Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's EID in Egypt and I'm still not there!

Can you hear me sobbing?

Yes, I should have been gone by now, I know. In fact I started this "Egyptian" blog over 5 months ago-- even though I have a few others that detail my life here in USA--thinking I would be leaving soon and would have much to tell. But that hasn't happened. But other stuff*t happens so they say, and it's particularly true in my case. I've been through the wringer since I first planned on moving back to Egypt and it hasn't been fun, believe me. Whoever said "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" really knew what they were talking about. Yes, I've become incredibly strong in the face of so many difficulties these past few months. But that doesn't ease the pain of spending one more Eid here in USA, and missing one more in Egypt. Oh it's so painful I can't stand it. I pray I live long enough to see the next Eid in Misr! Ameen.

I guess the good news is I got screwed by the first "estate seller" I found, and then in a strange twist of fate, while combing the yellow pages for something unrelated, found four other estate sellers whom for the life of me I couldn't find previously! I finally settled on one I think could sell ice to the Eskimos, so that means more traveling money for me, insha Allah. Of course this is all part of Allah's plan. Other things came up which necessitated my being here in America for longer than I'd anticipated. Some serious health issues, the marriage of my son in October and the impending reception in early January, a stay in the hospital for my mother--who had a simple infection that was actually affecting her brain, and a few other things I could discuss if I wanted to put you all to sleep. Since I don't, I wont. But suffice it to say I can see Allah's wisdom in the delays. I pray I can always accept Allah's will for me...Ameen.

But still, it hurts to be here. Especially on Eid. I became Muslim over 25 years ago in the city in which I am living now. I only stayed a few years here after that, and moved with my Egyptian husband and children to New Jersey. Funny but I think most Egyptian immigrants manage to pass through NJ at least once during their lives here. It's like a mandatory thing--Egyptians must live for a few years in NJ. That's the rule. We spent many years there. Then he passed away in an accident and it was up to me to carry on and raise my 3 children without him. That meant moving to wherever I could find a better job, as I was a teacher in Islamic schools. Even though the salaries were low, we made it by the grace of Allah. And just when I thought we were finally settled in a place we loved, and I had secured a job in an Islamic school which (finally) paid well and offered benefits too, my Mom became very ill and I had to come back home to care for her. Had I known she would have recovered to the extent she did, I would have taken her back to where I was settled, but I didn't. Alhamdulilah she recovered well, and somehow I just stayed here in the city of my birth. I never liked it here, even when I was a child. I always wanted out. All those years away let me forget how much I disliked it. It's a fairly big northeastern city with a redneck small town populace. And it's gotten even worse since 911, as has just about everything for Muslims in this country. And also having been gone for so long, I found so many folks I new had long since moved away. In fact I only have two Muslim friends here, and see them rarely. The masjid, like so many in USA, is a bureaucratic nightmare filled with too many wannabe chiefs and not enough Indians. Again, like so many masajid in USA. So no, I'm not a happy camper here, especially during the Eids. In fact I no longer participate in any Islamic activities here. I find my peace of mind more intact when I stay away. Nuf said.

What it comes down to is here is just sooooooo very different than life in Egypt. Egypt today reminds me of America 50 years ago. When faith and family where the focus of one's life. When things didn't move so fast. When a good time was packing up the family and a picnic lunch and heading off to the park or beach for a day of fun and relaxation. When you could actually afford to buy gas to go on vacation and your tankful cost less than your motel room! When it was safe to walk the streets after dark. Where you could discipline your neighbors kid without fear of a lawsuit. Where morals and manners counted for a lot. Where if you got a spanking at school--yes they really did allow that at one time--you got a worse one at home. Ah...the good old days.

I know Egypt isn't Paradise. I know that satellite dishes and the internet are rapidly taking their inherent problems into a country that now tries to imitate too much of the west. It's not perfect. But there's still a lot of respect for family--and traditions.

If I was in Egypt today celebrating Eid al Adha, I'd be surrounded by family and friends. We would have cooked liver and other organs for breakfast from the sheep we slaughtered, and "fatah" for dinner. The kids would be all dressed up in their new clothes, having gone to sleep the night before in their new pajamas. They'd all be running around, getting their Eidayahs (a small gift of money) from the relatives and neighbors. There would have been the obligatory visit to the amusement park, zoo or public garden. Some would have gone to graves to pray for their dead. Customs would be strictly followed and the day would have been over too soon. And yet, 3 more days of celebration would follow until everyone was finally able to say "enough". Oh how I miss it.

Especially since I spent it cleaning the house. And no, we didn't eat the traditional lamb and rice dish. We couldn't afford to slaughter an animal here, and somehow it's just not the same when you have to run to the grocery store to buy a non-halal leg of lamb. We opted for chicken instead. And made du'ah that this is our last Eid outside of Egypt...Ameen.

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