Oh dear God…I don’t know what to do.
Should I pray for children?
Or should I not pray for children?
What in God’s name should a girl who’s not particularly fond of kids do?
A few days ago, I, my mum and my cousin along with her two children went shopping for chooriyan. Yes, I know. What were we thinking bringing two kids- brother and sister at that- to a store where everything is made of glass but somebody must have let the bull into the china shop ergo age old mahawara, so we’re not the only idiots around, ok?
My niece and nephew drove me mad.
Nawal decided she wanted every pair of choori in the shop that was her size, Rayyan kept hitting me with his baseball cap, then Nawal and Rayyan started fighting over who got the stool, Nawal wins because she is louder, she stands on top of it and belts out nursery rhymes. Rayyan gets caught in random ninja aunties’s burqas, his khala extricates him out before he gets booked for harassment; luckily there is no ordinance against lesbians or who would have saved the khala?
I then come up with a trick my mum’s used a million times. I tell Nawal (who’s progressed to Ait taali batali! Oon ai tiya?) that if she doesn’t shut up the scary dukaandaar uncle will beat her up; she looks at me mockingly, gets off her stool, walks up to the guy and asks him pointedly:
“Aap mudhe maalain de tiya?” [Will you hit me?]
Poor guy gets freaked out and stammers “No no beta. Of course not!”
Nawal ignores me and returns to stool
God in Heaven, I can’t pray for kids. I just can’t.
From you, to you except you’re not.
We’re at the chooriyan store, my niece (why in heaven’s name did we bring toddlers to a choori store?)is standing on a stool reciting nursery rhymes, my nephew is standing behind me hitting me with his hat, my mother is making sets for S’s cousins and nieces, and I’m trying to choose the colors I want from a myriad of plain glass bangles. I decide on yellow, red, green, turquoise, blue and black. My mother turns to me and says “What’s this? You’re picking out plain bagles? I told you to look through the fancy ones!”
“But these’ll be much easier to wear!”
“Arey!? Why do you keep forgetting you’re getting married. You won’t be the same Hira Saiyed anymore!”
I wish I could change fundamentally. Start liking children, maybe. Become a better muslim, a warmer person, less sarcastic, more generous, grateful and happy. But wishing I could change all through my childhood and teenage life didn’t make an iota of difference- I stayed stubborn, angry, too smart for my own good, too irritable of other people’s weakness. I learned to hide it better, but that’s about it. We don’t change from how God fundamentally made us, nobody does.
So why will I stop liking plain chooriyan?
Why will I stop wanting to go to SCAD, or loving mac & cheese or watching football matches for hot footballers?
Because I’m Hira Sayem? Not Hira Saiyed?