And Roses on Our Chairs

9

Allah makes the path of obedience easy.

For those of you who read And Corn in our Cassadia, consider this the sequel.

I was having what you might call a very lazy morning. At 7 A.M. (late, in my world), I was just rolling out of bed about to dash and zoom to catch my 8 A.M. lecture. I made it at 8 A.M exactly. Rushing in, I distributed quick, generic smiles to my friends and hastily found a seat. Focused on my mission of finding a seat, I didn’t take in the details of my surroundings – and that’s how I missed it.

“Bushra!” my friend, Eshraq, whispered.

I looked at her a couple of seats away, Eshraq, possibly one of the most kind-hearted girls I’ve ever met, smiling at me. She’s always cheerful, always there to greet you warmly on even the most hectic of mornings. While the rest of the pack (and we really are analogous to a pack) constantly bicker amongst ourselves like siblings, she remains the peaceful one, never complaining or fussing.

Eshraq, by far the most feminine of us, who went through a phase of surprising me with dried red roses, leaving them on my chair in the morning before lectures. I would carry them around proudly all day, looking like a Valentine’s Day victim in early fall, but really their beauty was inherent in their lack of occasion. The roses, I’ll never forget the roses.

Eshraq, the one who could earn the love of any stranger, doctor, or colleague with her gentle outgoingness. Eshraq, the sunshine.

Now, she pointed out her feet so I could see. She was wearing a jilbab. For the first time ever. I was in utter shock and surprise. She had told me she wanted to several times before, but today, out of no where, she was wearing it. I couldn’t express anything major as we were in class, but I smiled and congratulated her. After lecture was when we could freely hug and chatter excitedly.

“At first, I wanted to tell you,” Eshraq said, “But I knew how much you would want me to wear jilbab, so I decided to surprise you, of all people.”

So last time, I was in on the surprise, and this time, I wasn’t. Both times, it was great- alhamdulilah! Last time, Sama, another friend of mine, was like the wake-up call, the reminder to those around us. But now with Eshraq, it was turning into a trend. And they both made it seem so easy. This is their method: on random weekdays, they go out, buy three jilbabs (the magic number apparently), continue the day normally at the library or studying at home, and show up the next day in jilbab. Truly, Allah makes the path of righteousness easy and paves it for his slaves!

Throughout the day, Eshraq was joyous and happy. She kept repeating, “I feel so comfortable. It always used to bother me, even if there was nobody in the street to see me, and even if nobody told me. It bothered me inside. And now, I feel so comfortable.”

April 12, 2011, the day Eshraq wore jilbab, and the only day of the week that it rained … rain, mercy, change, renewal, hope. Praise be to Allah, for His mercy, who gave me friends like these, who blessed me to know someone as sweet as Eshraq Al-Qadri.

Tommorow, I plan to surprise Eshraq with three pink roses, like ‘ol’-times’. Alhamdulilah, the picture is growing more and more beautiful: jilbabs, smiles on our faces, and roses on our chairs.