I had an educator once, in high school, she said that you should always:
- Date your writing
- write about what you know
- write honestly
My shift ended at 4am.
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.
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.
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.