bags too.  It's all because of those school shootings."

"Right," I agree.  Although, who would plan a school shooting on the first day of school?  That seems unlikely.  But, hey, if a grade school kid can kill his teacher, I guess any form of violence is possible.

It's finally our turn to get checked.  I get the Hispanic security officer with the short hair while Anum gets the Caucasian officer.  It's tedious, but we are done in a matter of minutes.

Before the stairwell, there is the same mural that greets me every time.  I know that in a couple days, the smiling painted faces and yellow colored sunshine will not alleviate my tired mood in the least.  

But now, at least, I am feeling happy.  I am a junior, having moved up in the category of upperclassmen, which attributes to gaining respect--a little less than seniors obviously--and of course, the right to occasionally look down on the younger ones.

I sit with the same three other students in Homeroom as I have been for the past two years. We are a pretty diverse group:

Eric, the Vietnamese super-intelligent manga-loving boy.
Amy, the Irish girl with really long beautiful hair and an obsession with Seventeen magazine.
Natasha, the Nigerian sudoku-lover who occasionally sings to us.

Add in my crazy Homeroom teacher, who thinks of mathematics as his second child, and we have a pretty fun time.  At least I can relax a little before heading off to classes.

I guess I'm quite content with my schedule.  First period is Spanish III, which is better than having P.E. first thing in the morning like last year.  You can't do much in fifty minutes of class if all the teacher is going to do is go over the syllabus and lecture us to not plagiarize and cheat.  And, really, which teacher in his right mind would make us take a mini math ACT practice test on the first day of Trignometry class?  Oh, right, my Homeroom teacher obviously, who decided I was having too much fun in Homeroom.

But, I can't complain.  As nerdy as it sounds, I can't deny that I like learning and going to school.  Sure, if you subtract everything besides the actual learning--namely, high school drama, cliques, peer pressure, gossip, and so on--then maybe high school wouldn't be such a drag.

That, of course is not the case.

I have to welcome everything, drama included.

"Iman, did you take a look at Asad?  I think he grew another four inches and God, he looks even more hot!!"

I purse my lips as Laila meticulously describes Asad's physical features.  Not that this is the first time we talked about him, and it most likely won't be the last either.

Welcome to high school, I silently tell a freshman who is bent over under the weight of a heavy backpack.

Let's hope things don't get too off hand,
American Muslim Girl