بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
We experience fear concerning… what we care about. Our lives, our property and wealth; our health and our hair and our looks. Other people in our lives: we care, and so we will have and experience fear.
In Arabic: خوف. Khauf.
What have you been fearful of, and scared over, recently? This will tell you something about what you care about.
Today, and since I couldn’t really seem to amass the energy to have done so yesterday…
I packed for our family trip to Turkey. Antalya, a place called Alanya, this time [it’s actually called Alaiye, but apparently a politician made a spelling error in a telegram once, and the misspelt name stuck].
Previously: I’ve gone and visited Izmir, a province in Southern Turkey. In particular: we’d stayed in and explored a place called Kuşadası. This means ‘Bird Island’.
I’ve also been to Istanbul, some three-and-a-few-months years ago. That was the last time I’ve been abroad, until now. Unless Scotland counts.
Today, I rolled up my clothes, and packed relatively lightly. Inspired by someone at CMC, Khalid, who was travelling back to his family who live in Saudi, and he was going mostly via train — since he cares about reducing his carbon footprint and so on.
On his back before he left, (right after a test we had, in Arabic Logic: Mantiq,) he had a big hiking rucksack. No suitcases, from what I could tell.
Take what you need, essentially, and that’s enough.
An Islamic directive is to dwell within, and walk through, this Earth as though we are travellers. Strangers, almost. Just moving through, doing our thing; doing what needs to be done. So take what you need.
And have a good journey, fellow-traveller…
We’re human beings, sharing homes, and sharing other spaces.
Sharing secrets, and towns, and ultimately, a planet.
- Conflict is inevitable.
But there’s a grace that we can bring to the table, when we find ourselves experiencing (natural, inevitable, human,) conflict, right?
You can dislike, even a lot, something that someone else has been doing. And, certainly: you can still very much love them, and being around them.
Maybe it’s our relationships with our siblings that demonstrate this best:
You are so sure about your love for one another: it’s just there. You’re so certain and secure in these particular bonds that… Arguments and disputes don’t threaten it. They just happen. It’s ayt.
And then: with people who are not your siblings. But maybe you live with them. Some conflict is still inevitable: you’re two humans, living together.
You are you, and they are they.
The closer you become to a person: perhaps the more frequent, and maybe even the more intense, natural ‘conflicts’ will become.
And, within these spats and arguments and points of tension:
You want to listen, and authentically acknowledge. Feelings cannot be ‘wrong’ in that sense.
You also want to speak, and be authentically listened to, acknowledged, reassured. If problems exist: then so too do resolutions, ways of mending and resolving things.
Even if, for a moment, you do find yourself covered in shame. Anger, and whatnot. Impulses to become defensive. To blame others instead of the ego-injured self.
Effective communication goes a long way. And, from what I have learned: silence, and patience, [wait it out.] can be absolutely golden.
How will you be, and make things, better?
It is currently Dhuhr time here in Alaiye, Turkey. The Adhān has pulsed gently through the streets here, and my Nan is currently in the bathroom, doing Wudhu.
“Maa Shaa Allah! AlHamduliLlah!” my dear Nan tends to exclaim, when she’s happy/impressed with something.
Earlier today, she cried tears of joy and gratitude when her daughter, my mother, bought her new shoes and placed them outside the bathroom door for her. When a mother/father is served, in old age, by their own child.
Oh, and yesterday, LOL:
My little (ten-year-old) brother was being his usual energetic, cheeky self. And my Nan remarked something about how my little brother is not, and will never be like, my elder male cousin, Ravi. Ravi is very lovely and serving and kind, Maa Shaa Allah. He’s like, 26 years old, but perhaps his best quality, and what he is quite loved for, is this: he’s kept the ‘child’ part of him alive. He doesn’t ‘grow up’ in that sense, although he is also very responsible and a good big brother.
Anyway, after my Nan compared my brother to Ravi… My brother almost instantly retaliated: he (jokingly) told my Nan that just as he (Saif, my brother,) is not, and will not be like, our older cousin:
Our Nan is not, and will not be like, Queen Elizabeth. There’s no comparison.
This was enough to make my Nan, and me, and my parents, laugh and laugh.
This part of the world is, Maa Shaa Allah, a place of unique, though sometimes quiet, sometimes ‘subtle’, beauty.
Just earlier, when I’d looked over the balcony of our hotel room: I saw a lady wearing a headscarf get onto a (Vespa-style) scooter, and ride off, two mirrors on two sides.
It’s something about the Mediterranean, isn’t it? And the soulful and illuminating sunrises and sunsets. The afternoon naps here, the blues of the sea.
And the food. Don’t even get me started on the food here. >>>>>>
Here in Turkey:
An older man with white hair pedals his pink-coloured, basketed, bike down the street. Trees of small reddish-pink, and then purple, flowers make for arches above people’s heads.
And then the date trees, one after the other. Olive trees: blessed indeed.
Orange trees, just on the streets, casually. Vitamin Suiiiii [that’s what Ronaldo says, and a joke that my best friend Tasnim’s little bro Imran made recently…].
Banana trees. Like this indoor one, at our hotel:
I love that we (my cousins and some of my friends) have little brothers. And little sisters. They colour our lives, with all their vibrant and various colours.
So, on Saturday:
I got ready, packed, cleaned the house as much as I could/felt I needed to.
While packing: I rolled my clothes. This is something I think I’d picked up from watching a Muslim Libyan-American journalist’s vlogs, back in the day.
Media personalities are certainly influential, aren’t they?
I had this student at CCM (Cambridge Central Masjid) this term. [We’re having a reshuffle of classes after the Winter break In Shaa Allah.]
Her name is Afra. And she is so, so, so adorable and gorgeous, Maa Shaa Allah. Her eyes, her whole being, light up when she’s explaining something or telling you a story.
Like all the joy learning about history, in a fun way, at school, can bring!
Afra is ethnically from Libya. Pronounced: Leeb-ya.
When we, as a class, had been thinking about our goals, our archers’ targets in life:
Afra very sweetly, and inspiringly, Maa Shaa Allah:
Said she wants to be a better nature-lover, and a better explorer.
She also told me about the prevalence of the afternoon nap in Libya. And then they wake up again for prayer time.
Every madrasa day, at 8PM, the children’s parents come to pick them up. I know where Afra gets her bright and sincere and so kind smile from, Maa Shaa Allah:
Her mother. Evidently, and even from afar: a beautiful, kind soul, and a ray of light. That’s whom Afra is being raised by, and, you can tell.
The day before our flight and adventure:
I took the train back to London, from Cambridge. My mum had purchased me a nice outfit from a market: a knitted brown dress and cardigan. I love it so. AlHamduliLlah.
In the evening: I found my cousins Moosa and Isa at my house. Moosa was doing some DIY for us. Isa is my little brother’s best friend. A friend, a cousin, a brother, and fellow football player, all in one!
We went to our grandma’s (my nan’s) house, where our aunt (family nickname: Sweetie) and her little (but big personality!) daughter Siyana were. I had homemade pasta with bolognese, lovingly made by Sweetie.
And here is my cousin Moosa’s new keyring. Like 10p from AliExpress. And cheap shipping too.
I love the sword aesthetic.
My little brother’s name, in Arabic, means sword. I named him myself. And, ultimately: it’s Allah who Chose our names for us. How very special!
Some meals I have been enjoying making and eating back at home (Cambridge home) include:
– Nando’s-style chicken! With chips and ‘healthier’ sweet chilli sauce
– Veggie meatballs in tomato sauce, with rice and veggies
– Fish fingers, chips wa (that’s and in Arabic,) beans
– Wholegrain bread, purchased from the bakery section at Tesco, and then frozen. With organic (Yeo Valley) soup
– A brand called ‘Higgidy’ does these spinach and mushroom pastries. Quite nice!
– Ready-made veggie lasagne / cannelloni from Sainsbury’s is really good too. £3 each
Put some peri peri salt sachets in my pocket when I last went to Nando’s. Meal embellishment, you see.
#Nando’s sauces, not drugs.
Here is a glimpse of how Sasha and I converse:
Dry humour >
Dad humour >>
[and, of course:
Dark humour >>>>. But that’s a me thing, and not necessarily an ‘Iz-luhh-mic’ thing.]
You know, I never quite expected that life could be like this.
Our Lord Promises us that… whenever we are going through hardship. There will be ease, and good, and better, are on their way! Very reassuring, and very true, AlHamduliLlah.
We were picked up in the morning by my mum’s uncle, Zakir [Nana. Bengali for grandad]. A cool fact about him: he’s lived in Russia before, and so knows some Russian.
I was tired that morning. And isn’t sleep deprivation just a terrible feeling? Naps are the remedy. Me encanta tan mucho los naps. [My attempt at saying I love naps very much, in Spanish.]
Breakfast, for me, consisted of a spinach-and-mushroom bap from Costa. And a chaiiii latte. Me encanta tan mucho el chai.
My dad got my brother an LFC hat. And, In Shaa Allah, if God Wants for this to happen:
Then soon enough, maybe I’ll be accompanying my little brother on flights to his matches. Mohammed Salah, and Messi, were both ten years old too, once. With God: anything is possible, it’s easy for Him.
Sunday 18th December, and the day before I turned 22 years old…
The final match of the (Qatar) World Cup 2022. Argentina V France. While on our flight, we had no way to know who’s winning. Except: the pilot of the plane, I think he had been, said he’d be announcing scores, intermittently.
At one point, 2-0 to Argentina [yes!]
Ah, but then: Mbappe. Like a hurricane.
But then, then: Messi. What a guy. Argentina wooooon!
I think France’s general attitude is arrogant, stinky, and hypocritical. But maybe that whole commentary is for another day.
We were quite happy that Argentina won. Saif, my brother, searched for a Messi Argentina football T-shirt here, on the streets of Alaiye, yesterday.
I’m currently sitting on the side of a jacuzzi that doesn’t heat up. But that’s okay: I like the moderate cold. And I like being a writer.
Since this isn’t a private jacuzzi: I’m wearing modest swimwear. [‘Burkini’]. Which could get me into ‘trouble’ in France, and even in Egypt, because they’re smelly like that. Right poopyhead behaviour, as my little cousin Shakira might say. [FYI, me disagreeing with France ≠ me ‘loving’ whatever Iran does. Nuances, people! And also no hate to the French team. Mbappe for example, is awesome!]
Hoh hoh hoh. Let them (France, as a concept,) eat cake.
I love it when my brother makes me, and us, laugh. I love it when he is happy.
I bought lemon-scented baby wipes here, and, yeah, that brought me joy. Also got a scrunchie from a shop, since I’d managed to lose mine, somewhere, somehow.
Ate turkey (the food) in Turkey (the country) earlier. Really just to blog about it, but turkey (and Turkey) is good 4 u.
Saw some cats [hey Sasha. Sasha loves cats]. The people of Turkey are very kind and beautiful, Maa Shaa Allah. And they love cats. I also saw a nice multiple-feeder birdhouse, and I think these are state-funded. Lovely.
At the airport: we encountered an issue. About a Visa. But after hardship, there is ease. A lady who works there really, really helped us.
We ate some Burger King, took a taxi to the hotel. Hotel Kleopatra. [Turkey: where ‘East’ meets ‘West’, let’s say, if it really were ever that ‘simple’. Where Emperor Antonius reportedly met the love of his life: Queen Cleopatra.]
My brother and I played ‘guess the drawing’ on the condensation. He drew things like a pair of scissors. I drew a stapler.
This taxi: had curtains, a carpeted floor, and nice lights above head.
Got into a conversation with a woman from Poland here in [on the side of] el jacuzzi. Her son lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. Wa thank u for existing, Google Translate. Shukran.
And someone just came and fixed the jacuzzi! Relaxing. I hope I don’t drop my phone in it.
The lady said “ciao” before leaving. It was a bit too cold for her. But again, I don’t mind.
Polish people I know/have met fairly recently:
My tutee Erik. Very adorable, highly intelligent boy, Maa Shaa Allah. Perhaps a future aeronautical engineer/pilot. If God Wants. London.
Jameela, the firefighter who had accepted Islam. London.
The couple who’d asked for directions near Tower Hill Station. They thought I was from Dubai. *I come from Bengali rice fields, friends. Not: from Emirati money.
Upon arrival to our rooms:
Some hotel rooms have stickers on the ceiling, indicating the Qibla direction [we pray towards the Ka’abah, in Makkah. That’s not ‘where God is’, but it’s an important religious symbol.]
We’ve also got a mini fridge in our room, with water and complimentary juice boxes. I love juice boxes!!!!!!!! Among other things!!!
I also maybe forgot for a while how much I love jam. On nice bread, with butter. Oh, and the disc-shaped Coco Pops.
Life gets better, friends. For example, if you find yourself in the throes of depression. No matter how long, how dark, how lonely and insurmountable [insurmountable: ya can’t overcome it] it all feels.
God is fully, fully, fully Aware. He doesn’t give you difficulties that are greater than you can bear. And: hard times just mean that good, and better, is definitely coming!
Since it was my birthday yesterday:
My mum treated me to a haircut, wash, and blow-dry. Haircuts make a big difference.
Not that half the world is gonna see it, anyway. Normalise not politicising hair — this uniquely beautiful, God-gifted human feature of ours — too much. But yes, I wear a headscarf when outside.
The hairdresser, a kind Turkish lady, jokingly remarked that she’d just removed a kilo from my head. And I also didn’t want to colour my hair: I like it dark, and maybe even a bit stubborn and ‘untameable’. I really like whom and how God has Made me.
Today, my dad randomly treated me to a manicure and pedicure, by the same lady.
To explain why my hands are quite dry (generally in Winter, so at the moment) …
That’s it, friends. The end of this one. Until next time… ciao,
Bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao.