Universal Oreo


While my little girl plays in the playground after school, Raven, a very charming playground dad, flashes me the whites of his Oreo cookie, cheekily. “Don’t worry” he smiles, “you can’t be allergic to these, there’s nothing real in them.”


He’s teasing me because I’ve started a strict elimination diet to figure out what the heck I’m allergic to.




Never in my life have I been allergic to anything. I am as healthy as a horse. All of a sudden, one day, I’m chronically itchy all over my body. It’s lasted for three years. Even my eyeballs get itchy. And you know, itchy eventually means bitchy, so it’s about time I deal with it.


My former flame calls this the “Forty year old woman disease.” Apparently he knows a lot of women who turn forty and suddenly have a host of new allergies. He was annoyingly much younger than me, with his stylish Campers, his smug Americano and his long glorious grasshopper thighs. And as I discovered, he did, indeed, know many women in their forties. At the same time. I immediately gained an allergy to him. But I digress.


So, yes, I have forty-year old woman disease. The upside is: a forty year old woman has the power to resist an Oreo. Pshaw! Be gone hydrogenated vegetable oil! I am fully aware of my mortality.


Fusaylah is munching the rest of her Oreo with no care in the world while watching her little girl, Shiya, whip around on the monkey bars. We have the two tallest girls in grade three. My little monkey is all ringlets and legs, barking out the rules of the game (only child). Shiya has a dark beauty that’s almost broody because her bow lips make a perfect pout. Big brown eyes. Sometimes she wears her sari to school with admired jeweled slippers. Nora and Shiya are the best of friends and have many dramas and many forgiveness’s.


Shiya gets her looks from her mother. Fusaylah is a green eyed beauty from Kashmir and her eyebrows are always perfect. She tells me Shiya only has a few more months before she turns nine and starts to wear the hijab.


What?! Fusaylah does not wear a head covering. Why would she make her daughter?


I can feel my face take a shape beyond my control. I knew it was turning into the same withdrawing squint that a local theatre critic, Colin Thomas, gave me during an interview when he scoffed, “Lucia, why are you still a Christian?”


I just don’t understand. Her daughter Shiya has thick glossy chestnut hair. Why cover that beauty? She’s a child. She should run free. All I can manage to say is, “that will be hot on the playground.” And Fusaylah tells me, “No, actually, it protects her from the sun. She doesn’t have to feel peer pressure to have the right hair-style, the right cut. It’s a great relief. Shiya is doing it because she believes. She desires to please her Lord. And who am I to share my cynicism with her? I am not a model Muslim.”


It never dawned on me that the little girl would choose this. Right at this moment, Shiya runs up and explains she’s excited to start wearing it, and she must never take it off in public. She is flushed with pride and something else: a sense of dignity.


I am very much of the mind that God has many names. Fusaylah and I have spiritual conversations all the time and constantly assure each other we’re fine with what the other believes.


But the feminist in me has a hard time with many religious teachings in Christianity and Islam that subjugate women.


“Honestly Fusaylah, men will always look at women whether they only have their eyes exposed or they are wearing a bikini. They’ll always want to know what’s under that clothing.” She chuckles. “This is true” she says. “It’s not just about men. It’s about devotion. We try to do the right thing. Humanity is destroying the earth and the human race is dying…”


Sometimes when English is not the first language it is difficult for me to follow the jumps in logic.


We stare out at the glorious autumn gold maples surrounding the playground. They drop their leaves on screeching laughing running children.


I say, “I believe prayer is the art of living sensually. Really paying attention to what we see, smell, taste-” she finishes the thought, ” feel, listen to. Yes. I believe that also.”


“I’m so happy when I just stop to say thank you. The weather is so gorgeous today.”




“I think the Buddhists call this being mindful.”


We chuckle, sharing the joke.


Fusaylah, “Maybe together we can save ourselves. Who knows.”

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  1. Leah

    i’m in heaven, a blog from Lucia complete with a daily story and even recipes!!!! this is almost as good as having you in town… almost.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      Thank you, lovely Leah! I miss having a cuppa with you! xo

  2. Kathleen Klassen

    Beautiful. Finally, a daily treat that isn’t chocolate but I love just as much.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      ooh! so happy to see some of my favourite people here! Thank you, Kathleen! xo

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