How fortunate are we to read books that feel like home and come across quotes that stop us in our tracks and make us reflect on something bigger than us. This one particular quote from All My Rage made me smile and before I knew it, I was thinking about the deeper meaning behind it.
“The more you ask for the better. Because it means you’ve put your faith in something greater than yourself”- Sabaa Tahir All My Rage
One of the main characters is remembering his mother talk about Namaz (prayer) and how she loved the part at the very end when she would cup her hands together and ask for what her heart desired. When I read this quote, it immediately brought up the image of my grandmother, my Nani. I suddenly remembered her wearing a long red scarf wrapped around her head and draped around her chest and shoulders. The floral print shalwar kameez she wore when she did her Namaz and the way she would sit on the prayer rug for a long time after prayer with her hands raised. My mother tells me it was during those moments when I would jump on her back and she would just smile but continue praying. Nothing could pull her out of her prayers, not even her mischievous granddaughter she loved so dearly. Her faith was that unshakeable. I can still see her now in a nook of our old home where she would pray five times a day. She tried to teach me the lesson in this quote, but I was too young to appreciate it.
Nani told me that a grandmother’s prayer is powerful, and that she would always pray for me. Somehow, twenty-one years after her death, I still feel her presence with me and feel that her prayers have protected me over the years. This quote reminded me of her because it was similar to the things she used to tell me. Things I would only understand years later.
When I was a teenager, I believed that faith meant not asking for too many things. The thought of asking for too much both in prayer and in everyday life felt selfish. I would hold back on asking for what I wanted. I wonder what my Nani would have thought about this? That was the thing, my Nani passed away when I was a teenager. To discuss faith with anyone else did not feel possible to me at that age. There were barely any books like All My Rage out in the world at that time. Reading was a different experience when I was a teenager. I often felt like a guest in the story. Like I was taking a short trip to a fictional world. It was an escape but that feeling of being a visitor was always there. Then something interesting started happening over the past few years. Books started feeling like home. I was no longer a guest but in a world that felt familiar even if the story was different from my life experiences. Authors like Sabaa Tahir have given so many of us a place of belonging between the pages of a book.
I wish teenage Shazia had the opportunity to read a quote like this. I used to limit what I prayed for thinking I was asking for too much. It was only when I was well into my adult years that I learned what this quote tells us and what my Nani had been trying to teach me as well. This is just one of many inspiring quotes but it reminded me of my younger days and the importance of kids feeling seen in the books they read. I believe certain books find you when you need them most and I’m grateful that All My Rage found me this Ramadan.