|I’d put it off as long as I could. I had to go. This couldn’t wait another day. If I didn’t make it to the grocery this morning, the kids would have nothing but pancakes for dinner. Literally. No eggs, no fruit. Simply pancakes.
The store is only one bus stop away, but it was all I could do to get out of the house. I had looked futilely for excuses: The weather was fine. The house picked up. We have money for food. Thankfully that’s not a worry.
But the grocery is huge, the language still puzzling. And this hijab. This honorable head covering. This damn scarf. I honestly want wear it. For God, for my husband, for the ummah. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t resent the stares, the averted looks, the odd treatment. I’m a Muslim woman for Heaven’s sake. There are nearly a billion of us. Just let me be.
I’d made it through produce. Happily, carrots are pretty much carrots both where we come from and where we now find ourselves. Bread was ok: Get what’s soft. Cereal was fine: Get the kids something colorful.
Now I’m at the meat counter and I’m lost. I have an undergrad in computer science. I speak four languages, have born two children. I am not dumb. . . or weak. Yet it’s all I can do, standing here, waiting my turn, not to cry and run away. What meat is what? What, if anything, is halal? What can I do to not hold up the line and bring more stares?
“Hello,” her voice says softly. “Can I help you with this?” I turn. She is white as snow. Kind as the first day of spring.
I nod mutely. She takes my hand. Really, takes my hand, smiles and asks, “What do you need to get?”