In the silliest of my fantasies, she quietly gave me back the iPad and never spoke about it again, but from then on there would be a marked improvement in the way she treated me. But to tell the truth I was quite fearful. I expected a fight and I was having second thoughts.
“Mmm…” said my mom, jolting me out of my reverie.
“Yeah?” I said my heart beating fast.
“It’s nice. It’s nice… Did you put it up on your blog? It’s got some likes. That’s good.”
“… Yeah.” I said.
“It’s good only but, Neimat, why don’t you try writing something else? Like articles maybe?
“I don’t know. Something more…worthwhile?”
She laughed at the look on my face.
“No, no, no, no. I meant…something easy to understand. Something a lot of people can read…”
Eventually I left and then stumbled into my own room. There after closing the door shut, sitting on the edge of my bed, I had a good cry: my tears hot, my nose wet. After the release I wondered what I could do that was more worthwhile. After all she was right. The bitch. I wasn’t going to do anything with my poetry or with my silly doodles. As I lay back in bed I saw a dull grey life of mediocrity and wistfulness ahead of me. I saw myself at eighty, wearing a Hijab and thumbing my prayer beads and boring my grandchildren with long droning tales that belied a bitter, tearful spirit. My only refuge would be that I was a good Muslim. I would become bitter and my personality would sour with the tang of fire and brimstone the way my mother’s personality seemed to have at the time.
I sighed and sat higher up on the cushions on my bed, my knees bunched up in front of me. I picked up the small Dua book from my table, which was placed adjacent to my bed against the wall, and I read. But none of the Hadeeth or Dua seemed to relate to me right then. And it was time for Maghreb anyway. So I went to the washroom and I took Wodhu. Then I prayed the three Rakat in my room. As I finished and sat on the Musallah everything was quiet. My mind had been given a good scrubbing by the catharsis of tears and I felt a bit better. I cupped my palms in front of me and prayed to Allah.
“Ya Allah…give me the strength to bear my parents. Help my mother not to be so angry. Ya Allah…help me lead a good life. Help me be a good daughter. Give me a great ambition and help me achieve it. Help me have better skin. Help me get good marks in my Math weekly test. Ya Allah help me.”
When I was done praying I sat down at my table. I looked around my room. Stuck to the walls were my drawings. They were all abstract coloured geometrical figures and flowery patterns. Not worthwhile. I was afraid as yet to try something that would be so technically challenging as portraits or landscapes or anything with fixed dimensions outside of my mind.
I decided I would cover a whole sheet with designs and then cut that sheet to cover the book. I could use the remaining bits for something else.
But what designs? Something calligraphic. I looked inside the Dua book. I read one of the Hadeeth that I had dog eared.
“Allah is beautiful and loves beauty…”
I absently wrote the words out in large loopy handwriting on the paper. I wrote
Allah is beautiful and so am I.
Now, I can’t remember the exact reason why I did that. I doubt I knew even then. It was, as is always the case, several tiny little things I guess. I was feeling bad about how I looked, I wanted to write poetry but felt too sorry for myself. I wanted someone to comfort me.
I looked at the words on the paper for a few moments as an idea, amorphous and reserved at first, slowly became clear in my mind.
Then I worked feverishly. I pulled out a spare notebook from my school bag which was lying on my bed. I tore a page out of it and started scribbling on it. I then Googled fonts on the internet. Finally I needed sketches, pastels, glitter and scissors which I got from the drawers under my table.
After an hour’s work I was done. Lying on my table pretty in glitter and in pastel green and blue (calming colours) was my prayer. It was cute and small; pocketsize.
I picked up the prayer and read it:
“Dua of a daughter
Give me the strength to bear my parents.
Give my parents the strength to bear me when I am weak.
Help my mother understand when she hurts me.
Help my father understand me and help us become closer.
Help us all come closer to you Allah and to become better people.”
The line about my father I had put in mostly to fill up space. I didn’t show it to my mother just then, but as I went to bed that night I felt to my surprise like I’d done something worthwhile.
I made other prayers after that. I even gave a few to my friends, made on request. Dua for exams, Dua for fear (after watching Paranormal Activity), Dua for Beauty. A lot of my friends wanted that last Dua. I would use my own words along with quotes from the Quran, the Hadeeth, the Bible, books I had read, U2 (I love Bono! I don’t care what anyone else says I love him.) and a whole hodgepodge of other material.