Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 15 - Leaving Shisha (Going to the Swiss Hotel in Makkah)

Salah, reminders from Dr Muneer and Sh Alaa, and last minute packing and preparation to leave the Shisha building fill our last day here. Doing laundry at the hotels is expensive, so yesterday, I had decided to give our laundry to one of the tiny, sweet Indonesian caretakers to wash for some extra money. A lot of our building had the same idea, so the tiny, sweet Indonesian ladies were busy!

The sister helping me - her name is Centa. I gave her a couple of bags of laundry plus the heavy ihrams from my husband to wash. I asked her how much, but she refused to answer. Whatever we wanted to give, was what she was saying. I had no idea how much, so I asked around to find the going rate. The laundry was ready in the afternoon. The caretakers share a room, so I walk up a flight of stairs and knock at the door. The door is ajar and the room is dark, and I can hear sobbing inside. I nudge it further to find Centa crumpled over and crying on her bed. After my pitiful tries at asking what was wrong, our attempts at communicating left much to be desired, but we both try our best. She tells me she left Indonesia 7 years ago, leaving behind her family so that she could send home the much needed income. She has been back only once, 5 years ago. She hasn't seen her kids since then and she just got a phone call.

One of her kids was sick and it was serious.

That's all I can gather. But her heartbreak is clear and that doesn't need explanation. Her desperation is deep and even through the tears, her eyes are pleading. It would be impossibly hard to conceive the idea of not seeing your own child for 5 years. Our #firstworldproblems is that I only get to see my sisters and my parents at least a couple times a year, and even then the heart wants a mother's touch and to share a sister's laugh.

Sh Alaa had told us earlier that you will know when someone is truly in need of your charity. They won't have to ask, you will just know. And Centa's is just one story among millions in our Ummah of oppression, injustice and poverty. So I fear the Day that I will be held to account for the nothingness I have done to help.

After some time, Centa dries her tears, packs up my laundry and hands me the bag. I return to my room, with high hopes that I would remember her story when any difficulty approaches. Only Allah knows if I will.

We leave for Makkah after Maghrib.

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