My latest adventure, Lulu and the Monkey Marriage has been published, masha Allah. Here is a little excerpt. I hope you enjoy it, insha Allah:
Stick ‘Em Up!
Early Saturday morning, Mama, Baba and I were extra careful not to wake Darlene and Charlene up during fajr prayer. “Fajr” means “dawn,” and that’s the first prayer of the day for a Muslim. I made wudu even more quietly than usual. I wasn’t about to give up my HWTM title if I could help it.
“Making wudu” means cleaning up for prayer. “Wudu” is the Arabic word for “ablutions,” which is an extra fancy way of saying “cleaning up for prayer time.” It is not hard at all to do, but little kids need a little practice. Me? I’m a pro. I use just enough water, and not too much. So when I was done making wudu, I dried off the bathroom sink with a little towel and checked the floor for splashes. No one wants to slip on a wet bathroom floor, especially not my houseguests.
After praying, Mama and I made breakfast– fruity pancakes and turkey sausage. Baba Ganoogie yummo! Darlene and Charlene came down when they smelled that! They were very polite houseguests because they said “please” and “thank you” and offered to help Mama clean the kitchen when they were done eating. Mama ate with us, but Baba took a plate of food and a cup of coffee out to the front porch so he could give Charlene and Darlene some privacy. I snuck out to Baba for a minute, and not just so I could get out of cleaning the kitchen!
“Baba!” I yelled quietly. “Why are you eating out here? I miss you in there!”
“Habibti , I’m just giving our houseguests some privacy. You’ll have me back in a couple days, insha Allah.” Exactly as I thought.
“A couple days? Are we still going to the fair tomorrow, Baba? I don’t like going without you, and besides, I think Mama doesn’t want to go.”
“I think we’re going to have to postpone the fair for a couple days. With what’s going on this weekend, we’ll be a lot busier than I expected, insha Allah.”
“What? But Baba! You said we’d go Sunday!” I yelled. “That’s not fair!”
“Aww Habibti, I have to take care of the business. We’ll probably be busy because of Miss Barbie’s wedding, and there’s a special pizza order that needs to be filled for–”
“I don’t care!” I interrupted. “I want my Baba! And I want to go to the fair!”
Yes, I knew I was acting a little babyish, but I wasn’t worried. First of all, it is just so much easier to get away with being naughty with Baba than with Mama. If I acted like that with Mama, she would ground me until I had children of my own. But Baba likes it when I act jealous of his time away from me. It’s our little game.
Second, I really did want my Baba. He is just the best, and he works so hard every day. Sunday was supposed to be MY special day since Mo and Sho were gone. Baba gets me cotton candy and usually wins me a big stuffed animal at the fair. One year though, he spent a bunch of money at a game and couldn’t win, so he talked the man into letting him buy one for me. See? How many people would do that? My Baba is fabulous!
“I know you want the fair, Habibti, but it will just have to wait, insha Allah. Hey. Come with me to the bank. I need to make a deposit before it closes. We can get a smoothie and some cash for you and your Mama, too, since you’re going to Riverside in a few hours.” Well, that’s the end of that discussion, I thought, and put on my sneakers. I’m in the mood for a red sucker anyway.
But then the most amazing thing EVER happened at the bank. Stupendous. And scary for Ms. Joyce.
The. Bank. Was. Robbed.
That wasn’t the amazing part.
A monkey was driving the getaway car.
I think it was the getaway car, anyway, and it was definitely a monkey in the driver’s seat, but no one believed me.
It’s not even a minute drive to our bank, but Baba takes the car when he has to make a deposit so he and the money can be safe. We pulled into the bank parking lot and parked the car on the side of the building. There aren’t too many bank customers on Saturday, so Baba and I usually park on the side, between the bank and the coffee shop. That way, we can pick up my favorite smoothie treat– orange and mango with whipped cream and an umbrella. I crossed the parking lot and ran into the shop where I ordered mine and a berry blast for Mama, and when I came out, WHOOSH! A monkey in a dirty white car honked the horn and blew past me like a bullet! That monkey was a very unsafe driver. He must have been late for a wedding, because he was wearing a tuxedo. I thought for a second that he was on the way to Miss Barbie’s wedding, because hey, everybody in Southern Virginia was going, but then I thought, nah, that’s just crazy…
When I crossed the parking lot to the bank, all of a sudden there were police cars everywhere– from the county, town and state. Sirens screamed, blue lights flashed, and the police all got out of their cars and started yelling. I froze, and instantly thought of Baba. Oh no! Is Baba safe? Did someone mug him for the deposit? So I looked and looked for him while the crowd in front of the bank got bigger and bigger. Everyone in the county apparently had to come and see what the fuss was all about, including Jody, who was supposed to be making my smoothie. It took me a minute to finally spot Baba, who was rubbing his elbow, but the police wouldn’t let me through. When I saw that Baba was talking to Bobby, my favorite police officer, I stopped worrying and took a seat on the grass. Bobby was a good egg. He’d have Baba in an ambulance alatool if necessary.
After a few minutes, Mama came running from home and found me, and we waited for Baba together. When Bobby finally let him go, Baba called Mama with his cell phone so he could find us in the crowd.
“Baba! I was so worried about you! What in the world happened? Did you get mugged? We’ve been so worried and we’ve been waiting for hours!” I yelled, exaggerating a little bit and hugging him a lot.
“Asalaam alaikum Habibti,” Baba answered and laughed. “It was a bank robbery, if you haven’t figured that one out yet. I am fine– a little bumped and bruised. I got knocked down on the way out. But Miss Joyce and the other tellers are fine.” Alhamdulillah, I was glad she was not hurt. “Let’s go home– the FBI will probably be coming by this afternoon to ask me some questions, but in the meantime, you have two weddings, and I have to get ready for work.”
“The FBI? Are you kidding? This is huge!” I yelled and then thought about it. “Remind me again what’s the FBI, please?”
And I forgot all about the monkey.