The weight has been gained and regrets and recriminations are slowly making the rounds inside my skull. “If only you’d been less of a glutton! You could have kept the weight  you lost during Ramadan off!” They’re telling me.

Having Ramadan in the middle of summer has left me feeling quite disoriented.

Feels like I blinked in June and now it’s September!

But alhamdu lillah, this year has been quite the upheaval.

Can’t talk about it yet, don’t have the permission. There are a couple of annoucements I can’t make before the news is official, and keeping quiet like this is making me feel all itchy inside.

Let’s just say it should be a VERY interesting school year ahead.

And yet today I’m feeling a little sad.

The Israeli court just ruled about Rachel Corrie, the American activist who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003. Seems the court thinks that she brought it all on herself!

Yup, it was her fault that the Israeli bulldozer ran over her as she tried to stop it from demolishing a Palestiniain home. And it was her fault that it backed up and ran over her again just to make sure she was really dead! Yup, yup, yup, all her fault! What WAS she thinking!

Maybe if they keep repeating that to themselves they’ll actually start believing it.

We live in a world where down is up and up is sideways because the courts tell us so.

Where a man who dared to release private memoranda is jailed and harassed because he embarrassed the higher ups, where they even threaten to storm an embassy that dared to give him asylum–all in Western democratized countries where there’s supposedly freedom of speech–just not if you really tell the truth! (And yes I’m talking about Julian Assange)

The fascade is cracking and the injustices are peeping through, showing that the Western world is not as civilized as it claims to be, it just has a lot better PR.

And yet we’re all COWARDS!

And I include myself in that.

Met with an old friend of mine. It was during the last week of Ramadan and I hadn’t seen her for at least three years.

I had to be in town to do a workshop with some gung-ho kids interested in writing.

And she said something that apalled me, and yet I didn’t have the guts to gently call her on it and now I wish I had.

I’m sure this happens with most women! You meet up with a friend and they start complaining about some aspect of their life, and they tell you something they did where they think they were justified and you’re thinking, “Omigosh! No you didn’t!”

She was talking about her mother, who’s elderly now and is suffering from some kind of dementia.

It’s been a real trial over the past few years where she refused to leave her home and yet she couldn’t keep up with the maintenance.

So she and her siblings were taking turns caring for her but they had decided to put her in an assisted living home.

That’s something I just don’t understand.

Must be because of the third world culture I come from.

It’s my mother’s biggest fear.

One day she called me up afraid that she’d be sent to a home if my father died. (Right now alhamdu lillah, the two of them manage pretty well.)

She was in tears saying, “What if this happens, or that happens…”

And I started laughing and told her flat out, “As long as I have life in my body, there is NO WAY you’ll ever end up in a retirement home!”

Then she said, “But what if…”

And I cut her off. “Don’t even think about it, it aint gonna happen insha Allah!”

And I think just the way I laughed it off and didn’t even entertain the idea was, alhamdu lillah, more reassuring than anything.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) once said, “May his nose be rubbed in the dust.” And he repeated it, vehemently, three times. His companions asked him who he was talking about. And he answered, “The man whose parents reach old age and he doesn’t earn paradise by taking care of them.”

I see so many people trying to avoid the difficulties of life.

Don’t they realize they pay a price for that?

And it has to do with their own self-esteem!

Getting back to my friend the mildest rebuke I could give her was asking her why she was putting her mother in a home. Wouldn’t it be too expensive?

She said, “Oh it’s such a pain. She’s got glaucoma and we have to put drops in her eyes four times a day.”

She was complaining that she was basically tied to the house because of her mother’s presence.

And I just thought, “Subhan Allah!”

Just think what her mother had done for her when she couldn’t care for herself! I doubt she’d complained when she’d had to wipe her bum everytime she’d soiled her diaper or her mouth everytime she’d spit up.

We get all big and strong and ‘self-sufficient’ and forget that we couldn’t have existed at all but for the sacrifices our mothers made for us! And then we begrudge them the returning of the favour because old people aren’t as cute as babies!

I read two of Rohinton Mistry’s books not that long ago. A Fine Balance and Family Matters.

They were both readable, that is I finished them, but it was Family Matters that really brought home the difficulty of caring for the elderly.

I’m glad I read it!

I don’t have any romantic illusions that it won’t be messy and difficult and downright hard to take care of my parents if and when the time comes.

And after reading it I can certainly understand why when I asked my Mom what she wanted me to pray for when I went for Hajj, she replied, “I want you to pray that when my time comes it will be sudden and fast! No lingering and being bed-ridden for me!”

So I did pray that prayer for her.

And I added a prayer for myself.

I don’t want to be bed-ridden either.

No life support, no heroic resuscitations. Just pull the plug and if I’m meant to die, I will.

Just don’t let any Israeli bulldozers run me over.

Don’t think I could stand that.