ONIONS

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Yesterday, I thought what can an onion symbolize? By the way, I wasn’t cooking.

At the beginning, I thought of onions and tears, they are close friends or may be relatives. Slicing and chopping more than one and my eyes would be like a hot water tap, turned on gradually, first shedding warm drops, and then in a second pouring hot burning tears. Not to forget onions beautiful fragrance that stuck in the mother’s hands when cooking dinner for her family. In short, the first thing came to my mind was: an onion symbolizes mother’s suffering in her cooking journey.

But what if we take this vegetable away from the mother’s hands, study its nutrition, health and economical facts, either on its own or in comparison to its family members, would this little herb-plant have a different connotation?

I think, yes it is.

Yes, it’s true, onions are humble givers, known of their abundant harvest and modest price; they are available all year, all over the world, in every kitchen, vegetable market and food store, and with different sizes and colours. And through the ages, onions have also been known as a natural preventive medicine (especially for cold) though this is mainly for raw ones as it’s said that this benefit is destroyed by heat. Onions can protect our bodies and help defend against those nasty viruses using its great natural power, so they are powerful too.

And can its swirly white layers symbolize unity, purity and beauty, may be!

It’s just an onion but it can symbolize too many things.

In Egypt we usually refer to that person poking his/her nose into others’ business to be like an onion found in every recipe; poor onions, meddling with others’ affairs connotes incivility,  but it’s just a saying!

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

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Reward or Support

There are still about 5 months left for the month of Ramadan, but today one of the songs has refreshed some precious memories into my mind and heart.

My boys started practicing fasting early and gradually. The hardest time for them was when we have this once in a year beloved visitor during the summer, days become too long,  the dawn so early, and the dusk so late.

One year, my middle son was doing very well though he’s always impatient, would have a hundred snacks per day, full of energy and never listen if I ask him to have a nap at noon or play indoor. One day when it was too hot, he came asking for money to buy a new mini sweetie juice that one of his friends was drinking and enjoying so much and ‘ I’ll have it after our Iftar (breakfast),’ he said. After he got the juice, he disappeared in his room and when his brother and friends came inquiring if he would join them, he shouted from upstairs ‘I’m tired, won’t play.’ This was weird, wasn’t it?

I went to his room, he was lying down in his bed, when I asked him if there was anything wrong; ‘ just tired mama tired,’ I sat at the edge of his bed,  my eyes were trying to find out where was that juice. ‘ Won’t you show me this sweetie special juice?’ I asked. He quietly got up and brought it from behind the curtains.  I knew that he was not tired but sad, deeply sad.  His fingers and lips and the juice were blue.

‘Did you drink it?’

‘No, I didn’t,’ he said without looking at me

‘ But why your fingers and lips are blue?’

He couldn’t lie anymore, he went to the mirror and stuck his tongue out, it was all blue. He told me that he wanted to smell it, pulled the lid up with his teeth, he accidentally squeezed the bottle and the juice splashed into his mouth. ‘I didn’t want to drink it mama, just smell it,’ how he cried and how sad he looked really broke my heart.

‘It was a mistake, my son and I did dozen like this when I was in your age.’

‘ I’m still fasting,’

‘Yes, even if you do this when you’re a grown-up, you’re still fasting.’

‘Can I go and play now?’

‘But you’re tired.’

‘Not anymore.’

In another year, my elder son, was about 14 years old when he came back from school, telling me his news, picked up a large glass, opened the cold water tap, filled it up to the top, and drank it all in one gulp, leave not even a drop, I was looking at him, puzzled;

‘Couldn’t you fast today?’

‘Of course I’m fasting, it was too hot but I’m ok.’

‘Of-course you’re, you’ve just drank a full glass of water!’

‘Oops, I forgot!’

Was it a reward for patience? Was it a support from the Merciful? I believe it was both.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

 

Imagine

 

Imagine one day, you were sitting peacefully in the bus, watching people getting on and off and waiting for your stop, when an old woman, poorly dressed, walking step by step like a one year old child, dragging carefully her shopping trolley, got slowly on the bus. You decided to move back to give that old woman a space, but instead of taking that place, she went after you and took the seat just in front of yours, and placed her trolley on the way of other passengers, blocking them from going forward or backward. It was unavoidable within this close distance not to smell her coat fully soaked with sweaty smell of cigarette and alcohol, when all of a sudden she turned her head back and stared at your face. ‘Thank you,’ you would expect to hear but instead she whispered, ‘chaaaaaaange.’

 

Would you give her or would you not?

While writing this post, I remembered this story that I have read long time ago:

Once upon a time, there was an old kind man, he was well-off but not that rich. He was living in a quite village, just few miles away from the city.  One night, on his way to pray at the village mosque, a young lady stopped him and asked for  some money, she need money to feed her children who were starving for days, this was what she said. The old man gave her what he had in his pocket and went to pray. The following night, a young girl stopped him asking for money to get some medicine and food for her old poor father who had been sick-in-bed for days. And again the old man gave her money and went to pray. On the third night, the old man was walking with a friend to the mosque, a guest for a couple of days, when an old woman approached them wailing, telling that her son had left for a month and she had neither money nor food. The friend kept silent while watching the old man giving her what he had.

Did the friend give that woman any money? No.

Did he ask the old man not to give her money? No.

And did the old man ask the friend to give her money? No.

On his last night at his host’s house, the friend and the old man were stopped again by a woman with a different look, telling a new story and asking for money. When she finished, the man asked simply;  ‘where is your house?’ The woman with her eyes wide open looked at the man and suddenly ran away.

‘Didn’t you realise that this was the same woman you gave her money yesterday?’ The friend said, smiling and looking at the old man.

‘No, I didn’t notice that,’ said the old man

‘Last night I could tell at a glance that she was one of those impostors, known in the city of their tricks to get money.’

The contented, placid old man looked at his friend and said:

‘I gave that money for God’s sake whether the one who asked was telling a lie or the truth. May Allah accept it as a sincere deed of charity!’

This is just a story that shows two different attitudes and I believe both are right: The old man and the friend. I’m not sure if I can act like the old man but I’m more like the friend.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

One of the best

 

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One of the best things I have started in 2017 was blogging or in other words writing.

Writing has always been my best hobby and though I didn’t keep anything of what I wrote when I was young, I remember very well that writing was not hard, boring or odd for me; simply because I love writing and I write what I love.

At university, I mainly studied English Language and literature but we also used to study Arabic literature and grammar as a main part of the BA programme. One day our Arabic literature lecturer asked us to write a free piece, anything we like, as one of our main tasks and promised that extra marks would be added to the mark we got at our Arabic exam. This wasn’t everything, he also promised that the best five or six (can’t remember the exact number) pieces would be published in his book which we would study that year (of course as appendix). So there were no worries about being marked down or getting a fail, just a page or half, but it had to be done before our next lecture; We all were so pleased and thought that was a brilliant idea, wasn’t it?

I did not care that mine would be one of those chosen pieces; honestly I believed that our lecturer would never read all of our writings; I just wondered what to write but finally I decided to write about my father.

At the beginning of that year, my father passed away, and so I wrote about death, the final fate that we cannot change or escape. I wondered if one has a choice either to die before or after his/her beloved ones, what he/she would choose. I thought of my father and believed that he would have willingly chosen that same time because he loved us.

Before the following lecture, and as promised, the book was available and five pieces were added at the end; mine was one of them. I was totally surprised, delighted and nervous, too nervous indeed; I was surprised because I didn’t make any great effort in that piece, and delighted because my writing was one of the best, and nervous because I became popular, everybody started asking about me, including our lecturer who hadn’t known any of our names before, and I wished I could hide under the desk for the rest of that day.

I have no idea how far my writing will go, but I believe it’s a wonderful gift.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

2017/special photos

At last we could take a picture of that squirrel.

Summer sunset

I was taking a photo of the bird, and I don’t know how the boat came in that photo.

Kite day, none of them is ours which couldn’t fly more than a couple of minutes.

‘The tree has three legs,’ said my daughter and i think it really has.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

2017

Have you achieved your goals for 2017?

One of the many things I have planned to achieve in 2017 was to PASS my driving practical test (I think I have taken more lessons than anyone else) My husband used to say that the money I spent on driving lessons would have been enough to get me a brand new modern car. This is exaggeration! 🙂

The good news is I’ve learned everything and did drive at all times, different roads and cities and in all weather conditions without causing any damage. 😀😀

The bad news is that I still couldn’t pass my practical test. 😭😭

I learned with different instructors and this was really a great advantage and fun too.

My first instructor was so funny, she told me about her life and we kept laughing and talking most of the time, she said it was all about nerves and believed I can pass my test but I didn’t pass with her.

Then we moved and my new instructor was different, highly qualified, so serious and rude, it was the first time i saw an instructor yelled at people and other drivers on the road. She believed she was horrible and when I told her i think she wasn’t, she was really touched and said I ‘m the first one ever to say so. I learned a lot from her but I was always under pressure, supposed to make no mistakes and believed i could never pass my test, I did not continue with her.

Then after a while, I started again, this time my instructor was so old and apparently didn’t feel well. She was too calm, smiling all the time and never mind my mistakes, everybody does mistakes she said. But i was uncomfortable, and felt under pressure again but this time because of thinking what if anything happened to this poor old woman, she believed i could pass my test but i thought it wouldn’t be with her, and so i stopped

There are two more 😀

We moved again and i started taking lessons again but this time i was no longer learning but practicing and remembering things. My instructor this time barely said anything, just giving directions, nodding, that’s fine, yes yes, no problem, this will do. I believe if I hadn’t learned before, I would have never learned driving with her, and I didn’t pass my test with her either. And I decided to stop taking any lessons for months.

My last instructor was a young lady, quite and calm. I love practicing with her, at my first lesson, she wondered why I  didn’t pass so far, so I booked my test but suddenly because of certain health problems she stopped giving any lessons and I cancelled my test.

Then I’ve become busy with other things and forgot about driving but seeing that 2017 is almost over, I remembered my driving journey again. And I remembered that story that my son told me when I started learning long time ago :‘ mama, …..’s dad failed 7 times before passing on his 8th go but he didn’t like driving.’ ‘ What a wonderful thing to say,’ I told him, mine have not been 8 yet and hopefully they won’t be. 🙏🏻

When looking back on all those memories, I believe that I did my best and learned better than all my friends who passed their test. Actually, it doesn’t bother me anymore, everything comes in time and may be better things are coming in 2018.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

His Birth

 

Soon Muslims will celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad. He was born on the 12th of Rabie al-Awal (third month of the Islamic calendar). To be honest this is more cultural than religious event, as in all my studies, I have never heard that Prophet Muhammad, his friends or followers had celebrated his birthday simply because Prophet Muhammad will always be in our hearts. I think may be these celebrations started in the Fatimid period  but I am not sure.

I like some of the poems and songs that have been written and repeated on this day; I feel it’s just different in meaning, tone and performance. This occasion always takes me back to childhood years when I was in primary school. Every year, before the Prophet’s birthday, we usually have lots of preparations and rehearsals to offer a good musical performance at our school for parents and visitors. I don’t remember anything more than the poem we were learning by heart as well as our kind teacher that had made a great effort to help us do our best on that day. She was a Christian but she loved singing that poem with us. She was very enthusiastic and sang with all her heart. She was always smiling, a dove flying with her accordion and leaning towards those shy little ones. I still remember those precious tears in her eyes though at that young age I did not understand why?

Was not that great?

By the way the poem was a praise song written for Prophet Muhammad ages ago. I will try to translate the simple lines we used to sing at that celebration:

All the hearts have always longed for the remembrance of the Beloved

I have my evidence and witness

When you say the name of Muhammad,

The tears flow freely from the eyes of those loving The Beloved.

I remember how we, as little boys and girls, used to wear long white shirts; the girls with white head scarf and the boys with white skull caps, standing next to each other facing the audience, and were always supported by our wonderful teacher.

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you Prophet Muhammad and upon all God’s prophets and messengers!

This one is one of my favorite, hope you like it

Alsamlamo Alyka

Maher Zein

 

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla