Sometimes, someone changes you in a way, in a glimpse, and you don't realize the importance of that moment until you are countless years in the future, sitting on a chair, lying on a bed, reminiscing the day long lost. Reminiscence opens new ends, untangles old threads, clarifies the dusts of time. And that one insignificant person, that one person you may never meet again, remains vivid in your memory all for that moment. 

   It was an ordinary day of fifth grade, I sat writing a test for English, scratching my mind when nothing came to me, periodically gratified when my fingers printed the paper consistently with creative justifications. It was as normal a day as any, the sun shown through the window, vivifying the dirt caught up between the fine mesh as the open window bars glimpsed into the street. Of course I was too naive to know that on the most important day of my life, I wasn't going to receive any pointers, the sky wasn't going to be pink and it definitely wouldn't revolve around a wedding dress. It would be a run-of-the-mill occurrence, and I wouldn't realize the diversity until it stared me back in the face. Even then, as I happened to live in denial, this realization didn't knock upon my door soon. 

   I distinctly remember finishing the test, splotching my hands with royal blue ink and handing it over. It was a typical Pakistani classroom, desks cramped next to each other, a pencil or a book falling every two seconds. The teacher set to mark our tests, sitting at her desk that maneuvered over us, while in whispers we exchanged answers. Our correspondence was so mute you could have heard the sound of a pin dropping, and the little detours it takes before finally settling at your feet. 


   The bell for recess rang as clear as day, was it joy that renounced amongst all? Was it the relief of a 25 minute lapse of food and play? It was as magical as it had been the day before, and the one before that, till you reached the start of a school career. I packed my bag, accumulated my stationery before zipping everything shut. It wasn't uncommon (still isn't) for every student to have the nagging fear of theft, scrounging at the back of his mind. Day dreaming, I walked down the hall, half striving to catch up with my friends. Suddenly I felt a firm hand on my left shoulder. Caught unguarded, I shifted to find my English teacher staring back at me determined. What was in her eyes, I do not remember? But as I was thrust back from the throng of students escaping to the lush school grounds, I, with my youthful image, reflecting innocence, shifted the scarf pinned under my chin.

  Cowardice was one of my strongest suits back then, to be asked to be held by a teacher, a member of the faculty wasn't something that brought good news very often. The teacher who had held me back and then went on to organize the recess crowd, was the topmost feared educator. In eight grade when I was a part of the school council, the same rascals who hid in the toilets while I ran after them trying to bring some symmetry to them, only feared her. And me? I was innocent, shy, meek. From the first day of fifth grade, any moment she focused upon me, my legs shook while my vocal chords faltered. And in all the scrambling going on outside, I could still hear my heart beat, as if it would jump out of my body any minute now.



    Longingly, I watched my friends depart into the free air, intoxicated with the freedom of not being held back, as they stole glances at me to ask if I had done something wrong. I just bit my lip until it was sore. Finally, after an agonizing five minutes, she returned and turned to face me.
(Note: This conversation happened seven years ago, but I'll try to relate as much as my memory supports me with). 

The words that battled with air currents to reach my ear were,

'Aiza, why don't I see you at the top of the class?' 
Never in my life I had expected to be asked that. I stumbled upon the answer.

'Maam, Person X and Y are way more capable than me.'
'No, they're not. I expect you to receive a distinction the next term.'

I promised to try, still trying to wrap my finger around the fact that something like this happened to me. No teacher, let alone, no person before and after that incident has ever told me what she did in her own nonchalant way. 
Merely conveying this, she walked away, leaving me dumbfounded. 



  When I was the highest achiever next term, she told me she was very happy for me while the whole class looked on surprised. Kindness wasn't a prominent forte when it came to that stern beady eyed woman, for she had once thrown a project at my face when I made a dumb mistake in the compilation. But when I underestimated myself, she forced me, ordered me to write a poem (to be later published in the school magazine). Little did I know, that piece of poetry was the first of many. I topped the class that year, but as I moved on, I forgot her words, they lay rusting like the wood that lies abandoned in an off civilization shack. It wasn't until I had started college and an onslaught of memories came swarming that I remembered the small incident.

I am no longer that meek, timid creature i was seven years ago. I just hope she is proud of me one day, and even harder do I hope, one day I'll be confident enough to tell her all that I just told you.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This is an original recipe.

Ingredients-

80g Butter (softened, not melted)
3/4 Cup/150g Brown Sugar
1 Cup & 14 tbsp/200g Flour (all purpose)
2 Eggs
2 Bananas (medium sized, ripe, mashed)
1/2 Cup/100g Semisweet Chocolate Chips
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla (essence since extract is usually haram)
Pinch of Salt

Instructions-

  1. Preheat the oven to 350f (180 C). Grease and flour a bundt pan, you can also use a loaf pan but I opted for a bundt.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla.
  3. Add the eggs one by one, whisking in between. Incorporate the flour, baking powder, salt, bananas into the batter completely. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. It may take close to an hour if using a loaf pan. 
  5. Insert a toothpick into the middle to check for doneness, if it comes out clean with a few moist crumbs stuck to it, your bread is done.
  6. Allow to cool before slicing and serving. 

17 comments:

  1. As-Salaamu Alaykum Aiza,
    You told that story beautifully Barak Allahu Feeki and i still am waiting on that slice :)

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    1. Jazakillah Asmaa.
      And its making its way to you (!)

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  2. Your teacher must be proud of you today, you grown up being too mush in you, writer, baker, blogger. And I sure you have way to go. :) Well, this bread looking divine. Why you didn't bake bread in loaf pan?

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    1. I hope she is. I really do..
      And my toaster oven burns banana bread before its cooked fully. Lol

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  3. You write so beautifully. It's made me reminisce myself of the importance of the words and actions of all those I had failed to realise - there are far too many, but I am thankful for them all. I'm sure your teacher is very proud of you, Aiza. And your cake looks beautiful - banana bread is one of my faves, and chocolate chips can only make it better :)

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    Replies
    1. You always are so sweet, I don't know if I am as you make me out to be. Thank you love :*

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  4. Sometimes it takes just one person, sometimes someone who has no relation to you, to spark change and inspire us.
    Gorgeous cake! And I hope Ramadan is treating you and your family well :)

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    1. Couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you Henna x

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  5. Your writing is absolutely stunning! What a beautiful story about finding your voice, I found myself clinging on to every word. Also, this cake looks delicious! Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Thanks a lot. It was a pleasant surprise to see you here :)

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  6. U had me at everything - the choco chip, the banana and that story... There is a statement right, you may forget what people say or do, but you will never forget how they made you feel... so glad that a teacher pushed you to make you realise what you can acheive at a young age, Alhamdulillah... no many are lucky u see... :)

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Ma shaa Allah I am blessed.
      Thanks a lot for your kind words :)

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  7. The way you conveyed the story was indeed breath taking. Right from the start, I found myself speeding up in the process of wanting to read more, more and more! Hence I finished reading in a very small amount of time. If you could see me right now, I'm still finding it difficult to find the words to describe the kind of effect that this short piece of work had on me. Needless to say your writing is indeed very mesmerising. Oh and nice bread you got there;)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Sara. Aiza loves you. There, I said it!

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    2. *screenprints and keeps it for life in case I need to use it against you*

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  8. I love people like that. They come off as strict and harsh and bossy, but in reality, they know exactly who's got it in them and needs a nudge.

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    Replies
    1. Couldn't have said it better myself.

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