Brevity Mid-Summer / Father’s Day Bonus
June 17, 2008 § 2 Comments
If you read the excellent Modern Love essay in the New York Times this past weekend (Father’s Day), you know about Tim Elhajj’s life as a father trying to buy a Yankees cap for his 10-year-old son.
Well, Brevity is pleased to present a companion piece — Tim Elhajj writing about his own father, and his name, and many other things.
Here’s the start. Just click the link at the end to read the entire essay:
By Tim Elhajj
Until I was well into my thirties, I didn’t realize this simple fact: Elhajj is an Arabic word that means pilgrim.
I blame Dad. He rarely said anything about our name; never talked about his father, or what it means to be an Arab.
In Islam, a pilgrimage is the sacred duty of every Muslim. If you make the trip, you earn the title, Elhajj. When Malcolm X did it, he took the name, El Hajj Malik Shabazz.
When I was a boy, I always wondered if Dad were black. No one in our small town looked like Dad. He had the thick features of an Arab. If he let his hair grow, it piled up in messy loafs on his head. Of course, I never asked Dad about any of this. I wasn’t sure how to present it.
Or maybe I didn’t want to risk the answer.