A few weeks back there was another Egyptian Family Luncheon. It just so happened that it was also on the same day as my hair appointment and a slew of other things we had going on. By the time we got dressed to go and Khaled picked up our food contribution, we were an hour late.
Is that odd? Not really, but we are usually on time, or within 20 minutes. This time most of the food was gone by the time we arrived.
Sister: Assalamu alaikum Kristina! (Kiss-Kiss-Kiss) You are so late, all the food is gone!
Me: I’m sorry, we got here as soon as we could. I had appointments this morning.
Sister: Better late than not at all. I’m glad you are here!
We sat, we drank tea and we caught up.
During these gatherings, when I am sitting with a group of ladies, they all speak English. If someone has a difficult time remembering how to phrase something, she says it in Arabic, and the others translate. One friend went to Egypt, so we talked about her trip. Another talked about her grandchildren. I asked yet another friend about book recommendations for Pea. Her Arabic reading has gotten so good that I want her to read stuff that isn’t an assignment. I want her to practice. I want Dick and Jane books in Arabic. I want My Little Pony in Arabic. The only thing I can find are “Farook and his Camel go to play soccer…” Sorry, but Pea is not interested in Farook.Then, there was a speech about Egypt. An informational talk. Sister asked if I could understand the speaker. I said, “no, but Khaled will fill me in later.”
What happened next, has never happened before. Sister sat next to me and translated the talk. At the end of the talk, the speakers gave the speech again in English. They looked right at me, as if it was for only my benefit, making sure I understood what was being said. Then they said that there would be a transcript of the talk emailed out later in the week.
I was shocked. Then, I was thrilled. I felt welcome. I felt like it was important that I was there, and not just because I came with Khaled and they had to put up with me, but because I was a valued part of the community.
Afterwards, when we were finished cleaning up, Sister, Friend and I met up with The Dancer and her niece who had arrived sooooper late. We stood in a circle and continued to talk in broken English/Arabic. I commented on Friend’s new hijab, and when she reached up to gesture to the design on the scarf, I saw her beautifully manicured acrylic nails.
A clear example of moderation, not splitting hairs about wudu and salah.