This past Mother's Day, the fear that she would not be accepted for herself nearly paralyzed Fatma as she sat down in the living room to tell her sons that she and Ibrahim were not from the Sudan; he was from New Jersey, she from Mississippi. She broke out in a cold sweat. "And, finally, I just told them," she says, "and waited."
Sulaiman looked at his mother in his whimsical, wise way, then hugged her and said, "I love you, Ume." Saying that has always been hard for Sulaiman.
Qadry didn't seem shocked: "I couldn't have a better best friend, Ume."
Raghib, calm and emphatic, did not appear surprised, either. He said, "You still look the same to me. You still feel the same to me. You are still my Ume."
The truth, no matter how painful, can rarely undo good already done. "If he had been Raghib Jones, maybe he would have bought into that environment," says Fatma. "I am sorry for the charade. It has caused me great pain." It has also helped give her three fine sons.
Raghib knew that Notre Dame was where he belonged when he first set foot on the campus during a recruiting visit. There, the academic, the athletic and the spiritual coexist comfortably. Ninety percent of its students played a varsity sport in high school. Some 672 teams play in the bookstore basketball tournament. There are the Bengal Bouts, four days of boxing for all comers. It is a place for the healthy, the young, the gifted—like Raghib. "The hardest thing is not having Qadry here," he says. "But he had to go his own way, be his own man."
"It feels like Raghib runs with me, whenever I run," says Qadry. "I just miss him, that's all. But Raghib says we must be strong, and I don't want to let Raghib down."
"I've always been different, anywhere I've been," says Raghib. "So really, strange as this sounds, this is familiar to me. I thank Almighty God for the chance to come here." Then he says, "I don't know what Almighty God really prefers to be called, and neither do you. I am just a young man. Some things are not for me to know yet. But I do know that this feeling is in me when I try my best, run my fastest. It is a gift. When I run, I try and run like the wind because I know someone is watching me from the sky. And I hope the goodness I feel in me will stay when I stop running."