At the prayer room, Dubai Airport


After what seemed to be hours And hours at The airport In Dubai… (The lady at The emirates counter advised us not to go into Dubai because it would take one hour to leave the airport and one hour to come back in, leaving us only with about three hours to get into town and walk around… So we decided to stay at the airport) I drifted into a prayer room. I had never been in one, but Deep down in my heart, I knew that any “prayer” room was a good place, and nobody, even if from other religions, would be turned away. And I was right. When I walked in, I was completely surprised. It was a sort of small room, completely empty. At the enterance, to the right, there was a young lady with a baby… She was all covered up in a burca, except for her face, and had the little baby by her side trying to crawl all over the place. At the opposite end there was another lady, older, more mature… More serious. She was closer to the walls at the far end.

The room was simple, pure, no decorations at all… Nothing. Just a sort of wooden vertical elements, that define the form of a sort of wall to which everyone should face to pray. The only sign in the room, was placed sort of at the middle of this vertical green wooden trelice: it had an arrow, pointing a direction and read right in the middle of it: qiblat. I sat down on the floor, facing the sign, as the old lady was. I always liked the floor, I don’t know, but it comes very naturally, to just sit there, facing qiblat, in the middle of the room, on my knees.

It takes me a few seconds to get into my prayer mode, that place where I feel a deep connection to something greater than me.. But it comes, quickly, in that stillness… And just a few seconds later I find myself praying. After what was probably about ten minutes, ( I think jet lag was obfuscating my thinking process, and it was probably the most unworthy prayer ever….) I got up and start walking away.  The baby crawls in front of the door and her mother, the young lady, immediately claims: ” Ohhhhhhhh… I am so sorry.. So sorry!! Ahaha ” she laughed ” she just wants to crawl everywhere… I am so sorry… ” I smile again. She had been smiling to me ever since I walked in… The mother, not the baby… Obviously!! So I told her it was fine, of course, that it didn’t matter at all. But she didn’t stop smiling and looking at me, and she just gave me this very strong idea that she was in need of a conversation, so I smiled back and sat down in front her. I said after a while.

” You have a beautiful young girl….”

” thank you!!! ” she smiled. She seemed to really really, ( I mean really) want to talk. So I continued.

” where are you coming from? ” I asked.

” from New Zealand. I live there now… But my family is from here, so I am coming back home to see them… ”

” Ohhhhhhhh that’s lovely! Miss them? ”

” yess… So much! And you? ”

” I am from Portugal… And I am on my way to Bali… ”

She smiled.

” I have a friend there on holidays…. She says it is lovely weather now… ”

” yes… I think it will be. So you flew from New Zealand??? Long flight? Mine was only 7/8 hours… From Lisbon to Dubai. ”

” Ahhh so lucky…. Mine was about 16 hours…. It was so long… But there were many baby’s on board… All under one, like mine, so she had many baby girls to play with!! ”

” ohh that’s lovely… ”

” yes…. And now only one hour flight and I am home. ”

” Ohhhhhhhh I still have about a ten hour flight… Now you are The lucky one. ”

All The while The little baby was wandering around The floor, crawling up around us, being fascinated with my sparkling handbag… And holding on to the green wooden trelice that was all around the room. We continued talking and laughing. She told me about her faith, her traditions, and explained to me that they always pray to qiblat, mecca, the holy land. She told me that she didn’t take pictures because her body was not important, and therefore shouldn’t even be seen… She told me her name was Ghadeer and that her baby’s name was something else that I don’t remember or know how to write. She also explained that her baby was 9 months old, and I could see in her smile that she meant the world to her. This young lady had something special about her. She was so happy, there are no words to describe that inner glow. And she was so beautiful…. All I could see was her face, her facial expressions.. Everything else was covered up in the black burca… It was so long, covering her whole body and her feet, even as she was sitting down. She had a carpet, red and embroidered, beneath her and the baby.

” what time is your flight? She asked me.

” at eight… ”

” mine too… At half past eight. ”

I smiled.  I had a million questions for her, but I didn’t ask them… As I am sure she had for me. But We both just smiled. Sometimes a smile has more truth than any words can ever explain. I dont know anything about her: if she went through hardship or if she has an easy life… It’s easy to sit it out and imagine… But I don’t know anything at all. All I know is that she is one happy young lady, full of faith, strength and full of love in her glowing heart. And even there, when we were both half zombies from very long flights, we kept each other’s souls company for a while.. With smiles. Somewhere In the land of the ancient desert, that we now call Dubai, and which she calls her home.  Yesterday as I looked looked up In my hotel room… There it was… Qiblat!! I looked at The time, she, And all other muslims, might just be praying to Mecca, as I look at it. I face the arrow, and take a small bow…. And then I smile.  I hope she continues to be happy…

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