Crying and Reclamation

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“Love Wins”

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.

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A Married Woman

Eds note: Welcome our newest LoveInshAllah.com columnist, Huda Al-Marashi! Keep an eye out for Huda’s column, “Things I Wish I’d Known” the second Tuesday of every month!

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When I was growing up, my Iraqi-born mother responded to my requests to travel alone, consider schools out-of-state, or stay out late with friends with the same answer, “When you get married.” Once I got married, I’d be somebody else’s problem. Then, it wouldn’t be her place to tell me no. Then, it would be my husband’s job to worry about me.

Marriage, in my adolescent mind, was the only way to an independent adulthood. Western culture may have referred to marriage as settling down, but I associated it with freedom. Marriage would sanction my first relationship with a man. It would transition me from my parents’ authority to my husband’s, and I was convinced my future husband would do whatever I wanted. He  was not an individual with his own goals and desires; he was the supporting actor in my life’s script.

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Half Agony, Half Hope

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“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.

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The Life and Death of a First Love

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First love can be a bittersweet and intense experience, especially if it is unrequited. It can also change us in ways we may not grasp until much later.

I discovered love for the first time when I was seven years old. He was a distant cousin — one amongst many thanks to my large close-knit family in Lahore, Pakistan. We gravitated towards each other, despite the fact that I was the younger, studious little girl while he was a rambunctious boy. We spent our time mostly play acting in our world of Star Wars, space travels and building blocks.

We were sitting in the dirt one evening when I looked at him in wonder. In my seven-year-old mentality, I realized that I loved this little boy. I wanted to marry him so that we could always play together and build castles and spaceships.

From that moment, I knew he was THE ONE. And I didn’t tell a soul.

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Inter-Dependent

Pakistan 7

Inter-Dependent

I wanted to show you what I saw
And heard
And understood
But it was so boring
Like talking to myself
A conversation I had before
Things I already know
And I know you don’t know it
But it was boring nevertheless
Because to explain
I have to say too much
Describe too much
Contextualize
And if I don’t explain
I say
Nothing

I saw
Wheat fields and corn fields carefully cultivated
Spreading as far as the eye can see
And an area where land was fallow
Because there was a dispute between two people
And the jirgah had suspended rights
To everybody
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