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Friday, December 8, 2017

Author Spotlight: Papatia Feauxzar & Fofky's Online Book and Coffee/Tea Shop







                                                    Fofky's Online Book and Coffee/Tea Shop


Have you heard of Fofky's Online Book and Coffee/Tea shop with a great selection of Muslim Fiction for adults and children? If you haven't, don't worry I'm here to put you on! Last summer I tested out the service owned by prolific Muslim Romance author and owner of Djarabi Kitabs Publishing,  Papatia Feauxzar for you! For $25 I was able to get a brand new Muslim fiction novel (Tight Rope by Sahar Abdulaziz) and an assortment of coffee, tea, and snacks to chomp on while I read! Can  we say Brilliant!!! I had to catch up with our dear sis. Papatia! 

My Fofky's Goodies




What is Fofky's and what does the name mean?

Fofky without an 's' is a nickname I earned while I was attending high school in an all girl tolerant Catholic establishment. The name is derived from my maiden name. A last name I have heard is very popular in Liberia even though I'm originally from the Ivory Coast where it's not that popular. Now, since, the bookstore is mine, I decided to call it Fofky's (Fof-keys) like people normally do with their restaurants. After all, Fofky's is a food and beverage business too.

2. Who is Fofky for?

Fofky's is for your average bookish and bookworm Muslim who wants a balanced dose of deen, entertainment, and tayyab eatery. Fofky's is also a support system to make Muslim works more visible. In other words, it's a small attempt to support many unsung talented Muslim writers.

3. What inspired you to start Fofky?

It's you actually! Masha'Allah. I read one of your post where you were very disappointed by the fact that many Muslim bookstores won't carry Muslim fiction or give the light of day to writers who aren't MESA (Middle Eastern and South Asians). I agreed with you and thought that this needs to change. I also thought: "I can make the difference I want to see." In Africa, they say, "if you think you're too small to make a change, then you have not spent a night with a mosquito." I always try to remember that proverb when I am obsessed with an issue I want to resolve. So that inspired me to take the risk and run with the idea. And alhamdullilah, I dealt with concession inventory at my first accounting job so that was a huge plus. I was meant to do this.

4. What are some of the services and products that you have?

Fofky's offers book rentals at a very affordable rate for readers who don't feel like buying a book but still want to read it. Fofky's also has curated boxes aimed at young adults readers, a Half-a-Deen box with a candle and chocolate for people seeking marriage, divorced, or already married but who need intimate advice, new-mom packages which include a Muslim greeting card along with some delicious teas and organic hot cocoas, nikah boxes with cookbooks and recipes, self-affirmations book packages, curated boxes for color enthusiasts, and Muslim homeschooling kits just to name a few. 

In the food section, we have amazing book companions like halal and natural macaroons , organic and natural teas, frappes-lattes-cappuccinos-smoothies mixes, organic chips, popcorn, trail mix, etc. (LOVE THESE  SERVICES!!)

5. How can the Muslims support you?

Muslims can help by spreading the word to those who they think will see value in the Fofky's business model. I mean not everybody reads. But if you're a Muslim out there who doesn't read but you know someone who is bookish, who is a bookworm, etc, please share Fofky's info with them. Ultimately, when clients come shop, they don't only support Fofky's, they also support the ummah writers. So by #buyandreadabookbyamuslim more money is injected back in the community, and we rise as one strong ummah.

6. Do you have plans to expand?

Yes, I plan to expand and put that business degree to good use! Haha! insha'Allah one day.

7. Besides selling books, how can Fofky's connect readers and authors?

Some Muslim authors have awesome stationary available like signed bookmarks, greeting cards, phone cases, pencils, notepads, backpacks, your typical bookish gear. Fofky's tries to acquire these from the authors directly or other sources like RedBubble and include them in the curated boxes the readers purchase. So authors need to have a great marketing strategy to allow Fofkys to facilitate the connection and bond between author and reader. I mean, normally a satisfied client will post pictures and tag the author. What author wouldn't like a new reader and free promo :) ?

8. Anything else that you want customers to know?

Fofky's is dedicated to support talented Muslim writers and offers easy to make refreshments that are free of high-fructose corn syrup. Let's iqra in style in a halal and tayyab way!

Image result for papatia feauxzar
https://www.djarabikitabs.com/


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Beneath Her Feet by Author & Educator Umm Juwayriyah Part 3

It’s still too dark! Keep running, Yasmeen! Keep pushing! Fight, Yasmeen! Don’t ….Let...Go….





And that He may try the believers with a fair trial. (8:17)

“Ummi! Ummi! You said I could go to the mall today!” Surayah whined.


“Surayah, you see me cooking, right? I gotta make this food and get these plates made. Then I gotta get to work tonight. I don’t have time to run you up to no mall,” I explained to her as I mixed the batter for a sheet of corn bread. I had two pots of greens on, four pans of barbecue chicken and two pans of macaroni and cheese baking in the oven. I had to sell dinners on the weekends to help keep money in my pocket. Ahmed wouldn’t give me one cent for Surayah. He said him not pressing charges on Kareem was payment enough. It didn’t make me no never mind, I was just glad he was gone for good. I had Allah and I had my kids. That was enough.


“But Ummi you said yesterday I could go with Dominique,”


“I don’t even really like you hanging out with Dom like that Ray! You getting too old to be playing around with non-Muslims. Dom is a sweet pea, but ya’ll ‘bout be in high school. You going to that Islamic school next year, too!”


“Ummi! Dominique is my cousin! We gon’ always be ace boon coons!”


“Ace what?”


“Nevermind. Why I gotta go to the Islamic school anyway? We don’t got no money for that.”


“Don’t you worry about what I got money for, little girl. I got two hands, two feet, and I am breathing still. Enshallah, you are going to go to that school and learn more about your Lord, how to keep praying and keep your trust in Allah - no matter what. You gonna learn how to be the best Muslima you can be.”


“You done already taught me all of that, Ummi! Dom and all my friends are going to Kennedy High!”


“And they’ll be fine, enshallah! You’ll see them around from time to time. But Surayah you on a different journey than them girls! Don’t forget that Allah chose you from before you were born to be a Muslim. You different, girl! Shoot, you even different than me. You my special baby!” I told then her as I put the sheet of cornbread to put in the oven


“Kareem, too?”


“Yeah, him too! He was the one that started it all. He changed my life for the better. Allah brought Islam to me with him. He special, too. He just forget sometimes. That’s why you gotta go to the Islamic school.”


The phone started ringing as I started to wipe down the corners. I thought it was some of my customers, but they knew better than to call me before I finished cooking. I still needed to clean my house before plates could be made.


“Surayah get the phone. And whoever it is tell them I’m busy and can’t talk right now.”


Surayah ran into the living room and jumped onto the couch before yanking the corded phone off the cradle.


“Surayah, cut it out,” I yelled as I turned the meat in the oven. Most days were too much. All I was doing was working, praying, and sleeping. I couldn’t get to masjid for Jumu’ah at all. The last time I prayed in the masjid was during Ramadhan and that was because my best friend Hafsa and her husband came and got me. They insisted on taking me. And now they were insisting on helping me with Surayah’s tuition fees so that she could go to the Islamic School out in Quincy. Allah kept sending me help.


Kareem’s father, Karl now known as Imam Khaleel, was still helping when he could too. Kareem was his oldest of seven children. Now that Kareem was grown, I didn’t feel right taking money from him. But every month, he send me a little something in the mail. Imam Khaleel was living in Hartford with two wives now. He always tried to reach out to Kareem. He'd wanted him to live in Hartford with him, but Kareem wouldn't hear of it. Kareem just was bitter.


I didn’t know if it was my fault or not. I left Khaleel before we had a chance to really grow up. I just couldn’t be bothered with him roaming all over the place. He was a nomad and he always attracted bees. It was in his blood. Islam didn’t extract it out of his system either. After we became Muslims, he just up and left me and went to Morocco for a year. I got a job at JCPenny’s like I said I would. When he came back to the States and told me he wanted to move to Maryland. I went but didn't stay.


Khaleel loved some Kareem though. He’d been a good father when he was around. But it just wasn’t never enough time. For Kareem or me. When he packed up and moved us to Los Angeles, I'd had enough. I headed back north to Boston. He got remarried. I filed for divorce.


Khaleel later moved to Egypt to study Arabic and the deen. By time he made his way back to New England, I was married to Surayah’s father. That’s didn’t last long thankfully. But Khaleel had two wives by time I got divorced. He asked me to remarry him, but I knew to leave good enough alone. We just wasn't meant to be.


“Ummi! Ummi! The phone’s for you.”


“Surayah, I told you tell whoever it is I was busy. I gotta finish this food!”


“Ummi, I think it’s Kareem!”


I snatched the phone from Surayah’s hand and brought the receiver to my ear.


“Salamu alykum. Kareem?  A collect call? Yes, I’ll accept it. Kareem? What’s going on? What happened? What in the world you do, boy? What you mean it was a mistake? How much? What? Allah! Kareem, no! Why would…? No! I don’t got that kind of money laying around no where! Kareem! You done ruined your life, boy! I can’t give you that much. Surayah got school coming up. Kareem, did you do it? Yes, it does matter. It matters to Allah. No! That’s not true. I love you on everything, but I can’t help you with this! I can’t! You gonna have to call your Abu!”


I slammed the phone down onto the cradle with all my strength. The phone fell off the coffee table down to the ground. I balled up my fists as tight as I could. I tried to contain the anger. The grief. The hurt. The cloud of sadness colored my vision. The tightness in my chest and burning sensation in my heart was too strong. I gasped before the sound reached my throat. The loudest scream  I could muster up rang out of my throat and rattled the house. Over and over again, I screamed. Surayah ran into the living room, but she froze in place when she saw my face. I was enraged. There was nothing she could do for me. He was gone. They’d gotten him. I tried so hard to protect him. To keep him calm. To focus on Allah. I worked so hard to provide for him and Surayah. I gave him all I could. I loved him more than I loved myself. Allah had to know that he was my hope. My heart and backbone. But it wasn't enough. They’d gotten him this time. I failed….

***


That it is He Who granteth Laughter and Tears (Qur’an, 53:43)

“Ummi, I’m okay! He didn’t mean nothing by it. He’s been working a lot. He’s ....”


“Surayah!”


“I am fine. Stop looking at me like that, please, Ummi!”


“Surayah, did Abdullah hit you?”


“How many orders we got so far, Ummi? You want me to make the cornbread this time?”


“No Muslim man should be hitting on his pregnant wife. You can act like you ain’t sleeping with crazy if you want to, but sooner or later, crazy will do what it do!”


“Ummi, Abdullah is a good brother! You know he isn’t crazy! He is one of the youngest to study in Yemen with the shaykh. He teaching at the masjid and taking night classes at college and he’s working part time at the garage. He’s just been stressed. We’ll be okay, enshallah! Now you want me to make some green beans or creamed corn for these platters we selling today?”

"He's a good brother, but is he a good husband?"

"Ummi, please!"


“Ain’t you still paying the rent? The car note? Ain’t you working full-time while you pregnant with his baby?”


“Ummi, I am a nurse. I make a little more than him. You know that. It’s not a big deal. I am helping out my zawj until he can do it all himself. He’ll get there, enshallah! Soon as I have this baby, Abdullah will be so happy. You’ll see, enshallah.”


“Surayah!”


“Ummi, c’mon!  Abdullah is loan to me. Right? I gotta obey my husband and keep him happy - or sooner or later he'll be looking for wife number two. Look, all newly weds have some issues. He’s not a monster or nothing. I am okay! Don’t worry!”


I started cutting the potatoes for the potato salad and my eyes started watering. Everything she said, I’d said out of my own mouth at one time or another. I never meant for Surayah to live through my same story. She was suppose to be better and find better, too.


“Is that what they taught you at that Islamic school I paid all that money to put you through?”


“Ummi, this is what I've learned and believe. Allah loves the patient.”


“But Allah ain’t never told us to be a fool! Don’t let this marriage make you over, Ray! Because if it crumbles, and it just might, what you gonna have left for you and that baby boy your carrying?”

She paused and sighed.


“You! I’ll have you, Ummi!”

Friday, December 1, 2017

Winter Writing Activity - From Education.com



Activity: 

Olympic Writing



Third Grade Holidays & Seasons Activities: Olympic Writing



We winter holidays approaching, I am super excited to bring my homeschooling families this fun writing activity from Education.com! Who doesn't love the winter Olympics?? Get ready for your favorite sports by writing about it! Have fun with this activity!



What You Need:

  • Lined paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Thesaurus (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Have your child choose an Olympic event or sport to write about—possibly her favorite sport.
  2. Define an adjective for your child to make sure she's familiar with the concept. An adjective's main role is to modify or describe a noun or pronoun. You may need to clarify what a noun is (person, place, thing, or idea) before explaining what an adjective is.
  3. Ask your child to identify nouns and pronouns in a paragraph from a book or the Internet. Next, help her identify the adjectives.
  4. Help your child divide a piece of paper into two columns, lengthwise, either by folding it or simply drawing a line through the middle. On the top of the first column, have your child write "Sport." Have her write "Adjectives" on top of the second column.
  5. Have your child make a bulleted list of words or phrases that characterize her favorite Olympic event under the first column, include the athletes and equipment. For example, if she chose hockey she may write: puck, net, teams, goalie, ice skates, etc.
  6. Encourage your child to think of and write adjectives in the second column across from the corresponding words in the "Sport" column. For example, in the column next to the word puck, your child may write: small, round, hard, gray, etc. Encourage your child to not repeat adjectives; for example, instead of using "cold" to describe both the ground and the puck, use "freezing" or "frigid" for one of them. Remind your child that she can use a thesaurus for some extra assistance.
  7.  Ask your child to make compile her list of words and adjectives into a paragraph describing a chosen Winter Olympic event. She should begin the paragraph with a topic sentence that gives the reader an introduction into the subject matter. For example, "Hockey is a Winter Olympic event that is made up of opposing teams and useful equipment." Have your child close her eyes to see if she can picture the Olympic sport as you read the paragraph she wrote aloud.
  8. For extra practice, have your child circle all of the different parts of speech that she previously learned about, using different colors.
For more activities, check out: www.education.com/resources/adjectives/

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Beneath Her Feet by Author Umm Juwayriyah Part 2



That's it! This child done made my pressure shoot all the way up. My chest. I can't breathe. Oh, Allah! Help me breathe! I am gonna kill Surayah if I make it through this. I really, really can't breathe.


"Nurse Irish! Nurse Irish, come quick! Ummi is choking!"


He is the One Who sends to His servant manifest signs that He may lead you from the depths of Darkness into the Light and verily Allah is to you most kind and Merciful.(Qur'an 57:9)



Darkness had been every where. I was filled with so much darkness.


“Patty, where you at, woman?” His voice was full, rich, almost creamy as it embraced the room in our tenement. He would just show up out of nowhere from being everywhere, but here with me.  “Come on now! Get on out here, Patty! I got something for you!”


“Hold your horses, Karl! I’m coming.” I didn’t want to get up and go see him. I didn’t want to be at his beck and call any more. But at nine months pregnant, what choice did I have? He was still living his dream. He was still in the band playing his guitar with the Blue Notes. He was just living. I was stuck in these three small rooms. “You done finally decided to come home and…,” I screamed.


“Happy Birthday, baby girl!” Karl sang in his baritone voice. “What you think? You like it? C’mon, sweet Mama! Say something, woman! I’ve been working my tail off for months to get you this. Patty?”


“Karl! A fur coat? For me?”


“Can you dig it? You gon’ need to stay warm on the road once you have that baby!”


“Karl! What you talkin ‘bout?” I questioned him. He pulled me closer to him and kissed all over my face before pulling me into warmness of the coat. It was heavy, but it fit perfectly. “I ain’t ‘bout to go on no road with you no where. This little boy inside me ain’t gonna be running ‘round state to state.”


“Ya Momma can watch him then. We gotta make this money, Patty. How we gon’ feed him? Huh?”


“Karl Hicks, my Momma done raised her kids. She ain’t gon’ raise mine. I’ll just have to find me a job. JC Penney’s stay hiring,” I decided just then that I was gonna have to leave Karl and work for myself and my boy.


“Check the uh left pocket for me, sweetness. I think I left something in there.”


“I thought you said you got me this coat? How come you left something in the pocket? You had some other biddy  wearing it? What type of games you playing with me, Karl? I ain’t gonna keep putting up with you!”


“Woman, would you just check the pocket and stop running your mouth! Lord! I already need me a cigarette and I ain’t been here with you but five, ten minutes!”


“That’s ‘cause you always got some mess going on! I ain’t gonna have this mess around my son when he come.”


“Your son? That boy is mine! You heard me? You just carrying him for me!” Karl smiled big. I knew he was right. I knew that this boy was going to look just like his Daddy and act just like him, too. He'd love me just as much as Karl, if not more. I didn’t have nothing else to say. I dug my fingers into the pocket on the left side and felt around until my fingers felt thesmall metal hoop. I pulled it out slowly. I felt ridges. I felt the stump in the middle. My heart thumped. It couldn’t be? “Karl? You didn’t? Karl? Oh, God!”


“Yea, I did. Go ‘head and take a look, pretty lady! You so pretty!” he laughed. “See, you gonna have to start trusting me sooner or later. My word is bond! You can take it to the bank, baby.”


I looked at the ring and cried. I ain’t never had no diamonds before. I hadn’t never even seen one up close. My ring had little diamonds around the band and in the middle of the ring was sparkly diamond stone.  “Dis too much, Karl! You gon’ have to take it back so we can get some stuff for this baby. It’s beautiful. But I don’t need no fancy ring.”


“Patricia, yeah you do. I ain’t get to give you a wedding. You deserved that too. But I got this ring for you. You done helped me change my ways and be a better man. I think ‘bout you on the road and that boy. Ya’ll my family, not the fellas. You’re not just my girl, you’re my wife. My rib. I'll get the baby some stuff today. But that pretty ring is for my pretty wife with that pretty voice.”


“You ain’t never talked like that before, Karl. I don’t know if I done changed you.But you sound like you changed.”


“ Well, I did meet this cat in Harlem. He was standing outside of the club all night in the cold.”


“What he was doing? Selling that smack? You know betta than to try that stuff. It ain’t nothing but from the devil.”


“Nah. He wasn't selling no dope, Patricia. He was giving out these books called the Qur’an. Said the creator can’t be like His creation cuz God is One! Like he can’t have no son or wives or none of that stuff that they told us in the church.”


“Sound like crazy talk. Harlem full of them crazies. You betta be glad to be back in Boston. I hope you ain’t stand there and listen to him, did you?”


“Yeah, I did, Patricia. Allah, that’s named for God in Arabic. I think you should read the Qur’an with me, too.”


“Karl.”


“Just think about it some. Don’t just say “no” without giving it some thought, baby!


“Karl!”


“I don’t want to argue wit you today, Patty. Let’s just be cool."


“Karl!”


“What now?”


“I think my water broke!”


***




“Kareem! Wake up! It’s time for Fajr. C’mon now, Kareem! Get up, boy!” I yelled as I shook his long, lean body padded by the comforter. He blinked his eyes then rolled over. “Don’t make me get the ice water, Kareem!” I teased before leaning down and kissing his cheeks.


“Ummi, I’m tired. Five more minutes,” he pleaded. “Please!”


“Shoulda took ya butt to bed! Stop staying up playing those silly games and you won’t be too tired to get up and pray. Move your butt, Kareem. Go make wudu, sweetie.”


Kareem flipped the blanket off, swung his legs out of the bed and leaped to the door before I could even take a step. At 14 he towered over me but he knew what was best for him. Challenging me wasn't for his good. He did his best to mind me most days.


“Don’t you wake up that little girl  stomping with those big feet of yours either!” I warned him before tiptoeing down the stairs to go pray by myself. I hadn’t seen Ahmed, Surayah’s father in two long, empty weeks. Kareem had been counting the days right along with me. I knew he was hoping he wouldn’t come back.


“As salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah - As salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,” I offered the angels peace then relaxed my body on the prayer rug to make supplications. There wasn’t much time to rest though. I had to be to work in an hour. Kareem would have to take care of his little sister again.. There was no one else to help us during the week this summer. My parents had left Boston and moved South and my sisters were in Springfield. I needed to move on with my whole life. This wasn't working. With two jobs to work, I was barely keeping the rent paid, food in the fridge and the electric working.

“Salamu alykum, Yasmeen!” croaked Ahmed. He hobbled into the small living room smelling like an ash tray and fell down onto the futon. “Uh, is there anything to eat in the kitchen for me, Insha’Allah?” he kicked his boots off and threw his kuffee on the floor.

“Where you been?” I threw out at him.

“Working. Why?”

“Two weeks straight? Ain’t that much working in the world, Ahmed.”

“Yasmeen, I’m on the road trucking. I dropped a load and got another order I had to make. Came straight home when I finished.”

“That ain’t what I’m hearing. Been heard you out there running ‘round with a new sister out in Worcester.”

“Whoever tellin’ you them lies, they need to mind their own business and stay out of mine. What I got to lie to you ‘bout?”


“So if you made two orders, where’s the checks? I gotta get to the laundromat and wash clothes this week.”


“I don’t get paid til the end of the month. You know that too.”


“Ahmed, I don’t know nothing. Apparently, you spending your money elsewhere ‘cause you ain’t never have nothing to give me or Surayah. If it wasn’t for Kareem’s father …” I spat out too quickly. He couldn’t even let me finished. Ahmed eyes welled up, his fits balled, and he had sprung up from the couch like a lion then yanked me by the arm up off the floor like a rag doll.

“What I tell you ‘bout talkin’ to that old man? Huh? What Allah say about obeying your husband? You so worried ‘bout what I’m doing, where I’m going, every time I hear you talking, you got something else to say about Kareem’s father. If Khalil was alladat, you should’ve kept ya big behind wit him! You think that brother still want you? Look at you? You getting old anyway! Go back to him if you wanna. I know what though, you gonna need more than Fajr to leave this house walkin out of here alive!”


“Ahmed, let me go! Turn me loose now!” I whispered softly as I scanned the room for something to protect myself with. “You’re tired. Go ‘head and get to the kitchen. I got some left over chilli in the fridge.”


“Shut up!” he yelled as popped me upside my head with one hand and gripped my arm tighter. “You don’t know how to talk to no man! That’s why that old brother left you alone. Got tired of you running your mouth all the damn time! I don’t care how cute you think you is. You need to shut up some time. Don’t ask me about my check! When I give you the money, that’s when you’ll get it. You wanna be talking down to me. That’s why you need a co-wife, teach you how be a wife!”


“Alright, Ahmed. You told me. I gotta go get..No, No, Noooooooo! Kareeem!”


It was too late! Kareem had swung his bat and hit Ahmed in his bad knee. He dropped to the floor and rolled back and forth as he wailed in pain. I jumped in front of Ahmed just as my boy raised the bat up again in the middle of his stride. He was gonna swing that bat again.


“He ain’t worth, Kareem! Look at Ummi, baby! Put it down!”
“You a punk, Kareem! You betta finish this, cause when I get up. I got you, boy!”


“I'mma kill him, Ummi!”


“He ain’t even worth it, baby! Don't you do it, you hear me? Back away!”  

Kareem couldn’t hear me. He swung the bat with a furry I couldn’t of known he had. I couldn’t hold him off. I couldn’t stop him. I tried to hold him. He wouldn’t stop. He wouldn’t listen to me.  He wouldn’t listen to me anymore!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Beneath Her Feet by Author Umm Juwayriyah Part 1





“Surayah, get that boy off these floors! You know this is a hospital. You don’t know what germs growing ‘round here.”

“Ummi, he’s fine. Idris is big and healthy most of the times. You the sick one, let’s just focus on getting you well.”

“I ain’t got much time left, Surayah. This Lupus done wore me ragged. I can’t take much more.”

“Ummi, stop talking like that. You’re not Allah. This was just a little flare up. Enshallah, you’ll be okay and out of here just like all other times. You --”

“Surayah, listen girl, the sunnah is ---”

“I know the sunnah, Ummi. You ain’t gotta remind me. You done drilled it in my head all my life,” she said as she shook her head. A tear rolled down her dark brown cheeks and dropped onto her shirt.

“Whenever Allah takes my soul, don’t let the sun set on my body for more than three days. Get my body in the ground. Call aunty Hafsa and uncle Dawud immediately. Pay off the little debt I got on that JCPennys card and …”

“Put you in the ground to be questioned by the angels. I know, Ummi! I know! You ain’t dead yet! Can we not do this every time you catch a cold?”

“Surayah,” I had to swallowed the assortment of curse words I was ready to dart her with. She was scared and I knew it. I had spoiled her bad. Born 10 years after my oldest, Kareem. I’d been so hard on him he grew right out from under me and went running for the hills. That knuckle head landed right in a jail cell before he was 25. He did ten years behind bars for a crime he committed and it broke me down and rattled my soul for years. Surayah don’t really know Kareem well. They like strangers really. But I raised and trained him to be a Muslim man the best I could. It’s in his veins: Allah, salah, Qu’ran, and the sunnah. He’d come ‘round if something happened to me. He’d protect Surayah and keep an eye on Idris for me 'cause her ex-husband don't do nothing but bring her trouble.

“You got Kareem’s number?” I asked my daughter as I hit the nurse call button. My chest felt so tight. It was still hard to breathe and my joints were so achy. It felt like if I turned the wrong way, I would split into two.

“Yeah. But I haven’t seen him in forever.”

“That ain’t from sunnah. Call your brother. Let him know his Umm ain’t well. Tell him I said be ready," I reminded her again.

The elderly nurse with the bad knee hobbled into the room, blonde pixie wig, beady black eyes, and tawny brown skin fell into the chair next to me smelling like Avon Skin So Soft in the winter. She was good peoples, but she needed to be in her own hospital bed. “You need something, Miss Patricia?”

“Yeah, I need some more them pain meds. My chest and my back hurting something bad. I’ll also take a strong, young husband and a new house, too. You got all that up in here, Miss Irish?”

Miss Irish slapped her thigh and giggled. “Dog, Miss Patricia! I didn’t know we was looking for the same remedies. If you find him first, we’ll have to split him up, girl!”

“Nah, not this time, I ain’t. I done did that a few times over. Wanted for the sisters, but they ain’t want for me nothing back. Both with Kareem and Surayah’s fathers - I shared them and everything I had. They left me with all the bills and tears and these kids to raise. Too old and too close to death for that mess.”

“Wasn’t Kareem’s father in that band you used to sing with, Ummi? What was the name of that group you used to sing with?” Surayah asked me.

“Yeah, that was before Islam. Karl - Khaleel, played bass and I sung background for the Blue Notes.”

“Miss Patricia, no you didn’t sing with the Blue Notes. After all these years I've been knowing you and you didn’t tell me. Blue Notes was one of my favorite jazz groups back in the ‘70’s. Lonnie Jackson and the Blue Notes. Ya'll had that song Mellow Time. Ain’t that right?”

“Ummi you sang on that song!”

“I did. Long time ago, Surayrah! Before I knew who Allah was.”

“How that chorus went? Something like: Tears disappear, Crime lay down, Hate don’t live here no more…” Miss Irish began to sing.

Surayah picked the tune right up and harmonized with her, “Let - me - stand -  right - in - my mellow time - mellow time - dooo - dooo- dah -dah - la- dooo-dooo- dah la...”

Miss Irish, I’mma need you to go on now and get me some more meds. This ain’t the Soul Train room. I gotta take my meds, pray the Asr prayer and get on to sleep and rest these bones. Surayah, take Idris home. And make sure you feed my cats and call Kareem. Tell him I said be ready.”

“You one mean old lady,” Miss Irish teased as she struggled to pull herself up out of the chair. “I’ll go speak to Dr. Harris and see if you can have more meds. But you gonna have to sing me that song before you get discharged, Patricia Vaughn.”

“No, I will not. That ain’t my way no more. And you know good and well my name is Yasmeen Abdullah. Don’t play around and get my blood pressure up in here. That’s just one thing I don’t need to be bothered with.”

“Oh, chile, hush up! Ya momma named you Patricia and it’s on your charts! I’ll see you later, Surayah. Bye, Drisi-boo,” Miss Irish waved.

As the door closed, Idris dashed to the door. Surayah sprung up and chased the toddler down and grabbed him before he was able to exit. Surayah huffed as she picked her son up.

“See, that’s why I said he shouldn’t have been down there. You betta start listening to me, Surayah. Allah knows best, but I don’t feel like I got much time left. You gotta start listening and being responsible, ‘specially with my grandboy!

“Ummi, I wish you wouldn’t talk down to me like I’m some dummy! I am 25! I know a couple of things. I am managing. I’m praying. I’m still covered.”

“Barely!”

“Really, Ummi, that’s not nice. I guess you tired though,” Surayah suggested as she packed her son’s diaper bag. “I'll come back through tomorrow after work, enshallah. Text me if need anything.”

“ Surayah, you alright? You looking tired yourself. You ain’t sick, are you? Don’t mess around and get Idris sick again. That boy get more ear infections than a little. Make sure you call Kareem.”

“I ain’t sick, Ummi!”

“Then what is it, Ray? What’s up with you?” I had to pull myself up in the hospital bed. If there was one thing that would get me out of this bed, Surayah was it. I loved that girl with all of me. “Nadir done did something again? What he do, Surayah? You know you can tell me anything?”

Surayah stopped moving to switch her son to the other side of her hip along with her weight on her plump frame. “I’m pregnant!”

That's it! This child done made my pressure shoot up. My chest. I can't breathe. Oh, Allah! Help me breathe! I am gonna kill Surayah if I make it through this. I really, really can't breathe.

"Nurse Irish! Nurse Irish, come quick! Ummi is choking!"