The Kingdom & Me – Part I

*The content below isn’t a part of a planned series, yet. This is a random scribbling I did, when I had the urge to write. A simple incident that I put down in words when I felt like writing.*

One late afternoon, the sun shines lazily on the still palm trees as the humidity rises with the seething of the evening. I am perched in my black Uber, a scenario I would have hard time imagining 5 years ago to take place in Saudi.

But, I wouldn’t have imagined that day sitting in the Uber then, that women would soon be legally behind the wheel now. The white cabs with yellow prints were pretty much the only taxi or public transport service for the greater part of the country’s history.

Uber and Careem swooped in the conveyance scene, where finally your smartphone could also look after taking you places not just internationally by booking plane tickets but also help you get around the city locally.

The tech-taxi giants happened to come in only 3 years back, pretty much after I moved from Saudi. So, I don’t have much experience with them but visiting during holidays for short time and having many places to go, the idea of a cab seemed practical, this was one of our first Uber rides then.

I am getting very side tracked, so moving on.

It was late in the afternoon, and we were heading out shopping. Now, whenever I go out, unconsciously at the back of my head, I analyze if I might miss a prayer(Muslims have 5 obligatory prayers a day). When in India, I try as much as possible to make sure that no prayer gets missed. (I am not an ‘extremely religious’ person, which unfortunately today people associate if you get particular about prayers, but the prayer is basic if I call myself a Muslim.)

Nevertheless, there are obviously times when it doesn’t work out, and you end up missing the time and praying Qadha, it is even more disheartening if you had end up missing out on Fajr that morning as well.

Now in Saudi Arabia, familiar to world as an Islamic State, there are prayer rooms everywhere. But, the shopping center we were visiting, I wasn’t too sure had a prayer area for women since it was close to a mosque.

We arrived, did some shopping and in an hour or two, a voice of a staff echoed from the speakers in Arabic, announcing the closing of the store for prayer and the lights were dimmed. Men who wanted to pray walked out with the staff, while there were still shoppers in the center as the guard with the last man out put the shutters down.

Like I mentioned before, the area didn’t really have a prayer area and since we were almost done shopping I decided to go to the counters, and since I was to do the payment, I moved towards the women section.

There to my surprise, I found one of their cleaning staff in her blue janitor uniform, performing prayers on a very simple prayer mat laid horizontally to share with a woman beside her, who was dressed in what was definitely a designer Abaya, my heart warmed at that sight.

That scenario in front of me is Islam.

Irrespective of status or position, two women performing prayers standing next to each other.

When the janitor noticed me waiting, she moved and gave me her place. She patiently waited as the two of us performed our prayers on her mat. After finishing my prayer, I got up, handed over her the mat and offered my gratitude with the most genuine smile I could offer.

And just like that, the memory of that prayer left it’s imprint on my heart.


3 thoughts on “The Kingdom & Me – Part I

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