Soaking my jeans in salt water (messy)

I am struggling.

I am struggling to write, struggling to choose a pen or pencil (yes I still have to write it out on paper before I type it out) I am unsatisfied with every word, every sentence, every motion my hand makes in attempt to express –

Express. I’m struggling to express myself through this medium and it’s terrifying because I need writing like I need my eyes. I need writing to help me see my own misgivings, even if it’s already too late – I can always apologize later? Right?

My mom likes to say “Don’t be sorry, be careful” And it might be my favourite piece of advice. “sorry” seems to have lost it’s meaning, the weight of an “I’m sorry” doesn’t squeeze anyone’s hearts anymore. “I’m sorry” is watered down and never good enough to articulate remorse. And yet, that’s all we have, and if you’re an English speaker with no intention to learn another language, that’s all you’ll ever have.

I digress.

That’s not what I want to tell you today.

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August 2017

Married for 8 months

 Does the feeling of missing your parents ever go away?

Even after I’ve settled into a routine, started learning how to cook (dishes that he actually likes) and started looking at his home as my home, I still miss them. I think of them wistfully, as if I didn’t see them last weekend. Maybe I’m just slow.

Tonight I am making calzone (just found out what that is) I’m kneading dough and feeling like a wife. I’ve been quiet these past few days. He keeps glancing over at me-

In the car

In bed I hear his head shift before I feel his gaze on my face

Standing in the kitchen

Sitting together on the couch

 

 

“baby are you okay?”

I smile truthfully, “Yes honey I’m just thinking”

“thinking? About what?”

“reflecting”

he smiled, and he crinkled his eyes at me, and this is going to sound so so cheesy (think mozzarella, it melts well) but it was the shared look I read about all my life, his eyes are brown, darker brown than mine, lashes as long as mine. His eyes are almost always hiding a hint of humor. But this look is more than inside jokes. Within his gaze I feel the understanding between us, the compassion. I feel the inevitable blush rise to my cheeks. I want to remember this moment, the tranquility that exists in this space. I want to carry it with me, to have this piece of peace.

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I’m at a loss for words at how quick it all happened, how I can’t believe it’s almost been one year. One minute your life is THIS WAY and then the next it’s unequivocally THAT WAY.

I check the recipe incessantly, double checking that I’ve put in the right amount of everything, checking that the steak isn’t tough, I’m scurrying from

cutting board to rolling pin to pan – my grandmother would be so impressed.

He’s laughing at me from the living room, “You’re too cute”

He loves the calzone and it feels good to get something right.

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The Last Monday of July 2017

 I feel re-centered.

And that sounds horribly cliché because I’m doing yoga but that’s the point isn’t it: to feel re-centered and balanced? I’m looking at a chart and trying to fold myself in half for several breaths. I can’t do a handstand yet. But practicing is oddly therapeutic.

I’m pondering about the future and my family and my life and my afterlife and how grateful I am. Each yoga position slows time, I can feel my heart beat and I am able to isolate each limb, feel each every individual muscle stretch and I am in awe of my Creator.

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I drove to Zeekoevlei, to visit friends, it was warm and the smell of cinnamon doughnuts filled my car. Taahirah greets me with a big smile, the kind that changes her face. Aqeelah, Taahirah and I head out to Hidden Treasures and I’m not entirely sure if that is just what they call it or if the shop is ACTUALLY CALLED Hidden Treasures. They engage in witty, entertaining banter that tastes like it’s been cultivated for years. I snag a beautifully crafted miniature clay pot, I like pretty things (one of many weaknesses) They try on clothing, I run my hands over the thrifted fabric, I saw a jersey, a blazer and a pants that I liked but they were too small. I’m dieting because “I want to wear what I want and not what I can” Aqeelah tries on a pants that makes her feel like a French model.

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I am remembering a statement Taahirah made: You know effzed when I heard your voice I knew we would be friends.

I wonder how my voice sounds.

Muizeberg Beach is a marine biologist’s paradise, I learn. We play (yes. Play) in the water and I feel far away. I feel like I’m trying to see the end of the ocean – reach it. Touch it. I’ve always been fascinated with the sea, the waves, the creatures. Taahirah shows me fish eggs and it looks squishy and foreign and gross. I never liked things that look like bugs. I haven’t ever been camping or hiking. But even as I say “ew” I find myself wanting to be the kind of person that goes camping and hiking and scoops up something wet and almost alive just out of curiosity. I want to show Allah that I am interested. I am in wonderment at His SWT’s creations. We climb over rocks and I wish I were wearing sturdier sneakers. I feel a new sort of freedom, a liberating rush of unknown. And simultaneous shame, I have been living here for so long, swam in this very ocean, but I didn’t come here, to the each of the rocks, to feel salt water spray on my face.

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I am quiet. I am taking in this minor epiphany in silently. My heart is swelling and I feel glorious happiness. And I want to talk about it, but my body wants to be silent. I wanted to write immediately, but my fingers wanted to be still.

I’ve been waiting a couple days to start writing this.

Back in Taahirah’s bedroom, she and Aqeelah become very griewelik, which is not a behavior that can be described, it has to be witnessed. They laugh and it’s light and warm and I feel the beauty of simplicity covering me like another layer on my skin.

I’ve been to Muizenberg three times in the last two weeks since I went with them. I can’t seem to get enough.

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August 2017

The beginning of the second semester

 It is wet and cold and my beloved husband brings a jacket and a dry scarf for me at campus.

And I tell him he’s the best.

Let Go

Being able to turn around in the middle of the night and curl into his arms is without a doubt my favourite thing about being married. I’ve always hated sleeping alone. Now, there was a streak of moonlight across my wooden floors, the curve of a shoulder in the dark, and warmth. I wake up pressed against his back, or with me on my side, my hand on his chest, our fingers intertwined.

I feel so safe.


 

June 2017

 

He looked perfect to me at 5:30am, eating with his eyes half closed. On eid morning he walked in and held me, “Eid Mubarak baby” and I smiled. And my future with him stretched before me like an endless river. This is our first eid. A few Eid’s into our marriage he might come in and kiss me and a baby, our baby.

 

During the first week of June, I missed a pill. Or two. And I was late. Late enough that everyone thought I was pregnant. My husband looked at me – I swatted his hand – “eyes on the road” but he kept looking at me, “I wonder what our child will look like. I hope she/he looks like you”

 

He looked up baby names. I got anxious, it wasn’t part of my plan to have a baby now, although I understood that everything is in Allah’s hands, I just didn’t feel ready for a baby. But we spoke about it. I thought of my parents. And how they were old. I thought about “the bigger picture” and how I would actually love to start a family. Another day passed and he bought a test.

 

And then I took the test, and I saw a solitary pink line that –according to the box- meant I wasn’t going to have a baby.

 

All I felt was disappointment. Raw, uncut disappointment that cut into me like little needles. And that stupid voice in my head you didn’t want a baby anyway. You want to finish your degree first, it’s the responsible thing to do.

 

And this is where I am right now. Happier than I thought possible with someone who was a perfect stranger 7 months ago.     Always on the brink of possibility and I love it. I love how many opportunities there are right now. It’s terrifying. I’m always worried that I’m wasting my early 20’s. (I’m literally only 20)

And I can’t stop thinking how different things are now. How far they are from my life before. How desperately I’ve been hanging on to the person I was before.

She’s all I know. I can’t keep pretending I’m that person, I know how much I’ve changed.

 

Now I was picking up new habits, new little gestures, new facial expressions, even. I was the same, but different.

 

Different enough to create distance.

July 2017

 

I was having a low moment. I don’t have many of them. I turned to him, our pillows overlapping each other and he put his phone down. (that’s modern day romance right there) and in the dark I voiced all my fears, and all my feelings. (I have a lot of feelings)

 

He, having already encircled me in his arms, squeezed me too tight – in that I’ll- never-let-anything-happen-to-you hug and consoled me. Whispered to me, stroked my hair until I fell asleep.

 

Love is being there when the other person needs you. Love is knowing which way to love the other person and when.

 

Love is understanding.

 

And so I let go, of all the things that troubled my heart. I let go of the fears I held. I let go of burdens that I should not have been carrying in the first place.

 

I’ve never felt so free.


Another day to be a writer


I will write about kindness.

I will write about love

I will write about death

I will write about the sun

And the moon

I might write about every individual star

I will write about pain

I will drag knives over your lungs just hard enough to scrape them.

I will take the air from you

I will take your tear- streaked cheeks and tell you

Absolute truths

The ones that have been kept from you

I will write about failure

And what it means to try again. Selfishly.

I will write about the things you forgot

Things that brought you joy

Do you remember joy?

The real kind

I will write about cold fingers

Yours and his

I will write about silk and satin and

how your skin

wasn’t placed on your body

to please anyone on this earth.

I will write about regret

How bitter it tastes at the back of your throat

I will write about the lies you told

The excuses you made

The promises you broke without blinking

I will write about nature

And how we’re are being lied to:

nature is unnatural

I will write about lips

The kinds of kisses you should be receiving

I will write about anger

Steel wool on the ends of your lashes

Scratchy eyes

Red vision

Burning skin

I will write about calamity

And how we know nothing of it at all.

I will write about consistency

I will write about persistency

I will write about specificity

I will make you uncomfortable

Sweaty

Guilty

I will write about tranquility

And how to achieve it

I will write about being enough being happy being secure

being unapologetic in those things

 

 

 

 

 

Making Memories and Actually Remembering them.


Thoughts align themselves along nerve endings. I can feel them underneath the surface of my skin. They bubble up beneath my eyes, fingers, my feet. They carry me and my words – even the ones I don’t say. They stream through my pores into every hair on my body. 


13:00pm, 12 November 2016 

(thank god for the Whatsapp search function, it’s so satisfying to give real time stamps instead of estimations)

I am a wreck. Jittery. Snappy. Shake-y.

There is a bundle of knots in my tummy that’s been there for two Wednesday’s in a row.

A few days after our second meeting, I made Istikhaara ( a specific salaah {prayer}that one makes when making important decisions). Not because I wasn’t sure, and not because it’s compulsory. (Because it’s not) I did it because I wanted my Creator’s input- so to speak. The act of asking Allah before you make a decision places baraka (blessings) in that decision.  I had one teacher, who taught me to ask Allah to help me make all my decisions. He said to say, “Oh الله, choose for me” whether you’re choosing between potential spouses or ice cream flavours. It’s something I want to make a habit eventually, Insha’Allah.

The next morning I woke with a feeling of clarity. Everyone asks me how I knew he was “the one” and I never what to say except, “It felt right” I could not see my whole future with him in minds eye. I could not imagine what our children might look like. I did not visualise our lives together like I did in high school when I had a crush on someone. What I did see was a journey filled with surprises, I didn’t know much about him, still. But I felt like I knew enough. Enough to build a life together, a life that lead to Jannah, Insha’Allah.


Now I was in one of Amazon.com’s many call centres, struggling to wing my eyeliner in the bathroom since there wouldn’t be enough time when I got home. Razeen and his father were coming over at 3, with a Moulana (A  religious scholar in Islam) to facilitate our engagement.

I got home that day to find my mother rearranging furniture and faffing over cushion placement.

It was more formal than I expected, the whole thing.

“The Hassim family would like to ask the guardian of Fatima-Zahra, for her hand in marriage”

and my father looked at me and said, “Looks like the kids want to get married”

A question was directed me next, “Would you like to marry Razeen?”

and me. Being me, I said, “Is it not obvious?”

the formality crumbled and the mood in the room shifted when I cleared my throat and said, “Yes”


We were officially engaged and Razeen gifted me a ring that he wasn’t allowed to put on my finger himself. My fiance had a smile glued to his face. I felt my cheeks mirror that expression until my wedding day when I obviously had a heart attack. {but more on that in the next post}

I love the look on people’s faces when I let on that he didn’t touch me or even see my hair until after we were wed.


A few people have asked me why I’m writing this whole series, and I think a lot of you think that I’m merely diarising my experiences, but it’s much more than that. 

I’m writing this, documenting and sharing this, to share the beauty of the sunnah with all of you. In hopes that we begin to value the teachings of the prophet SAW more than the things we’re force fed through every single media platform. 


2 May 2017 

At first being a student at UCT as well as a wife wasn’t that taxing. The reading wasn’t drowning  me until I was a month in and just

skim read through everything before tuts. I do everything I need to do and not an iota more – although I am planning on putting a lot more effort in

from tomorrow.


someone at campus asked me if campus seems unimportant because I’m married. And it’s not that it seems unimportant, it just seems

less important.

My priorities are different from those that I’m studying with, which is not a bad thing. It just makes me more focused I think. Like I’m just there to get my degree and go. There are no other distractions (aside from my series) at campus for me. I’m not there to build a sorority or find a boyfriend. I’m not there to skip lectures to for lunch.

A girl I went to high school with (and is a UCT student now) asked me if it’s a good idea to get married while she’s studying.

I told her,

“you get two kinds of students: one who is distracted by the thought of a relationship and can’t focus on their studies, because there’s a human need/ desire/ want that isn’t being fulfilled, and it lessens the importance you place on your work.  and the other student is so distracted by their relationship that they can’t give enough attention to their studies.”

 

I usually get sick on long drives. I usually don’t last 40 minutes before nausea settles in my system like an old, unwelcome friend. Naturally when it was suggested that we take a SIX AND A HALF HOUR drive to Plettenberg Bay and then a FIVE HOUR drive to Hermanus??? I was BEYOND skeptical.

six hours in a moving vehicle?

me?

But it was glorious.
There are so many stars alive on an endless stretch on black roads.

Xo effzed 

 

 

 

Empty Rooms & Full Hearts

Sometimes it’s not about what the words mean, but the way they sound. Just because you can’t understand a language doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the melody of words strung together. Like listening to old french ballads or german poetry read aloud. You learn to love the blend of syllables. 


 

19:28pm, 19 October

Sooner than I expected I received a text from him (we’re all like old friends now hey? Sharing this journey as well as my thoughts with you all and what have you. I may as well use his name) – Razeen texted me soon after we met, as in a half an hour after he left.
We didn’t dive into a whole new conversation.

We did not stay up all night talking.

We did not exchange selfies.

We did, however make plans to see each other again. It did not occur to me to “play it cool” I’ve never been one to curb my enthusiasm (I’ll admit that sometimes that’s a bad thing) or pretend to be aloof to protect my pride. I was never interested in the “chase”

I drew no thrill from hiding my feelings- regardless of their depth, or masquerading to be someone I am not. I felt like if I was to marry this man, he should know- truly know- that I am a storm of passion. I love the things I love  with every fibre of my being, I hate the things I hate-

*clears throat* zionists

I do these things without fear of hurt. My psychological pain threshold is high. I suppose it makes up for the fact that my physical pain threshold is the height of a new born’s crib.


At our next meeting I compiled a list of 23 questions. The least embarrassing ones I will share with you:

  1. Are you an affectionate person?
  2. What makes you angry / do you get angry or irritated quickly?
  3. What are your short and long term goals?
  4. Are you playful?
  5. If we got married, where would we stay?
  6. Are you okay with me studying?
  7. How many kids do you want?
  8. What are your hobbies?
  9. Are you patient?

We spoke about deen, friends and family. We discovered shared interests and personality traits. He wanted me to meet his sisters, one older and one younger (but both older than me) and their children. My mom sat with his mom- they could see us but thankfully, couldn’t hear my embarrassing questions. Across a large mahogany table I told him that even if we didn’t get married, and this didn’t work out, we could be happy in the fact that at this moment our Creator SWT was pleased with us. Pleased with us following the sunnah.


We spoke for two hours, I didn’t feel time, I existed in the spaces between each laugh, each   question. My cheeks hurt from smiling. We agreed that we should be as open and frank as possible. He asked me several questions. I caught on quickly that we both knew what kind of people we were and what we wanted. It was at the end of our second meeting that I knew I wanted to marry him, and he was blunt: he wanted to marry me too.


 

Dubai 2016

 

The entire city is man made. It’s all concrete and metal.

There’s endless endless rows of skyscrapers and traffic.

Everything there is superficial. We decided to spend our time doing activities, as opposed to shopping. Among other things we went on a dessert safari, I realised my dream of riding a camel and witnessing people swallow and throw flames.

It was strange for me to be so alone with someone I had just met a month ago, yet somehow it was not strange. He was no longer a stranger. He was now my husband, my family.

A friend of mine sent me this message a couple days ago: 


I almost don’t want to say.

How it was I mean. I almost want to say nothing changed between you and your family and friends. I didn’t know how to handle the adjustment. Razeen went from stranger to acquaintance to husband. He rose to the top of my priority list. My sister and I, had to adjust to not seeing each other every second of every day. There was an almost permanent underlying feeling of missing.

Missing my mom, dad, sister and brother. Missing my friends.

With some I had uneasy conversations filled with uneasy silences. I was missing, in a bubble. I was floating outside of every loop. It took several weeks to find a balance between  being a wife, daughter, sister and friend. I’m still not sure if I’ve got it down.

The only relationship that did not change was my relationship with my parents. If anything my mother and I have become closer.


Wish me luck with my first day as a UCT student 

xo Effzed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Shifts & Night Meeting

I had an educator once, in high school, she said that you should always:

  • Date your writing
  • write about what you know
  • write honestly


03:00am, 19 October ’16 

My shift ended at 4am.

I was

the dim lights on the ceiling

the curly cord attached to my computer

the ninth cup of cheap coffee on my desk

the tick of the clock that didn’t move every second like it was supposed to, rather it moved like microwave minutes. I was tired, anxious. I was trying extraordinarily hard not to think about what I would be doing in the next 16 or so hours.

two weeks earlier

I knelt at the door of my mother’s bedroom,  the way all kids do when they think their parents are talking about them. She was on the phone, talking to Mystery Man’s father. I caught the conversation in mid-sentence and worried that I missed the vital part.

I distinctly remember hearing

“So is your son serious about getting married?”

I caught the muffled response: they were in Hong Kong, on business but were keen to meet us when they got back.

I quickly tip-toed back to my bedroom so I could be lying on my bed with a book in hand when my mom came to tell me the news.

For the next few days I scoured the internet, looking for a picture of him, a school photo, an old Facebook account,

s o m e t h i n g.

surely he had a digital footprint? a fingerprint even?

But there was nothing.


The Hour

Many people ask me how I knew I was ready for marriage. The truth is I didn’t feel ready for marriage.

They pulled up in a car that was the colour of an island ocean. I started to re-think my outfit choice: black leather straight cuts and a black pearl shirt, topped with a floral hijab. I started to re-think everything. What was I doing? I’m not ready for marriage. And my mom called first. THAT MAKES YOU LOOK SO DESPERATE. This is a mistake this is a mistake this is a 

We sat in the lounge reserved for guests. I sort of laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation- looking back I know I giggled because I was trying not to squirm.

It was suggested that he and I move over to the other lounge, I wore those kind of half inch heels and peeped over at him to check that he was taller than me. In a class on nikkah I had learnt that in this kind of situation, you’re encouraged to look at the other person’s face, as deeply and as long as you want to. They also say that looking at someone’s hands is a good indication of how thin or not thin that person is. It crossed my mind to hide my hands. 

We spoke for exactly an hour. He literally started with “Tell me about yourself” But like in a “no pressure” way. I think the thing I liked best about our first meeting was that there were no feelings involved. There was no trying to impress, or flirt. We understood that the premise of our meeting was potential marriage. We knew that we were there to please Allah SWT by doing such things in a halal (permissible) manner. 

The conversation flowed like a river, easier than I expected. It was not awkward, or strange. Halfway through there was a natural chemistry that made me feel rather blushy. (although if you know me, you’d know how casual that is) I took in little detail about his appearance, (he was undeniably beautiful, with the right amount of facial hair and clean fingernails) focusing instead on his vocabulary, his diction, his ability to hold an intelligent conversation. I concentrated on the way he answered the questions I asked, and his capacity to put his thoughts across. I liked the way he closed his eyes when he said something he regarded important. 

He took my cell number before he left.


Bali 2016

The heat greets you at the door, caresses your skin as you walk through the busy streets. It’s like a tiny, squashed New York City, this part is covered in sweat, and littered corners. The sky is dark, too heavy to make you feel lightheaded.

It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I am dripping as we walk, I find it aggressively  unpretty but he barely notices. He holds my damp hands and runs circles on my hand with his thumbs. I wipe sweat from my lip before he kisses me. I learn that all my favourite authors are blatant liars, I learn that I love how real everything is, I love how it’s nothing like any book I’ve read: I never know what to expect.

 

 

 

 

Nine Hour Smiles & Ocean Drives

“So how long were you guys dating for? You know, before you got married?”

Me: we didn’t date at all.

“So was it arranged?”

Me: I guess you could say that.


September 2016 

There’s this… collection of women that I have been friends with since I was 13 years old. We are different, but very much the same. I see all of them at once, at least once a year. We are not close unless we are all together. We are beads on a necklace that only look good in one particular order. I had just turned 20; the host of the dinner party had just had a baby. (he’s precious) There was a cacophony of laughter and food and conversation and my friend, the hostess of this soiree (I asked Siri how to spell that, pathetic, I know) sat down next to me sans baby-on-hip.

“There’s this friend of my husband who I think would be a good match for you”

I looked up and wondered what quality of mine she matched up with this nameless, faceless, stranger.

“You guys come from the same sort of family and he’s handsome”

oh

an interjection was thrown across the table, apparently a few of the ladies knew him. I learnt then that he was interested in getting married for a while but no one had tickled his fancy.

There was no photo. There was no trace of him on social media. HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO OPERATE LIKE THIS? DO I FEEL IMPRESSED OR AFRAID THAT GOOGLE DOESN’T KNOW WHO HE IS???

Three Days Later

She sent me his father’s number.

(do pardon my use of colloquial language at this juncture) Maaf? what exactly am I supposed to do with his father’s number? “Salaam Uncle-Possible-Future-Father-In-Law I hear you have a son looking to get married I think we should arrange a samoosa run.”

no, no, no, no, no.

And so it slipped my mind.

until my mom asked me about it.

Her reaction to my not wanting to contact the guy first: So let me phone his father, It’s my duty as a muslim mother to find you a good muslim spouse.

And so I gave her the number.


February 2017

23:26pm

We slid into the car with no destination in mind, it was chilly and shadowy but my husband has one distinct quality of a furnace and he took my hand. He bites my fingers when we’re alone. In a way that makes me not want to be without him. (I’m so glad we’re married and I have a reason to wake up next to him everyday: the reason being I’m his wife, alhamdulillah)

I rolled my window right down as he drove along a lightless road to Hout Bay, salt air filled the car and I smiled at him, remembering all the moments I spent wishing for this moment. It started drizzling, He continued down to  Camps Bay. I watched city lights flash across our skin. I wanted to blink my eyes and cause a brief hiatus in time, just to memorise the shape of his nose, lips and lashes. I wanted to make sure I remembered this forever. He sped down through Greenpoint, because he knows how much I love the view. I saw a ray of moonlight dance across the black ocean, felt shapeless rain drops on my face and my heart

melted

grew

skipped 50 000 beats

and all I felt was utter gratitude.


Yes I’m going to make you wait a bit more to read about how our first meeting went. 

xo Effzed