Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Friend from Home

On our first full day in Kuala Lumpur, we hang out with other Americans. They are Balgees and Idris, an Arab Indonesian American and a second-generation Iraqi American couple. Balgees cooks us a traditional Indonesian dish as I write from my ipad in her living room.

Balgees, who moved to the United States when she was fifteen, remembers meeting me once in Virginia. But in KL we have become more than acquaintances as Balgees and Idris have become our family away from home. They have driven us to grocery stores, malls, and major tourist sites.  They play with Yahya and hold Lut as my mother, aunt, or sister would.

I laugh heartily as Balgees fascinates me with stories of her immersion in black culture while living on the South Side of Chicago and attending a majority-black university. It's as though we've been friends for a lifetime.

We both sigh with relief when we are welcomed by familiar scents and sights in the new malls that draw expats and tourists. We long for home. But when prayer comes in, we take advantage of Muslim space. Instead of stealthily praying in a dressing room as we would back home, we pray comfortably among our Malaysian Muslim sisters in the mall suraus, or prayer areas. The natives put on their traditional Malay prayer garments, submerging their fashionably covered bodies in a sea of modesty. But Balgees and I ignore the prayer garments set aside neatly in bags for surau worshippers. We are fine with praying in our everyday clothes.  

1 comment:

  1. Salaams Jamillah! Just letting you know that I am here and reading. I am very excited for you and your "new chapter". May Allah continue to bless you and your family. ( you may wanna consider adding the feature for your readers to "follow" you or rather subscribe to your blog so I can get notifications when you update.) :) Much Love!