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Monthly Archives: October 2004

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I Choose YOU Pikachu!

If you turn your head ever so slightly to the left (no yet, otherwise you won’t be able to finish reading this sentence) you’ll see a pretty button that sez MWS member. Ok, now turn your heads.

Back? Ok. Great. I need you guyses help. Rather, the Muslim Writers Society needs you guyses help. The idea was to post Ramadan-related things throughout the month of Ramadan, but apparently people don’t write much when they’re hungry, and so the Muslim Writers Society is starving (get it? starving? he he) for submissions. Ah-Haha I kill me.

-ahem-

Right, so please, please email Ramadan-related writing, or any writing you’ve done, articles, poems, stories, book reviews, or even really rocking blogs that can stand alone (I know alot of you write these, I’d call them stories) and mail them MWSadmin@gmail.com, or go to www.writers.oneummah.net and register and submit your stories through the website.

Normally I wouldn’t plug anything so shamelessly, but it makes me sad to see such a useful resource not being used to its full potential just because people don’t always know it’s there.

You can do it, I believe in you!

😀

And now on to bweezness. The word business will henceforth be replaced with the word bweezness, regardless of spelling or grammar rules to which it stand in brutal indifference, because it just sounds better that way. Today has been a lovely day, Alhamdulillah. Prayed with concentration, had a nice, light Iftar, a tasty dinner and a cup of tea. Warm, cozyhouse. Momma in the kitchen baking cookies. Alot to be thankful for, SubhanAllah. All Praise is to God who not only Designed and Created, but Sustains us as well. 🙂

Soup for Brains

It’s T-minus 30 minutes until Iftar and there are too many yummy smells upstairs. Which is why I’m hiding downstairs. My head feels soupy today, soupy in the sense that if you take a bowl of soup and turn it, the bowl goes one direction but the soup will go another. I’m sure you could try it with a cup of tea too. But don’t try it for another half hour, because we’re still fasting.

My lovely Owlie-Bird has been surfing online for useful information related to the Hippoconvention on my face, and we’ve turned up all sorts of interesting cures, including one lady who swears by Vodka. Well yes, a shot of Vodka every time your head hurt would probably take an egde off the pain, but I don’t know about the side-effects.

Another woman swears my rubbing cayenne (that’s red hot chilli peppers for ya folks, the ones that burn, not sing) lotion on her face every three hours. Yet another woman took this advice and applied it (literally) to her backside, and then wrote a scathing letter (yet again, literally!) about how her derrier got burnt.

A man in the US swears by foot-massage, and his wife explains how the little toe is connected to pains in the abdomen. An elderly couple extolls the virtues of quitting sugars, glutens, and processed foods and ‘living as close to nature’ as possible. That reminds me of a joke that one of my students told me. He was from one of those former Russian-Bloc communistans. The joke goes like this.

A bum goes into a Communist Party rally and gets in line thinking he’ll get a hand out. The line moves up and he finds himself at the front, facing a brown-shirted Comrade with a huge ledger and a pen. The Comrade hands the bum the pen.

“Do you swear to give up gambling for The Party!”

The bum looks around nervously and shrugs. Ok, fine.

“Do you swear to give up drinking for The Party!”

The bum’s lower lip quivers and he gives a slight nod.

“Do you swear to give up women for The Party!”

The bum nearly faints. The crowd props him up and somehow he is seen nodding.

The Comrade’s face turns a pssionate shade of purple and he bursts, “Do you swear to give your LIFE for the Communist party!”

The poor man leaps three feet into the air and shouts, YES!!! He grabs the pen and signs his name on the ledger with a flourish. Someone in the crowd elbows him and asks why the sudden enthusiasm. The poor man says, ‘Without gambling, drinking, or women, what’s my life worth anyway?”

-rimshot-

So yeah, without sugar, gluten or processed foods, what would my life be worth anyway? he he. Alright, this is the height of randomness. I have to go upstairs and help with the Iftar and try not to drool on things.

The Currency of Kindness

I hereby resolve not to write about my head unless it’s a.) actual news, b.) actually interesting or b.) actually relevant. With that in mind (my mind being a figure of speech and not necessarily within my head these days, he he) tally ho!

My Cuppa Tea is leaving the country for a well-needed vacation. My Momma and I had a mad last-minute bake-off to ensure that there was enough gingerbread for all of Chai and T-Baji’s relations who hosted us this summer when we went for the T& T engagement. The love & kindness they kept us in couldn’t possibly be repaid in say…cash. Which is why cookies are the currency of kindness. Now everybody go awwww. (awwww!)

Cookies have always been used as more than just a sugary snack in my family, they are a mode of social interaction (invite friends over to bake & decorate some), they are a winter welcoming committee (nothing better than to be greeted at the door with a tray of cookies and some hot chocolate), a canvas for artistic expression (my Trogdor cookie rocks the socks off of your Ninja Turtle cookie. Yeah, but there are four of mine and only one of yours, Turtle Power!) and last but not least, cookies are an international currency. They are not subject to local exchange rates, and although their quantity may diminish over long distances, their value increases in direct inverse proportion to the available supply.

Note: never send back store-bought or bakery-made cookies. Although these can be tasty, and sometimes even delicious (Milano!) they are not made with love. And sweat. And the occasional curly blonde hair that falls into the cookie dough that my mother pulls out later when no one’s looking, he he.

So yes. Cookies.

Scots Wha Hae

Went to an Iftar party today and I was doing my best to be upbeat. I thought I was doing good, but Chai asked me, “Abez, you alright? Your eyes look kind of…”

“Do not operate heavy machinery?”

“Yes,” she nodded.

The food was great, the company was superb, and I felt dizzy. It’s amazing how little things like a little dizziness here, some blanking-out there can take their toll on your fun for the evening. I came to have fun though, and I decided I was going to no matter what.

A game of Scrabble started after dinner and LG’s newest baby, The Thinker, was fussing. I got up and picked him up so that LG could take her turn. Btw, one of the medications I’m on, can’t remember which one, causes dizziness when you stand up suddenly, and if you happen to fall down, you might drop LG’s baby. I nearly did. I don’t think anyone noticed. There wasn’t anything to see, just me standing with the baby on my shoulder and my eyes closed. I was trying to make merry-go-round in my head stop.

That was when I stopped having fun altogether. I passed The Thinker back to LG and morosely took one more turn in a lamely-played gamed on my behalf.

Ever hear the term ‘snowballing?’ You know how in cartoons you take a small snowball and you roll it down a hill and by the time it gets to the bottom it’s bigger than a house and half the cartoon’s characters are packed inside it. To take something small and roll with it so that you finish with something disproportionately huge- that’s snowballing.

So I took a little dizziness and a little mental fuzziness snowball and I nearly ended up with a ruined evening were it not for that LG told me about her sister-in-law, who just found out that she has Hepatitis C. ‘Oh, that’s rough,’ I said. ‘Any tattoos?’

‘None, but lots of little surgeries in clinics back at the village.’

‘And they might not have sterilized their instruments well?’

‘No, and they found out another chap from the same village who’s also had a surgery has it too. And she was bawling and bawling and I was trying to say there there, I have it too, and I’m all right!’

I smiled. Yeah, LG’s alright. She has Hepatitis C, she got it from a tattoo and she’s living with it. The board turns and it’s MB’s turn. She’s two year older than me and she had a liver transplant. She alright. And then there’s M4, who’s a junior in high school who’s moaning because she has a stomach ache because she ate too much. She says she’s not alright, and I have to laugh.

I’ve been letting myself snowball lately, I’ve been feeling out of sorts and I don’t know If I’ve come to terms with whatever having Neuralgia means because I’m not even sure what it means. I think it means finding a balance between an acceptable amount of pain and side-effects and finding a level I can live at. I know, logically, that I’m alright, life is a test, and that I’ve been through far harder ones before. I think what makes this one different is that I don’t have my wits about me.

You know in the end of Braveheart when William Wallace is about to go to the execution block and the Princess/Mandatory Love Interest tries to give him a pill that will numb the pain, but he refuses to take it because it will numb his wits. I found that I could relate a lot to that, the idea of always having my wits about me, because many times it’s the only resource you ever have. Especially being female, no offense to some of you stronger ones out there, but most women cannot rely on physical strength to get them out of problems, they have to use logic and reason. I’ve always been very big on thinking things through, and suddenly not being able to, sometimes not even being able to find a simple word for something that I’m pointing to can be frustrating to the point of tears.

And losing in Scrabble hurts too, lol. Not that I didn’t used to lose before, but it used to be because the other players were good. Now it’s because I look at the chips and draw a mental blank. There are a few times during the day when I get my mental lucidity back, when the merry-go-round has stopped and I find my wits and cling to them with desperation in hope that they won’t leave me again. But after a few minutes they’re gone and trying to concentrate makes my head hurt. Right now it’s making my right ear hurt actually, which is a sure sign that it’s time for another Topamax.

But I’m going to close on a positive note because I have no right to be negative. I have my health, I have my family, I have some of the best friends on the world. I have, above all, my faith, and the promise of God, the Most Just, the Most Generous and Kind, that the patient and the faithful will be rewarded. I pray I may be of them.

Burninatin the gingerbread…

I would like to type something brilliant and exciting. But then, I would also like a million dollars. Boing. The guests from an Iftar party my dad threw just left. They were very nice people, but the dinner was a sad reminder of my lack of Urdu skills. Also of my wandering attention span.

Oh look, a monkey!

A Cop(y) Out

A Simile

by Matthew Prior

(1664-1721)

Dear Thomas, didst thou never pop

Thy head into a tin-man’s shop?

There, Thomas, didst thou never see

(‘Tis but by way of simile)

A squirrel spend his little rage

In jumping round a rolling cage?

The cage, as either side turn’d up,

Striking a ring of bells a-top?–

Mov’d in the orb, pleas’d with the chimes,

The foolish creature thinks he climbs:

But here or there, turn wood or wire,

He never gets two inches higher.

So fares it with those merry blades,

That frisk it under Pindus’ shades.

In noble songs, and lofty odes,

They tread on stars, and talk with gods;

Still dancing in an airy round,

Still pleas’d with their own verses’ sound;

Brought back, how fast soe’er they go,

Always aspiring, always low.

Terrence, This Is Stupid Stuff

A.E. Houseman

`Terence, this is stupid stuff:

You eat your victuals fast enough;

There’s nothing much amiss, ’tis clear,

To see the rate you drink your beer.

But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,

It gives a chap the belly-ache.

The cow, the old cow, she is dead;

It sleeps well, the horned head:

We poor lads, ’tis our turn now

To hear such tunes as killed the cow.

Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme

Your friends to death before their time

Moping melancholy mad:

Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.’

Why, if ’tis dancing you would be,

There’s brisker pipes than poetry.

Say, for what were hop-yards meant,

Or why was Burton built on Trent?

Oh many a peer of England brews

Livelier liquor than the Muse,

And malt does more than Milton can

To justify God’s ways to man.

Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink

For fellows whom it hurts to think:

Look into the pewter pot

To see the world as the world’s not.

And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:

The mischief is that ’twill not last.

Oh I have been to Ludlow fair

And left my necktie God knows where,

And carried half way home, or near,

Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:

Then the world seemed none so bad,

And I myself a sterling lad;

And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,

Happy till I woke again.

Then I saw the morning sky:

Heigho, the tale was all a lie;

The world, it was the old world yet,

I was I, my things were wet,

And nothing now remained to do

But begin the game anew.

Therefore, since the world has still

Much good, but much less good than ill,

And while the sun and moon endure

Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,

I’d face it as a wise man would,

And train for ill and not for good.

‘Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale

Is not so brisk a brew as ale:

Out of a stem that scored the hand

I wrung it in a weary land.

But take it: if the smack is sour

The better for the embittered hour;

It will do good to heart and head

When your soul is in my soul’s stead;

And I will friend you, if I may,

In the dark and cloudy day.

There was a king reigned in the East:

There, when kings will sit to feast,

They get their fill before they think

With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.

He gathered all that sprang to birth

From the many-venomed earth;

First a little, thence to more,

He sampled all her killing store;

And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,

Sate the king when healths went round.

They put arsenic in his meat

And stared aghast to watch him eat;

They poured strychnine in his cup

And shook to see him drink it up:

They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:

Them it was their poison hurt.

— I tell the tale that I heard told.

Mithridates, he died old.



The Aged Aged Man


By Lewis Carroll

I’ll tell thee everything I can;

There’s little to relate.

I saw an aged aged man,

A-sitting on a gate.

“Who are you, aged man?” I said,

“And how is it you live?”

And his answer trickled through my head

Like water through a sieve.

He said, “I look for butterflies

That sleep among the wheat:

I make them into mutton-pies,

And sell them in the street.

I sell them unto men,” he said,

“Who sail on stormy seas;

And that’s the way I get my bread—

A trifle; if you please.”

But I was thinking of a plan

To dye one’s whiskers green,

And always use so large a fan

That they could not be seen.

So, having no reply to give

To what the old man said,

I cried, “Come, tell me how you live!”

And thumped him on the head.

His accents mild took up the tale:

He said, “I go my ways,

And when I find a mountain-rill,

I set it in a blaze;

And thence they make a stuff they call

Rowland’s Macassar-Oil—

Yet twopence-halfpenny is all

They give me for my toil.”

But I was thinking of a way

To feed oneself on batter,

And so go on from day to day

Getting a little fatter.

I shook him well from side to side,

Until his face was blue:

“Come, tell me how you live,” I cried,

“And what it is you do!”

He said, “I hunt for haddocks’ eyes

Among the heather bright,

And work them into waistcoat buttons

In the silent night.

And these I do not sell for gold

Or coin of silvery shine,

But for a copper halfpenny,

And that will purchase nine.

“I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,

Or set limed twigs for crabs;

I sometimes search the grassy knolls

For wheels of hansom-cabs.

And that’s the way” (he gave a wink)

“By which I get my wealth—

And very gladly will I drink

Your Honour’s noble health.”

I heard him then, for I had just

Completed my design

To keep the Menai bridge from rust

By boiling it in wine.

I thanked him much for telling me

The way he got his wealth,

But chiefly for his wish that he

Might drink my noble health.

And now, if e’er by chance I put

My fingers into glue,

Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot

Into a left-hand shoe,

Or if I drop upon my toe

A very heavy weight,

I weep, for it reminds me so

Of that old man I used to know—

Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,

Whose hair was whiter than the snow,

Whose face was very like a crow,

With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,

Who seemed distracted with his woe,

Who rocked his body to and fro,

And muttered mumblingly and low,

As if his mouth were full of dough,

Who snorted like a buffalo—

That summer evening long ago

A-sitting on a gate.

Rubaiyaat vi & vii

Ramadan

I seek refuge in Allah

From evil and my self

Being this month same

And I alone to blame

***

Arms, legs, limbs

Arranged around a hole

And still the empty body

Not as hungry as the soul.

Rubaiyaat i-iii

Rubaiyaat iv & v

La baasa fih

Just got back from the tabib and atypical neuralgia it is. I got a change of medication which I am actually very excited about. Tabib sez that Topamax won’t have as many side-effects as the Neurontin did, so I hopefully won’t be sleepy, spacy and spazzy. At least not beyond my usual self, he he.

So what do you do with neuralgia? I asked my doc, he said that I’m supposed to take Topamax in increasing doses until the pain goes away. Then I taper down until the pain comes back. Then they put it a little bit up again until they find the perfect level of medication for me, how long I’ll be on that I don’t really know. I could just stop taking medication, and although the pain wouldn’t be too terribly severe, it would be constant and the constant pain made me irritable and emotionally unstable. And plus I couldn’t concentrate and I was getting snippy.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, neuralgia. It’s what happens when the plastic on the outside of an electrical wire gets melted off, and then the bare wire touches another wire and there’s sparks and maybe a short circuit. The 12th cranial nerve has lost its bright-red plastic cover. So my head has a wiring problem. No problem. 🙂 I was sitting in the waiting room for Neurology, which also happens to be the waiting room for Chemotherapy. A door in the Chemotherapy section was opened and in that one instant I saw a young woman wearing a baseball cap and wiping her eyes. See, that’s a problem.

And yet, God promised that no one will get a test they can’t pass, a burden they can’t bear. So the real problem with sickness is not in getting sick, it’s in losing patience or faith. Not that a headache can do that to me. I’m just praying for the girl in the baseball cap. She looked my age.

Victory!

I’m alive! I made it! And now that I’ve got iftar, dinner and two cups of tea nicely tucked in, I’m ready to work out, pray Tarawih, read Qur’an and then decorate a mess of gingerbread cookies.

Adimittedly, I did have an unscheduled snooze on the sofa when no one was looking, and I had to wake up when they found me. Which was alright, because by then it had been half an hour of me curled up and cold, dreaming wintery and unpleasant dreams. (The window was open)

Right, so back to productivity.

Abez, over and out.

Still going…

Well, it’s 3 pm right now and I’m only slightly off my proposed schedule. I only managed to stay up until 8 am. Then I woke up at 12:30-ish and had class. I’ve been up since, and so far I’m proceeding nicely into the ‘looking tired and sleepy’ stage of things. By five o’clock I should be thoroughly wilted, by which time I’ll put my head down on the dining table and pretend to be very diligently studying the crumbs until the azhan is called for Maghrib, food, happiness, tea and all that great stuff.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m only slightly cross-eyed.

Randomness, Thy Name is Abez

I don’t care what the Scrabble dictionary says, in my world, Funions is a perfectly valid seven-letter word. I should be able to put it on the board and get not only the 50-point bonus, but an additional 100 for the fact that Funions are so tasty.

Btw, for those of your who didn’t spend their freshman year of high-school tasting everything in the nearby gas station, (except the gas, and the attendant) Funions are these puffy, round things that masquerade as onion rings. They don’t taste like onion rings as we know them, but they have an interesting flavor all of their own.

Kheir. I was supposed to have gone to the tabib today, but for some reason my appointment wasn’t in the hospital computer. That’s the first time that’s ever happened, not that I minded, because half an hour before the supposed appointment, I realized I didn’t have a ride. The Silver Bullet #2 was off having fun with the parents who had forgotten that I needed it that afternoon. Which was quite alright with me. I’ll see the tabib on Saturday instead Insha’Allah.

Ah yes, and I have to be productive now. Ramadan is almost 1/3 done and I don’t think I’ve done a good job of taking the benefit of this lovely month. So I made myself a chart and I have three things to do every day, Read Qur’an, Work Out and Do Sumtin Productive. These things are, of course, in addition to praying, doing my Arabic homework and pretending to be a contributing member of the family, he he, but yes, I think I need to do these three things especially. Otherwise I find that I 1.) don’t get much spiritual benefit, 2.) put on weight and 3.) get lazy because being hungry makes me sleepy.

Speaking of sleepy, I’ve become nocturnal again, which is bad because that means I waste many of my fasting hours asleep. So my plan for becoming diurnal again is as follows:



-Stay up till Fajr as usual.
(check!)

Stay up till 9 in the morn. (four more hours to go)

Nap till 12. (will need it badly by then.)

Have Arabic class. ( my Arabic suffer from sleep deprivation? Oh, never.. pbbt)

Be productive until 5-ish, then make Iftar. (what’ll probably happen instead is I’ll look tired and Owlie will be beautiful and put dates and a cup of tea in front of me)

-Moan and laze around sleepily till ten o’clock. (this is actually quite realistic)

Crash.

Wish me luck. I’m sleepy already.


This, dear Blogistan, is the second-best iftar in the world; tea, dates and After-Eight chocolate mints. The first is black coffee and gingerjabis. Now if only I could stick to only these things and not wander into the cholay department.

I find that any type of food that you have to serve by scooping it into a bowl or plate is always bad for Iftar, because with my stomach having shrunk through fasting and my eyes having grown through hunger, I always end up serving myself too much. Then I feel obligated to eat it.

Then I fall off of my chair and moan.

I’m better off with finger foods. Since you eat them right off the tray, there’s no commitment to a serving size and it’s not like you have to finish the whole tray. You can just eat a few and stop when you feel satiated. No need to guiltily finish it all, as was the case with the cholay this iftar. I wish I could have snuck it back into the serving bowl, but I thought I would be slick and break crackers over it and then coat it with salad dressing (chaat?) so it’s not like it would blend back in with the native cholay very well.

(Honey, when did you start making cholay with cracker crumbs? And Cool Ranch?)

There’s a hadith (someone find it for me?) about how filling up your stomach is a bad idea. I agree, because the stomach can turn into an unruly beast. People have just now figured out that fatty and sugary foods can be addictive, and cutting back actually has withdrawal symptoms. I find that the more I eat, the more I want, and in order to avoid this, I have to show my stomach who’s in charge by trying to eat according to the Sunnah: filling 1/3 of my stomach with food, 1/3 with water and leaving a 1/3 empty.

I can’t remember what my conclusion was, other than dates, mints and tea are a delicious iftar and that stuffing yourself silly is a bad idea. I’m going to blame it on my brain and see how long I can get away with using that excuse, he he.

Btw, those of you who have inquired about me brainses: I’ll post an update after I come back from the neurologist tomorrow.

Peace & Pakora Grease!

-Abez

Tadaa! My brain, the same people responsible for this layout. And my headache too. Well, no one’s perfect. Not even my brain. :p

Trying not to flood my own comment box…

To the Monologist, who asked some very interesting questions about my post about Smiting stuff.

1.) “So you’re standing on the battlefield and you’re itching to take revenge,”.

That’s a bad thing, and your religion orders you to do no torture, not to act in unnecessary violence, even in battle, therefore curbing your revengeful fury. Revenge is not the purpose behind a righteous fight, it’s the simple and effective putting of your enemy out of commission.

2.) although many religion stories have war stories, they are what they are, stories and myth, but not direct command as “…thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them their fingers”.

I’m gonna disagree on this one. The Battle of Badr (about which this verse of the Qur’an was revealed) wasn’t a story, it was documented history, and this is a direct quote from the Qur’an, which tends to be full of direct quotes from God. But if you don’t believe in the Qur’an then that’s a different story. To you is your belief and to me is mine. 🙂



3.) couldn’t you make the streets a battlefield?

Umm, not really. If you mean declaring your own personal battle for the sake of ‘killing infidels,’ then the answer is nope. That’s not battle, that’s vigilantism.

4.) Why would God command another creature to kill another creature?

Can you imagine how safe the world would be if God forbade anyone from killing anyone, ever? Righteous people (thou shalt not kill) would be massacred by the unrighteous (kill kill kill) and religion would die out pretty fast from the world, doncha think?

And what about killing to protect the innocent? A man has been going around bashing people’s heads in, do you sit idly by? Is that righteousness, to stand by and let the innocent die?

Rather, it’s righteous to be able to kill out of self-defense or in order of punishing murder. Because in the death of the murderer and the aggressor, there is life for the innocent. 🙂

RB: psst, you still awake?

LB: yeah, somewhat. What’s up?

RB: Did you see the MRI report?

LB: Yeah…

RB: Good thing it came out normal, otherwise we might have been in big trouble…

LB: Trouble? What do you mean?

RB: Ever hear the term ‘partial lobotomy?’

LB: Oi! Don’t say the ‘L’ word! This is all your fault anyway.

RB: How is this my fault? You’re in charge of the right side of the body, not me.

LB: Yeah, but you’ve got the nerve with the faulty wiring. You’re short-circuiting everything.

RB: Excuse me, but it’s not like you’re doing your part to help out either. That hot chocolate you made the other day was weird!

LB: Yeah? And whose lack of motor skills nearly dropped us down the stairs eh?

RB: Lack of motor skills?!?! Why I oughtta…

LB: Not if I first!

RB: woop woop woop!

LB: nyul nyuk nyuk!

*three-stooges style battle ensues*

Meanwhile…

Momma: How’s your head feeling Abez?

Abez: It feels strange, first one side hurts and then the other, it’s almost like-

Momma: Like the two sides of your brain are at war?

Abez: Yeah. Imagine that.

-The End-



Alhamdulillah, the MRI sez everything in Brainistan is normal, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah. 🙂 So now I get to take the results back to the Tabib and blame the 12th cranial nerve instead.

Thoughts that occur to a person over a bowl of cereal:

Some people say that Islam is a violent religion, and they point to a verse in Surah Al-Anfal as proof.

…thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them their fingers.

They use this verse to prove how Islam says we should either kill non-believers or cut their fingertips off, making not only murder, but also torture religiously sanctioned. I’d laugh if this wasn’t so sad and so many people didn’t believe it. Lemme explain why.

Say you’re in a war. The people who have brought their armies to meet yours are from your own home-town. They still live there, but you don’t anymore, because they boycotted, tortured, starved, and murdered your people until they were able to leave. They’d love to be able to do that now, which is why they brought their armies to you.

So you’re standing on the battlefield and you’re itching to take revenge, to fight face-to face with the same people who are responsible for your brother’s death perhaps, or the destruction of your house, or for the loss of your business and life savings. You’re holding your sword so tightly in your hand that your knuckles are white and the grip is all sweaty. Then your leader gives you instructions. He tells you to strike above the enemy’s neck, killing him instantly, or to cut off his fingertips.

You’re disappointed. You wanted to beat the bloody hell out of a person who deserved the bloody hell beaten out of him, and in spite of all your righteous anger, all you get to do is kill him quickly (smite above the neck) or make it so he can no longer wield a sword (cut off fingertips)?!?!

You’re crestfallen. The only options you are given are those putting your enemy quickly out of commission, either by striking at his neck or striking at his fingers so he can no longer use a sword against you. No torture, no pistol-whipping, no untoward cruelty. You’d much rather strip your enemy naked and hang his body from a sign post, like in Bosnia, or maybe capture him and demean him through the worst torture you can think of, like in Abu Ghraib.

And what’s more, if you met any of these people on the street, and there wasn’t a battle going on, you wouldn’t be able to harm a hair on their heads. The instructions for smiting necks and fingers are limited only to the battle-field, and it’s pretty obvious from the fact that the chapter of the Qur’an they’re revealed in is about the rules of warfare, and this instruction is never given for any other time. In fact, your Lord makes killing one person, Muslim or non-Muslim, the same as killing all of humanity, and you might into rather a lot of trouble for murdering all of mankind, don’t you think?

Subhana Rabbi Al-Azeem

Choo-choo!

I had my first MRI today. I’m sure they probably make pretty advanced MRI’s somewhere back in the first world, but I bet they don’t make ’em with techno music! And train sounds! Yep. I spent 45 minutes in a plastic tube, with my head very firmly harnessed strapped, and foamed in place, and the machine made a thump, thump, thump, thump and something else went zee, zee, zee, zee and the scan itself made two distinct noises, one like a death-ray from an old sci-fi movie, pra-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a and another that was like the sound your manual car makes when you grind the gears. (not that I do that often, oh no…) Basically, it sounded like this.

Ok, maybe not exactly like that, but after 45 minutes of loud mechanical sounds, I started hearing techno-sounds, and then I tried to figure out lyrics, and before I knew it, I was sliding out of the machine again. Then they had to give me a shot that would make my brain glow in the dark. They *said* it was to create an MRI with contrast, but what they meant was: “we’re gonna make some parts of your brain glow so that other parts don’t and then we can see more parts.” See, I speak medical-ese.

I was only supposed to get one shot, but because I was fasting and slightly dehydrated, they had a hard time finding a vein. Which is a first, because normally my veins stand out on my skin like interstate highways on a roadmap, and technicians are delighted to poke me. So I got poked several times before a vein was located and the appropriate amount of day-glo could be injected.

The MRI will be ready to pick up on Monday evening, a time after which I will have to borrow Chai’s digicam, and maybe even her USB cord in order to provide you’all will pictures of me brains.

Btw, I would like to make a disclaimer. I was talking to Hemmie on the phone a few minutes ago, and apparently I am sick, or depressing, or something. To Hemmie luv and anyone else who may be worried, don’t worry. I feel fine, and the extent of the effect the meds/silly brains have had on me are the same as sleep deprivation. I walk into walls all the time when I’m sleepy, honest. Alhamdulillah, la vie est good. I don’t want anyone worrying. It doesn’t accomplish anything. You should all be like Junjun and just send me donuts instead. *teeth*

Good News Item number One: It’s Ramadan! Alhamdulilah! SubhanAllah! AllahuAkbar! Ramadan Kareem everybody. Yes, everybody. 😀

Number 2: The silver bullet has been replaced. With another silver bullet. Same make, same year, same color. But this one has a sound system that takes up the whole trunk. Awwww yeahhh…

Number 3: I get an MRI tomorrow so pics of my brain will be coming soon to a blog near you. 😀

Number 4: I made myself hot chocolate this morning, or so I thought. I came downstairs with a mug in my hand that turned out to be warm milk with a pile of cocoa (unstirred) and unsweetened. I drank it. Why is that good news? Because it didn’t taste bad. Is that not good news? he he

Number 5: I’ve learned that gingerbread can be dipped in white chocolate. It. Is. Good.

Number 6: The masjid near my house has a place for women to pray Tarawih, and it ain’t half bad. Hooray!

Number 7: I’m slowly but surely chiseling off the weight that I put on in Lahore with visiting Hemmie. It was roughly a pound a day, no joke. One pound down…five more to go. *flex*

Have any good news to share?

Dear Blogistan,

I haven’t felt like myself lately, and not knowing who I have been feeling like, (maybe you?) I’m not sure what to type. My head feels… gelatinous.

I’m not saying that to complain, but to try and clarify what my head feels like. The hippos are gone tonight because the Neurontin got rid of them, but I feel very mentally distracted. I don’t know if this is because of my silly head or because of the medication. Even before taking it I nearly burst into tears because I couldn’t get a packet of sweetener open. I’ve been irritable too. Yesterday my brother told me I was being snippy. So I snuck away and cried for no reason.

I had intended to not make this a depressing or serious blog, but I have a lot of my mind. (other than hippos) I failed the touch-nose test that a neurologist gave me today. He held his finger out and told me to touch it quickly and then the tip of my nose. I poked myself in the side of the nose and once in the cheek. I don’t know why, but I found that embarrassing. I’ve been hospitalized many times before in my life, and the subsequent loss of dignity from being cared for when you’re helpless had humbled me. Or so I thought. Hmmm. I shouldn’t be embarrassed, and yet, professed humility aside, typing this right now is very frustrating because I just spelled Superman wrong four times in a row. I over boiled and forgot about the same cup of tea three times yesterday. My father asked me for a glass of water. I went into the kitchen, forgot why I was there and came back empty handed.

Consider this blog a side-effect as well, because in my right mind I would keep all this to myself. I would also have typed it better. Anyway, I have to schedule an MRI of me brains. I always wanted to know what they looked like, but I think I would have preferred other circumstances. Not that I’m worried about them, amusingly enough, I’m not concerned about what’s wrong (or hopefully not wrong) with my head. I wish I could say that was because of an absolute faith in Allah’s will, but I’m afraid it has more to do with being Superman’s younger, tougher sister. *flies around room*

Whatever it is, or isn’t, I know that it won’t be something beyond my ability to handle, and I have plenty of sins to atone for. A headache every now and then in exchange for hurt that I’ve caused other people in the past seems like a decent deal. Not that that’s what Islam is about (be bad, get headaches?) but any pain or sadness, when borne with patience, humility and faith, erases a sin. I got sins. Bring on the erasing. Alhamdulillah.

Peace and Curry Grease,

Abez and the Hippos

PS: To my luv, who said over brunch that religion is an opiate for the masses. In truth it’s not just a painkiller, it’s a cure, and the pain just happens to go away because then the disease of the soul is gone. Religion isn’t opium, it’s penicillin, and the reassurance that everything happens for a reason and all injustices will be set right is a cure for fear and bitterness. I happen to be the poster-child.


For Amir, butter pecan. 😀

And the winner of the ‘Guess Abez’s Headache’ is….

*opens envelope*

none other than…

*blinks charmingly into camera*

KarrvaKarela! For his on-the-spot diagnosis of nueralgia. Technically, it’s Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is the blessedly less painful cousin of a disease “universally considered to be the most painful affliction known to medical practice.

Don’t freak out, I have the lesser-known, less severe cousin. Mine’s atypical in that I don’t have sudden intense flashes of lightening in my head, I have a week-long hippopotamus convention meeting on the side of my face instead. Alhamdulillah, I feel fine. Really. I think I’m typing this for the benefit of Owlie, who looks more peturbed than I do whenever I get sick. But that’s why I love her. 🙂

So yeah, painkillers for me. This should go away eventually InshaAllah. No biggie. 🙂 I just can’t seem to do anything normally, he he. My stomach aches are chronic gastritis, my headaches are atypical neuralgia.

What, me normal?

Pick your flavor Amir. You deserve it. 🙂

Alright all you blogistani pre-med students, Dr. Moms and self-proclaimed experts, I have a quiz for you.

1. What does it mean when you have a headache on only the right side of your head?

2. Why have I had one for the last four days?

Mefenac (Mefenamic acid) gets rid of the pain almost immediately, but I wanna know why my right eye, right ear, right side of my throat, right side of my jaw and the respective teeth all feel like they’re being sat on by a hippopotamus. A fat hippopotamus, holding an anvil.

Other symptoms include slightly slurred speech (my teeth hurt so dang much that I don’t wanna close my jaw), sensitivity to noise and the feeling like my right eye is very, very small. I’ll probably go to the doctor tomorrow, but I think you guys should take a shot anyway. First correct diagnosis wins a custom ice-cream cone.

Headachefully Yours,

-Abez

‘Ods Bodkin!

I was watching Ma Shakti today. In case you don’t know, Ma Shakti is an Indian tv show based on two famous Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. I didn’t know this either until Ma Shakti came on TV today. 0_o

The show deals with religious and mythological themes, and today’s episode seemed to be dealing with four or five gods who were very sorely at odds. The first god (who smiled a lot and sat surrounded by snakes) disguised himself to seduce the wife of the second god, who was busy fighting a battle against a third god who wore a cobra around his neck and animal skins around his body. A fourth god sat smirking and watching the battle until the fifth god, a goddess actually- Ma Shakti, intervenes. According to a Hindu holy book, the Reg Veda, Ma Shakti is defined thus; In the beginning there was neither existence nor non-existence; no horizons, no air, no birth, no death, neither the day nor the night. It was a universe engulfed in its own void, a nought without form. Only a formless Maha Shakti (The Great Power) existed which was the substance in totality and the supreme soul of the universe, not to be apprehended by any force and exempt from birth, vicissitude, death or decay, eternal, unborn and imperishable.

And apparently, she’s not quite as formless as they thought. In fact, on tv she looks like this.

I think this is all the effect of having low standards. We think we’re the ultimate, and so why should our gods (who are ultimates as well) be any different, with perhaps the exception of a few extra arms or a pair of wings here or there. Humans are petty, bickering and amorous creatures, and consequently, humans project their imperfect traits onto the gods they create as well.

Little does humankind realize that not only are they not the stuff, they’re also not made according to divine schematics. A human with a perfect body, complete with a flawless, absolutely perfect respiratory system, would still not be able to exist without oxygen, would completely disintegrate in outer space and wouldn’t even be able to breathe under water. Yet our Creator is supposed to have a body of this type, regardless of whether it would survive in space, underwater, or even a gunshot wound, regardless of whether it could exist anywhere but earth.

It seems ridiculous doesn’t it, the idea that you could kill God with a gunshot wound. I know that someone could interject and go, “But God’s bulletproof!” and you know what? They’d just be revising things as they went along. If your holy book, whether it’s the Reg Veda, or the Bible or the Book of Mormon, says that God has a human body, then leave it at that. A human body is a human body, and its limitations exist because they are part of the design. Can a human see in 360 degrees? No? Then how can God if he has two eyes that face forward? Can a human breathe without oxygen? Then how can God exist outside of this atmosphere if He relies on lungs? (Taubah!)

I could probably go through the entire list of human body parts (only two hands, but manages the entire universe?) but I don’t think it’s necessary. So now someone (probably my mother) sez: alright then smarty-pants, what does God look like then?

My answer? A happy shrug and a I dunno. You know why? It is sufficient to say that no one has seen God, and since nothing we see on the earth happens to be God, then God looks like nothing on this earth.

It’s interesting to note that whenever anyone asked the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) about God, or when the polytheists asked what the Muslim God’s lineage was, the Prophet’s reply was always the same:

Say: He is God, the One and Only.

God, the Eternal, the Absolute.

He begets not, nor is he begotten.

And there is none comparable to Him.

Surah-Ikhlas, the Holy Qur’an

There, a four-line powerhouse of faith. There is one God, and he’s the Only One. He’s always been around. He is no one’s child, nor is anyone His. No one comes anywhere near to him in any respect.

What more do you need to know about God other than that He’s there, He listens, He rewards those who do good and serves justice against those who do evil? But what about the rest of God’s attributes? The Qur’an holds 99 attributes of God, The Merciful, The Creator, The Nurturer, The Judge, The Lord of Majesty and Bounty, and since in this day and age we all agree that a person’s looks are worthless as an indicator of who they are, then what’s the point of asking whether or not God has hands or two feet?

Would it make any difference whether or not God had, say… blue skin? What if He didn’t? What if you believed in God but then suddenly you found out He had blue skin. Would you stop believing solely on that basis? No? Then don’t start believing solely on that basis either. Whether or not we know what God looks like has absolutely no bearing on faith whatsoever.

Missing: bechara…Posted by Hello

Some evil person with no scruples now has our car. They stole it this afternoon from the masjid when my Abbu went for Friday prayer. I’d be upset, but I have to laugh at what the thief is going to find in the glove compartment: a high-quality ball-pen, a pair of plastic glasses with attached moustache, nose and eyebrows, lots and lots of empty cookie wrappers, a handful of lentils and a red plastic monkey. (the only one remaining from the original barrel)

So yeah, they stole our car. sigh.

RB/LB

For knicq. Whose blog is brilliant. 🙂

We Taste Like Lard

http://abezavecrat.blogspot.com/2004/01/importance-of-praying-early-one-act.html”>Catch-22

Not Really Wontons



Go to Floor

Medic!

Something happened to me today that hadn’t happened in a long time, and I wasn’t expecting it. I got bit.

Imagine my surprise when a three year-old whose mother was over for lunch leaned over and chomped down on my hand as I was multi-tasking, task one being holding the gate closed so he could not bolt into the street, task two being trying to give instructions to a chawkidaar who watched in horror as the child latched on to my hand and refused to let go. The chawkidaar seemed appalled. The three-year old seemed vindicated. He ran off, a hyper-active vortex of toddler energy, hopped up on chocolate cake and the thrill of a new location.

Imagine my surprise when it happened again. This time his six-year old brother got me with a bite & run ambush when I tried to stop him from opening the front gate and pushing his siblings out of it. Then he grabbed my arm and was in the process of giving me an Indian burn (no offense to the Indians intended) when I turned the tables and held his arm behind his back until he stopped struggling. When I let go he gave me a flying-kick and ran away. He later returned to threaten me with a basketball to the face. There was a stand-off. I won. Barely.

What’s the point of this? I’m not sure, I think I’m just shocked, not at how badly the children were behaving (they weren’t shocking, they were downright traumatizing) but at how I nearly lost my temper with a six year old. I feel guilty for inwardly seething at a little kid, but at the same time, the inner child in me is saying, ‘But he hit me first!’

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I could complain that people don’t discipline their children, but since I don’t have four children under the age of six, I have no right to tell them how it’s done. I could complain that Indian burns should be banned and that the UN should pass appropriate resolutions to do so, but as long as there is school-yard cruelty, there will be Indian Burns. I could complain that chocolate cake should be given to those only with the appropriate license, even then only after they have passed rigorous sugar-endurance testing, but then I don’t think I would get any either. (Chocolate makes me happy, but man, I don’t bite people, honest!)

What could I have done to make lunch less of a disaster? Be more patient? Not serve sugar? Wear protective gear? I don’t know. I like to tell myself two things. The first is that I’m a patient person. I may have to reevaluate this statement and turn it into a resolution: That I try to become a more patient person.

The second thing that I like to tell myself is that I will raise well-mannered children. I don’t know anymore. I know I’m going to try, but how much of a today’s bad behavior was lack of discipline and how much of it was just a vicious personality? I could get into the whole nature vs. nurture debate to try and figure out whether any child can just be born inherently evil (and likely to bite poor defenseless Abez’s who let them play video games and eat chocolate cake, *sniff) or whether lack of punishment just lets perfectly normal children get out of hand, like a nice yard gone all weedy because no one mows it.

Based on a few arbitrary rules I’m going to make up, I’d say that in this case, it’s nurture. I don’t think any one family could have two purely evil children in it. I don’t believe they’re common enough (2 out of 4 children? 50%?) to account for me being bitten by two sons of the same household, whereas lack of structure and discipline can ruin 100% of kids. There, that’s my arbitrary, psuedo-expert analysis. Make of it what you will. I’m going to go lick my wounds.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth…

The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

Frost had it easy. His double-road dilemma ends with him taking the road less traveled and having no regrets. He chooses his road simply for the reason that it is not common, and that is a virtue in itself. But what if Frost had had different standards? What if both of the roads had been the same in that no one had traveled them before? Neither one of them is ‘less traveled’ than the other, is it then?

What if one of the roads headed towards certainty and security, albeit one tinged with the blindness of a soul with closed eyes. What if the first road lead to a place where Frost could never feel comfortable, even though it was safe and conventional. What if it lead to a noisy and bothersome place where Frost would never find the silence so necessary for inner stillness and peace?

What if the second road was an unknown, what if it was a mystery from the beginning to the end? What if the only thing known about the road is that it was more tranquil, more smooth; able to be taken slowly and the traveler may have time to pause, to reflect, to listen, to ponder birdsong and marvel at sunlight.

The first road is comfortable mediocrity. The second is possible happiness above and beyond what the first road could ever lead to, but it may not even be open for you. The first is for sure, but the second is iffy. If you wait too long then both roads are closed to you. You may skip the first but there’s no guarantee you may travel the second. It’s a risky decision. What road would you guys take?

1. What is your blogger site name? (2) Why did you choose such a name? (3) Tell us a short story that tells us the reason for choosing the name you post with.

As proof of precisely how lazy I am, I’m commenting on Some Desi’s recent post and calling it a blog entry. It’s not that I don’t wanna talk about the trip to Lahore, it’s just that this is easier for now. Yep

1. What is your blogger site name?

Abezavecrat: abeZ sez AssalamuAlaikum

2 & 3 Why did you choose such a name? Tell us a short story that tells us the reason for chosing the name you post with.

Abez avec rat. Abez with rat. I used to own a two-foot tall, ugly, rubber rat in a ball-room gown. She was Tyrattasaurus Regina, Queen of the Terrible Rats. It was once customary to pick up Regina and speak your mind through her, for example:

-What are we going to do for dinner?

-I want macaroni.

-I don’t want Macaroni. Momma sez you should make a casserole.

(holding up rat) Rat sez momma sez knock you out.

Abez sez AssalamuAlaikum. Rat sez other stuff but fortunately Rat doesn’t have a blog. 😀

ex-post-facto

(I typed this blog last night and then ran out of internet hours, so now it’s being posted after the fact, ex-post-facto, har har! -ahem- Ok, moving on…)

LB: I’m tired.

RB: Me too.

LB: Let’s go to bed.

RB: Ok.

LB: …

RB: …

LB: I thought we were going to bed.

RB: I thought you were going to take us?

LB: I can’t. Too tired.

RB: If we’re too tired to get to bed then how are we going to go to bed?

LB: The floor is close…

RB: It’s not bed though.

LB: But we’re not too tired to go to floor…

RB: We can’t go to floor.

LB: Why not? It’s right there, and it looks so soft.

RB: What do you mean it looks soft? Your eyes are closed.

LB: It looks better that way.

(pause)

RB: I’m tired.

LB: Me too.

RB: Hey, remember in Lahore, when we were so tired we couldn’t even think straight, but then we went to the amusement park and rode a couple things and suddenly we were awake again?

LB: Yes, but how’s that relevant.

RB: I’m not sure. I’m tired.

LB: Me too.

RB: I’m more tired than you are.

LB: That’s not humanly possible.

RB: Yes it is.

LB: Nu-unh

RB: Uh-hunh.

LB: Nu-unh

RB: Un-Hunh

LB: …

RB: …

LB: Let’s go to floor already.

RB: Ok.

(abeZ falls off chair)

The End.

home again, home again jiggety jig

Got home half an hour ago. It’s my Momma & Abbu’s anniversary, and we have to go and party accordingly. Will blog later tonight InshaAllah. 🙂

PS: HEMMIE AND USHI RULE!

Sleep Depraved

I just typed a blog about how tired I was. Then I closed the blog without saving. Because I was so tired. Now it’s gone.

Having a lovely time. Mehndhi, wedding, pool party, peacocks, Lahore Museum, donuts, shawarma, brownies, tea, nap.

Love,

Abez