Monthly Archives: December 2007

Confession: I Wanna Have a Baby

I can’t believe I’m saying it either. Up until now I’ve relished in the fact that I’ve been 100% kid free. I can get up and go when I please, spend all of my money on myself and only have to think about taking care of myself. It has been a nice feeling, I can’t deny it. But something has happened to me all of a sudden. I don’t know if it’s turning 33 or what but I’m really starting to feel “the baby itch.” I was thinking about it today and I was asking myself, why are you making such a big deal about this? You can handle it. And you know what, I think I can. I just have to stop being afraid. Stop worrying about losing my independence or freedom. The rest is up to Allah.

Books I’d Like To See As Movies

I love reading and I love watching films. I think a book can be turned into an excellent movie if the production, screen writing, actors etc. are right for the part. There’ something to be said for seeing your favorite characters come to life in a movie. Here are five books I’d like to see turned into movies:

1) Leone Ross/All the Blood is Red

Synopsis: All the Blood is Red tells the story of four very different black women in 90s London. There is Jeanette, the original good-time girl, whose enthusiastic promiscuity defines her freedom; Nicola, a beautiful actress who creates an alter-ego to face the world and her own insecurities; Alexandrea, a borderline alcoholic who finds herself sexually harassed by a man she trusts and the mysterious Mavis, whose disembodied tale of prostitution in Jamaica weaves a poignant voice throughout the novel. These four women are brought together when one of them is savagely raped by a black man, and they discover that those who wear the cloak of friendship – family, community, lovers, peers -often cause the greatest pain, the pain of rejection and violation. This is the story of three women who learn how to love and be loved, how to be strong, how to be free…and of one woman who does not.

2)Marie-Elena John/Unburnable

This compelling first novel traces the fortunes of three generations of women from the small Caribbean Island of Dominica. Matilda, descended from African slaves, was a famous healer and possible murderer. The story of her hanging was handed down in songs. Her daughter, Iris, was famous as the jilted lover of a rich man and the victim of a horrific rape. Her subsequent insanity and death also became legendary. Iris’ daughter, Lillian, was raised by her devoutly Catholic stepmother. Until the age of 15 she remains unaware that the infamous women of song are her legacy. Now living in Washington, D.C., the fragile, adult Lillian returns to Dominica to try to unravel the history of her family. The richly told narrative alternates between time periods, building suspense and compassion for all of the characters. Marta Segal Copyright © American Library Association.

3) Leila Aboulela/Minaret

Aboulela’s U.S. debut is written in the voice of Najwa, an upper-class Sudanese woman, and covers, episodically, 20 years of her life. A Khartoum teen, Najwa flees to London with her mother and brother when the coup of 1985 leads to her father’s arrest and execution. With her mother soon dead and her brother in jail on drug charges, Najwa attempts to negotiate work, love and the ways they get twisted around emigré politics—and religion. An affair begun in Khartoum with devout, politically engaged, working-class fellow émigré Anwar is threaded in with a later one with Tamer, the contentiously devout, college-age son of the family for which Najwa works as a nanny when in her 30s. The denouements of the two relationships, though separated by more than 10 years, come one after the other; both lead, painfully, to a deepening of Najwa’s religious faith.

4) Andrea Levy/Fruit of the Lemon

Levy’s follow-up to the Orange Prize– and Whitbread-winning Small Island explores how racism reveals itself to a young British-born woman of Jamaican descent, and how the pain can be healed by knowledge of one’s roots. Faith Jackson is having a rough go after college: she’s fired from her apprenticeship at a prestigious textile designer’s and her parents are planning to move back to Jamaica. Though Faith has experienced racism throughout her life, she begins to fear her ethnicity will hobble her career. As she becomes more aware of subtle forms of racism at her entry level job in the BBC costume department and elsewhere, she witnesses a hate crime and, in its aftermath, is sent to Jamaica by her parents for a helpful holiday. It’s there, in the second half of the book, that Faith learns a great deal about her extended family and understands why her parents may want to return. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

5) Meera Syal/Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee

Synopsis: Meera Syal’s second novel features a trio of close and somewhat unlikely childhood friends. Sunita, a former law student and activist, has married her university sweetheart Akash, and is settled into a life of overweight, underappreciated motherhood. Tania is a raven-maned beauty who’s rejected marriage and anything traditionally Asian for a high-flying TV career and a compliant Indophile boyfriend. And then there’s Chila. Innocent, kind, funny Chila, with her simple soul and her glass animal collection, has just, to everyone’s amazement, snared Deepak–the “most eligible bachelor within a twenty-mile radius.” What comes after that, alas, is infidelity and envy and betrayal. True to its stoic title, Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee encompasses not only the strengths but the limits of female friendship. Yet the author retains her sense of humor and cross-cultural irony to the very end. –Lisa Gee

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, today I turned 33! Suprisingly I’m not sad about “getting older”. I’m grateful for every year Allah has given me. (And I suppose it helps that I don’t look 33 either!)

I’ve pretty much avoided the big birthday celebrations or trying to focus this day on me. One of my co-workers bought me coffee and another bought me lunch. My mom and my sister also have gifts for me. I think that’ll be the extent of my birthday celebration.

Alhamdulillah for another year.

Why Did You Delete the Marriage Blog?

I made the painful decision to delete the marriage blog. Why? Because I didn’t want it to be a source of fitnah for anyone. Unfortunately, some people were reading the blog like they would a tabloid.

My intention in creating the blog was not so that people can try to figure out who I was speaking about in the examples I gave. My intention was not to provide fodder for gossip or for people to derive some sort of perverse sense of pleasure off of my misery or the misery of others. My intention was to highlight the struggle, sorrows, up and downs, joys and triumphs of single/divorced Muslimahs using myself and my experience as an example. (With a few anecdotes from the lives of other sisters I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in my life). I also wanted to address issues that are often swept under the rug in the Muslim community. More importantly, I wanted to give voice to my experience.

Unfortunately, some people in my local community have discovered the blog. I fear that some of them will use my words against me. I’m afraid that they will not understand the point I was trying to make but instead twist its meaning. I’m afraid they will take my personal business and gossip about it rather than to use the information to promote much needed dialogue. I also don’t want them to make assumptions about which sisters I’m speaking of in my anecdotes. The fact of the matter is, I’ve lived in several different cities, travel reguarly, and I communicate with sisters (and brothers) across the country and around the globe . Some of them have shared their experiences with me so that I could address issues they’ve dealt with in my blog. My world is not so small that I have to draw every anecdote and situation from my local community. (Some people need to grow up!) The other thing is, I’d often change the location and sequence of events so that individuals’ identity remained protected. The only person I really put on blast was myself (and with good reason I hoped.) Yet, in the end it all comes down to this; fitnah, gossip, assumptions, and the like. I don’t want any part of that.

I apologize to all of the sisters (and brothers) who commented on the blog and/or emailed me privately to thank me for boldly discussing issues that were affecting our community and our sisters. In the end, blame the blog’s demise on haters and gossip mongers.

History, Culture and Memory

Recently, I was having a discussion with a couple of my co-workers and a few of my interns about family memorabilia. They discussed old family recipes, jewelry and so on. Everyone who knows me knows that I love history. More than anything I love African-American and Caribbean history. (Hence my major in college). As we were talking about families and history, I mentioned that my fiance actually has a copy of the deed which shows the slave master who owned his family. I said I wished I could find a document like that. I talked about the little I did know of my maternal family’s history which includes clear evidence of sharecropping. When I finished my little spiel, I noticed that everyone was quiet and looked uncomfortable. We eventually moved on to another subject.

Later on, when I thought about the silence and how uncomfortable my White co-workers (and interns) were, I became angry. I felt like they didn’t want to be reminded of America’s “dirty past”. They wanted to have a light-hearted conversation about family legacy. They didn’t want to face the fact that while their families enjoyed the good life, my family legacy consisted of segregation, Jim Crow, sharecropping, and slavery. Many people today (including some Black people) want to forget. They say we need to “get over it” and “move on”. I’ve also heard the suggestion that Black people use slavery as a crutch. (See my eyes rolling).

The fact remains that slavery is a part of America’s history. Not only is it a part of national history it is a part of my family history. If I refuse to talk about slavery or to acknowledge the historical struggle of my people I am essentially cutting myself off from my cultural and familial background. I’d basically be erasing myself. And I have to ask myself why someone would ask me to do that. Why? Is it to make White people feel comfortable? To ease their sense of guilt? Is it so that some Black people can forget the past and the shame some of them carry about it? I don’t know. But, insha’allah I will not do it. Apart from a few quacks here and there, I’ve never heard any suggest that the Jews should simply “get over” the Holocaust. I don’t see people sighing and rolling their eyes at the mere mention of the Holocaust. Nor do I see, like I have recently, people actually becoming angry at the mention of the Holocaust. So, why is the reaction to the African-American Holocaust so strong? After all, historians estimate at least 1 million Africans died during the Middle Passage alone! I don’t think I need to delve any further into the history.

The fact remains that I can’t forget slavery even if I wanted to. Slavery (and all the that followed afterwards) is the reason why I can only trace back my familial history a few generations. It’s the reason my family is so fractured and devastated. It’s the reason why I speak Jamaican patois and African-American dialect. It’s the reason why I eat greens and “play mas.” More importantly, it’s the reason why I can’t sit around with my White co-workers and discuss beautiful jewelry and a rich family history. Is that my fault? Hmm

I Confess…

  • I used to wish Patti Labelle was my mama. (She’s just so divalicious!) I remember when it started; she was playing Dewayne Wayne’s mama on A Different World.
  • I haven’t been home to Jamaica in almost 4 years.
  • I was hurt when I found out Kanye West is engaged. Was hurt even more when I saw his fiance- yeah, I know, get a life Jamerican!
  • I used to have a crush on an imam. I also had a crush on my halaqah teacher. *bows head in shame*
  • I’m a bonafide girly girl. 100% femininity. And I’m prissy too!
  • I bought myself Eid gifts; Mary J. Blige’s new CD, Lupe Fiasco’s new CD, a pair of socks, some bangles and new gloves.
  • I have way less money than people think I have.
  • I sometimes miss clubbing.
  • Every man’s mama who has ever met me loved me. I guess that makes me the type of woman you can bring home to mother.
  • I’m a loner. I enjoy being by myself most of the time. Being around people on a regular basis leaves me feeling exhausted.
  • I’m a lotion freak. I have three different types of lotion in my purse, one on my desk at work, and at least six different types at home. When I go to Target or Walgreens I make a conscious effort to avoid the aisle with lotion.
  • I’m tired of being strong all the time. I just want to be taken care of for once. I’ve never enjoyed the luxury. And I’ve never trusted a man enough to let him take care of me.
  • I wanted to cuss someone out today.

Salatul Mahgrib

He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colours). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory: and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. (Quran, 54:29)

My mom’s cat normally comes to pray with me. I took the picture posted above to prove it. Today when I called the iqama she entered the room and sat down as I prayed. While I was in between Mahgrib and my sunnah salaat I decided to grab my cell phone and take the picture posted above. (Yeah, she’s not exactly facing the kiblah but I’m sure she’s allowed). Mashallah, it’s the most beautiful thing. Sometimes she will lay down beside me and other times she will sit like she is in the picture. She’ll stay like that until the fard salaat is over. Subhanallah, she knows when it’s finished too.

Am I becoming a crazy cat lady?