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My blogging Sisters are gems…truly! When the mailman rang the doorbell this morning I was VERY VERY VERY surprised to receive a package (parcel for you Brits) from Happy Muslim Mama!

She mailed me this wonderful book (which I will start reading today InshaAllah)…

and lots of this…

3, 2, 1, out…I need my daily chocolate fix…

Happy Muslim Mama’s parcel arrived yesterday! I cannot stress enough how happy I was. Two beautiful scarves, lots of hand-made cards (whoever will receive a card from me must know that they are VERY special, these cards are too precious…), and chocolate (one bar disappeared mysteriously after my husband came home…). Happy Muslim Mama’s connections to the Royal Mail once again seem to have worked wonders, the parcel arrived in only a few days (however, I must say, that her connections were not powerful enough to send me a pomegranate tree). See, you cannot match a pomegranate tree with your favorite outfit, nor can you drape it around your neck! This was truly a wonderful experience and InshaAllah Sister Farhana from Sketched Soul will come up with a new exciting swap soon.

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I am a huge fan of my local library! My children and I spend countless hours a week rummaging the books or simply looking for a Zen moment. I admit, I order my reading material online and spend most of my time in the newly renovated Children’s Library. We love the friendly staff, especially Sheryl, who just always seems to know (unlike me) what my children want to read. My daughter cannot wait to visit her after school and is always disappointed not to find her at her desk. She also added some nice reading materials and videos related to Islam to the collection. Thank you Sheryl!

For more information, also visit

This morning I discovered that the library added a brand new service: LINK+, a cooperative book-lending program between many public and academic libraries in California and Nevada. LINK+ provides an easy way for you to search for and request titles not available in your local library.

Can you imagine all the new reading materials with reference to Islam I can read now? Of course…I already put some 20+ books on hold. If I do not post for a while…do not disturb…I am reading, InshaAllah!

Finally a double swap update. Happy Muslim Mama and I were partnered up to swap books and I was more than surprised by the speedy delivery of my book by the Royal Mail! It could not have been the United States Postal Services…our mail gets lost once in a while and I dread to think about the nice letters my neighbors are actually getting instead of us.

Oh well…so…on a dreary Thursday afternoon…The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka arrived at my doorstep. I had to start reading right away since

  1. it was a book picked out by Happy Muslim Mama, do I need to say more?;
  2. I was in dire need of some good reading material;
  3. it was a family saga!

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Lakshmi, the fierce matriarch. Ayah, her good-for-nothing husband who worships his wife. A brood of six. The beautiful twins, Lakshmanan and Mohini. The spiritual Sevenese, the caring Anna, the ugly Jeyan, and the dark and quiet Lalita. These are some of the myriad characters whose stories make for the immensely complex and epic novel that is The Rice Mother.

The story begins with Lakshmi, a young Tamil girl in her teens born and raised in Ceylon, who is cajoled into marrying a man twice her age. Soon enough, Lakshmi realizes that her husband, Ayah, an expatriate Tamil living in Malaya, can hardly make ends meet. Homesick for her village and folks in Ceylon and unhappy with her situation, Lakshmi resolves to improve her lot. With sheer grit and hard work, she raises a family of six children, weaves dreams around them and puts in love’s labor to ensure a better life for her family. The narrative told from the point of view of the different characters – Lakshmi, Ayah, the children, their partners, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren – makes for a wonderful tapestry that looks at land and culture, tradition and modernity, and all the joys and sorrows and the tenderness that are ultimately universal in family stories spanning generations.

Lakshmi, of course never realizes her dreams of her children’s success. The capture and killing of the exquisitely beautiful Mohini by the occupying Japanese during the Second World War affects the whole family in a way from which they can never recover. Lakshmanan, trapped in terrible guilt, becomes a strange person. His mother, on the other hand, changes into an unrecognizable person: hardened, stronger, and very cruel. It is only after Dimple, a mirror image of the beautiful Mohini, is born to Lakshmanan and his wife Rani, that Lakshmi and Ayah’s world changes. Dimple, a girl with breathtaking beauty, takes an extraordinary interest in the family history and goes around recording the stories as told by each member of the extended family. She meets her tragic end, but these stories are eventually discovered by her daughter Nisha, who finally comes to term with the sorrowful legacy of her ancestors, a legacy of the tough life in a new land, of war and death, of unhappiness and unfulfilled dreams. Yet it is this legacy that enables Nisha to come to terms with her own depression and amnesia and understand her world.

As Dimple writes in her last letter to her husband Luke, imploring him to hand over her family’s story to Nisha when she reaches adulthood:

“Love comes and goes like the dye that colors a garment. I mistook love for the garment. Family is the garment. Let her wear her family with pride.”

The Rice Mother is a strong and powerful work that takes readers into the lives of people of diaspora in Malaya, their cultures, customs, religion, culinary delights, all interwoven with their lives and fate during the course of the last century.

I loved the book and read all 580 pages in two days! I was swept away by the story.

One thing though…next time…please send a box of tissues along.

Happy Muslim Mama tagged me! She’s a working mom, great writer, awesome person…and oh dear, she has the loveliest outfits in her wardrobe (yes Sister, I have been secretly admiring them whenever you have a “wardrobe” post).

Here are the rules of this tag:

1. Admit one thing you feel awful about (involving being a mom). Once you have written it down, you are no longer allowed to feel bad. Remember you are a good mom!

2. Remind yourself that you ARE a good mom, list 7 things you love about your kids, you love doing with your kids, or that your kids love about you.

3. Send this to 5 other moms of the year that deserve a reminder that they too are the best moms that they can be. Remember to send them a note letting them know you have selected them, and also add a link to your post that directs people back to the person who nominated you!

I admit, I yell too much…and yes, I am grumpy once in a while. Sometimes my patience runs out…only when I forgot to take my patience pill in the morning, though.

    1. I love the unconditional love I have for my children.
      I love that my kids love me unconditionally (at least when I am not grumpy…).
      I love the look on my son’s face when he wants another serving of kefta…he sheepishly asks if he can have another helping (yes, he’s a gourmet and can never have enough meat).
      The best feeling: my little girl holding my hand and asking for a hug. She needs 4 hugs at night before going to bed, our secret tradition.
      I love watching my children play – the only time they don’t fight…sometimes!
      A moment I cherish every weekend: our family walk at the local mall. The children asking for a bread stick and sampling nuts at the fruits and veg market.
      I love my children’s character traits: my son – he wants to change the world just like President Obama, InshaAllah and my girl – ever-curious and eager to learn, she’s tough and I admire her persistence.
  • Five other moms I tag:

    • Sister Samirah – My best cyber friend and mom of “I-lost-track”…children!
      Iman – For the love of books she instills in her daughters!
      Umm Layla – For being a mom and a multi-tasker and the Queen of DIY!
      Umm Obaidah – For her relentless commitment to homeschooling her daughter and providing us with great scanned resources!
      Qalballah – For just telling us as it is and for raising two beautiful and feisty boys!
  • I’ve been tagged by Happy Muslim Mama for a tag on bloggers I am curious about!

    Ladies…you have been tagged!

    Happy Muslim Mama – I wonder how she writes these wonderful blog entries during her lunch break…or is she secretly using her work time as well? How large is her home library and how does she manage to read all these books and review them?

    Ummibra – I am her self-prescribed biggest fan! I wonder how she manages to raise eight (yes ladies…eight as in “8”) children and still finds the time to create all her wonderful teaching materials? She’s always funny and upbeat and my bestest cyber-friend!

    Sister Khadija – I wonder how she became the talented crafter she is? Her creations are exquisite and she made Ramadan a wonderful experience for my children this year. She lives close to us and I would love to admire her creations “live” one day.

    Sister Shirin – I wonder how busy she is making memories at this moment? She is always on the run, claims to clash with everything but most important…she has a never-ending love for books.

    Sketched Soul – I wonder how she became the philanthropist she is? How does she come up with these great swap ideas?

    Qalballah – I wonder if she soon needs a bigger house to stack her never-ending supplies of fabrics and floss? Will she surrender to her thrifting addiction?

    Rickshaw Diaries – Another blogger who lives in the same area! I wonder where she finds her inspiration for being a critical blogger? How does she ever take a break from being a human rights & responsibilities advocate?

    I wonder how interesting it would be meeting you all one day?

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