‘Its all in the mind.’ That’s the saying, and I agree. It’s the tenth day of Ramadhan today, perhaps one-third of the month is gone. I fretted a few days before the month began, how were we going to survive the 16 plus hours of thirst and hunger, especially for my girl Zainab. No big deal really, alhamd’Allah. Allah has His own special way of instilling the virtue of calm and pleasurable pain when we take on these challenges for His pleasure. Why, I can even punish my body with limited iron pumping and a jog six days a week! I just have to time these a couple of hours before magreeb and it works like a charm. Alhamd’Allah.
This month is turning out nothing but rahma. The seemingly insurmountable task of raising $280,000 for feeding 10,000 poor families in 14 countries is overcome in the first week of Ramadhan. We do it! I am indebted to Allah for this wonderful mercy. I am humbled. And so proud. Proud of CAI donors who come through tough times, every time. And proud of the people on the ground, who tirelessly identify and sift the poor, verify, purchase the food, package and distribute to some of the most remote parts of this word, to the poorest of humanity. All for the pleasure of Allah, without any personal gain whatsoever. Who can ask for more?
Our center at HIC, newly refurbished, works like a charm, as usual. Hassan Tall has taken over as Director of Facilitations and pushes his weight around with an English accent that the Queen would gladly, easily pay a fortune to acquire, if rightly marketed. Ginger Ale is pronounced with such a Cockney accent, it comes out close to a backyard English slur. The stiff upper lip, thankfully, is much more supple. Pushy has taken over fundraising for our Eid dinner and he does this with enthused gusto; people try and flee at the sight of him or scramble to use the back door entrance instead. But our Pushy is astute; he will get you eventually. Escape is not possible, naa mumkin!
Sheikh Ayoob is a delight, as usual. His timing for both the majlis lectures and magreeb / esha salaat are very accommodating and the sermons, both informative and of substance. And I am not praising him just because he is from my hometown of Arusha, Tanzania. Ahem. It is refreshing to see our Khoja brethren here in Sanford embrace and accord a Black aalim the honor and respect he rightfully deserves. Not only as an aalim, but as a fellow, equal human being. I wonder if the treatment would be the same if he were not a Sheikh, but a regular Ayoob. I want to intensely think this is to be true, but I have persistent, nagging doubts.
The iftaar spread is full of calories, as much as the sudden energy in all of us all making a dash for an array of artery-blocking fried Indian food; some don’t or can’t wait for the dua after salaat to end, even! Roshanbhai is an exception, sensibly opting for greens and fruits as a balance. Sadly, most stomachs have shrunk and are full after a few bitings, water and some tea. All kudos to the many volunteers who make it their business to keep us nourished.
What would Ramadhan at Sanford be without the nightly baraazas? It is a venue for small talk, catching up on prevailing happening, the Khoja worldwide diaspora and nostalgia for past Ramadhans in E. Africa. Unfortunately, it is also, frequently, a setting for pareeki peechkaari, cancer sticks, backtalk and matoosis that will put the most hardcore drunk sailor to bloody shame. The time-pass is great, however, with talk and humor and characters of all sorts trying to make an impression. The best thing about these baraazas is that everybody has an opinion and we all express it. It is free, after all, nai? I get home late-late, about the same time CAI teams are arriving for work across the world in places like Afghanistan and India. I am updated. All is well.
Mullah Mchungu does not leave me alone, however. He calls once, late in the day, when I am in deep and sugary slumber. He has something important to say, he says.
Why, he fumes, is it necessary for our women to profess their love for their husbands and children on Facebook?
It takes me a while to clear the drunken fog of sleep from my mind.
What, I snap eventually, you call me to complain about this absurd and stupid topic? What women? I have no woman professing love for me, either personally or on Facebook! Wish I…
You having a bad day, Kisukaali?
I can hear and imagine a tinge of amusement in his voice; this guy is one true sadist. He likes to provoke, then sit back and watch me anguish in disquiet.
Hear me out baasi. I see many of our Khoji ladies, my daughter in law in Orlando included, post all kinds of messages for their spouses on Facebook. How she loves Ali, my son, to death and other silly mushy nonsense. Shouldn’t this be a bedroom affair? Wallahee, she gives my son hell most days when I am visiting there, so I know she’s fibbing.
Why not ask your daughter-in-law? I cry, bewildered. Why call me and ask farcical questions?
But the Mullah either does not listen or chooses to ignore me; I suspect the later.
Who cares a rat’s ass how much you love your spouse, or how cute your child is, anyway? Send a personal email, or wait until you are alone with him in your bedroom, why Facebook it? Insecurity, I’m sure. Or is this your Orlando thing?
I hang up on him. Sleep now becomes elusive. The Mullah may be an old fart and losing his marbles most times, but his observation faculty is still acute more often than not.
Ramadhan kareem, insha’Allah.