I am not always strong.
There are times that I experience steep slopes of sadness. This doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, the sorrow arrives as crude, impolite explosions.
I don’t have everything together, no matter what type of confidence seeps out of my writing. I spend most of my time struggling from paycheck-to-paycheck, too poor to actually date should anyone ever ask me out. I’m always in a suspended state of fear that this is all my life is going to be: a lonely existence with a salary that is barely livable. I feel like I’m stuck, and inertia is a type of sin in my world.
Sometimes, I feel like I should just give up and claim my rural White heritage. I will move to some small Southern town and live in a trailer park. Forget my complicated identity. Screw my vast life experience. I am nothing special.
There are days I feel like low hanging fruit.
I write this not because I want sympathy, but because I know everyone else feels powerless and hopeless at times. I need you to know that you are not alone.
“Do you have any children?” a nice woman making small talk asks me.
I reply pleasantly, “No, I don’t,” but my inner monologue is racing.
“Children? I don’t have children because I don’t have a husband. I don’t have a husband because I never had a romantic relationship with a guy. I never had a boyfriend, I’ve never even been kissed and I’m way older than Drew Barrymore was when she was in that movie with Michael Vartan! I’m older than Jesus ( AS) when he was on this earth! Oh God, what if it’s too late for me to have children?“
My inner monologue hysterically wonders about how hot hot flashes actually are, as I smile at the nice lady who’d innocently assumed that a Muslim woman my age is almost certainly married and almost certainly a mother.
I am an unmarried Muslim woman of a certain age. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised that I’m in this demographic.
A huge thank you to our San Francisco readers who ventured out in the rain last night to our SOLD OUT launch party for Salaam, Love! We’re incredibly grateful for your love, support, and wonderful discussion. A special thank you to our MC for the evening, Zahra Noorbaksh, and to the California Institute of Integral Studies for hosting the event.
Check out more pictures from our event on our Facebook page, here.
Next up – Los Angeles! View our full book tour schedule, here.
Our new book, Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex & Intimacy, will be released on February 4th. In the lead up to the release, meet our 22 contributors.
Today, meet Arif Choudhury!
An excerpt from Arif’s story, “How Did I End up Here?”:
If I was looking for the female version of me, why didn’t I date an American-born Bangladeshi Muslim girl? Because they were inaccessible. Growing up in the Bangladeshi community in Chicago, all of us boys and girls were raised as though we were siblings or cousins. One of the uncles in the community once asked me, “Do you feel as though you can’t marry the Bangladeshi girls you grew up with because you think of them as sisters?” “Exactly,” I replied. “It feels incestuous. They aren’t romantic possibilities. It’s too weird. I’ve been calling all of you uncle and auntie. If I marry your daughter I’d be calling you Abba and Amma—it would be strange to have you as in-laws.” Besides, I thought, you are all so freaked out about dating, how are we supposed to couple up? You would all know if we were going out to the movies or for coffee . . . or who knows what else.
Since our Bangladeshi Muslim parents wouldn’t let us date, we all dated secretly—some sooner than others. We found boyfriends and girlfriends from outside the Bangladeshi Muslim community who were allowed to date. Because of this, a lot of the American-born Bangladeshis—both men and women—in my community began marrying outside our ethnic group and sometimes outside our faith.
To read more, order Salaam, Love today!
Q&A with Arif
He had no shame. I think that made the situation worse.
I asked him the question I have asked most brothers I am interested in.
“Have you been in any relationships outside of your previous marriage?”
He looked at me and nodded.
Sadly, it didn’t surprise me because this seemed to be the reality for a majority of brothers my friends and I encountered.
Brothers who acted a hot stakin’ mess…
Sex before marriage, babies out of wedlock and not even hiding it in the slightest.
What makes matters worse is many of them are not reprimanded.
Jummah by day and the club by night.
Posting it everywhere for folks to see.
Listen, I ain’t got the time…
Ya’ll know I keep it real all day everyday.