Chapter 8

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"Speech! Speech! Speech!"

Houssam laughed as everyone in the room picked up the chant, and he made his way up to the microphone, a giant smile on his face.

"Barak Allahu Feekum for coming today. I am going to make this short because I know how hungry everyone is! I know I am!" a laugh traveled across the room at that. "I am so honored and blessed to have all of you in my life! I can't tell you how great it is to be home, and be here with my family and friends again! I missed being here at the Masjid and being a part of my wonderful community again. InshaAllah I hope to spend many more happy days here! Now please enjoy the wonderful buffet of food!"

The room exploded in applause before everyone got up and began to form a line in front of the buffet. Houssam made his way to the back of the line, protesting as everyone urged him to go to the front.

"Habibi Houssam it's your party!" Hisham's mom said and he smiled at her.

"Thank you Khaltu but elder's first!"

"Are you calling me old!?" she teased and he laughed.

"Not at all! You don't look a day over twenty!"

She laughed and shook a finger at him.

"Considering I have a twenty three year old, I can't be twenty!"

"You have a twenty three year old!?" he asked in confusion and she nodded.

"Yes, my daughter Hana."

Hana.

Oops. He had called her Hanan.

"Oh MashaAllah she looked so much younger!"

"You've seen her?"

"Yes we were just talking a few minutes ago. MashaAllah I didn't recognize her!"

"Well it has been awhile since you have seen her. She is looking for a job in photojournalism so if you hear of anything!"

Houssam smiled.

"Of course Khaltu!"

As they approached closer to the front of the line he took a plate and absently began to fill it. It had been bothering him that he didn't remember Hisham's sister. After all he had known Hisham his whole life which meant he knew her. But for some reason he couldn't place her! It's almost as if Hisham had been an only child. He wondered if that just meant he wasn't observant. She used to work with Yusra so it's not like he had never heard about her.

He sat back down at his table just in time to hear Amir tell of some funny thing Kareem had done, and soon he was laughing with the rest of them. He was going to spend the whole day with Yusra tomorrow and was looking forward to it.

The rest of the night passed quickly, and soon the only ones left was Houssam and his Halaqah brothers.

"Thank you so much all of you for doing this for me!" he exclaimed.

"Well we kind of like you!" Mohammad teased. Houssam laughed and began to help fold up the tables. Soon they had cleaned up and as they were leaving the multipurpose room, Hisham put a hand out to stop him.

"Wait bro, there is one more thing."

"What?" Houssam asked curiously, and when everyone pulled out pieces of paper, his eyes widened in surprise.

"Can we have your autograph?"

***

"Alright Houssami, I am your sister and I love you so there is no way you are getting out of this!"

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