Two years. Life does not look like I had planned.
I wash myself in the form of wudu remembering what I envisioned my life being.
She had a name. She was going to be named Sara. It worked in Spanish, in Arabic and in English. She would also be given the middle name Nhis YA, which in Zapotec means clear water. I wanted to make sure that even if she was not born in my country and among my Indigenous family, she would have ties to my mother’s line.
I step out of the bathroom looking for my prayer mat.
We debated the last name thing… One the one hand, I like having two last names. On the other, I am terribly aware that such an arrangement is patriarchal in nature. Mexican women are given two last names, their father’s first last name and their mother’s first last name, to indicate their lineage. Traditionally upon marriage, they would keep their father’s last name and drop their mother’s in lieu for their husband’s first last name. They would also only pass their father’s last name as a second last name to their children, which meant their mother’s lineage was automatically lost and their father’s would be lost just one generation short from that. I wanted my last names to persist. But we finally settled on the fact that we would do it Mexican style. She would have her father’s family name and my maternal last name (breaking away from tradition) … I wanted to honour 500 year of Indigenous resistance.
I stand on the mat. Feeling the comfy rug under my feet.
I was never much of a kid person. I find children demanding… sometimes annoying… and I am not a big fan of giving up my life-long dreams for these little humans. But when Saad was alive, a child… a daughter, seemed like the ideal addition to the family. She would be both Zapotec and Bedouin. She would learn Spanish and Arabic, and I had hoped that my mom would pass down at least a bit of Zapotec… something I never got. She would be raised in a multi-faith family with Muslims, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Atheists. And she would, one day, have to reconcile the realities of being both Bedouin and Zapotec. Of being Muslim, Christian and Atheist. Of being Hispanic and Arab. Of being second generation (something) in a Western country…
I lift my hands. Allahu Akbar.
Things are broken. There is no family. Dreams got shattered very quickly. Some days I just want to toss and turn and realize that all this is a dream. I want very desperately to believe that Allah is all merciful and that They would not leave me in the middle of nowhere… with no plan… no family… nothing to aspire to.
Allahu Akbar. Subhana Rabbiyal Adhim…
I have gotten back on my feet, I guess. I put all his affairs in order. I dealt with the community. I battled my faith and decided “to stay.” I coped with his family’s rejection, grief and anger. I managed to stay afloat while trying to finish school, work and continue writing. I learned to live with mental illness. And I dared to break away from the spell of the relationship and the circumstances to find (or try to) love again.
Sami’Allahu liman hamidah…
There is still a lot of pain and anger. I cognitively know that all this is part of Allah’s plan. That this was mercy because it freed us from a relationship that had grown complex, bitter and often dysfunctional. And that the little girl we had envisioned, deserved better than what we could have offered her. But that does not mean that it has not been difficult.
Love has been hard. I am scared. I am hesitant. I am unsure. Can things ever be better? Was that it? Is there anything going forward? There is love. I feel it emerge once in a while. I want to be that person for him. He makes me feel whole and a bit less broken. But I am also painfully aware, that everything is temporary… and that even if he likes me half as much as I like him, this is the part where I fight my attachment.
Subhana Rabbiyal A’la…
When I go into sujood, I often find myself begging:
Please take away the pain. Please don’t let me fall again into the abyss. Please don’t let me grow attached… please take away the feelings… please don’t let this love fall apart and disappear just like you did before. Please don’t take more from me. Please let me find healing…
Allahu Akbar. Rabbi Aghfir li…
I find myself bargaining:
If you let me heal, I promise to be more diligent with my prayers. If you let my love heal, I promise to be a devout Muslim. If you let me dream again, I promise to let my anger against you go.
I find myself making pacts:
I have had everything I had taken away from me… A partner, a family, stability and love. I pledge myself to you in exchange of… love… tranquility… happiness… and not going through this again.
…Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah.
I want things to move forward so badly that all my prayers have become business contracts. I know. Not good. And I know that people will judge me for it. But let me ask, who has true and honest prayers all the time? Who can claim to be totally at peace with Allah’s plan? Who can be thankful no matter how bad things get? If you ever meet someone like this, my congratulations. In the meantime, I will continue to haggle… perhaps one of these days Allah will hear my prayers… and with a bit of mercy, concede to my pledge.
Header image provided by the author.