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"Magda, Hurry!"
by Majida Anwar

"Hurry Magda! Auntie Munira is coming!" my tayta (grandmother) exclaimed, wanting everything to look good. Tayta always felt the most joy when her family was near. A priceless smile lit her face; I wish I could see that smile now. Her youngest daughter, my Aunt Munira, and my two cousins were going to be in town. I felt giddy as I raced down the stairs to wash the dishes.

My aunt was coming! I knew there was going to be dancing, and I could feel the butterflies just flying into in my stomach!

Raqs Sharqi (Eastern dance) has always been a part of my life. I embrace all for which it stands. It is a celebration of the spirit and an opportunity in gatherings of women everywhere to express themselves in a feminine way.

The first memory I recall of dance is something that happened when I was very young. I was in the family room, just being cute as little girls are, and my father put a video of Soheir Zaki in the VCR.

I'll never forget that dance; Soheir wore a red sequined bedlah with a red and white skirt. Her hips did not seem to be a part of her body as they articulated the soothing music.

Ever since that moment, I knew dance would be in my heart and in my life forever.

My Grandmother

Aunt Munira's car pulled into the driveway; she had arrived! "Ahlan wa sahlan, Munira!" my father exclaimed as he greeted my aunt. We greeted each other as we headed for the den.

The sun had started to set as we talked before dinner was ready. Tayta cooked Magluba, a Jordanian specialty, for us in our biggest pot, for dinner. She also made her infamous Malfouf (rolled cabbage with rice and meat inside). Her feeling of pride for her family flowed from her to all around the room as we looked onto the table of mouth-watering Arabic food. We ate, and ate, and ate (and talked)

but I had dancing on my mind! I couldn't wait for dinner to end so that we could dance.

After we had cleaned up the kitchen, a nightly chore for my sister and me, we hurried down the stairs to the den.

I heard the beat and the flow of Arabic music and I melted; it was almost time to dance!

My family had already settled in. My tayta, mother, and Aunt Munira were seated on the couch; my cousins occupied on the loveseat, and my father was ensconced in the big chair. My sister and I flew downstairs, ready to dance. I was a little more motivated to dance than my sister. (She was much younger than I.)

Me (in red), my sister (in blue), and my aunts
"Magda, I know you're ready to dance; Uppa!" cried my aunt. My aunt, my sister, Cousin Jennifer (who was very talented) and I pulled sashes on and tied them around our hips. My father moved the coffee table out of our way, and he put danceable music on the turntable to play. "Magda, put your left hand on your head, your right hand out, and then move your hips. Aiwa (Yes, correct), Magda, Aiwa!" instructed my aunt. We all moved our hips to the drum beats, smiling the whole time.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw my grandmother, clapping her hands in time to the music. Tayta was in her element!

The music had begun to change, and we knew that a drum solo was coming. We parted the way for Jennifer to dance the drum solo. I admired Jennifer so much!

She had an aura of grace and expertise in her movements. We all knelt and clapped as she danced her solo. Her movements were crisp and clean.

As the drum got faster, Jennifer began to shimmy. As watched her, I knew that I would be dancing with my own family someday, and also just for myself, for the rest of my life!

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