CHAPTER 16 (continued)

Posted: July 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

transformation definition

The buzz subsides a bit as Mumtaz and I approach the ladies. Then all eyes are on us. I stop and pray for the earth to swallow me up as I watch eyes skim down my body from head to toe, no doubt assessing my worth to the group. There are all the ladies that I expected to be here as well as a couple new faces. Some of the ladies look very different without their hijab that they wore for Taalim, and I am sure I do too.

The ones I recognize immediately are the ladies who wear the headscarf today as well, no doubt wear it all the time.  Surprisingly, I see Hasina Vally at our table. I saw her as she went in but I didn’t think she would be here too. Seeing her here, I feel an unexpected sense of calm inside of me. I smile at Hasina and she returns it genuinely. To her right is bling Amina, her sequin top catches the light and turns the ceiling into a 70’s disco club. Mumtaz greets the crowd of ladies  and kindly introduces me. “Farnaz!” Amina screams my name and gets my attention as well as half of the patrons at the other table. I am slightly embarrassed and relieved at the same time. Someone here actually looks excited to see me. She waves to me excitedly and I go over.

“Assalamu Alaikum” I say to her as she gets up to plant a kiss on my cheek. She returns my greeting. “I’m so glad you came” she says. “I called Husna the other day and she told me you were coming” she says enthusiastically. Husna was right about her personality matching her dressing, I think to myself. She scoots over and makes space for me on the couch between herself and Hasina. I protest and offer to sit on the other end but she insists and for that I am secretly thankful. I look around again for the view of the coffee shop from this angle. It is perfect I think, remembering mumtaz’s words.

There is a large vase with greenery and white roses that sit on the top of meter high free standing shelves dotted within the area. The fragrance of the roses and leaves are fresh and wafts through the air gently. The shelves itself hold magazines, well – used books,  and board games for use by the patrons. I am impressed, not only that a place as this exists, but that THIS was the place chosen by the ladies. I look around the area and at the other patrons. It is an eclectic mix of people. Families are playing boardgames, a group of young adults are reading and discussing some subject very seriously, some older white women sit behind us quietly enjoying their tea and the atmosphere. a few posh Indian teenagers and even some adults are flung over their sofa’s eyes glued on to their cellphone screens. The ‘free wifi’ sign on the opposite wall could be the cause. The calming sound of water trickles from beyond the balcony and glancing down I see a koi pond with a small waiter fountain. Suddenly I am nudged in the ribs by Amina, and she turns my attention to mumtaz who is asking for casual self introduction beginning with her. As the ladies take turn I learn that most of the ladies I didn’t recognize are friends or siblings of the ladies I met at Taalim. Its my turn.

hijab coffee shopwhite roses

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