Posted by: Rukhsana Khan in: cultures
In Urdu we have a word for a kind of excited fascination about something. This word is ‘showk’, don’t know if I’m spelling it right but you get the idea.
I can’t seem to find an English equivalent for ‘showk’.
It’s more than enthusiasm, it’s more than being charmed by something, and it’s more than excitement. It combines all those aspects.
And in the last few posts I think my fascination for other cultures can truly be described as ‘showk’. But it’s not just other cultures I’m fascinated with, it’s all the myriad of other cultural paradigms and ways of thinking that I find fascinating.
And it seems I’m not the only one in my family who feels this way.
I’ve got to relate a story about one of my twin daughters.
I have three daughters, including a set of mirror-image identical twins (only 7% of all twins are mirror image and this happens when the zygote divides relatively late, after it has already differentiated itself into northern and southern hemispheres–probably more information than you wanted to know).
All three of my daughters have decided to not only cover their entire bodies except for their face and hands (like I do) but they go a step further and also cover their faces. They wear the full black overcloaks and the black face cover/niqabs as well.
One time when I took some of my daughters and one of my nieces (who has a wacky sense of humour) up to Algonquin park for the day, there was a chart paper stand in the foyer where you could list all the animals you might have seen in the park.
My niece wrote down two ninjas (referring to my daughters because they do kind of look like ninjas, except ninjas wear form-fitting clothes).
My daughters just laughed at the time, and we were sitting on the side waiting for someone, when a little kid, must have been eight or something, was reading through the chart paper, saw my niece’s listing of two ninjas, glanced over at my daughters and said, “There they are! I see them too!”
And we all cracked up laughing.
But this story happened to my youngest twin daughter (she’s only younger from her twin by a minute).
A while back she was in the grocery store at my behest, picking up some ingredients I’d left off the shopping list or something when she had her own exotic encounter.
She heard him before she saw him.
A rich deep southern drawl, that I’m thinking must have been from the heart of Appalachia or Arkansas, because she could only describe it as ‘hillbilly’. He said something like, “Ma! I can’t find the sausages.”
My daughter had to see who this voice belonged to!
So she gathered up all her black draperies and bounded around the corner and came face to face with this young kid, the owner of the voice, wearing a mustard-stained wife-beater and jean overalls and looking the complete stereotype of a hillbilly (only minus the straw hat).
Islam is about modesty and we’re supposed to lower our gaze with members of the opposite sex, but my daughter said that she just forgot all about lowering her gaze and she gaped at him with a huge grin on her face (underneath her black face cover/niqab). She couldn’t believe it! A real live hillbilly!
And likewise, he just gaped at her.
It is highly unusual to see or hear anyone with that kind of accent in a grocery store in our neck of the woods.
And I’m sure he’d never seen anyone like my daughter!
I just find the image of the two of them, both members of the same species and inhabitants of the same planet displaying such ‘showk’ for each other, hilarious!
Maybe this type of showk regarding other cultures comes down to realizing that there are lots and lots of people out there whose life experiences have brought them to such completely different conclusions in terms of the way they live that fascinates me so much.
I wonder and wonder, and I want to learn more.
And deep inside I think that if my experiences had been different, would I have accepted their way of life and their thinking?
Or if the tables were turned, would they have accepted mine?
I’ll never know.
So much of it is so subjective and dependent on forces beyond our control, and so who’s to judge who is right, except God, who has insight into all of our hearts?
I’m just glad that I have my ways as much as they seem to be glad they have theirs.
But still, it’s fascinating.
p.s. I guess you can tell that I’m not feeling so burned out any more! My shoulders still hurt, but I’ve got much of my joi de vivre back! Yeah!!!