Saturday, December 31, 2011


As salaam alaikum,

Hah! After I try to invite more men to read my site, I launch into an altogether more girly topic. Oh well.

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday, and somehow, we got on the topic of my college crush, MQ. As if I haven't exhausted the subject of that then-boy now-man for my entire lifetime, what with the hundreds of pages of journal entries I've written about him, the obsessive thinking about him my sophomore year fading to the daily praying for him during Ramadan 2005. MQ, also known as MTQ, is the basis for the character Mo in my story, A Rose Much Desired, and is renamed Sadiq in my essay in Love, InshAllah. How I felt about him was so adeptly characterized by Djavan in "Doidice" that I listened to that song over and over again the spring of my first year of medical school.

Me apaixonei? Talvez, pode ser...

I wrote a poem in one sitting the first time I got a whiff that we would never be. I still remember most of it. "I wish I would not melt into you, my oblivious haunter, as you whisper to me of Some Enchanted Evening that exists not in reality but it's alternate..."

I didn't memorize it. I lived it. It was so real for so long it went without saying.

But my friend had never heard the whole story. At the time I met her, I was still embarrassed by the details. I was embarrassed that a big girl like me could have fallen so hard for someone who in real life did not completely exist as I'd imagined them. But time has passed and he's been married for some time and I've since been in a relationship of my own and I finally felt at liberty to describe him.

And it was amazing, I think one of the most beautiful experiences of the year for me of many more.

I usually do year retrospectives, but doing a retrospective of a year that began happily and then ended in a confusing and terribly disappointing breakup, a year that was unfortunately stained by that incident although everything else in the year was excellent...just seemed a bit depressing. I ended up thinking of B and crying really hard the other day as I thought of all I had hoped we would be, what we were, what we realistically could have been, my loneliness.

But I told my friend, I didn't even love B as much as I loved MQ. And, as she is wont to do, she asked why.

I hadn't thought about it in a while. In fact, my editors for "The Hybrid Dance" asked me to expand on what it was about Sadiq that I liked, and I felt embarrassed because, at the time, it didn't seem like enough...

But then I described MQ to her, and what it was about him...and it all seemed plain to me.

We were talking about B.

Her: "It's good that you didn't get swallowed in because some can't see through the pain, sadness, disappointment..."

Me: "No, did that once when I wasn't even in a relationship. Didn't even touch the man. Took me three years to get over him. A 280-page novel with a character based on him... For as much as I came to love B, I dind't love anyone like MQ, for whatever reason."

Her: " you ever wonder why?"

Me: "No. I know why. I loved the idea of MQ, perhaps who he wasn't. I knew B...I never idealized him."

Her: "Why did you love the idea of him? Could it have been anyone? Or was there something about him in particular?" (My friend asks a lot of questions)

Me: "No, just him... I liked him because he seemed to like me. And it seemed so unlikely that this guy liked me, and he was so unlike anyone I'd met before...I was fascinated by him. I mean, now, I know tons of Indian guys who like hip hop and R&B, so it's no longer a novelty."

Her: "Hahahaha."

Me: "Haha, but I read so much into it at the time. I mean, he was also Muslim, funny...he was different."

Her: "What do you mean by different?"

Me: "He was unlike any guy I met at the time. He was loud and boisterous, had a great sense of humor, he was like, over 6 feet but he was a teddy bear. He loved kids... But at the same time, he cursed a lot and had a quick temper... He was loud and awkward. He was a cutester, although his face was not that attractive to me... I liked how he talked to me, related to me... He told me that I amazed him... How awesome I was, how smart I was..."

Her: "Awwwww."

Me: "He always assured me that everything was going to be alright... [I] wasn't as happy as I was with him until B."

Her: "Were you two pretty close?"

Me: "Umm, after the summer after my freshman year, not really. I once went 5 months without seeing him. But I thought about him every day, almost every 10 minutes my sophomore year after that summer. Cried many nights to sleep, and cried myself awake on the last day of the semester when I realized we would never be. I wanted to be everything he wanted, and I sought to find out what he wanted. It became an obsession, for sure."

Her: "Did you tell anyone?"

Me: "I talked to no one about it. I didn't have a friend close enough to talk to about it..."

Her: "What about [your best friend]?"

Me: "A little bit. She knew the most about it, for sure...but after the first semester of sophomore year, I didn't tell her anything else. I never told anyone the depth of it. I was afraid."

Her: "Afraid of what?"

Me: "I was afraid they'd tell me I was crazy, that he never really liked me, that I needed to get over it."

Her: "Did you ever consider telling him your feelings?"

Me: "I did tell him...halfway. I told him I liked him back that summer after my freshman email...after I graduated. He told me he had no idea I liked him, and nothing more...that he was flattered. And every year thereafter, he's told me happy birthday on facebook. Probably this was the last year, since he's doing residency."

Her: "Did you think about doing it earlier and in person?"

Me: "No, I never wanted to do it in person...I didn't want to if it were possible he didn't like me.

Her: "Oh...I can understand that."

Me: "Yeah, the thing one point, I was convinced that we were going to get married. Like, as sure as I am that I will graduate from med school right now."

Her: "Wow!"

Me: "I didn't want to tell anyone because I was afraid they'd tell me it was impossible, improbably, or just plain crazy."

Her: "You really liked this guy!"

Me: "Told ya! I really held back with B, and every other man. I've never really liked anyone like him since...and I really don't want to."

Her: "Why?"

Me: "I have great potential to be a crazy woman and drive myself crazy. No one has compared to what I saw in him... I'm not sure anyone ever will. But that's okay. Because it may not have been real. I thought that he was transcending cultural norms to like someone like me. I thought he understood a bit about the history of black plight in this country with his love of socially conscious hip hop. I thought he looked thorugh my short, kinky hair and brown skin (we were the same brown) and saw me...and liked me... And that may have never been true.


"Gosh, I talk about him and I feel 19 again...crazy."

(Yes, this was a texting conversation...and yes, I write grammatically correct texts. I cannot but write everything as if I were writing a composition! I've done that since the days of AIM."

I go on to talk about why nothing happened between MQ and I...I think we may have liked each other at some point, but I didn't go forward because I was just beginning my quest to Islam my freshman year of college, and I didn't know how to not make the whole thing haram...and I didn't know what his standards were, and I was afraid of getting to close to him because I was afraid I wasn't Muslim enough...

And I told my friend that he probably did like me at that point, told his sister about it, and after our first "not-date," that's where the "You should meet Pakistani girls" comment came from, and we may have failed because neither of us thought that we really liked each other...

Which was...meant to be.

As I learned later on, if something doesn't work, it doesn't work. Neither of us would have been mature enough to carry forward, and I had to work on discovering what it meant for me to be a Muslimah, and getting a boy mixed up in that would have resulted in great confusion.

My friend also remarked how much I've grown since then. And I said, yes, it was almost 8 years ago that this all came to pass.

I also called to her attention how the attraction was not sexual at all...I told her that a lot of the physical attractiveness was secondary to my liking who he was. And that is what happened with B...besides the base attraction things, I liked and came to love the person, and any physical attraction was secondary. That's the way I operated, so to think of doing things any differently down the road didn't make sense to me.

But the remarkable thing was...after I talked about MQ, years after the last time I pined for him, years after the last time I prayed that one day, we'd be married...I forgot the pain of being alone, the pain of the dumping, which is now 10 months ago, the pain of the remembrance of B. It was irrelevant. I had a greater love, although it was a love for someone who ultimately was not really real, who effectively did not exist...

And I toyed with the thought that I'd feel this way about someone again, but in an actual relationship...I don't know, but even if not...I've felt more strongly about someone than B, and got over it completely. It took years, but I did. Ten months out and I almost have to be reminded of B's last name. I loved him not nearly as much. I'll be fine.

So, instead of a year in review, because a lot has happened but it's been stained by the memory of a man whose actions do not deserve to be remembered, I will do this incident in review, this love in review, the love of an imagined man that I modeled off of a friend, a love unparalleled whose aftermath I never want to live again, a love that was so hard to get over and give up for never again, but a love that I've thrived so well without time and time again.

And so shall be every other love I live in this life.

So many people like to say we are born alone and we die alone. I don't like that. We are born surrounded by our mother, literally, at the very least, and without the early love of that mother or a caregiver to feed us at the very least when we could not feed ourselves, we wouldn't live to die. And many do not die alone. It just doesn't feel right. We are born by the grace of God and surrounded by God, and we die by His leave and return even closer to Him. I have felt lonely without the physical or emotional presence of another but I've never been alone.

God was with me as I was a silly 20-year-old girl crying over a man who would never love me, a love that would never be. God saw me through to be the 26-year-old woman I am now, who never cried herself to sleep over a love that was not to be again.

God is with me now, and will be with me this new Gregorian calendar year, 2012.

Happy New Year.


  1. Salaams,

    I loved this post and can relate to it on so many levels. The first cut is the deepest, so it's natural you will remember the innocence that was your relationship with MTQ.

    funnily enough as this New Year came in I had to shake of a notion on the inside that my MTQ and I would be together in the end... que sera, sera, this post just confirmed it.

    A great retrospective. thanks for sharing.

  2. Salaam, and happy New Year!

    I think so many of us women have a story like this, a first crush that is so intense and lasts too long because we strategically do not put ourselves in the position to be rejected by the boys and men who know little. And they keep being nice to us, and we keep convincing ourselves that they'll realize their feelings for us someday, because why else do we feel so strongly?

    Or...some of us are rejected, and we keep hanging on anyway, convincing ourselves that they'll change their minds, all the while idealizing them in their absence...

    I thought at first that only Muslim women did it, then I thought that only religious women did it...but now I realize that there's a lot of us that do it, regardless of our spiritual backgrounds and leanings. And we don't talk about it. But we should, so we can help each other realize that the best is yet to come (insha'Allah)...

    But sometimes the "insha'Allah" is the hardest part for all of us...