I stood patiently waiting outside the building Sadia had given me directions to about 30 minutes ago. I tried not to look like I had been waiting long and was aware of how I was standing and also how I was feeling. So I took a little walk, picked up a bottle of iced tea and some water for her from the corner store then sat outside the building. I started up my ipod finishing a lecture that I had started to listen to the night before about the changes in the west and how islam was seeingly trying to keep up with these changes. The lecture was by Tariq Ramadan, a liked muslim lecturer from UK, I liked his thinking masha'allah, he had become a favourite speaker of mine over the last few months. I sat back on the bench and closed my eyes, maghrib wasnt for another few hours, so the sun was still shining and the weather was still pleasant which was nice. I was glad I had changed a little, although still questioned why I hadnt thought I was dressed well enough in the first place but I felt good and I wanted that to be reflected in my clothes. So I had changed into a pair of loose black cords, a white long sleeved tshirt and a black beenie, holding a record bag containing my photos, camera and a few random bits that I normally carry around in my trousers. I must have been sat there for 10 minutes with my eyes closed, only sensing the world go by, when the lecture finished. I opened my eyes to find something else and only then noticed Sadia inside the building watching me, I looked around to see if she was actually watching me and laughed to myself when I looked back. She pushed the door open with a shy smile and walked towards me wearing a long black cord skirt with a matching coloured blazer and a coral loose shirt underneath. Her shoes were flat and dark, her hijab was bright to match her shirt and brought out the blueness of her eyes. 'Assalamalikum,' she said sitting next to me, 'Walikum salam,' I answered pulling the headphones out of my ears and pushing them into my bag. 'How long you been waiting?' we both asked each other at the same time and laughed as I urged her to answer. She shrugged, 'not long. You?' ''Bout 15 minutes, I thought it would take me longer to get here,' I slightly bent the truth. I had thought it would take longer, and it did.. but I was still early because I had set out that much earlier than I should have. I wanted the chance to relax by the building so I didnt look as nervous when she met me.
We chatted for a small time outside the building, she saw people from her meeting leaving and introduced me to them as her 'brothers good friend' I had never been someone's good friend, so it was nice that she was introducing me as this. We talked about what I was listening to, I learnt Tariq was also a favourite speaker of hers, as was Zaid Shakir, Ziaullah Khan ( a brother from Canada), Said Rageah and some others that I hadnt really heard of. I noticed that her tastes were similar to mine and I liked that we had a connection that far when it came to the people we listened to. We chatted about our days since we had last sat down with my camera at her house last week and the things we had been up to. She mentioned some things she may need help with for the MSA and I told her about the assignment I was trying to finish early, the bball game that got cancelled and my never ending problem with my wardrobe. Although I think the last conversation was something for me to just tell someone and somewhat regretted it once I started, but she was open about it and even teased me.
We started to walk away from downtown after deciding to pray at the student prayer room around the corner, grab a bite to eat at the italian place down the road and sit at a coffee shop for a bit. As we walked over to the prayer room my phoned beeped with a message from Nasser telling me that this family wanted to meet me tonight if it was possible. I wasnt too sure if he knew I was with Sadia, so I contemplated how to reply, her phone rang as we were walking along. As she was talking I realised it was Nasser, so was relieved when she mentioned she was with me, I watched her as she talked to him.. typical brother sister relationship which I loved and envied at the same time. She passed the phone to me to talk to him 'Can you come over?' he asked... I looked at Sadia, emotionally torn by what I was discussing with him which in my head totally disrespected her. 'She told me what you guys are doing, but the time she was looking to get back home would be perfect, so??' I laughed quietly, he wasnt the subtle type and thats why I liked him. He didnt care about other people, I knew that the instant I had met him, I thought about his question. 'What time did she say?' I asked, sort of asking the 2 of them. She mouthed '9' to me and he said 'about 830 is what she told me,' I smiled 'insha'allah,' I told him... and then I handed her the phone. I wondered what he had told her about why he wanted to know if I could come back to the house, I would ask her when she got off the phone. By the time she got off the phone we were just walking into the room to pray so I figured it could wait, we grabbed a quick date, I passed her the bottle of water and we joined in the salah.
I made a prayer while in sujud asking God to steer me to the right path with regards to my relationship with Sadia and prayed that things would work out for the best. After prayer had finished I waited outside for Sadia pulling the bottle of iced tea out of the bag, I sat on the wall when I saw her talking to a few friends. She acknowledged me, waved and held up a finger to tell me she would be a minute. I pulled out my camera, I had recently fallen for out of focus shots and used them as a way to blur the world around the object of taking the initial picture. At this point, as I watched her surrounded by friends I was envious of the ability she had to control her thoughts and be involved in such conversations, even though I never knew the conversation. I took 1 shot, 2 shots, 3 shots then focused on a group of guys who were walking past, they looked at the girls and stopped just to the side of them. The prayer room entrance was also close to the entrance for a social room which was frequented by many students outside of class hours. Through the eye glass I saw 2 girls look over their shoulder at something one of the guys must had said, for some reason my camera focused on the sly smile of the guys and I noticed how they moved a little closer to the girls. I noticed Sadia look down and blush slightly, at that moment something took over me and I stood up walking over to them quickly. I stood between the small group of girls and the 3 guys who seemed to be making comments which I could now hear loud and clear. One looked at me with resentment in his eyes, I knew that look and I wasnt prepared to stick around to wait for the comments that came out after it. I looked at Sadia, 'you wanna go?' I asked her and looked towards her friends too, she nodded trying not to catch my eye. I walked behind them in what reminded me of a herding action although it was only meant as a protective gesture I kicked myself for how stereotypical it seemed. 'Frigging Arabs,' I heard one guy comment in a distinctive accent as we walked away. I stopped walking, pulled my ear phones out, Sadia noticed and grabbed my arm to stop me from reacting, I shook my head slowly 'dont worry,' I told her, 'walk on.. Ill catch up in a minute' I noticed the concern in her eyes as she went to grab my arm again but she caught my hand as I walked away from her motioning her to walk on. I walked up to the guys quietly and respectfully, nodded my head to say hello and told them 'I dont know if you treat your women like this where you're from, but that isnt how we do it here. Vale?' the main guy, who seemed to be the talker, his ears twitched at the use of a known word in this sentence of foreign language to him. 'You arabs..' he started.... 'woah dude, Im gonna stop you right there and tell you that none of the girls you just started harassing, or myself are arab ¿Como te llamas?' I asked, showing my lack of respect for him in the words I chose to use in our mutual language. I noticed him tense slightly, 'Miguel' he answered '¿Y usted?' I didnt answer him, just told them 'to learn respect because there are plenty of people around here who would be more than willing to help them learn' If you want to know more about the girls, I suggest you go to a mosque and learn about their faith' I then handed them a small booklet I occassionally gave out to people who asked about Islam. I didnt mind if they threw it away because this was their choice. '¿Es usted musulmán? ' One of the other guys asked me, I nodded my head before walking off to join Sadia who I noticed was stood on her own now holding my bag that I had passed her. She was going through my pictures and I noticed her wiping her face as she looked up and smiled at me.
'You ok?' I asked when I got to her taking my bag from her shoulder, she nodded and handed me back my camera. 'Sorry, I hope you dont mind me looking through your pictures,' I shook my head 'thanks for that' she said quietly. I frowned, not quite understanding what she was talking about until she threw her head in the direction of where I had walked from. I waved off her gratitude with a gentle flick of my hand 'Well youre bro aint here, who else is gonna look after you,' she looked me dead in the eye, 'I dont need looking after,' she told me sternly. 'I know that!' I knew that! I did, 'but I want to,' I had let my guard down and I kicked myself for it.. everything was ruined now. The moment had gone too far and I had submersed myself in my fantasy too much, we walked to the coffee shop in silence only for her to tell me that she would rather go home after coffee to which I was grateful for. Now I just wanted to go home and block out the world, I had ruined it all and for this I would have to answer for it.
We sat down after I picked up the coffee tab to her constant pleas to at least pay for half, it made me feel better to pay for it all. She picked a table that looked into the mirrored walls and we sat on the high stools, her bag rested over her knee and I placed mine on the counter next to me where I could see it. I noticed her foot moving to her internal beat, refreshed that she was still in the same frame of mind as during our garden conversation. Then I wondered if she always did this, or if it was the frame of mind that I put her in, which ever way I was never going to find out.
I broke the silence and told her 'I think Im just gonna drop you off at your place then get back to mine.' She was drinking her tea, which I had timed to see how her reaction would be, she finished her sip and slowly placed the cup down. 'Didnt Nasser want you at our house for something?' I nodded and shrugged my shoulders, 'nothing that cant wait' I told her looking into the mirror, I had to say something this was killing me. 'Listen about what I said before,' she stopped me with her hand and shook her head, 'no' I carried on, 'I didnt mean to make it sound so oppressive or big brotherly, I guess its just how I feel, how I am.' 'Its fine, honestly... dont worry, Im sorry I snapped' Was this how it was going to be now? I looked into my mug and swirled the hot chocolate around the inside to break up the pieces of chocolate shavings I had sprinkled on the top. I sighed. I looked up and caught Sadias eye before she looked down at a newspaper she had just opened. Did I feel that then? Or was it something I just wanted to feel? No, I had definately felt it! the way she looked, she was watching me. Before I could piece these thoughts together she told me, 'look, you should still come round for whatever you were coming around for. Nasser obviously wants you there, I think its something the family want. Please,' Did she know why I was going? I wondered... she continued 'And I know its something you want,' she was still looking down.
She knew, my heart broke. She knew I was going to meet this lady and she was either fighting her feelings to make things right or the mutual feeling wasnt really mutual. My heart snapped in half and my head slapped me around. Pull yourself together man it told me, its obvious how she feels now, so you can move on and live. I didnt know if I could. We spent the time it took to finish our drinks in silence, I messaged Nasser to let him know the change in times and then I walked her home... make or break evening was how it had turned out to be alright