CHAPTER 5 (continued)

Posted: May 10, 2014 in Uncategorized
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transformation definition

Those that follow the crowd, usually get lost in it. – Rick Warren

After Taalim, like I told Husna, I headed straight back to the office. I still have a lot of work to do and I have a showing to do at two this afternoon. As I get all my documents for the showing sorted, I glance over to Dilshad, I see her hard at work tackling the list I left for her. She was already hard at work when I arrived back from Taalim, and seeing me dressed in an abhaya and hijab brought a broad smile to her face. She has been dressing that way ever since I know her. “Ma Sha Allah” she said to me instead of the usual salaam, when I walked into the office after Taalim. I was momentarily taken aback by her. “You look lovely, Farnaz. May Allah keep the noor always on your face”, she commented. “Thank you. Aameen”, I replied politely. “I went to Taalim with Husna”, I explained. She nodded and smiled and returned to her work. It left a warm proud feeling that is still lingering.

I turned to open my lunch that I brought along this morning. My tuna mayonnaise sandwiches looks delicious and my rumbling tummy tells me that I am famished. Thinking back to Taalim, I don’t think I did end up eating anything there.

My thoughts drift to this morning’s escapade. Husna and I arrived just as most of the other ladies did. There may have been at least thirty of them. We were directed to the kitchen to leave whatever snacks we had brought. I left my shop-bought pastries among the gorgeous red velvets, mousse cakes and choux pastries. Then we followed the rest of the ladies into the main room. Husna seemed to know most of them, which was expected. She politely introduced me to anyone that greeted her and they were all polite and courteous. Some even showed interest enough to make conversation and ask me about my work and if I had been to Taalim before. I was surprised that it could be so easy. Is that all I was missing all these years? a ‘wingman’ or rather – looking at Husna – a malay ‘wing woman’ . I chuckled to myself. She was talking to a beautiful woman with fair skin, rosy cheeks and full red lips. Husna caught my gaze and winked conspiratorially. I think back now that within the first ten minutes I had greeted and briefly met nearly twenty women.

I took a bite of my tuna sandwich, now absentmindedly, still thinking about this morning. Things were starting to look up then. I scanned the room. As an architect my eyes always fall to room structure and flow and this room was a textbook study. Actually you could hardly call it a room, it was phenomenal. It was a circular shape, and sunken, by two steps, from the passage ways that surrounded it. There were mirrored folding doors that were packed together tightly towards the back, and it appeared that it could be pulled all the way around to create a private space. The room was flanked by a pair of steel pillars on each side reaching all the way to the double story ceiling. The passage ways below were repeated on the second floor and formed a full circle above the perimeter of the room. You could go up there and look down onto the room perfectly. It created an ambience of openness and calm. The ceiling was expertly designed with a drop ceiling creating muted artificial light. In addition, for more dramatic lighting a silver wired mesh in a filigree pattern formed the chandelier holding about two dozen light bulbs. There were no lights on now, yet the room flooded with natural light. You could see streaming through glass panels that made up the second story walls. It seemed that bedrooms were located as wings at the sides of this beautiful room, that was obviously designed to be the showstopper. This was no doubt one of the most beautifully crafted houses I have seen. It was as much a work of art as it was a carefully calculated mathematical equation.

The ladies were all gravitating towards the center of the room and I was shuffled along with the crowd. We sat down on the huge round plush white flokati that covered the white marble floor. It exuded opulence and luxury. It was apparent that all the furniture had pushed towards the perimeter to accommodate the visitors. A woman I hadn’t met yet stood at the front and formal introduction ensued. “AssalamuAlaikum wa Rahmatulilaahi wa barakatu” she greeted the full greeting. She stood confidently in cork wedged shoes covered in gemstones that matched the pattern of her flowing abhaya. Her make-up was impeccable, and although she didn’t look like a strikingly beautiful woman, it was clear she had the gift of makeup illusion on her side. “Welcome to my home” she continued. “To those who don’t know me, my name is Safiyyah and I am happy to see many familiar faces of those who do know me” she winked at someone in the crowd. “The bathroom is behind you on the left” she gestured air hostess-like towards the back of the room. It was plainly clear to see that hosting was her passion if not her obsession, because she seemed to have the intro down to a memorized speech. She continued “My cousin, Sister Fatima will be running the Taalim today” she gestures to a young woman on her right, “She has just arrived for a short holiday from Jordon, where she has lived for six years”, this statement was met with ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ of admiration and then buzz of excitement and chatter ensued. With that, our hostess sat down self satisfied. I could feel my skepticism begin to build.

From somewhere to my left, I head a faint whisper. One lady asked her friend next to her, “wasn’t the last Taalim at Shameela’s house”. “Yah”, was the whispered response, “and she had her sister in law from Qatar run the Taalim”, they both snickered trying hard to hold their giggles. I descreetly turned to look at them and they were huddled together looking in the direction of woman that sat angrily frowning. I had to assume that was Shameela now enraged because she had been outdone. I watched Shameela as she whispered something to her neighbour. Judging from her jerky body language and sharp mouth movements I can only assume that it was a heated comment. My earlier optimism about these women came crashing down. Here we go again.

Sister Fatima cleared her throat to indicate that she wanted to begin. The ladies settled down. “Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatulahi wa barakatu” she echoed her cousins full length greeting, however she followed it with the English meaning. “Peace be upon you, with the mercy and the blessings of Allah”. Then she began tafseer of Surah Maryam from the Quraan.

I was entranced by the tafseer. I have read the Surah often in the Quraan, but since I don’t understand arabic, I have never understood fully what  a powerful message it is. I had sat there listening intently to what she said.

“Farnaz!” I heard Dilshad scream my name, and it yanked me out of my thoughts to the present. I looked up at her and read the urgency on her face. I immediately looked at my watch. It was half past one and my house showing was at least a ten minute drive away. I needed to leave now if I want to get there and still have some time to get the house ready. “Dilshad please call the client and see if you can buy me another 15 minutes”, I say as I frantically I gather my clipboard and file. “I won’t be back after the show…see you tomorrow”, I said hurriedly, halfway out of the door.

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