As it is the month of Milad, (a celebration of the month of the Prophet’s  PBUH birth)  any free time has been taken up by the Milad get togethers.  I had the foresight to leave the Christmas lights on for Eid Milad un Nabi. 

The Milad standards have been so high this year: For each Milad, one had to have a new suit, fortunately I managed to wear the Abayaa to a couple and managed to save on a few suits that way.  The best Milad food was at Auntie Razia’s,  all home cooked, dhai bhale and chicken pakoras for starters, pilau rice and a chicken and a meat masala dish, finished off with zarda, halwa, cake and fresh fruit.  Auntie Razia or Razor as my husband refers to her as was as sharp as ever, introducing 2 new ladies to the Milad Naat circuit, with everyone commending their beautiful voices. Auntie Razia has become the local equivalent of Simon Cowell for discovering Naat talent. Anyone who wants to be someone on the Naat circuit has to be put through the paces by Auntie Razia.  

With 9 Milads attended, that’s an average of 2 a week, and having prayed a Sipara a Milad and many additional Yasin Shareef’s prayed as well,  I’ve personally prayed almost a third of the Holy Quran Shareef and between us we’ve managed to pray the Holy Quran Shareef 9 times at least.  The only other time we pray in such a concentrated fashion is Ramadhan, but during the Milad when you’re not fasting one can pray so much more and it’s so much more enjoyable praying as a group.    

Ammi Ji is in her element during the Milad season which now lasts a few weeks longer than just the month of Rabbi-ul-Awwal alone, so much so that the fact she has not heard from Imran has almost slipped her mind. Luckily no one has really asked her about Imran.  After years of Aunties offering their daughters as potential daughters in law to Ammi Ji, they have now got the message.  Ammi Ji still acts like she is looking for a girl for Imran but the offers have certainly thinned out. 

I bumped into Imran’s friend’s sister at 3 of the Milads but did not think it appropriate to mention the disappearance of Imran on such an occasion.  I did not want to set the tongues wagging just in case, it would be like lighting a firework, and Ammi Ji would have a heart attack on the spot if word got out now – oh the shame of it would almost kill her.  So we have agreed to meet up for a coffee soon.  I’ll broach the topic with her then.  There is a time and place for everything.  

VIS seems not to care a jot, though I have my suspicions that she might even know where Imran is as her nonchalance over the matter can only be described as callous at worst or giving him space as she knows where he is, at best.  I know she’s busy reporting from around the world but jet setting to countries around the world and meeting renowned figures is more enjoyment than hard work!!! She certainly needs to have more of an involvement in local and family matters rather than leave me to pick up all the pieces everytime. I think I will tell her so directly next time we meet which will be the Milad at Ammi Ji’s next week.
 

The kids regular routine has taken me away from ammi-ji’s constant moaning, complaining and blaming that she is filling her days with.  And although it was hard getting the children out of bed at 6.30 rather than the 9 that they’d become accustomed to, I appreciated the time I had to my self once they were packed off to school.

I have to be careful how I introduce the children as their technological knowledge is far superior than mine so their identities must be protected from their own good selves as well as their friends …. so I shall refer to them as child 1, child 2 and child 3.  Goodness no ….. that sounds like a horrendous court case where children cannot be named for legal reasons, like ‘Baby P’.  So child 1 will be Sara, child 2 is Zara and child 3 is Adam. Rhyming Anglo sounding names yet of the book – kosher!  (or should that be halal!)

Sara’s GCSE modular exams are upon her, thus I have made her suspend her facebook account in which she was immersing herself rather than in her studies, banned her from Twitter and banished her from the numerous blogs she subscribes to.  My policing of this will be military style, the iPad will only come out at the weekend, the PC and laptop will have to have clearance before usage and any handheld Internet ready devices such as phones will be placed in a central place i.e. the kitchen drawer.  I met with real tantrum style resistance at first which swiftly moved on to full on emotional negotiation but i stood my ground and apart from the phone not quite making it to the kitchen drawer 3 times during the week, this has been a real success!

Zara’s competitive spirit makes for a hardworking focussed child, however I have managed to channel the energies into getting her to join a local girls only netball team so she can burn off some of the energy that drives her and borrow more books from the library as I just can’t keep up nor afford buying the books she devours each week.  

Adam – the baby, whose memory one day shall find him greatness no doubt, but until then is a source of nuisance and irritation to his sisters, has taken to learning all the 99 names of Allah.  Only the business mind in him has taken to being sponsored for each one he learns.

I  feel Amy Chua would be proud of my achievements in a week, small steps but I’ve put the tiger in my tank and I’m ready to hit the road (for those of you who are too young to remember, look up Esso advertising campaign).

Imran is still underground but I will this week visit his closest friend’s sister who happens to be a good friend of mine too.  It’s not like he has not been away before, he works away often so I’m not quite ready to call the search party yet or have a big public Koran khani praying for his safe return, i shall instead make dua (pray privately) for him; besides, the mood that ammi-ji is in would only make matters worse for everyone.  

So I have spent the best part of the weekend trying to console and reason with ammi-ji and try and work on her to get her to accept Imran’s decision.  

I tried to explain that she was being simply racist not accepting Jemima as Imran’s choice of bride and given that Jemima is a woman of the book, Imran was not really breaking any religious law in marrying her anyway, in fact he was perfectly entitled to marry her without her even having to accept Islam.  And herein lay the problem as ammi-ji saw it:  she did not object to the ‘gori girl’ per se, indeed she thought many of them were kind natured and the Middleton sisters Kate and Pippa, along with Cheryl Cole were even quite attractive – their lovely locks and dark eyes and olive skin made them almost Asian (I didn’t want to start explaining the popularity of fake tan at this stage to her!) – but the fact her future grandchildren would be confused by having these two families with different cultures.  

In truth, it did not matter which argument I was to put to ammi-ji – the emotional, moral, religious – ammi-ji was not having any of it.  Her stubbornness on this issue would make it very hard to move forward on it. And where was VIS when I needed some support on this matter? Reporting on the problems of the nation and abroad; as always the public was far easier for her to deal with than the private.   

Still no news from Imran, he is not available on his phone and having made rather tenuous contact with his friends, I seem to be drawing blanks – no doubt they are covering for him as they often did when he was at uni, only this is more serious, he hasn’t just gone to a late night gig at the student union. Perhaps I need to try another approach  and locate Jemima, surely she will know where he is if he is not with her. And I could do with checking out this lady, over whom all the fuss is about!

And more importantly, I must attend to my children, who in the midst of all this drama, have been rather neglected by me but having a great time with their dad: waking and sleeping late, eating junk food unregulated, watching tv unsupervised and and playing limitlessly on their Wii, Xbox, DS, Ipod, Ipad and a whole host of other devices whose names /initials I cannot keep up with. With school starting tomorrow that should settle them into a regular routine and I can begin putting my tiger mother tactics and strategies in place.

Frankly, having spent half the night and most of today consoling ammi-ji and trying to convince her it wasn’t the end of the world, I am barely alert enough to write this. Ammi-ji declared it may well be the end of the world as it was certainly the end of her family if Imran went ahead with marrying the ‘gori’ (white woman).

Abbu-ji resorted to spending more time at the masjid (mosque) today; at one point I did wonder how the 5 obligatory prayers had morphed to around 10. But when the going gets tough abbu-ji gets to the masjid!

Very important sister (who I shall refer to as VIS henceforth) claimed she had an important meeting and had to catch an early train, so muggins here was left to pick up all the pieces.

And Imran, it seemed, had vanished off the face of the planet. His phone was switched off, his facebook page unavailable, Twitter account not updated and as he worked from several sites it was futile calling head office. I called a couple of his friends but was under strict instructions from ammi-ji that I could not say what it was about – the last thing she wanted was everyone talking about something that she was going to make sure would not happen!!!

I left ammi-ji shattered – perhaps the only way she’s going to get through the night.

All hell broke loose at the grand announcement brother had to make! He expected everyone to be overjoyed and had gathered everyone together at our parents. Given that we had all gone from gently moaning to direct intimidation of him over getting married, he thought he would give us the good news that he had chosen a girl and marriage was on the cards.

Well ammi-ji (mother dearest) was overjoyed initially, thinking aloud the venues she had in mind, the suitable dates, the guest list, whether the venue would be large enough if she invited all the people she wanted to, swfitly reeling off the names she was going to give to her pote/potees (grandchildren).

Alas the joy was short-lived when
ammi-ji finally got round to asking who the girl was. When brother (who I shall refer to as Imran for
reasons that will become clear in a bit) announced he was marrying
Jemima (name has been altered but
you get the picture, Pakistani boy,
white girl, Imran and Jemima) things took a dramatic turn.

Ammi-ji went hysterical and had an angina attack , though we have our
suspicions that these semi attacks
are more a psychological weapon when things don’t quite go her way
and Abbu-ji (father dearest) who up to now had been calm and almost
relieved at the announcement by
Imran began hurling profanities
usually reserved for the Pakistanis losing to India or England at
cricket!

Ammi-ji recovered quickly to
announce in a rather melodramatic
fashion (think Indian drama -
including tone and gesture) that
Imran from this day onwards was not
her son nor she his mother and she
would never forgive him and neither
would Allah and he would never ever
enter Jannat (Paradise).

We stood stunned as Imran made his
choice, packed his bags and left.

I’m sure he’ll be back when this
has blown over but I dread to think what will happen if he’s moved in
with Jemima!

The last long evening of 2011 was spent feasting on biryani and samosas and proper chicken tikkas (rather than the chicken tikka masala variety), the kids playing on the Wii, the girls dancing to bollywood’s Just Dance 3, the guys playing snooker and at the stroke of the midnight hour, along with most of the nation watching the bright and colourful crescendo of fireworks along the Thames. Albeit ‘Auld Langs Syne’ is not really part of the cultural repertoire of Muslims, and many would say why are we celebrating the Gregorian New Year anyway , one has to but acknowledge the most popular organization of time in the world, thus the Hijri dates are generally reserved for more pious religious
occasions.

So out went the old and in came the new. We paid our obligatory trip to our parents – asking forgiveness of the previous year and blessings for the new. Forgiveness from those you may have erred constantly is indeed at the core of Islam.

The resolutions were as expected, apart from one person who had lost the weight she said she would, the rest weighed the same – or more -
so out of habit that was set again. And the usual: making more me time, being more patient with the kids. ….. Then brother made a very cagey announcement, declaring this year he was going to be making some life changing decisions which although he’d like to share now, it would have to wait.

With that thought we awoke on the first day of the year wondering if he had a new job or if he was moving abroad, but nothing quite prepared us for the announcement we received from him when all the friends had left the next day!

End of year get together at ours tomorrow. Now on account of us being Muslims we don’t really celebrate Christmas and New Year but given that we’re all on holiday and most places are shut and it’s too cold to go out for the day, we find ourselves getting together on Christmas Day and having a nice meal together ( not Christmas Dinner mind – though we do all listen to the Queen’s speech as always).

The same is true of New Year’s Eve, we share a meal(food being our equivalent of getting together for a drink)and see in the New Year together. We sit around sharing stories and have a Resolution Ritual of picking names out of a hat and setting that person their New Year’s Resolution. Now most of the time this is fine as we are honest and genuine and trusting of each other’s opinions, apart from last year when my husband decided to be brutally honest and tell the sister she had to start being more considerate of others. The resolution ritual was let’s say a little fractious that year.

So we had to redraw the parameters last year and decided on offering 2 resolutions: a personal one and a more general, religious, communal, family …. one.

We’re getting together at ours tomorrow so let’s see how this works….

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