Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Morning Routine

Kauthar stumbled out of bed after snoozing her alarm 4 times. That irritating vibration of her cell phone alarm accompanied by a merry little jingle was the bane of existence for the rest of her family. She chose it specifically so that it would annoy her awake. But after almost 2 years of it's annoying little hum, she slept through it far too easily.

Dragging her late feet to the bathroom, she contemplated wearing the same outfit she wore yesterday - would anyone really notice? Deciding against it behind her bleary eyes, she began brushing her teeth with the same worn toothbrush she has had for the past year, since she last saw her dentist. This must not be very good for my teeth she thought as she spit in a very manly manner into the sink.

Yes, that hijab. Blue, shimmery, and not easily wrinkled. Yes, it would match perfectly with her outfit of black abaya and black boots. Though truth be told, she only grabbed it because every other hijab was bunched up awkwardly and she didn't have that kind of time to iron one. Plus, this one was from Egypt so she felt some kind of exotic flush spread through her cheeks every time she explained the hijab's roots in response to a "this is so pretty" compliment. People would pick it up and rub it between their forefingers and thumbs, as though some kind of blessing would be transferred to them through touching such a spiritual cloth. If only they knew she'd been wearing it because of bunched-up-hijab issues. But she would keep that little tidbit of information to herself.

She foraged through her ever-growing pile of single socks to no avail. No matching ones - she could almost sympathize with those lone socks; never to be worn again. Relegated to an obscure pile of useless things. Caught in the middle of existence; people felt too guilty to throw them out "just in case" but they sat there and gathered dust. Kauthar's eyes blurred for a moment thinking about their plight before she defiantly grabbed one pretty striped sock, and one plain grey one and slipped her feet into them. Someone has to care for the rejects.

After readying herself she bolted from her family's apartment, metropass in pocket and travel-mugged-tea burning the tip of her tongue. (Naturally Kauthar maintained that burning your tongue is the best part of the tea experience.) Whilst running for her bus, she wondered when she got so old. Travel mug, sensibly warm clothing, a blackberry sitting comfortably in her pocket, glasses perched on her nose while politely uttering phrases of thanks to the patient bus driver. All things that would not have been in her list of accomplishments 2 years ago.

Taking a seat at the back of the bus, Kauthar stared romantically out the window at the horizon speckled with phone-wires and ugly buildings. She wondered if she would ever live anywhere really beautiful. Between the towering structures scraping the sky, she caught a glimpse of sunrise. It disappeared behind some cookie-cutter houses adorned with quaint gardens and lawn chairs. Her eyes desperately strained to get another view of that budding yellow sun - perhaps it would lend her heart some of its beauty. But after the houses there was a Kitchen Stuff Plus, car dealership, and Dairy Queen. So her heart remained unfulfilled until they pulled into the subway station. Oh well, maybe I'll grab sunset.

Her abaya was awkwardly long and it swished violently with her long strides, outpacing other riders' speeds and silent clothing. Then there she was, a window seat again on the subway. Listening to Muhammad Jibreel's rendition of the believers in the background of subway chatter and swerving. That's when she caught a woman, maybe 45 years old with hints of graying brown hair and wrinkled eyes. The woman stared at Kauthar like no other. Her eyes seemed to want to bore into Kauthar's very soul.

Kauthar decided to name her "Marilyn" because she could imagine this woman overdosing on drugs. Little did Marilyn know that Kauthar had her fair share of stares throughout her life, and she knew just how to retaliate. Marilyn and Kauthar locked eyes for a few moments - neither dared to look away. You don't know what you've gotten yourself into my sweet Marilyn Kauthar thought as she pictured psychologically rubbed her hands in evil glee. Now Kauthar was very talented at keeping an intimidatingly straight face - and so she did just that.

Marilyn suddenly looked away nonchalantly, as though she had not experienced one of the most awkward moments of her life. Kauthar was disappointed.

She nearly missed her stop as she schemed and planned other ways to make this woman pay for her rude stare. The subway car stalled and she jumped straight up and skipped out the doors just in time to feel them snap shut on the end of her abaya. Oh great. She yanked it out and thankfully it was not torn - but it left a perverted sort of dirty grey mark, which she later found to be unwashable.

Her walk to the hospital was a sordid one. Sky scrapers as far as her spectacled eyes could see, puddles to drag her already-stained abaya through, and a biting cold that left her cheeks bright pink. Muhammad Jibreel's voice had moved onto the chapter of repentance.


Rizwan said...

The exchange between the woman on the train and Kauthar was remarkable! I also love this part of a line:

" left a perverted sort of dirty grey mark, which she later found to be unwashable."

Asmaa said...

=) writing makes me happy.