life, Writing

Universal language

 

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Have you ever understood anyone speaking not your language?

It can happen and it did happen.

Many years ago one of my neighbours was from Mexico. She moved to the UK with her husband and her little boy, about three years old. Whenever I saw her on the stairs or the road, she was talking to herself. My neighbours and I thought she might be insane but she wasn’t. One day I gave her a leaflet about the English course centre which I was attending at that time. I cannot describe how her face changed that day. She smiled and thanked me and I felt her words were coming deeply from her heart. From that day, we became friends though we didn’t understand each other that much, she used to say that she doesn’t know why she understood me more than anyone else in the city. Honestly, neither do I. I just used to repeat what others said to her.  I wish I could have her details to keep in touch because once we moved I don’t know whether she was still in the UK or went back to her country.

I remembered her and remember how we can understand others with a different tongue on the day of Eid.  I was sitting next to an elderly woman. Probably, she was from Pakistan. She couldn’t sit on the floor, her daughter and granddaughter brought her a chair. So I was sitting on the carpet next to her on a chair. While I was talking with a friend on my other side, she tapped on my shoulder and talked as if she knew me. I understood from her looks and the tune of her voice that she didn’t like how women are chatting and didn’t listen to the Imam’s Eid speech. This was true, I was talking too but this was because the Imam’s voice was too low, probably he didn’t notice that his speaker didn’t work well. I nodded and admitted that she was right and repeated in English what she was saying in her language. She held my hand and smiled at me which I think meant she was happy I understood her though I couldn’t speak her language.

Can this be a universal language?   I think there can be a language that we can feel even though we don’t understand.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

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Family, Writing

Do you worry?

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We all worry, maybe not all but most or some of us, at different levels; something that can be normal, mild or severe.

One of my friends told me once about her mother-in-law. She thinks too much about her health and her worries turned into suspicion. She does not eat at anyone’s house. She doesn’t eat any food. She rarely accepts to eat out. This is strange but who knows something might have happened to her that resulted in her being such a worried person.

Raising up children on your own in a foreign place where it is just you, your spouse and just friends who usually left, went back to their countries, is enough to make you experience worry with all levels. One day, about four years ago, my son texted me; ‘mama the bus didn’t come and I still waiting at the bus stop next to my school.’ That wasn’t something normal because my son’s school was too far from our house; it was in a remote part of the city. And on that day, he could not take the school bus because he had basketball club and finished at 4:30 pm. What made it worse was that he didn’t text when he missed the first one. He kept waiting and texted about 5:30. Why? Because he knew if his mother worries so much, he wouldn’t join the club in the winter.  Honestly, that was my decision but I didn’t tell him at that moment.

I don’t know how many times, I called and texted my husband but apparently they were so many. I still remember how he was breathless; talking while running down the stairs at his work telling me he was on his way.

When I called my son and told him that his father was on his way, he said; ‘the bus has just arrived. Shall I take it?’

‘Of course, jump on.’ I told him and he did. It was a long way from school to our house and I didn’t want him to wait any more at that far place.

‘What about papa?’ My son asked

‘Oops!’

I believe my worries were normal that day. What do you think?

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

Writing

We!

 

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‘Good morning, mummies,’ A mother texted her friends

‘Good morning,’ replied one of them

‘Where are the others?’

‘Always disappear when we decide to plan for a day out.’

‘Maybe busy?’

‘ No one is busy to check the texts.’

‘Ok, let’s plan something this weekend.’

‘Other friends are better than this group. Others always have ideas, always ready, always well organised.’

‘ We will agree this time.’

‘We!  We won’t, we will never do.’

(My God, why it’s always you online?) The mother whispered to herself.

‘What about this Saturday? A barbecue in the park? It’s sunny for the whole week according to the weather forecast.’

‘My husband is working this Saturday. I cannot look after my three monkeys.’

‘We will do.’

‘I won’t have the car.’

‘We can arrange for this too.’

‘Oh, I forgot my children have a swimming lesson in the afternoon.’

‘At what time?’

‘3-4.’

‘We can start at 3 and you join us by 5 when the food is ready.’

‘No, no, my children will be so tired.’

(Why on earth I keep texting you?)

‘What about Sunday?’

‘My children go to their Arabic school. They finish at 5 and sleep at 6.’

‘6???’

‘Yes.’

‘So you cannot do anything this weekend.’

‘See, we will never be able to plan anything? I really think to leave this useless group.’

‘That would be the best plan ever!’

I thought of this story in the morning and wondered how some people always complain though they are the main cause of the problem.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

 

 

Writing

Can we try?

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Inviting others for Iftar (breakfast); friends, relatives, or some acquaintances is a popular tradition in the month of Ramadan. Muslims believe that if one shares or offers a meal with/to others, he/she will be heavenly rewarded.  When I started writing this post, I mainly thought of the manners that both visitors and hosts are supposed to have in order to enjoy their time together. I did not think of those sophisticated rules of etiquettes; what to take as a gift, how to sit, how to eat, what to say and so on. These are great rules but I thought of something very general, sometimes that can be very hard to apply. Can we try not to poke our noses into others’ affairs?

One day, a friend visited me after I gave birth to my daughter. It was her first time to visit me and apparently she liked both the place and the house. After giving her warm congratulations; she started a series of investigations all about how many? how much? how far? All those ”hows” made her 30 minutes visit pass like 5 hours. I pretended that I didn’t know most of the answers and changed the subject to her little son. That was why she left early; ‘ You look tired,’ she said and left.

There was a story in Arabic; I have read recently. It teaches one of the visiting manners. The story was about a Muslim scholar whose best student used regularly to invite him at his house. One day, the scholar’s cousin offered to give him a ride to his student’s. Once they had arrived, the host invited that cousin to join them. They talked and ate and then it was time to leave.

On their way back, the cousin poured all his thoughts;

‘ Your student is a real gentleman; kind and generous. His house is so big, clean and tidy. His attire looks expensive and neat. And the food, it was the best I have ever tasted. His people have high skills of cooking. I’m sure he is very wealthy.’

The scholar did not comment. He was riding his cousin’s donkey and listening while watching the sun setting.

‘But they have bad manners; they let women serve food and drinks. Have you seen that woman who was holding the water jug for us to clean our hands after dinner? I don’t like that,’ his cousin added

The scholar looked at his cousin and said; ‘ I have been regularly visiting that student for ten years. I ate their food, I drank their juice and I washed my hands in their house countless times, and yet I don’t know if I was served by men or women.’

His cousin said no more.

The lesson is; they were invited to have a meal, not to interfere in other’s life.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

Writing

My daughter’s guest

On Friday, at school home time, my daughter ran to me with a big smile. We had a guest. This guest was her class teddy. At the end of every week, her teacher picked randomly a name which is supposed to be the luckiest to have teddy over the weekend. It’s a wonderful idea because it encourages children to write about and express their feelings as well as sharing the fun with their friends. Every week they cannot wait to know whose turn it will be. They cannot wait to have this special teddy in their house, to take photos, to write about their adventures and finally to stick and arrange everything in the teddy’s schoolbook.

So on Friday, it was my daughter’s turn. Her adventure started as soon as we left the school. She talked with her teddy about our daily walking journey to and back from school. She believed teddy was so excited because last time when we had him, we took the bus, so this time was different. As soon as we arrived, she took her guest on a tour around the new house, especially her room and introduced him to the new toys he hadn’t seen last time.

On Saturday, it was raining when we went shopping and my daughter said teddy would be very bored; he doesn’t like shopping. ‘He will this time,’ I told her, ‘because I will buy him a special chocolate.’ Teddy wasn’t bored anymore. He flew in the air; my daughter jumped to catch him and hugged him. ‘There’s a surprise for you,’ she whispered to her guest who all of a sudden changed his mind and decided that it would be fun to go shopping.

Sunday was the best; sunny and warm and we went to the seafront. There, Teddy had an ice cream. There, he collected stones. There he waved to the big ferry. What else, there he giggled when one of the little boys ran to the water to wash his chocolate ice cream cone. He gasped when his tiny feet touched the chilly salty water. But finally, he was tired and fell asleep. But on the way home, he got up and begged his friend to take him to the park. He wanted to go on the swing. And so we went there. My daughter set him next to her on the swing and took up to the sky. She looked after him so well and he didn’t fall.

It was really fun to have teddy. I think it’s a brilliant idea that can create a wonderful story out of a simple toy.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

 

Writing

One more!

 

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Today at breakfast, my daughter said; ‘I’m full, mama.’ There wasn’t much left and I asked her to try one more to finish her plate. ‘I’m full, mama,’ she repeated.

I did not force her because she ate well and sometimes you cannot add any more. I don’t know how people in food competitions could eat that much just to win or to register a high score. It’s really awful to eat more than you can afford. It is known that animals eat when they are hungry; they eat to survive although these days I doubt it. I think they’ve changed too. Have you seen how seagulls snatch, or better to say steal, people’s sandwiches, chips and crisps? When I was young I learned that seagulls fish close to the surface. They also eat earthworms, snails and slugs. But when I moved to cities by sea or rivers, I noticed how these birds have not only adapted well to live with man but also learned his greedy eating habit.

Many years ago, one of my friends went to a social gathering with people of her country at well-known Arabic restaurant. She visited me after they had finished and described the different varieties of starters, main dishes and desserts; hummus, tabula, green salad, stuffed vine leaves, kebab, baklava, rice pudding … yummy! The list made my mouth water. But she did not look well. She tried to lay down on the sofa but she couldn’t. She told me that she ate so much and her husband gave her more. Then, she couldn’t hold it anymore; she ran to the bathroom and vomited up all the food she had eaten that night.

Wasn’t it better if she said she cannot eat anymore?

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Family, Writing

Wonder

 

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We’re still in the Easter break and on social media, I read many reviews and comments recommending Wonder, the American drama film. Yesterday, my boys and I watched it but my daughter didn’t want to join us so she spent the night playing with her father. My boys,15 and 17 years old, looked at me; This is not a children movie, mama? They were ready to escape. ‘Just watch and relax’, I told them.

They liked it and so did I. It’s a heartwarming and inspiring story for all ages and I cannot wait to read the novel by R. J. Palacio.

Have you watched it or read the book?

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Family, Writing

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

society

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

Writing

Suspicion

 

 

suspicion

 

It’s Thursday and she knew there was enough time for a long walk as the library would open at 10 O’clock am. She was a librarian and loved reading books. As soon as she opened her apartment windows, sunlight and fresh cold morning breeze filled the place which made her remarkably happy.” What a wonderful weather! This is the perfect morning for walking to work”, she thought.

 
She made her way through the park where the library was just at the end on the opposite side of the road. She went on walking along that long footpath enjoying the natural scene. It was mid autumn; beautiful colored leaves were everywhere, some were dancing gently with the wind on trees and others had fallen down drawing a magnificent carpet spreading all over the place. It was quiet enough to clearly hear the singing and whistling of those birds swinging up there on their branches. There were almost no children around as schools had just started and most people were already at their work place; just few persons were there walking their dogs.

 

She peacefully walked half way when she decided to have some rest enjoying the warmth of the sun and have some reading in such a bright day. She was reading a story about racism and how it is so much based on wrong assumptions and evil suspicions. After a while, she looked at her watch; “It’s time to go to work”, she said.

 
When she started walking again, she was no longer watching the beauty around the park as she was totally overwhelmed with what she had just been reading. Suddenly, she felt that someone was following her but she was unsure if she was right so she slightly looked over her shoulder to have a glimpse and get rid of any doubt. There was a man; well-built, bald and white.”He is just walking behind; may be he is going to his work too and not following me”, she said trying to assure herself.  Still in doubt, she decided to quicken her steps but as expected he quickened his too.  she became so frightened that she thought about her hijab, about being Muslim, and about being different. She could hear nothing but her panicky heart beating so fast; she could see danger written everywhere before her eyes; her hands were shaking and her head was down searching inside her bag  for her phone. The moment she thought her heart was going to stop, a strong hand grabbed her arm to stop her going any further. “Watch out”, the man shouted!

 

Now all her senses were back in working; she could hear the noise of the road and could see that she was no longer in the park but one step away from crossing the high speed road. She cried, deeply cried, looking at the man, looking at the road and looking at the sky. The man saved her life just on time before being hit by a bus at the crossroad.

“Don’t you know that there is a high speed crossroad at the end of that path? The man shockingly exclaimed! Then kindly asked her: “Are you alright?”

What would she tell him? Would she say that she suspected him being a racist and a criminal? She couldn’t say anything more than; “Please forgive me and thank you for saving my life.”
Be careful! The man said leaving her then crossed the road.

She was safe!

Is it not true that “What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you; it’s what you suspect that causes all the trouble. “~ Evan Esar

All the best,

Nahla
ps, I wrote this story after watching a short silent movie on the internet referring to the same meaning.