Hina hurried to pick up the phone as the bell rung. She was delighted to see the number on the telephone screen. It was Saba on the other side; her only daughter had married two weeks ago and flown to the UK. Hina was impatiently waiting to hear from her daughter, but as she was travelling, she hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to her. She had only received an update about her safe journey with her husband. As it was going to be their first proper conversation after the wedding, Hina was keen to talk to her daughter and find out how married life was treating her.
Hina asked: “How are you? How is Adnan?” Saba replied: “Mama! It is so dull here! Nobody to talk to! I am all alone the whole day! No helper here; I have to do all the work myself.” She was crying and saying, “Mama! I can’t live here anymore!” Hina was thinking worriedly, “She is a victim of home sickness and climate change!”
Hina got very concerned after the call. When her husband, Rashid, came home, she told him about her chat with their daughter.
“Come on, she is no more a teenaged girl! She is 27 now! She should be tackling her problems on her own! Rashid was realisitic, even though Saba was his beloved daughter.
After a year…
Saba had not been able to adjust. Brought up in a family that did not socialize too much, her social skills were almost non-existent. She had no contact with any neighbours or the community. She would only chat over Skype with her mother.
One day, however, she called her mom and said joyfully: “Mama! Maham is coming here.”
Maham was Saba’s first cousin, three years younger than her. Unlike Saba, she was an extrovert. Inspite of the difference in nature and habits, both of them were good friends.
“Aha! That’s good!” Hina exclaimed. She did caution her daughter not to dwell too much on her problems in front of her cousin, and stay composed and contented.
Finally, Maham arrived, with stars in her eyes. A confident and an enthusiastic soul, Maham was engaged to marry a Malaysian doctor, known to her family for six years.
Saba was puzzled at Maham’s decision to stay with an Egyptian family, instead of staying with her. “Are they dearer to you than me?” Saba asked.“Certainly not!” Maham answered, hugging her. “This Egyptian family was very near to my paternal grandfather! Now his daughters are my friends and that’s the only reason I want to stay with them while I am visiting England!”
Maham and Saba talked all day long. “ How do you spend time with the people belonging to different statuses and speaking different languages?” Saba asked.
“Oh dear! How can we find similarity in this world? All humans are equal.” This philosophy was hard for Saba to digest.
The next day, Maha took her to a convention. It was a strange world for Saba. Muslim ladies of different age groups, belonging to different countries, were mingling with each other. They were hugging, kissing, making introductions and exchanging smiles. Saba was highly fascinated. Maham was totally at home there and Saba felt proud of being her cousin.
“Diversity is the beauty of nature! Tolerance and patience is the key to relish diversity. You know I am fond of continental foods. I have never tasted Malaysian food but now I am learning to cook them for my husband-to-be, in order to assimilate into their culture,” said Maham laughing while leaving Saba in a deep thought.
After one week
Maham left the UK! But the desperate Saba gained so much from her friend!
A few days later, Hina asked her over Skype: “Where have you been? I was waiting.” Saba told her, “Oh! I was out to visit my Bengali friend; she has been living here since three years. She helps me with grocery and other domestic problems. I go to a park where I get to meet many interesting ladies. Mama! I plan to continue my studies as well.”
The new enthusiastic Saba left Hina happily astonished.