Eds. Note: What a delicious way to complete Ramadan or welcome Eid!
After spending 10 days away being utterly spoiled by my Aunt and having the best time of my life, I’ve found myself struggling just a little bit to return to real life. It feels great to be home and back in my own bed, and not drinking out of a plastic water bottle no one will ever recycle, or walking around sweaty-faced with a drink held to my face, or getting sand in my shoes everywhere I go, or constantly fearing I didn’t apply enough SPF 50 to protect me from the 50C heat.
Hah, now that I’ve got all the not-so-great stuff about my trip out of the way I can focus on all the incredible moments, and there were lots and lots of those. But before all that I should probably sort out the strange sleeping pattern I have adopted after my time away. It’s the beautiful month of Ramadan and I’ll be fasting from approximately 2:30am till 9:20pm. I plan to take it easy for the next couple of weeks before I begin my new career (GAH SO SCARY), go back to dressing like an adult, and have to set my alarm clock the night before.
Speaking of taking it easy, this chocolate mousse is just that: easy and effortless but so gloriously satisfying. I used milk chocolate because it was the only type I had at hand, but feel free to opt for dark and play around with the toppings.
When I was a child, Ramadan – like the life that stretched before me – seemed magical. Forbidden for the very young, fasting was a mark of adulthood, a rite of passage for which we were all too eager. You woke for the early morning meal with a sense of pride, keen to know what mysterious things adults got up to at this delicious hour.
As I grew older, Ramadan became a time to pause life, a time for reflection as well as a time for community. Growing up outside of our respective ethnic identities and cultures, this month provided the chance to regroup and reconnect with friends and family.
We became used to a melding of cultures where we’d reach for spices in two languages during iftar, knowing only our ethnic name for certain spices and only the English one for others (I will never call “saunf” aniseed or “dhaniya” cilantro, but “namaak” will always be just plain old salt to me). We indulge in kibbeh and kunafeh at our Arab friends’ houses, in pakoras and dahi bade at our South Asian friends’ houses. During Ramadan, we seem to make up for the things we never realized we were missing – the sound of adhan from all corners, mosques on every block, altered work hours to make the fast easy: all things available in the Muslim-majority countries from whence most of us came.
After my brother’s passing, Ramadan became a month of refuge from the chaos of my grief. It allowed me space to breathe, mourn, to build up strength for the remainder of the year. The past few years, I have been able to recharge and re-center during this holy month by finding solace in the strength of the spiritual.
But this year? This year is different.
my grandma spoke the language of milk and cardamom
she couldn’t fly but I swear she had wings
the world in her henna-dressed palms
rhythm of her heart still sings
hair trimmed with peacock feather wings
my grandma lives through stories
labour of a cinnamon brown woman
she lived without glories
paan leaves and cumin
her children crossed an ocean
threadbare clothes in tow
nowhere to go
her grandchildren water down their names
tongues swollen with apologies
for a land of hope and glory
Read more by Nashwa, here.
Nashwa Khan identifies as South Asian/African Diaspora and is currently studying creative writing at University of Toronto and Addictions Counselling at McMaster University. She holds a strong interest in narrative medicine and cultural competency. You can usually find her ranting on Twitter on the intersections of pop culture, health and race. Connect with her @nashwakay.
Eight Black churches have burned to the ground since the shooting of nine worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In response, 23 year old Faatimah Knight launched Respond with Love, an effort to rebuild black churches and support victims of arson across the south.
“We must always keep in mind that the Muslim community and the black community are not different communities. We are profoundly integrated in many ways, in our overlapping identities and in our relationship to this great and complicated country. We are connected to Black churches through our extended families, our friends and teachers, and our intertwined histories and convergent present.”
You can support this initiative too — donate, here.
Eds. Note: Key is taking July off to get married, mA! We pray for deep blessings, contentment & joy in her union, and are re-posting her very first column with us from April 2014.
36 Flavours of Self Loathing
1. In 2nd grade a boy called me fat, there hasn’t been a day since then, when I loved my body
2. At 18 I found myself locked in a restaurant freezer with a boss who was trying to use his
hands to convince me that sex with him was part of the job.
3. There were nights after you left, when I filled my bed with everything that you touched,
hoping to fill it with something familiar.
4. The moon warned me not to come see you that night, it hung low trying to touch me. When I
left you, it asked me how could I hate myself so much.
5. When you didn’t call I had to delete every memory of you I had, but you still
lingered in the cracks of my walls.
6. Someone once told me that my body was a war zone. The day that I finally
understood what that meant, I was bleeding from my forearms trying to recreate the crucifixion.
7. West Indian women are known for having children but being too strong to have men.
I’ve never understood the fear some people have of women who expect as opposed to women who hope.
Read the rest of this entry »
On February 1st this year, my 78-year-old uncle suffered a severe seizure. Although he’s recovered physically, he hasn’t regained his former mental acuity. Following a hospital stay and stints at a nursing center and an assisted care home, he’s now living in a graduated-care senior living community. He can no longer drive and relies on the assisted living support in his new home for meals, house cleaning, and reminders on medications and bills.
The house he lived in for decades recently sold, a recognition that he’ll never go back to how he was. Just like that, he lost his independence in life.
When I first heard what had happened to Uncle Tom, I thought, “There but for the grace of God go I.” With every twist in his saga, I wonder if I’m looking at my own future. Tom and I are a lot alike, you see.
Ed note: Our dear columnists, Miss Sunshine & Shy Desi Boy, are back! Send them your sex, love & relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out our archives to read their previous columns.
Dear Miss Sunshine & Shy Desi Boy,
I am a 27 year old girl, ‘happily married’ with 2 children. I am a prominent Islamic speaker’s daughter. I wear hijab and strive to be a good Muslim. In college, I fell hard for a Non-Muslim guy. We talked for a couple of years, and eventually hooked up a couple of times. With him, when in private, I would remove my hijab. I did not lose my virginity to him (I wanted to share this with my husband); we shared a couple nights together, and those were the best nights I have ever had. To this day, I still think of those amazing nights.
I know from some Facebook stalking that he is ‘happily married’ as well and his 2 children are born within days of mine. In my college days, I felt like I was a different person. I was tired of ‘being good.’ I was sick of the expectations Islam placed on me. I wanted to rebel. I was also in love with this guy. And he was in love with me too. Love makes you do some crazy things.
However, due to religious issues and general compatibility, we broke it off. He would not convert or change his ways, and I knew I needed to settle down with a Muslim man; I have prayed for guidance since then, and am much more settled now in my religion.
There are days in which I wallow. I am ‘happily married’ in that I love my spouse. I have never told my husband nor my best friends about me & my ex hooking up: I do not want my hubby to judge me or think that I am not his first. I do not want to expose my faults, and want to keep these sins a secret, and pray that Allah forgives me. I know I am my hubby’s first.
I am writing to ask, how do I efficiently move on and not think about my ex? There are months in which I am fine, and other days in which I feel like someone has punched me in the gut, days in which I am sore, days in which I miss the way my ex used to kiss me, the way my ex and me used to laugh together. Am I normal to still think of him from time to time? I feel like a horrible person in that Allah has given me so much, and yet there are days in which I eagerly yearn for the past.I also feel horribly guilty in that if someone were to look at me, they automatically think I am a ‘good’ person, a daughter of an Islamic speaker, and a good Muslim wife & mom. But deep down inside, I have deep, dark secrets.
I need help to move on.
Miss Sunshine replies: