This article was originally posted on jannyceink.blogspot.com
Editor’s Notes: At Ummah, we’re not all about the cold, hard facts (and the kitchen adventures!) To showcase the creativity of our ummah, we post short stories by our contributors. Below is a creative piece submitted by our very own Nawal.
“Krrrrr krrrr krrrrrr krrrrrr!”
The alarm goes off at 5:30 am. As a commuter, I must wake up early. Too early? Yes I am a Muslim too so I need to pray fajr. I am a zombie at this time of the day, banging my toenail on the edge of the bed, trying to pass through closed doors, and jamming my little finger between the door and the wall. I am not a morning person. The cold water brings me back to reality fast. By the time I'm done with praying and meditating, I feel ready to conquer the world. I prepare for the day and leave at around 8:00 am.
As I check myself out while standing at the bus station, I make sure my hijab is on point. A lady driving by in a navy blue Corolla stares at me hard. I hope she does not hurt her neck, and I wish she took a photo: it would definitely last longer. A Toureg and a Probox pass by. Finally, a bus from the Kenya Bus Service comes along. I indicate for the driver to stop but he accelerates right past me. I see a City Hoppa bus right behind it. I signal for the driver to stop and luckily he does.
After the second step into the bus, the driver has already accelerated. I am unstable and I almost trip over my abaya. I grab the lady who is seated close to the door by her braids as I battle with inertia. Lord have mercy! She ignores it but I keep apologizing. I race my eyes up and down the aisle but there is no empty seat. I look at the conductor, he's looking at a man trying to get his attention to come over. Thank God. The man has been trying to say that there's an empty seat. I easily settle into the seat, lift an edge of the abaya, and place it under my right thigh to protect it from the dirt on the floor.
Alhamdulillah! Today is a good morning. I feel I had enough sleep last night.
"Madam, fare!” The conductor interrupts my thoughts.
I want to give him the fare then suddenly I realize I have no gloves to cover my hand. A conversation begins in my head:
Sheikh Speare: To lose the wudhu or not to lose is the question. To this thou must bring all thy attention.
Jahil the rebel: The intention is what is most important.
Sheikh Speare: In the grey lands thou might err and fall in the abyss of sin. Thou art in the similitude of driving in fog. Nay you must not try such a grievous thing.
Jahil the rebel: Why do you make the deen such a hard thing?
Sheikh speare: Nonsense! You're just a basic lay man. I pardon your ignorance.
Common sense (Janice’s head): Shut up all of you! Janice just give him a note and ask him to drop the change on your bag.
The bus fare payment goes as planned and every voice is happy. It's all cheerio and merrymaking up there. Every voice is glad, common sense prevailed.
The bus is not moving at this time and I can almost swear time is moving faster than usual. My only prayer is that an ambulance sounds its siren from the back and the traffic police let us pass. In no time, my prayer is answered. We start moving fast only stopping at the roundabout on the intersection of Kenyatta avenue and Uhuru highway to give way to the vehicles on Uhuru highway. His father, Kenyatta, once ruled Kenya and the baton soon enough found itself in the hands of his baby boy, Uhuru. Even in democracy, power can be passed from father to baby...
I alight at the General Post Office and make my way to Khoja stage to look for a cheap matatu to Parklands. Is this legal? Of course not. On my way to the illegal bus stop, I am stopped by a young man. He is disheveled and has pitiful eyes. At this point, I lower my gaze and listen to him. He explains how he doesn’t have a job and has to feed his siblings. Did I mention he has stopped me several times over the last two years with the same story? No? Well he has and it worries me he hasn't realized he's talked to me on numerous occasions. Am I easily forgettable? Okay ego, don’t push it. I tell the young man that I have got no cash. After all, I'm going to get into a cheap matatu... This type of begging has become rampant in Nairobi. Some people even stop you while weeping only to stop you a week after with the same story. I finally get to the bus stop and head to school.
The Nissan has the entire back seat unoccupied, so I sit next to the window. Two other passengers join me on the seat and we are ready to go. A young man sits next to me and almost immediately starts sneezing and tries to reach for his handkerchief so I look away. All of a sudden, he taps me — yes touching me — Sheikh Speare in my head can't believe this. I don't react. He shows me that his mucus has landed on my hijab. Lord! Lord! Lord! I am almost going crazy at the sight of the yellow substance. I quietly take a tissue from my bag and wipe it. After all, the is what Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would do: practice patience. By the time I'm at Ngara, this guy is already chewing sugarcane viciously and asking me to open the window for him to litter outside. Accidentally, the wind blows and one of the leftovers drenched with his saliva lands on my hijab. I really have to practice patience at this point. I'll alight here and walk to school. Enough lessons for one day.
Phot by Olli Pitkänen CC via Flickr