Do I need my hijab in heaven?
In the past few months, several friends around my age passed away. I was born during the Cold War. Remember the paranoid days of the red menace when fear of “the bomb” was ever present? Fallout shelters were as common in big city apartment building basements as vermin scurrying around. That was my era, a time without cell phones, Instagram or Starbucks. Hard to believe I grew up normal, isn’t it? Not only did we survive but we even thrived.
Now, I sometimes think of my own end. A pedestrian car accident almost did me in on 1/6/94 but I pulled through. I face mortality from problems associated with age and lingering issues from the car accident. Modest exercise and a vegan diet keeps me fit and trim but the inevitable is coming sooner or later. I’ve often wondered what heaven is like, assuming of course that’s where I’ll go. Notwithstanding a slew of mistakes earlier in life, some of which I prefer not to mention, I turned out to be a decent human being. I atoned for my sins and more than made up for past transgressions.
What will heaven be like? Will I need make-up to cover my pasty skin? What about toiletries? Unless I brush my teeth in the morning, my breath probably smells like a camel. I’m cranky if I can’t shower at least once a day. Does heaven have laundry facilities? I generally won’t wear an outfit more than once. What about a place to shine shoes? A girl has to look stylish. A smart pair of shoes can make or break an outfit. I converted to Islam last year and wear a hijab, also known as a headscarf, every day. Will I need to cover my gray hair in heaven? It’d be a shame to leave behind two drawers full of colorful hijabs that I’ve collected, either as gifts or purchases
Then I wonder about boredom. What’s there to do in heaven? The 1994 car accident ended my working career so I found a new life as an all around volunteer. Then the alternative was to sit home and watch television. No way. Not me. I despise television. I won’t care if there’s no television in heaven but I’d miss the radio. I love music, all kinds of music. I listen to the radio every day.
Anyway, after the accident volunteer work prevents boredom and keeps me connected to the world in different ways. I have a reason to get out of bed. I had hoped to find success as a writer but that never happened. Memberships in a few professional writing organizations and attendance at writing conferences failed to boost my nascent career. I won awards, nonetheless, in several writing contests but my credentials were never enough to entice literary agents to represent my work. Eventually, I gave up, closed the door to a literary career and filed away all my published articles. Maybe in heaven I can become the writer I failed to on Earth. We’ll see.
At the very least, I hope to continue reading once I’m gone. Let heaven be full of libraries and bookstores in heaven. Without books, I am nothing. Ignorance always scared me. It still does. Literacy saved me from myself.
For relaxation I enjoy sitting in a cafe and reading a book or newspaper. Does heaven have such amenities like home delivery of the New York Times? Do the deceased talk over their lives? How they lived? How they died? What’s happening on Earth? Why are stupid people still killing each other over trivial matters and why are extremist right wing gasbags elected into higher office?
I grew up in New York City. Shopping back then was fun because New York City was loaded with department stores. I mean loaded. Shopping on Amazon.com can’t compare to walking through the aisles and trying on clothing in big stores like Bloomingdales, Alexander’s, Abraham and Strauss, Macy’s, Mays, Franklin Simon, Bonwit Teller, B. Altman’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Orbach’s, EJ Klein’s, Gimbel’s, May’s, and there’s probably some I left out. Furniture sections in department stores were handy places to snatch a bit of warmth on frigid afternoons. Sit on the sofa for a few minutes, pretend you’re interested in buying and when the salesmen become pushy move on. On a Saturday morning, I’d meet my friends and our starting place was Bloomingdales on East 59th Street on Manhattan’s East Side. Alexander’s, which hawked cheap and tacky clothes, was across the street. Most of us couldn’t afford Bloomie’s prices but it was interesting to see how the other side lived. Wow, affluent women shelled out big bucks for even small items like bras and panties. I guess if you could afford to live in a Park Avenue penthouse with a maid to cook your meals then you could afford pricey underwear. After Bloomie’s we headed down Fifth Avenue, a main street choked with stores, big and small. Our bulky paper shopping bags (no plastic at the time) filled up with purchases as we squeezed ourselves among throngs of shoppers, resting tired feet for lunch at a cafe somewhere along the way. All shopping ended on 34th Street, home to world famous Macy’s and a few lesser known stores like Gimbels. Only the unfortunate shopped on 14th Street, then known as the armpit of NY. Now the average apartment there sells for about a cool $1 million dollars. I guess real estate in heaven is unimportant. I surely hope so. I gave up a comfortable, cozy place because annual rental increases reached beyond my disability income. I’ll never forget the day I moved out. Tears welled up in my eyes as the movers loaded the last box on the truck. I said goodbye to a place where I felt at home, at ease. I felt so defeated, so crushed at having to leave the Meadows, the name of the trailer park where I lived. I hope there are no impossible rent increases in heaven that drive people towards moral bankruptcy like depression or suicide.
In heaven, there will be no more bills to pay. Finally! No more threatening past due letters and what the banks will do if I don’t pay. Surviving on a disability income tests my patience as well as my ability to balance my budget. I learn to stretch shampoo, dish soap, etc. by watering them down. Day old bagels taste just as good as fresh. I look sharp in thrift shop clothing. I feel envious sometimes when I overhear strangers talk about how they pitch in and pay for a disabled family members’ wheelchair. How lucky for that person. Once in heaven, I’ll be free of disability so I won’t need a new scooter every few years or sweat through the desperation to replace a broken down one.
Heaven awaits me. When is my time? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. It could be today, tomorrow or whenever. I’ve done everything to guarantee passage to Jannah, what we Muslims call heaven. I trust Allah that He will make my place safe and secure. I will miss my friends, the sisters from my Quran group, the volunteer work that uplifted me, but I won’t miss the incessant wars, bickering among people, hatred, and violence. I’ll be glad to leave all that behind. Who wouldn’t? Human beings can be so kind and merciful yet sometimes they are so cruel, callous and wicked. Who but the arrogant calls dead children collateral damage? Heaven surely must hold gifts that are more precious than I’ve found on Earth. May Allah help me and help us all.