I hate shopping. I hate shopping so very much, and I avoid it as much as possible. Until mom asks me to take her shopping in case she finds something she might like. And then I neither want nor can say no to her, so I end up taking her, and that happens almost every weekend. For the longest time, I didn't realize something that now has become a precious piece of fact to me: The time my mom and I are together in the car, on our way to shopping, is our bonding moment, and we learn from and with each other and understand each other bit by bit.
Of course, there's that feeling of immense delight that comes with doing something for your mother that I get once our shopping is done. No other feeling can match that one. I feel like I have accomplished something big—and I have!— when I do something my mom wants me to do, especially if it's something that I don't lose anything in while doing.
I am learning happily that I love taking her shopping! So much that I now almost compel her to go shopping with me! She updates me on what's going on with the other Pukhtuns in this area, who's getting married and who's having babies back home in Swat, which woman is going through what, which Pukhtun is begging her/his parents to let her/him marry a Punjabi in the area. (I love the last one! It's becoming more and more common here, and I love it. I really do. But it never happens, unfortunately. The child seldom wins. Because "What will people say?") Almost every time, we talk about marriage. Every once in a while, we also talk about love. She admits love is natural and can happen before marriage, but she also admits that the *only* reason our parents don't want us to marry the ones we love because then people will talk. So during our last shopping trip, we talked about this whole "people will talk" stuff. And that’s when she told me that nice little story of an old man, son, and their donkey and how the man learns that people will talk about him and find faults in him no matter how much he tries to please them. [See image to the right.]
For example, she told me a rumor that was going around about this really respectable and decent Pukhtun family here, whom I myself think very highly of for many reasons. And both my mom and I were shocked at the rumor. I was like, “WHAT?! There are talks even about them?! Me, yeah, okay – I show my hair in all-women gatherings, so that makes me a bad girl, something like a bitch, even, but that family? No way!” And mom was like, “Yes. I was surprised, too.” And then I said, “Well, goes to show that no matter how hard we try to be good, we’re going to be talked about anyway, and maybe even hated and disrespected. So why try so hard? Why be different with people whose opinion is clearly not worth a thought?”
While on our way to our destinations, I also put on music. Mom used to mind before—and sometimes still does a little (music is forbidden in Islam, according to many Muslims). There are certain songs my mom loves, especially if they’re Pukhtun songs. It’s as if … well, a Pukhto song isn’t really “haraam” I guess because it’s not sung in the language of the Hindus (Hindi!) or in the infidels' language (English!)… :D … but Pukhto songs? Totally Islamically acceptable! Interestingly, though, her favorite songs are now THE Ghani Baba’s poetry! Can you BELIEVE it?! I KNOW!!! Those are like the most heretical, most blasphemous verses ever, many Muslims think! But my mom gets it: She recognizes the beauty, the humor, the strength, the boldness in Ghani’s poetry, and she thinks, like me, that Takkar’s voice is the only voice that does justice to Ghani’s words. She tells me during almost every ride, "Put that Ghani song on where he--may God forgive me for saying this--tells God he wants this world to be turned into heaven and doesn't want the hoors of the next life." (Click here to read the English lyrics of the song she's talking about.)
Anyway, so mom tells me every now and then as we listen to Ghani’s songs, “But you know, even though he’s saying all these things to God—and may God forgive him for doing so!—he was actually a very good, pious Muslim man. He never missed a prayer and always read the Qur'an and all.” I can only smile. (I beg to differ he was like this! But I do believe he was pious in non-conventional ways.) But my beloved mother wants to assure me that, despite Ghani Baba’s bold ways of talking to and about God, he was a practicing Muslim and that if I love him this much, I should do the same.
So, yeah! For now, this is enough, I think, but more on it later for sure!