Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ayeyo Hawo

Have you ever met a woman you knew was a gem from get go? I have. My great aunt Hawo. I call her Ayeyo Hawo though because she was that stalwart lady in my life. I met her when Somalia went into civil war. Diminutive in status, she used to sit in the "baraza" and watch the melee of people coming in and out of the house. My sister used to call them refugees. I thought they were fascinating people. They spoke dialects of Somali I had never heard and fought constantly for the phone. Ayeyo Hawo used to let me comb her hair. Her hair was thinning but it held me spellbound. She had Hindi hair and it was just the right length for me to practice my hair braiding skills.

As of 3 am this morning, I lost my Ayeyo Hawo. She has suffered on earth. She had kidney problems and wouldn't accept a kidney from any of her kids for years. A couple years ago, her son, threatened that he will take out his kidney. Ayeyo Hawo had a choice, to take it or it goes to some other person on the transplant list. Ayeyo acquiesced. She got better. For the first time in a while she ate heartily and often and we were only to happy to feed her. Her voice gained some power and her eyes sparkled a bit. A mirage for us perhaps, but it made us hopeful. She has seen her children give birth. She has seen her children's children give birth. What I will miss the most about her is the talks we had. She was the first person I had met who never made fun of my attempts at speaking Somali. She listened and asked for clarification whenever she couldn't understand what I said. My aunts and uncles used to laugh and ask her how she understands my garam garam Somali. Know what my Ayeyo did? She admonished them. She told them she understood me perfectly.

I am glad your suffering on earth is over Ayeyo. What awaits you in heaven only Allah knows but I am assured by your actions on earth. The kindness, the mercy, the intellect and most important the faith you had. You prayed your five daily prayers even when you were ill. Confined to your bed you asked for water and a pan to take ablution. Your dialysis didn't stop you from exercising your faith. You will forever be my inspiration and for that I thank you. I pray that Allah forgives you of your transgression and grants you Jannatul Firdows.

Our Lord! Make them enter the Garden of Eden which You have promised to them, and to the righteous from among their fathers, their wives and their offspring, for verily You are alone the Almighty and the truly Wise. (40:8)
Our Lord! You embrace all things within Your Grace and Knowledge, forgive those who repent and follow Your path, and ward off from them the punishment of Hell. (40:7)
Our Lord! And grant us that which you have promised to us by Your messengers and save us from shame on the Day of Judgement. Verily You never fail to fulfill Your promise. (3:194)
Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the life to come and keep us safe from the torment of the Fire (2:201)

Mashallah she touched many people. I was amazed by the number of cars at the funeral procession and more amazed by the people who turned up for her remembrance. All the dua that was said today, may Allah grant them. Amin.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

O' Allah keep them safe

I never thought the war would hit so close to home. It was always distant relatives or acquitances, never my immediate family. For the past week I have being an avid listener to BBC kiswahili. Each morning after salatul fajr I click on the link and listen intently for news from Somalia. Why? Because my nephews live there. The one pictured on the right is Mohamed. He was barely two when he was sent to Mogadishu. His brother, Abdallah, had a year and a half leg up on him. I took this picture on his second birthday.

I know that I should be worrying about all children who are suffering at the moment but I can't. I worry about him and Abdallah. I never agreed with my sister's decision to ship them to her in-laws but I held my tongue. They were not my kids. At times I nursed the notion of reporting the kids missing at the US consulate but I didn't. My mom called me tonite to ask me about moving from campus and she brought up the subject. She wasn't pleased with my sister especially after confronting her about safety issues. I held my tongue as my mom awaited my usual "I will talk to her." I couldn't say it. I guess my mom understood my silence because she dropped the subject. I pray they are fine and I pray I have the courage to talk my sister into bringing them back home, where they will be safe. I pray that a bomb or missile or bullet won't come anywhere near their vicinity because dear God they are innocent. Keep them safe. Keep them under your ever watchful eye and bring them back home. Amin.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Live life to the fullest

His voice floated towards me through the hazy fog. I saw his lips move but I didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me. “Here take this card. It’s for a support group. It might help.” He smiled apologetically as he forced the card in between my fingers. On robot mode, I got up and walked out of Dr. Najib’s office. All I could think of was putting one foot infront of the other. I needed to get somewhere so I could digest what just transpired. I only got as far as the staircase before I slumped to the floor. I was dying. I had a time bomb ticking in my head. “I am sorry, but after all the tests I have come to the same conclusion as your previous doctor. You have a brain aneurysm.” Dr. Najib had given me a death sentence and yet the sun continued to shine outside. Tears started streaming uncontrollably down my face. People passing me steered clear of me as if they could contract death from me. A ringing phone pierced my pity party. I realized the annoying ring tone was mine and I reached out to answer it. It was my sister. My finger was posed over the answer button when I realized I was in no condition to talk to anyone. Turning my phone off, I got up from the floor. I needed to clear my head and I knew just what to do.

I turned into the flower lined driveway and turned off my engine. I took a deep breath as I steeled myself for what would meet me when I crossed into the foyer. “Habaryaar! Habaryaar!” came my angel’s voice. Leyla ran towards to me her arms outstretched. I picked her up and hugged her tightly to my body. Her little fingers twined themselves around my neck as she returned the hug with equal fervor. I walked slowly into the house, careful not to trip over her scattered toys. “I love you Habaryaar,” she said as she nuzzled into the crook of my neck. I gasped as tears sprung anew to my eyes. My heart was breaking and my control was slipping all due to this wide eyed beauty named after me. I held her close to me as I rounded the corner and headed for the backyard. I sat on the swing and gathered her to my bosom. I always wanted a baby; a boy. I even had his name picked out. Leyla’s fingers swept over my cheeks as she brushed my tears away. She sat there looking at me, not asking questions, just being attentive and loving.

“Hujui kusalimia watu cambaroo?” asked my sister as she walked towards us. I looked up at her and a sob escaped my lips.
“Oh baby! What happened?”
I shook my head side to the side. I didn’t trust my voice to say a word.
“Come now it can’t be that bad. Whoever it is, he is not worth it”
My body shook as it was racked with more sobs. I hadn't told him & I didn't know if I could.
“I am dying.”
“Huh? Silly! No one dies of heartbreak. Don’t be melodramatic.”
“I am not kidding. I have a brain……………aneurysm”
“Are you sure?”
“I just got a 2nd opinion. It’s confirmed. Tu, I am dying.”

She just stared as me, unsure of what to do or say. She got up from the swing and walked towards the house. When she got to the door, Tu turned around and looked at me. I couldn’t read anything from her body language. I sat there holding my niece who had now fallen asleep on my lap. She had her whole future ahead of her. She would grow up into a wonderful woman and I was going to miss it. I sat there on the swing staring at the ground. There was a line of ants walking towards a tree. Some of the ants were carrying some grains while others carried some kind of insect. I sat watching the procession till it disappeared into a hole. I heard a buzzing and looked up to see a bee hopping from one flower to another; pollinating. I realized that all around me life was going on. The birds were singing, flowers were blooming and life as I knew it was in full swing. I didn’t have to feel like a prisoner trapped or feel like I had to fight for each breath I take. I could find a silver lining to my condition. Hey! If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

I got up from the swing and walked back into the house. I walked upstairs to my niece’s room and placed her gently on her bed. Pulling the covers around her small body, I placed a kiss on her forehead. I went in search of my sister and found her in the kitchen. She was leaning against the sink crying. I slipped my arms around her and hugged her. There was no need to say anything. I knew everything that she wanted to say. I made a vow then and there that life had given me a second chance. I was going to enjoy each minute doing what I like and being with the ones I love. I was going to live each day like it was my last.

I am sorry that I didn't think to add this when I wrote this post but I was fighting fatigue at the time. The point to the tale was me getting the courage to do something. The disease is a possibilty for me but I am reluctant to confirm it by getting an MRI. My docs think I should but I don't. I am not prepared to deal with the outcome as of yet. I struggle with life as it is and being the pessimist that I am I can only see a bleak outcome. If I ever do get around to getting tested and giving the docs the chance to confirm their suspicion, then I would hope I could find the silver lining to it. I intend to live life to the fullest regardless.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Have you seen me?

I always wondered why each school you went to requested your immunization records. I thought it has to do with bureaucratic BS. Today I got an e-mail from my instructor telling me I should check my university e-mail for notification from Student Affairs. Apparently a student on campus had contracted mumps and the school looked in their database for students who haven't had the MMR vaccine. The students who were found to be lacking were given only today to get their shots otherwise they were not going to be allowed to take their finals. I finally saw why the schools asked for immunization records. Its for emergencies such as this.

Musing over this I heard my cell ring. Ro, the OMA director, was calling to locate a student from our organization. He was missing the vaccine. Pascal (MIA student) was an engineering student and if he were not located within two hours he wouldn't be allowed to take his finals not to mention he might get kicked off campus. Drastic I thought. I looked in my database and saw I didn't have his number but I remembered he lived in the apartment complex next to mine. I walked over grumbling because I had an online quiz due in three hours and I hadn't touched my notes yet. He wasn't home and no one was at the apartment. I walked back to my apartment and solicited my roommate's help. We both got on the phone looking for mutual friends. I finally got his number and I left him a voicemail. I also got his roommate's phone and informed his roommate about the situation. My roommate on the other hand sent him a text message and an e-mail. Pascal called me back in half an hour thanking me for the heads up. He had received the message and was at the free clinic (set up by the school) taking his shot. I guess it was my good deed for the day.

While sitting there basking in the glow of helping another, a dark cloud rolled over my sun. The past couple weeks I have been worried about my ex-roommate. No one has seen her around campus since she moved to subsidized housing. Rumor has it that her family is looking for her too. I am worried because I used to give her a ride to and from Mpls to go see her boyfriend. When she moved out her boyfriend came down to help her and I didn't think to get her new address. I had her cell phone and she was still going to her classes, I was bound to run into her right? Wrong! She is nowhere to be found. What if she is lying in the ground somewhere dead? I am thinking of visiting her boyfriend and asking him where he took her. I hope she is fine and just to be sure I have told everyone I've met to look for her.

2nd Round

We are into the second round of the playoffs. I got to say this about the refs during the series. Some of them have made questionable calls. I admit I dislike Kobe but I disliked him more when I saw him smirking during the press conference. He said he doesn't get on the court to elbow anybody and the next minute he says that is how he grew up playing the game. I almost kissed the TV when Nash got on the podium and said its a shame that NBA will suspend Raja Bell for reacting to being elbowed when Bell was complaining the whole time to the ref about Kobe's behaviour. Nash pointed out the only reason NBA would be doing that would be because Kobe is such a big name. I agree with Raja Bell. Kobe is an arrogant prick and seriously I hope this will push the Suns to win this series. The other official that got me angry was the one who called LBJ for a delay in game technical when a few seconds earlier when LBJ was practically bulldozed down by Arenas he didn't blow his whistle. Shesh...........they better check the eye sights and bank accounts of the officials is all I am saying.

So here are the next round matchups:

Spurs Vs Mavs
Clippers Vs Lakers/Suns
Detroit Vs Cleveland (Detroit)
Miami Vs New J Nets (Nets)

I know I know I haven't picked anyone in the west but I seriously haven't decided who to pick. I will leave the decision to the first game of the rounds. If Lakers go through to the next round then it would definately be Clippers. It would weird though because these teams will be playing on homecourt each night. No away games if that happens. Figures!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Playoff turned Playruff?

Each game so far in the playoff has being marvelous. My picks some might go through some might not go through to the second round. As of tonite two teams have gotten through first round of the playoffs; Mavs and Clippers. Its the LA Clippers first time in franchise history to get through and they deservedly do. Betcha Timberwolves is kicking themselves for letting Cassell go. Mavs are the only team to sweep their series, 4-0 baby!

Now I must have some reason for having such a ludicrous title for my post. Trust me I do. As per my prior post Haslem and Artest were suspended but they have being more incidents in the playoffs since then. Kenyon Martin of the Nuggets was suspended, Nash and Kobe exchanged words during Game #2 because Vujacic said something to Nash to get him heated, Jermaine O'neal was fined $15,000 for criticizing the refs, Peyton and Wade had a shouting contest Game #4 and finally Posey was suspended for a flagrant foul. Pretty exciting I would say. Not to mention there was a couple times I thought fist fights were about to break out during the Suns vs Lakers games.

Ok on to awards. Diaw gets most improved NBA player. Kevin Garnett gets citizenship award (even though everything he donated was tax deductible, figures!). MVP is rumored to be going to Steven Nash even though NBA won't announce that till the coming week. It is also rumored that Kobe didn't even finish second. He got beat by Cav's James, who incidentally scored a triple double during his playoff debut. Adam Silver is the new NBA commissioner booting out David Stern. I think that's about it from NBA news desk.

Looking into the remaining games of the series, I have to say the surprise for me was LA Lakers. Most people who know me, know my intense dislike for Kobe Bryant. He was not a team player and he had an ego that needed to be deflated. Well, whatever they feeding him during this playoff is working. This guy became a team player overnight. He shares the ball equally and is below his scoring average all through the series against the Suns. Kobe has finally stumbled upon the winning formula for a playoff series. Odom, George, Walton, Vujacic, Smush and Kwame Brown all get on the boards regularly these days. Suns might have had the formula to shut down ball hogging Kobe but I doubt they have the formula for a full on Lakers attack. So, unfortunately for my picks Suns they might lose come tomorrow. Bulls, on the other hand are looking good. They have come back and dismantled Heat's offence. Chandler went down with an ankle injury at the end of Game #4. Hopefully its not serious and Bulls can continue their run. Kings are putting up a fight against Spurs. Their series are tied 2-2. So is the Nets-Pacers & Cavs-Wizs series. Wizard's game plan for Game #4 was NO game plan. They decided to not run plays and just see how it works. It worked. They beat the Cavs in Game #4. It would be interesting to see what is in store in that series come Game #5. Finally Pistons and Bucks series. Pistons is up 3-1 in this series and I am looking for them to close it out in the next game.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Global Education Ambassador

>Angelina's mission

April 30: Ann Curry visited Namibia, where actress Angelina Jolie talked about motherhood, Brad Pitt, and solutions for what many consider an insurmountable problem: education for kids around the world. An exclusive interview. Click link to watch part of the interview(10 mins) that was on dateline.

What is it about this woman that fascinates the world indeed? In a time when she could very well be lounging in her wealth she insteads uses her fame to spread goodwill. Not many among us can even claim to do a miniscule of what she does and yet she has no reason to. She is not from Africa thats for sure. I hope she gets rewarded for all the good she is doing on earth.