“You have to be stronger than your fears if you want to get anything done in this life.” -Daoud Hari
And I’m back from Amsterdam after what was one of the worst return flights I’ve ever had. The motion sickness plus turbulence was unbearable. And when the pilot said he would have to circle around for 15 more minutes, I was praying for the oxygen masks to drop because I really could not breathe and started to hyperventilate. The moment the plan landed, the annoying chitter-chatter resumed but I did not want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to lay on the floor and restore the internal balance that had been disrupted, that-and pray over and over again, Hamdulillah! So glad to be back on land and safe.
And Amsterdam was beautiful. I had reservations about going, wondering if I’d be surrounded with nothing but Haraam. But, mashallah, it was not like that at all. It was beautiful. People were happy. Children looked safe. I went to the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House. Both necessarily expensive. I shopped in markets. I went to bed early, for the Red Light District could serve me not. But my colleagues were eager to trade sleep for lack of sobriety, so they plunged through both nights to smoke up the good times. I was fine with that.
But, after the horrific flight home, at once, everything began to annoy me. Like the empty grays of her eyes staring at me for some unmentioned approval. Or the annoying remnants of intoxication laughing through my carefully orchestrated silence. I wondered if they had even for a minute, considered how blessed we were to be alive. Yet, I still, sometimes, have a sense of love for them. Against my own reason, I can appreciate them as existing. One was kind and warm. Another, a good person I think, just too weak to be a better one. And the next, willing to listen and learn with an eager respect I have not seen in a while.
I can go to them in specific times of need. The smallest of needs, like the need to be heard. Or the need to be pitied. But, other than that, they too were inconveniences on my journey. I did not invite them inside of my thoughts, but they were there.
Some roads, though difficult, are meant to be traveled alone and any other unecessaries become burdensome.
I sit in the living room of our flat, still smelling her vomit on the couches from nights before, drinking grapefruit tea to soothe that sleepy feeling in the morning. I am excited to finish reading The Translator. I got it last night about an hour before our flight. I have already read more than half the book.
The stories of Darfur are now of my concern. Sometimes, I think, we all care about these issues. We human beings that is. But, when they seem too complicated to grasp, we let our ignorance support the foundations of our inaction. Not I, not anymore, inshaAllah.
I don’t know if it was how poetic Daoud Hari tells of his people, the beautiful, strong African women, the villages. If it is because he, too, is a Muslim and a kind-hearted person. Or because, for this genocide, the people look like me. Whatever the case may be, I am now involved.
I am no longer ignorant. Thus, I am required to contribute my skills and resources, if only for a small amount of time and energy, to help what I consider to be my sisters and brothers of humanity.
How stupid are we to be consumed with worldly invaluables when people are homeless, starving, raped, and devalued. When this Lifetime is but a glimpse, a nanosecond. I don’t know.
But another thing Daoud Hari is teaching me in his book, is to smile when possible, and supply emotion while the heart still can. At any moment, I believe, we may be tested in ways that could paralyze our spirits forever, God willing. When I think of such miseries, I find now the only thing that can console me is the horns and piano of some jazz ensemble, for we are only given what we can bear.
I’m always on the go, despite my desires for a simple, permanent way of life. I understand that home is a social construct. That nothing is permanent. And, despite me spending so much of my undergraduate career learning how I am not one of the privileged in America, I now realize just how privileged I am. Not only on a global level, but that I am truly blessed. Blessed with a healthy functioning body. With a mind capable of reason. With a desire to help and be helped. With a compassion for people I may never meet. With an understanding that those before me fought for every right that I enjoy freely.
As I continue my travels, my complaints, my stories, I thank you for being here with me. Taking time to read what I consider to be some of my most personal of times, even if it is just for a minute. We are all connected. Only by some beautiful blessing are we allowed one day to see just what it is that connects us all.
Now, more than ever, I want to know about Africa. “For to do such things well requires that they be done happily and forever, and my particular education had inclined me toward a hungry curiosity for the world. But I was not doing so well without my family.” -Daoud Hari
And for my family, I only have you. Thank you and “inshaAllah, I’m coming back to you.” -Mos Def. But in the meantime, I’m leaviiiiiing.
Next stop: Paris!
P.S. Let us save Darfur.