4/28/2017 – general updates, ponderations

It’s April 28, 2017. I know I don’t need to iterate that, since it’s probably everywhere on the screen, but it’s glaring at me. I have only published twice in the last year, and less than 10 in the last two.

I miss blogging. I miss writing. I miss having more time to myself. But a lot has changed in such a short amount of time.

One minute, I’m grabbing a coffee on my way to class, thinking about graduation and getting excited for my wedding. The next, I’m grabbing a coffee so I can handle the day alone with my 7 month old little girl; my husband at his job in D.C.

I think about frames of mind quite a bit, how your daily experience shapes who you are and how you perceive everything around you.

I see the busybody grad student and think, “I wish I could go back there, so many dreams! So many possibilities.”

Now two years later I see her at the grocery store, baby in one arm and a shopping basket in the other. I see that she’s there during work hours and unbeknownst to everyone around, she actually does have a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. But maybe that’s not obvious with her mismatched hijab, trousers, over-sized blouse and casual Nikes. Oh, and bouncing, relentless baby.

But I don’t give myself enough credit. I’m taking care of three, sometimes four or five other people. I cook, I clean. I tolerate. I’m not just a holder of proofs of education. I carried a baby for 9 months, often painfully and in sickness. I had that baby cut out of me unexpectedly one night, but she was still perfect. All 5 pounds, 8 oz of her. She is still perfect, even though her mother might not be.

I went through post-partum depression. A battle I still fight peripherally with anti-depressants and a variety of obsessions (oh, there have been plenty…lipstick, crochet, and iced coffee).

I take pains not to let my daughter look at screens so much, but hilariously, I’m always surrounded by them myself. Imagine telling your child to be quiet and look away, while you desperately seek escapism through your Instagram feed. Try telling your mother and father in law not to let the baby watch Television, while you plan to catch up on a Netflix show later on. Go on, laugh at me trying to cling to my habits and motherhood at once, I’ve done it. Then I’ve shrugged helplessly and continued on.

It’s a mad juggle, honestly. You can cook a perfect meal, do the dishes, some cleaning, and do laundry later. Or you can do laundry now, make a somewhat decent supper, do the dishes, and save the rest for later. You can sleep when the baby sleeps, or you can use that time to do something for yourself. You can go to bed early and be energized for whatever life has for you the next day, InshAllah, or you can watch a movie with your husband. But you can’t really compromise on being a mother.

That’s 24/7, 365 glorious, exhausting, completely incredible days of the year, InshAllah.

 

 

 

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whether a princess or a prince.

you are but a tiny thing

barely four inches of existence

with blood and body I carry

but have not yet seen.

For a decade now, I’ve prayed for you

to one day become a part of me.

You are part of two,

two that love and cherish each other

who love and cherish you.

Whether you are to be

a wild-haired princess;

free spirited, huge-hearted,

brimming over with adventures

or

a benevolent prince,

wide-eyed,

eager for knowledge,

with enough wisdom and love

for a hundred men

Whether a princess or a prince,

We wait for you with barely constrained

impatience, and so, so much hope.

 

Nesha Usmani

On Being in an Inter-Ethnic Marriage

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

On May 23rd 2015, I married a person that Allah has made, to and for me, a mercy, a companion, a confidante, and the other half of my deen. And in the 108 days since, he has become so much more to me, alhamdulillah.

My wedding was a more simple take on a traditional Pakistani wedding. Unlike most, I had a nikkah ceremony at my house, followed by a reception the next day. Those two days were filled with a happiness I have never felt, alhamdulillah.

The wedding was different. There was no dancing, no rukhsati under a Qur’an, nor was there a Pakistani groom!

My husband, you see, is Bosnian.

Have you ever stolen a Bosnian groom’s shoes at his wedding, and held it ransom as his Bosnian family tried to haggle it back? (hilarious)

Or sat among a group of Bosnians, smiling, and having no idea what was being said aside from “Hoces li kava?” or “hvala” or “hajde”

Or tried very hard not to be an absolute animal when your mother-in-law makes burek or pita (but you failed)

These past three months have been such a learning experience for me. Personally, I think I have it much easier than others who decided to marry outside their ethnic pool. It’s especially gratifying to introduce my husband to different Indian/Pakistani foods, and see his palate change from meat-and-potatoes to biryani, samosa chaat, korma, tikka masala, firni, and the like! My mother-in-law won’t say no to samosa chaat, either!

And of course, since I currently live with my in-laws, I’ve been taught how to make a a mean cup of Bosnian coffee, make baked mushrooms and eggplant, and uhh eat a lot of pita (haven’t learned that yet).

My relationship with my father-in-law (svekar) is really special, I think (inshAllah). He knows more Bosnian than English, but can understand and hold a conversation easily. Since living with my husband’s family, I have picked up some Bosnian, but I can understand a lot more than I can speak. But even so, we manage to talk a lot. As a result, his English has gotten better (or I’d like to think so) and my understanding of Bosnian has improved, too. Though, I’m not confident enough to speak it, yet!

It’s a very different household from the way I grew up. I think that’s where some of the challenges have been. Every household has different rules, and when you move into your husbands place, you have to adapt. You have to.

For me, not knowing the language has been the greatest obstacle, but making a sincere effort to understand and learn is probably the biggest respect I can give them. That, and adapting to the way they do things. It’s still challenging, and sometimes it feels insurmountable.

But, the journey is in the challenge, and the reward in sincere effort comes from Allah.

I have already enjoyed the fruits of my efforts, alhamdulillah. I feel close to my in-laws, and have basked in the glory of having received the coveted approval of my husbands 4 yr old cousin… he may only like me because I let him play Spiderman and Temple Run on my phone and Kindle. Even so, the smile on that kids face when he sees me makes me feel pretty awesome.

InshAllah, I’ll be able to continue writing about my life in this regard, and may Allah reward and protect the precious marriages that are made for His sake, Ameen!

🙂

Excitement!

whoa! what was that an exclamation point?

YOU BET IT WAS.

from June 19 – July 17 I will be in and around Edinburgh, Scotland visiting my awesome cousins!!! INSHALLAH!!

buahahahaha

I just booked my tickets last night, and I’m really excited because I’ll be traveling with my little sister, inshAllah.

IT’S GOING TO BE AN ADVENTURE.

INSHALLAH.

 

A Glimpse of Beauty

On my way back from the library, I decided to stop by a local grocery store. Before turning into the parking lot in front of the store, I braked for some people walking towards their cars.

Among them was a couple with a little blonde toddler in the seat of the grocery cart. The man pushing the cart was wearing a T-shirt and what looked like your run-of-the-mill blue hospital scrub bottoms. The woman, her blonde hair tied up in a pony tail, was pregnant. From the looks of it, I’d say about 7 months (just a guess).

I felt like a creeper because I couldn’t stop staring at them. The man was pushing the cart  away from him and letting go; sending it coasting along in front of them, to the sheer delight of the child in the cart.  The man had a big smile on his face as he pushed the child but was also responsibly taking precaution by walking swiftly to catch up with the cart.

Behind him, his pregnant wife glanced up, a content smile crossing her features as she watched her husband and child have a moment of fun together.

The whole scene lasted less than 10 seconds, but it had such an effect on me. Tears sprung to my eyes and I felt sadness, envy, awe, and happiness all at once.

Maybe it was just over-active hormones. Maybe it was also the knowledge that I came so close to having what they have, not just once, but twice. InshAllah I’ll have it, one day.

I think my friends think I’m weird, to want so badly to have a husband and children.They think I’m too young, that I haven’t “lived” my life, yet. I just think that’s silly. But the truth, sometimes, can only be found in the present. And the truth is, it’s just not meant to be, right now. Like so many things recently, just not meant to be.

Alhamdulillah for what I have. I’m still young, I’ve gotten to see the world. Everyone I love is still alive, alhamdulillah. InshAllah, I’ll go to Chicago in the fall to start my MPH program. I have so much, alhamdulillah.

But, astaughfirullah, there’s that empty feeling. An emptiness, loneliness, sadness that just won’t go away. I can only blame my nafs and shaitan. Authubillahi min-ash-shaytaan-ir-rajeem.

I just keep telling myself that whatever God wills, will happen whenever He wills it.

Ya Allah, give me patience.

Nesha

Image

Cross-Cultures & Desserts

DSCN6310

When I was a wee little thing living in a tiny two-family house in Clifton, New Jersey the one thing I loved beyond anything else…was chocolate pudding. 

We had only been in the United States for a few years and we weren’t exactly adventurous eaters yet, though we are now.

But back then, our diet rarely strayed from traditional Pakistani food and Western style desserts were an even rarer thing, besides store bought stuff like ice cream and cookies.

I remember, though, when my mom used to bring home these magical little boxes full of mysterious powders which would turn into different colors and consistencies when mixed with water or milk…pudding and jello!

My little child-mind could not handle the excitement. While jello was cool and everything, pudding was the real deal. That’s what got me hooked on chocolate (more or less addicted to dark chocolate, especially).

My mother made them rather well. As well as you could out of a box, anyway. But there were nights when both my father and mother were out working or studying and my grandmother would take care of my sister and I.

She has no idea how to make anything chocolate! But she is an extraordinary cook otherwise.

We asked her to make us some pudding and, well, she did.

Except every time she’d make it, she’d accidentally burn it. Where there should have been smooth creamy pudding, there were bits of char that stubbornly stuck to the tongue.

But, you know, I have that wonderful memory of my grandmother making us something she knew we enjoyed, even though she hadn’t the faintest idea how to make it or what the hell kind of child would eat instant-anything.

I don’t care. I love her for it. I love that pudding with the  burnt pieces of something or other.

And I adored my mother’s chocolate chip cookies, which, if you didn’t eat them straight away, you’d probably break a tooth.

But have you ever had my mother’s halva? Her doodh savai?   Her feerni? Her carrot halva? Everything prepared with love and butter and sugar,  painstakingly stirred over a blindingly hot stove for hours until it reduces, reduces, reduces…to perfection?

Try my grandmother’s desserts. Sure to blow your mind.

And to think, I would even compare my little party tricks with cake and cookies to what my mother and grandmother can do with a packet of crushed vermicelli. While I do bake rather well and rather often, alhamdulillah, I have made some pretty exquisite desserts (if I do say so myself, ahem ahem, mashAllah), but none of them, in their formulaic stirring and pouring, none of them compare to a cold rasmalai. Or a dish of kheer sprinkled with pistachios and almonds.

Or a glistening globe of gulab jamun.

Which, to this day, I haven’t the faintest idea how to make. None of it! I have no idea how to make any of it. Well..the halva I can manage with my mother standing watch..

…But, I pride myself in my chocolate  and flour adventures…because I’m a bit too nervous and scared to even touch upon Indo-Pakistani desserts.

The picture above is of the cupcakes I made this morning for my youngest sister. They’re from-scratch chocolate coffee cupcakes, topped with homemade pink cream cheese frosting, and drizzled with a homemade chocolate sauce, and then sprinkled with M&M’s (storebought, merf).

Assalamu Alaikum.

Nesha