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Category Archives: Husbandfiles

The Husbandtrolls


Me: Did you know that Muslims killed Dracula?

HF: That makes sense, Muslims hate fun.

Me: That’s the title of the lecture, don’t you remember?

HF: “Don’t You Remember?”  That’s a terrible title for a lecture.  *trollface* :p

HF Troll

 

Sometimes, I love autism :)

Last week or so- HF decided that we were going to stay up super late (or some of us, nap super late) and then go out and watch the Geminid meteor shower with the Dubai Astronomy Club.  I thought it was a lovely idea.  The grand reveal to the children went something like this:

HF: Guys, Baba has something really special planned for you- tonight, we’re going to go to bed on time, and at ten thirty we’re going to wake up, drive out to the desert, and we’re going to see some meteors!

Iman: Yay!

Khalid: -silence-his eyes suddenly widen in fear-

Me: Oh no Khalid! Not like that! Not like the dinosaurs!

Khalid: -slow, uncertain blink- So, it will miss the earth?

Me: Yes, the meteors will miss the earth.

He must not have been completely convinced, because later when we woke and loaded our drowsy but excited children into the car, Khalid just needed to reconfirm.

Khalid: It’ll miss the earth momma?”

Me: Yes dear, it’ll miss the earth.

SubhanAllah. 🙂

stupid-asteroid-bunker

Irony

So HF was in a fender-bender today.  He was stopped at a signal and someone ran into the back of his car hard enough to crash his into the next stopped car.  Alhamdulillah, he’s alright and as he cheerfully mentioned: the car needed new bumpers anyway.  It’s still a little unsettling to me though, that even though I’m the one all dramatically falling to bits and spending lots of my time contemplating death, that there’s no real warning for any of us.  I could live with myopathy until I’m 93.  Or HF could die healthy on his way to work tomorrow.  It’s all in Allah’s hands.  SubhanAllah.

A happy dance

Coming home, coming home! HF is coming home!

After roughly two weeks abroad for work, HF is coming home in three hours.  I told Khalid that Baba would be home by the next morning.  Khalid’s response was:

“Oh, I think I will jump all day at school!”

“Does that mean you’re excited?”

“Yeah!”

Me too kid, me too. 🙂

From Iman with icecream and love

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Iman drew a picture of HF today- a bearded, bespectacled figure with square glasses, big eyebrows, and a happy smile. Also, a crown and an icecream cone in each hand.

Gorgeously accurate. 🙂

Fuzzy Fiqh

HF: Getting married is half your deen, right?

Me: Yeah.

HF: So getting two wives must complete it entirely then, hunh?

*rimshot*

And I quote

HF is preparing to leave for work and sprays himself with cologne. He then grimaces as it burns his post-shave skin.

Me: Why spray it on your neck if it burns? Why not spray it somewhere else?
HF: Like where?
Me: I don’t know, your wrists?
HF: Real men don’t wear perfume on their wrists.
Me: No?
HF: They wear it on their fists. Muwahaha!

Muslim Matters on Sexual Harassment in Muslim Cultures

Hena Zuberi just published a great, awesome, relevant, necessary, important article about sexual harassment in the Muslim community, and I found myself typing a comment so long it could stand alone.  And I think it should, because the more websites, the more people, the more Muslims talk about sexual harassment, the more people there will be to stand against it, InshaAllah.  Before reading my post, I recommend reading the original post here.

Unfortunately, I know the humiliation of the Pakistani bazaars and tailors too.  I learned to carry a big, empty purse (empty, because the bag would be exposed to pickpockets) and place it over my backside while walking through the crowded streets, and to walk with my elbows out to make more space around my body and to move only in groups. We learned which tailors were safe and which were not, and it didn’t matter if he made your sleeves too big and your pants sideways, at least he was shareef and you could go back and have the clothes fixed without being groped.  My extended family in Karachi has been using the same tailor for so long that he was the family tailor when I was 9, and I’m 30 now.

I have heard stories of getting fed up and screaming one’s head off, but in a tight crowd, you don’t even know who you’re screaming at.   I’ve spoken to cousins who say they want to smash someone’s face in, but they turn around and don’t even know who touched them.  Even here in Dubai there are cases of taxi drivers, men in shopping malls, coworkers, legal sponsors, even waiters and cleaners making deliberate, inappropriate contact with women.  It is punished, *when* it can be proven, but when women are so shocked they don’t react or are too humiliated to draw attention to it, it simply repeats itself as silent abuse.
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Owl and I have both had plenty of experience with this, and I used to think it was because we were half-white, and therefore gori-chitti-ai hai recipents of unwanted attention anywhere we went.  It turns out that this happens to any sort of woman in Pakistan- anywhere where molesters can hide in the crowd.  Another one of my cousins told me about a man touching her through a space in the seats while seated behind her on a bus.  Yet another got her chest grabbed by catering staff in typical wedding-buffet traffic, and for years afterwards we held our dinner plates at chest level for the same reason.

I was angry about it as a young woman, but now as a mother, I think I would fly into a face-punching rage if I saw someone inappropriately touching either of my children.  I never reacted this way as a young girl or teenager, but perhaps I needed those years of suffering (I lived in Pk for eight years!) to help me break out of the passive shame.  The first time I ever spoke out was at a wedding here in Dubai, and I was standing near the bride & groom’s seating area when I felt someone press very definitely against me.  It was not a crowded space, and although there were other guests standing around and socializing in the same area, there was no question about there being enough room to pass me without initiating full body-on-body contact.  At first I was stunned.  I turned and looked behind me to see one of catering staff sidling away from behind me without making eye contact or even acknowledging what had just happened.  Then I wondered whether or not I had imagined it, which I think must be a standard reaction when that happens.  You doubt yourself, and sometimes if the groper is subtle you might even make excuses for them.  Your mind would rather do anything than admit what had just happened, and that’s what my mind did.

And then I remembered Pakistan.  And I remembered what it feels like to be bumped in to accidentally by a waiter (Oh, sorry! So Sorry! Excuse me!).  And then I remembered being pushed against, brushed against, pressed against like this in bazaars, on crowded streets, sometimes within shops themselves by men craning  to look at merchandise just over your shoulder, baji.  And unless someone is walking pelvis-first and in slow-motion, there’s no reason why I should feel that part of another person pressing against me.  That’s not how human beings walk, especially here in the UAE, where employees trip over themselves to stay out of a woman’s way for fear of being arrested and deported (and maybe a little beaten, too) by her angry husband.  The police do not deal very graciously with groping here, so if you want to keep your job, you have the sense to watch where you’re walking.

So I told HF, and I adore him for this, his first question was Who?  He didn’t say ‘are you sure?’ or ‘maybe he just bumped in to you?’ or ‘you probably imagined it.’   He took me on my word and even told his brother, who was also a guest at the same wedding.  At the time I was embarrassed that he did so, but later I felt happy and relieved that HF found nothing shameful about what had happened and brought in reinforcements to help protect a woman in the family.

I was able to point the man out.  HF made note of the name on his tag and discreetly found the manager.  About half an hour later the manager came to apologize with the same server.  He said he had tripped, and while the man looked blank and unapologetic as the manager issued an apology on his behalf, at least he had been caught out.  About an hour after we left the wedding a higher level manager called to apologize, saying the man had stumbled somehow, but was profusely sorry.  Nothing much happened, and nothing much came of it (as far as I know anyway) but hey- I did it!  I told someone!  And no one yelled at me, or called me a liar, or told me I was making things up.  And most importantly, no one said it was my fault.

Alhamdulillah for good men, and Auzubillah for the bad ones.  I guess every man needs to decide which one he’s going to be.  And every woman needs to decide whether or not she’s going to suffer in silence or take a stand.  Angrily turning around and yelling ‘who touched me?’ may not yield any immediate confessions, but at least a groper will think twice about whether he wants to be caught.  The sooner we stop blaming and shaming ourselves, the sooner we can speak up and InshaAllah, give sight to the blind eye that is otherwise turned to casual sexual harassment.


Video from the Harassment in Egypt Blog

Identity vs. Nationality vs. Ethnicity

Being half Pakistani, half white, raised in America and living in the UAE, I’ve long ago learned that when people ask me where I’m from, they don’t want to hear ‘Chicago.’ They want to know why I look like an Arab, sound like an American and hang out with a brown guy who bears striking resemblance to my Turkish-looking children. So I have no problem presenting my pedigree at the drop of the hat, because I know that there is no short and accurate answer. I’m Muslim, I was raised in America, but have also lived in Pakistan for eight years, my mother is American, my father is Pakistani. My father is Muslim, my mother is Mormon. No, they are not divorced.

“Ah, yes yes,” people nod, as things start to make sense. Then the next question comes:

“And your husband, he is local?” When people here say local, they mean local Emirati, and they ask because any foreign Muslim woman wearing a black abaya must to be married to her local counterpart in the white kandoora, right? (salt and pepper, yin and yang?)

“Actually,” I say, “My husband is Pakistani.”

“Bakistani?”

“Yes…” I try to explain, because the brown guy in the Blogger t-shirt with the standard Midwestern accent who says things like Hey, howyadoin? does not fit inside of the box traditionally reserved for Bakistani. “Well, his parents are from Pakistan, but he was born in Kuwait. And raised in Oman. And went to school in the UAE, and college in the US. And, he’s never lived in Pakistan, but I’m sure he’s visited a few times.”

People nod uncertainly. “So I mean, he’s Pakistani, but he’s not really very Pakistani? I mean, I’m more Urdu-literate than he is! But he looks brown, so his Urdu comes off better than mine, and his accent is better too.” And then people start to get that polite look of panic in their eyes that is usually accompanied by a sudden urge to rush home and see if they left the iron plugged in.

I think it’s easier for me to explain myself than it is for HF, because I at least was born in, and brought up in, the country of my nationality. He was born in country A, raised in countries B and C, educated in country D, and has a passport from (but has never lived in) country E. And in this country, your salary and your renumeration package is directly connected to your nationality.

[Yes, it’s racist, idiotic, and unfair. No, I can’t do anything about it. The Mighty Whities (US, UK, Australian, and South African Nationals) get top dollars, top benefits, and more prominent positions. The rest of us are on a much, much lower pay scale, with much fewer benefits. Why? Because if you, Brown Guy #237, don’t like it, there are 67,409 other Brown Guys standing in line behind you who are willing to work for what it a humungous salary back home, though a paltry one according to the expenses of Dubai. If White Guy #1 doesn’t like his job, however will we replace him? Do you have any idea how hard it is to coax a white guy out here? Quick, meet his demands! His accent makes our company sound posh!]

The office, who is legally obliged to give employees tickets “home” once a year, wants to give HF tickets to a home he’s never lived in, because his passport is Pakistani. So, to get tickets back to the “home” he actually has family in, he says he’s American. But then he has to deal with people on both sides of the fence who say things like: “American? You’re not an American, you’re a Pakistani national!” And if he says he’s Pakistani, people say things like, “Oh, where from?” and he says “I don’t know, I’ve never lived there….” So where did you live before this? “Umm, Virginia?”

In some ways this is very typical of Dubai. Yesterday we went to the barbeque of another “Pakistani” family, born in Saudi, raised in Connecticut and moved to Dubai last year. We had steak and barbecued chicken, we played Scrabble and we’ve invited them over some time after next week. We’ll make sushi.

Chai, a dear friend of mine, once told me a story about her young brother, Ismo. Ismo, then seven or eight, brought a friend over from school to play. Chai overheard the following conversation.

“Hey, what are you? Are you Muslim?”
“Muslim? I don’t know.”
“Well, do you eat rice?”
“Yes.”
“Then you’re Muslim.”

I often remember that story when people ask me what “I am.” This is a different question from ‘where are you from’ or ‘what is your nationality.’ This is not a question of ethnicity or nationality, this is a question of identity. They want to know what my culture is. Do I make Nihari? Yes. Does that make me a Pakistani? I don’t know, do Pakistanis traditionally bake gingerbread men for Ramadan?

Does HF eat Pakistani food? Yes, does that make him Pakistani? Not any more than eating sushi makes him Japanese, and we roll our sushi at home. I don’t think that the food you eat determines ‘what you are,’ nor does the way you behave neatly define what your culture is. Do I respect my elders? Yes. Is that an exclusively Asian thing? Nope. Was I an obnoxious teenager? Oh yes. Is that an exclusively ‘American’ thing? Unfortunately, no.

I long ago realized I was too brown for the whites and too white for the browns. My first language is English but I have a funny foreign name. My Urdu is awful but my father is Pakistani. My passport is American but my wardrobe alone scares the bjeezus out of most Americans. (My accent may be as American as apple pie, but my abaya most certainly isn’t.) So what am I? What is the determining factor for one’s identity, if it is not nationality or ethnicity? Vague ideas of what is ‘culture’ differ on a regional or ethnic level, and are the passing whims of popularity and general accepted social norms. You can argue that certain things make you American, but a hundred years ago, those same behaviours would be shocking, outrageous, and very un-American. (June is Gay Pride month in the US) They’re not standards, they’re just a sign of the times.

Even if I were to choose to be American, and to abide by the generally accepted principals of what being ‘American’ means, there are no principals of American-ness. Having a passport alone doesn’t make me an ‘American,’ it only makes me an American national. I could choose to be Pakistani, but again, there’s no documented process. My father is Pakistani, and he identifies with the culture and was born within the borders of the country, but guess what- he’s an American national too. Being born in a certain country doesn’t mean they’ll teach you the secret handshake either- HF was born in Kuwait, and he is most definitely not a Kuwaiti, even when he does wear a kandoora. Ethnicity alone doesn’t convey identity either, because I’m not an Irishwoman any more than my mother is. Without an agreed-upon standard determining the requirements of identity, the only thing left to fall back on is choice.

I did not choose to be born in America, any more than I chose to have a Pakistani father and an American mother. My ethnicity was set before I was even born, and my nationality can be changed if I decide to say… apply for Canadian immigration. My identity is the only thing I exert any control over. I choose to be Muslim, I identify with Muslims of all colors and countries, because we have an agreed standard of Muslim-ness. If you believe in Allah, and His Messenger, and the Qur’an, and you try to follow it- you’re Muslim. These elements of belief are all matters of choice as well, and someone can easily choose to NOT be Muslim if they wanted to, and that choice alone would be sufficient for them to no longer be considered part of the Ummah anymore.

The food I cook is not determined by what my ancestors cooked, but by what is halal. The clothes I wear are not any specific national dress, they are pieces of cloth arranged in such a way that they fulfill the Islamic requirements for modesty; abaya, shalwar qameez, or skirt or whatever. I don’t dance at Mehndhi parties just because ‘I’m Pakistani’ or go to prom just because ‘I’m American.’ I do, however, pray salah, fast, give zakah and wear a hijab because ‘I’m Muslim.’ My traditions and rituals are not specific to any tribe or cultural legacy, they are a follow-through on the Qur’an and the consensus of the scholars on the Sunnah, and I would be an arrogant idiot to say everything I did was 100% Islamic, but I can honestly say that the only defining culture I have is what has been given to me of Islam.

So what am I? Culturally, and consciously, I’m a Muslim. Alhamdulillah. My nationality is American, and my ethnicity is Irish-Pakistani. I’m married to a lovely man whose ethnicity and nationality are Pakistani, but whose upbringing is as crisscrossed as international flight patterns. He’s a Muslim too. My children are also Muslim, and InshaAllah, may they live in the state of Islam and not die except in a state of submission. They are American nationals born in the UAE who are ethnically 25% Irish, though they have never been to Ireland, and 75% Pakistani, though they have never been to Pakistan. Allah is the Lord of the East and the West, and the whole earth is a place of worship. Who knows where my children will live when they grow up, or how many strangers they’ll scare away when asked what they are?

Oh, and I think you left your iron on.

Hat? Okay!

 

Iman Helping Mar 2009

Iman is helping. Thanks kid.

I never thought I’d be so happy to report that my son will just NOT stop babbling. Although his vocabulary has yet to cross the ten-word mark, he has begun to mimic sounds and start conversations with people other than me- the most amusing of which is generally Iman. Khalid will grin excitedly at her, and say ‘Okay?’ and Iman will beam and reply ‘Hat!’ Of course, it’s much more than just ‘hat,’ to Iman, it’s a prolonged, ecstatic exclamation of haaaaAAAAAAt! in a high-pitched squeak bordering on baby giddiness.

Admiring the handsome little boy in the mirror.

Admiring the handsome little boy in the mirror.

Yes, Iman says hat, and she says it loud, and she says it clear, and it is as meaningful to her as ‘Okay’ is to Khalid. They had a three-way conversation yesterday with the Imam of the masjid during Isha prayer. It went like this.

 

Imam: (over loud speaker) Allahu Akbar

Khalid: Okay?

Iman: Haaaaaaaat!

Imam: Sami’Allahu liman Hamida

Khalid: Okay!

Iman: haaaaAAAAAAAAAAT!

Imam: Allu Akbar

Iman: HAAAAAAT! HAAAAAAAAAAAAT!

Khalid: Okay!

Iman: haaaaaAAAAAAAAT!

 

Of course, right after the jamaat finished, someone came over and banged angrily on the divider between the men’s and women’s sections, and frankly speaking, I was seriously offended. Yes, my kids were making noise, but children make noise in the masjid all the time. I was still praying though, and so my kids continued to fill the large, echoing dome of the masjid with hats and okays until the Imam came and knocked on the door (gently) of the women’s section and asked Ruth (who opened the door) to please bring the children outside.

When I finished praying I walked out and outside the women’s side entrance, saw HF talking to two men, presumably the Imam and one other local. Khalid, upon seeing HF, ran and flung himself into his arms and unleashed a series of happy Okays! According to HF, as soon as Khalid did this, both the men changed their stances from stern to understanding. It’s easier to be mad about someone’s bratty kids when 1. you can’t see them and 2. they’re not autistic.

Ruth and the kids & I waited in the car while HF talked with the Imam & Co for about ten minutes. Alhamdulillah, this is one wonderful thing about HF, if a situation gets tense, he doesn’t get mad, he gets charming. I told this to Ruth, and she laughed. “You’ll see,” I said, “By the time he finishes talking to them he’ll have made some new friends.”

And of course, he had. After an explanation of autism and Khalid’s understanding (or the lack thereof) the Imam invited him over for tea repeatedly and was disappointed when HF politely deferred. The second man then plied HF for his life story and then asked him to come over and fix his computer. Numbers were exchanged. We went back home.

Ruth took the kids in and threw them into their respective tubs, and then I had a good cry about things with HF outside.  True, the matter isn’t black and white- kids need to be taught how to behave in a place of worship, adults need to manage their problems more tactfully than by banging on the walls of the woman’s section- but it all boiled down to this- I’m not allowed to complain about having an autistic child, so neither is anyone else.
I went to the salon last week for a quick trim, and Khalid, misunderstanding the situation and thinking it was his head on the chopping block, went into red-alert tantrum mode and ended up crammed under a chair while kicking the wall and screaming. Calming him down failed, and so I told the woman to just finish as soon as possible so I could pay and take Khalid home.
The sweet receptionist tried (to no avail) to distract Khalid- to offer him sweets, to engage him while he was busy screaming.  This lasted around ten minutes.  The other ladies stared disapprovingly at me while Khalid raged and the hairdresser snipped.  When it was done and I had paid,  I collected Khalid from his well-kicked corner, and said to one of the other hairdressers, “Sorry about the noise, he thought he was going to have his hair cut, and he doesn’t understand.”
They stared blankly and I told them he was autistic.  They didn’t know what that meant, I told them he was mentally around 1 years old and had little idea what was going on.  Ooooooh….now they got it, he had some problem with his brain?  They asked polite nervous questions and the air changed from frigid to embarrassed.
I don’t know whether there’s a crash course somewhere for being a ‘special needs mom,’ but I think I’m doing as well I can with the amount of training I got. :p  I adore Khalid, he is the most beautiful, crazy, energetic, loving little man, and that other people don’t understand him is not his fault.  Nor is it theirs, but I’m not about to start apologizing for him being the way he is.  Allah allows everything to happen for a reason, and even if it’s just to teach everyone around him a little more patience, that’s a good enough reason for me.

The Husbandfiles: A compilation of non-traditional ways of responding to ‘I Love You."

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I love you.

I know.
I love you!
Yeah, me too!
I love you.
Ok.
I love you so much…
And I love you a little more than that.
I love you more than chocolate cake
Are you sure?  Because last I checked, chocolate cake loves me alot…

The Husbandfiles: Moral Dental Support

HF: You’re having your wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday, right?

Me: Yeah, the last two.

HF: So now you’ll be as dumb as everyone else, hunh?

Me: Do you have any wisdom teeth?

HF: Lots of ’em.

The Husbandfiles: He always said he’d woo me like I’d never been wooed before…

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HF: You know, if I was stranded on a desert island, and had only one person with me, I’d want it to be you…

Me:… 🙂

HF: Because I’d want you to suffer too, HARHAR!

The Husbandfiles: My Hero :)

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I have nightmares pretty often these days as my sleeping brain tries to make its own explanation up for why we’re in pain. Though the real reason is full-term pregnancy, my brain thinks it’s zombies. Our stomach hurts not because we have indigestion, but because the zombies got us. Our legs hurt not because of poor circulation, but because the zombies are chewing on them. If our arm hurts, it’s not because we have it wedged uncomfortably against the headboard- not unless the zombies did that for us too.

So I woke up this morning, a lil disoriented and scared and shaken (yep, zombies) and hearing a sound from outside the bedroom, ran out hoping it was HF and not merely zombies using his toothbrush. HF, seeing the look on my face as well as what the zombies probably did to my hair in the middle of the night, immediately understood and did what he always does- he rescued me. 🙂 We had a hug and two chocolate cookies and watched the trailer for Wall-E, by which time the zombies were old news. We woke up Khalid, tickled him until he looked less groggy, and then sent HF on his merry (and InshaAllah safe) way to work.

I love HF. I can’t say that often enough, really. The other day, when I called him on the phone and demanded something chocolate, he came back with four packs of chocolate cookies and half a gallon of Baskin Robbins.

Midnight a few days before that, as I was going on my third half-hour of trying to battle Khalid to sleep, HF burst suddenly through the darkened bedroom door (ran back to turn on the lights, and then burst in again) to inform me that he was here to rescue me. Bebeface stopped caterwauling, HF gave me a hug, and then we did my favorite thing in the world- we unpacked boxes and cleaned the house. 🙂 Two hours later, with the house clean and Khalid too exhausted to put forth resistance, we went peacefully to bed.

Alhamdulillah. JazakAllah. SubhanAllah.

HF, you are the awesomest.

The Husbandfiles: Home Sweet Home

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6 am

Me: Waleed, it’s six o’clock, it’s time for you to wake up and get ready for work.
HF: That’s one fraudulent opinion…
Me: Waleed, come on, you need to get up
HF: And you need to grow a mustache.
Me: -blink blink-

-pause-

HF: -waking up slightly- Hand me my cell phone?

The Husbandfiles: Good days and bad days

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There are good days and there are bad days. Some days you may come home from work and the dishes will be dirty and the laundry unfolded. Your wife will grumble a greeting at you as she walks by, still in her pajamas. There will be no dinner cooked and you will have to walk on tiptoes because the bebe, who was a grouchy little teething monster all day, has finally fallen asleep.

Also, no one will be able to find the external hard-drive, which you need for work.

Also, the curtains will fall off the wall, rod and all.

And you, tired from work and tired from sitting in traffic, and hungry from forgetting to take a lunch and sleep deprived from the odd hours the baby has been keeping lately- you will smile and take your wife in your arms and hold her, and tell her it’s alright to have a lousy day, and you will tell her to get dressed because it’s been a while since we went out for dinner.

And you will joke and make your wife laugh, and tell her to hurry up and NOT iron her clothes, and you will pile everyone into the car, wrinkles and all, and drive to a posh Irani buffet and have a fantastic time putting a massive dent in the barbeque and dessert tables.

And you will drive home and do the dishes as your wife hangs laundry, and you will pray and go to bed. And that will have been a very good day.

I love you HF.

You’ll understand when you get married and have kids

HF has been internationally away for the last 11 days, and top of that, Khalid choked on a carrot today. Yes, these two are related.

Today Bebeface swallowed a huge piece of carrot at dinner and started gasping for breath. I picked him up, turned him over and slapped him on the back repeatedly before he finally coughed the piece up, vomited, and started crying. The whole episode took twenty seconds at the most, and we had guests over for dinner who, I am sure, probably did not notice anything beyond a baby coughing up a carrot bit and then being carried out of the room. Truth is that I took him out of the room so that I wouldn’t be seen holding him tightly and trying not to cry.

There was a friend of mine, a woman my mother’s age, who I always knew as being very flamboyant, very loud, very sparkly in the way she spoke and the way she acted and the way she dressed. She was the 50-year old with the perfectly blonde hair and the short skirt. I remember once commenting to a mutual friend about how cheerful she always was, and the mutual friend said, “Yes, it’s nice to see her like this now. After her son and husband died she went into depression for a few years.”

I’d had no idea. Her husband and only son had died only a few years ago in a car accident, and not only had she never brought it up, she seemed alright. She was colorful. She was alive.

(I later learned, she was lonely)

When I knew her, I was single and her story seemed like a tragedy. Now that I am a wife and a momma, her story seems like an apocalypse, an ending of life as we know it, a implosion of the universe itself. How does one recover from that? HF has been gone only 11 days, and I think about him constantly. Khalid gave me a momentary scare, and the tiny glimpse of worry, of fear for my child’s life that it caused has had me rattled this entire evening. What if I couldn’t get the carrot out? What if he stopped breathing. God, I don’t want to think of the what-if’s.

(I’ve been staying at the Chateau these past 11 days and last night I shared a room with Hemmie. “It was an interesting night,” she said to me this morning. “You woke up and asked me where Khalid was.” Actually, I’d had a bad dream, and when I woke up, I couldn’t find Khalid and started to panic. He was in bed next to me, right where I left him, but my sleep-heavy eyes missed his warm little bump under the blanket. )

As I read this over I realize it seems strange, maybe even pathetic to be so attached, or so afraid. The truth is that no one but a mother will know how this feels. Erma Bombeck once said that to have a children was “…to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

She was right, and when you factor in the husband you adore, then your heart is neatly halved before it is removed from your chest and sent on its merry way. There’s no way of ever getting it back. You will never stop checking on your child when you know he is asleep. You will pull the covers over your husband if you think he’s cold. You will fret when your husband is late, you will lose sleep when your child is sick. You will dance continually between worry and relief, but being worn at by concern for the ones you love is more sweet than bitter. It is part of life, and it is proof that you love them deeply, and thank God, you have someone to love. SubhanAllah for the pain, because it means you have someone to give your heart away to.

Better the ache of love fulfilled than the emptiness of lonely regret.

The Husband Files: Insert rimshot here.

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Me: (pointing to pile of shirts) The room is a mess and it’s all your fault, we live in squalor!

HF: No, we live in the UAE.

The Husband Files: Why teacups are like cats – or – why the husband, the car, and everything in it are covered in a spray of chai

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Update: HF has posted his version of what happened here, hehe.

HF: So, dogs like to stick their heads out of car windows, right? They like to hang their tongues out and go nyah and enjoy the breeze.

Me: Yes..?

HF: But cats don’t though, if you took a cat and held it out of the window of a moving car it would go rraoowr and turn and attack you and fly at your chest.

Me: Yes.

HF: It would kind of explode and fly at you.

Me: True…

Hf: See, that’s why cups of tea are like cats.

Me: Oh?

HF: I held this one out of the car window, and it exploded and flew at me.

Me: You held a cup of tea out of the window?

HF: To cool it. *big shiny smile*

Me: While you were driving?

HF: But then the wind hit it and got all shaky and then foosh!

Me: At a hundred kilometers per hour?

HF: And that’s why cups of tea are like cats.

Call me Speedy. Ice cream, anyone?

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Under normal circumstances, a pregnant woman with a bucket of ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other could not possibly outrun her well-intentioned but confectionarily cruel husband.

Under current circumstances, where well-intentioned husband is burdened by a plaster cast on his well-sprained ankle, the pregnant woman not only has a chance, but she also has 1.9 litres of cookies and cream all to herself. As well as gloating rights.

mwaahahahaa

So HF has suffered his first mortal wound. The building was burning you see… it was a charity hospital… for orphans… for umm, orphaned kittens. And it was on fire, yes. So he sprained his ankle while rescuing burning kittens from the burning building. My hero! *swoon*

(Really though, and this is just between you and me, habibtis- he called me from the gym last week and said, Mabrook! and I said, Wha? and he said he had sprained his ankle. Hai, kitni cute.)

So HF is on crutches and in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king. Bring me my sceptre, I can use it to serve ice cream.

The Husband Files: A Romantic Walk on the Beach

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Me: Do jellyfish wash up on the beaches here?

HF: I’m not sure.

ME: You know, when my sister was little she got stung by a jellyfish.

HF: So that’s how she got her powers?

The Husband Files: Housekeeping?

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HF: The table was dirty. There was this crunchy dry stuff on it.

Me: Oh?

HF: So I put some newspaper over it. 😀

The Husband Files: 1:32 am

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HF: Could I shave my head?

Me: No.

HF: Come on, what would happen if I shaved it all off, my beard too, and started over.

Me: Then you’d look like how you did before, but with a period of baldness in the middle.

*pause*

HF: Could I grow a moustache?

ME: No.

HF: Come on, just a little big one.

Me: A what one?

HF: I’ll just grow it on the left side, ok?

Me: No! You’re nuts! You can’t grow a mustache!

HF: Fine.

*pause*

HF: Can you grow a mustache?

Married Life: This is what happens when you marry yourself

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I made HF’s glasses into the bed last week. Really. I tucked them neatly beneath the topsheet and the fitted sheet and then I threw the comforter over top of it all. Then I couldn’t find his glasses, because I hadn’t made them into the bed on purpose. No, because that would be foolish.

I searched extensively for his glasses before I decided to retrace my steps for that morning.

(Let’s see, I had your glasses in my hand and then I threw them on to the bed. Then I went into the kitchen, then I came back and made the bed.)

My poor husband (who at that point, realized that the lumpy bits he had been sitting on were, in fact, his nice glasses) shook his head and sighed. He dug his glasses out of their cozy hiding spot and put them onto his nose.

It serves him right I say. After all, did he not greet my cool new mandarin shirt with the iffy compliment, “Hey, you look like a Chinese assassin!” And has he not feigned seriousness, taking me quietly to one side of the hallway when there are guests in the living room, only to giggle into my ear and call out, “TROGDOR!” He has. And if, in exchange, I manage to make his glasses into the bed or make him rescue me when I get stuck behind the TV or make him sit through Monty Python skits on the computer late at night, I say he deserves it. This is what happens when weird people get happily married. 🙂

Married Life: I am pit crew, hear me roar

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So the popular question for everyone who emails me these days is: So, how’s married life? I suppose I should eventually answer the question.

Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, I have been blessed. Unlike most weddings in Pakistani culture, mine was not to a complete stranger. It wasn’t even to an acquaintance, it was to a person who became a good friend. That is probably why, when I try to describe things betweenMr. Abez and I, I say being married is like hanging out with a friend. All the time. Except when he’s at work and I’m home cooking and straightening up.

Yeah, he brings home the bacon and I turn it into pumpkin pies. Does that make me a housewife? It might, but I think there are too many negative connotations associated with that word. I prefer to use a different term. Allow me to explain. A race car has only one driver, but there’s a whole team of guys with power bolt-removers who go zzzummmzummmm and change the car’s tires real fast when the driver has made a pit stop. Could any one of them have driven the car? Probably. Could the driver change his own tires? Sure he could. But when you’re a part of a team, you do what needs done and you support your mateys.

I am the man in the red jumpsuit. I am pit crew. I could be the driver, I could bring home the bacon and HF could put some biryani masala on it, but at the moment I’m simply not. And besides, his masala bacon is terrible and if he did the cooking we’d all die of grease poisoning. Keep that man away from olive oil, he thinks it’s God’s Answer to the scourge of low-fat foods.

Do I mind being pit crew? Not at all. Especially since the pit has broadband internet access as well as the freedom to do as pit crew likes. And then there’s the stylish jumpsuit. And the power tools.

-ahem- I know that some people consider huswifery to be a downgrade, possibly even the waste of an intelligent female. Considering the path to academic over-achievement that I was once on, this may not seem like the fruition of all those ‘you can be something’ speeches that the guidance counselor gave me, and yet, am I not something? I make pit crew what I want it to be. I don’t wake up and drag my feet to the kitchen (I wake up and HF drags my feet to the kitchen for me, hehe) I wake up and think about breakfast creatively. Then I make eggs with too much salt, but I digress.

I don’t do household chores all day, I have a set agenda of things that need done in order to run a clean, smooth Formula 1 team, and I get them done as soon as possible so that I have time for the other things that are important to me. Do I still not have the time to blog properly? Yes, but that has nothing to do with housework and everything to do with chilling with my favorite race care driver. 🙂

The mutual give and take of a successful relationship doesn’t end on the emotional level, it extends into the practical. Would ‘I love you’ be worth anything if I refused to make my husband a cup of tea when he was tired, or if he refused to help me when I was tired? I find nothing degrading in supporting the person who supports me. I’m proud to be part of an efficient, enthusiastic team.

Got to go, HF will be making a pit stop soon and I need to put a radial tire, err, chicken in the oven. It’s the um, fuel for the engine, hehe.

The Husband Files: DIY Mango Milkshake

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My husband has an interesting recipe for mango milkshake.

Step 1. Ask your wife to make you a mango milkshake.
Step 2. Look forlorn when your wife won’t make you one.
Step 2.5 Discover that your wife doesn’t like mangoes.
Step 3. Pout.
Step 4. Dolefully accept ingredients from wife for do-it-yourself mango milkshake;

  • milk
  • icecubes
  • sugar
  • two mangoes

Step 5. Begin combining ingredients. In a wok.

Suggardh with a capital Sugg

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Being a sensitive technical procedure, pancake production can be adversely affected by multiple factors- the size of the pan, the size of the burner beneath the pan, the type of the spatula, and the qualification of the pancake engineer. It is therefore necessary to generate a few pre-meal proto-types- a few little ones to account for such factors as well as fine-tune the heat of the griddle, the amount of baking powder necessary for desired fluffiness, etc.

-ahem-

I used up most of my batter on experimental and geographical-looking pancakes.

There was only one truly round, truly ideal pancake, and it was the last one. It came off the griddle just as my sleepy-faced husband made it to the table last.

“Sweetheart, I made pancakes. Yours is the one not shaped like Mississippi.”

(shhh! I think they’re getting used to how weird I am.)

Heh. I am so not a proper bahu. (daughter-in-law) I haven’t been living here in Husbandland for more than five days and already I’ve regressed to jeans and a kurta. And two of Monkey’s hairclips. (Zeba Mami, put it the clips!)

Over the last few days we’ve been slowly evicting HF from the wardrobe and replacing his nicely folded shirts with my duds and ducky PJ’s. Today I finally finished unpacking the two suitcases I brought with me, and as I stood surveying the crammage, it occurred to me that I owned way too much junk for my wardrobe space. Which is why I should start getting rid of some of my husband’s clothes, mwahaha.

Ok, seriously though. Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah. Here’s the deal, yo. I miss ma homeez, I miss my Dad, I miss my Mommasita, I miss my Owlie-face like nobody’s business. But I also love being with my charming HF, and his family is sweet, and lil Monkey brings light and innocence and a squeaky giggle to a situation that is getting easier as the days go by.

Love to ma Monkey-Pirates,
Abez

Introducing Mr. Abez

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So we’re back from the UAE. I got:


A fez


Baklava


A husband

Any questions?