If i should speak, p.12

If I Should Speak, page 12

 

If I Should Speak
 


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  The car grew silent, and Dee exited the interstate and started down the street toward the mall. “But I’ll have to talk to them,” she continued in deep thought. “Soon,” she added thoughtfully, seemingly more for herself than for Tamika.

  “Why soon?”

  Dee tucked her lips for a moment, not wanting to say too much, but a second later she did not care, wanting to talk to someone, anyone who could give her a sympathetic ear. Aminah would not want to hear it. “‘Cause, um,” she began, smiling self-consciously, nervous about the whole thing. “‘Cause, um, there’s kind of a chance, a good chance,” she stated honestly, “that I could be going professional.”

  “You are!” Tamika stared at her in amazement.

  “But don’t say anything,” Dee begged her.

  “I won’t,” Tamika promised, still grinning with disbelief at Dee, who would not meet her stare.

  “That’s kind of why I’m tryin’ to pick out this dress today.”

  “But I thought it was for the formal.”

  “It is.”

  Huh? Tamika did not understand.

  “The producer—”

  “The producer?” she repeated in excitement.

  Dee laughed. “Listen.”

  “Oh, oh, okay,” Tamika calmed herself, anticipating the explanation.

  “He’s coming to the formal.”

  “He is?”

  “Yeah.”

  “Why?”

  “I’m gonna do some songs there.”

  “Really?” Tamika was impressed, envious, wishing it were she. “How’d that happen?”

  Dee laughed forcefully. “It’s a long story, but, anyway, some people at the school knew some producers in the area and they mentioned me, and, so,” she breathed, smiling, “they wanna hear me live.”

  “Wow.” Tamika was amazed. She could only dream of getting that far.

  “They heard some of my tapes, but—”

  “You have tapes!”

  Oh no, what had she done? Dee had not meant to say that. “Oh, yeah, just a few,” she told her quickly, downplaying it. “I did the recording at a friend’s house.”

  “Wow,” Tamika admired in a loud whisper, staring at Dee, amazed. If only she were so lucky.

  “So, anyway,” Dee continued, redirecting the conversation, “the producer is coming to the formal. His wife is the cousin of one of the staff there.”

  “At Streamsdale?”

  “Yeah.”

  “Wow,” Tamika kept saying, making Dee laugh uncomfortably.

  “But they’re coming to the formal, and that’s where they say he’s gonna decide.”

  Tamika sucked her teeth, shaking her head. “You’re so lucky.”

  Dee nodded smiling, unsure if it were actually luck or a huge test from God, which she feared she would fail.

  “What are you gonna sing?”

  “I don’t know yet,” she admitted, her immense concern traceable in her voice. “I’m still tryin’ to decide.”

  Tamika nodded, taking it all in, still envious but happy for Dee.

  “Hey,” Dee said, as an idea came to her suddenly. “Why don’t you write a few songs for me?”

  “Me?” Tamika was stunned. Dee could not be serious.

  “Yeah,” Dee replied, the idea becoming more real by the moment. “Why not?”

  “Well, I, uh,” Tamika stuttered, wanting to jump up and scream “Yes!” at the top of her lungs but keeping her composure, however difficult it was. “Okay, I mean, if you think you’ll like them.”

  “Of course I will,” Dee told her. “And anyway, I do a lot of ad-lib as it is.”

  Tamika nodded slowly, heart racing, the reality of what Dee was saying building in her mind, her heart. Was this really happening, she wondered? This could be her foot in the door!

  “But I’ll need it within a month or so, so I can practice.”

  “That’s fine,” Tamika agreed, her voice exhibiting a calm she did not recognize at the moment.

  “Maybe I can see what you have already too.”

  “Okay,” Tamika agreed, still trying to play it cool, as if this all were no big deal, though she detected a slight quiver in her voice.

  “Oh yeah!” Dee said, smacking one hand against the steering wheel, as another idea came to her as she turned into the mall’s parking lot. “Why don’t you do a song with me?”

  “A song with you?” Tamika repeated, hoping that Dee was asking what she thought she was hearing. She breathed slowly, carefully, and her heart began to pound wildly. O God, was this really happening?

  “Yeah, at the formal.”

  “A-a-at the formal?” she stuttered dumbly, immediately feeling ashamed for her stupor. But Dee did not seem to notice.

  “Yeah, why not?” Dee casually suggested.

  “Me?” Tamika smiled nervously, glancing at Dee to make sure she was serious.

  “Yeah,” Dee replied excitedly. “It’ll be fun!”

  “Me?”

  “Yes, stupid!” she teased, as she put the car in park. “Who else!”

  “You serious?”

  “Yeah, girl, you have a good voice.”

  “Well, okay,” Tamika agreed cautiously, hoping Dee had heard. “If you want...”

  “Then the producer can hear you too.”

  “Okay.” Tamika swallowed. Inside, she was ecstatic.

  “Don’t worry,” Dee told her, turning off the engine. “It’ll just be one song. Everyone’ll just think that’s how the song was supposed to go,” she reassured.

  “Okay,” Tamika nodded, excitement filling her, unable to keep from grinning.

  “And just for helping me out,” Dee added with a smirk, “I’ll have to pay you back.” She winked playfully.

  “Pay me back?” Tamika repeated in confusion, sensing Dee was up to something. A cautious grin formed on Tamika’s face.

  “Yeah, by buying you a dress for the formal.”

  Her eyes widened. Dee could not be serious. “How?” Tamika asked with concern, aware of how expensive formal dresses were, especially at malls.

  Dee waved her hand at her, unlocking the doors with the press of a button. “I have enough money, don’t worry.”

  “Do you know how much those types of dresses cost?”

  She laughed. “Yes, I’ve only bought them, what, a zillion times?”

  Oh yeah, the pageants. “Well, I mean, you don’t have to—”

  “I insist!” Dee chimed as they both got out of the car.

  “Okay,” Tamika said slowly, unsure if she should accept all of the offers but too excited to turn them down.

  Dee laughed. “Come on!” she encouraged, putting an arm around Tamika playfully. “Let’s go pick out the best dresses this mall has!”

  Chapter Seven

  The weekend went by too quickly for Tamika. She and Dee had spent it selecting songs from Tamika’s collection. After Tamika sang several to Dee, Dee selected a couple of them for herself to sing at the formal, but she requested that Tamika write one especially for their duet, a task to which Tamika eagerly agreed. They had laughed and joked singing the songs, pushing and nudging each other if either one was off-key. Then they had sung popular songs, saying, “Do you remember this one?” each person singing her favorite.

  Aminah had gone home for the weekend, so they had the apartment to themselves. But when she returned Sunday evening, their fun came to a sudden stop. Dee had warned Tamika not to tell Aminah of their plans.

  “She’ll kill me,” Dee told her, half-joking, half-serious. “If Aminah finds out, she’ll probably tell my parents.” She added more seriously, more thoughtfully, evoking sympathy from Tamika, “And I want to tell them myself.” She sighed. “I just can’t figure out what to say.”

  Tamika wished she could help Dee, almost wanting to tell Dee’s parents herself. She wanted to yell at them, tell them they were being selfish by imposing such strictness upon their daughter. Why did parents have to live through their children, Tamika won
dered? Why couldn’t people have their own lives, doing what they wanted to do? It was not fair, simply not fair.

  “As-salaamu-’alaikum!” Aminah chimed Sunday evening, closing the front door behind her, disgusting Tamika by her gleeful smile. Dee and Tamika were sitting on the couch reviewing the lyrics to some of Tamika’s songs when Aminah had come in. Why did Aminah have to live with them? It would have been perfect if she and Dee had the apartment to themselves.

  “How’s it going?” Aminah asked in a polite, routine manner, removing her coat.

  “Pretty good,” Dee replied, nodding. “You?”

  “Alhamdulillaah,” Aminah responded, smiling, her cheerful mood apparent to both of her roommates.

  “So I guess your weekend went okay?” Dee asked politely.

  “Yeah,” Aminah replied honestly, “real good.”

  “What’d you do?”

  “Nothing really,” she responded. “But your parents came over.”

  “They did?” Dee asked, smiling and feigning pleasure, suddenly self-conscious at the mention of them.

  “Yeah, and,” Aminah shook her head, smiling reflectively, “it was just nice hearing them talk.”

  “About what?” Dee inquired, hoping her disinterest was not apparent in her voice.

  “Just their life and everything.”

  Oh. About how Islam had changed them, Dee immediately knew. She did not want to hear anymore.

  “But mashaAllaah,” Aminah remarked, hanging her coat in the closet and removing her large over garment, under which she was wearing a big shirt and pants. “It was nice.”

  Aminah paused then inquired, “How’s your research going?”

  “Mine?” Tamika asked, looking up from the paper that she was mindlessly skimming.

  “Yeah, for your religion class.” Aminah slipped her hands into her pant pockets walking over to the couch and standing there.

  “It’s going good,” Tamika told her, uncomfortable with Aminah in such close proximity. “I turned in my note cards on Friday,” she said, inconspicuously folding the paper she held so that Aminah could not see the songs.

  “So the books were helpful?”

  “Yeah, a lot. Thanks.” She hoped Aminah would go away.

  “It’s no problem,” Aminah assured her with a wave of her hand and a kind smile. “You have any questions on anything?”

  “Ummm…” Tamika said slowly, thinking about it, the gesture more out of politeness than serious thought. “A few.”

  “Well, anytime,” Aminah offered, smiling, now heading to the bathroom.

  “Thanks.”

  Dee and Tamika were quiet for some time until Dee stood, glancing at her watch. “Oh,” she said, sucking her teeth and groaning as she realized something. “I’m supposed to be meeting with this girl in a few minutes.”

  “Really?”

  “Yeah,” she laughed. “I totally forgot.”

  “You betta go then.”

  She sighed. “Oh well, I guess I’ll be a few minutes late.”

  “You betta hurry.”

  “It’s nothing anyway,” she assured Tamika. “It’s just a study group.”

  “You have a test?”

  “Yeah,” Dee replied nonchalantly.

  “Tomorrow?” Tamika stared at her incredulously.

  Dee forced a chuckle. “Yeah, but it’s not a big deal.”

  “Girl, you should’ve told me!”

  “No, no, no,” she insisted. “It’s fine.”

  “In what class?”

  “Bio.”

  “Biology!” Tamika could not believe what she was hearing.

  “It’s gonna be easy anyway.”

  She stared at Dee. “But you didn’t crack a book!”

  “I looked over it Friday.”

  Tamika still stared at her in disbelief.

  Dee laughed again. “Don’t worry. I do this all the time.”

  Oh, Tamika remembered. She had heard that Dee was smart. “Okay,” she said finally, still unsure, but giving in.

  Dee started for the door. “Just pray for me,” she grinned, grabbing her coat.

  “Whatever.” Tamika forced a smile, still amazed at Dee’s ability to do well without studying hard.

  A moment later the living room grew quiet as the door closed and Dee disappeared into the hallway. Not knowing what else to do, Tamika picked up the paper Dee had given her Friday and that she left on the table next to the couch. It had been on her mind for quite some time. The sound of water running in the bathroom was all Tamika could hear amidst the silence of the apartment building since most students had not yet returned from their weekend activities.

  Tamika sighed, now holding the pamphlet, and she began reading as she relaxed on the couch. One section in particular jolted her curiosity: “Why Are There Different Religions?”

  Yes, why were there? Tamika wanted to know, the bold question on the page the same one that resonated in her mind.

  “There are different religions practiced today, namely that of Judaism, Christianity and Islam due to certain historical factors that caused the evolution of what is commonly referred to as ‘the three Abrahamic faiths.’ Judaism came about after Prophet Jesus came to call the people of Israel to submit to God and to accept him (Jesus) as their messenger. However, some people, although professed followers of Prophet Moses, refused to accept the message of Prophet Jesus, thereby becoming disbelievers and forming what is today called ‘Judaism,’ whose people still await the Messiah, although he has already come in the form of the prophet Christ Jesus.

  “Christianity began when…”

  Tamika felt her heart pounding nervously. Was it possible that she would now find out?

  “...Prophet Jesus was sent to the people of Israel, and his followers accepted his message and worshipped God alone, as Prophet Jesus did and instructed them to do. However, after Prophet Jesus was raised up to his Lord after his mission was complete, the idea of the Trinity was introduced, in which Jesus was said to be one of three in the Godhead. Paul, who never met Jesus or saw him alive, was the primary teacher of this concept, and in time, it was officially embraced by the Christian church. However, during that time, there existed monotheistic Christians who opposed the innovation in the religion, and they opposed the new teachings of Jesus’ divinity, while upholding his teaching that he was a prophet. Long after Jesus was gone, the compilation of the Bible began, and the book underwent numerous changes, resulting in several versions still used today, none of which contain a completely accurate description of Jesus’ message. The Bible is currently used to propagate the divinity of Jesus, although Jesus never witnessed or oversaw any of its compilation, nor was he on earth when his divinity was being taught, and he himself never claimed divinity.”

  It made sense, this Tamika could not deny. She had heard bits of information about how much Paul had influenced the religion of Christianity, and she also knew, as most Christians did, that the Bible had gone through several changes. But whenever asked about them, she, like most others, always responded that the changes were “inspired by God.” Tamika had never given the response much thought, but she now questioned the validity of the claim. If the book were actually from God, why did “corrections” have to take place at all? How could God “inspire” a book that was wrong to begin with? Did He later discover He was wrong then “inspired” the corrections? Or worse, he needed humans to proofread and correct His revelation? This tormented Tamika’s better senses. She had never thought much about these inconsistencies before, having taken the advice of her preacher and her mother, to “not question God.”

  She continued reading:

  “When Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the last messenger and prophet sent by God to humankind, came to call people to the religion taught by Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, people of all nationalities, races, cultures, and religions, including Christianity and Judaism, accepted his message, and Islam became the fastest growing religion on earth and remains so today. Howe
ver, like some Jews during the time of Jesus, people rejected God’s messenger and continued to teach and live what is now common day Christianity, and thus became disbelievers by rejecting a messenger of God.”

  As Tamika reviewed the brochure, the possible veracity of Islam gnawed at her conscience and rekindled the same questions of faith that had plagued her since the beginning of her investigation. She swallowed, suddenly feeling ashamed. Was she a disbeliever? A rejecter of God’s messenger? The question taunted her, the answer haranguing her. But she did not want to acknowledge it, mentally swatting it away like a nagging fly.

  “Oh,” Aminah commented with pleasure, her sudden presence startling Tamika, who had not even heard her come out of the bathroom. “So Durrah gave it to you?”

  Tamika forced a smile. Her mind still stormed with doubts and confusion as she realized that Aminah was referring to the packet. “Yeah.”

  “Well, let me know if you have any questions,” Aminah offered smiling, now walking into the kitchen. “I’ll be in the room studying.”

  “Thanks.”

  “No problem.”

  “The Amazing Claim of Modern Day Christianity,” the title seemed to jump out to Tamika. She knew better than to read on, but inside, she knew she had to. Too drawn in to put it down, she began reading,

  “Given that God’s message is and always has been to worship God alone, it is indeed amazing that most sects of Christianity claim the exact opposite. The prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others came with the message to worship God alone as the only path to Heaven, whereas modern day Christians claim that the only path to Heaven is to worship God as part of a Trinity—the Father, son, and the holy spirit—a requirement that they attribute to Prophet Jesus, who was gone long before the concept was even introduced to the Christian church. The worshipping of created gods is the gravest of all sins, so much so that the caution against it is mentioned in two of the Ten Commandments and can still be found throughout today’s version of the Bible.

 
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