Tag Archives: family

A Letter To My Nephew on His Birthday

My Dearest Salem,

I remember coming home from Qatar to see you for the first time, holding you at the airport and having you giggle rather than cry. I just can’t even explain all the emotions that rushed through me at that moment.

I praise God every day for bringing the joy that is you into my life. As I watch you grow into the smartest, funniest and cutest human, I’m in awe. I can’t believe you are already turning five years old. Where has the time gone?

On your birthday today, I want you to know a few things…

  • You are loved beyond words.
  • Your smile is contagious, keep smiling.
  • I’m extremely proud of your awesomeness.
  • You are amazing, never doubt yourself.
  • You will achieve greatness, just put your mind to it.
  • There are no stupid questions, so ask away.
  • Kindness and respect are universal currencies to be splurged.
  • You can be anything you want to be when you grow up.
  • Just don’t grow up too fast, enjoy being a kid.

Happiest of birthdays to my cartoon watching buddy, my funny tickles, my little blonde monster, my beautiful nephew.

I will always love you this much times infinity!

Love, Auntie Hala
xoxoxo

Foodie Farewell – a Snapchat Story

Flashback to two weeks ago when Kamal and myself (aka foodie royalty) got a magnificent send off! Can’t thank the team at Nisantasi Baskose and my foodie friends enough for this lovely, unforgettable afternoon.

Happy Eating peeps!

She’s Fine Now

الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ -القران الكريم 2:156

Who, when calamity befalls them, say, “Verily, to God we belong and, to Him we shall return.” -The Holy Quran 2:156

Last week, on the evening of July 27th, my eldest paternal aunt, Sayeda Abdoun, passed away peacefully in Egypt.

My father, who is there, tells me that her burial and funeral went as she had wished. He said everything came together smoothly, almost as if she had described what would happen when she passes.

Of course, he is devastated.

She was a second mother to him. It was her home where he got any of his studying done throughout high school and college before heading out to America. It was her home where my parents were wed. And it was her home where my dad preferred to stay during his visits after retirement.

I was blessed to have met the aunt I resemble the most back in 2011. We spent so many days and nights just talking about anything and everything like two girlfriends. Despite our age, generational and lifestyle differences, “Ametuh” as I’d call her, almost always understood me.

One afternoon, we were talking about shopping and she shared how as a young girl, all she wanted was to go to school wearing new shoes and carrying the prettiest bag. She was married young to a man she would love for decades after his death. So much so, she couldn’t even part with his clothing.

“I miss him”, she’d tell me. “He did everything for me, especially when I was sick after the failed pregnancies and difficult births.”

She was very much a homebody as she got older. Yet one night, out of the blue, she asked to join me on a short walk to see my eldest uncle. During our walk, she’d tell me about the roads and people that came upon our paths. After an eventful evening, we got home and I asked her if she was OK after such walks. And she said with a smile, “I’m fine.”

Ametuh’s life was not easy and her life’s story inspired me to pursue greater things than the “norms of society”. She fell for the norms, she didn’t go to school wearing new shoes and carrying the prettiest bag.

She lived through her two children after her husband’s passing, becoming a grandmother of eight and a great grandmother of nine. She wanted nothing but the best for her family. When all was good with them at home, she’d quietly go to her room and fall asleep. Should i go in to check on her, “I’m fine” was her answer.

As much as I’m heartbroken and saddened by Ametuh’s sudden passing, I know she is resting in quiet peace. I know she’s fine now.

Please keep Ametuh in your thoughts and prayers. May she rest in God’s eternal peace and light… Ameen.

Unexplained Heartache

I have been hurt by heartache for several weeks now. I’ve laid awake trying to understand this hurt, suppress the pain. I didn’t think I can be this hurt by people deciding to let me go without a word.

These are the people that were family by bond, thicker than blood. A lifetime of laughter and tears, love and compassion, memories and journeys shared and forever cherished. In a moment, they let it go. In a moment, they let me go.

How can you love someone so much, expect nothing in return only to easily let them go? Maybe that’s why I’m sitting here hurt, holding back tears as I smile to those I love so they don’t see how easily hurt by love I can be.

#DearFerguson

Twitter/RAPaurora

 

As I lay to rest, I think of my family on the other side of the world waking up.

I think of his family, their grief, their sorrow, their pain.

Why have we allowed a vicious cycle to continue? Why have we not learned anything from history?

Violence begets violence. Injustice begets injustice. Anger begets unrest. Silence begets deafness.

Listening begets understanding. Actions begets change. Calm begets peace. Voices begets unity.

Dear Ferguson, we stand with you in unified prayer, in peaceful solidarity, in the right fight for justice and change.

-Ms. Hala
25 November 2014
Doha, Qatar

The Masks They Wear

It’s always entertaining when a rant of mine strikes a few nerves. In my recent rant on what I’ve learned over the past two years as an expat, I wrote, “Don’t be surprised that there’s just as much fake people as there is fake designer wear floating around.” Why?

Ever since my decision to move to the Middle East, it hit me hard how fast people can change on you. People are not what they appear to be. I can no longer take people at their face value. I can no longer judge, trust and love people so easily. Only in good times and bad, in distance and closeness, in richer and poorer did I know whom my friends really are.

I have literally gone through a social detox several times over the last two years. (And no, cleaning Facebook friends doesn’t count, although it does help, because Facebook is a digital high school… am I right?) My most recent detox was during my last visit home this past spring. So many people went out of their way to see me. To err is human and in the back of my mind I wondered about those I cherished that didn’t even bother to send their regards. I spent some quality time with family and friends that made my trip so memorable. Even as I heard the lovely rumors about myself – from how rich I was, to my new found snubbiness and everything in between – this was a bonding yet eye opening trip to say the least.

Landing back in Doha was no different. I was determined that after what I had been through back home, I needed to reevaluate the company I kept. I let the “please, please let’s remain friends” retract the request without hesitation. I let the negative energy from the whining and complaining about the blessings taken for granted drift away. I didn’t save the wrong number of the “call me if you need anything”. I did not accept the digital apologies as I preferred human contact.

Its the only way I can remain being the family and friend I want to have.

Sometimes one needs to step away from the theater for the actors to remove their masks during intermission. Then return to the theater before they have a chance to put the masks back on and continue the act. Sometimes the masks are necessary to show the world strength when there’s weakness, confidence when there’s uncertainty and a smile when there’s tears. But not all masks were design with the same hands. One must then decide whether or not the masks they wear and what’s underneath is acceptable.

Is the person real or as fake as the “fake designer wear floating around”?

San Francisco Bay Area Hit With a 6.1 Earthquake!

I remember when the earthquake hit in October of 1989 like it was yesterday! It was one of the scariest moments of my childhood! Being with my younger brothers & my very pregnant mommy when it hit, I soon felt safe. We instructed each other on the drill we learned from school (“get under the table, NOW!”), comforted each other and slowly put away anything that had fallen off the shelves. Since we lived in a second story apartment, to be safe, we spent the night in the lobby in case any major aftershock hit while we slept.

Reading on today’s earthquake via Twitter while being so far away from home, that moment when I was scared just rushed through me. I’m, once again, comforted by messages via apps and social media that my loved ones are all OK in their homes.

Image of the epicenter of today’s earthquake, c/o of KGO Radio (San Francisco).

Insha’Allah everyone is OK, especially those experiencing their first earthquake. May you always be surrounded with your loved ones to comfort you and  make you feel safe… Ameen.