Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good Neighbors

Our neighbors came over tonight: Sania, Haira, Rukhsana, and Rukhsana's children.  They brought us a plate of  subtle, spicy rice with chicken, and the news that they are moving.

Before I taught ESL at  RCC,  we had English lessons at  their house. Now that lessons are at school; my friends still bring the children.  The sisters speak and write Urdu, Arabic, and some English; their goal is to improve English skills.  Rukhsana wants to speak English well enough to become a United States citizen, and for her children to be American.  Haira wants to learn to drive.  Joni and I work with the adults; Tzippi and Sara play.  Fasil, the baby either eats, sleeps, or cries. We have become friends. We talk about dreams, family, loneliness,  how it feels to have your covered head constantly criticized, or ridiculed.  Our neighbors like America, but miss friends, customs, and family in Pakistan.


Sometimes the sisters go to the brother-in law's house, and we cancel class.  No class during Eid Al Fitr, or Eid Al Adha, either.  During Ramadan the ladies brought us food  most evenings:  puddings, rice, samosas, many yummy things.  We took small gifts to the little girls at Eid Al Fitr. To break the Yom Kippur fast, they brought us a steaming platter of rice and lamb.  


One day, Rukhsana, came over with a scrap of purple. She wanted to know if I could I dye a large piece of silk the same shade?  The day we planned to dye was also her daughter's second birthday. Sara had never experienced an American birthday party, so my daughters got busy baking sparkly pink cake, to be served with pink lemonade.  While the beautiful ladies, as Tzippi calls them, and I dyed yards of silk in the front yard, the little girls had a birthday party. It was one of my favorite days in America.

Good neighbors.

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