Yesterday, I was at my mother-in-law's Ramadan reception. Usually I feel horribly inadequate due to my poor Arabic, proper dara'a choosing ability and amnesia - when it comes to remembering names even though they remember mine, my child and my husband's name. So yesterday was full of fore-boding. I dashed out at 11.00AM to buy dara'as (I know crazy), got lucky that in the first shop I found some we liked, hit the jackpot when the shop assistant could adjust them immediately, found accessories and shoes for both my daughter and I - all in 3 hours. Always a good omen.
Got to my mother-in-law's at 9PM and was the only chenna (daughter-in-law) there. Sprang into action, making chit-chat with guests, having the maid to get a new battery for my mother-in-law's hearing aid when I realized she couldn't hear one of the guests, offering sweets and coffee, plumping cushions, re-adjusting rugs, picking fluff off the floor and having the maids clear cups between the waves of guests. A smallish affair this year as my mother-in-law is frail and we had a death in the family a few months ago. Felt pleased that my sisters-in-law knew they could depend on me until they arrived after visiting their own mother-in-laws.
Tried hard to get my daughter off her phone and trained up on Kuwaiti etiquette. I had a lovely chat with one of the young extended family members who had passed by. I won't be forgetting her name. She was telling me how she goes off before iftar to areas in Kuwait to distribute food to the needy. She, and a few friends, are going into areas that I would be terrified to go to; Abbasiya, Jleeb Al Shouk. I so wanted to hug her.
I feel so lucky to meet kind, compassionate, good-hearted Kuwaitis. They will touch your heart, leave a wonderful impression and change you for the better. It reminds me of why I fell in love with Kuwait in the first place. God bless Kuwait and those that truly love the country. Ramadan kareem, inshallah.
And after 10 years of being a chenna I think I've graduated. I love my family they are so awesome. Thank you for all your love, support, kindness and great sense of humour.
My advice to any new chenna would be: Be kind, patient, forgiving, understanding, accepting, try to learn some Arabic, learn from them and return their hospitality and, in time, they will accept you and make you feel as if you belong. Of course, it helps to win the mother-in-law lottery - and I, most certainly, did. Moma Sheikha, you are truly one of the most incredible people I have ever met. I love you so much.