When my daughter was first interred at the psychiatric hospital, she asked for poptarts. Red velvet, chocolate chip cookie dough, and strawberry. She lost interest in junk food and requested healthier fare: fresh mozzarella, turkey, and rye bread. Then she lost interest in food altogether.
“All I really want, mommy,” she said. “Is a pair of socks… and my koran.”
Allow me two segues here: when first admitted she refused any comforts of home and insisted on surviving with supplies from the short term unit. A handful of clothes, a stuffed animal alligator, her uniform shoes, and a notebook. Since the inmates (err I mean patients) get yelled at if they walk through the unit in bare feet, she wore her school shoes the first few weeks. Then relented and requested a pair of socks. And her koran.
Second segue. Rewind to June of this year (2016). She is at the height of her psychotic break and believes one of her younger sisters is plotting murderously against her. I had to finish birthday shopping for another sister, and not wanting to leave them alone in the house under these circumstances, I invited this oldest daughter to Barnes and Noble. “Sure mommy!” she agreed brightly. Because through sanity and insanity, she loves to go shopping. This was the day after the Orlando nightclub terror attack that left more than 100 people dead or injured.
We browsed the toy section and selected a few items for her sister. Browsed the young adult and graphic novel sections. Then, in the middle of the store, she announced gaily, and loudly enough for all to hear: “Mommy, can I buy a koran?”
I cringed (remember, this is Staten Island…) looked around to ascertain who might be listening, and recalled it’s generally a bad idea to argue with anyone with a weak grasp on reality.
“Sure,” I said calmly. “Let’s find a good translation.”
And we headed to the religion section of the store.
Allow me yet another segue. The religion section of Barnes and Noble is interesting. There’s a ton of fluff Christian books (because christians love to buy christian books. Ka-ching). There’s a ton of books on buddhism (because Buddhism is cool, thank you Steve Jobs). There’s a ton of books on Judaism (more ka-ching). And there’s a ton of books on Islam (because it’s cool to be tolerant of Islam- most of the books were western apologetics for the religion) And interestingly, exactly zero books on Hinduism.
We paged through a few korans and I gave my opinion on the best translation. I’d read the koran in college for a comparative religion class. We got in the checkout line, and bought it.
Over the drive home she poured through the book. “Hey it has Moses in it! And Joseph!”
“Look up the surah where mary gives birth under a date tree.”
“No…!” she said, incredulously, but found it in the table of contents.
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented.
“This is so cool!” she said. “Two birds with one stone. Who needs the bible if it’s all in here? It’s so efficient.”
Fastforward to present day, and I kept conveniently forgetting the koran she requested (I did bring the socks). But she kept hounding me, and finally I typed memo on my phone:
bring daughter koran
And that I did this week. Do I hide it? In my purse, tuck it under my arm? How exactly do you smuggle a koran in these parts?
I opted for tucking it under my arm, title facing in. They buzzed me into the unit and once in her room I slipped it to her hands.
“Don’t get radicalized,” I said.
“Oh mommy… would that really be the worst thing?”
I stopped myself from saying “Yes!” and instead joked she might end up with a Syrian husband. I briefly envisioned a bunch of Isis militants breaking into the unit for their bride. And the crazy grandchildren that would ensue.
She paged through the book as we chatted. She absolutely HATES when people spell koran with a K! It should be a Q! That is just the worst offense imaginable… and rambled on about learning arabic. She pointed to her roommate’s dresser.
“She has a bible,” she explained.
“Does she read it?”
“Nah…. but she reads a bunch of other shit.”
And that was that. She gave me a bear hug on my departure, told me she loves me, announced “It’s my MAH-MEE” to the ward (as she always does), I got buzzed out by the grouchy police officers, and I drove home.