Friday, 24 April 2009

I'm Sorry, You're Not Muslim

I really really should stop swearing/cursing/cussing so much. Problem is it’s my only vice, my only outlet for my frustration with the world at large and I’m afraid that if I stop, my favourite pastimes will include homicide or alcohol. I promise to stop if I get married LOL!

A few dreaded words reached my ears earlier this month. My 10 year high school reunion is coming up *cringe*. It’s nothing but a ploy I tell ya, a ploy to either mock what some have become over the last decade, or gawk in astonishment and awe at how other’s have blossomed. I can already picture it. The “So what have you been up to”…and the “Oh I work for…”, and “Wow, three kids, geez you’ve been busy”…and “We got married last year…”BLEH, my cue to vomit.

Even though I’m sure I’d be one of those people everyone gawks at in astonishment (because trust me 10 years has done WONDERS for me), I’m not interested. I don’t feel like playing kissy-kissy-catchup-huggy with people where the extent of our communication is the random mass Superpoke on Facebook, those people I’ve long since bid my farewells to. And the one thing I’m really REALLY not looking forward to is the inevitable annoying rhetorical “So you’re not married!?!”. FUCK, dig my fucking eyes out why don't ya...cue to vomit again, this time on her shoes.

People don’t understand…it’s a tough Muslim market out there. All the relatively decent one’s are already taken because they all get married by the time they’re 22; all or most of the single one’s have huge mother-fucking issues…and the rest are either gay or they like white women. What a fucking nightmare! I hate this world.

Truth be told, I’m sure many, if not all of us have changed somewhat from then. But a night full of awkward conversations, trying to recapture what dissipated that last day when we all walked out of the gates, bright-eyed, hopeful and fearful of the future, never looking back – it’s not my idea of fun.

I was such a geek in school. And I'm sure I've said it before, but I hated the institution (and some bitches) with the venom of a hundred thousand King Cobras. But in hindsight, I did have a lot of fun in my days as a juvenile delinquent. This paradox is probably what kept me sane, or insane most of the time…it’s what made my life at school bearable.

When I got to high school, there were less than 10 Muslims in a population of over 2000. I was barely 17 years in my final year and used to spend my break times sitting in the Matric Quad, staring down a very athletic Wayne Reed with Isabella at my side. What a beautiful creature. We used to stare at him, quite literally, and he would often catch us watching him and blush. This didn’t deter us and made him even more beautiful in our eyes. Then as the bell went, signaling that break time was over, I would go to him, put my right arm on his shoulder and say “Have you ever considered modeling?”. This would make him even more shy, he’d smile and say no. “You’re one beautiful man!”, I’d say. A sincere “Thanks” was always the reply. It was the same story, every day.

I think the massive appeal with Wayne was his humility and modesty. He never thought he was God’s gift to women…even though he was more than entitled to think so. Honestly though, there were so many them. There was Jared and Tyrone. And Carlos Lopez too. It was a time when we were still reeling from the end of one of my favourite TV shows of all time, “My So-Called Life” starring Claire Danes as Angela, an awkward teen going through life, high-school and her crush on the coolest boy in school, Jordan Catalano, played by Jared Leto aka the current front-man of the band 30 Seconds to Mars.

I remember that Carlos Lopez looked just like Jared Leto. I used to call him Jordan Catalano, after Leto’s character in “My So-Called Life”. However, I barely spoke to Carlos because we only shared two classes together, Computer Science and Biology. And even though I’d always greet him in the mornings, he was always in his own world, and barely said hi. Then one day, around 18:15 in the evening, the phone rings...

Me: Hello?
CL: Uh, hi. Can I speak to Azra please?
Me: Speaking…
CL: Oh…How are you?
Me: Umm, I’m ok…
CL: Do you know who’s speaking?
Me: Umm…nooooo…
CL: It’s Jordan Catalano.
Me: (half-dying & wondering how the HELL did Jared Leto get my number???)
CL: Hello?
Me: (silence)
CL: It’s Carlos
Me: (slightly disappointed but surprised) Oh you…wow, hi…um whats up?
CL: Oh, just calling to see what you’re up to...
Me: Oh ok… (bewildered)…I’m fine thanks…but dude you don’t even greet me…
CL: (laughs) Um, well you know me…So I was wondering if you’d like to go out sometime?
Me: (shocked and dumbfounded)…ummm can I get back to you on this?

I had to eventually tell him that I couldn’t because he wasn’t Muslim. Even Isabella was disappointed that he wasn’t Muslim. (Let me just point out that we were never allowed to have boyfriends in the first place, let alone non-Muslim boyfriends). Then one day, a few months later, I discovered that Carlos and I used to be playmates when we were toddlers…a time when both our parents had business dealings with each other. Small world huh.

The only other Muslim present in my life at the time was Zaheer, a good friend of mine and the only one that I went to Primary School with. Problem was he was more than a friend, more like a brother-figure…and yeah, he was dating Christina…another white chick.

I’ve had loads of Christian/Hindu/Jewish admirers/admirations since then…and that was all that it ever could be. Look at the menu, but don’t order...that was the mantra. Which reminds me…

It was on my first cruise to Barra Lodge in Mozambique that I met Antonio, one of the beautiful Italians working on the Ship. Everything about him mesmerized me…and again, I would say that his humility and graciousness is what really attracted me, although looking like he stepped out of the pages of GQ didn’t hurt either LOL! I always looked forward to seeing him, knowing that the lack of Muslim-ness meant that all I could ever do is look.
I met the most fascinating people on that trip too, real characters that made the experience very entertaining…Leo & Nirosha who were celebrating their 7th anniversary… Uncle Sam and Aunty Lima who were part of a group of other couples in their mid-forties/early fifties, also from Durban...a few chica’s backpacking from Brazil…

And in between getting lost in the town of Inhambane in Mozambique with the Brazilians and sharing the mango achaar (pickled mangoes to some) that Uncle Sam had smuggled onto the Ship, I was asked for my number twice, both non-Muslims…and the answer was the same as it always is, the emphatic…”I’m sorry, but I can’t”. I’m always met with arguments and objections from the other party, but they soon see how steadfast I am on this issue and back off. They often tell me stories of others…Muslim met non-Muslim = live happily ever after. I don’t judge…to each his own…and all the best for them…but I have my preferances.

It was our second morning, having breakfast on deck with Leo and Nirosha that I had the epiphany. Leo was still explaining to us how great fishing in Namibia is…said it’s better than sex. We all laughed hysterically and I was like dude, if it’s better than sex, then you must be doing something wrong…but then I looked at his wife who had a wicked smile on her face and knew that they were in the joke together. In some odd way, they made me realised that despite everything, I still wouldn’t give up Islam for anything or anyone. I realised that I deserved someone great, someone who can make me laugh, someone who would prank other people with me…and that it would be worth waiting for.


  1. I am sure you do deserve that special one Azra!

    Isn't that what Jannah is for?

  2. ahhhaaaaaa gud choice woman!

  3. my school has an "annual reunion" for pupil's from all the years.
    i have never gone. i guess i feel the same about the catching up bit.

    i remember the days of just looking at the menu. i went to a "Model C" school and plenty to look at, but couldn't touch because...non-muslim! :)
    i must admit, it did help on the behaviour bit :)

    it shows that our parents raised us right ;)

  4. My matric class used to have reunions through the years, but I never went---just because I never got along with most people in my grade.

    Guess I was pretty lucky with the Muslim Guys...I went to high school in lenz and dated two Muslim guys...Ridwaan & Yayha (not at the same time of course!).

    I was once very tempted to date a White Non-Muslim guy, but the appeal just kinda diminished. Stuart was younger than me, yet we connected on such a great level. At least I gained a life-long friend out of that relationship and he was the one that got me hooked on 'Terry Pratchet' novels.

  5. I'd like to have a reunion, sure, I'd like to be picky about who I'd like to reunite with but my school rocked.

  6. its great you have been following what you believe in.

  7. I found your blog the other day and have only had a chance to read a few posts, but I'm fascinated by it. I've always wanted to visit South Africa so I'll definitely be reading along to catch a glimpse of what it's like. Hope all's well!

  8. i can relate to this an awful lot. :D

  9. Mini - InshaAllah, he will be sent to me :)

    AD - :)

    Fatima - Yeah our parents have done wonders lol. It was a true test of faith I tell ya lol!

    TCQ - Lucky you two guys heh? LOL...well at least now you're with the one that counts right? White guys are noce friends...thats about it.

    Kay - It's great that you went to a great school...Sometimes I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

    Mubi - It's difficult, but I always say my soul is Muslim, before I'm even female. So that guides me.

    B2B - Thanks for stopping by...your blog is just as fascinating :) Well, hope I can give you some insight here. Come visit SA sometime.

    Sofi - Yeah...its life innit? :D

  10. Ah, the irony

    looks like the story of my life