A Friend’s Correspondence: If Ever a Heart Could Fly

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What do you see when you look back on your youth? Are any of your memories recorded? The following submission from F—– (she asked that we keep her and her friends’ names anonymous) is a relic of her sixteen year-old self. It’s a study of youth and friendship, of language and writing, and a tribute to the love of hijab…

If Ever a Heart Could Fly

My name is F—–. And I’m convinced that everybody should write letters or emails to their friends and relatives when they’re young. Or keep a journal or diary. Somewhere, somehow, they should get down some part of their lives in writing.

Then they should keep these writings somewhere safe, and forget about them for a few good years. After those years are over, if Allah gives them life, they’ll have those writings to look back on. They’ll have a window into their “past selves,” what they used to do, how they used to think and feel. And more likely than not, they’ll find something to have a good laugh at.

This conviction comes after finding an old email correspondence between myself and two friends, when one of them first began wearing hijab. And because what better way to expose preserve this correspondence than to publish it on the world wide web, and because you might be in need of a good laugh, too, I’d like to share the correspondence here with you.

This first is an email from from my friend H—, sent to S—– and I, in all its misspelled, mistyped glory, truncated to show only the relevant parts:

Sent: Saturday, December 22, 2001 6:00 PM
Subject: Re:

[…]
> imsooo sorry I didn’t write earlier.. but we’re in London and there’s no
> internet in our house.. soim in an internet cafe and the
> stupid keyboard doesn’t work properly:( the space button doesn#t work…
[…]
> oooooooohhh!!you guys you’re going to be sooo happy…especially you
> s—–… ehem ehem… i’ve become muhagaba!!!!!!!! yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!! if
> i could chat to you…you wouldsee me wearing thescarf:) il7amdulilah..i did
> it and i’snot hard at all..i don’teven feelit..until some pplstart staring
> at me..nah..imjoking..no one does, esp here in london..alpo of arabs
> around..
[…]
> b’byeeeeeeeeee
> H—

Next comes my reply. Is it unhonest of me to have removed a few typos from my own email? Even after all these years, I’m embarrassed to find mistakes in words I labored so hard over. H—, I hope you’ll forgive me for not doing the same to yours.

Sent: Monday, December 24, 2001 8:27 PM
Subject: Re: Re:

Dearest H—,

Oh dearest, dearest H—… How long ago it seems since I first met you in the autumn of the year 2000! How long ago since you and I had our first e-mail conversation, when I had just begun to know and understand and love you! How long ago since you first left me stranded in the depths of my misery to seek knowledge in a faraway place!

And now — now, you bring me such happiness, such overwhelming happiness. What glad tidings I have just received! If ever a heart could fly on wings of joy and a soul soar to unimaginable heights, I think mine should at this very moment.

How could you say, how could even begin to think that I should not be as happy as S—–? How and why? Have I not yet proved myself a loyal and loving friend? Have I not yet shown a keen interest in all that is good for you? If I have not, then believe me, I love and care of you as I love and care for only a portion of the people I know.

I have always taken such pride in you; but never has my pride reached such an insurmountable peak. To know that you have become muhajaba… what more can one say. It is so hard for me to believe. Not because I think you incapable, but because it seems too good to have happened.

But I believe it, I really do. If only you could’ve know that I had prayed for you! I prayed for you, and He above who sees and hears all has made my prayer come true. He that gave S—– and I the strength to carry out His will, He who gave the strength to all those who became muhajabas before you, has now given it to you. Congratulations H—. Oh, congratulations. I congratulate you with the utmost sincerity of my heart and with the greatest depth of my feelings.

[…]

Love,
F—–

There’s a lot about this old email that makes me laugh: Like the first paragraph of my email that references how H— decided to go to a different school than the one we were in together, leaving me “stranded in the depths of my misery.” Talk about melodrama.

Or the accompanying entry recorded in a journal I kept at the time saying how much H— told me she loved this email. And how she even showed it to her family. How her mother (whose native language is Arabic) said, “I don’t understand if her English is that good, or if my English is that bad?” and how we cracked up at that. But how her older sister was confused (and rightfully so) and asked, “Why is she writing like that?”

Well, I thought it was eloquent and sophisticated. At the time, my “best pieces” were written in that style, which was nothing like the way I talked. And at the time, I was very proud of my email and my writing. I look at it now, of course, somewhat confused, and I ask, “Why did I write like that?” And I laugh. Oh, do I ever laugh.

But for altogether other reasons, this email still makes me proud. It reminds me of the innocence of youth and extent of happiness I felt at other girls’ decisions to wear hijab. Despite the hyperbolic mode of exaggerated expressions, my sentiments then were genuine, I believe, and still stand.

H—? S—–? Are you there? Well, when I say this email still makes me proud, I mean it still makes me proud of you two, and of all of your strengths and struggles. I still  love and care for you two as I love and care for only a portion of the people I know. And if I have not yet proven myself a loyal and loving friend – if I have not yet shown a keen interest in all that is good for you – I’m willing to go the extra mile, still.

I’ll even write you a sentimental and sappy email to prove it.

______________

Jazakum Allahu khayran to F—– and her friends for sharing a part of their pasts with us. If you have anything you’d like to share with IGIC and its readers, make sure you send it in through our contact form.