Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Monthly Archives: December 2010

Learning to live…

The ways in which Allah(swt) tests me are strange indeed.

I’m now expected to go off on a tragic account of how terrible those tests are… but no, I shall not. That’s because, if there’s anything that these tests have really taught me, it’s that they’re not, by any means, without purpose.

Every bump in the road, every mountain of hope that’s turned to dust within seconds, has molded me into a stronger, wiser human being. They say it’s like purifying gold – only when the nuggets melt in the tough conditions of fire, do they let go of their impurities and become truly priceless in their worth. It was difficult but it was necessary to bring out the best from within, grow and achieve strengths you couldn’t imagine having before.

But how can I be talking of strength when the only feelings that overwhelm a person, on being severely tested, are of pain and intense weakness? To be hurt, crushed, rejected, repulsed, refused, denied… how does that have anything to do with strength? But it does, and that’s what time shows you… shows me… has showed me. Every time I faced a situation where I felt I was breaking apart deep within, I was in fact learning to face pain and fight it. In the moments and days that followed the initial blow, courage replaced fear and reason, born of faith, fortified the broken spirit. Standing up again needed learning how to stand, all over again, and all that revision did pay off. I learned how to stand up again faster, with more confidence.

It may sound odd that I blog about test and trials a lot but that is because my life is going through all sorts of changes these days. At my age, so much is changing on the personal level, on the academic level and in so many other less-well-defined ways that deep thought and reflection is almost a must. And I write about it, whatever I can, to have some thoughts clearly laid out… and also so that perhaps someone reading this blog may derive benefit for their own selves too, Insha’Allah.

I wish it were easy… that life was clear and defined. That there were no tests at all and we lived a life of total ease and bliss. But indeed, our tests also remind us that this life is only a mirage and the next life is the one really worth striving for. It takes a clever, yet simple person to see that these very tests we see as wrecking our lives, if understood right and responded to positively, may ultimately bring us closer the real life of eternal joy… and isn’t that what we have always wanted anyway?

And I’ll wrap this short post with an amazing Hadith I read today – it’s a Qudsi Hadith I’d never heard of before. Here it is…

Allah(swt) said: ‘Verily, from amongst My slaves is he whose faith cannot be rectified except by being inflicted with poverty, and were I to enrich him, it would surely corrupt him.

Verily, from amongst My slaves is he whose faith cannot be rectified except by wealth and affluence, and were I to deprive him, it would surely corrupt him.

Verily, from amongst My slaves is he whose faith cannot be rectified except by good health, and were I to make him sick, it would surely corrupt him.

Verily, from amongst My slaves is he whose faith cannot be rectified except by disease and illness, and were I to make him healthy, it would surely corrupt him.

Verily, from amongst My slaves is he who seeks worship by a certain act but I prevent that from him so that self-amazement does not enter his heart.

Certainly, I run the affairs of My slaves by My Knowledge of what is in their hearts. Certainly, I am the All-Knower, All-Aware.‘”  [Tabarani]

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Now Open: Cafe Winter!

In my hand, one of the many cups of coffee from last winter. Picture courtesy: Me =)

Nothing defines winter for me like coffee does. A mug of caffeine heaven is a perfect blend of milk and coffee grains whipped up with sugar and a few drops of hot water. To take it a notch higher, a few grains of coffee, just slightly crushed between the finger tips, sprinkled on top… perfect. Alhumdulillah! 🙂

Giving the mug a slight twirl makes the sprinkled coffee grains swim about in the froth, leaving a chocolate-brown trail that engages the sense of sight as much as the sense of smell. Coffee… how does this hot beverage manage to drive me nuts every winter? Why does the thought of whipping up a quick cup not sound like a chore at all? Why does tea suddenly get bumped from the priority list?

Where I come from, expressing such love and admiration for a ‘foreign’ beverage could make me seem like someone who’s either not a local, has lived abroad for years or at least wishes to give others that impression! Being an elite, a snob. Cafes and restaurants in the upscale side of town offer most types of coffee that are well-known in first-world countries. These have foreign names and cost anywhere from six to eight times the price of regular cup of tea or at the less-expensive, more desi restaurants.

At such places, you’ll find groups of teenagers or college-going youth busy chattering away about the latest fad, fashion or news affairs over coffee and desserts. Also, office-goers and businessmen, women having informal meets or simply enjoying a pleasant evening with good company. We’re a third-world, developing country but visiting every weekend or more frequently for a hot cup with a freshly-baked croissant or a slice of cheesecake is something that’s a very normal part of these people’s lives. No wonder then, with the kind of clients these cafes usually cater to, that to profess such love for coffee singles you out as one of them… which could be taken as meaning anything from being a ‘snobby elite’ to a ‘wasteful over-spender’ or even a ‘wannabe’!

Image courtesy: Boston.com

I’m neither of those! I didn’t even know coffee well until two years ago when I happened, one winter, to have more of it than usual. That set the mood for winters and, ever since, I’ve eagerly waited for the weather to turn frosty just to be able to have a warm mug of heaven between my two palms. The idea of going out to have coffee in a comfortable, trendy cafe is quite enticing, yes… where, amidst the aromas of warm cookies and cakes, the waiter places a cup of capuccino before me, leaving me enjoy it at leisure! Of course, who wouldn’t like pampering themselves occasionally like that? But not too often (for my wallet’s sake!) or for any other silly purpose like showing off or being in the popular crowd! That would be an insult to coffee, wouldn’t it?

I love having coffee at home, whipping it up, trying to get as much froth as I can. The thicker the froth after a quarter of an hour spent whipping, the bigger my smile! And of course, very rarely, with a doughnut on the side… there’s nothing left to desire. Forget the need to have a meal, this is more than enough to satisfy hunger and appease all my senses. Turn on the TV to an interesting program or, as is usually the case, if I don’t find anything worth watching, an entertaining animated movie or the day’s newspaper (if there’s anything leftover to read after the breakfast session) will do. Some days, I’ll whip up an extra cup or two for my sisters and we’ll have that rare cordial and girly (and sappy!) chat in the lounge, with the sounds of happy sips alongside all the funny stories being shared.

Sounds too idealistic? Let’s burst the bubble here to come back to reality. My mother does not understand my love for coffee and will try to prevent me from having it too often. I assure her it’s just for the winters and I’m not having lots of tea alongside (my mother and her family loves tea!) so that brought the opposition down to the level where my coffee-ing is ‘tolerated’. On the rare occasion, she’ll even accept a specially made half-cup of coffee (not too much caffeine, she says), particularly when my father requests a cup (he enjoys it occasionally too).

Today, however, I took one sip of my coffee and loved it so immensely that I thrust the mug at my mother, insisting she try it. She took a look at the beautiful foam, seemed to admire it for a second… and took a sip. I knew she loved it because she went for another sip without a word!

‘Mmmm…’ was the response, while I grinned in satisfaction.

‘You can have it all!’ I insisted, glad to see the ‘conversion’, hehe. She did but several sips later, it was handed back to me.

‘Too much caffeine for me, I’ll have trouble sleeping.’

Oh well, she loved it anyway! 🙂 And I’m thinking, the next time I want to make muffins or doughnuts and I’m concerned she’ll be angry (too many calories, must not gain weight), I’ll dress up a special plate for her with a small cup of coffee alongside... perfect to make anyone’s day and sure to make a mother happy too, Insha’Allah.

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