So that sneeze in my last entry was as predicted the start of a mild flu, which is really strange as I have taken the flu vaccine and so far it has not been that cold in London, so I don’t really understand what and why this happened. The good news I managed to get all the birthdays done and dusted, it was a very tiring experience I have to admit, I am not good at surprises and rarely do they work, or rather as usual, I expect too much and want to give my friends and loved ones the best thing which is not easy.
December is now here; a strange month one that brings back painful memories yet is also a filled atmosphere month in London, where you actually get to see a different side to my favourite city in the world.
Like I have told you before I really dislike winter, as it means I can’t go out as often and there are more viruses, flus and illnesses around, so I am more likely to catch something. I have a weak immune system and respiratory problems, a slight cough could be lethal in my case. Yet, December is different, in my view it is the only month in the year that the people of London are seen smiling in the streets, their faces full of joy and excitement with an overwhelming feeling of giving; be it to charities, friends or family.
Although I am not keen on cold weather, I do love going out during December. Seeing all the pretty lights and decorations on the streets, shops, cafes and houses, hearing school children singing festive songs in the market, people shopping, smiling and generally looking happy. I was out buying presents for my friends who celebrate Christmas and, as usual, people were staring or looking at me, especially Arabs or Muslims. This is something that has always puzzled me, why am I, or why are disabled people in general, an alien creature in the eyes of Muslims? What made this incident interesting is it involved children.
As I was driving my wheelchair at full speed trying to beat the cold weather I saw three children with their mother who kept looking at me and pointing as they spoke to each other. When their mother came, instead of telling her children not to stare and point, she told them to thank Allah for their blessings.
I heard her. To make her realise that I’m an Arab and understand what she said, I laughed loudly and said ‘Hello’ then drove past. Ten minutes later I drove past another family, but in this instance they were English and as the son was staring at me, his mother pulled him to the side and told him: ‘It’s rude to stare, if you have a question ask’.
Honestly, I was not bothered by either encounters as I am used to such things, especially from children, but what made these instances stick in my mind was the reaction of the two cultures. Two mothers from different cultures, one told her children to ‘Thank Allah for their good health’ while the other decided to teach her son basic manners, the manners that Islam teaches.
I remember reading once that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH ) warned against staring at people with disability as it hurts their feelings more than the physical pain that they may be enduring. Why does Arab/Muslim culture tend to forget such examples set by the Prophet and get taken away with cultural ideas and society’s conventional rules?
I am sorry Dunia I am not in a very positive mood, like I said December is a very difficult month, and when I tell you I am sure you will think this is a dubbed Mexican soap but it is true. On new year’s eve my eldest brother died – weird the one day where the entire world unite in celebration and joy we remember one of the darkest days that we had to endure. This happened 20 years ago and we have accepted it and moved on, but seeing mama during that whole month as she tries to hide her pain, pains me more. Ten days to go to the actual day, I wonder what will happen. Nighty!