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My Darcy 1 July 2008

Posted by Ayesha Mattu in Arts, BARAKA, Spirituality.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice showcases the handsome and wealthy but also proud and aloof Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. As the story goes on, his character surprises and develops in ways that Miss Elizabeth Bennet, prejudiced by first impressions, is quite unprepared for and which eventually lead to Colin Firth stepping out of a lake distractingly dressed in a clingy wet shirt.

But I digress.

I first met my Darcy during the beginning of our epic house hunt in one of the most expensive cities in the US, which has now dragged on for a year and shows no chance of ever resolving happily. Darcy struck me as an obnoxious woman embodying the worst of New York and none of the charm of either that city or San Francisco.

She also flatly refused to offer incentives on the condo we were considering buying and her hard-nosed attitude was a large part of our eventually withdrawing our offer on the unit. (The other part was the high six-figures price tag, which meant we’d be eating canned beans for the next 30 years of our mortgaged lives.) We made sure that our real estate agent, Paul, conveyed that fact to her employers, thinking a more honeyed attitude might serve her better in selling future real estate.

Imagine our dismay when we went to look at a new development this past May and found out that she was the lead sales agent there and would be giving us the hard hat tour of the property. Whether it was Paul’s feedback, a better hair day, or something deeper, we found her a little softer, though still snippy round the edges.

Today, as we drove back to the same development to see another set of condos, I brought up the fact that she shared a name with one of my favorite Austen novel heroes, and that though Mr. Darcy starts off prickly, he eventually proves his worth.

Basil commented wryly that our Darcy had yet to do so.

She was 15 minutes late to our meeting but showed up with a sealed envelope and handed it to me. Too light to be a letter bomb, I handled it gingerly nonetheless.

Then she said, “I heard about your loss and wanted you to know that I’ve been thinking of you.”

For a second I had no idea what she was talking about. Then I realized that she meant Mani. For a virtual stranger to go out of her way to give me a condolence card and a gift certificate to a local restaurant upon the suicide of my cousin was astounding, especially since only a handful of my actual friends had either come to the memorial, phoned, or sent a card.

It got me thinking about the way that I often mentally box people in without accepting that humans continue to grow emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually long after their bodies cease to. The bad in them may become good, or the good, bad. As our real estate agent Paul remarked simply when we walked to our cars after the tour, “People can really surprise you.”

People do surprise me – nearly every day. The inveterate womanizer becomes a devoted family man. The abused wife finally stands up and leaves. The hopeless case becomes an inspiration. The further I move away from my teens and twenties, the more willing I am to let people surprise me. Something about the knowledge of my own infirmities, struggles, and inconsistencies, now that my impervious golden and judgmental youth is over, make me more empathetic towards others.

Of course, literature isn’t the only place where changes of heart occur. The people surrounding the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, were changed by the message of Islam, sometimes quickly, more often over years. He, peace and blessings upon him, always seemed to reserve judgment, pray for the best in people, and embrace their changes when they finally came. That is certainly a lesson that I need to remember.

There is something profound about our ability to change, to shed negative habits, thoughts, and language and to molt into something able to fly which had previously only walked.

There are people who change and surprise in everyone’s life. Who’s your Darcy?



1. Umm Salihah - 1 July 2008

Salaam Barakah,
you’ve got me thinking, I’ll be wondering about your question all day now.

2. safia - 1 July 2008

Very intresting dear sis.
i agree with you.

3. Whos your Darcy? - Forums - Islamica Community - 1 July 2008

[…] your Darcy? My Darcy other|matters My Darcy Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice showcases the handsome and wealthy but also proud and […]

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