At home, in India, where I grew up, and saw the way of the home and the hearth– of the family members that opened their arms, where smiles didn’t end at the lips but extended to their eyes and welcomed strangers to come inside and eat some food.
My dadi* used to say, never stay more than three days in homes where you are guests. But my family, when they saw someone at the door, whether the monsoons came or not, whether koyel in the trees sang or not and whether the crows announced the arrival of guests or not,
My family asked these strangers to come inside. It didn’t matter whether they were Muslims or not, they spread a table of food for the guests. Never asked them where they were coming from or where they were headed. They usually stayed for three days.
Dadi* would say, give them food, so they have the strength to answer any question that arose. The three days usually bonded the guests to the family~ and no one cared that they had wandered into our lives.
Would you like some more rice? More badaam*? some sharbath*? Here you take this pillow with the green silk case. It is soft, and you would sleep like a baby. Don’t worry about your travel-weary oxen, the maali* has given them good hay already.
My family, they cared. It didn’t matter they were busy; they lied– no, we were not busy at all! No we were not planning to go anywhere. Did we give you that impression? Oh we apologize! Your arrival in our home, is Allah’s grace. We are blessed, indeed. Sitting with you, breaking the bread and drinking this water with you, that’s the best thing that has happened today. Let me refresh your tea with lemon and mint. Today is a blessed day—
And I heard my father say that almost every day—
what a blessed day it is, you have graced my home
Copyright. © Zakiah Sayeed June 24, 2018
Dadi= paternal grandmother Badaam= almonds Sharbath= fruit juice Maali= gardener.