Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today.
by Jade Gibbons
Corona; Corona; Corona.
A conversation with my editor highlighted that most everything in the recent and soon-to-be-released news cycle has something to do with Corona and its impact on nearly every aspect of life on earth.
As mentioned in last week’s article, I am tired of Rona. She doesn’t deserve my energy. So leh we pree a story. This is my disclaimer: the next three articles by me will be a story. Ya’ll ready? Leh we go.
I got into an argument with a Muslim man last week Friday.
I work in a boutique for women; we sell both casual and work attire. The owner of the store is Muslim. She is also of Indian descent.
Economic feature of the country in which I am currently domicile: most of the businesses are owned by persons of predominantly either European, Indian or Syrian descent. Odd for a country whose demographic composition is mostly of African descent.
Anyhow, I was at work that Friday. It was near closing time and my colleague Jas and I were starting to tidy-up the store to ensure that we could close on time and leave to head home. I made the comment to my boss that ‘charm is deceitful’. She could not digest this and objected.
“What do you mean ‘charm is deceitful’? What foolishness!” She rocked her body back on the long rectangular pouf she was sitting on to make eye contact with me.
“Charm is deceitful… and beauty is vain.”
I was near the entrance of the store, fixing the rack that held the working pants in size medium.
“What! There is nothing wrong with charm.” She brought her knees to her chest and rocked like a little child on a swing.
“Charm is deceitful. Take it up with God not me. It’s His idea not mine.”
I smiled to myself. The image of a woman in her forties dressed in white with jet black hair rocking on a red pouf appealed to my visual senses.
She still could not digest this, so taking her phone she called her husband.
“Wa ‘alaykum al-salaam. So hear this, Taliah says that charm is deceitful…”
“And beauty is vain,” I interjected.
“And beauty is vain, what do you say?”
His voice was barely audible, but I could hear him repeating, “Charm is deceitful?”
“Yeah, what says you to that?” my boss asked.
A knock was heard on the outside door and taking her keys, my boss opened it.
She said, “As-salāmu ʿalaykum.”
“Wa ‘alaykum al-salaam.” The deep voice responding was familiar. He is a friend of hers and works close by.
I moved to the cash register to bundle the loose hangers; the red pouf was adjacent. He went there to sit and said good evening.
“Good evening,” I replied.
My boss was still on the phone with her husband. She was pacing up and down. Jas smiled.
“This one has even your husband stumped,” Jas said to our boss.
Then, out of nowhere, somehow, my boss’ friend Mohamed brought up Allah. After replaying it in my mind, I still have not figured out how or why he did. What I do remember is my response: “Allah is not God.
This is where it all began to fall apart. Standing to his feet, Mohamed closed the gap between him and me. “Do you know what the Jewish word for God is?”
“Yes,” I replied, “it’s YHWH.” I pronounced it Jehovah because English is my first language and that is the pronunciation that comes off my tongue the easiest.
Ignoring my response, he repeated the question, “Jews speak Hebrew which is Aramaic.
That is their language. Do you know what the Jewish, which is Hebrew that is Aramaic? Do you know what the Aramaic word for God is?”
“Yes, I just told you. It is YHWH. I cannot pronounce it correctly, but it is YHWH. And yes, I know that Allah is the Arabic word for God.”
I was still at the cash register; still trying to pack the loose clothes hangers. The discourse was distracting me, and I wanted it to come to an end.
“The reason I say that Allah is not God is because you do not believe that Jesus is God.”
He came even closer to me. I could see the pores in his face and the wrinkles by his eyes. Yes, black does crack. It just takes longer than other races.
“Do you know the Arabic alphabet?” On getting no response from me, he repeated, “Do you know the Arabic alphabet?”
“I know that Allah is the Arabic word for God.”
“Do you know the Arabic alphabet?”
“Do you know that there is no g in the Arabic alphabet?”
He was shouting at me. Every time he spoke, I tried to ease backwards a little.
I didn’t want his ‘golf-balls’ to find their way to my skin. I walked around him and went back to the pants rack to finish tidying up.
Jade Gibbons is an arts and business graduate with a keen interest in social issues and film-making. See https://www.jadegibbons246.com