2021 – A New Guest

The Opening

With the beginning of a new year, I start with the chapter on the Opening. As Muslims, we start each prayer, each day, each good thing, each ending with the same supplication, Sura Fatiha, the translation of which is as follows.

English Translation:

(1) In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.*

(2) All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

(3) the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.

(4) Master of the Day of Judgment.

(5) You Alone we worship, and you Alone we ask for help.

(6) Guide us to the straight path.

(7) the path of those You have blessed; not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray.

And so, the opening begins with a reference to many worlds, and a reminder of the Day of Judgement, of a Reckoning that is coming. Guide us to the straight path. Keep us firmly on that path. Do not let us depart, unknowingly from what you know to be true. I guess for me, part of that truth is having friends that bring you closer to your best self, help you grow spiritually and mentally.

The Ending and Beginning

I began the new year with my dear friend, and her children, ages 4 and 1.5. They visited from afar, and brought joy, happiness, keen design sense, and warmth from the Sunny State. It rained, and almost snowed for the entire time they were here in Jersey, except for the day that they were going to leave for the airport. We took the small window of sunshine and ran with it — to a nature walk where we uncovered large earthworms and slugs; to the petting zoo where we hung out with the alpacas and the horses; and then to a lot of other places where we stopped to gather supplies, and food. We probably went to 5 places total, the day she was leaving, as if trying to pack in as much as we could, before she had to go back. On New Year’s Eve, we bounced in the bounce house like our lives depended on it! There were 4 kids under 5 in one inflatable castle, and it brought us all a little closer to joy. We did homemade spa facials; talked into the night; and minded the kids. I shared my books, openly and freely, as they are my most prized possession. I gave her excepts from my favorite books as if that would help with her forget for a moment that craziness that was 2020. I ate ladoo, and fed the kids so much mango juice. The moments of joy, and a sweet wailing baby — I miss it so much. Our girls made horses out of stickers; drew and painted cards and crafts. I finally took out those Kiwi boxes that were sitting unopened in my office. The kids had fun. They smiled and talked and read to each other. It was glorious how they entertained themselves. We listened to a Dhikr and Poetry; went shopping without the kids; and made the most of the limited time.

The Feeding of Guests

The first day they arrived, I had cooked for hours; the second day I think I cooked less, maybe only a hour; and the third day I ordered food. There was a part of me that wanted very much to make sure she ate properly; that her children ate properly. I fed them ladoos; my chicken roast; muthias (dumplings); different kinds of rice. The first day I made my dessert speciality — jello with fruit! I tried to do what my mother taught me to do; and what our beloved Prophet SWS taught us — to treat our guests with respect and honor. I think I failed ultimately, because by the third day no one ate my chicken curry. The day they left, I ordered pizza and biryani, and it was a save for all of us.

An Encounter with the Horse

Somehow, at the local petting zoo, which I have visited dozens of times in my life, I was very surprised to be face to face with a beautiful horse.

My friend had spotted the horse, far off the trail, closer to the bathrooms. The horse was in a penned area. My friend called out to her, and she came. My girls took turns petting the horse’s head. I was struck by the sheer size, and beauty of the creature. The girls fed the horse Sun chips, and stayed with the horse almost 30+ minutes. I kept my distance. I inched forward, gripping the sides of the stroller. I was not afraid of a caged creature, but I was not at ease. I felt like there unseen things around the horse. It was just a intuitive feeling, I could not quite explain. I felt there was an enormous expanse between the animal and myself. I reasoned, there must be an explanation why the horse was kept away from all of the other animals. The 5 year old, 4 year old and 1 year old all happily played near the horse, oblivious to my discomfort. After a while, I simply looked up at the sky. I looked around. I felt grateful to have my friend with me, and our children. I was overcome with the emotion of seeing my brave daughter talking to the horse, as if it is her friend. I called my daughter to come to me many times, and she would come, and then run back to the horse. It was a magnificent moment. This was an opening of sorts; the overwhelming feeling of how an child and a creature meet, and cannot be separated. I recited my 3 Quls, and asked God to help me find a way to pay for lessons.


If I would do it again, I would do a better job of minding the children, so that my friend had some alone time. I think she is an introvert and it must be hard to be with me, constantly talking aloud, and planning aloud, and plotting aloud. I think I could have given her more space. I would take the kids alone, and drive them around the neighborhood, and give her some time to do what she needs to do. Instead, she drove ALL of us around, and I felt bad about that. She redid parts of my home, and I would have asked her to pause. I do not need anything changed. I only want her company, and to be a source of fun and distraction for her during a difficult time. I do not know what I offered, but what she gave was a pouring of her talent, and energy into remaking my home, picking out wall decorations, and art, and accessories that would bring joy for years to come. I do not know why she did all this. It was a selfless act. I am grateful to God for her friendship, and I can’t wait for her to visit again with the kids.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

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