Hundreds of pages, pages, pages forward


THIS…is the fastest way to my heart, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

Last Friday, I managed to drag my friend A along with me to Oakland, where I usually pray Jummah salah [the Friday congregational prayer]. I kept extolling the virtues of this favorite masjid of mine, until she reminded me that she had gone there with me once before.

“Really?” I said. “I don’t remember.”

“Yeah, I’ve been there before.”

Really? When?

This, of course, was the mystery.

Only after we had entered the masjid and settled in for the always lovely, humorous, and inspiring khutbah [sermon] from my favorite imam did I recall that A had come to Jummah with me during the summer of last year. And that afterward, a group of us had gone out to lunch at Berkeley’s Naan ‘n’ Curry restaurant [not the usual one we frequent on Telegraph, but the new - and subpar - one that had opened on College Ave.].

M, who is Iraqi, had offhandedly mentioned that he didn’t enjoy desi food, or didn’t eat it all that often, or something like that.

“But you should have said something!” I said. “We didn’t have to eat here!”

“It’s tradition,” he said simply.

I couldn’t argue with that.

Sitting in the masjid last Friday, I couldn’t help but laugh inwardly at another memory from two summers ago: the post-conference meeting for organizers/volunteers, held at the Telegraph Naan ‘n’ Curry. At the end, W insisted on paying for everyone’s meal, and went up to the register and did so, whereupon M leapt out of his chair in an effort to stuff some bills from his pocket into W’s hands. W fending him off, dodging him, the two of them running through the interior of the restaurant, skidding around tables and chairs and other customers, strangers who looked on perplexedly while the rest of us held our stomachs in aching laughter. It was good times.

After last Friday’s Jummah salah, it was time for lunch in Berkeley. Another tradition. I parked my car, and A and I made our way up Telegraph Avenue. We passed by Moe’s Books on the way, and couldn’t resist ducking inside. We went up to the third floor to look at the books on sale ($5-8 FOR BRAND-NEW BOOKS!), and I laughingly recounted to A the story of the last time I had been there, with HijabMan and my sister in September. We had all lost track of one another in the bookstore while pursuing our own literary interests. Finally, HijabMan had texted me with, “I’m on 3rd floor. East religions,” and my sister and I had gone upstairs to find him agonizing over the piles of books he had been tempted to buy.

A and I went to lunch, then walked back down Telegraph to my car. In front of Cody’s Books, someone had set up a table with the above “BOOKS AND EVERYTHING ELSE: 25 CENTS” sign. Books lined the sidewalk in neat rows. I had to stop. The lovely A stood by, waiting patiently while I jabbered on and on excitedly and picked out books. All ELEVEN of them.

I don’t know where I’m going to put these, and, more importantly, I don’t know when I’ll even get around to reading them. But I wanted them.

Here’s what I got:

- Anthem, by Ayn Rand
- The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald
- Pale Horse, Pale Rider, by Katherine Anne Porter
- 9 Plays by Black Women, edited by Margaret B. Wilkerson
- Seven Short Novel Masterpieces, edited by Leo Hamalian, et al
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt
- The Man Who Moved the World: The Life & Work of Mohamed Amin, by Bob Smith with Salim Amin
- The New Pocket Anthology of American Verse, edited by Oscar Williams
- The Canterbury Tales, by Chaucer
- The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
- A Pocket Book of Modern Verse, edited by Oscar Williams

After I had gleefully dropped my quarters into the blue plastic mug and we began walking away, I looked back again, and gasped, “Oh my GOD, there’s MORE!” There, at the edge of the sidewalk, was a row I hadn’t seen.

Ah, well. Next time then.

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