Allah owes me simple & happy

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano

We often sit around the shisha for long conversations. The seven of us blow smoke and think through life together. There are days when the puffing conceals our loud laughter over topics that should probably not be discussed in public; on others, the smoke is a soothing reminder of normalcy in a dating world that is dark and scary. Every time I sit to “shish” (yes, it is a verb) with these women, I am amazed. I feel proud, and I feel stronger.

These women are all different; all colours, flavours, stories and paths to the divine. There is Boots, who is the fearless warrior. She is strong, driven and, above all, extremely open. It is she who challenges my Virgo structure, my need for control. She reads me, and questions my every thought and assumption. We also have Buttercup, always observant and analyzing. She is the archetype of the successful woman: independent, knowledgeable, and settled. She grounds me. She reminds me that there is so much out there in the world and that, despite everything, Allah places little snippets of happiness in the most random places.

Then, there is Puff. She often sits there puffing smoke, like an Alice in Wonderland’s character, presenting us with riddles. You need an astrologer? Someone who can analyze your zodiac character? She is your girl! Extremely sweet and sensitive, she reminds me of everything that is cosmically beautiful. S., is our social butterfly. She is cheery, happy, and has a magnetic personality. I have never met anyone who does not like S. She is always surrounded by people, and she has a beautiful friendly aura protecting her 24/7. All I need to do is sit and listen to her quirky stories and the world seems to smile at me.

Then there is Ring, the newbie. She is my Virgo twin, just a little more vocal about her emotions. We overthink and complain together about the uncertainty of the world and, at the end, we try to convince each other that everything will be okay. And finally there is Hoops. She has Sophia’s impropriety and Lorelai’s wittiness. Inappropriate and loud, she is the embodiment of the challenge to the establishment. But underneath all that there is an undying hopefulness. She is the one who reminds me to keep dreaming.

 ***

I said it last time. Some days I truly feel in my heart that Allah owes me simple and happy. For many months I wondered what that looked like. Did I want a non-committed relationship? Did I want to get married? Or did I just want to seclude myself in a Muslim-convent (do we have those?)? I was not sure how to reconcile my rational fear of meeting someone new with the emotional impulsiveness of putting myself out there.

This sisterhood came as a blessing in my life. At a moment when everything was dark and I had lost everything I knew to be true. Hence, I cherish the pain and the laughter I have shared with these women. We have all been heartbroken. There were the prospects that did not materialize, the ones who cheated, the ones who abused our trust, and the ones who simply disappeared from the face of the earth. There were the homophobes, Islamophobes, sexist and racist people who, for whatever reason, thought that they could date us. And there were those that played the “partner” role only to realize that they were not ready for such a thing.

One of the amazing things about this group is that we all want different things… and that is both challenging and empowering. The differences in opinion force us to think through issues, to reconcile, to commit and, above all, to accept. Hoops, for instance, wants a marriage and children. Ring has been there, has done that, and she is trying to figure out the future again. Puff is awaiting cosmic love, the kind that shakes the very core of life. Buttercup wants commitment. S. is still healing. And Boots is beyond traditional monogamous heteronormativity…

And in all this, I ask myself…what do I want?

***

All relationships are complicated. There is no escaping that. I am aware. I did it for almost eight years, and it does not scare me. It is the uncertainty that terrifies me. What is next? What does this person want? Can I reconcile their wants with my own desires?

When I make du’a I often find myself asking for clarity. More recently, however, I have found myself asking for simple and happy. Simple and happy, as any of the women above will tell you, goes against my nature. I am worrier and an over-thinker. But the principles of simple and happy are little figments of blissfulness that I have picked up from the women in my life. In a way, these women are Allah’s answer to my pleas.

What it comes down to is that simple and happy is a sacred connection. It is the pragmatics of daily work. It entails a challenge to everything I have ever known to be a “relationship” because it transcends traditional gender-roles and understandings of marriage. Simple and happy, with emphasis on the happy, is an effort to balance all the things that are wrong with the world, some might call it, “the light at the end of the tunnel.” The emphasis on the simple means the elimination of emotional uncertainty. And more importantly, simple and happy is a vow to each other’s path… wherever this may go.

Is it achievable? I can’t be entirely sure… for me simple and happy is in the making right now. Has it been challenging? Absolutely. It requires a lot of self-awareness and self-control. Plenty of “shishing” and endless hours of “processing” have been necessary for me to navigate such complexity within the desire for simplicity. Nonetheless, the choice to follow simple and happy is empowering. It is a way to reclaim all the pieces that fell away from my life when my last partner passed away.

And in disentangling simple and happy I have found shukr. Shukr towards the women who have cared for my soul, and who have let me be a presence in their lives. In between the search for love, dating, and relationships and my own path to pursue simple and happy I hope I continue to live up to the friendship and love that these women have brought to my life.

Read more from Eren on our site, here.

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano is an Indigenous-Latin American convert to Islam. She is currently working on her MA in Public Administration (supposedly). Eren’s blog Identity Crisis focuses on her multiple identities and how to reconcile them when they are at odds with each other. She also blogs at Muslimah Media Watch. When she is not writing, Eren can be found baking, knitting and sewing and oh yeah… dating. Follow her at @ErenArruna.


2 Comments on “Allah owes me simple & happy”

  1. Beautiful essay which happens to echo my own thoughts at present; Thank you for articulating them so elegantly.