Rizg, or رزق is a word that literally translates into livelihood, or subsistence. All rizig comes from Allah, but when and how and in what form is the question. You can never guess or be 100% sure, even if you’re 100% sure. It serves as an explanation or justification of plans gone wrong and unexplained blessings, and is one those terms closely tied to the Sudanese culture with all its ups and downs.
I had an interesting day today. We had planned last week to meet up this weekend for breakfast at Ozone since a few of our classmates where in the country, after which I would go off to my gramps house to spend the day with him and the rest of the girls would go to their fitness class. The first sign that things wouldn’t go as planned was when my car broke down in the middle of the highway the preceding Tuesday and had to be towed away. As I feared, the damage was drastic enough to keep it locked up with a bill of around 4,000 SDG (which of course I didn’t have), and I would have to take the other car (which I hate) on Saturday morning. On Friday evening we noticed we were out of cookies and would have to make a fresh batch especially since my dad will be coming the following weekend and it would be nice to have something around the house, so we decided Hala would make them ASAP (because she does the baking around the house, and because she’s the youngest and we get to bully her around) sometime the following week. I woke up around 9:30ish in time to get ready to meet the girls at 10:30 and was informed that one of our distant relatives was downstairs so that I could go say hi, and that this relative had brought us home-made cookies. Well then. That was unexpected, and sure enough upon descending to greet her, there was a whole bucket of cookies sitting on the coffee table. Alrizig.
So because our relative decided to visit us that morning, I was late getting ready and getting out of the house, and after dropping her off at the bus stop and picking up my friend from her house, we arrived at Ozone at 11:45 instead of the planned 10:30. I parked my car on the other side of the road and this kid came over and asked if we wanted it washed. I didn’t, and while locking up noticed the bag of dates in the backseat. My mum came up with the idea of keeping a bag of dates in the car to give to people instead of money, and my sister dutifully kept her bag full while mine was always forgotten. So if I had been driving my car I probably wouldn’t have had anything to give the kid, but because I was driving my sister’s car the kid ended up with a big handful of dates to keep in his pocket and nibble on the whole morning. They might even be his only meal that day (but with the prices these kids charge for car washing, I doubt that). Alrizig, I tell you.
Because it was a weekend the place was packed, and the girls couldn’t find a table to sit at so sat on the couches on the far side of the yard, on which meals are not allowed, only drinks and snacks. I was hungry, and had planned to have their breakfast meal which was served only until 12 and which I would need to be at a table to have, neither of which was possible. So, I just ordered an over-priced karkade and sat back, watching the usually unusual sights you see at Ozone, in terms of dress code, hairstyles and other interesting things. I examined the smoking club sitting at the table behind us, counted how many cigarettes they managed to puff through until their orders arrived, noted that each one of them looked about 5 minutes away from dropping dead anyway, and that one of them was just as interested in the usually unusual sights around us, in terms of dress code, hairstyles and other interesting things. There was an abundant number of children that day, and one edible little thing was marched back and forth in front of us dressed as Tigger, while some older specimens frolicked behind us on the lawn. As usual, service was slow and it took a hundred years to get a menu, another hundred to get the order, and several hundred years to get the bill. The guy serving us was a familiar face; a middle-aged man with a sour attitude whom I had never seen smiling before. He moved slowly, didn’t ask questions, and almost always pointed out that your order was not available so you would have to change it. My friends commented that he wasn’t very nice and rarely discussed anything with him. I wondered why he would be nice if he worked full-time at a restaurant where teenagers paid more for an order than his entire salary, and that obviously he wasn’t here because he chose to but because he had a family to support, and that his job sucked because it involved hours of standing up, walking around, carrying trays, cleaning tables, taking orders (which men in general hate), standing around for long minutes waiting for people to discuss their options and change their minds several times and laugh about stupid things before deciding what to order. Why would anyone be happy in a situation like that? I always get nervous around people older than me who have jobs like these because I feel like my very presence, being so relatively well-off, is a personal insult to them. I’m sure that’s not what goes through everyone’s mind, but it’s enough to keep my thinking.
The girls decided that they would just have drinks at Ozone and then we would go to this place on 3ibeid Khatim called Barcelo’s for a meal. I wasn’t happy with this plan initially because I wanted to go to Bahri early, but after discussing the issue with my empty stomach I eventually agreed. So we paid the bill but then had to wait for someone’s cousin who was late, so I continued my sight-seeing, until a saw a familiar looking head in the distance. It took me a few seconds to realize who the head belonged to, because we had never met in real life and had spoken only once on Facebook when I had asked him not to use swear words in this writing group I was in. Strangely, he looked exactly like his Facebook profile picture and was even wearing the same coloured shirt, so it was impossible to miss. I couldn’t remember his name however, so I walked over to where he was and looked at some stuff that was on display to take some time. There’s this section behind the restaurant which I had never entered before, where people put stuff on display for sale, and today there was a collection of jewelry, books, paintings and other such things. As I looked around, I ended up buying a small bronze bracelet and a handmade necklace. I had had no intention of buying anything that morning, and I was the first and probably only customer for both sellers that morning, but somehow my money ended up in their hands. Alrizig. Anyway I eventually remembered the guy’s name and followed him into the restaurant to say hi, and we chatted for a bit. His name was Ismail Kushkush, a freelance journalist from the States. It turned out his dad and my parents went to the same school but 10 years apart, so his dad had taught my parents at some point, and was friends with one of our family friends, and that Ismail was going to the university’s 75th jubilee celebration tomorrow that my sister was organizing. But there’s nothing remarkable about all this, because everyone in Sudan who meets anyone else from Sudan ends up making roughly the same connection.
Anyway, we left the place and drove to the other side of town to Barcelo’s, and I parked next to the only other car in the entire car park, and scratched the car’s side when I opened my door. Fortunately, the car’s owner was sitting nearby and was very understanding and forgiving when I apologized for the scratch. The girls had already gone up ahead of me so when I got to the table I sat at the end of the bench, facing the wall and not the windows. I had a burger, potato wedges and a chocolate milkshake which were surprisingly all very good. There were about a hundred men sitting behind us, and the table next to them had a bunch of foreigners wearing matching t-shirts that had Great Britain on them. The rest room was a short distance from where we were seated and because of where I was seated I had full view of everyone who entered and left, and one of the GB team members went in and came out a short while later. I just happened to be looking up when she came out and happened to see the writing printed on the side of her sweat pants, that said GB Tentpegging Team, or something of that sort.
Now, most people in the world have no idea what tentpegging is, including roughly 100% of Sudanese. I actually don’t know what it is exactly, but I have seen that word used by only one person in the world before: Sam Goss, an English horse rider, who came to Oman with her team 3 or 4 years ago, and who ended up staying in our house for about a week because the hostels were full. She was very nice, and we stayed in touch after she went back, and she even sent me some purple Crocs at one point. By the time I had managed to process this information in my head, the team had picked up their bags and moved to the door. Without thinking, I got up onto the bench I was sitting in and reached over to tap the last guy just as he left the table.
‘Hello, sorry, are you the national tentpegging team?’
He was surprised, of course, at this random scarf wearing native that was probably the first person he had met from this country who even knew what that word was. But he took it like a sport.
‘Yes, yes I am.’
‘Do all you tentpegging people know each other?’
‘Yes, yes we do.’
‘I have a friend who does this tentpegging thing, her name’s Sam, do you know her?’
‘Yeeeees, yes I know Sam!’
:D :D :D :D :D
I then briefly told him how and when we had met, and could he tell her that Reem says hi when he sees her? He said, sure, sure he would, and left. He met his friends at the door and I watched them discuss this event with each other, then they all turned to me and smiled and waved. Now that isn’t exactly an example of rizig, but it’s pretty close. If not for that 2 minute delay after scratching the guy's car I would've been seated somewhere else, wouldn't have noticed the woman leaving the restroom and wouldn't have met her team. Wa Allaho a3lam.
The reason all this interests me is that quite often one finds oneself questioning past and future decisions, having second thoughts, and wondering if how things turned out really were for the better. This just goes to show that actually, like it or not you have no control over how things turn out, but when you base your decisions on istikhara (asking Allah to guide you to what’s best), then you can just trust that whatever happened was for the best. And things that looked like a bad idea at first end up bringing you things you didn’t expect, and bringing you into other people’s lives when they didn’t expect it. After all, everything was written way before your own existence. So you can only hope for the best and put your faith in Allah that things will work out: where you’ll work, what you’ll study, where you’ll live, who you’ll marry. Even if it didn't turn out the way you wanted, have faith that it was for the best.
“مَا أَصَابَ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ نَبْرَأَهَا ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ ⌂ لِكَيْلَا تَأْسَوْا عَلَىٰ مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتَاكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ (الحديد (22و 23”
"No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz), before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah. In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to get, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you. And Allah likes not prideful boasters." (57: 22, 23 Al-Hadid)