.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
My little brother Saif has a friend called Rayan, and he lives in the local area around us: just a short walk away. Today, Rayan, his younger sister Jasmine, and their mum Linda, had come to our door, to give us: a container of olives, and a tray of baklawa, which was super nice, AlHamduli Llah.
Rayan’s family is half-English, and half-from Turkey/Cyprus. Eid: in Turkey and Cyprus, Eid is referred to as ‘Bayram’.
And recently, it seems Rayan’s dad has bought him a new Lego rocket, which Rayan had wanted to show Saif today.
When Rayan and Jasmine had first come to our house, I’d asked both of them who they think I am. Rayan said, Saif’s auntie, which is… fair enough. Jasmine said…
I… am not my brother’s grandma.
Sometimes, I get a little paranoid that I look older than I am. Like when Bengali brothers refer to me as… ‘Afa’ [a Bengali title of seniority, typically meaning, ‘older sister’].
Linda, whose father either belonged to, or still belongs to, the Church of England, likes to make sure that her kids learn their religion. Beginning with the ‘basics’: the Arabic alphabet.
And sometimes, the kids’ grandma visits, from Cyprus. The family have prayed together, as a family, before too.
Another friend of my brother’s, who lives nearby, is Faaris. Saif’s name means ‘sword’ in Arabic. I’d named him myself, actually: this might sound a bit strange, but I guess I quite like what swords look like. In fact, I think I’d liked that name for him before having known what it means in Arabic.
[Kind of recently, I’d heard someone calling their child at the local supermarket. ‘Desire’ had been the child’s name, it had sounded like. I guess I’d initially thought, hmm… strange (in a good way. An interesting way).
But then: it had occurred to me that I know… at least four people who are named the very same thing, but in Arabic!]
Faaris’ name means ‘knight’ in Arabic. The two boys had become friends last year: that snow-day that had happened in Spring, if I recall correctly.
We’d seen a boy sort of by himself, and holding a plastic sled. And, my brother and cousin Isa had befriended him as a result of… an exchange of snowballs. [I, too, had been attacked by snowballs on this day.]
Prior to this, I’d been walking with my brother, and I’d been telling him about how I’m kind of sad about how it didn’t snow that year. But my little brother had encouraged me to have hope! It could still snow this year, you know.
And: snow it did. And then a beautiful new bond had been made. And Faaris and his mum had given Saif a bag of gifts this Eid, and chocolates to us last Eid.
Faaris’ mum is from Ireland, while his dad is Pakistani. Faaris’ dad, I think, has several cars, Maa Shaa Allah.
And his mum is lovely, Maa Shaa Allah. She told me that her sister-in-law has the same name as me, too.
Saif and Faaris: Faaris went to a prep school for primary, and now attends a private grammar school, I think. Saif goes to the local primary school, which is where I, and before me: my cousin and my uncle and my aunt, had gone too. It’s almost like a ‘village’ school.
The boys play football together, and their conversations with one another seem interesting and varied, Allah hummabārik. E.g.: which is taller, the Shard, or the Eiffel Tower? They joke around, they game, they go to the park. They actually look like… they could be cousins [last year, I think they’d looked like… brothers, genuinely].
Life in Dunya, certainly, is not ‘perfect’, and nor is it always very ‘smooth-sailing’. But: friendship is a beautiful thing, AlHamduli Llah.
Today: three knocks at my door, each a little spaced-apart. One: from people involved in local politics, encouraging me to vote for a particular person standing for local mayor [I’d put a thick shawl over my head before opening the door. The man had referred to me as ‘Afa’…]
The next: AlHamduli Llah, and on a day I’d been feeling kind of sick and exhausted in the morning… a set of Sunnah natural remedies, from my beloved best friend. That woman is actually incredible, Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik. The kind of incredible that doesn’t like to… draw attention to herself, but… wow.
And, finally: baklawa and olives, from Linda and her lovely kids.
Today is election day; one of my uncles is standing to become a local councillor [again, since he’s had this role before,] In Shaa Allah . On Eid day: some of the members of his team had come to my house (which had been bustling, basically) for tea, I guess, and snacks.
One of the other standing-to-be-elected councillors, Dominic, had said As-Salaamu-‘alaikum to me, and I said Wa ‘alaikum Salaam, and Eid Mubarak, back. My cousin Maryam says that Dominic, who isn’t Muslim, as far as I know, says Salaam and In Shaa Allah more than anyone else she knows!
There is, somewhere, Islam in everybody: it’s Fitrah [Fitrah: the original disposition, intrinsic human nature]. Some come to find it — activate it, even… via friendship. Some: via marriage. Some: through work things. Political colleagues.
People are significant. Sacred, breathing, walking, talking embodiments of the Word of Allah. So: to do the best we can, by them, In Shaa Allah.
And: I don’t actually look like an Afa/grandma at age twenty-one… do I?!