Saturday, July 02, 2005

The End but not the End!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I regret to tell you that I have decided to call the blog off due to uncontainable circumstances.

Last night I had a dinner with a well known English writer to ask him for advice and he pointed out many things that I hadn’t thought off at the beginning. For a start, I intended and promised myself to tell the true story without making anything up and I have already mentioned many names so far. But luckily, most of these names were for people who are already dead. In the following chapters, I will have to talk about living characters which might cause me legal troubles if I mention their names without their prior acceptance. I will have to contact each one individually for a permission which will take quite a lot of time.

The writer, who I have talked to, agreed to help me editing the story. By now, I am sure you all have noticed my bad English which will never be ok for a book. Of course, the writer didn’t offer his help for the sake of God. Lets not to talk about this now as I am still negotiating with him.

The other reasons that made me make my decisions were:

- I face a critical problem with the blog. Writting a novel requires time. And you can only write it when you feel to. Not to speak about my duties towards my job and my family. The blog puts a pressure on me to write something every week and very quickly which I admit has influenced the quality of my writing.

-Another problem is with editing. Once I put one section, I cannot change it after publishing two more sections. Because if I change the previous sections it would contradict the new ones.

-I need to change the narrative style of the previous chapters. I need to tell the story from a kid’s view. My friend pointed me to a special course that teaches how to write a book from the kid’s view. I have already registered for it :)

All those reasons with others that I didn’t have the chance to talk about led me to decide to call the blog off but NOT the book. I will keep writing it and inshalla one day in a year time you will see it on the shelf of your favourite bookstore. Email me for your special discount ;)

Before I say good bye, I would like to introduce you to ---> Baby Ward who will see the light in 5 months time inshalla -:)

For now good bye :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Chapter one - Part seven: The reason

[Ward] The dinner table was full of various dishes as I expected. Hospitality in our country is second to none, and nowhere is it better expressed than in the age-old custom of serving freshly-brewed coffee or mint tea to every guest, whether the gathering be business or social. The traditional dishes can rival any international gastronomy for originality and good taste.

The main dish on the table was the traditional Kuazi which consists of whole lamb baked over rice so that rice absorbs the juice of the meat. There were several other side dishes. Harees, which is the favourite daily Ramadan dish, served either topped with melted butter only, or sprinkled with cinnamon powder and sugar. There was also Al Legamat which is also a favourite dessert, often served during Ramadan. Many plates of Fattoush, my favourite salad of toasted croutons, cucumbers, tomatoes and mint, were distributed across the table. Basically, the food was irresistible and I could tell that Um Wardah was a great cook.

“In the name of God, please start eating”, Abu Wardah said, inviting us to table.

We moved towards the table and I sat next to Wardah.

“Your mom is a good cook”, I told her.

“Yes she is. Her food is the best. Try it and judge yourself” she confirmed.

“Next time, you should have dinner or lunch with us. Actually, you know what? We should exchange visits between us frequently”

“Sure thing. You can visit me everyday. We can play or set with my father. My father teaches me many things after the sunset. He will be glad to have you here”

“Try this”, She handed it a piece of Al Legamat to me.

“ummm it is delicious” I articulated with delight.

“Well, as I said, Sayed Hadi had a good relationship with the government, but since the Iranian revolution everything has changed”, Abu Wardah started talking again to my dad at the other side of the table.

“Why?”, my dad asked.

“Sayed Hadi has always wanted to create an Islamic movement which inspires people towards Islamic values and principles. He established the Hussani Social Charity in Manama as a source for his movement. He made his own radio program which he used to give lectures during Islamic ceremonies. However, he always felt that he lacked for something. When Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini led the revolution in Iran, Sayed Hadi adopted Khomeini strategy in his movement. He used the revolution as source of inspiration to enlighten people for their basic rights”

“I suppose the government didn’t like that?”

“Exactly, however, the government is not the only part who didn’t like it. The British also put all their powers to end anything that might lead to another revolution in the region”

“Yes, I agree with you. I wouldn’t be surprised if the American didn’t have their hand dirty with this too”

“The worse of all was that Sayed Hadi had the military expertise which scared the government”

“Anyways. Sayed Hadi was asked to leave the country. I hope he finds happiness in his new place”, Abu Wardah lowered his eyes with a sign of sorrow.

“Where did he go?” my dad asked with curiosity.

“Well, he went to U.A.E first but then travelled to settle in Iran”.

“Since Sayed Hadi left the country, the Hussaini Social Charity was put under surveillance”, he added.

“Are you part of it?”

“Yes, I worked with Sayed Hadi to raise the Islamic principles between the people. I helped him in distributing his books among the people. I was also an assistance to enlighten people to demand for their basic rights especially after closing down the parliament six years ago”

“And as you can see, we had to leave our house as a result”, he smiled to my father.

“Were you asked to leave your house?”

“Technically speaking, No. But the close surveillance made me sick. I decided to move to one of the villages far from Manam, the place of all the political riots”

And that was it. That was the reason that I had wondered since I had met Wardah. I had felt it had something to do with the government. Our village, although it was occupied by lovely people, wasn’t picturesque enough to convince anyone to move to it.

Since that moment I stopped asking or listening to the political conversions that took place between adults. I had something more worthy that I should spend my time with. She was this great friend, Wardah.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Chapter one - Part six: At Wardah's

[Ward] The dinner with Wardah’s family had been fixed for half-past seven, immediately after the Esha’a pray time. The weather was quite nice that evening. There was a cool breeze coming from the near by sea. Myself and my parents were on our way to Wardah’s house. The street was quite as usual. There were few people walking here and there. They were either going to their houses or to the bakery (Khabaz) to get bread (Khuboz) for their dinner. Others probably were going to socialise with their friends.

When we arrived to Wardah’s house, her mom opened the door and welcomed us. Um Wardah was wearing Dafah. Dafah is the traditional black robes that women wear to cover their body. It usually covers the head and the body. When Um Wardah opened the door, she was hiding her face behind the Dafah.

“God greets you to our house”, Um Wardah greeted us.

“How is everything going with you, Um Ward?”, she asked my mom.

“Praised be to God. Everything is fine with me”

“I am glad. How is your Son?”

“Praised be to God. He is good”

“Praise be to God, the Cherisher of the Worlds. I am pleased to hear that”

“How are your news, Abu Ward?”, she turned to my father.

“Praise be to God. My news is fair. How about you Um Wardah? How is your family?”

“Praise be to God. We are fine”

They would exchange the regards between them for ever. This was the way or the protocol I should say the people used to regard each other here. They would ask about your situation, your news, your family and they would glorify God after each word. The people believe that God must be glorified for the pleasant things in our life.

“Abu Ward, Abu Wardah is praying at the moment. The Majilis on your hand side, please set there. He will follow you shortly”

The Majlis is the Arabic name the people used to call a special room in our houses used particularly to gather with guests. I shall emphasis that most of the time it is used by men.

My father headed towards the Majils and I followed him. The Majlis was small. It had one small window in the centre of one its four walls. There was an old air conditioner at the corner and a dusty fan hanging from the centre of the ceiling. Three portraits were hanging on the walls. The three of them were for a man whom hooded eyes and severe demeanour, his unkempt grey beard and his black turban and robes conveyed an avenger's wrath. The portrait was the man I had seen his picture a lot on TV and on graffiti’s recently. Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini was his name. Ruhollah Khomeini -his given name meant "inspired of God". He was the man who led an Islamic revolution in Iran, perceived himself above all as an avenger of the humiliations that the West had for more than a century inflicted on the Muslims of the Middle East.

While my eyes were scanning the Majlis, I glanced a shadow of a huge man standing next to the door. In few seconds, I realised I was looking at Wardah’s father. Abu Wardah was tall and his deep eyes and his neat beard along with the worry beads which hanged on his hand and the portraits on the wall all conveyed he was a religious man.

My father and Abu Wardah greeted each other according to the greeting protocol for the next five minutes. This time, the greeting embraced questions like how Wardah’s family felt about village and how the people treated them well.

“So you are an enthusiast of Ayatollah Khomeini”, my father said to Abu Wardah.

“Well, he is our religion and political inspirer not mentioning the revolution he led to free Iran from the west dominance”

“Interestingly the world observed many Muslim autocrats in this century who embraced a mission designed as a corrective to the West. Kemal Ataturk, Jamal Abdel Nasser and of course Khomeini are examples of those autocrats”

“I tend to agree with you to some extent, Abu Wardah. Kamel Ataturk introduced Turkey, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, to Western-style secularism in order to toughen his society against Europe's imperial designs. And in Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser initiated a fierce campaign of Arab nationalism aimed at eradicating the vestiges of Western colonialism from the Arab world. That’s all true but Khomeini took a different course. All three, at their apogee, were rulers of once great empires that had fallen into political and social disarray. But Ataturk and Nasser were committed to resurrection by beating the West at its own game of building strong secular states. Khomeini's strategy was to reject Western ways, keeping Iran close to its Islamic roots.”

“Some of the men I was dealing with in Makharga asked me several time that focusing on that strategy, whether Khomeini was riding a popular wave in global affairs. In the regard I always said that in the late 20th century, Muslims were not alone in organizing to restore religious belief to government. Christians in America, Jews in Israel, even Hindus in India were promoting the same end. As a revolutionary, Khomeini sought to bring down not just the Shah's Western-oriented state but also the secular Weltanschauung that stood behind it.”, he added.

Abu Wardah was talking in confident. He sounded too passionate about the subject. While Abu Wardah and my dad went deep in the topic, Wardah came in. She was holding Arabic coffee’s on a tray. The tray also had small coffee cubs on it. The cubs were called Finjans in our slang.

Since she came in, her eyes were looking at the floor, the exact behaviour that will convey how the girl was shy at that moment. Abu Wardah cut off the conversation with my dad and took the tray from her hands.

“Now go and say salam to our guests”. He ordered her. Salam is the Islamic version of the word “Hi”.

Wardah shook hands with my father and me. When we shook our eyes were fixed with each others with excitement. Although we had met only once two days before but we felt connected. That was my feeling at least. Wardah sat on my left and smiled at my face with excitement.

“How are you Ward?”

“I am fine. How about you?

“Asking about you”, she smiled with her tongue out.

“Good you came here. They have already started talking about the boring politics. The topic that you will hear everywhere in this village”

She winked at me and said “I wonder if they have already talked about why we moved here.”

“No, the topic hasn’t been opened yet”

“This is a record. It has been more than five minutes since you arrived and your father hasn’t asked dad why we were here”

I chuckled on that. That was true. People were too curious. They would love to know about every single move you do. I should admit though that curiosity was one of the reasons why people loved each other in this small village.

Abu Wardah was standing before us now. He handed a Finjan of coffee to me; I took it and thanked him “May God repays you back with good health, my uncle”.

He smiled at me “You parents raised you well, my son”

“So Abu Ward, what brought you here?” my dad asked.

I couldn’t hold myself to laugh hysterically.

Abu Wardah gave me a gentle smile. “They were betting on when you will talk about it” he said to my dad.

“Well, the Iranian revolution brought our destiny here”

“What do you mean?” my dad asked.

“It is Sayyed Hadi Al-Madrasi. Since he came to Bahrain he sat himself a mission to spread the Islamic values among people. Especially among seculars whose number was growing in large in the last years due to the influence of the global socialism”

“Sayyed Hadi did a good job. He made good relationships with the ministries, the government and the crown prince. His radio program did a good job to enlighten people to the Islamic values” he continued.

“What did happen then? Why did he leave Bahrain?” my dad interrupted.

“Well, Sayyed Hadi had a good relationship with the government. As you know he helped the crown prince who is also the minister of defence Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa in establishing the MoD. But after few years, Sayyed Hadi sensed the bad motives of the government and he moved himself away from them gradually”

“The dinner is ready guys”. Um Wardah’s voice cracked the conversation.

Abu Wardah got on his feet and said “We will continue this on the dinner. The tummy is more important at this time”.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Announcement - This blog is protesting in silence today after arresting a close friend of mine

My friend Abdul Hadi has been arrested and beaten by the stupid riot ploice today. Please pray for him!

"A group of about 50 unemployed and other sympathisers were demonstrating peacefully near the royal court when police harshly attacked them, beat them and arrested more than 30 of them," human rights activist Nabeel Rajab told Reuters.
Among those beaten and arrested was Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, head of the banned Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Rajab said.
Other witnesses said police hit demonstrators with batons."

more on reuters.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Chapter One - Part five: My Friends

[Wardah] The big closet in the nursery room was my private play space. My mom had cleared the floor for the purpose. I liked to sit in there when I wanted to be alone. I would draw or make puzzles. Or I would play with dolls, absorbed in their stories, speaking their dialogue quietly to myself.

Ranged around the closet walls, like an audience, sat my stuffed animals. Teddy bears, alligators, martins, clowns. Kermit the Frog, Strawberry, Strawberry Shortcake. My friends – that’s what I called them. As in “Can I bring a friend to the Matam?” or “Mam, can you sew my friend’s eye back on?”

I was standing now in the closet doorway looking down at my friends. There were so many, dozen of them. I hated anyone who will take them away from me, even the old ones. I would usually look up at my mom with trembling lips and beg her “Oh, don’t throw my friend away, Mommy”. My mom would shake her head and murmur “what I am supposed to do to this silly girl”. “Get me a new one”, I would say. My mom wouldn’t count on my words because she knew I would never throw my old friends even if I get new ones and that was just a trick I used to get new friends. It really did seem as I’d kept every creature they’d ever gotten to me. Afroot – he’d been my favourite’s for almost six months when I was three. And Miss Sakeena, right up near the front – she’s shared my bed thought most of last Ramadan (the fasting month). And then there was Snow. Way toward the back of the closet. White snow.

“Wi no”, I said aloud.

He was a small teddy bear, grey now, even black in some places. He was missing one orange eye. His right paw was leaking foam. A patch purple stitching marred one side – it had been an emergency and purple thread was I’d had. Still, it was sad to see old Snow shunted to the back like that. Half buried under Poison Crab and Naughty Puppy. Supplanted by a dozen other characters I had seen on TV or at toys stores.

White Snow has been there first, been there before any of them. He was the very first, in fact. Our friend’s wife, Um Al-Sadah, had bought him to the hospital the day I was born. She’d tucked him under my mom’s arm where she lay in bed. She’d said “About time,” and she’d nodded once firmly.

Um Al-Sadah , a pretty woman, early to mid forties. Spoke with an Iraqi accent. She had the grin on a cheeky urchin face which seemed to run from one ear, laden with rings, to the other. The way she set the scarf (Hijab) around her face would make you feel how religious she was. She was my mom’s closest friend since the first day she came to Bahrain with her husband, Sayed Hadi Al-Madrasi, in 1972. Our relationship with them had begun years before they arrived here.

Our relationship with them started when my uncle, Sayed Mohamed Al-Alawi, met Sayed Mohamed Al-Shirazi, who was Sayed Hadi’s uncle, in a memorial gathering for Bahrainis in Kurbala in Iraq in 1967. My uncle shared the same passion of developing an Islamic movement with Al-Shirazi. Their relationship strengthened in a short period and my uncle visited Al-Shirazi several times when he was in Iraq. By time they decided to develop an Islamic movement in Bahrain. As Al-Shirazi was already heavily involved on the political situation in Iraq, he nominated his nephew, Sayed Hadi Al-Madrasi to go to Bahrain and work with my uncle side by side.

On arriving to Bahrain, Sayed Hadi Al-Madrasi stayed in my uncle’s house where my parents were introduced to him. Two weeks later, my uncle invited the whole family for a dinner to introduce Sayed Hadi. Among the guests was Sayed Mahmood Al-Alawi who was the financial ministry at the time. Sayed Hadi and Sayed Mahmood became friends and they exchanged regular visits. During these visits, Sayed Mahmood introduced Sayed Hadi to Bahraini leaders, among them, was the Crown Prince, Shiekh Hamad Bin Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa who asked Sayed Hadi later on to help him in establishing the Ministry of Defence. Sayed Hadi was the spiritual leader in the MoD.

My mom could only shook her head warily in response to Um Al-Sadah’s words.

A teddy bear. White snow.

Of course, I didn’t care about the bear in the beginning. That was what I was told. For more than a year and a half, the faithful creature just sat nameless and ignored in one corner of my playpen. But one Friday, just before Muhhram, when I was nineteen months old, his time arrived. My father was reading in the living room. My mom was lying on the sofa. I was on the floor, “cribbling” with a crayon on one of my mom’s drawing pads.

Suddenly, I looked up, my eyes opened wide and my jaw dropped. My finger hot out, pointing urgently at the balcony doors as my mom had always told me when she had to describe the scene.

“Dis is..? Dis is..?”, I cried. “Dis is..?”

My father glanced over at the doors. He grinned. “Hey! Dis is snow. Snow.”

“Noe!” I said. I spoke the word with amazement.

I lowered my hand and stared at the bug flake tumbling out of the sky. “Noe!”

“Noe!” I wrestled my way to my feet. Toddled over to the playpen as quickly as I could. My mom laughed. When I hurried like that, I looked, My father said, like a robot stumbling downhill. But I’d made it to the pen, reached inside, and plucked out my old teddy bear. I held it up to my father. My voice was strained with urgency. “Noe!”, I cried.

“Yeah, that’s right!” my father laughed. “Snow is white. White snow.”

“Wi noe!”,I cried out in triumph. “Wi noe!” And I clutched the bear to myself fiercely. Rocked it back and forth in tremendous hug. Cooed over and over in its ear, “Wi noe. Wi noe.”

From that time – oh, for at least a year – I had dragged that bear around with me everywhere. I had taught White Snow the new words I learned. Showed him the pictures in my books. Tucked him into bed for his naps. Held him under my arm when I went to sleep.

I moved to him now at the back of the closet. I knelt down in front of him. I wanted to straighten him a little. And just then, the doorbell rang.

My breath caught. I didn’t move at first.

The door rang again.

I raised my eyes, searched the closet ceiling for.. I didn’t know what I was searching for.

There was knocking now. Soft, but steady and insistent. The knocking paused a second. The doorbell ran again. Then there was more knocking.

“Come in, the door is open”. It was my mom’s voice, calling to the people who had been knocking the door.

Slowly, I rose to my feet. I moved out of the closet a. My feet drifted foreword as if I was being drawn on by come mysterious force.

“They must be Ward’s family coming for the dinner”. “Ward is here.. Ward is here in our house”. I murmured with great excitement. “My real friend is here”. Snow white would be forgotten now.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Chapter one - Part four: Invitation

[Ward] “Mom, we are invited tomorrow for dinner at Um Wardah’s”, I announced as my first foot stepped in our house. My heart was pumping so hard that I could hear the blood rushing in my temples and a slight pain in my lung as I breathed heavily from my mouth. It just confirmed what I’d already began to realise. I’d been running from Wardah’s house without a stop off.

“Cool it, Ward, cool it. Take a deep breath. Long and slow.. and again”. As my lung filled, my mind began to clear. Looking around me made me realise that the house was quite. I could only hear the noises of chickens.

“Ward?” I turned at the sound of the familiar voice. “Ward, you naughty kid, where have you been? Your mom was looking for you?” My aunt Zahra emerged from her room which was the closest to the main door. “You better have a good reason for coming late this time”. She slapped me vigorously on the back. “Go to your mom now, she is resting in her room”. I smiled at her and headed to my mom’s room.

My mom used to have a nap for an hour after the noon prayer. I knew my mom was tired and didn’t like to wake her up if she had already asleep. When I reached the door of my mom’s room, I pulled my hands out of my pockets and took hold of the doorknob. I turned it slowly – slowly as quietly as I could.

The door clicked and swung in. I pressed my face to the opening. The room was almost dark. There didn’t seem to be anyone in it. I pulled the door in a little more, stuck my head out. I looked to the left, down the length of the room. I saw my mum lying on the right side of the bed. That was her side. My dad owned the left side of the bed. The room was small. There wasn’t enough room for a lot of furniture’s. The bed in the middle of the room, a big closet to the right and a dressing table to the left. The window was in the centre of the wall opposite to the bed. The curtains were drawn across it.

I was about to pull my head back outside the room when I heard my mom murmuring “Ward, is that you?”

“Yes mom”

“Where have you been? Haven’t I warned you from playing with the street’s boys after The Teacher?”

“I didn’t play with anyone. I was with Wardah; the new girl I met at The Teacher’s”

“Who is she?”, she opened her eyes with an effort. “The interrogation time”, I thought in my self.

“Her family just moved in to our village few weeks ago. They came from Al-Makharga”

“Oh, I know who you are talking about”.

“I was sure you heard of them. The matam’s news agency wouldn’t let pass such thing” I was teasing her. The matam’s news agency was the nickname that I used to call the local matam (memorial gathering) of our village. Women used to gather in the matam everyday in the evening. The main purpose was to listen to lectures related to our religions, but women treated it as a place for spreading news and rumours.

“By the way mom, Um Wardah invited us for dinner tomorrow night”

“Really? When did you meet her?”

“Well,..” My voice was law and hoarse. I leaned forward and I sat on the bed next to my mom. “Let me tell you what happened”. I closed my eyes trying to picture what had happened at Wardah’s place.

Wardah didn’t stop talking on our way to her house. She chitchatted about almost everything in her ex-house. When we research her house, she asked me to come in to introduce me to her mom. She was content with my company as I was too. There was something elite about her. She was quite, yet extremely hilarious to my surprise. She had the talent of describing everything and anything in an amusing fashion.

“Come in, Ward”, she said.

They had a red metal door. I pulled myself as my eyes took a look around the living room. There house looked small. They didn’t have many things. There was only a TV on the top of a small desk which I thought I had been Wardah’s. There were a couple nightingales singing in a sterling silver cage which resided at the top of a wooden book case. My eyes were fixed on them.

“Kaslan and Habooba”, she said while pointing at the nightingales.

“Kaslan is the male nightingale. I called him Kaslan because he eats only. He doesn’t sing. Habooba on the other hand sings all the time”, she smiled and winked at me.

When I lowered my eyes, I noticed the countless books laid out in the book case. Wardah picked three small books and hand them to me.

“These were written by our friend”, she said.

I browsed through them. The first page of each book there was a picture of an old man with a turban at the top of his head. He looked a religious jurist (Marja'a) or Ayatollah or something like that.

“Who is he?”

“Sayyd Hadi Almodarresi”

“Oh, I know him”, the name rang the bill. “My mom used to listen to his lectures on the radio”

“He travelled to U.A.E last month”, she said. “He was a really nice guy, prominent scholar, speaker, author, and ideologist”

“He had written all these books” she pointed to the second shelf of the book case. There were over a hundred of books. Most of them were small books of fifty or forty pages.

“He used to tell me stories about the prophets”, her voice was a little bit gloomy.

“He was my father’s best friend you know. They ran a charity in Matam Al-Qasab. They called it the Husseini social charity. The people liked them a lot. But now he is gone and we had to leave our place too”

I felt my heart explode as the words flowed out of her mouth with deep sadness.

“My sweet nightingales how are you?”, her mom emerged behind us from no where.

“Mom, this is Ward. I met him today at The Teacher” she was wiping the tears in her eyes.

Her mom smiled at me. “How are you Ward? You must be a nice boy or Wardah wouldn’t talk to you”

I was flattered. Her mom then asked me about my family and the usual questions that I used to hear when I meet any stranger.

“You should visit Wardah sometimes” she said while hugging Wardah to her legs.

“Well, listen. When you go home, tell you mom that Um Wardah have invited for dinner tomorrow. Don’t forget that”

I was excited and nodded with acceptance. We have new friends, I thought.

I squeezed my eyes hard until the image faded from the inside of my eyelids. When they opened again, I was back at the left side of the bed in my mom’s room. My mom was listening to me thoroughly.

“We should definitely visit them tomorrow. I heard they are nice people”.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Chapter One - Part three: Ward

[Wardah] I really didn’t know why I was attracted to him when I saw him for the first time. He had something alluring and charismatic. I really wouldn’t know how to explain it. “Everyone, indeed, loves this boy”, I imagined. When he came in to the room, he greeted everyone individually in away that made me feel he knew each one very well. Even the way he apologized from The Teacher was so polite and gracious that didn’t leave her any choice but accepting it. Actually she should be the one who should show her gratitude to him. I was sure she had felt amused for the alluring smile that was drawn on his face. He had the same smile of my favourite motion picture character, Tom Sawyer who was the star of the motion picture “The Adventure of Tom Sawyer”. In that motion picture Tom Sawyer and his friend Huckleberry Finn had the kinds of adventures many boys could imagine: racing bugs during class, impressing girls, especially Becky Thatcher, with fights and stunts in the schoolyard, getting lost in a cave, and playing pirates on the Mississippi river. “This boy could be Tom Sawyer him self”, I thought.

I wouldn’t count the number of times when I wanted something and prayed for it. I had never complained for not getting what I had had wanted. I truly had faith in God though I had seen many people around who had suffered from lack of faith. I remembered this young man who asked my dad once. “You see Abu Wardah, the thought of the existence of God distracted me to anguish, to enigma. I shut my eyes and ask myself if everyone has faith, where did it come from? And then they all say that it all comes from terror at the menacing phenomena of nature, and that none of its real. I have never seen God or heard his voice. And I say to myself, “What if I’ve been believing all my life, and when I come to die there’s nothing but the burdocks growing on my grave?.” It is awful” How- how can I get back my faith? How can I prove it? How can I convince myself? If I let this chance slip, no one around here will answer me.” My dad was a religious man. Many people trusted him and relied on him for their religious affairs.

“You can be convinced of it with your relations to others”, my dad said.


“By the experience of active love. Strive to love you neighbour actively and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love your neighbour, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain.”

At the time, I was playing with my tidy bear and the last words of my dad had crushed me! I had always loved everyone around me, and yet I was incapable of feeling secure with anyone. My mum used to call me the silent sheep. I found it too hard to talk to strangers. If someone came and talked to me, I would be shy and wouldn’t talk. Many of our family friend’s never heard my voice. It had been almost three weeks since we moved to our new house in this village, and yet hadn’t had any friend. I had always felt I was a complete stranger and thought everyone would give me a strange uncomfortable look if they saw me walking on the street. Sometimes, the wish of having a hat that would make me transparency came into my mind when I had to go to the local cold store no one would see me or talk to me. However, this time was different. I really wanted this Tom Sawyer to talk to me. I felt I would be comfortable talking to him and I really wanted someone to talk to. I had been urgently begging for it, I had prayed for it! I was ready to fall on my knees and kneel to pray for it. I wanted a friend. “God, I want a friend and if you think this boy will be a good friend of mine, please send him to me”

I saw him moving towards me. “Don’t raise your hope Wardah, he is coming to sit closer to you because there is a room for him here.” His eyes were fixed on me as he was approaching me. “What a beam!”, I thought. He sat and in few seconds he looked toward me. “Salam, How are you today?”, he asked. If anyone had looked at me at that moment, he would have caught a quick flush crimsoning my cheeks in an instant. I was speechless, and my tongue was heavy. “My name is Ward”, he said.

“I am Wardah”, I managed to talk at last!.

“I haven’t seen you here before; I suppose you came from a different place.”

“Yes, we just moved to our new house three weeks ago.”

“Oh, really. What do you think of our village?”

“Boring!”. I said.

“Oops, why did I say that? It was rude. My father warned me from criticizing others. He said that if I criticize people, I won’t have the time to love them.” I was saying that to my self. “I should correct that and say something nice. Quick – Quick Wardah”

“It is quite here. The place where we came from was crowded. There were many cars, foreigners, shops everywhere”. I hoped that would rectify what I had said.

“Your old place was exciting then. Where was it?”


“What?”, his eyes opened widely.

“Al-Makhargah”, I smiled. “But we call it Moscow”

“Why do you call it Moscow? It is a strange name”

“I don’t know. You should ask my father”

“Will you stop talking, Ward?”, The Teacher yelled at him.

“I am sorry Teacher. I was introducing myself to the Moscow girl”, he replied.

“You are not allowed to talk here, haven’t I told you before when someone reads the Quran you should sit silent and listen?”

“Yes Teacher. I will be quite” He looked at me again and said: “Can you tell me about Moscow later on. I will walk you to your house” I nodded with acceptance and felt my cheeks flushed again.

One hour passed until we finished from The Teacher. As we walked out, Ward came to me and said “Wardah, you promised to tell me about you place, didn’t you?” Hearing my name made me feel happy. “Of course”. There was a smile on my face. I didn’t know what was happening with me. In normal situation I would have given him an excuse and wouldn’t talk. But he was really my Tom Sawyer. “Where shall I start?”. I said. “Where shall I start – Where shall I start” The question was repeating itself in my mind.