Saturday, 27 September 2014

Feeling Grateful...

Source: Internet
I spent almost three-quarters of the day with housework today. I actually only intended to do up the laundry (for those fabrics those that get done every three to four weeks), but ended up doing cleaning up other things too. A lil race to spruce up the house in time as we have just ushered in Dhul-Hijjah, the sacred month in which the Hajj pilgrimage takes place.

I have this thing about cleanliness. And cleaning. Many a times, I have deduced that I probably have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Mum used to get upset and occasionally angry with the way I clean things. Dad and Brother were in similar leagues too. My friend Vanessa, while we were still colleagues, tried her best to make me break my OCD-habits.

When AZ came into my life, he provided me with practical solutions to overcome this. One of the things he said, was to find within me, the real objective as to why I set out on cleaning a certain space or stuff. Was there really a need to turn over the house every month and do a massive spring cleaning? Some things really do not need so much of frequent cleaning, he always reminded. There have been times when I get so engrossed in that cleaning activity that I would even overshoot my prayer schedules. Astaghfirullah, I pray that Allah (S.W.T) forgives me.

Alhamdhulilah, over the years, I believe I have changed. Increasingly, AZ and I tell each other that our lives must always revolve around our five prayer times. I confess and pray that our Rabb forgives us for  not being able to stick to this too - that our faith is tested many counts on this aspect. But doing my best to wake up each day to fulfil our prayers on time has changed me for a better person, I really trust.

When it comes to my OCD habits, I no longer clean the house so massively. My cleaning routines have changed. A LOT.  My cleaning schedules are more realistic and reasonable now. I am not bent on a change of cushion covers or curtains when it's uncalled for. 

Even before I got married, I don't allow Mum to do any other housework except cooking meals. Dad used to help me with scrubbing the bathrooms, especially during times when I had exams while still in school and when I am unwell, but I don't allow him to do that anymore too. Brother is delegated to clean his room whenever needed too (and he likes it that way too as I end up cleaning 'too much' and moving his speakers and computer stuff around, causing them to need re-looks).

After we got married, my dear better-half tries to help whenever possible and even learnt the way I clean things, especially, scrub bathrooms so that I don't re-do the work (although I don't tell him he didn't do the way as I would have).  So, on most times now, I don't stop him when he volunteers, as I don't wish to come in the way of the rewards for following the sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) in sharing the housework with his spouse. 

I have realised that the fatigue that comes with housework seems to stay away from the mind when the intention (niyyah) is set to serve and take care of our family, for the sake of Allah. I find myself happier while cleaning actually and accomplished when this intention is set right from the start.

I pray that Allah (S.W.T) eases things for others, like me, who have been conditioned to spending too much time on keeping up with OCD-like habits. Ameen.

For that matter, I have felt guilty too, whenever we ask a part-time helper to drop by to help with more time-consuming chores. Somewhere within me, I always feel I am giving up on the barakah of earning a reward from our Rabb for doing that particular chore. Over time, Mum and I decided we would just ask her over to help with cleaning our windows.

Today, as I was completing the final task of washing up the bathrooms, I felt so thankful for the energy, health and faith to be able to clean my house. I thought of many other women who were not as blessed as me. And I decided, that I should be appreciating the blessings that HE bestows everyday upon me. How special they are, and how much more thankful I should be every other day.
Source: Internet

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Other Therapy...

It's been a while since I found time for a book. Picked these two books up from the library just last weekend. I didn't want to be over-ambitious; AZ reminded me too, bearing in mind the fact that I can end up with four to six books at one visit and end up finishing only one by the time it's due date for returning them.

Alhamdhulilah, almost finishing the "Bookseller of Kabul" - a book the way I expected it to be. In-Shaa-Allah, Hoping to start on the second book soon - a non-fiction novel about post-war trials on home ground.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A New Skill Learned...

I had shared in my earlier post on Sister N’s Mum’s tasty food that she fed AZ and me two weekends ago. Last weekend, I decided to try out two of her dishes  - corn rice and cucumber and carrot achar. Alhamdhulilah, both the dishes turned out well. And that means, I have learnt two more new dishes.

And in the process, I discovered something very useful about cooking with basmati rice (and I am sticking to it). I have been practicing cooking with basmati rice for a while now- ghee rice, vegetable pulao, prawn biryani, etc. I don’t always follow what my Mum adds in, I try to innovate what I get from my favourite food blogs and from my own food sense sometimes. And thankfully, I am blessed with a family that welcomes variations in their food every now and then.

One distinct way Mum cooks basmati rice is that she does not soak her rice. She rinses it thoroughly just before adding it into the mixture base that she has prepared for her briyanis. I, on the other hand, have been soaking rice for at least 20 minutes before cooking it for a while now. For some reason, my rice texture would almost be not quite close to how I want it to be. I tried this time, making the corn rice, without soaking the rice. And it really did turn out with a texture that I always hoped for, or to be precise, with a texture that our family’s taste buds were accustomed to. And so…. I am definitely sticking to this method from now on, In-Shaa-Allah.

Oh, and we enjoyed lunch with chicken masala to complement the two dishes below.

While cooking the corn rice, I realised I had too much corn. And so, I decided to make custard with corn for desserts later in the day. What I did came to look like the bowl below.

And Mum came home, tasted the custard, and did what she does most of the times. She corrected the consistency by simmering the mixture again. Mothers…. May Allah bless them in both this Dunya and Akhirah for the things they do for us every moment. Ameen.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Surprise Gifts

Our Eid visits have just been wrapped up I believe. Alhamdhulilah. With AZ's exams throughout the month of Ramadan and into Eid as well, we have postponed some of our visits though. We opened our doors and warmly welcomed our guests nevertheless, and had good food and company that came with Allah's barakah through them.

Just last weekend, AZ and I accepted an invitation to visit a newly-found friend's family - Sister N, whom I have mentioned here. She came by weeks earlier, and we spent a good number of hours right after Azhar into Maghrib and Isyak. We had so much to share about, it didn't feel like she only just came into my life at all.

I had made vegetable briyani, my 'turn-to' brinjal pachadi and fish masala that day.  In all, it was a beautiful day. Sister N and I have been colleagues  who work for different media companies. We meet often at events that we happened to be assigned to cover at the same time. But our friendship just bloomed very recently. I am so thankful it did. Alhamdhulilah.

After our meeting at home, Sister N then insisted we visited her family too. AZ and I could't say no, of course.

Sister N's family is really sweet, especially her Mum. Both of us ended talking to each other more than Sister N and I. I have always been intrigued by her whenever Sister N shared about her, and it was for this one fact - that she is a convert who is trying her best to learn new knowledge on our Deen every moment. SubhanAllah.

So, you can imagine we didn't realise how fast time flew when she started sharing on her conversion, etc.

Together with our hearts, our stomachs were happy too with Auntie's lovely cooking. I came home with some nice recipes from her too.

Above all, what really moved me was Auntie's gift to me. A sejadah (prayer mat) and a pearl-beaded tasbih from her Hajj pilgrimage three years ago. She said she was waiting for the right moment to give it to someone, and Masha-Allah, she chose me.

I was so happy and really moved I must say... Whenever there are matters related to the blessed land, I am always lost on how to describe what I feel these days.

We came home in time for Maghrib. AZ and I took turns to pray on the sejadah. I have kept the beautiful maroon and clear-toned pearl-beaded tasbih in a relative's wedding souvenir holder, next to the table where we pray. I hope to make good use of it, In-Shaa-Allah.