Mona says

April 15, 2014

too much feeling, too little me

Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 4:55 pm

This morning we had some very sad news. My maternal uncle passed away unexpectedly. Granted he was sick but I just expected him to get better.

I feel like I’m in a bubble, a very vivid sense of disconnect. Like my grief is do much bigger and stronger than me. Physically. And holding me in.

I feel so very overwhelmed with grief but because there’s no physical proximity to what happened, I have to keep moving on with my day – I have houseguests at the moment – and my kids.

Outside the bubble, life goes on as always. Kids still get hungry, dishes need to be washed, the laundry doesn’t fold itself….

I spoke to my aunt, his widow, earlier this morning and she was so brave. We cried a bit together, talked about my uncle and I asked after my cousins, boys between 7 and 15 years of age.

I just saw them all at my brother’s wedding. I can’t believe he’s gone. I can’t believe there’s emptiness where he used to be. I’ve been praying hard for him and his family.

We all know that we are on temporary loan from Allah SWT to each other as a means of learning love and patience and earning sawab. But to actually let go is so hard. To say alhamdolillah and keep marching on hurts so much. Leaves you raw.

I can’t believe we are that point already where my uncles and aunts start passing away. Life is so fleeting and yet we let unimportant and inconsequential things distract us from this absolute truth.

I’m going to miss him tons, he was a pretty big part of my childhood. His strong faith, his sense of fairness and his sense of humor is what I will remember always.

I’m praying hard that this part of his journey is made easy and I will see him again. Not for a while but I will.

If you see this, please say a little dua for him.


March 3, 2014

impact with an i

Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 3:55 pm

In January, I started fus’ha arabic classes again. It’s lovely to sit and learn in the company of inspiring women. Again. And it is such an imaan boost. That lovely feeling where you feel connected to the higher purpose of your life, the absolute joy of it is incomparable. Four days a week, I study Arabic – the patterns within, the discrepancies that don’t fit and the lovely formulas that make sense of it all. And understand why something is said the way it is in the Quran.

The thing about these lovely imaan-highs, is that apart from making me feel at peace and like I’m literally floating through life, with a warm happy glow in my heart, is that it pushes me back towards continuous improvement. Yes, this is a business management concept but there’s no reason why it can’t be applied to life management. I think it is a central concept in Islam, anyhoo. You fall back one step, get up and keep moving back up.

So anyway, in the quest for self-betterment, I’ve been thinking about what kind of Muslim I want to be. About what I want as my defining characteristic. As the way to make the most impact. Or as the article that talked about living life by what you want your eulogy to be asked, what I want to be remembered for. I think I’ve reached a conclusion. It has got to be manners for me. I want to have beautiful manners, as a person and as a Muslim.

It’s nice to have a goal at least and I will try and put up my small steps here on this blog when I can!

August 5, 2013

Ramadan in India

Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 11:29 pm

This particular trip to India has been hard on the heart so far. Somehow, maybe because its Ramadan, seeing how some of the less fortunate live has been harder to stomach and I can’t help but be supremely grateful for all the innumerable blessings in my life, none of which I’ve done anything to deserve.

I was secretly annoyed with the excitement that the kids and z were displaying about this trip. It made my dread increase exponentially knowing that I was the only one not looking forward to the trip. But this time, the kids are also both old enough to understand the things going on around them and now that they are actually here, they are finding it hard to be here too. Personal discomforts aside, my soft hearted daughter cannot stand the sight of little kids, half-dressed and shoe-less playing in the streets. Or knowing that the man who comes in to do handy jobs around the house can neither speak not hear yet works so hard for meals everyday. So many such other stories and sights.

They’ve been sick too, the usual tummy bugs – and here I was so excited about giving them food straight from nature. Aah, how things work out. Z is busy with the numerous errands that come along with a big family wedding and I’m busy with the bride and her packing and the usual household chores and the kids are left to their own devices. They’ve been playing together well and in general, keeping themselves busy.

I am also finding that it is so much harder to do the kind of ibadah I want to while I’m here. By the time, I head to bed I’m thrice as tired as I usually am at home – from the tummy bug I’ve been sporting, from all the chores and errands that need to be run and caring for the kids sore tummies. Plus, it’s just been harder to find peace in my heart here – to just sit and reflect. Despite the problems I see here, the same ones that make me heartsick.

It should be easier here because, but it’s not. It’s easier in the comfort of my own home, with no worries about water shortages or power outages or constant rain or anything of that sort. Barely three days or so to go to Eid and I’m so sad to see this month end. Physically, it’s been hard but this may have been the first time ever I’ve consistently loved, appreciated and enjoyed this month.

I know that my efforts were nowhere as great as they could have been, but I hope to keep this pace up and be ready for the next round, inshaAllah. I pray that we get many more Ramadans and find the Night of Power in each one 🙂

July 28, 2013

Thoughts, Ramadan 2013

Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 1:14 pm

This year, the fasts are about 15 hours long. As always, the first was the hardest. Now we’ve all fallen into a (exhausted) sort of routine, and I don’t feel the hunger or the thirst as much. Schooling yourself to ignore hunger and thirst when you know you will be provided for at iftar is easy, I guess.

I’m now focusing on the other parts of myself that need working on – the humility, the constant faith, being just and kind, being patient – the things that will really draw me closer to the kind of Muslim I want to be. This is the part that’s so much harder. That is what I struggle with daily.

Remembering to be grateful for all the blessings that I’ve asked for, and those that I haven’t. Remembering that in actuality I didn’t really do anything to ‘deserve’ the good. Putting what my deen requires of me before what my nafs wants. Being kind and patient to with the children, no matter what, being non-judgmental – basically turning into a real ambassador of Islam.

I struggled in the first few days with doing more and more and more ibadah. As a result, I was tired and cranky and wanted the day to end about 5 minutes after Iftar. It really wasn’t working for me and I came across this video, which reminded me of advice a wise friend had given me a few ramadans ago, how everything you do can be made worship just by fixing your intention – just by doing for the sake of your Lord. That simple!

So now things are going so much better, the days flow more smoothly into one another. I spend a lot more time with the kids explaining the meaning and reason behind revelation of the smaller surahs, talking about Islam and telling them stories from the Quran or working on Islamic crafts. The kids love it and I always come out feeling that my iman has just received a boost as well.

Once in a while, I feel like that I’m not doing enough ‘real’ ibadah but I pray taraweeh with so much feeling that it quickly does away with that line of thinking. Then I feel guilty that I take the easy way out when I should be pushing myself to do more. It’s a vicious circle but focusing on my own personal goals and family’s happiness for this Ramadan seems to be working out well for me. The last ten nights, the most important part of Ramadan, are almost upon us. I will be in India and I think it will be a real test then to keep the Ramadan spirit going but I’m going to give it my very best.

April 24, 2013

still more mom thoughts

Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 6:12 am

Once my mom came home from the hospital, after all emotional realizations and resolutions, I thought that things would change drastically between us. I imagined that we would have that relationship that I always wanted to share with her.

And things did change, for a little bit. During the change period, mom and I were super considerate and affectionate with each other. I did whatever she asked, without questioning it like I normally would. I listened to her advice, no matter how out of the world it was and she listened to me talk without interruptions or worse, instructions.

It’s been more than three weeks since she’s back home and now we’re starting to fall into a new pattern for our old routine. It’s not crazy like it used to be and I don’t let our little tiffs bother me the way they used to. I wonder if it really was that simple – just accepting her as she is, quirks and all, and not expecting the pedestal-version of her? I also wonder if, at some point, I’ll forget how painful it was to think of my life without her in it and we’ll go back to bickering like we used to. I hope not.

While my mom was sick, but on the mend, I read this line, I don’t know where or by whom – things are a bit hazy from that time – that no matter how old you are when you lose your mom, you go back to just being her child for the period of grief. For all my mom’s nuttiness, she’s the one that helped me make sense of the world, of everything around me from the word go and without her in it, my world would be turned upside down. So, even though we’re poles apart in nearly every sense, here’s to many, many years of her in my life!

April 8, 2013


Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 1:12 pm

Of late, I’ve been reading about the magical powers of beets and I can’t think of ONE way to get my kids to eat it. But I could get them to drink it, if I added tons of other things to mask its very distinct flavor. 

So midweek, last week, I threw in a beet, a carrot, an apple and a handful of strawberries and we were all set. Once ready, I added some honey, and served it and the family lapped it up! The next day, I replaced the apple with a green one and strawberries with grapes and it went down easy too.

I had two containers of pulp and no ideas. So of course, I turned to pinterest and got some ideas. One container became halwa, with ghee and sugar, some milk and garnished with cashews, walnuts and pistachios. The other became a fruit sauce for pancakes and custard. Also, just with sugar and cardamom pods.

Tomorrow, we will try another variation and if i try something different with the pulp, I will come back here and post about it! 

March 18, 2013

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Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 5:47 am

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September 15, 2012

never before

Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 6:31 pm

I’ve never felt the angst that some women did about becoming moms and losing a part of themselves. Sure, I missed having my me-time, and the normal stuff women all over the world take for granted like long showers and using the bathroom in peace – but I never once yearned for my old life. I missed bits and pieces but not with the intensity I saw in some of the women I know.

Until today. Today, I reconnected with a colleague who became a pretty good friend. She reminded me, during our short conversation, of all those things I’d forgotten about my single and before-kids life.

And with everything else going on – the house guests, the lack of help and the tipsy turvy routine – for the first time since I quit, four years ago, I wished, desperately, that I could turn back time. It wasn’t because of the kids as such so I don’t know if it counts as the same thing but I think I finally know what those blogging moms wrote so passionately about.

August 30, 2012

A little bit of sunshine, please

Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 2:03 pm

It was early 2005 and Z and I were looking for our first apartment. I knew what I wanted and I think he knew pretty well what I wanted too. And so we got our first ‘home’ together – a small one bedroom apartment, that we just loved. About three years later, we were looking to move again.

This time my list of non-negotiables was longer. On Z’s list was just one thing – ONE thing and that was direct sunlight. I shrugged my shoulders and said, heck, okay, I love me some sunshine too. And so we got our second apartment, a roomier two bedroom apartment with huge windows that we spent four years in.

This year we moved again, to yet another apartment. That’s right, three bedrooms and of course, this one met all my non-negotiables but boy, did it meet Z’s two. We have our own parking space and BIG, sun-facing windows – all five of them. They’re quite literally picture windows, you could spend hours in front of them.

And on Monday afternoon, the one in our bedroom, the lower panels just shattered. We’re up on the fifth floor so we’re pretty sure that nobody threw anything at it – it was probably just the heat. That’s what the maintenance guys think too. They took the entire panel out and boarded up our window and we’ve been sunlight-less for the last three days.

I’d got to used to having bright light in all the rooms that now going in to my ‘dark’ room (my sanctuary!) depresses me. I’ve been feeling lethargic and dissatisfied with everything. SubhanAllah, how small things affect us. Of course, my first thoughts were all positive, nobody was hurt and it was meant to be and so on but now three whole days later, I’m so ready for my sun-shiny window again.

Here’s how it looked before they took out the panel.



On the positive side of things, I’ve been swimming again, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy swimming. Of course my muscles are screaming but I like that I have the swimming thing to counter the dark bedroom thing. Something to buoy me right back up. Oh, the small Mercies of Allah SWT!

August 11, 2012

the last ten nights

Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 12:52 pm

Now that we’re in the last third of Ramadan, I’m trying to stay up all nights through. Today’s the 23rd of Ramadan so three nights in and I’m already showing signs of wear and tear. With the kids’ lack of routine, it gets harder. They went to bed early last night so woke at 9.30 and I only went to bed after 5.30 AM so I wasn’t exactly a happy camper this morning. Not that I was a grouch either but I definitely wasn’t my usual sunny self.

But I’m not complaining because last night’s ibadah was sweet. There’s just no other word to describe it – it’s funny if you’ve never experienced it but it just was. Besides the usual signs of laylatul qadr, one of the blessings I read about recently was that if you’re up and praying, you will want to pray more, and find sweetness in it as well. I don’t know how authentic that is but I can tell you this much, last night was everything I want the last ten nights to be. My heart was in the du’as I made and I felt something as well – I don’t know what but something. And when Z came home from qiyam, he said there was a light cool breeze blowing and I felt so blessed. We’ll never really know but hope springs eternal, does it not?

It’s not easy to do as much as the heart yearns for as a mom but with a bit of planning (for yourself) and complete lack of routine (for the kids), it is possible 🙂

May we find the most blessed of all nights this year and may Allah accept and reward our efforts immensely, Ameen!

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