was an event I presented at today.

Sometimes I wonder if it was wise agreeing to presentations so soon after a long trip, but I think there’s always something in the back of my mind that’s afraid I’ll never get another paid gig–that perhaps all this is too good to be true, or something, so I hardly ever say no to work no matter how jet-lagged I am.

And especially a Muslim event!

This program was co-ordinated by the Coaltion of Muslim Women of KW (Kitchener-Waterloo–a small city about an hour and a half outside Toronto).

One of the ladies on the committee, whom I’d especially been corresponding with, is named Fran. She’s a convert, and not only is she a convert, she’s a television personality from my childhood.

When I was a kid there was a show on air called Romper Room (shows how old I am!). It was one of those kids shows that was so very popular in the sixties and early seventies, with often a female host (kind of teacherly) and a bunch of kids that interacted with her.

Me and my siblings used to watch it religiously! And there was always a moment at the end of the show when Ms. Fran would look through her ‘magic’ mirror at kids on the other side of the T.V. screen, and she’d named them off.

Actually Romper Room ran so long that it had two different hosts. Ms. Fran was actually the host after I grew too old to watch the show, but just being contacted by her was a thrill anyway!

The first time Fran contacted me, I had such an intense feeling of nostalgia, of sitting glued to the T.V. screen, hoping desperately that she’d see me, and say my name.

And here she was contacting me, telling me what a fan of my work she is! And she’s Muslim now too!

I was doing some storytelling. Being an event celebrating Muslim women, I decided on some folktales from Kirgizstan, Persia and the Arabian Nights.

A very nice moment was when Sister Fran said that she found herself getting tongue-tied in my presence and she thought my books were right up there with the best of children’s literature!

But the most amazing moment was seeing an American actress named Rohina Malik perform her one-woman play!

A Muslim woman, wearing hijab, acting in live theatre! Wow!

And not only that! The play was actually good! The way she changed her voice, intonation and personality as she donned each of the five characters of the Muslim women she was illustrating, was amazing! She even got a black Muslim accent bang on, and an English Muslim accent bang on!

By the end, I’d even shed some tears. Do check out her website: http://rohinamalik.weebly.com/events.html

It was funny when one of the kids asked her if it was ‘halal’ for her to be acting on stage like that. But the thing is, she was Islamically covered, she wasn’t participating in anything lewd at all! Nor was she seductive in any way!

It’s not that different from storytelling. It’s just more theatrical!

I must say it was wonderful! Apparently she’s been performing the play in all kinds of venues, especially interfaith venues.

She told me about the time when a man came up to her afterwards so moved by her performance that he apologized profusely for being one of those ignorant people who’d harassed Muslim women after Sept. 11th.

She in turn was moved by his apology.

And me, well it reminded me of a moment that happened to me in Singapore!

I was at the Canadian International School, or it might have been the other international school I visited, anyway, I’d done my presentation and talked about how the kids in my class thought me and my sisters were brown because we were dirty.

It’s really not an issue for me. Nowadays kids have so much exposure to children of all nationalities they’re just not liable to make such errant assumptions.

Anyway she came up to me afterwards and apologized.

I said, “What for?”

She referred to the anecdote of the kids harassing me and saying I was dirty.

I told her, “You didn’t do that to me.”

She didn’t answer right away. Then she said, “Nevertheless, I’m so sorry.”

It really was moving. She’d lived in Parry Sound, which is up north, on the shores of Georgian Bay. Very small community–very white bread.

Fact is, I’m long over that. I only tell kids that because I want them to be aware of how far Canadian society has come in terms of dealing with other cultures.

Lastly, the strangest thing that happened…the stand up comedian said the same thing that my husband has told me in the past. I should do stand up!


Stand up?

And yet all the way home, I was thinking about it.

We’ll see. Haven’t decided yet.