I’m traveling from New York to Minneapolis on a raw day. While it is 45°F in New York, it is forecasted to be about 7°F in the Twin Cities. So, this weather is the core subject of discussion with almost all the passengers within earshot. A nervous-looking lady approaches my row, inspects me from head to toe, finds me acceptable, and then scoots to her seat, grumbling about having to sit in the middle. She then bellyaches about her daughter not checking her in early enough so she could have the aisle seat; I can faintly smell alcohol on her breath. The window seat has a snoring young man who is lost to the world throughout the three-hour flight. It’s a bumpy ride, with the seatbelt signs turned on most of the way.
I have a nervous bladder, young man, she whispers once we are airborne, so I’ll have to bother you for bathroom visits.
She giggles nervously and bats her eyebrows at me, cracking the thick layer of makeup on her eyelids in the process. She’s either blind or totally sloshed, calling me a ‘young man’ with my totally white goatee evident. I’ve really had a couple of very rough weeks of traveling long distances in dicey places like Syria and Lebanon and am severely jetlagged from my flight into JFK a day earlier; all I want to do is have a shuteye before I land in Minneapolis and battle the cold, snow and slippery roads awaiting me. But I can’t be rude to my neighbor either so I smile and tell her it’s okay for her to bother me for her bathroom breaks.
All is well until the turbulence starts to bounce us around and the fasten seat belt sign comes on. The lady utters an unprintable swear word and looks at me apologetically; she needs to use the bathroom, she whispers breathlessly. This happens a couple of more times until the outside air evens out and the ride becomes relatively smooth. Just when I am about to doze off, she wants to talk.
‘Where are you from, young man?’
I’m convinced she is visually impaired. So, I tell her my background and totally confuse her. I’m sure it’s not easy for an unworldly American to grasp someone, not black but born in Tanzania, of Asian ancestry, moving to Dubai and then to the US and now an American.
You are Moslem, then?
Muslim, I correct her.
Yes, she nods eagerly, Moslem. So, you can marry four wives? I wonder how your women agree to share a husband. Not very fair to the woman. Since they cannot have more than one husband.
My mind tells me to shut up and say nothing. But it is not in my nature to let someone snotty get away with a snide remark, especially one steeped in ignorance. So, I turn to face her and give it to her with a straight face.
Yes, I say with an ear-to-ear smile. Four wives. And when I’m traveling and I feel like it, I can have as many temporary ones as I can handle. Islam is very progressive.
That does the trick. I notice her face pale some more, her nose flares in ire, and her eyes shutter rapidly in disbelief. She opens her mouth to say something but decides against it. My response must have worked wonders since she utters not a word to me. My retort must have also calmed her nervous bladder, for she stays put in her seat for the rest of the flight.
Minneapolis is insanely cold and the sun shining on the vast expanse of snow everywhere nearly blinds me; I’m surprised I do not wreck my rental vehicle. I’m here to pay my respects to my late cousin and brother-in-law Hassanali Mullah who passed recently. His grave, however, is buried in about three feet of snow at the graveyard. A sura Yaseen recited from the warmth of the car suffices, I hope.
New Novel – Excerpts
The manuscript of my new novel, the fifth to be published – Two Blue And Gold Diamond Earrings – is now complete. It took me a whole two years to research and write this fictional work. As you may already know, the proceeds of all my novels go to support the educational needs of about 770 CAI-sponsored global orphans; I take no gain from the sales of the book. This funding is critical for the education of our orphans. CAI is about to adopt another 200 – 250 orphans as a result of the devastating earthquakes in Syria. So, education funding for these hapless children now becomes even more critical.
Click HERE for a few excerpts from the novel for your reading pleasure, tempting you to purchase a copy or two or more. Even if you are not a fiction reader, or do not particularly fancy my writings, please consider pre-purchasing a copy or more (they can be a nice gift?) for the future of our orphans – click HERE to buy, priced at a modest US$77. Allah bless.
Note: My novels are works of fiction from my vivid imagination. Please do not assume that they are related to the work I do for CAI. They are also not religious works, as some had wrongly assumed from my past works – I am no authority on any religion. I love writing which is one way to pay for CAI’s orphans’ education.