The Similitude of a Roti

Bismi Allah

I came into the kitchen today to find my mother starting to make roti. I said I would make it instead, so I waited for the water to boil and finished off the dough (with some pointers from my mom). Two hours later, I finished 21-not-so-very-circular-but-not-too-bad rotis, all the while my mind was filled with words that I wanted to write.

You see, making roti is not easy as it looks. The first time I made roti, if my memory serves me correctly, was six years ago, shortly after graduating from high school. I had no intention of going to college or university because I wanted to study Arabic and Islamic sciences, so I figured before that happened I should learn to cook. My rotis never came out round then. Nevertheless, I reasoned that while my rotis at that time didn't look perfect, they would rise very nicely, always ballooning (this is something else one hopes for in a good roti).

As I cooked the rotis, I thought of my grandmother who would often cook the rotis for me as I rolled them out. She would tell me that they were very nice, even though I knew that sometimes they weren't. I missed her today as I watched my rotis failing to rise. Right now she is in Zambia recovering from surgery. Pray for her and all the people who are suffering.

I have been told that good rotis demonstrate culinary skills, so even though roti isn't a daily or even weekly menu item, I tried making them more often. I thought I was doing pretty well with the rotis until we had guests one day. As my mother prepared the meal, I offered to make the rotis but she refused to let me make them. Naturally, I was insulted as I realized that my rotis weren't up to par for guests. I had, and probably still have, a long way to go.

As I rolled out another roti, I thought of how much life has changed. Four years ago my sister married and moved to Montreal. Although it is a common event in most families, it meant big changes for me that eventually have resolved themselves into the life that I have today. Life is really like making a roti. Sometimes it goes smoothly and comes out beautifully round, other times it is a shameful disgrace that you wonder about. Sometimes it rises completely making you happy, and other times it doesn't rise much at all reminding you to be grateful for at least having it. It gets tiring, and it gets messy. But regardless of how the roti comes out, it is still a blessing as some people have no food at all. Again, life is much the same.

I still haven't learnt Arabic or studied Islam, but my sister is close to home now with her husband and two sons. I am still not married, but I have earned a college diploma and a B.A. I still have no job, but I have more luxuries than most. I still haven't earned my 'culinary badges,' but today I made a round roti.

Wishing you all a life of tasty rotis!

1 comment:

Shireen said...'re funny, so much thought in roti! Oh man that's what 2 hours of making roti does to a person. Here's something it's called SHAAN PARATHAS..mmm good!

My rotis come out crispy sure sign they ain't rising, probably ain't round either, but lucky for me ami-in-law and mom send some. SEE SO YOU DON"T NEED TO WORRY!!!:) It's all good baby!

"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]



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"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]