french, grandma and spooks

September 26th, 2003 by

Today was la cinq jour pour moi. Est-ce que je suis faitigue? Oui, un peu. Juste comme vous, peut-etre. He approaches the table, a black man from the Ivory Coast. With broken english, he speaks to me, I pick up a vibe of loneliness of being alone in a country away from wife and kids, to earn a little money. I try to be good, speaking in my rusty french. We exchanged cell numbers, to talk again one day. Insha-allah.

The old grandmother sits in a booth across to the right of mine. It’s a window manufacturing company for homes, yet she sits there giving out information about the company. I have no idea why. I offer her coffee, I offer her candy, she accepts one and takes a chair to sit on. She sits by herself the entire day, with a handful of air conversation with passer by’s who have little desire to learn more about windows at a fair. She still sits by herself, without a smile, frownless too, she simply sits and watches the people passing by. She hobbles over and sits next to me, asking ‘Why do Muslim women dress like spooks?’.
I already like her. She’s not insulting, she’s not rude, she’s polite and wanting to learn thus asking.
The question, this one, always alarms me. Almost all questions about Islam alarm me, I’m in constant fear, in a never ending concern, a tremble of a hand, to answer incorrectly for I am not a mullah. I always try to speak softly but aggresively. Sometimes it fails, sometimes it works.
‘Why do nuns dress like spooks?’ I reply. She’s quiet, thinking.
‘Muslim women cover themselves up out of respect for God, to be pious. When you see images of the Virgin Mary, or other pious women, do you not see them covered in modesty infront of God? Tell me, you have a daughter, yes? What would you do if she dressed in the current fashion statements and walked down the street?’
‘I’ll kill her’ her prompt answer shot back.
… We talk for a whilst, simply conversing. It’s people like these who make my day, who want intelligently talk about a single point and comprehend its implications, rather then a flood of assumptions with questions attached to them, not wanting to learn but simply wanting to say ‘hey, i think all this about you and you have 3 minutes to clear up your entire life to me’.

On the table, a brown book of Peter Sanders photography lies, open randomly to one page or another. I fall asleep at the desk, exhausted.

11 Responses to “french, grandma and spooks”

  1. adnan Says:

    I’m surprised she didn’t ask why you dress like a spook, but then again, haloween is only a month away…

  2. Owl Says:

    Hey, I don’t dress like a spook! I dress like a Jedi Knight! :D (or so I like to believe)

    You live with Methodists? Whoa. That’s got to be… interesting. (says the girl who’s mom is a Mormon.)

  3. Waleed Says:

    Actually, I’m always dressed in khakis and what nots, rarely in jeans. Of cultural clothing,I have one kurta shalwar, and one palekat (malay garment). I like m’pants. I like ‘em good.

    The family I live with, yes are methodist Owl. These are people who I would call good, perhaps even true, practitioners of Christianity. They’re good to their neighbors, they help out massively in the community, they give generously, they’re always always helpful to family and strangers who need a place to live (such as me). They share their food with me, they share their laughs with me and most importantly, don’t judge me or stereotype me. I’m apparently the 3rd muslim to live here.

    That’s why I love Islam even more. Because only Allah knows what will be the final reward for such people, rather then a definite hell for not accepting a faith.

  4. Waleed Says:

    If I may ask, is your mother the only immediate family member who is not Muslim? I get the understanding that you, your sister, perhaps brothers (?) and father are muslims.
    Please clear up this ignorance of mine. jaza kala khair. =)

  5. Faiza Says:

    I don’t dress like a spook. But then I’ m not a sheep either. *shrug* I’m unique, I guess?

  6. Owl Says:

    Yes, the Quran says there will be pious Jews and Christians, as well as other monotheists in heaven. Allah will be just and we will all be rewarded what we have earned. :D Who is to say who truly is submitting and who is not?

    My mom is Mormon, as well as her entire family. My father, my siblings and I are Muslim.

  7. Abez Says:

    It took me like, half an hour, but I delved into ancient memories (college) and fianlly came up with enough French to translate your first paragraph!

  8. Waleed Says:

    …I’m confused.
    Who’s older. Abez or Owl?
    I know that Owl has studied journalism in her undergraduate somewhere in the US of A.

    What of you Abez?

  9. Owl Says:

    Er, Abez is a couple years elder. And I got my degree in Pakistan, not the US.

  10. nomes Says:

    it’s cinquième
    as in fifth
    le cinq jour is the five day
    cinquième jour is fifth day

    i am nomes
    hear me roar

  11. Waleed Says:

    oh yeah…you’re right. my bad boo. my bad.

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