April - June 2003, Other

A beautiful house

By Ghadah Ali Gutierrez

Is it haram to ask for a better life than we ever thought possible? Is it uncool to actually talk about having your prayers answered? Call me superficial, but one of the things that I’ve noticed the most since my reversion is that circumstances in my life seem to be coming together in amazing harmony. In other words, Allah is answering my prayers, sometimes without me even asking! All of a sudden, everything is just falling into place. My husband’s green card was approved after two very long years and a LOT of paperwork. My bestfriend has found a potential husband. Most amazing, I’m getting a house!

I’m a ghetto kid. I was raised in the worst part of Denver. I also raised my kids there as well. We managed to escape the hood a few years ago for a new neighborhood that is considered ghetto to most people but is downright ritzy to us! This neighborhood doesn’t even have “sides.” You know like “east side,” “west side,” etc. Here the cops don’t sit outside your house waiting for you to peek out so they can “hem you up.” Your friends don’t break into your house. The crackheads actually ask for money! When you buy something new, you don’t have to wait until after dark to carry it into the house. You can actually let your pets outside without them disappearing. You can even park your car on the street, and it will be there in the morning. Okay, so I do still have black paper taped over my car stereo. Some habits are just hard to break!

Anyway, so we are basically hood rats. The only house that I’ve had in my entire adult life was a deathtrap located on a corner by the park where all the homies, or gangbangers, hung out. A night without gunshots was what kept you awake there! You could sit in the yard on the weekends, and it was better than television. I saw more police chases, wrecks, and arrests from my backyard than I ever saw on NYPD!

Then, we moved to this new hood. A few years later, I reverted to Islam. Unfortunately, the apartments where I live are Little Mexico. Live music from the wet living next door every weekend night. I mean LIVE as in fifteen drunk Mexicans singing their hearts out. Vicente Fernandez would be proud. One of the Mexicans bought a guitar a couple of weeks ago so now it’s really on!

The old woman upstairs waits until her husband leaves for work and then cranks up la musica LOUD at 6:45 am. Just in case anyone in the complex can’t hear it, she opens her sliding glass door! I swear I hear Halcon de la Sierra in my dreams. Then, there’s the tamale guy, the sweet bread lady, the paleteros, and the CD guys knocking on every door and the occasional migra raid. None of the apartment office workers speak enough English for me to convey that my bathroom sink is stopped up and needs to be fixed. Just in case you ever need to know, a bathroom sink in Spanish is a “lava manos.” It was tolerable for a while. Noise, broken beer bottles, and all. However since my reversion, I have come to hate living here. Even the mayates smoking blunts in the stairwells are starting to give me the creeps. And everyone here seems to be named “guey.” Why is that? If they’re not named “guey” then they have a surname of “dog”. C dog, Bull dog, Runt dog. Anyway I wanna move !!!

Now Allah has opened up a door for me to escape this neighborhood as well. A beautiful house in a much quieter neighborhood. Not only did He drop it in my lap, but He’s pushing hard! The house has been for rent for months. The possibility of renting it first came to me about four months ago, but I was in a lease that I couldn’t break without costing me a lotta lana. If you lived in Denver, you would know that the likelihood of a house, any house, being for rent for that long is about the same as an open apartment with a view of Central Park in NYC. La duena is willing to hold the house for two more months until my lease in Little Mexico is up. That she wants to rent me the house is a miracle in itself. She even hunted me down at work to give me the paperwork! A nice little carneceria is right around the corner. No liquor store is for at least ten blocks. And, the house has two bathrooms! Two bathrooms. Can you imagine? And a garage! Ah, the privileges of wealth!

This is miracle number one. The second is that my son recently took his GED exam and passed with flying colors! He is a former gangbanger. His highest aspiration in life was to stay out of jail as long as possible. Now, he is getting ready to start college. Alhamdulilah !!! There might be hope if my daughter will just quit hanging out with people named C-Note and Lil Liq.

Maybe this Chicana can escape the hood once and for all. I have a car now and am proud to report that my phone has stayed connected for four years continuously and my electricity has too! I donate to the food bank, instead of living out of it. I even have real sheets on my bed. Some things haven’t changed much though. I still can’t bear to pay $ 20 for a pair of pants, and the Segunda is still my second home. I still duct tape plastic over my windows every winter and not just because the president seems to think it’s a good idea. I admit it; the only glasses I have in my house are from Burger King. I still save aluminum cans and tin foil, and none of my pots and pans match. But hey! Allah isn’t done with me yet!