Blog Dare: 113
Today's Prompt: The uncomfortable silence...
I have already shared with you my first birth story, but I have not told you about the other woman who was, "with," me the whole time. At the time my doctor was debating what to do with my stalled labor and my son's questionable heart rate, the "other," woman was wheeled into the room. She had her mother with her, just like I did, but she could not have been any different than me. Her mother was covered head to toe, and she herself was in heavy labor, but wore a hijab. She never spoke English, but she labored loudly, and I couldn't help but be thankful for the thin curtain that separated us. After my son was born, I was sent to recovery, and once finally cleared I was taken to my room. I reveled in the stillness and calm of the quite room! Whoo hoo, no roommate!
Many hours later, medical staff came into the room and wheeled in the woman who I had shared labor and delivery room with. She had a huge entourage with her that now contained her husband, a religious man, and huge group of women. Before I could even wave hello, or acknowledge my new roommate, the religious man pulled the curtain closed, and started praying very loudly. I heard finger cymbals being chimed, more prayers and then the strangest sounds from their side of the room. This activity went on for an hour or more, all while I sat there in my bed trying to sooth my now very hungry son. It was a tense moment as I knew I had just heard some kind of religious ceremony or event. The room finally cleared out and there was silence.
It had only been two hours but I was surprised at how in the stillness, I could hear the other woman soothing her son in Arabic. I was quite surprised when an old woman opened my curtain, walked over to Mikey, poked him, whispered something over him, then smiled at me, and walked away. She never spoke a word in English, and to this day I have no idea what she said. I then heard her leave the room, and the heavy door close behind her. I then heard the other woman, "May I open the curtain?" I was then face to face with the "other" woman who introduced herself as Akleema, and her son Omar. She apologized for her Grandmother, and explained that she had just given a Blessing to Michael. She asked if this was my first child, and explained that the first born son in a family was a huge Blessing in their faith, and to her husband. The ceremony I had "witnessed," was her husband and local Cleric, saying the name of Allah in their son Omar's ear, and calling him to prayer. It is a great honor, and even more reverence is given if it is the first male child born into the family. She then asked if I was offended by her Grandmother's actions?
There was uncomfortable silence...for a few seconds, but it seemed much longer than that.
I said no, of course not. She smiled and said she was so happy to have brought honor to her family, and was happy to hear that Michael was also a first born son. The idea was new to me, I had read about such ideas in the Bible, but our faith and family did not hold it in the same reverence as this woman and her family clearly did. I did not have any more in depth conversations with Akleema, between her guests and my family, we stuck to our own sides of the curtain. She was discharged from the hospital the same day that I was. Prior to the nurse and her husband gathering her things, we had one last conversation. She said that Michael brought honor to our family, and would go on to do great things. She told me thank you for understanding, when she prayed 5 times each day, often in the middle of the night. She wanted to let me know that it was the first time she had been in the same room with a white woman for any length of time. She explained that she and her family owned a local Arabic market, and stayed within a four block radius. The experience of sharing a room with someone not of her faith and culture was new and foreign to her as well. She smiled in my direction, one last time before her husband entered the room. There weren't any goodbyes or long drawn out looks of motherly understanding. Akleema and Omar were gone. Once again there was silence.
Have you ever witnessed something that was clearly a time of reverence, but had no clue as to what was going on? Have you ever had a little old woman "Bless," your child in a foreign language? Were you humbled to find out what it was like on the other side of the coin? Have you ever considered that you might be foreign or "strange to someone else? I was so honored to have met Akleema and Omar, and every year on Mikey's birthday, I say a little payer for Omar and his Mother.