Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How Far.....

Exactly a year ago at this moment, I was buried beneath a pile of biscuits and cakes so high, that it threatened to suffocate me.

I survived.

Today, I am, yet again, buried under just such a pile, but this time I have help. The staff at Lazeeza’s. And they’re all wonderful. Thank you guys (and girls)!

Who would have thought, as I struggled back then to shrug off the mountain and summit it, that I would come this far? It’s been a long, sometimes tortuous road. But it has also been extremely rewarding. Alhamdulillah. To all the customers of Lazeeza’s, thank you for your unwavering support. Yes, even those who fix me with a disdainful look on each of their visits. To the friends that I have made along the way, you have shown me the bounties of Allah in ways that I had previously been unable to imagine.

And to my Rabb, I am, truly, coming home.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

A New Day

Dawn breaks in stages. A leaden grey gives way to swathes of pink and orange. And finally a blue that is as bright and pale as a newborn's eye. I sit at an ungainly laptop, having been deprived of my trusty PC and listen to the incessant natter of three of my brood as they battle the will to sleep after suhoor. And I look back as the last few days - the first of many that will see me behind the counter at Lazeeza's - and I marvel at just how rewarding an experience it may turn out to be, after all.

I think of the creased woman with the painted eyes, who said to me, yesterday, "in life, you have to look forward". I think of the rewarding love she described, one that she found after forty. I am astonished, yet pleased by the intimacy of the exchange in a shop surrounded by the smells and sounds of food being prepared. I think of the couple, handsome in their youth, no doubt. Both tall once. The one bent over now, her height turning out to be a handicap. I feel the love that they still share and am grateful to be drawn into their warmth, this golden bubble that burnishes all that it touches.

I feel myself changing with each passing day. Growing thanks to the many faces that come into my life. And I can only say, Alhamdulillah.

I think of the two niqaab-ed ladies - or they could well have been girls - who shared a whispered exchange when they caught sight of my now niqaab-less face. Then hurried off as I approached - not them - but the entrance to the Mr Price Home where they were shopping, as though my new status would prove contagious, and I recite to them, "Allah intends ease for you, and He does not intend difficulty..." This is a verse that works for me. It need not work for them. "One soul shall not bear the burden of another."

Life, like the dawn, can be both stunningly beautiful, or stupidly dull. I prefer the stunningly beautiful face of life. Allow me the opportunity to experience it. Don't sully my dawn with your prejudice and judgementalism.

I'd much rather remember the generosity of the people of Rustenburg during Ramadaan, when I was a resident at the hostel, those who would send plates of savouries for the Muslim students who did not have the comfort of their homes, than be disappointed by the thoughtless comment of a cousin, who -not knowing that I would be a resident at the hostel - expressed the ignorant view that the students who studied there had been sent away from home because they were delinquents. When the truth was simply that they were casualties of Apartheid.

I'd much rather remember the laughing, "good to 'see' you," from a customer when she 'saw' me for the first time, than the whispered exchange.

To my Muslim bretheren, Ramadaan Kareem. And to all my friends, May God embrace you...always