Leaving Time

The New Bedford Library is a few minutes walk from where Son, and I live. Tomorrow is my due date to return the books I got from it. One of those books is Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. Back home I have got quite a collection of her books. She is one of my favorite authors.

I like her books, but there is one thing I don’t, and that is being sad. When I was younger I read all sorts of books, and could take everything in stride — sadness, death, murders and mysteries. Now all I can take is comfort in reading that the hero, and heroine got their happy after. I don’t want to read gory ends.

Jodi’s books make profound readings. Leaving Time is all about elephants, and a girl named Jenna who searches for her vanished mother till she finds her. While reading the book I learnt more about elephants, which previously I didn’t know.

I loved elephants during childhood. One of my dream was to get an elephant for a pet. My brother Lala who is eight years older than me would exploit it to no end. He only had to say that my elephant needed something I had, and I would hand it over to him unquestionably.

Mughal Kings during their time if they wanted to sentence someone, would gift a white elephant. The elephant required huge amounts of money for their upkeep, and soon the recipient of the king’s favor was reduced to poverty.

My mythical elephant still strolls the banks of River Jhelum, though Lala doesn’t requires me to give gifts for him.

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Neighbors

My condo in Charlottesville was on first floor. Directly below me lived Mia. Her parents had shifted from Malaysia. Mia had married a white American, and had two adorable twin boys, who were two years old. I could see the two boys racing their cars on the sidewalk from my sitting area. They would be watched either by their father, or mother.

Mia’s mother still dressed in a Malaysian dress when she would come to call. She would be talking loudly in her native tongue. In those days I wasn’t friends with Mia, so I was quite confused as to whether the people down below could speak English. That cleared up when I met Mia in the local mosque. Her husband had converted to Islam from Christianity. Mia came regularly to the mosque, and when I would climb the stairs to my condo, I could hear the Quranic verses being played in her home.

During the Ramadan period I had there, she sent me a couple of times a Malay dish for Iftari. The filling was mouth watering. It was chicken, and vegetables. I loved it, and wanted to know the recipe. There never came a time when I could learn it from her. When Son came for me after his divorce, and asked me to shift back to Houston to live with him, I said good bye to my neighborhood.

Yesterday it was quite by chance, I came upon the recipe, and learnt the name (I didn’t even know the name) of the dish I liked. It’s Chinese by origin. The different countries around China have adapted it to their own liking. My Afghan neighbors next door in home country had their own version which was uncooked. I never liked it, but never had the gumption to admit. It would have been terribly rude, and I can never be a rude person. Every time they sent me, I was forced to sing platitudes.

Insha’Allah I will be trying my new found recipe after a day, or two. Let’s see how my version comes out.

Eid

We had Eid yesterday. I had my tenant problems to deal with back home in Pakistan. He hadn’t paid the rent for three months. I was like kind of mad at him for not paying his dues. The last day of month long fasting had taken its toll, and as evening approached I was fatigued beyond measure.

IB (grandson) devours potato crisps night, and day, but anything homemade with potatoes in it, shies him off. For him, I made a mixture of chicken cut into bite size to fill into the samosas dough I had prepared earlier. When I put two chicken filled samosas in front of him, he refused to eat them. I threatened him with giving him aubergine to eat. I had made a dish for Son, and myself. IB had to decide — which he preferred. He ate the samosas.

I have found giving him alternatives to eat, lessons my period of agony over his not eating anything. He makes his own choice which in turn gets me less grief. I don’t have to prod him into finishing the meal on his plate.

Uncooked samosas waiting to be fried.

Picky Eater

IB (grandson) is a picky eater. Whatever you put in his plate multiplies by five. When you look at his plate, say after half an hour, the food is still there— all scattered into bits on the plate. By this time he is fed up with his food as well, because magically it has not been finished, so he removes himself from the agonizing sight of food, and plonks himself on the sitting room sofa.

He gets engrossed with his iPad, and completely forgets that he hasn’t done any justice to his food. After sometime he notes that nobody (means me) is watching him, he raids the pantry, or the fridge to find something else to nibble. That something maybe chips, cans of fuzzy drink, or coke, or cotton candy.

He doesn’t like onions, or tomatoes in his food. The bits of tomatoes are all fished out of the food, and left on his plate. I’m getting smart with his ways. I put the lot through a Ninja, and finely blend it to trick him into eating. He used to like pineapple on pizzas when bought from outside, but a homemade pizza with bits of pineapple on it is a total no no.

Last night, after I had served him with my homemade pizza, he told me scathingly, “No one puts pineapple on a pizza”. His father reminded him that he always ordered it to add it on for a store bought one. IB turned to me for the final word, and ordered, “You can live without it”.

He never finishes his food, but today it’s a wonder— he drank his milk, orange juice, and ate his waffles, and strawberries.

The sight of IB’s empty plate brings joy to my heart.

Thai Red Curry

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Son, and I got a surprise visit from M1 (grand daughter). She wanted to leave her car with us, till she gets back to studies this fall in Boston. The day she was coming IB (grandson) waited impatiently the whole day for his cousin, counting minutes till she arrived quite late in the evening. She was caught in a traffic jam in Boston, otherwise she would have been with us a lot earlier. IB doesn’t have sisters, so Nola’s (my daughter) daughters fill the void.

M1 likes to cook her own food. She is quite a genius with food, and keep finding new recipes. She had brought with her nearly all the ingredients needed. This was my first taste of Thai food. M1 strongly recommended that I must try Thai vegetarian restaurants. She finds the food amazing.

Her uncle wanted to buy something for her as a gift. IB, and M1 went with Son, and I went to bed catching up on my sleep. I was awakened by a call from M1 that they were going to be late, so I should cut the chicken into pieces, and cook the rice as the accompanying dish to her curry. Earlier she had told me not to worry about what to cook, as she would be cooking for us.

As they came back home, her uncle told her to show me his gift to her. I stared perplexedly at the sandals in the shoe box. They didn’t look new, and then I glanced at her feet seeing her new foot wear. We all laughed at their fooling me.

It was marvelous eating the Red Curry. M1 added chicken as that gives a new dimension to the fantastic food. Other ingredients she added were mushrooms, spring onions, carrots, and pineapple. She omitted the kale from the recipe. The recipe can be found at

https://cookieandkate.com/2015/thai-red-curry-recipe/

Fasting

As Muslims, we are getting much nearer to the end of our thirty days fasting period — the month which is known as Ramadan. When God decreed it centuries ago for believers, many didn’t know how beneficial it was to health, but now fasting has been proven through scientific knowledge, of utmost value to our health.

One thing I can vouch for is shinning white teeth. Normally I brush my teeth thrice a day minimally, but in Ramadan probably I do more. Once I’m in the bathroom, I reach for the toothpaste almost reflexively— forgetting I’ve not eaten anything since Sehr timings. The result is that teeth shine like pearls — Masha’Allah!

When my late husband was alive, and I lived in Pakistan, every Ramadan started with Dora Quran. It was held at a friend’s house where like minded ladies gathered every Thursday to read, and gain more insight into Quran, and Islam. With the beginning of Ramadan the meeting was held every day, and we women had Dora Quran which meant a quick reading of one Sipara (one part of the Quran– there are thirty parts) each day. It used to be quite comprehensive, as it entailed various aspects of our religion.

Then dear husband died, and I got permanently shifted to the US. It has been five years now, and I missed the valuable lessons about being a better human than I initially was, and doing charity work which I learnt through our weekly meetings.

This year I got lucky that my daughter visited me just before the beginning of Ramadan. Daughter was getting audio recordings daily from her neighbor in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Her neighbor held Dora Quran. My daughter asked that I should be included in getting the audio recordings daily. Jazak’Allah Khair to the lady for including me. It’s really inspiring.

It’s told that Angels are present when the Quran is read in the mornings. Normally I read two pages every morning after Fajr Prayers, and again when I’m having breakfast I read, and listen to it on my iPad.

It was a revelation to read Chapter 19, Surah Shuarah, Ayat 196 that Quran is the same book which earlier generations received from Torah to the Bible. Basically the teachings are the same except for the parts where they slung mud at the prophets, and distorted the fact that God is One only, and no other exists beside Him. Those books got muddled, and distorted through the hands of misguided zealots.

Religious fanatics against Islam are trying their best to do the same thing to Quran, but it’s almost impossible, as there are many Muslims who memorize each and every word. Even if distortions occur no one can put false interpretations in each, and every copy. A true version will be always be there till the end of time.

Manners

Good manners are the mark of royalty, that’s what I was told as a child. I was instilled with proper etiquettes — how to sit, how to walk, and most important how to behave. Sadly that’s no longer the case with most people I come across. Rude behavior appalls me, and I’m left thinking something must be very wrong with me if every time I take it to heart someone’s rude behavior.

Most of the time, I try to overlook as in the case of youngsters. I blame it on their thoughtlessness, but what about the older generation? Common courtesies are not followed, as standing when a lady enters a room, or greeting her first. It may seem trifling, but my late husband was a true gentleman in his behavior. Secretly I used to be irked when I would see other men not behaving the same way.

Back home youngsters are told to greet their elders first when they see them, even if they don’t know them. Here they don’t say a word. They behave as they are not in the room. I’ve grown immune, and I behave the same way as if I don’t see them.

Life of Sheen

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