Love in Ramadan is the self-publishing debut novella of Tohib Adejumo; an immigrant Nigerian writer and socio-religious activist living in Brooklyn, New York. The story is told through the eyes of two characters but mainly from the perspective of Malik, a first generation Nigerian-American Muslim.
Malik is a straight A’s student attending a prestigious school, Cornelius University. He is also the prized jewel of his parents who can’t wait for him to finish Medical school. While Malik has accepted this profession as his future job, a thing common and perfectly normal in non-American families, he will have to face a bittersweet outcome.
Adejumo’s writing is invigorating. It’s also funny, sharp, lovely, and inviting non-Muslims to Islam wittily.
This novella resonated with me in particular because it addresses the issues of first and second generation immigrants in America. As an immigrant myself, I know that our African parents tend to choose our educational majors for us. The same also goes for many other residents of other continents such as Asia that I met in my school days because of the common umbrella we all stood under; International students.
The professions our parents usually pick for us mainly fall in the category of ‘stable’ jobs such as Pharmacists, Nurses, Accountants, Engineering, etc. You get the gist. Jobs that will transpire respect toward them in the community they belong to. So, it’s about their dreams not ours like Hodan Ibrahim, a child of immigrant, also points out in When They Just Don’t Understand.
But as we go along with their dream jobs for us, we soon realize that the stakes are high and the pressure to maintain a high Grade Point Average (GPA) is nerve wrecking. And Malik faces this struggle as well.
There is also the constant involvement of distant family relatives in our personal affairs that is unavoidable. They all want to change our mind if we want to follow our dreams. A lot of times, this gives us the evil eye or give us a lot of grief. In the end, after all the incessant banter from them all, we start to doubt ourselves and we start to listen and believe their point of views, and we lose ourselves.
If we’re lucky, we snap, re-find ourselves, tune everybody out and do what we believe and stop arguing with these ‘’concerned’’ family members about our own future.
When I snapped, these were the days where I understood what this French West African street saying really meant; c’est non qui emmène palabre. Loosely defined, it means, disagreeing with people will bring you a lot of heartache. In other words, just say yes and turn around and do what your heart tells you to do! Alhamdullilah, I did what my heart whispered to me.
But if we aren’t lucky, we live a sheltered and unhappy life. Money doesn’t bring us happiness and we long for closure and have these what if questions hunting us. In other words, we yearn to fulfill our real dreams.
Life is short and we should spend it doing the halal things our hearts are set on.
To come back to Love in Ramadan, it can be extended into a novel but its short nature is a metaphor, in my opinion, of the point Adejumo is trying to get across.
I recommend this novella to anybody who wants to have a feel of the mind of immigrants in America. I also recommend it to my fellow Africans and/or other International students who have parents who chose majors for them. They will relate to the story and have a little kick out of the African mannerisms well depicted by Adejumo’s crafty writing skills.
So, will Malik get the chance to have his voice heard? Read to find out!
Jazak'Allah khair for reading.