Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Happiness and smiles as my baby brother gets hitched!!!!!!!

(This is the first part of a post on my brother's wedding. I hope to do another post with more detail in the near future إن شاء الله)

On Saturday my baby brother, Sh. (aged 30, but to me he'll always be my baby bro) got married. The date for his wedding had only been set a few short weeks ago, so much preparation had had to be done in a very limited space of time.

One of the major changes was that my other brother, Is. (aged 37ish) and his family were to move into my mother's house (with my mother) after the wedding, while the groom-to-be and his new wifey would move into the smaller adjacent property in which Is. had been staying since his own wedding 10 years ago. Needless to say, the weeks preceding the wedding were filled with much hustle and bustle and emotional moments, as those involved suddenly found themselves needing to adjust to huge changes in their lives.

It was decided that, contrary to tradition, our family and our guests would be hosted by the brides family at their home. What a generous gesture on their part!

My mother was left with having to get the house ready for the bridal couple (with particular emphasis on the bruidskamer (bridal chamber / honeymoon suite), since it is custom for the family and friends to meet at and view the room after the nikah (wedding ceremony) and reception have taken place. (This is usually accompanied by prayer/s, short speech/es and well wishes given by a respected elder/s, but we did not plan to do this, as it is merely customary and not obligated by Islam.)

My mother was so lucky to have had some amazing helpers to assist her with these preparations. My sister-in-law, Mf. was absolutely extraordinary in that she managed to conduct her own move across to my mother's house, but then also took charge of the interior decorating of the bridal couple's new home.

My mother also relied heavily on Sh.'s close friends who ran errands, carried, fixed and just basically were at the family's beck and call for the entire process. How blessed they are to have such unselfish people in their lives!

On Friday morning (the morning before the wedding), in executing last minute wedding arrangements, Sh. - our then-groom-to-be - suffered a little accident when a faulty boot-lid of a car fell on his hand, breaking a few bones. The poor thing was rushed to hospital and, since it was a public hospital, that is where he spent the entire day before his wedding. His hand was bound in a cast and he was sent home with instructions to return on Monday when he would undergo an operation.

The morning of the wedding arrived and I was even more nervous than my brother was (and he was nervous!). I so much wanted everything to go well for him - on the day, and in his marriage. I prayed desperately that the Almighty grant him happiness - I so much wanted him to feel contentment, peace and joy - I don't even recall praying so hard for myself on the morning of my own wedding.

Also there were moments that morning, which really had me choked up - I really wished that my father had been there - I know that he would have been so happy to see Sh. get married. But I know that his death was God/Allah's will and I accept that the Almighty knows best. I was particularly emotional when I saw Is. , (who he is younger than I am but has, since the death of my father, assumed the role of the boeta - big brother - of the family) take charge of helping Sh. to get dressed, since his injured hand was making that task quite difficult to accomplish by himself. My aunts and uncles stood around watching this spectacle, all the while teasing him that while it was okay for the groom to rely on his boeta's help that morning, he'd be on his own that night - among other similarly disturbing remarks. I was grateful for the jesting and teasing because I was becoming quite emotional witnessing the bond between my 2 brothers, knowing full well how proud my father would have been at that moment.

For me, these are some of the sweetest moments of the day - right here

Awww, my two boeties 

But hey, what about me ???? I am the tietie, after all

The nikah (marriage ceremony) and reception ran smoothly and beautifully. The groom even remembered the lines which would transform him from a single stud to a happily married man.

After the nikah the bride and groom came downstairs to the reception area, where they  were showered with love and well-wishes from friends and family.

Aww, there they are again. The boeta wishing our baby bro after the nikah. Too sweet.

And that's me wishing my boetie - determined not to cry (it's not everyday I get to wear eye make-up, after all)

And there she is - my new sis-in-law (let's call her Sf). Beautiful 
ماشا الله

The proud mother of the groom

Close friends of the bride and groom, without whose assistance my mother would have had a really difficult time

With T. , our new nephew and a new cuzzie for my kids - yay!!!

With my husband Mo - our photographer for the day

With Uncle Sonny - I don't think he'd mind me using his name

Another awwww moment

Already such a good wife - I can learn so much

With my dad's fun-loving family - this was another moment during which I really felt his absence

All the aunties

After the wedding, the close family headed to the bruidskamer,  although the family decided to forgo all the traditional customs surrounding this. But I was secretly happy that they did not forgo the visit to the bruidskamer altogether, as I was happy that my other sis-in-law, Mf. would receive the acknowledgement for a job very well (and unselfishly) done.

One of the behind-the-scenes stars of the day - our very own interior decorator

This antique cupboard belonged to my late grandfather

I can say with absolute honesty that I haven't felt this contentment within myself for a long time - I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that my brother has found such a lovely woman with whom to spend the rest of his life. Although he is known to be jolly and fun-loving, I can truly say that I have never seen him smile as much as he did on his wedding day - even after his hand started to pain later in the afternoon. May Allah keep them smiling always. May He bless their marriage with happiness, peace, contentment and love. May little T. grow up knowing that he is loved by all his family (including us). I pray with all my heart that Allah grant them the best of this life and the Hereafter إن شاء الله.

And again, to Sf, I say - Welcome to our family!!!!!! 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Aisha's kindergarten concert success

After months of intense practice sessions, Aisha (3)'s creche/preschool concert was held on Saturday.

Since my 3 older kids had also attended this kindergarten, I was well aware of the months of arduous preparation that goes into this event. Training takes place on a daily basis and school schedules are adjusted accordingly. Parents (myself excluded) and teachers conjure up the loveliest little costumes which obviously depend on the theme of the concert for that particular year.

This year was no exception. Although we were treated to tidbits of their performance when Aisha was in the mood, we really had no clue as to what to expect. I was actually quite anxious about how she would react when walking out onto the stage in front of an unexpectedly crowded auditorium. I tried to prepare her for this at the older kids' talent show a few weeks ago by turning her around to face the crowd (since we were sitting close to the front) and telling her that that was what she could expect to see at her own concert. 

But I needn't have worried. As the kids confidently strode onto the stage, most of them had the self-assuredness of stage performers who had been wowing audiences for years. While we waited for Aisha (who was to enter second last in her class) to walk in, we held our breaths in nervous anticipation of her tears - but our little star delighted us with a broad smile and by enthusiastically waving at us (we were sitting right in front so she could see us clearly). 

Eventually my mother had to tell me to stop waving at her as she seemed to have forgotten where she was and was waving at her family excitedly instead of participating in the performance.

As is customary at the school, the first part of the show focused on the Islamic performances, with children reciting a duah (supplication) followed by a qasida 

Although we had a plain burqa which she could have worn and despite the fact that people often laugh at this frilly one which, admittedly, makes her look like Little Bo Peep - for me, the fact that it is so comical actually makes it cute (for someone her age only - you won't necessarily see me strutting about in Canal Walk looking like a maiden in search of her lost sheep).

The theme for this year's concert was "Around the world in 5 whirlwind visits". Each of the 5 classes represented a different country. 

Aisha's class represented Spain. We were told to drop them backstage with them wearing their black T shirt and black pumps under their Islamic wear. So imagine our surprise when they emerged looking like this.

Of course, everything did not go strictly according to plan, especially in the case of the Level One performers - many of whom were about 1 year old and some of whom started to cry (as I too would at the sight of a hundred people staring at me) - but despite this, the children's wonderful efforts evoked so much pride and joy from excited families. 

Level One (baby class) representing South Africa
Cape Minstrels

 Level 2s representing India

Level 3s (Aisha's class) representing Spain

Level 4s representing Mexico

Level 5s representing China 
The kids doing the most impressive dragon dance

Aisha seemed to lose interest in her performance about halfway through and decided to casually look around, examining the awesome props until we made eye contact with her and signalled her to participate in the performance.

I was amazed at how these tiny people were able to remember their dance steps and their lines and how confidently they performed in front of this excited shrieking crowd, which was made up of incredibly proud mommies and daddies; family and friends. I was so impressed at what those fabulous teachers had managed to accomplish with these little performers, some of whom could be quite temperamental, I'm sure.

Once again the staff and children of this kindergarten managed to pull off a successful show, creating memories upon which we will look back fondly and proudly again and again, (as we would have done with our older kids had our pictures and videos of their concerts not been deleted/ lost due to camera theft). 

Aisha with her teachers and some of her classmates