Part 228

“Assalamu alaykum!” I called loudly as I entered the house…mum’s house. Han and Sumi were probably already there, judging by the amount of chatter coming from the kitchen. I stopped in the doorway and grinned. “You’ll are so loud I’m sure the whole street can hear you!”

“Faz! Guess what!” Han exclaimed, jumping up and running towards me. She caught me up in a tight hug, making me wince and eye her curiously.

“What? Whatever it is, it’s big. I can just tell by your smile.”

“I told you to guess,” Han folded her arms and raised her eyebrows at me expectantly.

“You’re pregnant?” I said the first thing that came to mind.

“Yes!” Han jumped up and down, her smile stretching from ear to ear, “how did you guess? Do I look different?”

“You’re kidding me!” I stared at her open mouthed, “already??”

“Dude, it’s been three months,” Han replied, rolling her eyes, “other people get pregnant on their wedding night!”

“I know, I know but still…already? Wow!” Then the news sank in and my smile stretched till it matched hers, “I’m gonna be a khala! Yaayy!!” It was my turn to crush her in a hug, hard enough to make her wince and to make mummy admonish me that I’d crush the baby. As if!

***

“So when did you find out?” I asked Han later on as we were chilling in the lounge.

“Yesterday…though I’ve had my suspicions for about a week, since my periods got delayed,” Han replied.

“Hamza must be so happy,” mummy said with a smile.

“Oh, he’s over the moon. You should have seen him, mum! He carried me proper bollywood style then went running like that to where mummy and them were to yell out the news at the top of his voice! Then he started hugging me and whirling me around right infront of them! I was sooo embarrassed!” Han’s cheeks turned pink even now.

We burst out laughing. “Well, that’s one excited daddy. Make the most of it and ask for whatever you want right now,” I leaned forward with a wicked smile.

“Ay, stop teaching her such things now. And why don’t you also make the most of it and bring me a grandchild, huh? When you going to get ready?” Mummy asked, turning to me determinedly.

I groaned. “Mummy, can we not concentrate on me for once and lavish all the attention on Han instead? I’ll get when Allah wants me to get, inshaAllah.”

“Just imagine, Han pregnant before you! Who knew that Haneefa would be the one bringing the first grandchild into this house, before you and Adnaan also,” mummy commented.

I nudged her sharply and hissed, “shhhh!” as I spotted Sumi in the doorway, about to come on. It was too late though. I knew she had heard what mummy said. Her smile remained in place as she came and sat with us but her eyes had darkened in pain.

Unlike me Sumi had wanted to get pregnant immediately after marriage, and she’d been married for several years now. Initially we thought nothing of it when no news came forth from the happy couple but after a couple of years mummy had discreetly asked Adnaan if they had trouble conceiving or did they just not want children. Adnaan being Adnaan had briefly replied that they were trying but hadn’t managed so far and mummy should make dua. That’s it. None of us had had the courage to come out and ask Sumi about it. Mummy had wanted to, once, but I had stopped her. Sumaya’s personal struggles were none of our business and she herself had never mentioned anything or even let on that she was disappointed in not being able to conceive yet. Infront of us she was always the happy, smiley, happy-go-lucky girl. How could we ask her something she wasn’t comfortable sharing with us?

The only time I had realised, truly realised the reality and depth of her pain and grief was when I had gone over to her house one day last year. I’d met Adnaan as he was leaving for work and he had waved me in then rushed off. I called out Sumi’s name as I walked in but got no response. I was passing her bedroom on my way to the kitchen when I heard something like a scream. Alarmed I automatically turned that way, peering into her bedroom through the open door. It was empty but the sound had definitely come from inside. I knocked on the door even though it was open.

“Sumi? You okay?” I called out.

There was no response, which I had expected since she was most likely in the bathroom. I was just about to turn around and go into the kitchen to wait for her when the bathroom door burst open and Sumi emerged, her hair wild and her eyes red.

“Dammit!” She screamed and hurled something against the opposite wall with all her might before collapsing in a flood of tears. I rushed to her side in panic.

“Sumi? Sumi? What’s wrong? What happened?”

Sumaya sobbed in my arms for a long time without speaking. I had an idea of what it was about now, after spotting the slim white stick lying on the floor with yet another single line. When she composed herself she finally opened up to me about her struggles with falling pregnant. She longed desperately to be a mother even though Adnaan kept telling her to relax and trust in Allah’s plan. It will happen when it’s meant to happen and not a moment sooner. But his patience and calm understanding…which she saw as obtuseness…and her desperation were driving a wedge between them.

“He doesn’t understand,” she kept saying, “how can he understand? Men only become fathers when they hold the baby in their arms. How would he know what I’m going through?? I feel like smacking that silly smile off his face sometimes!”

I spent the next half an hour listening to her and sympathising with her. I also tried to tell her gently that it wasn’t her husband’s fault or her fault that she wasn’t falling pregnant so she should stop blaming either herself or him. He was her rock and support at this time, the only one who truly saw what she was going through and was there for her so she should turn to him, not against him. I spoke to her about trusting in Allah’s plan as well; she would only fall pregnant when she was meant to, not any sooner or later so she must make sabr and lots of dua, even though I felt so inadequate speaking to her. She might be thinking that what do I know what it’s like being in her shoes, the entire time. She did seem calmer when I left though and even thanked me for the support so I hoped I had somehow helped and not made things worse. Since she had opened up to me only I kept her confidence and didn’t mention anything to anyone but I did tell Han and mummy to not mention pregnancy or babies around her and to never ask her anything about falling pregnant. And we had done so, until now, when there was a baby coming in our family. I knew the pain it must be causing her even though she didn’t say a word and showed nothing but support. Silently I made dua for her…and for Han…and for me…then made a suggestion that would take Sumi’s mind off her pain and entertain us all as well.

“Why don’t we go shopping??”

Nothing like some retail therapy with family to get your mind off things, right??

***

We were sitting down to have coffee or ice creams after our little shopping spree when I saw a familiar figure…or rather, two familiar figures enter. I sighed mentally. Sunday afternoon, packed place…typical. I wondered when their little games would end. When would they tire of these petty mind games? I had tired of them long ago and I wasn’t even the one going to such lengths to embarrass her own parents.

“Faz! Surprise! Nice seeing you here!”

I grimaced under my niqaab and turned to greet her.

“Assalamu alaykum, Humi. Nice to see you too.”

“Not going to greet your brother inlaw, are you?” A deep voice spoke from beside her. I glanced at Mikaeel and mumbled a quick salaam before switching my gaze to Humi again.

“Here for some coffee?” I asked her.

“Coffee…and some entertainment of course.” They both laughed like she had cracked a hilarious joke. I didn’t bother to even pretend to join in their laughter.

“Oh, Aunt Rabia. How rude of me not to greet you!” Humi exclaimed suddenly, “and Haneefa, Sumaya. How you’ll? You’ll have met my husband Mickey, right?”

“I think the whole town has met him by now,” I remarked drily. Han snorted with laughter which she hastily turned into a cough. Mum and Sumi politely nodded at Humi while greeting her.

“Anyways, we’ll see you around. Maybe you’ll can join us later on,” Humi said with a little wave and sauntered away, hips swaying under her skin-tight mini-skirt.

“Shewh, that’s one hectic couple you got there,” Han remarked, shaking her head.

I rolled my eyes. “Tell me about it. I can’t recognise my sister inlaw anymore.”

“What does Ahmed have to say about that?”

“He tolerates them…barely. I’ve had to stop him from telling her off many times though. He’s as tired as I am by this whole drama. Like why can’t they get tired of all this and go back to leading their own lives?” I blew out a sigh and banged my hands down on the table.

“Maybe this is part of their lives,” Sumi said, shrugging, “I mean, some people do this all the time. They thrive on causing drama and making tongues wag.”

“I hope not!” I exclaimed in horror, “otherwise forget Ahmed, I’ll wring her neck myself.”

Han laughed. “Chill, dude. You’re not her mother or even her sister. Do that and she’ll never speak to you again.”

“I know, of course I won’t go to that extreme…but I’ll have to speak to her if she doesn’t stop all this,” I said, my eyes on where Humi and Mikaeel sat…bang in the middle, on the bar stools before the counter…where everyone could see them. As I watched Mikaeel whispered in Humi’s ear. She laughed in response and rested her head briefly on his shoulder. I shook my head and turned back to my family.

The second time I looked the two were feeding each other ice creams and giggling away. As I watched Mikaeel leaned over and licked a spot of ice cream from the corner of Humi’s mouth. Ewwwwwww! I quickly turned back and resolved never to look that way again.

The third time I looked…I couldn’t resist and it was as I was walking their way to go to the washrooms at the other end…the two were engaged in a conversation with another couple. I looked closer and mentally groaned. Aunt Yasmin, one of those hoity-toity ladies who was supposedly mummy’s friend, and her husband. What could Humi be talking about with her? I wasn’t left guessing for long. As I drew closer to them I could hear Humi’s voice, raised slightly.

“Oh, Aunt Yasmin, you have no idea! Mickey is the best husband ever! He lets me do whatever I want. Look at my clothes…don’t you just love them? I feel so free…free as a bird now!” She giggled and covered her mouth with her hand. I slowed down, my mental eyebrows shooting so high they almost merged with my hairline.

“Ya, of course your mother wouldn’t have let you wear such clothes,” Aunt Yasmin giggled in response, “but then I never used to see you around much before you got married, you know. Did you only like going out after getting married?”

“No, there was nowhere to really go before I was married,” Humi replied, “I didn’t really have friends thanks to my controlling mother. She would have kept me chained to her doorpost if she’d had her way! I’m telling you, if this was England I would have filed a case of abuse against her!”

“Abuse?? Really??” Aunt Yasmin gasped, her eyes widening.

“Ya, you have no idea how she treated me. Kept me chained to her house like a slave. Worked me like a slave. No motherly love or affection towards me. She was just using me as much as she could. She didn’t even let me get married because she didn’t want to lose her slave! No wonder I ran at the first opportunity. She has no one to blame but herself!”

Aunt Yasmin tutted and expressed fake words of sympathy which Humi lapped up eagerly. I was rooted in place, a sense of deja vu and anger coursing through me. Deja vu because this brought back vivid memories of mummy humiliating me with similar exaggerated, false words to her crowd of friends…one of whom was Aunt Yasmin. Anger because despite those memories I felt angry on behalf of a woman whose own daughter thought nothing of humiliating her in public…and with words that weren’t even true! This was it! I saw Humi finally ending the conversation and going in the direction of the washroom and marched determinedly after her. This time she had gone too far…and I was not going keep quiet!

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Part 227

“She what???”

I winced. Only mummy could sound so terrifying without even screaming.

“She got married,” Ahmed repeated calmly.

Mummy’s face whitened further, her hands clenched so tightly that her knuckles stood out in sharp relief. She visibly struggled for control while we watched, not without sympathy. “To who?”

“His name is Mikaeel,” Ahmed replied carefully.

“What’s his surname?”

Ahmed and I exchanged a glance. “I…we don’t know.”

“You don’t know him??”

“No. I saw him for the first time when they came home.”

“Why didn’t they come here?” Daddy spoke for the first time since we had convened in the lounge for this little meeting.

Now we step onto shaky ground. “She said she couldn’t. She said you’d never accept him,” Ahmed replied guardedly.

Daddy frowned. “Why not? What’s wrong with him?”

“He…” Ahmed trailed off, clearly floundering. I jabbed him discreetly. Say it, I told him with my eyes. Just spit it out. Rip off the band-aid. “He’s black.” I could almost hear Ahmed sigh in relief now that it was finally out. A relief that was short lived.

I could not remember exactly what was said after that…and who said what. It was a scene of total, unmitigated chaos. Everyone was standing and shouting over each other and at one point daddy…daddy!…almost hit Ahmed as well. My ears were ringing yet somehow I was also standing, trying to lend a voice of reason to the chaos…not that it made a jot of difference. By the time we finally left the house only one sentence stood out in my mind over all the rest. One sentence that was repeated over and over again and hurled at our heads even in farewell. One clear, final sentence.

“She is dead to us!”

***

“Faz!” Amira nudged me so hard she jolted my arm as well, making me spill a bit of coffee on the table, “look! Isn’t that your sister inlaw?”

I turned as did everyone else on the table. Sure enough it was Humi, sauntering in on the arm of her husband. They did make a striking couple, her milky-white skin contrasting beautifully with the rich, dark tones of his. As usual Humi had dressed to shock, in a red tank top, black leather mini-skirt which exposed her long, bare legs and killer boots with three-inch heels. The kind of outfit my in-laws, as modern as they were, would never allow her to wear. Mikaeel was dressed his usual way, in baggy jeans and a tight t-shirt, the tattoos on his forearms, rings on his fingers, chains around his neck and a single hoop earring adding to his gangster look. They walked in like they owned the place, her hand curled possessively around his upper arm, heads held high. He said something to her and she laughed, the warm sound all the more conspicuous in the suddenly silent room. Every head in the place had turned as they entered; they knew it and they revelled in the attention, the small, smug smiles on their faces saying they knew exactly what everyone was thinking. Oh, she had picked the perfect place and time to make an entrance, I thought. Sunday afternoon, when all the charous gathered at this coffee shop like no man’s business; tables filled with families and friends, long benches at each end filled with lounging youths. A lot of the town gossips were here, faces stamped with glee as they eagerly checked the couple out from head to toe, some discreetly whipping out their phones to snap a picture or two. I knew a few of them personally; they were my mother inlaw’s friends, the ones she’d invited over for the famous tea party where she’d aired my dirty laundry in all their faces. The irony smacked me in the face now. Yesterday she had been sitting on her high horse, trying to degrade and humiliate me; today she was the fallen queen, the one getting degraded and humiliated by her very own daughter. Respect, dignity, status is all from Allah, as is disgrace and humiliation. Allah can drop a person from high to low in a second and can raise a person from low to high in a second. Then why do we get proud at our success and look down at people supposedly below us? Why not make shukr at whichever level Allah has placed us and know it’s for the best? I silently prayed, “Allahummah fazna minhu (oh Allah, save us from this situation)” as I watched the scene unfold before me.

I knew exactly what Humi was doing. The war between the prestigious Cassims and their miscreant daughter had been raging for about two weeks now. The more the Cassims tried to hide their daughter’s wrong doings, the more their daughter flaunted them infront of her parents and the whole town. All the Cassims efforts of getting Humi home and burying this affair as quietly as possible were flushed down the drain. And they had certainly tried. Despite their furious words that Humi was dead to them the night we went to inform them, they had tried to contact her repeatedly to come home. When that didn’t work and Humi either refused point blank or stopped answering their calls after a while they had tried to use extortion. Daddy had actually gone to Humi’s house with some other men who worked for him to try and force Humi to come back. That didn’t work either, with Mikaeel’s whole clan banding around her and threatening Daddy that if he didn’t leave they would shoot the lot of them. Luckily daddy had been wise enough to leave before it turned into a full scale battle. As a last resort the Cassims had gotten in touch with their daughter and given her two choices; either she came home and they would bury this whole matter quietly without further fuss or they would hire a hit-man to take down Mikaeel and force her home as a widow. It was her choice. If she loved him enough she would think of his safety first and leave him rather than watch him die. It was a plan that would scare the strongest of people. Imtiaz Cassim had enough contacts to make it happen. But it was also a plan which smacked of desperation and rash words, the sort of plan that rarely saw itself through. Mikaeel was smart enough to see that. He grabbed the phone from Humi and laughed down Imtiaz Cassim’s ear, then warned him that the day he went down his clan would take Imtiaz and his whole family down without sparing a single one of them. If Imtiaz Cassim wanted war then he should make the first move; if he didn’t he should accept that his daughter was no longer his and move on. After which Humi had taken the phone back and laughed that since the Cassims wanted war, war was what they would get! A threat the Cassims would soon experience the painful reality of because just a few days later Humi and Mikaeel made their first move. Humaira picked her battles wisely but when she did go to war she went all out. I mentally winced when I remembered that first incident.

Mummy and Daddy had guests from out of town; important guests, Daddy’s business partners and some family friends as well. They had decided to host dinner for all of them at a prestigious restaurant in town and had invited family and friends from within P.E as well. All in all, it had been the crème de la crème of society gathered there that night. Ahmed and I had also gone at Daddy’s insistence, since Ahmed was part of the business. We were all sitting there in the hushed, dimly lit interior, men on one table, women on the next, talking in low, cultured tones. I had conveniently chosen a seat that turned my back to the men so I could remove my niqaab, which also placed me in a position where I could see the entrance clearly, so I could quickly slip on my niqaab again if any man walked in. So I was the first one to see Humi and Mikaeel enter. My eyes almost popped out of my head, my mouth dropping open ungainly till I recalled myself and snapped it shut again. I quickly glanced around to see if anyone else had noticed them; no one had, everyone busy in their own conversations. I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe she would see who’s here and leave before anyone saw her. Little did I know exactly what her plan was.

My relief was short lived when I spotted Humi walking directly towards us, Mikaeel’s arm resting possessively around her shoulders. From my vantage point I could now see exactly what she was wearing; a long, skin-tight, blood-red dress which hugged every curve of hers, but made bolder by the thigh-high slit on one side. Seeing flashes of her bare leg as she walked I realised that she hadn’t worn any tights underneath. Three-inch high stilettos covered her feet, their rhythmic click signalling her approach. Her hair was loose and curled around her shoulders, her face heavily and boldly made up, with thick, dark eyeliner and blood-red lips. Yikes! I had no doubt that she had dressed this way deliberately, to add to the shock factor. Mikaeel too was decked out in his usual gaudy way, no doubt to attract more attention. Seeing them draw closer I quickly wore my purdah, a move which drew the attention of the woman sitting next to me.

“Why wearing that again, dear? There’s no one…around…” the woman trailed off, her mouth hanging open like a fish as she saw what I had seen. One by one the other women followed her gaze till the occupants of the table were reduced from elegant, sophisticated women to gawking country bumpkins. All except mummy. She went perfectly still, her face frozen and stiff as she too watched her daughter approach.

“This is a nice surprise! Why did no one tell me there’s a family reunion going on? I could also have joined you’ll!” Humi exclaimed. In the hushed, muted interior her voice seemed unnaturally loud and drew the attention of the men as well as all the other diners in the restaurant.

“Humaira? Errr…nice to see you…” mummy’s cousin stammered, confusion clearly stamped on her face.

“Nice to see you too, Fati khala!” Humi replied with a wide smile, “let me introduce my husband to you. Everyone, this is Mikaeel. Mickey, my family as well as my parents friends…and of course my dear sister inlaw!” She beamed at us all.

“Husband…how…nice…” Fati khala said faintly. Humi should have left then, she really should have…she’d caused enough damage as it is…but she obviously didn’t think it was enough because she actually drew up a couple of chairs for herself and Mikaeel and they both sat down with us.

“Well…what’s the menu?” She asked, the wide smile still plastered to her face.

“Humaira, I think you should leave,” mummy said finally through stiff lips.

“Leave?? Why should I leave, mummy? The fun has only started,” Humi said, widening her eyes exaggeratedly.

“So Humaira, when you got married? I never even knew. Nilofar, you didn’t mention your daughter got married! When did this happen?” Another lady pitched up. One of those hoity-toity ladies.

“Almost a month now, Aunty Yasmin. I’m surprised mummy never told you,” Humi said, looking innocently at mummy.

“Ya, she never told me also. How did you manage to keep the wedding so hush-hush, Nilofar?” Another lady put in.

“She’s not going to go around announcing such a wedding, is she?” The fourth lady said snarkily.

“Of course not. Shame, Humaira, could you not find someone better? You such a nice girl, why you went and married such a…” at this point the lady stopped, eyeing Mikaeel contemptuously as though he was not there listening to every word.

“Obviously because she didn’t want someone as fake and plastic as you are,” Mikaeel boomed in response. I cringed and wished the earth would swallow me up before this got any worse.

“Aunty Naseeha, that was rude and uncalled for,” Humi jumped in before the aunt could reply, “you’ll are racist and biased. You think the earth revolves around Indians. Well, guess what! It doesn’t! I’m glad I married Mikaeel who has more substance than plastic creatures like you, like he said!” With that Humaira stood up and stormed off with Mikaeel. I risked a glance at mummy and found her looking pale and ill. She mumbled an excuse and quickly left the table, hurrying towards the bathrooms at the end. I found my heart aching for her despite the way she was and almost followed her to offer her my support…if she accepted any…when I saw daddy get up and follow her. Sinking back into my seat I pressed back into the cushioned back and tried to become invisible, even leaving my niqaab on, as the table erupted in a flurry of chatter and exclamations. Most of it was malicious, making me wonder what sort of people these were, who claimed to be friends and family of someone yet spoke of her in such contemptuous terms in her absence. I felt a pang of sympathy for my mother inlaw in that instant. All those years of carefully constructing an image to show the world, of climbing their way to the top of society, only to have their own daughter shred their image to bits in mere minutes. Was this Allah’s way of showing them that it was He who gave respect and He who took it away? Was this their test in this world? I didn’t know. All I knew was that Imtiaz and Nilofar Cassim were never going to be the same people again.

Part 226

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Posting this on behalf of my friend. She saw the response to the khatams and asked me to tell you’ll that she’s blown away by the response and may Allah reward you all greatly😘❤❤❤


He really was huge, was my first dazed thought. Well over six feet tall, so tall that he had to duck through the doorway, and built like a wrestler. His white shirt was stretched over a wide torso that filled the doorway, and stark against his dark, ebony complexion. Black, piercing eyes bore into me beneath raised eyebrows. He took a step closer to me, away from the doorway and I opened my mouth to scream again…and froze, my mouth still hanging open foolishly, as Humi and Ahmed stepped into sight behind the strange man.

“Fazila!” Humi gasped, pushing past the man to get to me. She caught me up in a tight hug which I automatically returned, my eyes on Ahmed who looked decidedly put-out, “why did you scream like that?”

“I think it was because of me.” My gaze swung back to the stranger as he spoke, his deep baritone matching his large physique.

“Oh, Faz,” Humi laughed and stepped away from me…and into the stranger. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her against him, almost swallowing her small frame with his build. My mouth fell open again and I was grateful for my niqaab because I was sure I was looking like a total fool right now. My gaze swung between Humi and Ahmed, wordlessly asking them to enlighten me. It was Humi who did.

“Faz, meet my husband…”

“Mickey’s the name…Mickey Cohen,” the man interrupted and laughed as though he had cracked a joke. Humi jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow.

“Mikaeel,” she finished pointedly.

I barely heard anything beyond the word husband. I stared at Humi, the word revolving around my head sickeningly. Her husband…she’s married to him…he’s her husband…her husband……

“I think your sister inlaw is surprised,” Mikaeel said lightly, though his eyes were boring into me again. I mentally cursed my expressive eyes which always betrayed my emotions and mumbled out a reply, dropping into a crouch to hide my confusion. I began picking up the scattered naan khatai mechanically, my mind in a turmoil. Surprise was a mild word to describe what I was feeling. Shock, yes. Bafflement. Anger. Dismay. Stupefaction. I picked up all the biscuits, placed them in the Tupperware again and went to the kitchen. I needed space to think. I was promptly followed by Humi but that I didn’t mind. I also needed answers and that only she could provide.

“You got married???” Was the first thing I said to her in the kitchen. I plopped down on a chair and she pulled out another one opposite me. She rolled her eyes.

“Here they come. The haraam police.”

I rolled my eyes right back at her. “If you think I won’t grill you for every little detail you’re mistaken. Spill!”

“What’s there to say? Girl met boy, they liked each other and they got married. End of story.”

I shot her my foulest look. “Details, woman!”

Humi laughed. “Okay, okay, chill. I met Mikaeel last year in August…just after ramadhan. We hit it off immediately but obviously we couldn’t be seen together or else you can just imagine the fireworks,” Humi rolled her eyes, “I knew mummy would never accept him. All she had to do was look at one finger of his and she’d send him packing. Nothing else would matter to her besides the fact that he’s black. When your sister married that coloured maulana I tried to sway her to the idea by praising him and telling her what a nice family they are, etc. Remember you were also surprised at me praising them?” I had been surprised. I remembered Humi taking my side when I’d argued with mummy that colour and wealth didn’t matter, deen and character did. I’d been surprised that Humi thought the same way; I’d thought she would think like her mum. But now it made sense. She’d been trying to further her own agenda. “It didn’t work, of course,” Humi was saying bitterly, “mummy’s very set in her ways and will never look at anything from anyone else’s perspective. I brought up Mickey once, indirectly. I asked her what she would do if I fell in love and wanted to marry a guy who was not Indian and not wealthy or well known in society. You should have seen the look she gave me, Faz! She said, “don’t even think about it. If you have any silly ideas like that you better throw them away right now because it’s never gonna happen!” I knew then that she would never accept Mickey. I’d always known it but that day I knew for sure I’d never win with her. There was no choice left. If I wanted to be with him I’d have to run away, even if it meant cutting off ties with my family because they would never accept him.”

“I’m not against black or coloured people or any non Indians for that matter…you know that,” I began carefully, “but knowing how your family is, why didn’t you rather look for someone they’d approve of? There’s plenty of nice Indian guys around. You got so many proposals from Indian guys as well but you kept saying no. Why choose someone where you would have to choose between him and your family, when you could have both?”

“You think it’s that easy to fall in love with someone?? You think we can tell ourselves, “oh, let me fall in love with this owe, he’s got the dough and the looks, he’s the ideal man, mummy and daddy will be so happy!” You think it works like that??” Humi was standing now, her palms on the table, leaning towards me. Her eyes flashed angrily. “Just because you were a goody-two-shoes who found a goody-two-shoes maulana just like you and made your parents happy doesn’t mean we’re all like that! And besides, why should I make mummy happy? Huh?? That woman has never made me happy! She’s made me miserable all my life! So should I choose her happiness over mine?? Hell no! I love Mickey and he treats me like a princess. That’s all that matters to me. If mummy and daddy don’t like it, tough!” She sat back down, breathing heavily.

“Have you told them?” I asked carefully.

“Who, mummy and daddy? No, you’ll do that for me.” Humi bared her teeth in a mirthless smile.

“What? No, you have to tell them! They’ve been worried sick about you! We’ve all been worried sick about you! Couldn’t you at least call and let us know you were okay?”

Humi shrugged. “Not really. I didn’t want to answer any questions till everything was set. We had to make a quick nikah where no one would recognise us then settle down and all. I needed everything to be set before I made an appearance. We came straight here. Haven’t been home…to mummy’s house at all.” Her upper lip curled slightly as she said, “mummy’s house.”

“You need to go there, Humi. We’ll come with you if you want but you need to see them, let them know you’re okay…”

Humi snorted. “They won’t let Mickey past the main gate and I wouldn’t be surprised if they lock me up in the house just to keep us apart. No, I’m not going there. You can tell them. And tell them it’s already done so they can forget about trying to reverse anything.”

“At least go for daddy’s sake,” I tried again, “he’s so worried about you, Humi.”

Humi’s face softened for an instant, regret flashing across her face. Then she shook her head. “No. He’ll only do what mummy says and he’s just as bad in worrying about what people would say. He wouldn’t accept Mickey as well. Forget it, Faz. I’m not going back there.”

I could not budge her so I left it and talked about other things instead, like where she was living right now. It turned out that she’d been living across town all this time. So Han had been correct, I thought, she’d been holed up in someone’s house all this time. Mikaeel’s sister’s house, to be precise, while his own house was getting done up. He had no parents…it was him, his two brothers and two sisters, all of whom were married. They lived across town, in a closed compound of sorts, an area where it was just them and the people they knew; the odd cousins here and there and their friends. Humi was the only Indian amongst them, a fact she didn’t seem too fazed by. I was more worried about the kind of people they were than the colour of their skin. Humi replied vaguely when I asked her what work Mikaeel did. Again an uneasy feeling settled in my gut. There was something here, something I couldn’t point my finger on yet but it did not bode well for my naive, unsuspecting sister inlaw who talked and laughed so easily, and who looked so lovingly at her husband as they left our house promising to visit us again soon. Humi also promised to keep in touch and not switch off her phone and disappear again.

“Well?” I asked Ahmed when we were alone again.

“Well what? She went and got married without informing any of us, the brat! I agree with mummy this time, it was irresponsible and very childish of her. Couldn’t she go about it like a civilised person???” I had never seen Ahmed so angry before. He was pacing up and down, tugging his long hair in frustration.

“She said they’d never accept him, Ahmed. And she’s right, neh? I don’t think your parents will ever accept him.”

“Of course not! That’s quite obvious!”

“Do you?” I asked quietly. Ahmed stopped and turned to face me.

“I don’t like him,” he stated bluntly.

I winced. “Definitely not what you pictured as a brother inlaw, right? But colour doesn’t matter, babe. So long as he’s a good person.”

“When did I say colour matters? I don’t care that he’s black. But I do care that he seems dodgy. All those tattoos, the rings and chains and what not. He seems like a proper gangster…not the decent, religious sort I would want for my sister. That’s why I say she should have consulted us at least. Made mashwara, made istikhara. Not run away and do as she pleased!” He sighed heavily and rubbed his hands across his face.

“Right now the most important part is telling your parents,” I said quietly.

Ahmed winced. “Yeah. That’s not going to go well.”

I nodded in agreement. I still remembered mummy’s reaction to Han marrying a coloured man clearly so to tell her that her daughter was married and that too to a black man… World War Three was going to erupt in the Cassim household and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

Part 225

Well, well, look who posted!😱 lucky for you’ll I was in a writing mood lol…

I don’t know if this happens to other authors but I get influenced by other people’s writings so sometimes while writing a certain post I’ll have that writing style in mind. I’m not sure if I end up kinda imitating their style then lol but they definitely inspire me. My muse today was Neymat Raboobee so I’ll dedicate this post to her🤗 anyone else this happens to?

Enjoy xxx


I stood looking at the large, familiar house looming above me in the darkness. It had been months since I’d come here. It invoked mixed feelings in me; part of me felt that old familiarity that comes from living in a house that we call a home, and part of me felt like turning around and running away from the house of horrors as I’d started calling it, before the unpleasant memories assailing me completely overpowered me. Well, it was too late to run in any case. The oak double doors were already swinging open, revealing a dimly lit interior.

“Come in,” a familiar voice rapped out.

We followed her into the front lounge. Daddy was already sitting there and he rose to his feet with a smile as we entered.

“Fazila, Ahmed. Come, sit.”

We took a seat opposite my parents inlaw. Both of them looked haggard though mummy was looking livid as well. She barely let us sit down fully before she started.

“Ahmed, do you know anything about this idiotic plan of hers?” She ignored me completely, focusing only on her son.

Ahmed shook his head, looking baffled. “I don’t know anything except what you told me on the phone. Gone? Gone where?”

“If I knew that would I be sitting here asking you that?” Mummy snapped, “this is all she left behind to inform us,” she thrust a piece of paper at Ahmed. The note was brief and to the point.

I’ve left home for good. Don’t come looking for me because you won’t find me. Tell daddy and Dalia that I love them.

The lack of love directed at her mother was glaringly obvious and probably part of the reason mummy was so furious. It was also due to the lack of control she was feeling, as we found out with her next words.

“How dare she??? Who does she think she is, running away like this when she feels like it?? How selfish of her! Doesn’t she think that we might be worried or anything? But no, that girl only thinks of herself!”

“It says she’s left for good,” Ahmed began carefully, only to be cut off by his mother’s derisive snort.

“What left for good? She’ll be back in a few days, watch! How’s she going to survive without daddy’s money? That girl hasn’t worked a day in her life!”

“That might be true but we still have to look for her. What if something happens to her?” Ahmed asked.

“Phone her then. I tried a while back but her phone was off,” mummy said, leaning back and folding her arms across her chest.

Ahmed tried repeatedly to phone Humi but got the same message; her phone was off. “It’s off,” he said finally, putting away his phone with a defeated look on his face.

“Does your wife know anything? Humi was quite fond of her apparently,” mummy’s lip curled in a sneer.

“Ask her yourself, mummy. She’s sitting right here,” Ahmed said pointedly.

Mummy shot him a foul look and turned to me reluctantly. Instead of repeating her question she raised her eyebrows and managed somehow to stare down her nose at me. I returned her look calmly.

“No, I don’t know anything. Humi didn’t mention anything to me.” She had alluded to the fact a few weeks back but that had been vague and didn’t provide us with any clues so I didn’t bother bringing it up.

“So now what?” Mummy turned to daddy pointedly.

Daddy sighed. “I don’t know. I keep wondering why she would run away. She didn’t seem upset or anything these past few days.”

“Humi said she was very unhappy here and wanted to run away,” a timid voice spoke up from the corner. We all turned in surprise to see Dalia curled up on the corner sofa, a scared look on her face. I hadn’t even seen her sitting there, her petite frame almost swallowed up by the large sofa.

“Dalia! What are you doing here??? Didn’t I tell you to go sleep???” Mummy lashed out angrily. The poor girl jumped up and fled from the room with tears in her eyes. I exchanged a glance with Ahmed. I felt so sorry for the inmates of this house. It felt more like a prison than a home. I could already feel that claustrophobic feeling closing over me and squirmed in my seat, eager to get this over with and get away.

“Speaking nonsense. Humi was filling her head up with rubbish as usual,” mummy huffed.

“There might be more truth in her words than you realise. Humi wasn’t exactly on your good side, was she? You shouted at her over the smallest things,” daddy said in one of his rare outbursts. It had the usual, expected effect.

“Oh so now it’s my fault??? Everything is my fault, neh? You’ll are saints and I’m the devil! May as well just tell me that I’ve killed my daughter and buried her in the backyard!” Mummy’s voice had risen as she spoke, till she practically screamed out the last few words. Daddy said nothing, simply sighed heavily in response. I could feel a headache building up and nudged Ahmed to leave now.

“Okay, mummy, daddy, keep trying to phone Humi or get in touch with her in any way. We’ll also do the same. And we can start asking around to see if anyone’s seen her or knows where she is. Any friends of hers…? Because we can’t get the police involved so soon.”

“Now, no need to panic so fast. I’m telling you, she’ll be back in a few days. Maybe she thinks she’ll teach us a lesson this way or what. God knows how that girl thinks. So wait for a few days before letting anyone know. No need to worry anyone else unnecessarily.”

“But mummy, we have to start asking around! What if something happens…”

“You’re worrying for nothing, Ahmed. Wait few days then see. No need to let anyone know so fast.”

I had been staring at her in bafflement, wondering which mother halted investigations simply based on the feeling that her daughter will come back…then she repeated her last sentence and suddenly it clicked. Nilofar Cassim was more worried about what people will say at her daughter’s disappearance than at the present state of her daughter. She would actually risk her daughter’s well being for keeping things hush-hush. Did such selfish parents actually exist??? I could not wrap my head around it even a whole hour later.

“She’s more worried about her reputation than her daughter??? What kind of mother is she???” I vented to Ahmed as we readied ourselves for bed for the second time that night.

“I don’t know what goes on in her head man. Even daddy looked angry when she said that,” Ahmed shook his head.

“He was wise to keep his mouth shut this time,” I commented.

“Yeah, it won’t make a difference with her.”

You don’t listen to her, Ahmed. You do whatever it takes to locate Humi. What mummy doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” I said urgently.

Ahmed nodded. “That’s what I was thinking. Find out her friends and try to contact them discreetly. I’ll give you a few names tomorrow and you can start from there. I’ll ask her male friends, you ask her female friends.”

I nodded and we both made dua for her safety before going to sleep.

***

“She’s still missing. Not a word or sign of her in all this time. We’ve asked everyone we could think of. We’ve even gone to the police after mummy finally realised that she has no choice. Everyone’s talking about it now but no one has a clue about where she is,” I heaved a sigh and poured boiling water and milk over the coffee grounds I’d measured out in a mug. Taking my coffee in one hand and a plate of biscuits in another I joined Han on the low sofa, curling up on the other end. I loved these low floor sofas. They were so comfy and looked so nice as well. I should have bought some for my house, I thought, though I couldn’t have since we had moved into a fully furnished house. I let my eyes wander around Han’s lounge. Like the rest of the house it was simply but tastefully furnished. The house itself wasn’t so big…three bedrooms, only one of which was a master bedroom; the room Han’s mother inlaw had given up for her son and new daughter inlaw two months back. She and her daughters slept in the second room while her youngest son had the third room to himself. They lived more simply than we had ever lived yet there was so much happiness and barakah in this house. Once again I compared it to my mother inlaws house. What didn’t they have, I thought to myself. Wealth, luxury, their every whim catered to…fame, a high place in society. Yet the massive, luxurious mansion felt like a prison. And this house, so simple and small in comparison but it felt so warm and friendly and welcoming.

Many a poor person sleeps contentedly in a hut and many a rich person tosses and turns the whole night in a mansion.

The kind of house I wouldn’t mind living in. And obviously Han felt the same way, I thought, noting my sister’s glowing, contented face…the kind of glow that hadn’t left her face since moving in with her husband…though the ever-present smile was now absent, a frown marring her forehead in its place.

“You’ll haven’t heard from her in two weeks??? Isn’t that worrying? I’m sure she wouldn’t deliberately stay away, would she?”

I shrugged helplessly. “I have no idea, man. We’ve tried everything we could. Not a single person has seen her anywhere, and my in-laws know a lot of people. They’ve even hired private detectives to try and track her down but nothing so far. It’s like she left town or something.”

“Hmmmmm,” Han looked deep in thought, “or she’s holing up with someone somewhere and not leaving the house. What about her car? Can’t they track that down?”

“Her car is safe and sound at her house. She didn’t take it. She left on foot.”

“She walked?? Where on earth could she have walked at night??”

“She didn’t leave at night. She left before maghrib, telling mummy she’s going to the small corner shop nearby to buy something. She never came back and she didn’t go to that shop either. She went somewhere else.”

“Ya Allah, this is so worrying. Keep making dua, man. So scary, you don’t know if she’s even alive or…”

“Don’t!” I interrupted, “don’t go there!” It was the uppermost thought plaguing all our minds. What if……

Han nodded and took a mouthful of coffee. We chatted about other random things before I got up to leave.”

“Come back soon. You never come visit me!” Han complained playfully as she accompanied me to the door.

I rolled my eyes. “Like we don’t see each other every weeks at mum’s!”

“But still, that’s different. Here I know you only came for me.”

“Psshhttt, who said I came for you? I came for your mother inlaw’s naan khatai,” I grinned, licking my lips. I laughed and ducked when Han aimed a punch at me, a mock scowl on her face.

“Here, Fazila, take some naan khatai for you and Maulana Ahmed,” Aunt Firoza came bustling up, holding a small Tupperware in her hands.

“Oh, Aunt Firoza, you shouldn’t have!” I exclaimed, “but jazakallah. I was just telling Han how much I love your naan khatai.” I took the Tupperware and hugged her.

Aunt Firoza smiled. “Enjoy it and make dua for us. And come again. Next time I’ll make baklava for you. These lot love it so much, they finish it all the same day.”

“Aah, ammi, don’t tell her that! Then she’ll come again just for the food, not for us!” Han complained.

I barely heard her. I was staring at Aunt Firoza like she had offered water to a dying person; namely me. “Aunt Firoza, if you make good baklava I’ll kiss your feet and be your slave for life!” I loved the flaky, nutty sweetmeat but I had only tasted one good one in my whole life…and fallen in love with it. Since then I’d tried making it many times and even gotten mum to try but it just wasn’t the same as that one. That taste…I was salivating just thinking of it. Aunt Firoza laughed.

“Let me know in advance when you’re coming. I’ll make for you, inshaAllah.”

Han rolled her eyes while I beamed at this lovely woman. She really was a lovely woman though, baklava and naan khatai aside. And I loved the relationship between Han and her. They were so close and free with each other, like a mother-daughter relationship. May Allah always keep them that way, I said under my breath as I drove home.

I entered my silent house, Tupperware of naan khatai in hand. I was passing the lounge when a movement in the doorway caught my eye. Whipping my head around I saw a huge thug emerge from the lounge, the weak, late afternoon sunlight glinting off something silver in his hand.

I screamed.

Part 224

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Soo, it appears that there’s been a mistake in my last post…or a misunderstanding rather. All these years I thought that using contraception without a valid excuse is impermissible. However, as a sister pointed out to me through a fatwa, it’s not impermissible but rather, disliked (makruh tanzihi) except in certain scenarios where it’s permissible. Jazakillah to the sister for enlightening me. We learn something new each day. For the benefit of the readers you can read the fatwa here since its too long to mention it here.

Regarding the khatam,jazakumullah khair once more to all the readers who contributed. The response was truly touching Alhamdulillah. May Allah reward all of you and grant you the best in this world and the hereafter. Whoever has prayed their parts please comment with your name and the juz completed so I can tick it off.

xxx

_________________________________________

I was removing the third and final batch of biscuits from the oven when the doorbell rang. Wiping my floury hands on my apron I went to open the door then stepped back with a smile.

“Humi! Come on in!”

Humi followed me with an answering smile then stopped to sniff around. “This place smells lekker! What you making?”

“Biscuits. And cupcakes,” I told her as we walked back to the kitchen. Humi eyed the trays of biscuits with raised eyebrows.

“What’s the occasion?”

“Nothing. I’m just free today so I thought I’ll stock up the pantry,” I replied. I started putting together the mixture for cupcakes while Humi walked around, sampling the biscuits and humming in appreciation. I grinned and pointed to the kettle.

“Make yourself some coffee. And make one for me as well, please.”

Humi made us both mugs of coffee and we sat down to have coffee and biscuits while the cupcakes baked.

“Which ones are these?” Humi pointed to some plain white biscuits.

“Burfee biscuits. I stil have to put the burfee icing on them.” I saw Humi’s raised eyebrows and shrugged, “you know your brother. He loves anything burfee.”

“Do you freeze half of this? It seems like a lot for just two people,” Humi asked.

“It looks like a lot but it isn’t,” I grinned, “I made three types but only half a recipe each. And I was planning on sending some to my mum’s and some over to yours though I wasn’t sure if mummy would accept them,” I winced involuntarily and regretted bringing up the topic of my mother inlaw immediately when Humi’s face clouded over.

“Ya, she’d probably throw them away in the trash, in the mood she’s in nowadays.”

“What mood?” I asked in spite of myself.

“Her usual mood since you’ll moved out. It’s like she doesn’t know what to do with herself anymore, now that you’re not there to focus her negative energy on. So now she’s taking it out on us and daddy. Dalia gets away the most but even she has her share of shouting these days. But I get it the worst because I’m stuck with her the whole day. God, I just feel like running away and never coming back!” Humi ran her hands through her hair aggressively, pulling it loose from her ponytail. Her face was filled with a range of emotions; frustration, anger, helplessness…but beneath it all was a bleakness…a deadness in her eyes, that scared me the most. In that moment I wished I could do anything to alleviate her misery. I placed my hand on hers comfortingly.

“I’m sorry Humi. I know this might sound cliche but things will get better inshaAllah. Just hang in there till the storm passes.”

Humi laughed bitterly. “The only way things will get better is if I move out. That woman will never change. Things will never get better under her roof!”

“Do you want to come stay here for a while?” I asked impulsively though I didn’t know if it would make things better or worse for all of us.

Humi shook her head. “That’s a temporary solution, Faz. It won’t change anything in the long run. Besides that witch would never allow it!”

I felt like telling her to respect her mother because it was her mother at the end of the day but I wisely kept quiet. There were times to speak up and times to remain silent; and now wasn’t the time to speak up.

“Never mind,” Humi said finally, “like you said, things do eventually get better. I just have to wait for the right opportunity to present itself.”

“What opportunity?” I asked curiously.

Humi smiled but it wasn’t a comforting smile. “You’ll find out when the time comes. Now let’s drink to better times, shall we?” She lifted her mug of coffee in a parody of a toast, clinked it with mine and downed it in a single gulp. I smiled and swallowed my own warm coffee, telling myself that the uneasy feeling settling in my gut was simply a figment of my imagination.

***

“Mmmmmm. What’s that amaaazing smell?” Ahmed entered the kitchen sniffing appreciatively. He paused to grab me for a quick kiss before hunting down the source of the smell. He didn’t have far to look. I had set the trays of freshly iced burfee biscuits in the pantry to cool.

“This tastes like burfee,” Ahmed said, popping a couple into his mouth.

I laughed. “Yeah, ’cause they’re burfee biscuits!”

“Seriously? Someone took out burfee biscuits now? That’s genius, man! Must be a burfee lover like me,” Ahmed popped another few in his mouth before I shooed him from the pantry and shut the door.

“That’s it, leave some for tomorrow. You won’t be able to have supper if you fill yourself with biscuits.”

“Aah, come on!” Ahmed tried to sway me, first with a puppy face, then with sweet words and kisses. When he saw that I wasn’t having any of it he finally gave up and went to change, grumbling under his breath as he went. I laughed to myself as I opened the oven door to check if the lasagne was done.

“You know what those biscuits remind me of?” Ahmed asked later through a mouthful of lasagne.

“What?”

“Nani’s burfee!” Ahmed exclaimed then paused, looking at me expectantly.

“Yeah man, me too. I miss her burfee,” I sighed in remembrance. Nani’s burfee was something else, all soft and gooey and melt-in-the-mouth yet set in perfect little squares. I’d never tasted burfee like hers anywhere else, not even when my own mother made it with nani’s own recipe.

“Maybe you can recreate it? Using her recipe?” Ahmed looked at me hopefully.

I laughed. “I was just thinking that mummy also can’t make it like hers, even after using her recipe, so fat chance of me being able to get it right!”

“I’m sure you can. You have the magic touch in the kitchen mashaAllah…”

I held up my hand. “Jazakallah but once you’ve tasted the original A.K.A nani’s burfee you won’t like anything else. Trust me!”

“I haven’t liked any other so far but I was hoping you’d change that. Please, babe? I’m lissing for them so bad!”

Who could resist that magic word “please”, especially when accompanied by that adorable puppy face? I sighed, knowing the battle was already lost.

“Alright then…I’ll try. But don’t blame me when it turns out rock hard and breaks all your teeth!”

Ahmed laughed and squeezed me in response. “I’m sure that won’t happen. Now here, have some lasagne. You’ve barely eaten.” He leaned forward and started feeding me. I hummed in appreciation and made the most of the extra attention. If nani’s burfee was going to get me VIP service then it was definitely worth a try!

“Let’s phone nana and nani. I haven’t spoken to them for so long and I can ask for the recipe one time. Just watch her reaction when I ask her for her recipe!” I said later on when we were curled up in the lounge after supper. Ahmed nodded in agreement and I retrieved the iPad from the room to make a video call.

“Assalamu alaykum, Fazzu!” A huge grin spread across my face as nana’s and nani’s faces popped up, squashed together as both of them attempted to get as close as possible to the screen, “and Ahmed. How you, ma?”

“Wa alaykum salaam,” we both responded dutifully before I dived in, “how you nana, nani? Gosh it’s been so long since I saw your faces! I missed you’ll!”

“That’s because you forgot us all these months since you got married. You were making lots maja (fun) with this young man of yours, huh?” Nani chirped.

Ahmed and I laughed and exchanged wry looks. “No, nothing like that, nani. I was just busy busy, teaching, coming home and cooking…all that.”

“How you, Fazzu?” Nana was looking at me seriously. I knew what he meant. I smiled at him reassuringly.

“I’m fine now, nana. Alhamdulillah.”

Nana turned to Ahmed. “It’s better living on your own, neh?”

“Jee, it is,” Ahmed replied quietly, squirming under nana’s piercing gaze.

“I’m glad you came to your senses before anything worse happened,” Nana continued.

“Nana, you should see the library Ahmed made here!” I jumped in quickly before nana roasted Ahmed, “we’ve put all our kitabs there and Ahmed will still gather more kitabs to put inside. It will make things easier for us.”

Thus the topic was thankfully changed and nani and I sat quietly while nana and Ahmed discussed kitabs for a while. Then I brought up the burfee topic.

“Nani, Ahmed is missing your burfee sooo much…”

“So make for him,” nani promptly replied. I grinned.

“That’s what I was intending to do but I need your recipe, please.”

Nani’s face lit up like a bulb. Other people hesitated to give out recipes. Not nani. She loved sharing her recipes and became especially excited when any of us asked her for her recipes. If it was possible she would have zapped herself to our kitchens and taught us the dish step by step. A pity she lived so far, I thought with a sigh.

Nani reappeared in a few minutes, clutching her thick recipe book in her hands. The recipe book that had been around for over fifty years, since nani had started learning how to cook at the tender age of ten. It had been bound together several times and the pages inside were worn with age but lovingly cared for. A veritable treasure indeed.

“Let’s see. Where’s my burfee recipe,” nani flipped through the pages till she came to the right page. There was no index page in this thick book but nani still knew exactly where each recipe was, “aah, here. Bring your paper and pen, Fazzu, and write this down.”

If it had been anyone else I would have told them to screenshot the recipe and send it to me. But not nani. Just imagining the lecture I’d receive had me scuttling for a pen and paper and dutifully writing it down. Nana had settled back with a kitab in the meantime but Ahmed was listening and watching me scribble down the recipe.

“Ermm, nani. Your aloo parathas are also so nice,” he said after a while…as soon as I’d finished writing the burfee recipe down. I whipped my head around to stare at him in disbelief.

“Ya, Ahmed, I remember your nana inviting you over everytime I made some. And packing some for you if you couldn’t come over. I was making them so much that time. Now I haven’t made them in so long!” Nani said with a reminiscent smile.

Drop the topic…drop the topic…drop the topic… I chanted in my mind. No such luck.

“I also haven’t had them in so long. If only I was there so you could make for me again,” Ahmed replied. Oh no, he didn’t! I shot him my foulest look, knowing exactly what was coming next!

“Oh, Fazzu, you have to make them for Ahmed now. Come, write down the recipe now since I have my book here. Let me just look for the recipe.” Nani began flipping through the book again swiftly while I shot daggers at Ahmed which he returned with a wide-eyed, innocent look while struggling to contain his laughter. After a few seconds nani found the recipe, after which I was subjected to more torture of scribbling down the recipe with fingers that were already sore and cramped. Oh Ahmed, I’m so gonna get you back for this!

“Done, nani,” I said finally, hoping no one remembered any more dishes to make now! But nani wasn’t done yet.

“So Fazzu, you must make the burfee and aloo paratha both okay, and let me know how it comes out. And Ahmed beta, anytime you wish for anything just tell Fazila to make for you…and if she doesn’t know she can always ask me. Fazzu, don’t be so busy with your work work study study that you neglect my poiro. Look how thin he’s getting. You need to feed him nicely, ma.”

“I do feed him very nicely, nani,” I replied defensively, “he’s not thin at all! You haven’t seen his pot-belly underneath this shirt!”

“Fazila!” Nani looked scandalised, “that is good but he’s still looking too thin. Men need a lot of food, not like us. So make sure you put your kitchen first. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, remember that,” she stated matter-of-factly, as though the man in question wasn’t sitting right there…with a very smug look on his face. And as though that wasn’t bad enough he had to rub salt in my wounds by adding, “Ya nani, we always hungry,” with a laugh! At which point nani proceeded to elaborate her point in even more detail!

“Jee, nani,” I murmured demurely and jabbed my elbow sharply into Ahmed’s ribs when no one was looking, listening to his muffled grunt with satisfaction.

After nani had lectured me to her satisfaction and nana had imparted his own wise words of advice we chatted generally for a bit then ended the conversation with salaam and promises to get in touch again soon. As soon as we cut the call I turned to Ahmed with narrowed eyes.

“Uh oh,” he muttered when he saw my look. Before I could blink he jumped up, vaulted over the low coffee table and ran out of the room. Undeterred I pursued him, throwing myself against the bedroom door before he could shut it in my face. Ahmed rounded the bed and stood on the other side, grinning and looking chastened at the same time.

“Now, Fadheelah…calm down. It was only one little recipe…” he began in conciliatory tones. In response I picked up a pillow and hurled it at him, whacking him right in his face.

“One little recipe!? You subjected me to almost an hour of lectures from nani, you dolt!” I picked up another pillow and hurled it at him. He dodged it deftly and threw it back at me, “you made me sound like a frikking lazy wife!” Thwack! A cushion hit him squarely between his eyes. “You made it sound like I work all day and do nothing in the kitchen!” Another pillow hit him in the chest. “You had the nerve to ask her for the aloo paratha recipe after my fingers were already sore copying down the burfee recipe!” The second cushion smacked him in the face. He stood there laughing and throwing the pillows back at me! With a growl I launched myself at him, pummeling him with more pillows and cushions, “you…put me…in…hot water…deliberately…then sat there…enjoying every…bit of it…you…you…” I squealed as Ahmed expertly flipped me over, trapping me underneath him, then proceeded to shut me up in the most effective way ever.

***

It was exactly three weeks later, on a Wednesday night, as Ahmed and I were preparing to go to sleep, that the phone call came. I remembered the day and even the date clearly because it was mine and Ahmed’s nine months wedding date and we had just been discussing that as we readied ourselves for bed. We didn’t think much of it when Ahmed’s phone rang, though I noted the surprised look on his face as he answered it. But the shrill female voice on the other end was so loud that I heard every word even though I was standing on the other end of the bed.

“Ahmed! She’s gone! She’s gone!!!

Khatam…

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Hope everyone is doing well…

A friend of mine has suffered a personal loss. It’s extremely shocking and I feel like helping out in any way I can. To that end I would very much appreciate it if you’ll can help me make Qur’an khatams for the deceased and for all the marhoomeen. And please remember the sister in your duas as well… jazakumullah khair.

EDIT: Another sister, Hanan’s father has also passed away. Please remember her mother and family in your duas as well in this trying time. Jazakumullah khair.

NOTE: Due to certain reasons I have edited the first part of this post. I also want to say I’m extremely touched and happy to see that the first khatam is already done within a few hours. I’ll be putting up a second khatam below the first one inshaAllah. May Allah reward you all for coming together for this rewarding venture. It warms my heart to see this level of solidarity Alhamdulillah.

Uhibbukunna fillah (love you all for the pleasure of Allah)❤❤❤

Below I’ll list all the paras of the Qur’an. Please comment with your paras and as you comment I’ll fill in the spaces inshaAllah. As soon as we make one khatam we’ll start another inshaAllah. Let’s make this limitless…

P.S. If anyone has any other ideas please pass them on. This is the first time I’m doing this so I’m new at this…

EDIT: I have started the Laailaha illallah khatam as well which has to be read 70,000 times. I’ll put it beneath the Qur’an khatams so you’ll can comment with however much you’ll can read and I’ll mark it down inshaAllah.

KHATAM 1:

1- Me

2- Me

3- Me

4- Razina Sooliman Nakooda

5- ummi huzaifah✔

6- troubled illusions

7- zahratun✔

8- Fazila Boodi✔

9- Fazila Boodi✔

10- Fazila Boodi

11- hajira

12- anonymous

13- rashida✔

14- Fiona Shaik

15- Fiona Shaik

16- Dee

17- Tayyeba Ibrahim Sarwan✔

18- diaryofadaeea

19- Maryam

20- ummUsaid✔

21- Aliyah

22- Fatima Ayoob

23- Atiya__k

24- Zainab

25- Zainab

26- cinnamonxsugar

27- Tasneem Karolia✔

28- Tasneem Karolia✔

29- muslimah seeking jannah✔

30- Haaj✔

KHATAM 2:

1- A.

2- A.

3- A.

4- kay_born_in_may

5- kay_born_in_may

6- Anonymous

7- Anonymous

8- Aa✔

9- Haalah✔

10- Haalah✔

11- Haalah✔

12- h vawda✔

13- laaibah176

14- laaibah176

15- Aisha✔

16- Fiona Shaik

17- veryberry2✔

18- A

19- A

20- kt

21- najmussaaqib

22- najmussaaqib

23- najmussaaqib

24- fayroez tayob Cassim

25- excerptsofabrokenheart

26- excerptsofabrokenheart

27- hijaaby♡lover

28- ruqs

29- ruqs

30- Atiya__k

LAAILAHA ILLALLAH KHATAM:

Haaj- 1000

Part 223

Weekends were blissful little bubbles of calmness and serenity, amidst the whirling tornado of our lives. That wonderful feeling of waking up late, seeing the bright sunlight filtering through the curtains and still being able to laze around in bed was totally unmatched. Ahmed and I didn’t work on Saturdays as well so we had two whole days to ourselves, and though we couldn’t go to the beach house anymore…Ahmed’s mum was as unyielding as a rock, refusing to even so much as glance our way…we spent our time in other, equally fulfilling ways. Like going shopping…not that we were fans of that but when necessity called we had to respond, right…

“Ready, princess?” Ahmed yelled from the kitchen.

“Coming!” It was eleven and I was still getting ready. Shukr for a patient husband, I thought, remembering daddy’s impatient yells at us to get moving before the sun also gave up on us and set again. But there was an advantage to leaving late, that lunch time would come bang in the middle of our shopping or at least by the end of it so we could just have lunch one time then come back because I hadn’t cooked anyways.

“Do we really have to go in there?” Ahmed complained about an hour later, for what was like the fifth time.

“Yes, there might be something in this aisle that I’ve forgotten to buy,” I replied as patiently as I could.

“But you have a list. So get what’s on it and let’s go,” Ahmed pointed out.

“Ahmed, that list was written last minute in a rush. I might have forgotten to write some things on it. Now since we only come shopping like once a month can you please indulge me and let me shop to my hearts content?”

Ahmed shrugged, looking resigned. “Lead the way, princess.”

I gave him a look, noting the emphasis on princess. Ahmed stared back at me in wide-eyed innocence. Shaking my head I led the way into the next aisle. And the next and the next…till we came to one which was obviously a baby aisle. Just when I decided to skip one aisle at least Ahmed grabbed my hand and pulled me in there.

“Why are you bringing me here? I don’t think we need nappies or bottles or bibs,” I said pointedly.

“Oh, no harm in having a look, right? Look at this babygrow! So tiny! Imagine how tiny babies are, to fit into this!” Ahmed exclaimed.

“Yeah, they come out of a tiny space so obviously they’ll be tiny,” I pointed out the obvious.

“And look at this! So frilly and pink and shiny! I think you’ll love to dress a baby up in this! It’s so you!” Ahmed grinned.

I folded my arms and stared at Ahmed pointedly till he stopped looking around in a love-struck daze and looked at me again.

“What?” He asked when he saw me looking at him.

“Could you be any more obvious than this??” I asked him sarcastically.

“Hey, I’m just showing you around. No harm in looking, right?” Ahmed gave me an innocent look.

“Yeah, just like there’s no harm in showing me baby pictures every time you come across them,” I replied, rolling my eyes.

“So? Babies are cute,” Ahmed replied, shrugging.

“I know they are, Ahmed, but it’s not like we’re using anything to stop us from having one. So chill. We’ll get one when the time is right, inshaAllah.”

“Except all your duas. I know you make dua at tahajjud every day that you don’t want a baby yet. I thought this might make you change your mind,” Ahmed replied.

“Yeah, because I’m not ready to have one yet. Haven’t you seen my life at the moment? It’s crazy! I don’t wanna become a half-half mother…leaving my kid by someone else while I’m at work. When I do have a child I want to dedicate all my time to it. Which can happen from next year, inshaAllah. So chill,” I repeated, “it’s only this year’s break I’m asking for. And I’m glad you have so much faith in my duas,” I grinned.

“No underestimating a passionate woman at tahajjud,” Ahmed quipped as he led me away from the baby aisle again.

I laughed. It was true. I was passionate in all my duas and that included this particular dua. What I had told Ahmed was correct. I had no time in my life for a baby at the moment…hadn’t had since I’d gotten married. I had brought up the matter of contraception to Ahmed after our nikah, even though I’d felt a pang of guilt for suggesting something that clearly wasn’t allowed in shariah. But I knew I wasn’t ready and I hadn’t known any other way to stop it from happening. Ahmed, however, was completely against it.

“It’s not allowed in Islam and we know it. I will not break the hukm of Allah,” he said firmly. Knowing there was no way of arguing out of it…not that I’d even wanted to…I had turned to the only weapon I possessed; dua. Each day I made one dua at tahajjud; Oh Allah, You know my situation right now. I feel I’m not ready to have a baby but You know best so grant me a healthy baby whenever it’s khair (best) for me and Ahmed. Then I placed my trust in Allah and, eight months later, I was still not pregnant. Allah truly was the best of planners; we just had to trust Him fully and leave matters in His hands. I knew that when the time was right Allah would grant me a baby inshaAllah. The time was just not now. I had seen how demanding babies were first hand, through Zee. Her son, Zaid, now two months old, was a little terror; there was no other way to describe it. Zee had had a horrible pregnancy Laaibah’s time but Laaibah herself had been an angelic baby. Not so Zaid. With him it had been the opposite; smooth pregnancy but an extremely demanding child. He had been born screaming his lungs off and in the two months since, I had seen him do little else. As tiny as he was he had a powerful set of lungs on him which he utilised fully at every given opportunity. I had seen my best friend go from a glowing pregnant woman to a drained mombie (mum in zombie mode) with bags under her eyes, the glow replaced by tired lines on her face. She had no time to even use the loo in peace and she was a full time mum. What on earth would happen to me, with a full time job plus a tiny limpet to look after? I would probably lose whatever little bit of sanity my job left me with. I shuddered at the thought. No thanks. Next year was soon enough! There was no personal calender that we’d been born with anyways, that dictated life’s rules to us; married by twenty, tick. Mother by twenty-one, tick. Retired with troop of kids by thirty, tick. That was old wives tales. I believed everyone should live life by their own manual and do whatever pleased them. Which was not to say that everyone agreed with me! Nowadays it seemed that no family get together was complete without the mandatory question, “so Fazila, when you bringing kids? You not getting any younger, you know!” I simply smiled, nodded and murmured, “inshaAllah,” on my good days. On my bad days I looked through them and acted like they were suddenly invisible.

Thinking of Zee…I made a detour to the baby aisle again on my way to the till and grabbed an adorable onesie suit with a matching hat and bib for little Zaid, much to my hubbys surprise.

“Don’t worry, I haven’t started gathering baby clothes. This is for Zee,” I laughed. Ahmed faked a sad face and turned to pay for our purchases…

I paid a visit to Zee the next day, since I didn’t get any time to see her on weekdays. I was greeted at the front door by a harried Zee, her hair sticking up in all directions, a screaming Zaid clutched in her arms. I could hear Laaibah making her own noise in the background, with Bashir’s deeper tones trying to calm her down. I looked at Zee in trepidation.

“Should I come back later?”

Zee rolled her eyes and waved me in. “Give me five minutes!” She yelled and disappeared. I shut the lounge door to be on the safe side and removed my niqab with a sigh of relief. I made myself comfortable on the corner sofa and was flipping through a book left randomly on the table when Zee appeared again.

“Phew!” She exclaimed, patting down her hair, “he’s finally asleep!”

“How long will it last this time?” I asked her with raised eyebrows.

“Don’t even ask! Make dua it’s longer than an hour at least. That will be a bonus for me!”

I shook my head. “I read this somewhere, “parents of one child get so fueled by self confidence that they reproduce again…and then the second one comes along, who is a no-nonsense soldier who never sleeps! And the parents are like, oh no! What have I done?? Something like that!” I laughed.

Zee laughed and cringed. “That’s exactly how it was! Zaid burst my bubble really fast!”

“Awww there there. Don’t worry ma, enjoy this time. They grow up so fast, you know. Before you know it they’ll be married and gone into houses of their own,” I said in perfect imitation of a wise old aunty.

“Ya, ya, dadi. I’ll keep that in mind,” Zee replied dryly.

True to form Zaid was awake in forty minutes. Luckily he wasn’t crying when Zee brought him by me so I could carry him and play with him for a while before he started up again. Laaibah bounded in while I was holding him and stood there pouting.

“Put him down! I want you to carry me!” She demanded bossily.

I laughed. “Come sit by me. Let’s play with him together.”

“No! I don’t want you to hold him!”

“So who should hold him then, sweety?” I asked.

“Mummy! She’s always carrying him anyways!”

I shot a look at Zee who shrugged, looking resigned.

I smiled at Laaibah cajolingly. “Look, your baby brother is finally smiling. Usually he’s always crying, neh? Come let’s see how long we can play with him without him crying.”

I turned it into a mini game and soon Laaibah came out of her huff and came over to play with Zaid as well. We played with him for a while and made him laugh before he started crying again. As soon as he did I handed him back to Zee then swung Laaibah up in my arms and proceeded to give her my full attention. We were playing hide and seek in the lounge when Zee came back. She sat and watched us with an indulgent smile like a mother hen while we ran around the lounge, screaming like lunatics. When we finally ended the game we were both out of breath and sat panting and laughing on the floor.

“Time for refreshments! Let me bring you some lemonade and biscuits,” Laaibah said, suddenly turning host. I smiled at her.

“I’d love that, sweety.”

“You’re so good with kids,” Zee said when Laaibah had disappeared, “I don’t know when I last heard her have fun like this. She loves you to bits.”

“It’s the attention as well, Zee,” I said seriously, pulling myself up onto the sofa, “see how jealous she became when I was holding Zaid and how happy she was now when she had my full attention? She sees how demanding Zaid is and she doesn’t like that all that attention taken away from her and given to Zaid…especially after having all that attention only focused on her for four years. Look what she said just now. Mummy’s always carrying him anyways. That was definitely jealousy. You need to make time for her as well though I don’t know how you will with that demanding child,” I said, cringing.

“That’s the thing! He drains me, man. I don’t have the energy to run around with her like you do,” Zee said with a sigh.

“Doesn’t have to be energetic games though. Sit and read books with her. Play small games with her which you can do while sitting with her. Or just sit and talk to her. The main thing is focusing attention on her. And get Bashir to give her that attention as well.”

“Ya you’re right. You’d make such a good mother, you know,” Zee said with a pointed look.

I laughed. “Being good with other people’s kids doesn’t make someone a good mother. Here I can play with your kids then hand them back to you and go back to my peaceful house. No strings attached mothering.” I laughed again.

Zee shook her head. “You’ll be a good mother, I can tell. But yeah, enjoy this time before you have kids and before you forget what it’s like to sleep even three full hours without interruption.”

“Finally someone who’s talking sense!” I exclaimed dramatically. Zee laughed in response.

Laaibah came in then with her small serving trolley in which she had placed small cups of lemonade and a plate of biscuits.

“Wow, Zee, your daughter’s gonna be a wonderful hostess,” I exclaimed. I oohed and aahed over everything and ate and relaxed with Laaibah till it was time to go home. I left a pouty Laaibah with promises to come back soon, hugged Zee and left for my own house, grateful for the peace and tranquillity that awaited me there.

Part 222

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Hope everyone is well and doing great! Once again, jazakallah khair for yourlls understanding and patience. I’m putting this here to say that I’ll try to be regular but my posting might be a little erratic and I don’t want to put up notices everytime so if it’s delayed, just know that I’m trying to get it up as soon as I can❤❤

Have a wonderful Monday and enjoy the post xxx


I opened my eyes slowly, to sunlight filtering through the curtains. My head was resting on something hard and warm, my right hand curled on top of the same warm surface. Ahmed, I realised, squinting down my nose at the short, curly hair tickling it. That was surprising enough to give me pause; I hadn’t slept curled up against him in ages. Slowly, as the sleepy haze lifted, memory returned…Ahmed and I talking last night, making up…and the blissful night that had followed. Smiling like a cat that had eaten a canary I stretched languorously, the top of my head bumping against Ahmed’s bearded chin in the process. Oops! I quickly lifted my head and looked at him to see if I’d woken him up. His eyes were open, looking into mine smilingly, though a hint of caution lurked in their depths.

“Sorry. Did I wake you up?” I asked guiltily.

“No, I’ve been awake for a while…watching you sleep,” Ahmed replied with a smile.

“Sorry…” I began again. Ahmed placed a finger on my lips, cutting me off.

“No more sorrys. I didn’t mind.”

“Okay,” I smiled back at him, “what’s the time?”

Ahmed reached out a hand and picked up his phone, squinting at it. “Seven-fifteen.”

“What???” I jumped out of bed, wide awake now, “why didn’t you wake me up? I have to go! I’m gonna be so late!” I was already running around the bedroom like a headless chicken, pulling out my abaya and pants for the day before running into the bathroom for a quick, five-minute shower. When I came out again Ahmed was already gone.

Crap! I had probably delayed him as well, I thought, pulling on my pumps and hastily wrapping a hijab around my head. I grabbed my bag, dumped my phone and other essentials inside and raced into the kitchen for a quick glass of milk, only to skid to a halt when I saw Ahmed placing two steaming, fragrant mugs on the table.

“You were making coffee? I thought you’d left already,” I said, feeling absurdly pleased at the small gesture.

Ahmed shrugged. “If you’re late you may as well take your time. You can’t be late twice,” he said solemnly but with a twinkle in his eyes.

I laughed. “Try telling that to my supervisor!” Pulling out the chair I plopped down on it, looking gratefully at the toast and coffee infront of me, “I love you,” I said, biting into the crunchy buttered toast.

“I love you too, princess,” Ahmed looked at me intensely, leaning forward to run the backs of his fingers down my cheek. It was such a familiar gesture yet such an alien one that I froze then blushed. I looked down and took a huge swallow of coffee to cover my sudden awkwardness. Ahmed leaned back and started eating his own breakfast and the kitchen was silent except for the crunching sounds of toast and the muffled thuds of mugs being placed on the table. I ate quickly then rushed out after pecking Ahmed quickly on his cheek. And so began another hectic day.

Things didn’t miraculously return to normal after that night. We were still awkward, taking uncertain steps towards each other, still tip-toeing a little around each other, especially Ahmed. But we both made an effort. Our days were busy and we were both out all day but we tried to get as much time together as we could in between. To that end Ahmed suggested I stay up after fajr as well.

“I can’t do that! I’ll be dead on my feet the whole day!” I said in horror. I knew it was preferable to remain awake after fajr but I was so used to sleeping after fajr that the days I didn’t I really did feel like a zombie. I needed even an hour’s sleep to feel energised. Ahmed, on the other hand, had a habit of staying awake from tahajjud since his madrassah days so it was no big deal for him.

“I know it feels like that at first but if you carry on it gets easier. Try for one week and see. You’ll have so much more time before work that way.”

So much more time with me, he meant. I agreed to try, for his sake. The first few days were horrible! I felt like I was sleepwalking through my morning, my eyes looked red and felt scratchy and by lunchtime I had a dull headache that persisted till I went to sleep at night. But I persisted and after a week I could feel the difference. Ahmed was right. I had so much more time before leaving for work. After fajr Ahmed came home and made coffee for both of us then we went to sit in the garden on the comfy swing. After finishing our coffee Ahmed asked me to recite the Qur’an so I prayed my daily portion of the Qur’an aloud while he listened. Some days I asked him to pray but mostly he insisted that I should pray, saying he couldn’t get enough of my recitation. That was also advantageous for me since it meant that my daily portion of the Qur’an, which I had squeezed in after tahajjud or at other times of the day, could be prayed at that time. We got to spend time together that way, have a relaxed breakfast before changing and leaving for our respective work places, instead of oversleeping then rushing out of the house like I’d always done. It did make a huge difference, as I admitted to Ahmed after a couple of weeks.

***

“Assalamu alaykum!” Ahmed called as he entered the house, accompanied by the jangle of keys.

“Wa alaykum salaam,” I replied, wiping the back of a floury hand over my forehead to push back the stray strands of hair that had escaped my ponytail.

Ahmed appeared in the doorway, smiling like I was the best thing he had seen all day, despite the fact that I was in a casual shirt and sweatpants which at the moment was covered in flour. I left the dough I had been kneading and went to give him a quick kiss, quickly stepping back when he leaned in for more.

“No, I’m covered in flour. Your kurta will get messed!”

“So I’ll put it in the wash. Come here.”

“Nope. After I’ve showered,” I answered, neatly side-stepping him. I grinned at his pouty face and went back to kneading the dough for garlic naan. Ahmed disappeared for a while, reappearing again in a casual shirt and three-quarters, then proceeded to help me finish off supper. I had honestly thought that Ahmed was the type of man who didn’t get his hands dirty in the kitchen, since he’d never helped me out when we stayed with his parents, so I was pleasantly surprised when he’d started helping me after we’d moved.

“It was because of my mum. She hated men in her kitchen and always shooed us away,” he explained the first time I had expressed my surprise. Yet another reason for being grateful for moving out then!

I took a quick shower after supper was done, changing into something more flattering and spritzing perfume over myself. I wasn’t into applying makeup everyday but perfume? Perfume was life! It could turn casual into enticing in the blink of an eye.

We had a relaxed supper, talking about how our day had been and other random things. We cleared up and washed up then retired to the lounge or bedroom for some more together-time. The days I had work I would do it in the lounge while Ahmed sat with me, on his laptop or with a kitab in hand. We were trying and it was working Alhamdulillah.

As Nazia had so wisely said, our experiences would either draw us closer or draw us apart. In mine and Ahmed’s case it drew us closer than ever. Our bond grew stronger than the nikah and honeymoon stage as well; then we were newlyweds with stars in our eyes; neither of us could do wrong in the other’s eyes. We had been novices, sailing in smooth waters with the naive optimism that the tides would never change. But they had. We had weathered storms that had broken us, crushed us in it’s relentless grip; and we had risen from it, stronger, seasoned warriors…and together. That was the main part, that the storms had not managed to rip us apart. Together we broke and together we healed, and now here we were, knowing we had weathered the worst storms of our lives and emerged victorious; and we would, inshaAllah, emerge victorious throughout our lives.

If this ordeal taught me one thing, it was that we don’t give up at the first hurdle. Marriage is not a bed of roses, it’s filled with thorns as well. It’s extremely difficult to hold on to at times but we have to try…because it’s definitely worth fighting for.


I added some humour in the pics below. I came across them today and they were relating to marriage so I thought, why not share them here 😜😄

Part 221

It wasn’t that I intended to let things drag on between us. Life got in the way. The new year had dawned, bringing with it new responsibilities…full time commitments. I had started my year-long internship at the local government hospital, which meant working from seven till five…which meant no more teaching at the school or madrassah. Luckily Han had learnt how to teach the special needs kids at madrassah so I was able to hand the class over to her. And luckily we had moved out before I started because I could just imagine what my mother inlaw would have said at my working full time! Now we lived alone which meant cutting corners at home. I cooked simple meals and luckily had a helper so things were easier for me. But by the time I got home I was exhausted. Sometimes I brought work home with me, which meant late nights alone with coffee and my laptop. Ahmed and I were out of sync with our schedules. We saw each other briefly in the mornings, in passing, then again at night. The only meal we had together was supper. Then he went for esha while I cleared up and made preparations for the next days supper. By the time he came back I was either in the bathroom, making wudhu and changing into my pjs, or buried in my work. And when I did go to bed it was to turn around and knock out like a lightbulb. I was the sort who fell asleep quickly anyways, and with my long days I knocked out as soon as my head hit the pillow. Maybe I was putting off the talk, avoiding the confrontation…maybe. I brushed it off with the excuse that I was busy, and justifiably so.

That was until the night I found Ahmed moving things out of our room and into one of the single rooms opposite ours.

“What are you doing?” I asked, eyeing his laden arms suspiciously.

“I was thinking I’ll move out of our room for a while…till things get right between us again,” Ahmed replied.

“What???” I burst out incredulously, “why on earth would you do that??”

Ahmed sighed and rubbed his forehead tiredly. “I know things are messed up between us, Fadheelah. I know I messed up badly. I’m sorry for not moving out sooner. If I could go back and change that I would. But I can’t. I can only shape the future. And I’m trying to make things right between us again…but you don’t seem interested,” his eyes looked into mine searchingly, “you’ve shut me out and I don’t know how to get back in. Tell me, Fadheelah. Tell me what I must do but don’t just shut me out. We won’t solve anything that way…”

“Well, for starters don’t move out,” I snapped, “you’ll make things worse that way, not better!”

“For the past month you’ve turned the other way and gone to sleep. Or you stay up till late and only come to bed long after I’ve gone to sleep. You make sure you stay on your side of the bed and not come close enough to touch me even accidentally. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable in your own room. So if you prefer to be alone I’ll move out.”

I stared at him silently. His words had hit me with a far greater force than he realised. For the first time in weeks I looked, really looked at my husband. Lines marred his face…lines that hadn’t been there before, bracketing his mouth. Dark circles ringed his eyes. He looked stressed, worried, tired. All of a sudden a memory flashed through my mind…a memory of years ago…

Nana and Ahmed arguing, angry at one another, not on speaking terms…Ahmed pleading at me to intervene, to get nana to forgive him. My words to nana, “every son of Adam is a sinner, but the best of sinners is the one who repents…yes, everyone sins, everyone makes mistakes. But the best way to move forward is to forgive, to move past the mistakes and bury them completely. We can’t let our past control our future.”

How easily had the words left my lips then. But now that it was about myself I had forgotten all that. I had forgotten the power of forgiving, of letting go. Nazia’s words also came to mind. “Don’t let the past come between you. Look ahead now… and remember. Every experience either makes you or breaks you. It depends on how you take it. You can either move forward from this together, stronger than ever…or not at all. The decision is in your hands.” And yet, what had I done again? I had buried all that and immersed myself in my work again…ignoring my husband and his feelings in the process. Since when had I turned into this bitter old hag???

“Fadheelah?” Ahmed was looking at me uncertainly.

“I’m sorry…” I choked out, “I’m so sorry.”

Ahmed’s eyes flared in surprise. “Can we talk?”

I nodded and led him back into our room. Shutting the door behind us we sat cross-legged on the bed, facing each other. Ahmed leaned forward and clasped my hands in his. I didn’t pull away.

“Can I start?” “You can start.” We said at the same time. Looking at each other we started laughing, lightening some of the tension between us.

“Go on,” Ahmed said, lifting our joined hands slightly.

I nodded and took a deep breath. “Okay. I’ve…uhh…been going for therapy these past few weeks…”

Ahmed’s mouth opened in surprise. “Oh,” he said.

“Yeah. Sylvia dragged me there. Said I needed it. And I did. I didn’t realise how many issues I had to work through. Therapy helped me put things into perspective. It helped me begin the healing process…and the process of building myself up again. Ahmed…we both thought getting out of your parents house would be the end of it…but it wasn’t. The impact those months had on me was lasting and it was affecting my present as well. Nazia showed me how much mummy had knocked me down. I was a shell of my former self. My confidence and self esteem had gone down. I felt like I wasn’t good enough anymore…like I was a good-for-nothing. Nazia helped me regain that confidence. I’m still not where I used to be but I’m getting there slowly. And I also had a lot of resentment buried inside me…at you and your mother…but mainly at you…for not getting me out of there sooner. That’s why I’ve been acting this way. It’s the blame and resentment within me.”

Ahmed nodded. “I thought so. But princess…why didn’t you tell me? Why were you going through this alone? I could have been there for you…I could have helped you through all of this.”

“Hardly, when the culprit in my mind was you,” I replied dryly.

“So? You could have told me everything. Let it out. I would have taken it. That’s better than you keeping it in.”

“I did let it out. In therapy. I told Nazia everything but she told me to talk to you as well. To let you know everything I’d been through. To let it out then let it go. And then to forgive and move on…”

“I could have been there for you from the time you started…not just now,” Ahmed repeated, his voice tinged with regret. He tightened his hold on my hands, leaning forward slightly, “tell me everything…let it out, Fadheelah, and then find a way to forgive me and come back to me. Can’t you see how much we’ve drifted away from each other? I want my old Fadheelah back. Remember us in Costa Rica? I want that Fadheelah back. No matter what it takes.”

The urgency and desperation in his voice tore me up inside. I swallowed hard and nodded briefly. And I did. I told him everything I’d been through at the hands of his mother…my emotions, thoughts and feelings during that time. I told him what I’d been going through since we moved out as well. I spoke clearly and concisely, baring my soul to him. He listened silently, his only response being the flash of regret and pain that crossed his face every now and then. When I finished there was total silence between us. Then he sighed heavily.

“This makes me feel like a complete fool. Because I knew…and yet I had no clue of the depth of your emotions. I…” he shook his head.

“Open communication,” I said quietly, “from now on we lay our thoughts and feelings on the table. And we discuss them calmly. No more shutting each other away. No more keeping grudges.”

Ahmed nodded. “I’m sorry, Fadheelah. I’m…” he clenched his jaw hard, his grip on my hands tightening almost painfully, “I’m so sorry.”

Three words. Three words that meant the world to me because of the total sincerity with which they were spoken. For the first time in weeks I smiled, really smiled at Ahmed.

“It’s okay.” And it was. It was okay. We would be okay.

Without another word Ahmed opened his arms to me. I stepped into them, feeling them close tightly around me…

…feeling like I had finally come home.

Part 220

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

I…AM…BACK!!! Yes I’m as excited as you’ll are😜

I want to thank my incredible readers for all your support and duas during my long break. It’s what encouraged me to return sooner than I expected as well…the support and understanding. I have the best crew in the world…you’ll rock!!!🤗😘❤

Also, this post is dedicated to Miracle…for just being there for me when I needed it😘😘😘


It was a short drive to the house, which was on the next street. Dark and empty, it sat on what seemed to be a large piece of land, trees looming up at around us. I couldn’t see much else and I didn’t look around anyways, wrapped as I was in my own thoughts. I followed Ahmed into the house and moved around, turning on a few lights here and there. It was a single storey house, wide and spacious. I walked down the passage, peeping into the rooms as I went, till I reached a wide door at the end on my right. Opening it I found myself in a large master bedroom. A huge king sized bed graced one wall, floor-to-ceiling windows making up the opposite wall. Cupboards lined the third wall, with the fourth wall blank save for a huge frame depicting the beach…white sands and blue waters, the sun reflecting brightly off the water. Just my scene. I liked the room immediately.

“Well? How is it?” Ahmed asked, coming in with the bags. He dropped them at the foot of the bed.

“Nice. It’s really nice,” I replied, shooting him a smile. I opened my suitcase and retrieved my toothbrush, toothpaste and pjs before making use of the equally luxurious bathroom.

After praying esha I crashed, too exhausted to think of doing anything else.

I spent the next few days setting up house. It was a lovely house, with a wide, spacious kitchen overlooking the large back garden. It was interconnected with the dining room and lounge which made up the front half of the house. The three bedrooms were at the back, two singles side by side and the master bedroom opposite them, also overlooking the back garden. The garden itself was the best feature and I immediately fell in love with it. With a tall water feature in the middle and rolling green grass around it, bordered by vibrant roses in a multitude of colours, it was scenic, peaceful and soon became my favourite retreat. I spent many dawns and late afternoons curled up on the bench at one end or on the garden swing at the other end, lost in my own little world. I had finally found a safe haven after all the chaos that had been part of my life for months and I cherished it wholeheartedly.

If only that had been the end of it. In my mind it had been so simple. Move out. Get our own space and live happily ever after. Reality, however, was much more complex, marred by age-old scars that, though buried beneath the surface, were far from healed. I could not live my happily ever after…not until I walked the path of absolution.

Things between Ahmed and I were…strained. On the surface things were fine. We were finally alone and we were both more relaxed, able to be ourselves without any outside interference. Daddy, Humi and Dalia had come by a few times, bringing the rest of our things. Mummy still refused to acknowledge our existence. However, those scars were still there…and the reason for their presence was staring at me every single day.

It was not that I had intended to blame him. He got us out after all…but…a little too late. That was where my mind refused to move from. A little too late. After I had been through verbal abuse for months. After I’d had my self esteem ripped to shreds and thrown in my face. After the old bubbly, carefree Fazila had been ruthlessly crushed, leaving a shell of her former self in her place. He had removed me from that place but the damage was already done. And he hadn’t shielded me from the damage. In my mind I blamed him…I resented him and that resentment was festering away inside me. Sometimes it came bubbling out in a torrent of words. Ahmed did not say a word. He took every word I hurled at him silently…because in his mind too he was guilty. And just as resentment festered away inside me, so did guilt fester away inside him. He tried in dozens of way to make it up to me…to the extent of making plans of adding a swimming pool to the back garden, just because I had once voiced the wish of having one.

It was Sylvia who suggested counselling…or rather, insisted on it. She went as far as booking me by a brilliant Muslim woman and dragging me to her when the day of my appointment arrived. I grudgingly gave in only because the woman was a Muslim and came highly recommended by several people. I didn’t only want psychological advice, but from an Islamic point of view as well. Little did I know how much Nazia was going to impact on my life.

Those therapy sessions saved me…they pulled me out of the dark hole I’d buried myself in and allowed me to take a good hard look at myself. I was shocked at the person I’d become…at the bitter feelings I had buried deep inside me. Nazia drew each and every one of them out. She encouraged me to talk…talk about the emotions, thoughts and feelings I had buried, about the people who had incited such emotions. And I did talk. I let it all pour out, every bitter word pouring out of me like acid. I’d thought I was handling things just fine. The therapy sessions taught me that I hadn’t been handling things well at all. I needed to let it all out and let it go, not bury it in me and hope it would go away. It never did.

Then, after the floodgates had been opened and the dam of emotions released, came the process of building myself up again. Nazia told me to list all my good qualities. Before I’d have been able to list twenty…now I could barely list five. My mother inlaw’s words had penetrated deeper than I had realised. I felt like I was a good-for-nothing. After all, nothing I did ever pleased her. What did that say about me? Nazia told me to make a gratitude journal…to write one positive thing about myself in it every single day. And to make a list of things that make me happy and another list of things that make me sad, and do one thing that made me happy everyday.

“Remember, what that person says is beyond your control. But how you absorb it and how you react to it is in your control. So that’s the part you need to take control of. What if you meet another Nilofar in your future? Will you allow her to tear you down again? No. You’re worth more than that. So you’ll pause, take a breath and remind yourself that you’re not what another person says you are. Keep your response and emotions positive. You are a wonderful person, Fazila. Remember that and don’t let anyone take the power of self love away from you,” Nazia grasped my hands in hers and looked at me earnestly, willing her words to penetrate. I stared back at her silently, then gave a small nod. The old Fazila was slowly emerging again.

Then I spoke to Nazia about mine and Ahmed’s relationship…how I was still feeling resentful over his inability to move out before this…how it was affecting our relationship.

“Look, Fazila. Men are not mind readers. They’re not even hint pickers. They need things spelt out for them in black and white. Tell me, when you were going through all this, did you sit down and tell him what his mother was doing? Exact words and scenario?”

“I tried a couple of times. He told me to make sabr. After that I gave up,” I replied.

“That was wrong of him. Sabr doesn’t mean passively sitting and doing nothing. Did he expect you to just take the abuse?”

“He thought his mother will change eventually, that I just have to be kind to her,” I replied.

“And when she didn’t…did you tell him how she still was?”

He could see for himself how she was. He’s not blind,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“Did his mother behave that way around him as well?”

“She didn’t insult or put me down directly infront of him but she constantly criticised me to him.”

“And…?”

“And nothing. He kept being blindly optimistic that she’ll change eventually. Plus his parents had drawn up some silly contract about him having to stay with them for one year at least, so he thought if I play kind she’ll change and if she doesn’t we can move out after the year had passed…one year he expected me to stay in that hellhole! He should have stayed with her himself if he was so optimistic!” I retorted heatedly.

Nazia looked at me, nodding her head thoughtfully. “Have you told him any of this?”

“Yeah, I lost my temper and ranted about all this to him the night we moved out.”

“And after moving out…have you spoken to him about any of this?”

“No, what’s the point? He knows how I feel about all this.”

“Maybe not. Fazila, men need things in black and white. He knows you’re still hurting but you can’t carry on like this. You need to sit down with him and tell him all this. Let it off your chest then let it go. Even while staying with his parents, you should have carried on telling him about how you feel, not given up and thought he can see for himself. He needed to hear it from you…how you were coping, how you were feeling. How you’re telling me. You needed to tell him. It would have made things clearer in his mind…”

I nodded, slowly getting what she was saying. She was right. I had become so frustrated I had either kept silent, not wanting to bang my head against a brick wall again, which was what I thought about speaking to Ahmed…or ranted to him when the frustration became too much. Both ways weren’t effective. I should have been clear and concise, though I was still annoyed at how dense men could be sometimes!

“So put that on your list. Sit down with your husband. Tell him everything. Make him hear it all, whether it’s hard to hear or not. Then let it go, Fazila. Both of you have started a new chapter in your lives. Don’t let the past come between you. Look ahead now… and remember. Every experience either makes you or breaks you. It depends on how you take it. You can either move forward from this together, stronger than ever…or not at all. The decision is in your hands.”

I nodded again as I got up to leave. “Jazakillah, Nazia. For putting things into perspective for me,” I said, hugging her.

That was not the end of the road but it was a start. I went home that day full of hope and renewed intentions. But life has a way of getting in between sometimes…making even the most well laid plans turn to dust. And things between Ahmed and I, instead of improving, continued to deteriorate…

Living life cloaked in modesty and islamic principles…