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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short sto

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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short sto
05/18/04 at 17:31:06
As salamu alykum, akhwaat wa ikhwan

 So, I'm starting a new story, Inshallah. I'll be posting here for you all, inshallah. As always, feedback is truly appreciated. Fridays new post will added, Inshallah.

wa salamu alykum,


    “I wish someone would have told me to stop or pulled me aside or something!” I mumbled loudly and threw my hands up swinging them wildly as if I knew could fight the air and win. I’ve had enough. I’m not sitting by silently anymore and just let everything slip by. I’ve done that for too long and what good has it done for anyone? This day shouldn’t have gone the way it did. I could have walked away or came into my room but that wasn’t going to work, it never has. I tried it enough to know. He doesn’t know when to leave good enough alone. It came to this for a reason. I won’t forget this day, ever. So, what’s my lesson from all of this?

    Half of the lesson is clear to me at least, I thought as I slowly slid down the pale blue wall in my room of ten years on to the ice cold linoleum floor. Grabbing my head with both hands, I slipped the white kufi off my head and covered my face with it. He didn’t pay the heat bill again, I grimaced. Swallowing hard, I tried to digest all the hurt and pain from over the years, but there was too much there to eat at once. My plate was full and I choked, I am choking.

    The first drop of water startled me. By the time the third and fourth drops hit my arm I had relaxed. I laid my head back on the wall and let my eyes do what they were meant to do. I remember the day, the last time I saw him, my father. I cried then silently right in my room, just like I’m doing now. He left and never returned. Now, I’m about to do the same thing.

*Knock* Knock*

“Ay, ah… who is it?” I yelled as I wiped my face roughly with my sleeve and stood up quickly to my feet as the door opened.

“It’s your Momma, that’s who! Now come get the door. It’s one yo’ Mozlem brothers knocking ‘round back! And I done told you to tell them not to be parking in Dock’s parking spot… ya hearing me, Dashawn?” Momma yelled right back at me from outside the door. Hamza couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I hurriedly grabbed my old duffle bag and threw some clothes in it. Looking around for my Qur’an, I spotted it on the bottom shelf of my bookcase right along with my other Islamic books. I scooped them up and put them in my duffle bag, too.

    Mama slowly inched her way in my room and continued going on about Dock, her husband’s parking spot. I just kept moving as quickly as I could. Dock, I thought, the same man that not less than twenty minutes ago insulted my Lord, broke up my sister’s favorite doll that our father had bought for her as a baby and got in Mama’s face shouting. Dock, the same man that put his hands on me, her only son. Dock who is the same man that has done nothing but torment this entire family for the last ten years. And Mama’s worried about Hamza parking in his spot? If I didn’t love her so much, I wouldn’t be able to look her in her face some days.

   Packed with only the essentials, I swiftly put my arms into my black wool coat and threw the duffle bag over my shoulder. Momma continued to talk fast and thoughtlessly pretending to not see what I was doing. I slipped my feet into my boots and pulled my white kufi over my head. I walked right up to her, stopped and I stared down at her silently. Her toffee brown eyes made contact with mine. She stopped talking mid sentence and became silent and tried to look away. I gently turned her face towards mine with my hand.

“What, Dashawn? You… you, ain’t thinking ‘bout going away from here is you?” Momma softly asked me.

“Momma, you know I ..ah, you know I care and um… love you, right.” I finally pulled out of tongue.

“Dashawn, boy, hush up that silly love stuff. I said you ain’t thinking ‘bout going away from here is you? You, know how Dock get!”  She said trying to force a smile onto her disturbed face. “He ain’t mean none of it you hear me, Dashawn, not one word. He just tired, just need to get some fresh air.” She reasoned with me.

   I looked into my mother’s face as the tears began to fall from her eyes as they had fallen from my own earlier and knew my resolve was complete. I had to go. I heard her say those same words too many times before and even though right now I wanted to believe her, I knew I couldn’t. What’s that verse in the Qur’an; Allah doesn’t change the condition of people until they change the condition of themselves. It’s like that exactly for Mama. She needed to improve her own self. Problem is, I don’t think she knows how to. She’s become accustomed to putting her needs and wants last to everyone else’s. I’m not blaming her though. It’s what she had to do to take care of us.

   When I accepted Islam a year ago, I knew then that this day was coming. In just one year my life had completely changed. It’s like I’m looking at things with completely different eyes. I’m feeling things I’ve never felt before or perhaps feared feeling. I understand Allaah words in the Qur’an  that after difficulty comes ease. Leaving from here is isn’t here. But people always say knowing better and doing better are two very different things. In order for me to help Mama, I have to do better not just flap my lips about it.

  I cleared my throat, blinked my eyes and told my Mama straight forward that I loved her and my sisters again. “Here,” I said reaching into my coat’s pocket then placing an envelope of money into her hand. “Half of this ought to cover your utilities for this month. The rest split between Kayshawn and Lashawn for their school stuff. I’ll drop off some more next month when I get paid from my job… if the girls or you need…”

“No, just hush up, Dashawn. What you doing here ain’t necessary, now. You know we can work it out. We always do. This ain’t nothing but a sour patch. I know what, I… I can ask Dock to go on over to his sister Faye’s house for the night. You ‘member Faye, right? She’ll let him stay.  This all be done blown over by morning.”  She said trying to grab my duffle bag.

“Mama… I’m moving out! I can’t stay here any more. We’re living in two different kinds of worlds. I can’t be here surrounded by all of this. I’m tired of it. Every day it feels like I’m figthing in a losing battle. I’m not going back to my life two years ago, God willing. I … I just gotta move out of here.” I told her and then walked past her towards my bedroom’s door.  “I call you in a few, after I get settled.”  I turned the corner and walked out the back door to where Hamza was waiting for me at in his car. I could hear my sisters asking Mama where as I was going with my stuff. She didn’t answer them.

   Hamza got out the car, offered me the Islamic greeting and shook my hand before throwing my bag in his car’s trunk.

“Ay, Akh I need to go back in my house for minute. I’ll be right back, Insha’Allah).”

“Take your time, Dawud. I’m not in any hurry, man.”

   I ran back into the house quickly and Mama was standing in the kitchen by the door. I stopped and reluctantly apologized to her for fighting with Dock and went right back out and got in Hamza’s car on the passenger’s side. Hamza pulled the car out of Dock’s spot and we drove off.

Insha’Allah, I intend to figure out the rest of my lesson.

© Copyright 2004 VeiledWriter
Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
05/21/04 at 12:45:36

That's really good story, mashallah.  I liked that. 8)  Did u write that, Sis?  

Anyway, more importantly, what happened next? :)


Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
05/21/04 at 15:10:12

Shukran, Nadeem. And yes, I did write that. The story isn't finished, I know a little about what happens next but the ending remains a mystery even to me! Inshallah, keep checking the forum for new posts and hey... um, tell a friend to read it, too!  ;)

Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
05/21/04 at 15:12:44

Ordinary People, Extraodinary Faith, con't

Chapter 2

Crooked cops, drug infested projects, low income single headed families raising countless children - that’s not the story of my life. So let me take you back to the beginning.

   I was born Dashawn Oscar Hamilton on a blazing hot day in June of 1979. The first child and a boy no less, born to Shawn and Dana Hamilton. As a gift to me, my parents gave me a part of themselves I could never lose or misplace; their names combined into one. They probably thought they were really digging deep into themselves and being unique, but as I got older and I met so many other Dashawns, I realized there wasn’t anything unique about it.

Shawn Hamilton, my father, was born in Harlem, New York in the 1950’s. He was born too late to observe the renaissance in the earlier part of the 1900’s, but he made up for it by luxuriating in the revolution of the 1960 and 70’s, despite it not being televised. As the youngest child of the four children born to Oscar and Mattie Hamilton, life wasn’t easy and struggles were common place. But so were the compassion, strength and unity found within the Hamilton household.

Granddad Oscar didn’t take any mess. With three daughters to care for; Gladys, Frankie and Yvonne had their work cut out for them. They worked hard to make good grades at school and to keep up with all their house chores. They barely had a social life. Then six years after Yvonne was born, August 25th, 1951, Oscar Shawn Hamilton came into the world. Of course my aunts weren’t the least bit pleased with my Dad’s arrival, but Granddad Oscar sure was. He’d finally had his son.

   Nana called Dad Shawn from day one. She hadn’t wanted to name him Oscar in the first place; she didn’t like the name Oscar. But Granddad didn’t take no for an answer. He named him Oscar, everybody called him Shawn. Plenty of people thought Dad would never walk. Granddad Oscar would carry him every where, blocks at a time, from 125th street to 137th, Dad would hang on to his father’s neck with his legs around his waist. Even in their apartment, Dad was carried by Granddad or by a sister. Usually Aunt Frankie was the one to do it. Aunt Gladys, the eldest Hamilton sibling, was too busy studying, cooking, cleaning or with something to mother her younger brother. Aunt Yvonne just plain ole didn’t like my Dad. He’d stole her spot as Granddad Oscar’s favorite child and he was a he! So it’s understood why she didn’t want to help him and definitely not spoil him even more by carrying him around like a baby at the age of ten. I was told by aunt Frankie, that aunt Yvonne had even tried to give my Dad away once to another family in their neighborhood. She denies it to this day, but I wouldn’t put it pass her, envy is a disease.

  Dad’s feet did eventually hit the grown and when they did, he shocked them all. He liked making money early on. Granddad didn’t labor him in the house like he did his sisters, but the desire and ability to be a hard worker ran through his veins. Dad got his first job at ten at the corner store delivering groceries up and down the block to his neighbors. He enjoyed and thrived at working but Granddad Oscar wasn’t impressed. Aunt Gladys was in Junior college about to get a degree in accounting. Aunt Frankie wasn’t too far behind her getting ready to graduate in the top of her class from Evander Childs High School in the Bronx and had a job at Macys. Aunt Yvonne was the closest to my Dad’s age but still miles away.

  Aunt Yvonne’s mind was never really on her school work. She did just enough to get by without upsetting Granddad. She was more concerned with marrying well and that’s what she did. Uncle Lloyd married Aunt Yvonne her sophomore year of high school while he was in his junior year at City College in Manhattan. Granddad Oscar wasn’t pleased or impressed but Nana convinced him to pretend he was happy for Yvonne’s sake and he did. After all he’d still had my Dad, Oscar Jr. to do right by him.

   In a matter of weeks, the crammed apartment Dad grew up in on 137th street in Harlem had become enormous with free space. Aunt Yvonne and Uncle Lloyd found a tenement in the Bronx to move into and Aunt Gladys and Aunt Frankie moved out and into a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn that they shared.

   By the time Dad got into high school, all of his sisters were married and with children. Needless to say, Aunt Yvonne gave birth first to my cousins, Anita and Regina, twin girls in 1963. They’re the oldest grandkids but they act more like our Aunts. That’s partly because Aunt Yvonne and Uncle Lloyd divorced shortly after the twins were born and she had to move back in with Granddad, Nana and my Dad. Yvonne went back to school and everyone else raised the twins.

   Aunt Gladys married Uncle Anthony and she gave birth to Sharla in 1967 and then Brenda a year later. Uncle Anthony is a banker in Manhattan. Aunt Frankie married Uncle Carl and she too had a girl. I think cousin Angela was born in 1968. While Aunt Gladys went on to have other children, all girls, Aunt Frankie and Uncle Carl only had Angela. Aunt Frankie and Uncle Carl own a slew of laundramats in Brooklyn.

   Dad met Momma in 1970. Dad had graduated from Lincoln High School in Manhattan and was attending City College. Not much needs to say about all that was going on during that era. It’s been said before in so many different ways, so I’ll just stick to the main points leading up to my own life.

  Momma was born in Charleston, South Carolina, November 22, 1949 as Odessa Dana LaValle. I don’t know much about the south, but neither does she. My grandparents, Claude and Ida LaValle, moved to New York City a few weeks after Momma was born. Unlike Dad, Momma was the eldest child. Later on Grammy and Pa would have four other children, Uncle Jimmie was born the same year as my Dad, Uncle Earl two years later, and Anty Ruby and Anty Pauline are a year apart.

   Momma started calling herself Dana on her own. Odessa was a name for a girl who lived in the country and Momma was a city girl, in mannerisms and appearance at least. Up until this day, her southern drawl that she could never understand where it came from, is as thick as molasses. But all anyone has to go do is go spend a minute with Grammy or Pa to make the connection. I can barely understand them myself.

   The Lavalle’s house was vastly different than the Hamilton’s. Grammy and Pa hardly finished grade school and were from a long line of field workers from Charleston. The transition to the fast life in the big apple was everything but easy. Momma had to pave her own way because Grammy and Pa didn’t have a clue to what the way was suppose to even look like.  She dreamt big but after her freshmen year in high school, she dropped out and tried her hand in the many factories sewing on assembly lines to earn money.

   Momma and Dad were an unlikely pair. Granddad Oscar as usual, was neither impressed nor pleased with the older woman Dad became engaged to. She didn’t fit in the picture that he had perfectly painted for Dad. So he did all he could to prevent what was inevitable. Momma and Dad married in 1976 and everything was straight, in the beginning.

    Granddad may have lost the battle, but he wasn’t about to lose the war, not with his only son. Nana tried to keep Granddad from meddling into the newlywed’s business, but she couldn’t stop him. Granddad talked negatively about Momma to Dad endlessly and tried to drive them apart. I don’t know why Granddad never liked Momma. He just didn't like her. Momma didn’t help things either though. She went against the grain. That probably was Granddad’s biggest beef, but Dad loved it. Momma was a fighter and despite her academic shortcomings, she exuded charm and a personality that you could only be born with.

   Sooner than later, the many trials of Granddad Oscar started to get to Momma. She wanted to have children but Dad per Granddad instructions kept putting it off. That and Dad’s hunger for achievement and wealth were driving her crazy. She didn’t want to be rich; she just wanted Dad to give her the simple things, like friendship and happiness. But he didn’t have time for it; he was too busy with his career.

   In 1978, Dad took his saving and he and Momma moved to New England to start his own consulting business. Momma thought the move was too risky but the exchange for her cooperation was huge. She finally got the much needed space away from Granddad Oscar and a year later me, of course.

© Copyright 2004 VeiledWriter
05/21/04 at 15:24:11
Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
05/28/04 at 13:57:20
Ordinary People, Extraodinary Faith, con't

Chapter 2 con't

That’s how things began, a little bumpy but overall it was a smooth ride. The end was jagged and rough. Dad’s consulting business didn’t do as good as he expected the first couple of years. Money was tight. Momma didn’t complain though, she was use to making due and getting by on hope. Dad on the other hand only knew success to be his friend, failure he could never like or get use to.

Granddad Oscar continued to fuss over him and never let up on his original plan; to get him and Momma to split. By 1984, I was five and enjoying the effects that two loving parents have on a child. Momma was getting ready to give birth to my sisters, twins. Dad was trying to make a come back. I guess most of the details I don’t have because I was so young. I just remember there being a lot of tension in the house.

We lived in a small two bedroom brick apartment building in Manchester, Connecticut. That’s where I was born. I loved that apartment, too. I remember the place being really vibrant. Momma had all types of colorful paintings hanging on the walls and there were plants in every room. My room she had painted a bright green color, may be lime. Granddad hated it of course, and he told Momma so when ever he visited.

By the time the twins were actually born, Dad and Momma were not on good terms at all. I know because I had heard it their voices when they spoke to one another and I saw it in their eyes when the other appeared in front of them. The challenges the twins brought didn’t help anything either. Momma was tired and stressed out from giving birth and then having to take care of them practically by herself while Dad worked all day plus over time to restructure his business.

I’d try to help her with the babies as much as could. But there wasn’t much I could do. Probably about a month later Anty Ruby, Momma’s sister, came from New York to stay with us and help Momma out. Anty Ruby wasn’t married and didn’t have any children so she never returned back to New York. She lived with us for about a year and eventually found a job and her own place. Momma was happy that Anty Ruby was close by but Dad didn’t really care for her.

Anty Ruby and Dad didn’t get along. They fussed a lot with each other, so Momma would bring my sisters and I over to Anty Ruby’s apartment with her while they hung out.

Dad and Momma never argued in front of my sisters and I. Like I said, I could tell they weren’t getting along by their facial expressions and body movements. The day that changed, I knew it would never go back to the way it was.

In 1985, Dad took another risk and borrowed money from Granddad Oscar and opened another consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut. Momma wasn’t for it, but Dad did it anyway. That same year, we moved from the over crowed two bedroom apartment in Manchester to a three bedroom cottage styled house with a spacious backyard in Middletown, Connecticut.

Middletown was closer to Dad’s new firm in Hartford, but not too far from his offices in Manchester. Surprisingly, business for Dad took a turn for the better. We were no longer scrapping to get by, Momma no longer had to drag my sisters and me on to 3 busses just to get to Anty Ruby’s apartment in New Britain, she had her own car and best of all on my end, I no long had to share a room with two little girls.

June 10th, 1987 was my eighth birthday. Dad, Momma, Kayshawn, Lashawn and I all piled into Dad’s 1983 Lincoln Town Car and made the hour trip to New York to visit Granddad Oscar and Nana.  

Momma wasn’t right the whole ride. She was agitated about something and kept trying to discuss whatever it was with Dad, although he wasn’t really interested in talking it out with her. Finally he’d had enough and for first the time ever, I heard my Dad raise his voice in anger.

“Now Dana, that’s it, woman! I don’t want to hear no more from you about this.” He’d said holding the steering wheel with one hand and his angered face facing towards Momma. I was in the back seat looking out the window playing that’s my car while the twins were asleep in their car seats.

“And why is that Shawn? You just gonna ignore this here, like you do every thang else, right? You said…”

“I know what I said and I’m telling you right now, I’m not discussing it a second more! Not another word, Dana! It’s Dashawn’s day! Do you even realize that?”

“Oh, good grief, Shawn! I beg your pardon! Don’t try and turn this on me. I’m with them kids everyday, day in and out. I know when I birthed my own child. When the last time you spent any time with them kids, Shawn? Ruby see them more than you and she only they anty.”

“I take care of my children and you, don’t I? And if I remember correctly, I’ve been helping to support your sister, Ruby ever since she decided to move out of New York. The only time your family thinks to call you is when they need money and that’s every other week! You barely work part time at the office, Dana. They know that, so obviously they’re calling you to get money from me. You don’t hear me complaining, do you? I work hard and it’s a shame you’re not grateful.”

“Oscar Shawn Hamilton, I’m through!” Momma said throwing her hands up into the air to show her defeat, “I ain’t got no more to say to you. I am through, ya hear me.” Momma said and she kept her word.

We spent the whole weekend in New York. The first day we stayed at Granddad Oscar and Nana’s house in Long Island.  Then Momma packed my sisters and me up and we took the ferry back to the city to stay with Grammy and Pa in Queens. Dad stayed in Long Island. At the end of the weekend we all drove back to Middletown. A week later Dad moved out after Momma and he had another fiery argument.

We stayed in the house in Middletown for another year, and then moved to Bristol, Connecticut into an apartment complex that was more affordable for Momma and that’s where we’ve lived every since. Dad still supported us for the most part and Momma did what she had to. Usually she worked nights in a factory doing some sort of odd job or another. Anty Ruby watched us until I was able to do it, which was when I was about 12.

Dad comes around as he’s needed and not more. Needless to say, we don’t have the best of relationship. But right now, I need him.

Chapter 3

“Good Evening, Hamilton & Watts Consulting, do you know your parties extension number?” A recognizable woman's voice asked me through the phone/

“Hey, Sharla, it’s me Dashawn.” I said pushing the pay phone close to my ear so the other people standing on the block next to me wouldn't hear my conversation.

“Oh, hey sugar! Is everything alright?”

“I’m straight. Is my Dad in today?”

“Ah, he’s in a meeting with the senior partners, is it an emergency? I’ll go get him if it is.”

“Nah, just forget it. I’ll call him tomorrow. Good talking with you, Sharla.”

“Hold on, Dashawn. Something doesn’t sound right, sugar. Let me get uncle Shawn on this phone.”

“It’s okay, Sharla. I’m cool. You don’t …”



“ Dawud, Dad. Dawud.” I replied even toned. I’d told him I’d chosen another name a year ago when I became Muslim and wanted to be addressed with it at least a hundred times now. He didn’t use it not because he couldn’t remember it, but because he didn’t want to and that bothered me.

“Yeah, well what’s the problem, son? Sharla said you had some emergency?” He said ignoring my correction.

“I didn’t tell Sharla that. She’s jumping to conclusions, like always, you know how your niece is. I just called, you know, to see how you were and stuff.”

“I was in an important meeting is what was doing. What’s that noise in the background? Are you on a public pay phone?”

“Yeah, Dad. I sure am.”

“What happened to that cellular phone I bought for you?”

“I cancelled it. I got other bills to pay now.”

“What? What bills, Dashawn? Never mind, I don’t really have time to have this frivolous conversation with you right now. I have a meeting to get back to and conduct. I’ll try to give you a call at your Momma’s house later on tonight, alright?”

“I don’t live there any more. I moved out a couple of weeks ago.”

“You moved out? To where? When? Dana didn’t tell me you moved out.”

“Well, have you even talked to her at all this month?”

“Nice one, wise guy! Where are you at Dashawn?”

“Dawud, Dad. I mean is using the name I want to be called by going affect you in some adverse way unknown to me? Da –wud! It’s not hard to say.” I said gripping phone tighter and getting irritable.

“No, it’s not hard to say. But I’m going to use the name I named you because it means something to me, even if it doesn't mean anything to you. When you have your own children one day, you name them the names you want them to have and if you so desire, you can let them rename themselves, alright! All this bickering back and forth is just wasting my time. Where are you?”

“Hartford. I’m over by the Deli shop on Broad St. I’m staying over here with a friend. But look, I gotta get to work now anyway.”

“So, how do I contact you? Does this friend have a telephone in their place?”

“I’ll contact you. Talk with you later, Dad.”

© Copyright 2004 VeiledWriter
05/28/04 at 14:25:53
Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
06/05/04 at 13:13:35

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith
Chapter 3, con't

I hung the pay phone up and briskly walked a block up the street in icy cool March night air to the bus stop and waited for the bus to come.  Five minutes later and I was sitting on the bus reading from my pocket Qur’an on my way to Hanns Food Company in East Windsor. I’ve worked as material handler there for the last two years.  The pay is average and the work is back breaking hard, but it has benefits and in another year I’ll qualify for a position promotion, Inshallah.

Alhamdulilah, I’m just happy to have a steady job and pay check. Most of my money right now goes toward my school fees. Last summer I started a certification course in quality control technology. It’s not much, I know, but hopefully Inshallah, it’ll be enough to get my foot in the door to better opportunities in the future.

The rest of my pay I give most if not all to Momma to help her out with the rent, utilities and the twins’ needs. Dock is real unreliable when it comes to money. Some times he has it and some times he finds some way to blow it.  The money Dad sends Momma is often spent on something other than the girls; replacing Momma’s old car parts, fixing broken appliances, or any number of things broke or too old in the apartment. Dad usually takes the girls shopping for clothing once a month, so that’s never an issue. I guess that’s his way of spending time with them.

I need to get a car but for now that’s a luxury I can live with out. Here’s my stop. The time punched on to my time card read seven forty pm. I’m always at least ten minutes early for work, some days I get here a good twenty before my works starts. I changed into my work clothes in the employee locker room, locked my bag in my cubby and sat down and read Qur’an until my shift started.

“Wassup, Hamilton?” Correy Emory, my co-worker down in the packing department hollered at me as I entered the truck loading area. “Sup, man?” I said nodding my head up. I liked to load the trucks in silence, may be go over a new surah or two in my mind or contemplate over the hadeeth Hamza taught the previous week at the Masjid during the weekly study circle. But Correy was always talking to everybody, especially me. It wouldn’t be so bad if he had something worth while to discuss, but he didn’t. He just ran his mouth gossiping about folks like an old lady. Half the time, I didn’t even know the people who he was talking about. The other times, I just didn’t care. So I  just nod my head once in a while and keep loading my truck.

“Boy, Hamilton, ain’t  it a cold day for March. Man, you think it was doggone December or January with all this cold air. I hate living in New England, that’s for sure. Can’t wait for summer to get here, ‘cause we sure ain’t gonna have no kind of spring by the looks of it.”

“Uh huh.”

“So what you do this past weekend? I had to take my wife and kid and her sister’s two kids to that Six Flags amusement park up in Mass. I tell you what man, ain’t nothing amusing about a kid’s park costing 25 dollars per person to get in to! Imma half to pull double over time at my other jobs this week just to replace all that money I spent.”


“Yeah, man! And then I didn’t even see why it was necessary to take my wife’s sisters’ kids with us. But you know how that that is, you do whatchu gotta do to get in good and stay good with the in-laws. Me, myself, I got a good relationship with my wife’s family. Always have, from day one, but those kids of her sister? Bad is a compliment, if you know what I mean. And then guess who I end up running into, up in Mass at the kids’ park?”

“Uh huh.”

“Uh huh? Hamilton, you listening, man? I said guess who I saw at the park?” Correy asked again, taking in a quick breath and then starting right back into his banter without giving me a chance to respond as he lifted another 40 pound box onto the truck. “I saw, Bugsby! You know Bugsby, right?”

“I don’t know him.”

“Yeah, you do. Young Hispanic guy, a little older than you, ‘bout 26, he works in loading #4-east. He’s a handler too. He’s doing that manager training though. Everybody calls him Bugsby, but I think his name is ah… Ricardo. Yeah, so man, I see him right. And I’m like, ‘wassup man’. We shake hands and what not and he go on to telling me that next month might be some layoffs coming down.”

“He say which department?”

“Might be this one or could be another higher up. Bugsby said that’s why he put in for the management training; to avoid the possible layoff. But yeah, man, they already did all those layoffs after the new year. There ain’t hardly enough labor as it is. They always calling me for over time, but I got two other jobs, good jobs with better pay. So, I might just let this here job go, man.”

“Yeah.” I said still loading the truck and still not really paying him any attention. Correy usually gets his information mixed up. The only people Hanns Food Company let go after new years were the temps.

“Oh yeah, man! But that’s not all Bugsby said. He also told me…,"Correy walked in closer to me and held another box on his shoulder and turned and looked behind him before he spoke quietly to me. “Now check this out, you remember that last manager we had in this loading area? Big white man, Dorman was his name. Larry Dorman. Bugsby said several employees, female employees, filed grievances in the HR department against him. Look like he might get fired in the next couple of months.”


“I tell you, me, myself, I knew from day one that dude wasn’t right. Too slick acting, I knew it. But they switched him to over to loading #8-west, for what? He should have been gone. Don’t you think so, Hamilton?”

“I gotta go pray, Emory. Talk with you later.”

“Oh okay. Yeah, you still a Moslem, Hamilton. That’s good, man! I got a lot respect for them brothers! Uh huh. My wife got a cousin, a young girl ‘bout 17, younger than you, Hamilton. She just up and left her father’s church and became a Moslem started covering the way ya’ll women do with headscarves and everything. She didn’t even attend the family’s Christmas dinner last year and I doubt if she comes to Easter dinner. Had the family all upset and what not. My wife thought she was being disrespectful, but I told her about you, man and how you changed and all. Me, myself, I respect anybody who can stand by their beliefs. So yeah, you know, I’ll talk with you later, man.”

 Getting away from Correy, even just to pray, was always good. The locker room was empty, so I was able to pray some sunnah prayers after I offered salatul Isha and sit a bit on one of the benches and read some more Qur’an.

I started attending a beginner’s Arabic class again at the Masjid. When I first took shahadah a year ago I signed up for the Arabic class, but I had too much going on to keep up with it. So I dropped it and stuck with the aqeedah class. It was more important for me then to learn the basics and the not so basic parts of the Islamic beliefs.

Anwar Ibraheem, Hamza’s cousin taught the aqeedah. He’s a tough brother. Real learned too. Alhamdulilah, Hamza and Anwar have been a real blessing to me. I wouldn’t even have a place to stay right now, if Hamza hadn’t offered his futon to me to sleep on in his basement. And Anwar he’s teaching me, even when he isn’t teaching me. I get benefit from his attitude, his movements; it’s all about Islam for him. So when he told me Brother Abdul Jaleel had an opening in the men’s beginning Arabic class, I took two busses to his house that Saturday afternoon to sign up for it personally.

It’s a hard class. I’ve never really been good with learning foreign languages. But ever since I moved in with Hamza, I’ve had a built in tutor. Him and Anwar both spent time in Gulf at different Arabic institutes. Anwar even graduated from this real famous Arabic learning center in Egypt. Right now, Hamza said the best thing for me to do is memorize everything and read Qur’an. I got a Qur’an with the Arabic phonetics in it, but sooner than later Hamza said I’ll start to recognize the words by their sounds. Alhamdulilah, things are coming along alright. Abdul Jaleel says I should be reading Arabic by the summer, Insha’Allah. I can’t wait.

“Hey, man, Hamilton, you still on break? You want to head to the cafeteria with me man?” Correy asked as he walked in to the locker room. I put my Qur’an back in to my cubby and locked it up before I got up off the bench. With four hours left on my shift, I probably should go down to the cafeteria with him and get a cup of coffee on something.

© Copyright 2004 VeiledWriter
06/05/04 at 13:28:24
Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
06/25/04 at 02:42:59

What happened next? ???
Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
06/26/04 at 11:48:36
[slm]..o don't stop writing its wonderful ..keep writing ...and well done 8)
Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
07/03/04 at 15:40:04

:-* Sorry! Got behind in summer school, then work and then the computer went ker -plunk,  :D Mashallah! Alhamdulee'la now that things are back to normal and my pc is up, I will get back to it! Shukran for reading along!
Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
07/13/04 at 11:39:22
The yellow cab dropped me off in front of Hamza’s apartment at 4:15 am. Hamza had given me a key when I moved in, so I let myself in and went straight down into the basement and washed up for the morning prayer and sat on the futon to read Qur’an. Ten minutes later on the dot, like clock work, Hamza was knocking at the basement door and we we’re out the front door.

We rode in Hamza’s car, a 1995 beige four door Toyota Camry, to the Masjid and by 4:35 we were praying in congregation for the rest of the 20 brothers who daily made the early morning trip. After the salat, Hamza recited a couple of verses from surah Baqarah and read Ibn Katheer’s commentary of it.

At 5:35 am we returned back to Hamza’s apartment and he started to get ready to go to work while I went back into the basement and to finally get some sleep. As usual, as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was knocked out snoring peacefully. I try to sleep from 5:30 til the afternoon prayer comes in. But when I woke up to the ringing phone, the wooden clock hanging on the wall read 11 am.

Hamza had bought a phone and put it in the basement, so I could catch any important calls for him while he was at work. Alhamdulilah, answering his phone is the least I can do for him since he won’t take any of my money for the rent.

I wiped my eyes and rolled half my body off of the futon and stretched my arm its full length and grabbed the phone off the hook right before the last ring and in my groggy morning voice asked who it was.

“Your Momma! Why you ain’t been by to see your sisters and me. You don’t know if we over here dead or alive. Don’t care none, do you?”  My mother started in on me. As she fussed at me, I lifted the receiver from my ear and pulled myself back onto the futon and sat up. For some reason, I knew this was going to be a long phone call.

“You know I care. How you doing, Momma? You are right?” I asked trying to sound sincere in my tiredness.

“Yeah, I’m alright. But you didn’t know if I was. You can stop by some, too you know. This is still your home, Dashawn.” Momma was the only person I didn’t mind calling me by my birth name. She carried and birthed me after all, so the decision was rightfully hers.

“I told you I would be by after I got settled, Momma.”

“Well when is it that you’re gonna be settled? It’s been almost a month now since you left out of here. You staying with your Mozlem friend and everything, still going to school and work I know, and your Dad come calling here fussing me out about you, so I know you had time to call him. Sure sounds like you’re settled to me alright.”

“He yelled at you about what? I told him where I was.”

“Yeah, but you know how your Dad is. Anything that goes wrong is my fault. Oh and I gave him your friend, Hamza’s number too.”

“Why, Momma? I asked you not to give it out. This isn’t my place, you know?”

“Dashawn, your father just wanted to know you were okay. He’s not going to abuse the number and I betcha he won’t even have the nerve to call you over there, until you say he can. He ain’t changed none.”

“Yeah, well you’re probably right. But you weren’t the reason why I left. I’ll be 20 this summer, Allah willing. It was just my time to move out. But, Imma keep my word though. Whatever you or the girls need, just give me a call.”

“We’re fine. Stop worrying about us and take some of all that money you making and do something for you. You still gonna finish that program come June?”

“Allah willing, I intend to. Everything is going good with the classes. So if I finish on time as scheduled, June it is.”

“Good. I’m proud of you, Dashawn. But you know its okay to let your Dad help you out once in awhile. You ain’t gotta do it alone all the time. He wants to be apart of your life and you need to let him, get to know him better. He ain’t all bad and he loves you and your sisters.”

“We’ll see, Momma. But listen, I need to get washed up and head over to school. I try to stop by later this week, may be Friday night, alright?”

“Alright, baby. You take care of yourself, you here? Bye, Dashawn”

“Alright, Momma. Bye!”

Chapter 4

Fully awake now, I hung the phone up and leaped out of the bed and headed upstairs to wash up and then I prayed. Twenty minutes later and I was out of the house and riding the public bus to my school, Hartford Technical Community College.

School wasn’t always a priority for me. Elementary had been easy and I proved to my teachers that I had the ability to excel which of course made my parents proud. By Middle school, my parents were officially divorced and I was being bussed out to a school with a t.a.g (talented and gifted) program. I had lost my appetite to learn though, and felt more nourished from not doing anything. My grades slipped and the school assigned me to in school counseling with my mother’s permission. That only made matters worse. I didn’t want to talk things out or learn ways to cope with my disappointments; I just wanted my family together again. The counselor couldn’t understand me and I didn’t want to understand her. Dad started to come around often then though and we even started to take trips together, just the two of us. It helped some, I guess. My grades went up and I managed to pull a B- average that year.

The summer before sixth grade started, things were almost perfect. Dad and Momma were getting along much better and Dad had even started hanging around our house. Some times Momma would even come with my sisters and I over to Dad’s house and we would all spend the day together. I thought and was praying that they were going to get remarried but it didn’t happen. In fact, that turned out to be the summer Momma introduced Dock to us. Dad didn’t like him, the girls didn’t like him and I despised him the moment our eyes made contact.

Dad backed off without a fight and a year later Momma married Dock. Seventh grade was hard. I struggled to pass my classes and wouldn’t work with the counselor and was given the option of leaving the t.a.g. program or repeating the grade. I choose the former to everyone’s dismay. I was tired of that school, the teachers, and my classmates. Everyone’s lives there seemed better than mines. I’d succeeded in convincing myself that I was the only boy in the school who had a truly evil step father whose only purpose in life was to ruin mine.

Dock moved in to our modest apartment without any belongings, except havoc. Momma and Dock argued all the time. His voice when filled with anger was the most terrifying sound I’ve heard. Every day Momma and Dock would find something new to argue about and it would just increase my disgust for him. I knew the arguing scared my sisters, because it scared me too. In the back of my mind, often angonized  about what I would be able to do if he dared to hit Momma. How could I at 12 defend her and my sisters from a six feet tall 45 year old man? I too was tall for my age, but Dock was at least 150 - 160 pounds heavier than me. There was no comparison, so I’d just sit in my room with my ears against the door while I was suppose to be studying and held my breath and prayed that it would never come to that.

After Dock would throw a couple objects and break a few dishes, he’d leave out the house to the pool hall and Momma would come gather the girls and me and bring us in her room for comforting.

“Hey, ya’ll alright?” She would say trying to force a smile onto her tear stained face. “Don’t pay that Dock no mind. He just had a hard day at the job is all.”

The twins would hug on her or give her a kiss to let her know they accepted her unspoken apology. But I was always direct and to the point.

“Momma, why don’t you just divorce Dock! That way Dad and you can get back married?”

“Dashawn  Hamilton, boy, in what dream did you see that happening? I’d like to have seen it too.” She say accompanied by a short and dry laugh while she sat with the girls in her lap on her bed. “Really, baby, Dock is a good man. We all just gotta make it easier for him. Can you just help Momma out with that?” She’d plead to me and I’d look into her eyes and need to trust her and so I did. Silently I would agree and just go back to my room angrier than when I first left.

Dock was jealous of me from day one. Dad stopped coming around but levery two weeks a check from him for us would be waiting in our mailbox for Momma to cash. Some months Dad would even send clothes, shoes and the latest toys for my sisters and me. And when Granddad Oscar and Nana would come from New York to visit us, we come home with even more things. The girls were always jubilated to receive gifts, but I didn’t care for all of those material things. Half of the clothing, I couldn’t even wear out of the house because by high school there were too many gangs in our area and a 13 year old walking around wearing a brand new leather  jacket was an easy target. Most of the stuff Dad bought for me just sat in my closet collecting dust.

Dock would start a fight with Momma whenever something for me came. He never seemed bothered by all of things Kayshawn and Lashawn got, but if a box or money came for me, he couldn’t hold in the anger.

“Dashawn don’t need all that foolishness, Dana. You just letting Shawn spoil him. Let Dashawn get work to get his own tennis shoes, if want new ones. You don’t see no other kids ‘round this neighborhood walking around with new tennis shoes on every six months, do you? ” Dock would begin with Momma as she was cooking in our small kitchenette.

“No, but other kids ain’t Dashawn and Shawn ain’t their father either. Shawn doing the best  he can for the kids. And it’s a big help to us too. I’m not gonna complain to him about what he sends his children, Dock.”

“A help? To who? You, Dana? So what you trying to say? I don’t help you ‘round here, you need Shawn’s money? Is that what you trying to say to me?”

“No, Dock, I didn’t say that. Look now, Dashawn asked for it and his Dad got it. End of the subject, so would you give it a rest?  I gotta feed these kids and get to work.”

“See, that’s your problem right there, Dana. You talking, but you don’t never want to listen. Dashawn gon’ end up just like that daddy of his, weak!”

Momma would usually throw the first dish aimed at Dock’s head at this point of the discussion and the rest would go as usual; yelling, more broken dishes, Dock leaving out to the pool hall, and Momma going to work.

By my sophomore year, I had officially been labeled a problem child.

© Copyright 2004 VeiledWriter
09/10/04 at 18:44:34
Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
09/01/04 at 01:53:44

:(....  :-[?????????

come on sis... where is the rest of the story?

Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
09/10/04 at 18:41:46
By my sophomore year, I had officially become a problem child. Weeks would go by before I bothered to show up to school and then I would only go to the classes where I needed to take a test or something.  I gravitated towards kids who were going through the same thing as I was or worse. All of my friends and I had bad attitudes and we knew it. Trouble didn’t have to find me, I went looking for it. Well at least I had went looking for it on March 19th, 1996.

It was a remarkably sunny, spring like day. I woke up late, missed my bus so I figured I’d take my time and get to school for the second half of the day. Momma and my sisters left out at their normal time for work and school so I sat around until I got bored with the television. I got dressed and headed outside after eating breakfast but I couldn’t find any of my regular buddies. I don’t know why I didn’t take that as a sign to go to school, but I didn’t. I wanted to chill out, so I kept walking and looking for something to get into.

It was about 11:30 am when I finally spotted Tyrell “T-rell” Haines and Lonnie “low-ride” Dodson hanging by the package store off of Main Street. T-rell and Low ride were both 20 and street hustlers. I would see them around the way at different functions and had even dropped off a package or two for them. Low-ride was always asking my friend Chris and I to rough up his younger sellers who didn’t manage the money they earned right. He’d said I had potential and could be a top player if I wanted in. But I didn’t want in for real. I just liked hanging out with T-rell and Low-ride, but I never ever thought about getting into the drug game.

I stood on the corner talking with T-rell and Low-ride for no more than 20 minutes. Other guys had come to talk and some were just making quick exchanges. I never felt any tension or an immediate danger, but it was there. I had time to leave but I didn’t. When the first of the three gun shots popped off, I went into shock! I remember everyone around me was moving fast but I felt like I was in slow motion. By the time my body caught up, I was locked up at the Hartford Correctional Institute staring into my father’s angry face.

With my father’s help, I took a plea to one count of possessing a controlled illegal substance that I didn’t have, did three months in juvenile detention and given one year probation plus 200 hours of community service. T-rell never made it to the hospital. He died on the corner of the package store. Dad said I was lucky. But I know it was the decree of Allah.

Chapter 5

“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.
Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah...”

Walking up to the Islamic Center, I heard the first adhan being called for the jumu’ah prayer and quickened my pace. It was cold outside so that made me even more excited to walk up the steps and finally cross it’s threshold.

The brother’s side of the praying area was already full with about 4 lines of brothers; some praying their sunnahs while others sat waiting for the Imam to come in. I hated being late for Jumu’ah. I love praying in the first line and that’s usually where you’ll find me. But I had to stop at the bank before I came here. I got paid last night and wanted to withdraw some money to bring over to Momma's house when I go to visit her later tonight. After I made a quick stop in the bathroom to perform ablution, I headed straight to the praying area. As I passed by brothers standing in the hall and on the way into the room, I shook hands, smiled and offered half hugs.

After I prayed the sunnah, I saw Hamza up front approaching the mimbar.

“Innal hamdulilah, nahmaduhu wa nasteenuhu nastafigruhu. Wa na’oothu billah….”

Hamza gave a nice khutbah using the commentary of the hadeeth of Jilbreel (as). That’s probably one of my favorite’s hadeeths. It’s so clear and simple, yet full of meaning, Alhamdulilah. After the prayer, I went downstairs to the basement to see what the sisters’ had on sale for lunch. Like usual, the lunch lines were long, half way up the steps. I waited patiently until I finally reached the front of the line.

“As salamu alaikum.” I called

“Wa alaikum as salam. Do you know what you want?” A small sister asked appearing from out of kitchen and I immediately lowered my gaze, suddenly feeling shy.

“Ah… um, what ya’ll got today?”

“Lamb curry, fried or barbecue chicken dinners.”

“Yeah, um, let’s see… I guess I’ll take the barbecue chicken dinner.”

“Okay.” She said turning away and given the order to the sister behind her in the kitchen. “That’ll be five dollars and fifty cents. For pop we have Sprite, Coke or Minutemaid Orange. Or we have Lipton ice tea or water.”

“Water” I said as I placed a ten dollar bill onto the counter. “Uh, you know where the Imam’s brother - brother Saabir is? He usually works the window.”

“Not sure. He’s your food. Shukran.” She said dismissing me. “Who’s next?”

I grabbed my foam container of food, water bottle and walked over to the cafeteria. It wasn’t as full as most of the brothers’ who have come out for Jumu’ah grabbed their lunch and headed back to work. I didn’t work on Fridays. I spotted a empty seat and sat down to eat my food.

"As salaamu alaikum ya Dawud!” Hamza said hitting my back as I was chewing on a leg of chicken. I quickly put my food down and grabbed a napkin to wipe my hands.

“Wa alaikum as salam, Hamza! Nice job. That was a beautiful khutbah akh!”

“Alhamdulilah!” He said grabbing the seat next to me. “You staying til isha, right?”

“Oh most definitely, Insha’Allah. I gotta cut out right after though and go check my moms out, but I’ll be here for a good minute. What’s up?”

“Nothing much. Bilal is gonna run through a book on Tawheed after Asr and Anwar is going to continue with the family series after Maghrib.”

“All right, sounds good. Oh hey, where’s Imam Luqman and his brother Saabir at?” I questioned while picking up my fork to continue eating.

“I heard their sister was in a car accident down south and they went to see about her.”

“Man! That’s rough. I hope she’s gonna be okay. I figured something had to be up for them both to miss Jumu’ah. That’s not like them at all.”

“Nah, it isn’t. When something happens or if you hear news that is unpleasing to you, you should say, Alhamdulilah – ala – kulli - hal. That means All praise belongs to Allah in every situation.”

“Oh yeah! Say it again for me.” I implored him as I took a sip from my bottled water.

“Alhamdulilah – ala – kulli – hal.”

“Alhamdulilah, alay-“


“Ala – kulli-haa”

“Ala kulli hal.”

“Ala – kulli – hal.”

“That’s it.”

“Alhamdulilah. Shukran.”

“Afwan. How’s that barbecue chicken? It’s looking right.”

“Oh, yeah, Alhamdulilah, this is proper, Hamza. You want some? Theres enough for two.”

“That’s alright, I’mma go get a dinner right now. I see you later, Insha’Allah.”

“Insha’Allah. Oh wait.” I said kind of loud as he turned and started walking away from me. I stood and began to approach him and we met in the middle of the cafeteria.

“Ay, do you who’s that sister working the front counter today?” Before I could finish the sentence Hamza’s smile had taken over his whole face. I got embarrassed. “I mean, you know, I just was wondering. Ain’t no deal. Just never seen a sister down here  working the front counter, that's Saabir's job.”

“Yeah, uh huh. But uh, I don’t who she is though. If you’re interested—“

“Come on, Hamza! Stop playing me! I didn’t saying anything about being interested. I’m being a little noisey, but-“

“Anyway, if you really want to know, ask Anwar. His wife knows just about every sister. Let me catch you later.” He said.

I walked back to my seat and refocused my attention on my food, but my mind had made a mental note to talk with Anwar later.

© Copyright 2004 VeiledWriter
09/10/04 at 18:47:47
Re: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith - a short
09/27/04 at 22:09:28
Bang! Bang!

"Momma!" I yelled impatiently while knocking on the rusted aluminum screen door with one fist and holding three yellow roses for her in the other. I'd tried to use my house key at the front and back door, but to my surprise the key couldn't open either door. I stood shivering in the night's frigid air and one name popped into my mind and it was like a light bulb had been turned on illuminating the darkness that I was surrounded in from the night. Before I could knock on the door again, it swung open and was left ajar.

Just like I thought, when I entered the living room to put Momma's roses down, Dock was sitting on the plastic covered sofa drawing smoke out of a Newport cigarette watching baseball.

"Where's my Momma and sisters at?"  I asked walking through the area and then peaking around the corner to view the deserted kitchen.

"Don't -" He leisurely pulled another round of smoke into his mouth and slowly exhaled." know."

"I told Momma I was coming through tonight. She said she was gonna be here-"

"I just said I didn't know, quit hassling me and get out the way of the TV. I'm trying to watch the game. When you leave, lock the door."

Turning around to see the TV behind me, I side stepped from in front of it and walked out of the room, down the hall and headed up the wooden framed staircase to Momma's room. I could see that the light was on in her room from under the door, so I knocked twice before I slow-footed my way in. I actually didn't expect to find the room empty, but it was.

I sat on Momma's bed and breathed in her scent that clung to her bedspread and every other possession she had within the room. I sat breathing her in long enough to hear her velvety southern voice come to life in my mind. Her voice came through calm and smooth and  eased my concern for her and even my own stress. I sighed with relief as I stood and walked over to her clothing closet and rummaged through it until I found her work shirt. I folded up the envelope I'd stuffed earlier with five 20 dollar bills and two fifty dollar bills down into its pocket before turning off her light and leaving out of her room.

I walked back through the living room and Dock sat in the same place doing the exact same thing.

"Let my Momma know I was here." I instructed him as I buttoned up my coat that I had never taken off. He didn't respond. I didn't take it to mean anything, the less communication we had,the better.

I grabed the roses I had bought for her off the antique cherrywood end table that Grandpa Claude made by hand before he died two years ago and put them in the kitchen on the table. As I walked back through the living room for the last time  while heading to the front door, I called out a half hearted "See ya", not really hoping to see him later, and pulled the door open. Before I could put my foot out the door, I paused in my tracks. The baseball game was fuzzy on the TV. The antenna needed to be adjusted. But Dock hadn't moved.

"Yo, Dock!" I said walking back into the living room. "Dock," I called while nudging his shoulder. His cigarette had burnt a small circle on the carpet right next to his feet, his head was slumped back on the sofa and his eyes were wide open. His shirt sleeves were pulled up and a long clear plastic rubber band was strapped around his left arm. Next to his other foot layed the needle that had poisned his body. I grabbed both of his shoulders and shook him with all of my might. "Dock! Dock, get up man."  He never replied.

After the emergency medical technicians arrived 20 minutes later, they could only confirm what I already knew. Dock was dead! The two white male emts lifted his body up onto the gurney and covered his face with a sheet. As they wheeled Dock out of the house to the ambulance, I made the supplication Hamza had taught me to say when someone died; to Allah we belong and to Him is our return.

I stood back on the steps to Momma's apartment watching while feeling nothing, but empty. I wanted to be angry at Dock for his treatment of my family and me for all of these years. Years of the lies, the thievery, the fights - the lies. The man was sitting right in my Momma's house shooting up smack, right in the living room! Death was too good for him, I wanted to hurt him myself. But I couldn't.

For the second time ever, my life flashed in front of my eyes. Every memory saved in my mind since the age of 12 had at least the shadow of Dock's body in it. And to tell truth, every day hadn't been horrible.

After I was released from juvenile detention, Dad boycotted me for months. He wouldn't send me any money or anything. He would come pick me up for school and in the afternoon he was always the first parent there, ready to bring me home. But he no words for me. According to him, I was an embarrasment, to not only him but to the whole Hamilton family. The only way I could redeem myself was by strictly following his every command. I couldn't though. I wanted more than to trod down the same path that Granddad Oscar had carved for him 40 years ago. He wasn't going to understand, and I was too hard headed to be lead.

Dock actually stepped up big time. Momma was stressed out with all the arguing her and Dad were doing over me. For once Dock acted like her cared about Momma. He cut down his own fussing with Momman, started cleaning up after himself, stopped going to the pool hall every night, and had dinner ready by the time Momma woke up to go to work for the night. The house was peaceful. But the biggest thing to me was he treated me the way he had always did.

One time Dock invited me to go to the gym with him to meet up with some of his buddies. At first, I hesitated. I didn't know what he had in his mind. I wasn't afraid of him any more like I had been when I was a child. But I wasn't about about to walk into a trap and have him and his buddies rough me up. He'd never put his hands on my sisters or I, but we'd gotten into a lot of heated discussions that came oftly close to blows being exchanged. Besides a couple of weeks of decent treatment wasn't much. After all, the man hated me. He insisted I come along though, and Momma begged me to give him a chance. I did. I had a great time.

I saw a different Dock in the gym. I saw a man of stength and skill. I saw pride and I saw zeal. That was a huge difference from the man that walked around my house day in and out usually in the same dingy smoke filled clothing, who couldn't keep a job and often squadered Momma out her hard earn money.

I learned in one day more than I had knew about Dock in all the years he'd been living with us. I learned that in his hay day, Dock had been a major boxing contender in Connecticut. By highschool he'd had at least 20 amateur fights and was a sure pick to go the olympics. Some where between 1oth grade and his senior year something went terribly wrong. What? I don't know. He didn't say. But I could read in between the lines. After spending two hours talking, boxing, and laughing, Dock and I changed our clothes and we walked down to the diner. With all of Docks friends gone, we were transformed back into aversed relatives. We ate in silence until Dock asked for the check. He paid for our food and I stood ready to continue walking back home. He called me back.

"You see Dashawn, you and I - we ain't the same. I was born to the streets, raised in the streets and got love for the streets. I admire your Momma, and wish I could change and do right by her. I know she deserves it, but I ain't changing. People like you, born with good people all around them and book smart and all, ya'll got chances that don't ever dry up. I had one chance and blew it and it ain't never gonna be for me, what it was. You following me?" He asked looking up while lighting a Newport cigarette.

"Yeah. I got you."

"Straight up! Don't let me catch you out here and don't let nobody tell  me you out here either. You don't belong out here --- you's a Momma's any how." He said laughing.

"Man, forget you! Who you calling..." I said and started to approach him. He stood and met me half way. We faced off in the middle of the diner. It felt like an old western movie. Everyone in the diner stopped what they were doing, held their breathe and watched us.

"Come on! What you got?" Dock held his fist up and locked his legs in a fighting stance as he laughed again. "I wish you would try stepping to me wrong, bro! I'm not your father, but I don't mind knocking the sense into you he should of put in you a long time ago."

I eased the space between us and calmed down. He wasn't worth it, I thought.

"Yeah, that's what I know. I'm trying to tell you something for your own good, Dashawn! You ain't hard and you ain't got to be hard. You better find a hobby quick, fast and in a hurry. You need to let those chips you got stacked up on that shoulder of yours fall off. You got more than most! Don't waste it -- if not for yourself, do it for your Momma."

That night after Dock and I made it home and even weeks later when things went back to normal in the house; I kept Dock's words in my own mouth. When Momma and Dock argued, I'd go to the gym and box it out until I could wring out buckets of water from my clothing. By the time I'd get home, the twins would be sleep, Momma would be at work and Dock would be at the pool hall. I'd clean up the house, wash the dishes, do my homework and go to bed.

It was in that same gym that Dock took me to that months later I would meet Abdullah. Abdullah was the first Muslim I ever met. He worked in the gym as a trainer and later introduced me to his nephew, Hamza.

The ambulance pulled off into the street right as Momma's 1992 Chevy Caprice pulled up and she jumped out of the car and ran up to me.

"Oh God! What's going on? You alright, baby? Dashawn? You ain't hurt, is you?" She said with one breathe. I stared in her eyes and shook my head. The twins walked up behind Momma and Kayshawn asked the questioned I wasn't ready to answer. The emptiness I felt had disappeared and was replaced with empathy. I never gave him a chance. Why hadn't I invited Dock to Islam. He gave me something, but I did give anything back.

"Dashawn! I said where's Dock?" Momma asked. I didn't answer. She ran into the house and through the rooms yelling and crying like a mad woman. And right then it hit me. She knew all along.

09/29/04 at 16:59:50

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