The night is cold, rain pelting against the small windows, filling strategically placed pots to overflowing, candlelight flickering and dancing against whitewashed walls worn to gray. I sit listening to the symphony of water, light and darkness as it surrounds me, seeping through my fleece blanket armor, providing the song for my thoughts to hum along with.
Within three years of moving to Yemen, I have lost my eldest sister and father, each moving beyond my grasp, slipping away even as I strove to hold onto them ever more tightly. My remaining siblings are travelling their own paths. I understand, as this path that I am taking to gaining knowledge seems strange to them, foreign, extreme. To me, it is the only way, a blessing from Allaah that I cannot turn away from.
This June is a time of connections. My sister is visiting, and we are enjoying times of quiet conversation, evening walks, and fun with all the children together. Last week a conference was held, bringing Muslims together to seek knowledge. I was asked to speak, and was blessed with meeting students from my online classes in person, putting faces to the words across the screen. And, one day last week, I was finally able to meet the sister of my heart, who had previously only been a smile in my inbox, sharing so many ideas, dreams and aspirations through our lengthy and frequent emails.
I spend the second day of the conference waiting, knowing that she and her family got in late the night before after a long transcontinental flight. Every time the door opens, though, I look, and wonder if it will be her. Finally, my daughter Juwairiyah comes in and says, “Ummi, you have to come outside.” I rush out and see a newcomer, and know it has to be her. In seconds we are holding each other, thanking Allaah for bringing us together in body as He has blessed our hearts to come together so many months before.
The next few days are times of silence and laughter, speaking and listening, sharing and spending time together. The day she is leaving, we sit side by side watching our children sliding down the steps of the house we are staying in.
“I’m sliding down on my back!” says one girl.
“I’m sliding down on my stomach!” says another.
“I’m sliding down on my armpit!” says a third.
We turn and look at each other, identical looks on our faces and suddenly we know for sure that this friendship and sisterhood is for real. I think back to those rainy nights of solitude, and rejoice in the fact that there is a time for this, and a time for that, and in the knowledge that each thing happens in its own time, its own place.
I thank Allaah for the blessings of this month, for the love and strength of sisterhood, and for allowing these connections to be made.
Khadijah is a writer, student, teacher, translator and herbalist. She currently lives in Kansas City, MO, homeschooling her eight children while working on all of her various projects and planning her next move to a homestead in New Mexico.