Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kauthar and the Ring

Kauthar got her first crush ring at the age of 16. It was from a thin, shy boy with shoulder-length hair and a goofy sideways grin. The ring was silver with a heart-shaped red jewel at the centre. She knew the ring would be too small for her cherub-shaped fingers – it got stuck right before it hit the knuckle on her left ring finger. Nevertheless, she feigned gratitude.


In the absence of things being official, I wanted to give you something, so umm...I made this for you David said as he slid the ring across the table towards her. He was flustered, staring at his hands as they retreated from her and biting his lower lip. He couldn't meet her slightly amused and quizzical gaze.

The ring was made from a thin metallic wire bent into the shape of a flower with five roundish petals. Kauthar picked it up and stared at it with bemused wonder; who would have thought any given boy would be able to make a gift so thoughtful, even cute. Though the proposal was not the most romantic she had envisioned, she quickly concluded that this was the best gift she had ever gotten from a boy. A smile tugged at her lips.

Yet another suitor in a line up of potential mates, David was in greater need of a tan than Kauthar herself. His skin was a creamy pale, and he had eyes the colour of an autumn patch of golden sunburnt grass. His beard was light brown with a shocking tinge of orange at the edges. Upon further questioning, Kauthar had discovered the orange was indeed natural (not henna) – and that particular trait came from the Irish side of his family. Her friends joked with her that if the two did get married, their children would be translucent, if not fully transparent. Though he was slightly shorter than her, Kauthar didn't mind so much.

David was, by far, the shyest of the bunch – his hands always fidgeting with something or another, and eyes looking every which way they could, before landing on Kauthar's face. When he spoke, his words were slow and deliberate with a hint of a southern accent, as though he wished his every statement to be concise, clear, and not open to interpretation. Sometimes when their eyes did lock, it was difficult for Kauthar to read any emotion. She couldn't tell whether he admired her or thought she was a fool.

Kauthar had become rather fond of his quirk of having very few quirks at all. She often mimicked his accent with its elongated, softer sounding vowels, and on occasion called him a whitey because of his distinct non-ethnic professionalism. It jarred her a bit at first, but she eventually came to find it pleasant.

She remembered his actual proposal quite well. It had happened the day before over the phone, and she still chuckled at the memory:

I know I should have done this a long time ago, and I'm sorry it's taken so long. But, with the approval of your family naturally, I'd like to ask you to marry me.

When David proposed, he had paused often while his voice rattled with all kinds of nerves; at some moments Kauthar couldn't tell if they were nerves of excitement, or the kind that made you want to vomit.

And now his serious eyes were transfixed on the ring Kauthar was twirling between her fingers as if to (not so discreetly) ask why Kauthar hadn't yet tried it on. She ignored his gaze and changed the topic; secretly, she was afraid the ring wouldn't fit.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

my own brain is out to get me

Our memories operate in complex and intriguing ways. Our brains can be triggered by any number of things to elicit memories we thought had long been buried. A smell, a touch, specific weather...any of them can cause our bodies to re-experience actual emotional states of our pasts.

I'm leaving for Egypt in a few hours inshaAllah (just a 2 week trip), and as I was lying in bed this morning thinking about the things I needed to do, my entire being was suddenly consumed by every little detail of what happened on my last trip there - it was a very difficult trip, and I started to remember what I did on the day I traveled in 2009, and all the the consequent emotions in the following months.

At first I got angry at my own physiology for causing my state of unpleasant memory.

But then I got myself together and realized that perhaps I was being reminded of those difficulties so I could thank Allah (swt) for His ever-watchful mercy over me - sometimes we need to remember the bad in order to truly recognize the good.

So, alhamdulillah for memories, as unpleasant as they are sometimes. And, well, bye.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I have a feeling you guys like Kauthar more than Asmaa. Obviously you're just into the juicy stuff. TSK TSK.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Every time I allow myself to believe that some men are not jerks, they prove me wrong.

Dear men: STOP PROVING ME WRONG because I'm getting annoyed at your consistent dedication to all things scummy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What a Dork.

I spent a good portion of the day cleaning out my piles of leftover school papers and junk. I now am sniffling and sneezing all over the place due to airborne dust particles. I should have worn a surgical mask.

Sifting through personal things is always does one decide what is valuable enough to keep, and what needs to be thrown away? I never knew cleaning would be such an emotional journey. I found a note my friend wrote me before going for Hajj. I found birthday postcards from my grandfather, old notebooks filled with complicated emotional times, and more.

But I won't bore you with those. Here are some of my more entertaining finds:

Exhibit A: Hideous Earrings

To this day I don't know what possessed me to purchase these. In my defense, they're from Egypt, and my judgment is always clouded when I'm there.

Exhibit B: Adhesive Mustache

I probably don't need to elucidate my obsession with facial hair. But I still own this article, and it makes me quite happy.

Exhibit C: Various Doodles Drawn while in Social Work Student Orientation Session at Sick Kids

Exhibit D: My Photocopied Hand from High School

I remember we snuck into the teachers' lounge and photocopied our hands and faces. And that seemed to be very mischievous at the time. I really don't know why I still have this photocopied hand.

Exhibit E: Ryerson Clipboard that I used all throughout my U of T Years

I've had this clipboard since the 9th grade. Back when Ryerson was still called "Ryerson Polytechnic University." I used it at U of T and people thought I was disloyal to my own university. But I didn't care. It's completely ripped up now but I am definitely keeping it.

And last but definitely not least...

Exhibit F: My Old Glasses

These glasses must date back to the 4th or 5th grade - look at the elegance, the style! Aw man, these definitely go in the "keep forever" pile. I know for a fact that I've always been such a dork.

Thus ends my venture into the past. *ACHOO*

Monday, May 17, 2010

Arabs kill me

And I mean that in a very non-violent way.

Original "Charlie Bit Me"

Arab "Charlie Bit Me"

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kauthar at the Gym

Sometimes during the night Kauthar would dream that she could touch her own heart, feel it beating warm blood into her body, calm it away from the pangs of hurt. She would wake with a start and find her right hand laying on her chest; that's as close as she would ever get.


Kauthar never thought she was exceptionally beautiful. There were the bulges she furrowed her eyebrows at in the gym mirror, the slightly crooked bottom teeth when she smiled, and the generally boyish features of her face. No, definitely not the typical ascetically pleasing woman.

A woman should be symmetrical and thin. Her hair should fall in a perfect wave just to below her shoulders - frizzed by neither rain nor humidity. The curves of her body should be slight, alluring, render her a sculpted masterpiece.

Needless to say - that she was not. And the ugliness she wore on her exterior cloaked her inner demons; perhaps people would not look so far into her heart if she looked unbecoming.


Kauthar's kick-boxing class instructor was a petite Caucasian woman with disturbingly bulging shoulder muscles and an unnaturally high pitched voice. The class consisted of moves and routines she'd all but forgotten the names of. Uppercuts, roundhouse kicks, and something about breaking a man's nose by slamming his face into your knee.

The room was large, made up of clean wooden floors and ceiling-to-floor mirrors. While the women around her pumped their fists to the beat of the music, Petite High Pitch Instructor shouted orders at them on her wireless microphone. It was an odd sight - 40 women violently uppercutting the empty space ahead of them, yelling in unison as their fists hit the air.

For weeks, Kauthar could not get into the groove of the movements or memorize any sequence of moves. She would lose herself in the sea of women with unrequited anger - focus on the new ones in class and notice the build up of sweat on their necks, and the constrained look on their faces. The instructor's voice was lost in this - she did not exist.

On the 4th visit to the class, the instructor walked in and chirped: "alright ladies! It's time to picture that one person you've wanted to just clobber, but have always been too nice to!" Kauthar scoffed at the ludicrous suggestion. She was here to lose her bulges, not take out her violent tendencies.

She turned away from the instructor to hide her upturned eyebrow and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She saw ugliness.

Her eyes lit up under angry brows as she curled her fingers into fists. She saw his head jerk back as she rammed her fist into his nose, she saw him stumble onto his hands and knees when she forcefully kicked the hollowed side of his head. She slammed his head into her knee, and threw him aside like a used tissue.

She angrily twisted her body back to the mirror, hands still clenched as if to challenge its reflection. And for the first time in months, behind her reddened face, she saw raw, limitless beauty.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When we brought the snail mail in today, there was an advertisement for an eatery called "Fat Bastard Burrito." At first I couldn't decide whether to find it offensive or to find it ingeniously hilarious. I very soon decided on the latter.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kauthar and the Old Hag

Kauthar was the type of person who baked brownies while wearing a crisp white shirt - very little foresight. Hindsight was always her forte though - she remembered anniversaries very well. Especially the sad ones. It was all Kauthar could do to push out those sombre memories from her conscious mind.

Instead of obsessing over her past failures, she tied herself down with work - a work that tired her to the bone. Physical pain was always the more acceptable one anyway; it was the sort of pain you could complain about without getting pitied looks of others, saying I am so glad I'm not you.

Over the last few months, Kauthar had come to realize that she was beginning to be set in her ways. She liked specific hijabs and wore them incessantly. She had owned the same pairs of shoes for years, and when their soles wore too thin, she'd quickly go back to the same store and purchase an identical pair. Her personality had matured into a calm, collected woman of a darker-coloured persuasion.

It made her angry sometimes, worried, upset to know that she had become who she was meant to become without consulting her heart or her logical mind. It had just happened this way.


Kauthar had reached the end of the subway line, distracted with her intense reading of The Book of Negroes. She slammed it shut with tears pricking at her eyes and got up angrily to leave the train. She noticed a small older woman slumped against the subway window, presumably dozing. her face was shielded by mounds of straight white hair.

Out of a natural desire to be useful, Kauthar approached the woman and nudged her gently while calling softly: Excuse me, we're at the end of the line. The woman would not wake - her body seemed to be frozen in a slump. Kauthar began to panic - what if the woman was dead? What if she had had a heart attack on the way home and nobody had noticed? So she shook her harder until the woman finally roused. She lifted her head up and stared incredulously at Kauthar and barked: "What do you want?!"

Kauthar reeled back in surprise. The woman's hair had fallen away from her face and her eyes were stony, squinted, and cold.

"We're at the end of the line, so I thought I'd wake you up" Kauthar muttered.

"Well why don't you just mind your own business and leave me alone?" the old woman hissed.

Kauthar turned around and walked out of the train, quietly blaming herself for trying to help.

Monday, May 03, 2010


Do you know what Alhamdulillah means? It means all praise and thanks are due to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). There is nothing that happens to us - good or bad - that we shouldn't truly thank Allah (swt) for.

The last few weeks have been so lovely...just having extra time to really ponder life and all the things that I've been blessed with. I am so thankful for what Allah (swt) has given me.

The one du'aa I consistently made this past year was: "O Allah, remove all sadness from my heart and make me content with what You have decreed for me."

I truly feel that Allah (swt) has answered that du'aa. Hence, Alhamdulillahs are need all 'round. :)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

His Reaction to 2 Things

1. This is what I painted in my painting class last week:

This is what my nephew thinks of it:

2. This strawberry is (ahem, was) monstrously huge:

This is what my nephew thinks of it:

Babies are fun audiences.

happy place

Sometimes when I'm stressed out about something, I close my eyes and picture myself lying on a fresh patch of spring grass, looking up at perfectly fluffy white clouds. The sun soaks my limbs with warm shine, and I definitely know I'm not lying in dog poo. In my right hand I have a blue freezie, and in my left, a bag of freshly popped popcorn.

My happy place is here.