In Thy Glory

Fiction by | February 1, 2009

gloryI start my day with Subhanallah and feel the last bead of my pasbih with Allahuakbar. They agreed to forego the dialaga. The wedding is set a month from today. Baba said the mahr is more than generous enough.

You could give your friends, apart from your cousins and other family of course, their adat. No worries about that, Sittie Mouhminah. How much would they want? Give me your guest list too. We are drafting the probable guests. Your Mama has started on some relatives from her side of the family. Compose yourself, atakolay. This one is way better than him. Bangsa, atakolay. Bangsa.

Baba closes my door gently. I heave. How do you relay affection at this stage? I glance at the photograph that was left on my table just the night before. I remember his face from my college days at the university. But we were not even close to being acquaintances. He would wear his totob often. I remember that he was good looking and he topped his class. I remember that his father is the owner of these famous chains of gasoline station in their city. I remember that his grandfather is the current Sulotan of their place in the province.

Kaka Bibiya, can I talk to you?

It is my brother. He calls me Bibiya every time he asks a favor or when he would speak about his personal opinions. My brother has been married to his girlfriend who is a relative by affinity. They got married after their college graduation while I pursued my degree in Law.

Kaka Bibiya, I went to see the land that is included in the mahr. Eleven hectares. Big enough. And they are buying the car next week. On a cash basis. Please stop crying. Baba and Mama have given their word. You cannot break tradition. Besides he is fit for you. A lawyer for a brother-in-law, Kaka. And a good man at that. You would best fit, Inshallah. Consider his family background, Kaka. Mala a pamilya. Tiolaw. You know that Abdani has no place in this family. Do you see it now?

He goes out of my room with a crease on his forehead. He told me once that you cannot question emotions.

Hasser Abdani is a son of a prominent family—a prominence rooted in hard labor and not from the prominence that came with ancestry. He does not wear a totob, but he religiously prays. He has finished reading the Qur’an and continues to read it regularly. Abdani is a lawyer too. But his mother’s mother was a Christian. That makes him one-fourth non-Meranao. My ancestry is purely tiolaw as my father would tell me.

Atakolay, it is almost Dhohor. Open the door for me, will you?

I was finishing my abdash when Mama knocked.

Ilayang kaman, I had to agree with your Baba. I told you he won’t approve unless the mama is a mapiya a taw. Do not give me that sigh now, daughter. Yes, in Islam we embrace converts as if they were originally Muslims. And we all are aware that his parents are mag-islam. Abdani himself is very much religious. There is no doubt about how good a man he is. Only that your Baba does not want to bargain with me. I know you hurt, karitang ko. I can hear your agony in between those sacred verses you’ve been reciting for days now. Please understand us, Sittie Mouhminah. Please do.

Mother said she would come back after she finishes her Dhohor.

I wear my mukna. I stand for my niyat, raise my arms, and successively recite Al-Fatihah before starting on Ayatol Korsi.

End notes:
Subhanallah–‘Glory be to Allah.’
Allahuakbar–‘God is Great.’
Pasbih– rosary
Dialaga–engagement party.
Adat–a traditional treat given in view of the wedding
Mahr–bridal money given by the husband to the wife at the time of marriage.
Bangsa–lineage
Atakolay–‘my dear child’
Totob–skull cap
Sulotan–Sultan
Kaka–used to address an older person or an older sister or brother
Mala a pamilya–prominent family
Tiolaw/Mapya a taw–royalty
Dhohor–the noon prayer
Abdash–ablution
Ilayang Kaman–‘You see.’
Mama–man
Karitang ko–‘my dear’
Mukna–veil for praying
Niyat–intention
Al-Fatihah–the opening chapter of the Qur’an and is recited to start the prayer
Ayatol Korsi– one of the most revered chapters in the Qur’an

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Arifah Jamil lives in Cagayan de Oro City.