Its Rhyming Poetry Captured Me

Sarah Paez Gonzalez
I remember as if it was yesterday, the father of my children, Imad Kassab Chaldean from Iraq, would open the best "Arabic poetry book" so he called it, and would read verses from this book.

I was completely enchanted and spiritually drawn to the truth of such poetry. I remember him playing music tapes, they sounded like a solo chorus — heavenly, and my skin would chill and I felt the spirit of God.

Given that he and I rarely connected, it was so refreshing to hear him read from this "poetry book", that I would become extremely rejoiced.

One day, I was traveling back to San Diego from my mother's ranch, which is about an hour away. Since it was a long drive, I decided to slip in the musical poetic tape to smooth my ride and cradle my 2-year-old son, David Izak, to sleep.

I must have been traveling 15 mph on a two lane road, and as I sang along I became so relaxed. Coming into one of the most dangerous curbs near the Tecate Resort, I saw a long 40 ft container semi-truck traveling extremely slowly and a long range of cars flowing.

I must have lowered my pedal to 10 mph, when out of nowhere there was a flying truck passing this semi-truck!

If I tried to deviate the truck and went left, I would find myself slamming into the semi-truck, and if I tried to escape to my right, I would collide with a rock wall. There was no room and I had no time to react! All I remember was the song which I had been trying to mimic, and that we were dead.

I felt my white Chevrolet shaking, and I saw the truck passing me by an inch away from the corner of my front pumper and swish… by my left mirror. I remember that I slowed down and as I was curving I started to praise the lord and the word that came from the music began to fulfill my spirit. Tears began to fall down my cheeks as I felt God's hand steering my wheel, and I began to praise Him and thank Him for His mercy on my life.

I felt His presence and the tape voice and the words coming out of the man who was reciting in song seem to be linked. At the time I was eight months pregnant with my second son, Jonathan Aziz Kassab, I was pretty shook up. Therefore, I prayed and hoped that this would not affect my child.

Time passed and my relationship with my two sons' father ended 7 months after my Jonathan was born. I asked him to remove all his belonging from my mother's home. My brother was remodeling the outside of my mom's home and told me to pick whatever was important; he was going to throw away every item left behind in the dumpster.

I remember seeing so many boxes full of books, and documentation Imad had left behind. Out of the four boxes full of books only one stood out. I remember the "poetry books and tapes"; I quickly grabbed and took in the box. I felt I would save this for my children, so they would know their heritage and ancestral background.

After awhile, I moved to Irvine. I had started with a bio-tech company as a sub-contractor. I was moving up the ladder. I had everything I wished for, especially the nice house in Yorba Linda across from Anaheim Hills.

Financially I had become stable and content, so I thought. Being that I worked directly with the CEO I would see the extravagant life style everyone lead and it seemed their thoughts revolved around gluttony.

I remember taking my son to the nearby school and seeing the fake and meaningless conversation, "tummy tuck, boob jobs, expensive child care, trade mark purses, shoes and clothes, etc."

I felt no connection among them, they reminded me of the Stratford wives "barbies". I saw no spiritual essence, simply meaningless conversations, and I began to feel truly vacant.

I remembered one of my mother's favorite verses, "estruye al Ni?o en su carrera y cuando fuera viejo no se apartara de ella", "Instruct your child in God's path and when old, he will not part from it". I made it a point before I went to bed to read and pray.

I started asking from the depth of my soul God's helping hand; asking him to help me find my way. What did I need to do to feel fulfilled? I began to fill the need in becoming part of God's world and children.

I had always told my mother I would become a Jew if I ever decided to walk God's path. Being that my family was extremely respectful and held great admiration to all the Hebrew/Jewish prophets, I felt they would not disapprove.

There was a nearby small synagogue, so I went to and asked what I had to do in order to convert into Judaism. I remember the Rabbi, greeting me with a distasteful attitude, he then directed me to his secretary. She began to question my need to convert, and added that it was a very hard religion to follow, I felt her continuous discouragement.

She then went on to tell me if this is what I wanted, I should convert into the Orthodox Jewish Synagogue in downtown Los Angeles. This would give me the privilege to be considered a true Jew throughout my generations and I would be able to own land in Israel. I was so disturbed and told her I cared very little to own land, all I wanted was to praise God.

That night I had dinner with a Jewish friend. I told him of my experience and that I really wanted to convert to Judaism. He repeated the same sentiments as the lady from the synagogue.

I got up and cut my dinner short, I was so angry I decided to call the night. It was a cold drizzling night, and I was running on empty, so I stopped at a gas station.

A car of Muslim student girls, pulled behind me and a car of "Mexican Homies" pulled on my left side. Before I got down my car, I pulled the shawl over my head to cover my self from the light rain. The Muslim girls followed me and the "Mexican Homie" into the store.

He stripped me up and down and said, "Is that a fashion statement or is it your religion?" I really wanted to say "my religion", yet, I knew it was a deceitful lie. I felt shameful and I lowered by gaze without uttering a single word.

To be continued…

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