The Watermark by Suma Din
I remember it well, the sheer joy of playing with water in the sink. I remember the interruption to this blissful state too; my mother’s call, to come out of the bathroom and come downstairs. A jolt in the idyllic play of my five year old self, swishing circles of soapy lather around in patterns and droplets, cutting through the foam with the plug chain to create more shapes. The ripples and reflections, the concentric circles and sublime shifting shapes that could be made and unmade in a moment of scooping up water in a bottle lid – it was endless pleasure. The interruption, though never welcome, was a prelude to the last bit of fun: pulling the plug and chasing the swirls with my eyes as they gurgled their way down into the unknown.
Water fascinated me as an ever transforming shape; at once transparent, yet still full of the patterns and colours around it - no two episodes of play were ever the same, nor were they long enough.
ON THE PAGE
Decades later, when I worked on my first book, something happened that took me back to that innate childhood connection to water. The book was primarily a collation of translated ayaat (verses) from the Qur’an alongside sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to motivate women through different stages of life. In addition to this main body, I wrote some poems, reflections and vignettes from the lives of famous historical Muslim women, revered, due to their spiritual stature as ‘Mothers of Believers’. Having spent late nights after my children were asleep and toddler nap times during the day, searching data bases for Hadith (sayings and approved actions of Prophet Muhammad) and making inroads in writing the rest of the layers, I felt like something else would help this publication reach the readership I was writing for. Quite what that something was, I couldn’t put my finger on.
My husband and I were out on a regular weekend afternoon with the children and a couple of my notebooks. We were fortunate to visit Kew’s botanical gardens regularly, and were spoilt by the exotic array of plants and trees from around the world just a few minutes from our home. After a couple of hours of walking around, I opted out of their next game, and sat down with my notebook, thumbing through lists of ‘themes’, titles and stray ideas, searching for something invisible. Maybe it was the closeness to the sky that slipped the idea of a water metaphor running through the book to help get the messages across. Maybe the silent counsel of the trees all around me helped, I don’t know exactly what it was.
This humble, yet majestic natural resource, an everyday necessity for all, yet a sought after luxury for some: water, this was what I was looking for. Water, in all its incredible life giving forms, would, like an embryonic sac, carry the manuscript: ‘Turning the Tide ~ Reawakening the Woman’s Heart and Soul’ was the result.
FROM SACRED SOURCES
When I’ve thought about it subsequently, a nature based theme or motif isn’t surprising for a book that is concerned with replenishing the heart and soul. Reading the meaning of the Qur’an in translation and having gained some insight thanks to teachers of Qur’an explanation and interpretation (tafseer in Arabic), brought with it a constant interaction with the subject of natural phenomenon. Metaphors, similes, analogies and parables addressing the reader to think and reflect, and ultimately recognise Allah, Rabb al-‘alamin – as The Sustainer of the worlds.