I came home emotionally raw and weary one day. I thought the house was empty. I called out a big, hearty salaam anyway, the way my mother likes it. Fake it till you make it, like they say.
I went to the room to find my sister studying on the bed. And there was so much bliss in that sight of her sitting there, her books open. I felt like a parched man wandering across the desert who has suddenly come upon a well brimming with clear, cool water.
I was reminded of a scene in the final season of Big Love where Barbara is suffering from a crippling spiritual crisis that strikes at the heart of her polygamist family’s tenets. Things are chilly between her and her husband, and in this scene Bill is pleading with her, asking her what it is she wants. She shakes her head, nearly in tears, paralyzed with the need to be true to her convictions and her loyalties.
“I love my family,” she says. “That’s all I know. I love my family.”
Some days, that truth, that absolute, is so reassuring. It’s the kind of truth a neurotic needs. I put down my handbag and hugged my sister, thinking of Barbara’s words and how Allah has made my family my saving grace, my reprieve from the heaviness of my thoughts.