Since I’m not allowed to meet others, go for sit-down dinners with my family nor meet my friends at Masjid al Hayy here in Sanford because of the accursed Dudu Corona, I ask Allah to bless the soul of Alexander Graham Bell and use his brilliant invention to chat with my pals sometimes. One of my buddies in Dar es Salaam, whose name is, well, let’s call him TamuTamu, just because he is very fond of eating anything and everything sweet. Or salty, for that matter. It can be a wild creature of Allah, but as long as it has a grain of sugar or salt in it, TamuTamu would make sure it was digested.
So, TamuTamu is, naturally, overweight. Dangerously. Like he’s constantly following his belly around as he walks. I’ve tried very hard to reason with him about his diet, the need for restraint in food portions and choices, and the necessity to exercise. I genuinely care for the guy and want him to be healthy and live a long productive life. He has a family and parents to support and take care of. Thank goodness he quit smoking a few years ago at my nonstop badgering or eat the dreaded paan-pareeki concoction.
Kisukaali, he says, please don’t advise or lecture me about my weight or food choices. No more. You did make sense earlier, before the Dudu Corona, but khalaas. Please let me enjoy my samosas and kababs and bajeeas and visheetes in peace. All the sacrifices you’ve been pleading for me to make did me no good. I sacrificed all the good food and sweated and burned my energy for no reason only. This coronavirus will kill us all shortly, no matter. So, please, let me be. From now on, my arm will do all the exercises I need as I feed my mouth, I will burn all the calories I want that way.
His tirade startles me. Tamu Tamu is generally a genial person, and not much riles him. He is of the view that worrying about body weight, money, health, politics, other’s opinion of him, and other everyday concerns humans usually fret about is pointless. To him, it takes too much time and energy to concern oneself on these trivialities. We are so different in thinking and personalities, it surprises me we get along so well. I am about to chide his decision to change but he does not let me.
Aloo Bana, Kisukaali, all the time you restrained me from eating the steaks I wanted because we were saving our planet? All that going green stuff? Poroojo. All bloody poroojo! I’ve asked the Mrs. to cook me nothing but nyaama. Hers may not as good as Mambos and others here in Dar but nyaama nevertheless… I suggest you stop your austerity and start enjoying before the Dudu takes it all away from you.
I shudder. Oh, dear. Why do people choose to give me an earful of their frustrations? Then he drops a bombshell that shatters me.
And Kisukaali, I’m smoking. Again! Ahhhh! Wonderful taste and feel of nicotine on my tongue and in my lungs after the first cup of chai in the morning. I will never forgive you Kisukaali, all these years I stopped smoking and gave myself chronic constipation. Now, I get the best bowel movement in the world. The top remedy for constipation, Boss. Smoking.
I feel the acid burn in my guts and actually feel nauseated. I want to hang up on him, this buddy of mine of many years. From high school days actually. I am sooooo disappointed. Smoking? But I do not, just clutch the cellphone tighter.
Aloo Kisukaali, poole bana, I know I have let you down. But I’ve had it, Boss. Enough. Nimechooka – I’m tired. This Dudu is not going to spare us so I want to live the few years I have on my terms, Bana.
I swallow hard and let it go. He may be right. The Dudu might not kill us all but will surely leave out marbles in shambles by the time this pandemic lifts its curse.
Since it is Shabe Baraat, we ask each other for prayers and I hang up with sadness in my heart.
Areezas For The Imam (a)
Here in Sanford, Florida, our enlightened management team at HIC has arranged for the community members to write areezas to our Imam (a), the traditional way. Sometimes on thin crispy sheets of paper, the salutations and entreats doused in saffron, probably the most expensive spice on earth. Incredible ingenuity no? Even through the curse of Dudu Corona killing and creating worldwide havoc, some of us Khojas must satisfy our nostalgic itch of communicating with our Imam (a) in such an ancient and redundant manner. Bravo.
It was fun, however, as ritual Shias, growing up in Tanga, Tanzania. Writing Areezas was a must thing to do. Why, I remember people going to blows over being denied a sheet. I would ask my Imam (a) for everything under the sky, in English, running out of paper real quick; my wants were endless. The next day, after fajr, with the areezas stuffed in dough, we’d troop to the ocean and pollute it with kilos of lumpy dough and paper and probably give the poor fish upset stomachs. Or worse. And a reason for them to curse us. Maybe the Corona Dudu is their curse come to roost? As a parent, I try and reason with Maaha Zainab to have a daily connection with Allah for all her reasonable wants and pray for the hasty return of the Imam (a). For the sake of all humanity. A more practical and eco-friendlier alternative, perhaps? However, Allah knows best, of course.
The practical examples of the Sikh community, globally, is praiseworthy. Whether it’s the Dudu Corona pandemic or any other global disaster, they are at the forefront in serving humanity. Feeding the hungry, homeless, helpless, regardless of race, religion, color. I’ve seen this service in action everywhere. India, Afghanistan, Africa, Europe, here in the USA. A lesson perhaps for some of us?
Appealing for $2,000,000 in donations to help a select supposedly starving 5,000 Khojas (only) might give some of us temporal eye-catching pride. Accolades for a future elected seat, perhaps?
Opening our hearts and helping all of Allah’s creatures will give us a more lasting, spiritual outcome? More importantly, it’ll give unmeasurable pleasure to the elusive Imam (a) and a reason for Allah to hasten his reappearance. Surely make the writing of a spiced areeza redundant. No?