“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.
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.
2013 was a whirlwind here at LoveinshAllah.com! We brought on gifted writer Deonna Kelli Sayed as co-editor as well as several wonderful monthly columnists, launched an advice column, created space for poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and featured countless guest posts by readers like you!
Here are some other highlights from our year:
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In It Started with a Wink, writer and lawyer Nura Maznavi shared her journey to the altar, along with some witty and wise advice for readers searching for a partner.
My husband David and I met on Match.com when he showed up in my weekly report of new guys on the site matching my preferences. He had an awful profile picture (think: taken with a cell phone camera in a moving car), but I loved everything else about his profile, from the description of himself to what he was looking for in a partner. So, I virtually winked at him. He sent me a message the next day
Fast forward 16 months and I was moving to Chicago as his bride.
It sounds easy enough but my road to the altar was a long and arduous one.
I am not sure why I have not written in a long time. I try to dissect my feelings. To open up the bloody mess and follow the veins of my thoughts and explore the chambers of my heart. I get lost every time. I must accept that I will never find my way through the clutter.
Of course, I miss Ibrahim. I have learned that I will always miss him. I miss him in different ways everyday. Most days, I miss his smell or even the smell of the sterile hospital. His now-yellowed white hospital hat, which I store in two Ziploc bags and smell daily, no longer has his scent. So instead, when I visit people at the hospital, I pump the possibly carcinogenic hand sanitizing lotion twice, close my eyes, and breathe it in deeply. I am immediately taken back to his bedside- his pink abdomen moving rapidly and his lips cracked around the breathing tube. I don’t feel grief ,rather, joy for the short moment with him. I open my eyes to see my husband, the only other being on earth who knows why I do this, looking at me. I avoid eye contact and rub my hands together as if nothing happened.
Yes, it’s complicated.
My roommate and I sat side by side on our couch, hunched over our respective laptops.
“Are you sure about this?” I asked her.
“Yes, I want to go to Cape Town,” she said.
I showed her my three Kayak windows, open in separate tabs before me. “Buenos Aires costs about the same to get to from New York, but everything will be way cheaper when we’re actually there. And look at these flights to Istanbul: they’re half the price, half the length, and nonstop.”
“I want to go to Cape Town,” she insisted. This being 2012, I don’t think I’d ever heard a broken record, but I imagine this was what it might sound like.
My roommate had seen a friend’s Facebook album from Cape Town the year before, and ever since we’d talked about traveling together, she’d been hell bent on getting there. It had always figured on my list of places to get to eventually, probably with a safari tacked on when I had kids someday, but wasn’t something I’d consider a priority destination. Not like Argentina, which I’d been trying to convince friends to accompany me to for years, or Turkey, which I was ashamed to admit I had yet to see. But she was adamant.
“OK then, if you’re sure. Bismillah.”
I clicked Book.