It has never been my nature to attract romantic love, or to stumble into it unawares. The men I studied and worked with rarely interested in me, and I don’t believe I interested them either. I was discreet, invisible, unseen, unheard. I was content with being a colleague, a classmate, an acquaintance – nothing more.
It has also never been my nature to share myself with others. I have always written, but have been too shy to share it publically. The thought of someone reading my words was as daunting as the thought of someone walking in on me while I was in the trance of prayer, or reading over my shoulder as I wrote a beseeching supplication to God. Writing—like prayer, like sex—was sacred, meant to be shared only with those who are deeply loved and trusted. Instead of sharing my words with a giant, faceless public, I always dreamed of writing for someone: essays and poems about myself, him, and our inner universes.
Suddenly, one day, I was acknowledged as a woman.
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I wrap layers upon layers of dense black cotton around my head, reveling in the warm ritual of it; throw a splash of crimson lipstick onto my lips, frustrated at how little of a canvas I have to work with, and stop when I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror.
My eyes scan from the top of my head down to my covered neck. I look absolutely beautiful. This is not an ego thing, it’s a spiritual thing.
I cannot deny it – the moments I feel the most feminine, the most powerful, and the most beautiful are when I am covered.
Hijab and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship over the years. It’s one of those relationships where no matter how hard things get, no matter how many times you break up, you still remember why you fell in love in the first place, and you keep coming back to that love.
Editor’s note: Writer and Love InshAllah anthology contributor Deonna Kelli Sayed is coming on board as a LoveinshAllah.com editor and our first monthly columnist!
Look for her column, “Thoughts of a Wasat Girl” every second Wednesday of the month!
I delivered a lecture about almost two decades ago at a regional conference sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) on Islam in America. That academic-type gathering occurred years before my marriage, in the middle of graduate school, and during my early stage as a writer and a Muslim.
In that long-ago lecture, I suggested the success for Islam in America was not merely about institution building or matters of isolation versus assimilation. What we needed, I pompously postulated, was to embrace the position of being in-between multiple cultures, because this transcultured space was globalism living out loud. It was where culture was happening, and we had to claim and name our power, that middle space – “wasat” culture. I predicted that Muslim women would be the ones to first secure this middle space through writing and cultural expression. I called such women Wasat Girls.
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Dear Love InshAllah,
I’m reaching out to you now because no one in my life understands, but you might.
I always felt I never fit in, too “white” or “liberal” for my strict Muslim community in the Midwest, too “conservative”, too Muslim to be with a white guy. I met someone online who changed that, a white guy who understood. He even read ‘Love InshAllah’ because he said he wanted to understand where I was coming from.
We have been together for a year, and now it is falling apart, due to some issues he has in the past with being abandoned by his mother. He says he still loves me.
I thought he was the one for me, I still believe he is. We are on a “break” – the ball is in his court, if he decides he can “learn to be happy and deal with personal issues” we will get back together and “start over.” If not, it is over.
I feel like I will never find happiness. I’m almost 26, I’m no longer in school, I work with people who are all over 50, I don’t mesh well with the “Pakistani community” here, no big group of desi friends. Because I don’t drink, I also don’t have that many non-Muslim friends. Just four good friends from high school and everyone else is an acquaintance.
I see nothing but a life of loneliness ahead of me. No Muslim guy would want me if he knew about relationship history, and I don’t want to keep dating white guys, racking up partners, being heartbroken. I feel like each heartbreak (and this is only heartbreak #2) is taking a piece of my soul with it.
I feel like I have no options at all. I feel broken. I feel like I am going to be alone forever and I don’t know how to be happy with that. I can’t sleep but I don’t want to leave my bed either. My state of being is so painful to my family and the guilt makes it worse.
I keep hearing the “horror stories.” The 40-year-old, never-married girl, everyone trying to figure out what’s wrong with her. I’m afraid of becoming that.
Not Everyone Has a Happy Ending
Shy Desi Boy replies:
Spring break on the beach: Are we a couple of free-wheeling college students on Daytona Beach? Nah. We’re a family of five (seven with my in-laws included) who decided to come to a beach in South Carolina because it seemed the only place that everyone, especially our eldest son, would have some fun.
The question asked by so many leading up to this trip was: What do you think will happen?
Meaning, our family’s life — in a way — has been held hostage the past several months by the extreme behavioral changes in Lil D. So, what will happen if we take our family out of our home and the home/school routine, which has been both a safe haven and a kind of prison for Lil D of late? How will we handle him in an unfamiliar environment?
It’s the beach, I told everyone. It’s the ocean. It’s the one thing that has made him happy in the past. So, it can’t be any worse than what’s been going on at home and school. It can only be the same, or better.
Would it be like the reunion of two old souls in some epic Hollywood love story? Their eyes meet. Would the love rekindle? Would the spark still be there?
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