Sunday, 10 April 2011

The cat, the wall and the poor worried child.

Have I ever mentioned we have a cat?

I say cat but she behaves more like a dog.
She constantly wants my attention, is dependent on me a lot. Where ever I go she follows me, from morning till night, even when I go to the bathroom. When I take a shower she'll sit outside my bathroom waiting for me to come out.
When the kids are at school its even worse.

When I sit on the sofa with my husband she'll come and demand my attention, my husband has to tell her off sometimes because its as if he has the share me with her. Its ridiculous.

She's not independent like a cat should be. Usually cats don't *need* your attention, they'll come to you when they want your time, but usually will chill, play, sleep etc on their own.

I can't blame her really, when she came to us she was in a terrible neglected state. She was very underweight, her fur was in terrible condition, she didn't even have the energy to groom herself like cats do. She was so weak she couldn't jump from the floor onto a chair. She couldn't even walk up and down stairs.
I nursed her back to health alhamdolilah, by feeding her, grooming her, I used to groom her for half an hour five times a day to get her fur back to normal. I did that for a month. I looked after her like a mother would look after her human baby. Alhamdolilah, she recovered. I don't think she would have lasted another month in her previous circumstances. I don't know how people can be brutally neglectful and make an innocent animal suffer like that. It takes a lot to make me cry but when I saw the state she was in it brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

Anyway, I don't know if this clinginess is down to how I looked after her when she came to us almost 3 years ago, or if this is just her personality.

She did used to be quite an independent outdoor cat, now she doesn't get to go outdoors. She's quite deaf in her right ear and she had a stroke a few years back and going out isn't really a safe option for her. She could get run over because she may not even hear the car coming. So we keep her inside. She seems to like it enough, she runs around and plays, when she gets fed in the morning she becomes overwhelmed with joy, its like putting petrol into a dreary car, she goes on a mental running spree running from one room to the next. They she calms down, grooms herself, and goes to sleep for a bit.

Recently though, my youngest step daughter has been saying she'd like to take her outside on a leash for a bit. She used to love being outside when she was younger, before the stroke and deafness and neglect. Often the cat sits on the windowsill longingly looking at the world outside and we feel sorry for her, that maybe she would like to be an outdoor cat once again.

So after some convincing she managed to get her dad to let her take the cat out on a leash. We tied her collar tight but without choking her of course, and tied the lead to her collar. My step daughter took her out for a bit and if she had trouble bringing the cat back in she was to call me.

I looked from the window eagerly to see the cats first moments of being outside for the first time in nearly 3 years. I expected her to be cautious, weary and timid to the new sounds and smells.

Then, like a mad bat out of a cave in which a bright light had been lit, she bolted for the nearest hiding place. My step daughter tried to grab her but she struggled out of her arms, she tried to draw the lead back in but the cat wriggled her neck and managed to get the collar off and ran under a door and hid somewhere. My step daughter called me and I went out as quick as I could with the cats favourite biscuits. I gave my step daughter a leg up over the brick wall to get closer to where the cat had gone but she couldn't see her anywhere, we kept calling her name and calling her with the sound she is accustomed to, but no sign. We both then took turns in going round the other side of the building to look for her. But still no sign. I made dua again and reassured my step daughter that we'll find her insha'Allah.
Cats are very clever animals. As a child my cat went missing once, and 3 days later emerged dehydrated and hungry.
I told her that the cat will be feeling scared and she'll be hiding somewhere close by, just keep calling her name, rattle the bag of biscuits and keep looking in every nook and cranny, I gave her a leg up again and off she went over the wall. The wall was barely 5ft high so it was easy enough.

She went over, searched some more and Alhamdolilah found her. A desperation came into her voice and I guided her from over the wall to calm down, reassure the cat with her voice & biscuits and try to entice her out or get closer to her. She manage to get her out of the spot she was hiding in and then stroked her to calm her down. The cat at that point seemed more relaxed than my step daughter. She handed me the cat from over the wall and climbed back over. We picked up the collar, lead, phone, keys, bag of biscuits and came back indoors where I think the cat will remain for the rest of her natural born years!

The cat was fine, started purring happily and adored the attention we were giving her, I felt sorry for my poor step daughter though, she was so worried, she needed a lie down after the whole exhausting ordeal. Bless her.

I don't think we'll be doing that again. I think its now official. This cat is an indoor cat. Full stop.

I think I've had enough drama for this weekend.

My Saturday Morning

Well I don't know about you but I had one heck of an adventure yesterday!

My stepdaughter was going to France for a week on work experience so I had agreed to drop her and her friend off at the meeting point. This meeting point was at a service station on the motorway. Her friend stayed the night to make it easier.

We don't own a car but we use Streetcar whenever we need a vehicle. Not everyone has heard of Streetcar yet, its basically a car hiring service, accept instead of going to some garage or depot to pick up your rental, the cars are kept on your local streets. You book the car on-line, then use your membership card to unlock the car at the time of your booking and enter a security code to get the keys out of the glove box. Its an excellent service and in our area we have many of these cars available. It works out much cheaper than owning your own car because you don't have to pay for petrol, insurance, road tax, MOT, maintenance etc. And we rarely actually have the need to use a car.

Any-hoo I booked my favourite car in advance and on the day woke the girls up bright and early at 4:30am. Majorly early for them, not so for me.
They both got ready bang on time and off we went to the neighbouring road where the car was. They had to drag their suitcases there, honestly, these girls are only going for a week, but the cases they both took were large enough for a family of four going for a week!
We get to the car, unlock it, get these huge cases in, get in the car ourselves and I start it, but it won't start! Hmmm, I keep trying, looking to see if the steering wheel was locked, tried popping the clutch but I knew you don't need to do that on a polo, only the golfs need that. Removed the key and tried it the other way, still no joy. I've used that exact car about a million-and-one times and its never given me any kind of grief. So I call Streetcar up and for some reason, can't get through. Great! I call my husband and he says, ok, leave it, lets call a cab. So I do. I book the cab while helping the girls unload their massive cases and we start walking back to the house.

We wait outside the house for the cab and my husband calls me, he says, why don't we book the other car available on the other neighbouring street. Excellent idea, plus it'll be much cheaper than the £52 I've just been quoted by the cabbie for a return journey! So my husbands at home on-line booking the other car while we make our way over to the other street, again, with those huge cases! As we're walking over I call the cabbie and tell him sorry, I have to cancel that car now. He sounds disappointed, £52 cab fare would have been great for him I guess!

We get to the car and before swiping my membership card on it, I call my husband to check if its booked now. He says its not! It won't let him book this car because we had the other car booked for this time also. Weird, because we're both members and we should be able to book two cars for the same time. He tries but its not working and we are fast running out of time to get the girls to the meeting point. We abandon this idea also and I call the cabbie back and say, sorry, I do need that cab after all! He says, "are you sure mam?" I say, yes, very sure, I need it right away please, I'm standing on so and so road, opposite, so and so building. I wasn't walking back to our house with those cases agian, did I mention they were big?

So we're waiting there for a cab and I can't believe what is happening. The one time you really need Streetcar to work, it fails you. How could this happen? I've used that polo countless times and its always been great. I look at the time and I'm thinking I hope this cabbie gets here fast. Then I get another call on my phone and its Streetcar. My husband got through to them and he's told them to call me. The lady at the other end is helpful and polite but right now I need results. She says she'll try and cancel the other booking and book the car that I'm standing in front of. I'm not happy about her wishy woshy tone and tell her I need to know now if you can make this happen, because I have a cab booked and its on its way now and I need to cancel now if you can book me this street car. She says, yes mam, I'm doing it now. She clicks a few buttons and asks me if the reader on the windscreen is flashing, I say no. Thinking great this isn't going to happen either! Then it starts flashing! Yay! She says swipe your card over it and it should unlock now. It does! Great. We get those big cases in the car while I call the cabbie back and tell him sorry, I don't need that car now. This time he is not happy. He says ok, and slams the phone down!

We get in the car, adjust the seat and mirrors and off we go. I tell the girls its 5:40am I'm going to drive fast so don't expect a comfy ride. They both say "kay" with anxiety in their tone. My heart feels for them. They've both been so looking forward to this and its an important part of the curriculum, not to mention the cost of this trip which is not cheap! Feeling the extra pressure of the responsibility of getting my step daughters friend there in time, I whizz off into the night praying I make it in time. We were supposed to be on the road by 5am!

I hand my step daughter the driving directions and tell her I will need her to read those out in a bit.
Praying to Allah that we make it in time.
I'm doing 50mph down a 30mph zone. I know, I never usually do this but its 5:40 ish am and the roads are clear. My husband tells my stepdaughter he'll call the group leader and tell them we've been delayed by the car trouble we had. He then calls us back and tells us the group leader will wait for us. Phew!
I get to the area I'm familiar with then ask her to start reading out the directions, she tells me them, ok, next roundabout 1st exit. We get to the roundabout after that and that roundabout, 2nd exit, 3rd roundabout 3rd exit, we're not far now and its only just gone 6am, deadline is 6:10am we'll make it insha"Allah. Next roundabout 2nd exit. Should be seeing the signs for it by now. Hang on a minute. This doesn't seems right to me. This place is far too residential. We're going to a service station at a roundabout on a major motorway. So I trust my instincts and turn back. Except that last roundabout isn't really showing me the signs I'm expecting to see. We head on anyway.
My phone rings, I tell my step daughter to answer it. Its the cabbie, he's waiting for us where I instructed, she tells him sorry but we canceled the cab. He's disappointed.
Soon I realize we took a wrong exit somewhere back there and we are not where we should be so I come off at the next motorway exit and head back.
Making dua along the way.
By this point my stepdaughters speaking to her dad on the phone and feeding him the information I'm giving her about our location. He's on the web again trying to determine our location from what I've told him, he's then feeding his daughter directions which she's feeding me while I do 120mph on the motorway. My step daughter calls the group leader and tells him we got lost but are making our way over there as quick as possible. He's really nice and says we'll wait for you, get here as quick as you can without taking any dangerous risks. You betchya!
Its 6:34am by now and I'm thinking about her friends mum and dad are counting on me to get their daughter there in time. God forbid if they leave without us not only will we lose all the money we've spent for this trip but her friends parents will lose all theirs too. Oh the pressure!
She calls her group leader and tells him we're about 10 minutes away, or so I think.
We finally get to a major roundabout and from there I get the motorway I *do* need. We head down there as fast as I can make it but this motorway is busier and the suns up now and we're heading east so the sun is blindly me and even with sunglasses on its very had to see the road.
At one point the sun is blindly me so much that as I over take a blue van I feel I'm too close to him so I slightly adjust our possition only to make the adjustment too far and I feel the tyres on the right bump over the cats eyes, so I move more to the left to compensate and then that's a little too much and then back to the right again. Really don't need this kind of swaying drama at this sort of speed.
We're finally one exit away on the motorway so I move into the lanes on the left one by one and get ready to come off. We come off the motorway and she calls her group leader again and tells him we're at the roundabout for the service station now. Yay, not too far now.

We take the second exit from the roundabout and head towards the service station, there's a big land rover in front of me and judging by how slow he's going it must be an old woman driving it! Urhhh, get out the way! I scream in my mind. I need to look for the coach car park but because this huge car is in the way I can't see the sign and go right when I should have gone left. I see several coaches parked further down on my left, where I should be and turn around in the car park to see if I can make it back there to where the coaches are but there isn't an exit. So I park as close the coaches as I can and say we can walk over. As I get out of the car I see 3 men coming our way and I'm sure they're the group leader and some helpers.

I apologize to the group leader and he is so nice and says, "don't worry, you're here now".
I look at the time, its 6:46am!

We open up the boot and he gasps when he sees the cases! "You're only gong for a week!" he says.

I laughed.

I hug and kiss the girls goodbye and off they go. The group leader and 2 helpers helping them with their luggage. I stand there for a moment watching their luggage being loaded into the coach and girls boarding it, handing the group leader their papers. Alhamdolilah! I call my husband and relay this image to him. He laughs and tells me well done. Hmmm, not sure about that. He's extended the booking for me so I have more than enough time to get the car back.

I come home and the journey on the way back was so quick. Less than 25 minutes and I was driving slowly. I don't know where it all went wrong. I had a cup of tea and got back into bed for bit but every time I closed my eyes, all I could see were my hands on the steering wheel, speeding down the motorway.

I text my step daughter and she's laughing about it now. Thanking me for getting them there and staying calm. The rest of their journey is easy and uneventful and they get to their destination on time as scheduled. Alhamdolilah. The organizers clearly are experienced and left ample time in their scheduling for such delays. God bless 'em.

Its a morning I will never forget! Lol.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Peace & Health

The house is quiet, you could hear a pin drop. I love moments like these. The house is clean, the kids are in bed. Everything that needs doing is done. Bliss. Alhamdolilah. And tomorrow it all starts again! Eeek!

Today I was told by one of my consultants that I have a form of Liver Disease. :( Booooo!
But on the up side its very treatable :) yayayay!

In a way I am actually pleased to know this because a) I now know what I'm dealing with and know what I can do to sort this and insha'Allah it will go into remission and b) I now know why I have been feeling utterly exhausted, all the time, everyday for the past 8-9 months or so.

I kept feeling so guilty for feeling so tired all the time. I was saying to my husband just this morning that I have no right to feel this exhausted, but now I find out actually, I can cut myself some slack and I do have a good reason for it. (I hate feeling tired, I associate it with laziness, and I absolutely detest laziness).

Anyway, please keep me in your duas.

Sunday, 27 March 2011


There has been a lot of chatter recently about Muslim mums working outside of the home.

Some mothers chose to, some mothers need to.

I, alhamdolilah, do both. I am self employed and work from home. I chose my hours, my days, when I want to work and how. I can plan my day around the children's routines and alhamdolilah, my family does not need to rely on my income.

Islam tells us that a woman can work if she wishes to, but her husband has no right over what she earns, she can of course, spend it towards the family if she wishes to, but does not have to.

We now live in an age where people no longer marry partners that are equally matched. In the old days, if you lived in a small village in Pakistan somewhere, you were likely to marry someone from a small village nearby, or perhaps a small city nearby, but partners were certainly more evenly matched in that respect, i.e., coming from similar backgrounds, similar upbringing and growing up people were exposed to similar opportunities, (or the lack of as the case may be).

Now we are in an age where travel is easier and more affordable, the world is a smaller place, there are opportunities a plenty and people are marrying partners that are perhaps not so evenly matched, that didn't have a similar upbringing or similar opportunities in life.

I find more and more that I come across Muslimahs who were born and brought up this country, who benefited from a free education system and free health care and access to a wealth of information and knowledge. This is of course, one of the reasons our parents came to this country. To give their children the opportunities they didn't have. But often I find, these educated young ladies are marrying brothers from a less blessed background, often from a foreign country where people are keen to come to this country, marriage often making that possible. In some cases these brothers are well educated but their degrees and diplomas mean little or nothing here and are forced to work in lower paying jobs that they are far too qualified for or to set up whatever business they can try their hand at to earn a living to support their families. Allah provides and all our jobs do is keep us busy, we are deluded if we think these jobs are what sustains us. But in circumstances where the husband is not evenly matched for the wife, the wife often ends up having to work to help the household meet its needs. Personally, this is not something I agree with. I believe THE most important job for a mother is raising her children. There is nothing more important, vital, crucial or rewarding.
Alhamdolilah, by Allah's mercy I am blessed to be in the position I'm in. Many others aren't, but I want to share that there was a time when I thought I too *had* to work for my family and sometimes for my sanity.

When I left full time employment our household income was slashed by almost 40%. A huge chunk. But my husband and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Allah provides and we will be fine insha'Allah. And we alhamdolilah, are.
Don't get me wrong. Its not like my income wasn't relied upon. It very much was, but we decided to pay less attention to worldly things, to try and forget about Dunya and massively cut back our spending. We had to cut back on a huge amount of things, we don't go out and socialise, we don't eat out, we spend extremely little on clothes and shoes, we got rid of our car and walk to many places, or use the buses. We don't buy presents often. We don't have cable TV or Sky TV. We have the cheapest price plans on mobiles, home phone, broadband. We use water, electricity & gas sensibly. We don't live in the plushest part of town, although we absolutely love the place Allah has blessed us with. We don't take holidays, in the past five years or so, we've had 2 holidays, both were humble and fairly inexpensive. We made sacrifices for this to happen. We decided to put our money where our mouth is and live a humble existence. It could probably be more humble but we do our best. We had to work hard at living with one income and it isn't always easy, but Alhamdolilah, we're fine.

My current income from my self employed business is not a massive amount to say the least and all I earn from it, goes straight back into the business.

I believe Allah takes us through life showing us opportunities to better ourselves in some way. To teach us a lesson, to show us another way. I believe that when I decided to leave employment Allah's reasons were more than what I thought at that time. It was to prepare me for what was to come. But that's another story. Fact is I would not have been able to be the step mother I am, the role model I am, if I was working full time. Fact.

I don't think for a second that I am the best at it. Far from it. No-one is perfect, so how can there be a perfect mother? But we do the best we can.

I left work for different reasons, but later I found the true meaning of me being able to work from home.

More and more I see now what is happening to the new generation. I see bad and rowdy behaviour on our buses and public places, often girls at the forefront.
I recently went into one of the local businesses in my area and found they had two girls there for work experience. Their behaviour was shocking and it didn't surprise me to hear that the business owner had received many complaints from customers about the children's behaviour. I wondered if they come from household where the mother is working outside of the home.

Now, I know this may seem very judgmental of me, I'm making a huge generalization. But believe me, I'm saying all this with the utmost humility. I am humble about this. I know Allah has blessed me with the position I'm in. Alhamdulillah. But I'm saying this because I care about our Ummah, and our children are a massive part of that. How we raise them will play a huge role in years to come.

With all the recent earthquakes, Japan and the earthquake in Burma last week, many of us are thinking about the minor signs of the hour and the end times. Allah tells us that earthquakes will increase. All of the minor signs have come now. Its our duty to prepare the next generation. How can we do this if we're at work?

Its Dunya that tells us we must work, and send our children to school so they can study and grow up to work as well and join the "system". But in doing this we've forgotten that the only work that really matters is to learn our deen, apply it to our lives and live by it. We should be working for the hereafter, not for the here and now.

I think if a mother can work in a part-time job while the children are at school, or work around the children from home, go for it. Even if you'll be earning a lot less money, don't worry, Allah provides. Our financial situation has very little to do with us.

This life is an illusion. Its the next life we all need to be working for.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Meeting an old friend

Today I met an old friend I haven't seen in 3 years! Our lives are so busy and we live far from each other and it just hasn't been easy to meet up. But this week we both made a special effort.

The last time I spoke to her at length was about a year ago and she told me she had started wearing hijab, she sent me a picture and masha'Allah she looked so beautiful. I don't know what its like if you've always worn it, but for me I started wearing it a few years back after I converted to Islam and it really was a big deal for me. I used to pray to Allah (swt) to give me the strength to wear it, it was a very big deal for me. But I wanted to do it and had thought about it for a while. During the first few months of wearing it, it really affected me, even in my dreams.
In my dreams, no matter what the dream was about if I saw myself or became aware that I was not wearing hijab in my dream, it would suddenly wake me up in a panic because I'd feel upset that I wasn't wearing it in my dream. Silly I know. But it was so deeply embedded in my mind. Alhamdolilah, I love wearing hijab. I wear it with pride, May Allah (swt) continue to give me the courage and pride to wear it.
Anyway, my point is that I don't know what its like for those who have worn it from a young age, but I know what it was like for me when I started wearing it in my twenties.

Today when I met my friend, I found it surprising as I drew closer to her, I realized she wasn't wearing hijab. I was so happy to see her though and we hugged and sat down somewhere for coffee.

Soon after she told me herself that she had stopped wearing it because she "just couldn't do it". I know first hand how it can be but I felt sad that she didn't persist and only tried for a short time. I also didn't agree with what she was wearing because part of her outfit was see through and I could see flesh where I really shouldn't be able to. Now, I'm not judging her personally, that's not my job, but she's changed so much now that I'm finding it hard to understand her and I miss the friend I had and miss that I've lost someone I had so much in common with.

Her mum is very religious and so is her father. She had the best upbringing Islam-wise and best role models and examples, but somehow that hasn't rubbed off on her. I find her full of contradictions and although she's in her thirties and a mother, she doesn't seem to have it together with her religion.

It saddens me. She used to. It was the contradictions that saddened me more than the outfit.

I have a Hindu friend who I care about a lot and respect, but I always thought that this particular Muslim friend was someone I had more in common with, now it feels like they're about even.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Our Eid Party

I've been meaning to post about this for days but didn't get around to it.

This year we had an Eid-ul-Fitr party at our place.
I love parties and any other kind of entertaining. I love planning a menu out, thinking about personal touches, paying attention to the small details. I love it from start to finish. Sometimes I think I should be an events organizer, but I would only want to do halal events with no booze or pork products! But lets face it, every Muslim household can put an event together.

Anyway, this year I decided to put up a red canape on the ceiling to create a cosy Arabian tent like feeling. Last year on my step daughters birthday we came up with this idea and we all liked it so much.
So we had the canape up, we had fairy lights draped over a bookcase, red lanterns with candles inside, the dining table was decorated with red flower arrangements and candles. Next to where I served the starters I also had a wide shallow bowl filled with water which had floating candles in. It was lovely, everyone was so surprised and really impressed with our creativeness.

The food was well liked too. For starters I made mini shami kebab, mini samose and chicken tikka. I didn't want people filling up too much on starters, so I made everything in a mini size, with them I served, mint and coriander chutney, a yogurt chutney, imli and a spicy ketchup type chutney.

For main course I served lamb curry, chicken curry, channe, pilao, naan, grilled chops, yogurt, salad.

And for desert I made gulab jamun and served them warm with vanilla ice cream. Yummy!

Everyone really enjoyed the evening. There was a lovely atmosphere, we chatted and laughed until late, one of my guests did my mendhi after I served tea since I didn't get around to it the night before, (because of all the prep).

For the little kiddies, when they arrived I gave them little goody bags to keep them busy during the evening. I put in those bottles you get to blow bubbles with, some chocs and treats, that went down nicely too. After tea we gave the children their Eid presents, everyone really liked what they got. And as everyone left I handed out little packages of cupcakes I made the day before, packaged in cellophane and tied with ribbon.

Everyone appreciated the thought and effort that went into it, and I think this one will certainly be a memorable Eid for everyone, not only because of the decoration and attention to detail, but also because of the lovely atmosphere. My younger step daughter said it was the best Eid ever, so that's a massive compliment!

Here are some pics:

Monday, 13 September 2010

Eid Mubarak

The blessed month of Ramadan has passed so quickly.
Eid Mubarak to everyone everywhere, May Allah (swt) accept our prayers, forgive us for our sins and continue to guide us and keep us on the straight path and protects us from shaytan. Ameen.