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Nobody Dies Today

January 19th, 2015

Nobody Dies Today

01 Mosque minaret

 

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about my grandmother and discrimination in my childhood. Sixty some years later only the names and events have changed. I think Martin Luther King’s message would be the same as it was when he was talking about Vietnam and our place in the world: The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve.

Nobody Dies Today

I was in my blue dress with yellow daisies chasing the early evening fireflies hoping to find a fairy among them and as it became darker they lite the sky like stars. I would have rather been in my shorts, but Grandma said it was like Easter and I needed to dress as if I was going to church.
I was hot on the tail of a firefly with my net when Grandma called. “Susie, come on. It’s time to go. Hurry up. We can’t be late.”
“Grandma why are we eating so late? It’s already 7:30.”
“I told you. My friend, Aadila, doesn’t eat until after sunset.”
“Well, I’m hungry now.”
“Hush we’ll be there soon. Now here is the scarf I want you to put on your head. You left it in the hallway.”
The scarf was blue and matched my dress but it wasn’t winter. There wasn’t even a breeze. “I don’t want to wear it Grandma. It’s hot outside.”
“You can keep it off until we get to Aadila’s house, but you have to put it on before we go in.”
I play airplane with my hand out of the open window as Grandma drives the short distance to town. Front of my hand tilted up, my arm goes up. Front of my hand tilted down, my arm goes down. My hand drops as Grandma slows to turn into a parking lot. “Grandma that funny looking round tower looks like it belongs on a castle. What’s it doing here? Is this a castle?”
“No Susie. This is mosque and the tower is called a minaret.”
“A what? A marionette? It doesn’t look like a puppet.”
“No honey, a m-i-n-a-r-e-t. It’s a place from which the call to prayer is made for the Muslim people, and we need to be inside before the call is made to sunset prayers.”
“I pray right before I get into bed. Why are they praying now?”
“They pray at night too. I don’t know much but Aadila says prayers are offered 5 times a day: dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night.”
“Grandma, I can’t pray to someone else’s god. My Sunday school teacher taught us that God’s first commandment is to have no other god but him.”
“They call their God Allah, but he comes from similar history as our Christian God you learned about in Sunday school.”
Grandma parked the car and made me put on the scarf on my head before we got out. She took my favorite cake out of the back seat, Carrot. I wanted a piece after she made it, but Grandma said it for the dinner tonight. I hope dinner comes soon, because my stomach is gurgling.
I crossed my arms on my chest and refused to walk any further. “Grandma, did you say these people are Muslims?”
“Yes, Why?
“Uncle John says they want to kill all Americans. They already blew up those buildings in New York. I’m not going in there if I’m going to get killed.”
“Uncle John is wrong. Not all Muslims want us dead. Aadila is my friend and these other people entering are her friends. Now come on. They’re already calling for evening prayer.”
Grandma saw her friend waiting at the entrance to the mosque. She hugged my grandma and then looked at me. “You must be Susie. I’ve heard so much about you from your grandma.”
Grandma pushed me a bit closer to her friend. “Now tell Aadila what I taught you.”
I looked at the black asphalt beneath my feet as I spoke. “Ramadan Mubarak.”
Aadila took my hand. “And you to, have a blessed Ramadan.”
I took my hand away, in case she was trying to do something to me. Turing to Grandma I asked.   “When are we eating? Do I have to eat their food?”
Aadila pay no attention to me taking my hand away but kept talking to me. “We fast from sunrise to sunset, and after evening prayers we have an iftar.”
“What does fast mean?”
Grandma spoke. “It means not to eat.”
I looked at Aadila and she didn’t look like she hadn’t eaten. She wasn’t skinny. “Why? Don’t you have any food?”
Aadila spoke. “Oh we have food. Ramadan is a time to think about others who do not and maybe to feel a little bit of what they feel.”
I looked at Aadila as my stomach gurgled again. “Well I’m hungry but I’m not eating any of your food. I’m only going to eat Grandma’s cake. You may be trying to poison me with your food.”
Grandma looked at me over the top of her glasses. Her wrinkled forehead and firm line of her mouth told me she meant business. “There will be no eating of my cake until you eat some of Aadila’s food.”
“Okay, but you’ll be sorry when I’m dead.”
Aadila took my hand and lead me to the door. “There will be nobody dying today.”