Child me would love my grown up rock collections
1. The first time I got my ears pierced at the age of 4 years old, I had bright red ruby studs, in honor of my birth month July. I was never a huge fan of rubies – the bright red color was jarring. I loved and still do love the calm energy of aqua colored stones. Blues the color of the ocean and sky. Within months my soft skin started growing around the red stone earrings and my uncle put my head on his lap to scrape it out because he was the least squeamish of the grownups.
2. This summer at the rock store in the desert, I bought a raw ruby the size of a quarter for $10. The paper it came with said it would help with passion, prosperity, and achievements. I thought that maybe, I would buy rocks that would help me write this summer – a collection of essays and a screenplay. I am convinced I am a terrible multitasker and need focused time to let my mind wander in creativity. Maybe these crystals would help me focus and prosper.
3. When I was a kid, my favorite place to visit was Ruby Falls and Rock City, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Whenever our family had Bengali visitors, my parents would send me off with strange uncle and aunties to play a 9-year-old tourist guide, but I didn’t mind. I loved the fantasy world created on the cliff of the mountain in Rock City where a pathway zigzaged through natural rock formations and waterfalls and little fictional fairy lands. Then we would head over to Ruby Falls, found 260 feet under Lookout Mountains and is the largest underground waterfall in the US. The tour guides would wind you around stalagmites and stalactites lit by fluorescent lights and at the waterfall they would use the gimmick of turning off all the lights to show how dark it could get. I went so often, I had my favorite rock formations on the paths, pointing them out precociously to the Aunties and Uncles. At the gift shops at the end of the tour, if I was lucky, I’d get a gift of colored rock candy on a stick and colorful small polished rocks. I still remember my favorites rocks in my collection – a flat tiger eye, smooth amethysts, a lumpy lace agate. I’d play with these rocks alongside my Barbie dolls, not understanding at all the power they held, but maybe I did in a way and I just didn’t know it at the time.
4. As an adult with an adult disposable income I am delighted by going into hipster crystal stores which are popping up everywhere lately. The specific stores I love have rocks in small bowls on tables so that you can touch them and see which ones call to you. It is an exercise on intuition - to sense not just what you need in a crystal but to feel what may be drawn to you. It is the adult version of collecting rocks as a kids, except the rocks are more expensive, you don’t have a parent refusing to spend money on your rocks, and you understand their vibrations.
5. So far for 2021, I have spent close to $300 on crystals. The younger version of me is giddy with this declaration – she would be so happy if she could see my rock collection now. Every time I bring some home, I always first smoke them with palo santo before putting them on my alter. Depending on their powers, I place them all over my apartment – the ones to help me sleep on my headboard, the ones to help me write on an evil eye dish on my desk, the ones to help my body heal in a bowl by where I sit the most.
6. When the acupuncturist told me I needed to cry, I started carrying a rose quartz in my bra. Close to my heart, maybe it would unlock it. One night in a hotel room I forgot they were there and they came crashing down on the tile, cracking all over the place. It was hard not to place symbolism on that moment.
7. A few years ago, I got into a stupid car accident – stupid because it was standstill traffic and my tiny Yaris had a car roll into it at 3 mph. The damage was significant because the jeep’s stinger, installed to protect a jeep from flopping forward on an incline – was on-level exactly to roll into my back window and break it. His car had no damage at all. “What a relief, I was so scared there was a Mom with kids in the car,” he said when I finally got out. I had put a protection meditation on the car and placed a bright green malachite under the driver seat just the week before. I often wonder if the stone protected me from more harm or drew harm to me at all. I haven’t found the rock in my car since.
8. I used to think that believing in the powers of crystals was un-Islamic. But then I remember the time I touched the Black Stone placed at the corner of the Kabaah. I didn’t want to shove through people to touch it, but I did. I refused to kiss it though like everyone else was trying to do. Tradition says the Black Stone is a meteorite that fell from the heavens to be a guide for Adam and Eve to build an altar, and placed at the Kaabah. It is also Sunnah to wear an aqiq ring on your right hand. These aqiqs are carnelian stones set in in silver and are the same kind Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wore to commemorate the removal of idols in Mecca. Carnelian is used to protect you from enemies and all types of misfortunes. Shia Muslims pray with a small rock of turbah made of clay placed on their their mat, to symbolize praying on Allah’s earth. When I was sick last year, the Muslim Medium told me to do energy work with Tigers Eye, place it on my body or by my bed. It is used to prevent serious disease and is auspicious. I believe now that believing in the power of crystals is part of Islamic beliefs.
9. My mother’s favorite thosbees were the ones beaded with red stones.
10. The rocks I remember include the following - the large gray Stone Mountain in Atlanta which was carved into by confederates and where I was taken on problematic field trips; the lion shaped rock of Sigiriya in central Sri Lanka; the black volcanic rock on the Road to Hana in Maui; collecting round granite rocks embedded with barnacles on Dabob Bay; the borax mines and salt flats in Death Valley; climbing over the boulders of Joshua Tree; and eating chowder while looking at the Goonie Rock in Cannon Beach.
11. The rocks I will never forget are the rocks we placed on mom’s grave. It is un-Islamic to have a lawnmower go over Muslim graves, so rocks are the community’s compromise. The rocks we got were white a speckled with quartz and found in manicured gardens. We bought them in a bag from Home Depot and spread them ourselves. I pull out weeds fighting between the rocks every time I visit.
10. In the deserts of Saudi Arabia when I lived there as a pre-teen, we would look on the long stretches of sand for small desert roses - otherwise known as sand rose, Sahara rose, rose rock. They look like a ball of sand until you look closer and see the “petals” of the crystal. We were always on the search for the biggest ones, and at the American Embassy School, the kids would trade them. The desert rose is said to enhance dreams and open your upper chakras and help you pursue goals.
11. I would like to see a crystal in the wild. Undiscovered and magically placed, in a cave or on a cliff, like a mushroom in the woods. I want to walk into an unopened geode.
12. The doctors said I have a crystal growing inside me. For the past three months my kidney has been on and off in pain, and the doctors supposedly say it’s because of a kidney stone. It’s the same pain I used to get during Ramadan, and everyone I talk to says it’s from dehydration. I am skeptical because I am now skeptical of doctors. I learned that kidney stones are just crystals that grow from the oxalate of specific foods, including spinach, almonds, rhubarb and beets. My dad is creating crystals inside his body too – his crystals come from high-purine food of red meat and shellfish and some legumes. I imagine our bodies as geodes, crystalizing from the inside out as we age.
13. Bodies are hard. Not like the rock hard of abs and biceps flexed. But hard in that your organs are emotional. That stressing them causes viruses to turn into cancer. That your pelvis can be rotated. That doctors tell you to lose weight when you have pain, but trying to lose weight is probably the source of the pain. That ones body can heal from cutting pieces out or sticking needles in skin or changing what you eat. Our bodies are so hard they are capable of creating crystals and stones from the inside out.
14. I found my childhood rock collection in a caboodle at my Dad’s house recently. I pulled it down and looked at all my favorite rocks all over again. The younger version of me is giddy to know I still have these rocks on rotation. May I live this life to honor her always.
15. We are all geodes, aging inside-out into crystals and becoming hard like a diamonds.
I’m arting: Junglee
I’m watching: Tuca and Bertie, Dave, Family Karma
I’m reading: Yearbook by Seth Rogan, Whiteout Conditions by Tariq Shah
I’m featured in: Tuesday Night Project’s A Hug Vibes Box, Lantern Review July 2021