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  • Writer's pictureSaira Sufi

The Smell of Mehndi-Love or Hate?

It is Eid. I am on my third cup of coffee and it is not even 3pm. Zakaria thinks I will get up to five cups. We shall see. It's Cold Spoon, in case you were wondering, Dunkin first and then Duck donuts. You can tell I am high class. We prayed at 6:30am at the Muslim Community Center (MCC) in Maryland. My parents prayed later. Zakaria prayed next to me even though he wanted to be in the men's section. He promised my mother that he would stay with me because that was safer. Navigating prayer spaces as a single mother is now part of my routine. While I can acknowledge that Zakaria is getting older and soon won't feel comfortable in the women's section, it was really nice to have him snuggle up to me during the Eid khutbah/sermon. I loved seeing all the fabulous outfits at MCC. The sparkles made it hard to focus on the khutbah. I did pay attention when the khateeb spoke of showing love for your mother. I thought about my own mother, who used to wake up mad early and make seviyan before we drove the one and half hours to Kansas City for Eid prayer. I also thought about my father, the President of MCC. He made sure I was aware the announcements that were read were put together by him. Apple...tree. Then I thought about my lovely sons. Grief, oh, grief. I have become well accustomed to you and I always think I know how to handle the waves that will knock me down flat. I am now realizing that maybe there is no way to truly "handle" them. When visiting Hadi's grave and Zakaria calmly states, "I miss Hadi"... I allowed the tears. A friend recently said, "I want to apologize for not checking in more. I know that as time passes, missing Hadi doesn't get easier and I haven't done enough checking in with you." I let her know there was no need to apologize. I won't say it gets easier, it's, um, different. While she might not have checked in on me, I let her know that I burst into laughter just the other day thinking how she used to leave messages and have her cat "talk" to Hadi while he was at the NIH. Man, he loved it. All of the kindness shown to us will not be forgotten.

I keep staring at the mehndi on my hand and I smile thinking about how my former step daughter allowed me to do simple designs on her hands on Eid and how Hadi and Zakaria insisted on some as well. I also can't decide if I love or hate the smell. This happens every year. Zakaria wasn't into mehndi this year and I guess I have to acknowledge he is getting older. I also realize how different his Eid experience is than mine was as a kid. Wait, you have the day off from school? Your awesome neighborhood friend explained Eid on the morning announcements?

Alhumdullilah, I look back on my divorce agreement and I am glad I insisted that Zakaria's father and I split time with Zakaria on Eid ul fitr. The kid might just be happy that, "a good thing about the divorce is that Daddy and you both keep up with the Duck Donuts tradition" but for me, I am glad I am able to squeeze him and give him three kisses. This year, the agreement stated that I had the evening before until noon the day of Eid. That meant-Maryland first and then drop off in Virginia, back to Maryland for an Eid party and now back in Virginia for coffee. Topeka, to Lawrence to Kansas City...I got this. I also am also on alert with Zakaria in the car because I never quite know what questions will come out of his mouth. "Mommy, for the record, are you looking for a spouse?"

A brief pause in the Glen Echo parking lot to bawl my eyes out, because, well, attending an Eid party without monitoring how much chocolate or sugar my kids eat still is weird. Let's be honest, I never really monitored. :) Just like I don't really monitor my coffee intake. Eid Mubarak, everyone! La halwa wala quwatta, illa billa (there is no power or might except with God).

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