Sunday, November 22, 2009

Many Mansions

Day by day Saaid is prepared to move out. The latest news is always that tomorrow he will be leaving--but tomorrow, in this narrowly defined, special sort of case, never arrives. It simply persists in being on its way.

At first Saiid was afraid of the dogs. Or anyway this was the official story. However, as the dogs fell into the habit of ignoring him, it became convenient to transition to another reason for discontent. His room, now, was too small, providing not enough room to pray.

So what's he saying? That God, the all powerful Creator and sustainer of the universe, He who knows no bounds nor limits, yet cannot find a way to fit into Saaid's bedroom?

But my wife shuts me up. She shooshes me. Through negotiation, and in the interest of reasonable accommodation, for both Allah and Saaid, it is decided that we should dismantle the desk and remove it from the bedroom. There is nothing in these arrangements, moreover, that presumes nor suggests in any way any need for Saaid to lift a finger.

But hold on . . . I thought he was moving tomorrow. Didn't he say he was moving tomorrow? And if he is moving tomorrow, why are we bothering with this desk tonight?

But of course the point is moot. The desk is dismantled, the desk is moved. Now there is a little more room for God in the corner, just as long as He doesn't gain weight or shift around too much.

Now it is only fair to say, in Saaid's defense, that at home he has 17 brothers (and I don't know how many sisters--they don't count 'em), and a house with 17 bedrooms, each bedroom being, as I assume anyway, large enough to accommodate both its human occupant and God Almighty, no doubt with room to spare. We are therefore humbled in the face of such circumstances, this kingdom with many mansions indeed.

How's that, we ask, better?

We are told that it is in fact No problem.

The next morning--the morning after the dismantling and removing of the desk--Saaid tells Hassan (our other student) that he feels he needs a change of scenery. He feels bored and depressed. For this reason he will book a room at the Marriott for the weekend. He wishes to be with his friends. He wishes to meet some girls. He wishes to go to some night clubs.

Although Hassan explains to Saaid that since he is only 18, he will not be allowed to visit the night clubs, Saaid is unconvinced. This is, as he says, no problem.

This soon becomes Hassan's favorite expression. No problem. No problem. He teaches us to utter the words with an Arabian accent.

And so it goes. Saaid has retained his suite at the Marriott for the weekend. He may return, he may not return. For all we know, the Marriott may also prove disappointing, who knows.

In any case, as far as we are concerned, it is No problem.