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Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Diwali Mela, the Kiran Booth, and the Goggles


I
Happy Diwali to you, and you, and you, and you, maybe you, definitely not you, and you! 

“So what’s the difference between if I park here and up the street?” I asked the neon vest wearing parking attendant.

“If you park here, it’s going to cost you $15, you’ll only have to walk from the parking lot to the festivities, and the City of Cary won’t tow your car.  If you like walking, and aren’t concerned about being towed, you can park up the street.”

“Cool, let me in.”

And of course, the parking lot was nearly empty.  What respectable Indian pays $15 to a free event when there is free parking two miles up the street?  We are Indians, walking never hurt us, and we’ve been through much worse than catching a chappal* tan. 

Not Indian-Americans though.  You see, Indian Americans have lived the good life with around the clock electricity, beef hamburgers loaded with pickles, and first world social media problems; so I paid to play in order to not push my mental limits for the day.

I walked up to the gate and passed the purse check (the greatest test of all time, simply open your purse, and close it. They’d never find a concealed weapon at the bottom of a purse they only require you to open for 1.288700123 seconds).  Then slowly walked towards the high pitched vocals of Lata Mangeshkar on some classic 60’s Bollywood track.  The winding path towards the sounds and smells was dream-like, a classic scene out of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” hurrying through the enchanted woods, an other-worldly golden aura blurred my vision as I continued to walk.  I wiped my eyes, and blinked to make sure my contacts didn’t continue to bother me.    

I had stepped into a sea of Desi’s all around me, it was as though I had been teleported to Indira Gandhi International Airport, and for once nobody was looking at the fine light skinned girl who was completely out of place in the Durhamite community.  Here, nobody even noticed I was fine, yet.

The vendors began to push flyers into my hands encouraging me to come to the Hindi radio stations Halloween party, and to pick up my free blue-beaded-paisley-plastic dinglehopper*.  

One of the local Indian restaurants had created a buffet under a tent, “No thank you,” I thought to myself as I proceeded to see what all was around me. 

Another tent had a mini-museum exhibit highlighting India’s greatest contributions to all of society including Mahatma Gandhi, and vibrantly designed textiles. 

Outside, a Bharatanatyam dance troupe dancer contorted her body into a classic open swastika agrathala position, and held it for a personal photo. 

A quarter of a mile of vendors bargained with frugal customers on prices for heavily embroidered lenghas, saris, and costume jewelry.  I scanned to see if anything else might be for sale, and there was not; not one single book collection, doll, or anything that might attract the millennial second generation (so of course I took a personal mental note). 

“Harleen!”

“Hey Buaji! Isn’t this so cool? I’ve never been to this before. This is so nice!”

“You’ve never been before? Wow. Are you here for the booth?”

“Yes, I’m trying to find it, have you seen it?”

“No, but if you find it tell your cousin I’m looking for her.”

“Okay, cool. I’ll let her know. I should probably see if I can find it soon.  I only have ten more minutes before I get started.”

“Okay good, I will see you later on then.”

On stage every Indian state came out in three minute intervals to dance in their traditional dances while wearing their culturally specific clothing.  In the end, all of the states combined for a finale, as a Sardar* ran across the stage holding the American flag.

“Hey, there goes the booth! They’ve got a decent view.  I’ll start my shift early.”

1.        Chappal – Indian footwear that is a crossbreed between a flip fop and dress shoe.  Usually made of fine leather, and made to last a life time.  Perfectly acceptable to wear with dress suits to weddings.  This style is usually set off by un-manicured thick toe nails, and excessive cuticle damage around the entire toenail bed.  You’d think no one would wear them in the winter, but it’s hard to avoid a classic, and who wants to put away their favorite shoes?  So what you do is you put on socks first, then you can continue wearing them in rain, sleet, or snow.  These shoes are impenetrable, and there is never an occasion or outfit they will not work with.

2.        Dinglehopper - An item that at first appearance has no use but is esthetically pleasing.  After some time maneuvering the item, one finds that it has an actual purpose, and can serve multiple uses (generally dealing with beauty and cosmetics).  Like filling with lip gloss/eyeshadow/Kajal, hiding photos of your 6th grade crush from your overbearing Indian parents, and keeping loose change.  Dinglehoppers made their first appearance in Walt Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, and at that time, were also able to help maintain attractive hairstyles.

3.      Sardar - Male Punjabi Royalty who chooses to continue wearing a turban in spite of the racism, negativity, ignorance, and hostility experienced in the US due to his outward identification as a Sikh or Punjabi. 



II 

"And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" 

“Hi, have you ever heard of Kiran before?” I quickly put down my smart phone as a quiet Indian woman wearing a yellow and green Punjabi suit, eye glasses, and short bob haircut appeared around the reading materials; looking somewhat apprehensive. 

She nodded nervously and spoke in a deep Indian accent, “Yes, yes, yes, I have.”

I knew that she needed a little space so I looked out towards the festivities, and waited for the next best moment for conversation with her. 

“I would like to make a donation.  Can I make a donation?  Has anyone made a donation today?”

“Actually, no.  You would be the first person who made a donation.  Everyone else is just getting mendhi done, they don’t seem very interested in Kiran at all.”

“I’m not surprised” she mouthed while rolling her eyes.  An act that seemed a bit out of her character, from what I had summed up in the first few minutes.  She was a real-life flesh and blood Adrian Balboa in her first appearances in Rocky (but with a chunni hanging from her neck).

“It happened in my household.  That’s why I’m volunteering.  Nobody talks about it in our community.  It happened a lot.  Nobody helped.  All is forgiven now, even if it could happen again,” I offered up my truth to open up the gateways for a deeper conversation.

She looked straight in my eyes, “But it leaves scars.”

She continued, “The unfortunate thing about this community is that they think it’s better for a woman to not complain about it if it is happening.  It is best for her to endure and never do anything about it.  They hate you when you speak up.”

She began writing a check, and she mentioned coming back for mendhi later.

She left me stunned.

At first appearance she seemed so bookish, and unapproachable, but underneath that wall there was an animal ready to speak up and use her voice; her spirit animal was a squirrel (squirrels keep to themselves but have been known to attack).  I wondered if it had happened to her, or someone she loved.  It had happened.  That was clear.

People walked by the booth, women silently walking up, pursing flyers, and quickly walking away.  Very few stopped for conversation.  Many men walked by, somewhat nervously, and almost like a question appeared on their face as they read the sign, “What do they exist for?  We don’t need that.”  One jovial Indian gentleman in his late 40’s walked by, “Yes, I know about Kiran, and I need a flyer” he smiled. 

He has to be someone’s brother or workplace friend.  He got a flyer for her.

“Hey little lady!” a southern accent boomed from behind me, and I jumped in my seat.
“Hi officer!”

“Hello! I’m the local domestic violence sheriff, and I love to come over to these Kiran booths, and have a chat with you girls.  You know, this is the toughest community to get through to, right up there with the Muslim community.  You know these ladies can’t just walk right up to this booth in front of their husbands if it’s happening to them.  I was thinking maybe you guys could put some of these flyers in the ladies bathrooms.  That’s where they can really be free to get the help they need.  This community right here is tough.”

“That’s a great idea.  In fact, I think I’ll do that as soon as my co-volunteer arrives.”

“Sounds good.  I’ll be by to check on you all a little later.”
“Thank you.”

___________


“The bathroom thing was a great idea!  I walked in and when I started sliding them between the mirrors, and the wall, I just knew somebody was going to get help.  It was the best idea!” I said to my co-volunteer.

“I’m glad Harleen, if we can help just one of these women today, it’s worth the time we take.”

“You know Harleen, I think it’s very important that you talk about your life online.  There are so many young girls who are going through what you went through.  They won’t come to any Indian events, Diwali, nothing.  Most of our youth is so turned off by our behaviors.  Nobody loves them, not even their parents, and you know what is happening to them out there that their parents are clueless about.  Don’t be afraid, what you have to say is very important.  Just a few years ago, I knew some older ladies who started talking about a teenager, and pulled all of their daughters away from her like she had a disease.  It broke my heart, but I couldn’t do anything about it, I felt stuck.  I can only imagine all the broken hearted Indian girls who need people to tell the truth.  Don’t worry about the consequences, just get online, and tell the truth.  Tell them they’re not alone.  Tell the truth about the abuse in our community.”



III 

Morni baga ma bole aadhe raat ma 

Fireworks bursted in air as Ila Arun serenaded the crowd with all of the best Bollywood classics in her hearty voice.  The brightly silk skirted dancers ran around her swinging arms and legs in famous Bollywood dance styles, and the stage continued to fill up from one song to the next, representing every Indian dance troupe in the Triangle area. 

Someone tapped my shoulder, “Excuse me miss but can I borrow your goggles?”

“Oh, my sunglasses? Yes.”

“I need them for the next dance, meet me here at the end, I will give them back to you.”

I looked around at all of the desi faces around me.  I had caught the eye of many, men and women, and for some reason it didn’t bother me when they stared (it did bother me on most all other occasions, but not with them).  God made flowers beautiful to bring joy to all around them, and I didn’t mind these people staring, because it was really about beauty (completely non sexual).  I continued to study the crowd, make mental notes about them, and make my decisions about them and Diwali.

They were fun people, who liked music and dance, and coming out to events like this.  I liked it too.  This is something I could do every year…. with them.  These are people I could be friends with.  These are people I cared about without even knowing them.  These are people whose complicated cultural problems I understood, and who I could serve.  These were people who knew how to have fun without crossing uncomfortable lines. 

I was down.

Diwali is cool.

I’m going to celebrate it for the rest of my life.

“Thank you for the goggles!” she placed my sunglasses in my hand, which cued my time to leave.

I had to make one last stop though.

The women’s bathroom.

I checked every mirror.  All of the flyers were still there.  A bit discouraging.  I made my way down the next corridor of sinks and mirrors. 

4 out of 5 flyers were there.  That means someone took one flyer.

That was good enough.  That made for a great first Diwali.  It created a hunger to experience it all again, to get there earlier and put the flyers in place faster, to make a real rangoli, to worship Christ, to fill my life with light, to make new Desi friends to share the holiday with, to make some products for the forgotten generation of Indian-Americans, to join a dance troupe and celebrate to the music of my childhood, and to do it all more intensely in 2017.

God Bless Your Diwali & New Year!

Real Love,

Harleen

Helpful Links:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Rangoli Diya Elementary

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A writing income can be pretty unpredictable.  One season you’re getting assignments to write the “autobiography” of a Pastor who provided meals and first aid kits during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, then press release after press release from a Chickpea Snack company trying to draw attention to itself, followed by a “personal essay” about a drive through Australia’s Pacific Coast Highway from Sydney to Brisbane, only to end up without work for weeks.

Recently, that’s exactly what happened to me.  I took an expensive road trip with my best friend up the East Coast of the United States stopping at all the best places, from the Virginia Beach boardwalk to the Met’s current fashion exhibit, finishing up the trip on one of the most heated episodes of the Wendy Williams show before heading back home.  Assuming all the while that the writing work would be waiting when I got home. 
So when I actually got home, and waited….
And waited….
Then applied with a few more agencies…
And waited…
Started calculating my expenses and how many months I could sit around….
Waited…
Knew it was getting ready to happen…
Waited some more…
Started praying fervently…
Negotiated with God…
Became upset with Him for stabilizing me only to knock me down AGAIN…
Waited….
Fasted for an answer….
For a day….
Two days….
Three days….
Then BOOM!
THAT’S when I heard STRONG words in my spirit somewhere between halfway awake, and halfway asleep, that led to some part time nanny work within 48 hours.
This job would give me an opportunity to explore Indian culture through the eyes of a diasporic child by researching my roots, creating my own Indo-specific curriculum, and supplementing lessons with whatever craft or activities I could think of.  I thought it was a cool challenge, because the season had turned, and I had more and more reason to be sick of the common racial American dialogue that I found spit at me vehemently by both sides of the extreme color spectrum.  So I ran head first into Brown people with the hope of finding a better outlook on surviving within my skin color while living in America.  Working with kids who looked like me could help me tremendously in rediscovering everything quintessentially Indian.
Not only did I begin creating lesson plans for my after school curriculum, but finding every relevant brown person and organization I could on all social media outlets.  To this day, this has been the GREATEST social media move I have EVER made, and I am continuing to find the Brown people who go against the grain, like me, who are out there.
I digress…
I began my work with some pretty serious lessons on the Taj Mahal and Arabian Nights until the month of October came, and I realized nothing would be more appropriate than a lesson on Diwali.
Diwali, an Indian holiday I heard a lot about, knew very little about, and had pretty much never really experienced. 
In order to create the best childhood Diwali lessons I could, I headed to the Library, and found a children’s book on the topic.  It started me down the self-education path with one liners like “People light lamps in their homes” and “People draw pictures on their doorsteps” plus the unique “People dance and play music.”  I was on a roll.
 All I needed was the pictures to get started.  We spent the first few days trying to create pretty light holders called Diya (some variation of that spelling is in the book although I’ve never seen it called diva lamp anywhere else), only to never quite get that right.  Usually the kids took artistic liberties in spite of me begging them to keep it traditional, and created serpentine and dragon figured Diya’s that quickly became overly complicated, and broke while drying. 
Yet, the more often we came back to the idea of lights glowing in intricately painted candle holders, I thought longer about how beautiful it would be to take the idea seriously in my own home.  The imaginary one I’m going to have one day, with my perfect future family.  What if the house was filled with lights, many of them, up and down the staircases, in front of the house, cascading alongside the driveway?  Would I limit my lights to Diya’s or maybe throw in different sized lanterns, and glow in the dark paints?  How would this make my family feel?  How would this make my neighbors feel?  What would it be like to live in this well lighted holiday home?  What could I say about Christ on this holiday?  Maybe I’d tell people that I light my house like this in October because Christ is a light in my life whose Words light a lamp for my feet.  That this is a time of year, not when I celebrate either His birth or resurrection, but the fact that He is the light of the world, and we are now celebrating not because of what He’s done but just because of who He is.  This holiday is one of pure worship.  Maybe, also, a well-lit Christian home on Diwali could come to serve as a city on a hill, a lamp on its stand that gives light to others, a home that “lets its light shine”. 
We progressed to the outdoor activity of creating Rangoli’s with side walk chalk.  Instead of the ancient swastika painted by the Hindu’s, I placed the Cross of Christ as the centerpiece of the Rangoli.  Making a mental commitment to create a more complicated Rangoli made of sand in 2017 to make my house more beautiful. 
I gave the kids a chance to craft Rangoli’s once more out of construction paper, and they placed them in the doorway of their home with pre-bought Diya’s on top.  Many of the Rangoli designs reminded me of flowers and the significance God places on us as His children in scriptures like Luke 12:27-28. 
 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!
Or just the idea of creating Rangoli’s of sand and the promises God made to Abraham by teaching through sand.  To end up being one of those tiny particles of the sand that was promised, and then to beautifully create designs out of it. 
Maybe that’s too deep....? 
But just the simple idea of creating exotic, attractive, eastern designs around the home during a holiday was enough for me.  It makes the home welcoming, and that brings me to the end of my “Rangoli Diya Elementary” curriculum with…
“The Diwali Gift” starring Sunno (Listen), Dekho (Look), Jaano (Know).  A cute Indian storybook that follows the celebrations of three young monkeys/Indian kids.  They receive a gift from Dadima (Paternal Grandmother) to place in the Pooja thali (worship plate) during Lakshmi Pooja.  The story was a cute finish when creating a lesson plan for the Holiday.  Unlike most western children’s books where South-Asian children and themes are absent, our own customs, ideas, and words were all present.  It just felt good to see “us” in something.  Then the idea of Lakshmi Pooja as the time of worship when Lakshmi is invited into the home sparked ideas about the kind of prayers, worship, and activities that could occur in my home during Diwali.  Nights of specific prayers that invite Christ into our homes, finances, New Year, lives, and more.  Specific days of prayer for children, spouses, and extended family members.  The possibility of establishing Diwali traditions for Christians that could last for decades began to develop after realizing how important the religious under tones are during this time of year.  How cool it would be if one day 50 years from now the Diwali Holidays for Christians were marked by some of my own ideas from this season of my life, I began to think.
My foundational understanding of Diwali was complimented by a YouTube video highlighting the tale of Ram and SIta that inspires the holiday for many Hindus.
The central story of Diwali for Christians has yet to be called, there are so many to choose from, and perhaps the cool thing about our stories for the Holiday could be the fact that our stories keep coming in.  The individual testimony might be the best story for this holiday; the stories of who He is in each of our lives. 
The next step in my Diwali journey would take me into live celebrations with other Desi’s.  I didn’t know these celebrations were happening.  And here’s a secret…. They’re really fun.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Restoring Diwali


“Light of the world You stepped down into darkness”

Growing up within a broken desi family made for unspectacular Diwali celebrations.  In the holiday season, my family was usually too busy turning coffee tables, defending against false accusations of adultery, screaming slurs in Punjabi/Hindi/English, punching fists through walls, yelling open air negotiations about the rifle in the attic being brought down to kill everyone in the house, throwing hard bottomed dress shoes at my head while I dialed 911 for relief, being reminded of what a kuti my 10 year old self was, police cars rallying in front of our quant 2 story vinyl siding embellished mini mansion on a street named after some Colonial general fighting against American Independence, and eventually our family situation being mediated by a village of turbaned and veiled elders in our living room encouraging us to “act better” during the Fall festivities.  There was nothing light about the season for us; our lives, and our household was marked by pain, damage, and darkness.

Somehow, my mother would pull herself together and I was able to glean that Diwali was associated with some Guru’s battle victory for the Sikh’s, and that is why we would light tea candles in the kitchen, plus garland the front door with white Christmas lights, every other year.  I also compulsively watched the movie “The Little Princess” starring Liesel Matthews over and over between the ages of 9 to 12.  From the movie I learned the story of Sita living a beautiful life with her Prince Rama, only to be manipulated and kidnapped by an evil demon named Ravana, eventually to be saved by her hero-husband in the end of the story that is central to the celebration for the Hindus (at the time that was unknown to me). 

I’d eventually be heavily ostracized by a community that helped support my toxic childhood for only being seen out with a boy at a grocery store.  The cost of this uneventful sighting equaled ignorance for him; and me being pulled by the hair, dragged through the square, beaten, embarrassed, and stripped nude for me.  This heavy stone throwing helped me justify abandoning my roots, to find refuge in a place of complete acceptance (in the arms of Christ), and caused me to establish roots and traditions in the Body of Christ.

Recently, God has been taking me back to my roots to reconcile all that I left behind; to understand it better, embrace it, find Him in it.  He’s been healing that area of my identity daily for the past few months.  There have been days where I wondered how a people group who identify Christianity as the “white demons” religion that serves to only manipulate one into belief, give up family inheritances/bloodline/caste ties, and requires you to abandon your Indian identity; could come to faith and still keep their “Indianess”?  Can they come to know Jesus, and still keep this holiday that is central to their identity?  Can I learn about it and do the same?  Is it okay for me, the rejected turned rejecter, to start celebrating now?  After everything that's happened?

Then I remember that many Christians still put up their Christmas trees, and hunt for Easter eggs.  Activities that once pagans turned born again believers were not so quick to give up with their new Christian heritage; and these activities have endured in spite of challenges.  Surely there was a way to reconcile all that came with Diwali, but first I’d have to learn what actually happens on Diwali.  And regardless of the past, I couldn't ignore God's strong tug to move forward with this Diwali thing. 
At the beginning of the process of learning the holiday, and fully making it mine, two scriptures lit up in my mind:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. –Matthew 5:16

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” –John 8:12

From there, I began my month long journey of “Restoring Diwali" to find myself immersed in a head spinning, breathtaking cultural explosion...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Girl in the Window


“We are here to just guide you through this.  We will help facilitate this process,” said one of the two women sitting across from her.  

“Sometimes I have a hard time hearing God’s voice though.  I don’t know if this will work,” she admitted.

“YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE!  YOU ARE HIS SHEEP! The bible says you are his sheep & you have a right to hear his voice and follow him! We are here to pray, and lay hands for that! I believe you are going to hear from GOD TODAY!”

She didn’t know what to think.

“So close your eyes and ask Him out loud what He wants to show you.”

She closed her eyes, “Jesus, what moment do you want to show me?”

The room fell silent.

She shifted in her seat.

The seconds long.

“I don’t see anything.”

“Just wait.”

The women readjusted their chairs alongside her then placed their hands on her shoulder, and began to speak rapidly in dialects unknown to her.  She opened her hands palm up, and rested them on her lap.  Behind her closed eyelids colors began to appear in a swirl until they fanned out into images.

“I see myself.  I’m three or four years old.  I’m in the house I grew up in.  I used to watch myself.  I was a latchkey kid.  The coffee table is pushed against the window, and I’m sitting on top of it staring out the window.  No one is at home.  These are working hours.  My parents aren’t home, and neither are the neighbors.  I’m looking out of the window, and sitting by myself.  It’s a summer day.  The neighborhood is quiet.”

“How do you feel?” asked one of the women in the room.

She began to feel intense pain, as she struggled to hold in her cry.

“Why are you crying?”

“I just feel so bad for her.”

“Stand outside of the memory. Say I. It's what has happened to you. Why are you upset?”

“It’s the fighting.  They’re always fighting.  Everyone.  My grandparents, my parents.  Always screaming, charged with emotion.  Every night.  Sometimes I zone out, sometimes I watch the TV to drown out the noise.  I’ll turn the volume up so high, and no one notices or cares.  Sometimes I scream at the top of my lungs so it will stop.  Nothing stops them.  I want God to come and take me away.  I talk to God all the time.  I want Him to save me from my life.  I'm trapped.  I want to walk out the door, and never come back.  In that moment at the window I'm imagining Him walking down the street in a yellow trench coat like Dick Tracy, taking me away, and being my new parent.  Actually, that is what is happening.  Dick Tracy is walking up the street.”

“Okay, good.  Ask Jesus where was He in this situation?”

“Jesus, where were you in this situation?”

The images quickly shifted.

“The man that was Dick Tracy isn’t there anymore.  He’s gone.  In his place is Christ.  He looks mostly like how we see Him all over the place, in movies and stuff.  The same type of clothes.  He’s simple.  He keeps on walking.  He’s walking towards my house…  Opening the door, coming up the stairs, and we hug.  He holds me in His arms for a little while.  He is being my father, adoring me in that moment.  We leave that place together…”

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Father's Touch



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“I want to invite you up for prayer after service.  If your father wasn’t there, or didn’t quite get it right, come up to the front.  I want all the men of God to come up to the front, and pray today.  If you have a need, don’t hesitate.”

She quickly saved the light settings for the church auditorium on the control console, and brought all the faders to the bottom of the board, while simultaneously turning the power off.  As she rushed to the front of the room, “should I even go up for prayer,” she wondered.

She walked past all of the men participating in prayer, all of whom were either occupied, or just too young for her to perceive as a father figure. 

“I don’t want to give up, I need extra help with this,” she thought as she searched for someone to pray with her. 

“Excuse me sir, are you praying for people?” she asked the fifty something year old man who appeared to be waiting on his friends to be free from praying in order to fraternize.

“I can pray for you if that’s what you want.  What do you need?”

“You see, I’m graduating next week from college.  It’s a long story, but I come from a broken family.  It really slowed things up for me, and I’m a little bit older finishing undergrad now.  My father is a violent alcoholic.  I still live with my family, it’s a long story why.  It’s kind of a cultural thing, I’m Indian.  Also if I leave everything will fall apart financially.  We all chip in.  He hasn’t worked for many years, and I’m needed.  My mother will never leave him, and it’s completely socially acceptable in my parent’s culture.  In fact, it’s honored.  We got in a fight the other day because I wouldn’t give him the keys to my car.  It’s a new car, and it’s mine.  Plus, he’s a drunk and just all around awful.  He just can’t say a nice thing ever. I think he’s jealous that I have a car. That I could do anything for myself.  Well, he punched me in my stomach four times, and said all kinds of awful things while I struggled to keep him from taking a hammer to my car.  He was going to beat my car up because I wouldn’t give him the key.  I fought him back, but this whole thing has just made me not want him at my graduation.  It didn’t hurt, I’m used to fighting, and he’s weak.  But, I’m in a different kind of hurt right now.  I know it’s not normal what I just told you, but I really don’t want him at my graduation.  I’ll move past this eventually, but I just don’t want to deal with him right now.  I really don’t want him there.  I can’t stand to see him there.  Can we pray about that?”
Image result for old white man praying“I want you to know first of all, that you are beautiful.  I’m sorry that he did this to you, and I want you to know that he can’t like himself at all to be like that.  Men walk around with a lot of hurt.  I have two Indian daughters that I adopted, and they remind me of you.  Look, let’s pray…”

Friday, September 2, 2016

What Do Men Want?




"Alright Girls! Tonight at All the Single Ladies Bible Study we have a guest speaker.  We've got a young man who is going to talk to us about what men are looking for in a wife. Please stand up, and give us your name, tell us a little bit about yourself" the leader of the study urged the guest for the evening.

“Do I have to stand up?  Man… whatever, it’s cool,” the young man arose, “my name is Dai-Quan.  I was born and raised in St. Louis, I’m 23.  I moved here 2 years ago.”

“Alright, Dai-Quan.  That’s nice.  So what do you do?”

“I’m the assistant manager at Cinzano Pizzeria in The Square shopping center.”

“Good, good.  So you’re here to tell us about what men are looking for in a wife today, isn’t that right?”

“Yeah, so okay, hold up,” he reached into his pocket to open up a soft paperback book, “this is the holy book of game.”

“What you need to understand is that every guy is out here trying to find a diamond.  On his way to finding a diamond he is going to encounter cubic-zirconium, copper, gold, and platinum.  He is slowly trading up until he finds his diamond girl.”

The girls sat in confused silence.  One of them interjected, “WAIT. What does that mean?!”

“What that means is the cubic-zirconium, you don’t want those at all,” he began to read from the book, “their yearly income is under $10,000, they weigh 120-300 pounds, have had 1-4 children and/or 1-3 abortions before the age of 23, and their beauty shelf life is between ages of 14-21.  Let’s skip a few of these descriptions because I’ve got to get back to the shop to close up,” he began to flip through the book opening an ear marked page.

“Most guys are dealing with a Gold, average weight 98-150, number of children or abortions before age 23 is 1, and beauty shelf life is about 17-36.  Some good examples of famous women like this are your J. Lo’s, Britney Spears, and Alicia Keys.”

He continued, “So here’s where men are trying to end up.  The diamond girl.  She makes a $250,000+ amount of money every year, average weight 95-130. No abortions or children before the age of 23.  Beauty shelf life between ages 16-60.  Some examples of this are Halle Berry, Janet Jackson.”

                The girls sat in a stunned silence.  All of their dreamy ideas about men began to fight the shallow ideals that this man had revealed some men had in a complex dance of cognitive dissonance.

                “So basically these diamonds are just little rich girls.  They don’t need anything from a guy.  They’re not out to use a guy.  They have everything, and they just want someone around.”

                “Well… do you have a girlfriend?” asked one of the participants.

                “Yeah, I live with her” he included.

                “What is she?”

                “Man, she’s a copper.  But I’m not trying to be with her for the rest of my life.  She’s pregnant with my kid, has me a little stuck, and that’s the only reason we’re together.”

                “Sir, I think you need to leave.  I wanted you to come in here and tell these girls what a man is looking for in a wife.  This just grieved my spirit.  I think we’re just going to end this bible study tonight.  We should have talked before you came.”

                The guest speaker looked confused as he began to put on his army fatigue bomber jacket, and adjust his cornrows. 

                “Thank you for coming” the women acknowledged him with gloomy goodbyes.

                “Thank you for having me” he said as he walked out the door, embodying unease, as he wasn't able to measure the impact he had in the room, although he knew it wasn’t good.

                As the door shut the women began to chatter:
Image result for women gossiping
                "Wait, so that’s what guys want?”

                “So am I a copper? I’m still in school!”

                “I don’t think I’ve ever met a diamond in my life!”

                “How many guys believe this crap?!”
                "Maybe that's why we never have boyfriends."

                “I can’t even believe he came to a bible study with that mess!”

                “Wow...”
                "Who found him?!"
                “I know some cubic zirconium though, let’s not lie.”



The bible study leader exclaimed, “No ladies! The bible says that our worth is far above rubies!  We are a royal priesthood!  God knew us before the foundations of the world, and we are made in His image!  He was supposed to come in here and tell us about what a man wants in a wife, and he did not do that!  That just grieved my spirit...  What about women who have made mistakes? Nobody is perfect.  Jesus didn’t call, and love perfect people.  There are no perfect people.  He’s a joker.  He doesn’t even have that stuff he told us he wanted in a woman.  He didn't mention one thing he was doing to become a diamond!  He’s a cubic zirconium!  Living off of a woman! Shoot!”

                “Well, when I get home, I’m going to find that book he was reading from, and I’m going to figure all of this out for us.  I need to know what is going on” said the bookish Indian girl in the chair and a half.

                                                        To be continued...



References

Nasheed, T. (2005). The mack within: The holy book of game. New York: Riverhead Freestyle.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Beauticians Ministry




“I thought he was the one.  I love him so much, but he just won’t slow down.  I mean he’s just so good looking.  He even looks like he could be Indian.  We have so much fun,” she confessed through a strained face as she sat in the waiting area of the college themed women’s hair salon. 

“My parents would hate him.  Actually, my dad would kill us both if he found out.  I think everyone pretty much hates him.  The thing is, I feel like we belong together, like I was made for him.  If he could just see that I’m…” she paused to collect her thoughts, “I’m his everything.  We’d be happy together with less of this fast living.  He’s my best friend!”

The situation was bubbling from her spirit as she continued, “I just hate all these other girls.  They have no standards.  I mean, it’s pretty clear that I’m the one he wants.  I’m who he’s crazy about.  I’m the one he posts on Facebook.  They just won’t respect themselves, and find someone that wants them enough to claim them,” her blood boiled as she retold her ghetto, extended adolescence, Romie-no & Juliet love story to the shop owner who had pumped styling foam into her hand, and began to work it into her clients hair. 

“So you think he’s your BOAZ?” the stylist’s voice betraying that she meant more than what she had asked.

“What’s a Boaz?”

“Girl!  She doesn’t know what a Boaz is?!!?!” she exclaimed to the other stylist in the room.

“No, for real! What’s a Boaz?!  Are you making fun of him? I mean he can act reeeeaaally slow.  He says stuff like ‘let’s get wasted!’, posts the same sentence every day on Facebook, and hangs at the tattoo shop all day long.  But it’s just the other stuff that no one else can see about him, I see the real him, the stuff he doesn’t show the world.  His beard kind of reminds me of my dad when it starts growing back in also.”

The stylist pointed her brush at her, “He’s a Bozo girl!  You know, girls from y’alls time don’t know how to get over heartbreak the right way.”

“Back in my time, we’d shut the door, and wouldn’t leave the house for days.  We’d just cry, and cry, and cry, until we couldn’t cry anymore.”

“Seems like the girls today just want to go find somebody else really quick, and just get hurt by them too.  They don’t take the time to heal.  You have to take some time to really get over things, or it will come back to haunt you later on in life.  You won’t get strong again.  It’s a demonic cycle.  We used to run around the house wailing crying! AHHHHH! AHHHHHH! AHHHHHH! HE DON’T LOVE ME!!! AHHHH!”

“You know, these men, they respect you when you don’t give them your stuff.  They’re going to try, but if you hold your ground and honor God, they can never say they had you.  They can never change their mind, embarrass you, talk about you behind your back, and find somebody else.  They wouldn’t be able to do that.  And they’ll always respect you.  There are so many men that have tried me, but all they can do is take their hat off and treat me like a lady when they see me.  I didn’t fall for it.  See giving your stuff to someone is really a very spiritual thing to do.”

The room fell silent.  The stylists comb worked through the rollers and foam, creating a little white noise, as the young girl sat in a deep silence. 

“See, we’ll be about to die because we gave them our stuff.  Feeling like our soul is about to come out our body.  They're running around having the time of their life with Tina, Lisa, and Maria.  Telling everyone they had you.  That’s why God wants you to only give your stuff to your husband.  It wasn’t made to give away to everybody.  It’s just for your husband.  That devil is busy trying to kill, steal, and destroy.  We have to be on guard."

The girl continued in silence, as her face revealed that the new information was working on her.  A door had opened in her mind, and her thoughts started to walk through it.  Why didn’t she know that before?  It was so simple.  Why hadn’t anyone else around her figured this out?  This was like a get away from heartbreak winning lotto ticket.  Could her life have been better if she had always known this?  Nobody was really doing this.  Everyone had a boyfriend!  Everyone was giving away their “stuff”!  It was natural.  Would this even work?  This was how all the women in her family were, chaste.  Could they have gotten something right about living, in spite of all the painful mistakes they made in so many other areas of life?  Like making all the kids at the temple compete for everything, never talk about feelings, not standing up for their children in difficult situations, or show expressed love or approval. 

“Trust me God has someone in mind for you, you just have to learn some things.”  Someone other than him!?  But all she wanted was him.  Yet, if she tried this it could be the greatest act of self-love, and improving herself she ever did.  This could be the most beautiful, and sacred thing she could do for herself.  Some things were for sure, she wanted to feel respect from men, she didn’t want to feel crazy inside anymore, and she wanted to be happy again.