masha’ Allah: Mariah K. Young
The circle of life is not the same for everyone. The trip each one of us takes will not be filled with smooth roads, silver linings or streets paved with gold. Everyone will endure pain, sorrow, tragedy and many obstacles along the way before taking that final bow or curtain. Masha’ Allah is a compilation of stories that are told from the point of view of nine different narrators. Some told in the first person, others in the third but all from the unique perspective of the main character whose struggle to live and survive we hear first hand.
Mr. Felix is about to be laid to rest on a Saturday morning. The setting is a street that usually has lots of noise, people milling around, kids playing and hustlers trying to get a piece of the action as the limo is being driven to place this man in the ground. Just who is Mr. Felix? The streets have been cleared, the path for the limo unblocked and the voice of a child is heard as he allows the reader to follow the car, learn about the people in the community and hear their voices as each one expresses their thoughts about this man. Mr. Felix is gone. The streets are quiet and the people are paying their respects so to speak to this unscrupulous man. Why? You decide after reading it and find out why one young boy stood close to his mother watching it all happen. Next, one-man just wants to have somewhere to call his own. Day laborers ad not uncommon. Many of us see them on street corners waiting for someone to pick them up in a truck to make a day’s pay. Some live in apartments sleeping on cots, or beds lined up throughout the many rooms or one room. Others share beds with strangers hoping to get some sleep or a moment of comfort. One Space is the next story told in the voice of one of the day laborers as he and a man named Felipe and others hope to just make some money, eat, find their way back to where they live and earn enough to send money back home to their families. The narrator of this story has many identities and names as he relates. His goal is to send money home for his wife. Finding work he is excited but more when he thinks he will able to use his phone card to call home and speak with her. Picturing her in many different places, doing many things his hopes fade each time he tries to use the phone and gets nowhere. Working all day and hoping for some respite he is frustrated when he cannot connect with his wife. Going to a bar with some of the men is not uncommon but what happens on the way home to where he lives will leave you wondering just what happened to one man and if this day laborer finally gets One Space to call his own.
The title story of the book is masha’allah and it is told from the viewpoint of a man named Sully who drives a limo. His job requires that he pick up one man daily making sure that the ride is perfect, Mr. Edward is happy and the Lincoln is smoke free in odor. Mr. Ferdinand is another client that he picks up and dislikes any type of odors in the limo and our main character makes sure the limo is spotless. But, when he has some extra time and feels he can use the money and another fare our ambitious driver picks up a women and what he gets is a whole lot more than any driver would expect or want. Throughout the story we learn about his niece who comes to dinner, her boyfriend, his feelings and his friends. Trying to make something extra for his friend Suzy, he picks up with this woman and what happens will definitely make all limo drivers think twice before picking up a fare. The end result is quite startling, the final ride in his imagination as the driver drops off the fare at an unlikely place and for an unlikely reason, and then he thinks about his niece Cherise, when she moved in and predicting what he thinks might happen next. Masha’allah means it’s Gods Will as his niece relates to him. Is it God’s will that he struggles? Is it God’s will that he picked up this fare? Is it God’s will that he remain a limo driver? You decide after reading this compelling story. There are so many stories to spotlight for example the one titled The Front of the House which in this case is told from the point of view of young girl working in a restaurant hoping that the man she cares about will not marry another girl. A wedding party that is planned and the end result turns ugly as the waitress taunts the bride, pockets her tip, upsets the other workers and the end result two lost souls wanting more and one young woman whose promises of the future went up in an illusion that was created for her. Each immigrant struggle with inner conflicts, thoughts and hoping to someday become part of our American culture and a citizen of the United States. Let’s remember our first story once again as a young boy named Dylan whose mom watches him carefully as the horse-drawn carriage carries the body of the man named Mr. Felix to his final resting place. A man who died in prison and whose legacy will live on in a unique way. Living where he does will this child have a chance at life. What about Sully and his niece? What will become of them? Will see she her true calling as a lover of languages and translator? What about the two people left in the restaurant after the wedding? What will the light of the final match show? Let’s not forget the man who worked in Home Depot and was sending money home along with his friend Felipe. Just what is their fate as one sells drugs and the rest wait for work? The next story is about a young boy named Eddie who lives his life using different names and identities. Told in his own words as he enters third grade, the life and what reason behind his deceptions, he has many personas, to many people he is many different things. To one he is Mr. Villanu, on the street everyone calls him Eddie but to others he is Suspect. College and DMV knew him as something else and his paperwork and pictures reflected his many names. No one really knows who or what he really is. No one really suspects him. He hopes!
The next story is titles Raposas followed by Studies in Entropic Botany, which allows on young girl to practice what she has learned about botany and incorporate it into the world of drugs. What about the housekeeper who decides to be enterprising and sets up a salon in her homes of those she cleans? Chinta is quite smart using different houses, many clients and help from friends and her sister Christy. The story is quite interesting, humorous and the end result you just won’t believe. Does she get caught? What about her last customer? What happens you have to read for yourself? Will our enterprising hairdresser continue on or will she settle for cleaning houses? Each story heartfelt, sad in some respects, ironic in others while compelling and thought provoking. Author Mariah K. Young takes the reader inside the minds of nine hard working people just trying to their way around the own circle of life and come out with a smooth rim. I wonder what is in store for each of these characters if the stories were to continue. Well -written, interesting, fast paced and definitely each unique, different and yet the same: The Circle of Life: Which path do you think was the smoothest or are they all the same? Read these stories and you decide.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer