Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Egyptian family


Allow me to introduce my Egyptian family. The people I will be living with in Port Said. Those whom I have known--and loved--for almost 20 years. More importantly, those who loved me and my kids, unconditionally, seeking no gain other than the pleasure of Allah. The ones, without whom I never would have survived my first visit to Egypt, yet alone living there for years. Mama and Baba are actually a few years younger than I, but since it's basically their country and not mine--I often feel like the errant little kid whose foreign escapades lead to near disaster sometimes, so I take guidance from them. And in return, I always seem to give them something to laugh about.

Baba "H" is originally from the other side of the country--a village outside Alexandria called Kufr al Duwar. I just found this out recently because my daughter's husband is also from that area, and so coincidentally is another very sweet man I know. What is this strange connection I seem to have with Kufr al Duwar all of a sudden??? How Baba H ended up in Port Said I am not sure, but I do know--like his father before him, he works for Al-Haya, the Suez Canal Authority.

Mama "E" is a school teacher, born and raised in Port Fouad, specializing in the Arabic language. I actually met her before Baba H, as she was chosen to be our Arabic teacher on our first visit in 1991. We spent the whole summer learning Arabic, with formal lessons 2 hours a day 6 days a week, but actually learned much more just hanging out with her and her family, which at that time included only 2 of her 4 daughters--and they were so little then. Taking walks, trips to the beach, and shared dinners helped us learn more than we ever could have from the books.

Daughter #1, "M" is now 20 and in her second year of college in Zagazig. "H" is #2, 18 and in her first year of college in Port Said. #3 is "A", now 12 and one of the top students in Port Said--born into my hands (as I assisted the doctor who delivered her--long story) when I lived there in 1994. "L" is #4, now 5 years old--and was a "surprise". As most children not planned--or expected--she is a real character who makes us all wonder how we could ever have lived without her.

To say the girls are beautiful is an understatement. Masha Allahhhhhhhhhh, I don't think I have ever seen 4 more beautiful girls in my life. The oldest 3 wear the hijab, pray, fast, study the religion and are the sweetest girls I've ever met. The "baby" L, sometimes wears hijab for fun and prays in her own speedy way. She loves to fast, a few hours into it breaks for a snack, then resumes fasting. She's learning. Like we all had to. But I am in love with--and as proud of these 4 girls, as if they were my own. In fact, I am blessed to say they call me Mama "I". I consider it an honor.

Being with them is always like going home. They couldn't be my real family if they were from my own blood. It always reminds me of the Prophet's (saw) statement that your family is from the religion, not blood. It's true, those who love each other for the sake of Allah forge bonds far stronger than those of obligatory family ties. When loving each other is an option, it makes it all the more sweet.

Our days together have usually been blessed with laughter, although there have been a few tears along the way, especially when it's been time to say goodbye. We've made thousands of lovely memories over the years. As I wandered through Port Fouad on my last visit a little more than a year ago, there was hardly a street or a shop that didn't call to mind a fond remembrance of something we had done together in that particular place. There are so many stories to tell, which I hope to share over the course of writing this blog. With pictures too! Truly I am blessed to have such people in my life. Stay tuned for much more to come. Insha Allah.

3 comments:

Arima said...

gameela el hikaya deh :) Mashallah you're very lucky to have such a loving family :)

Queen O'Danile said...

I know Arima--I was really blessed with these people. Alhamdulilah!

Arima said...

I tagged you btw...what is the purpose of your blog? :)