Over the next few days my mind kept straying to Ahmed and nana. I wondered if they had resolved their differences. Nana was the same as usual. He didn’t give anything away, by word or action, and I didn’t have the courage to ask him outright. The only way I would know was to ask Ahmed and I kept a lookout for him at campus. On the fourth day I spotted him as I was sitting with Khadija and Asiyah on the bench at campus and I immediately jumped up.
“There he is!”
“Who?” Two pairs of curious eyes lifted to my face.
“Ahmed. I need to talk to him. I won’t be long. You’ll can wait here or in the car for me. Don’t look at me like that,” I said, finding Khadija’s knowing eyes on me, a smirk growing on her face, “I have to discuss some urgent business with him, that’s all.”
“Now what ‘urgent business’ would you have with Ahmed?” Khadija tapped her chin, pretending to think over it deeply. I rolled my eyes at her.
“Nothing of the kind you’re thinking,” I twisted my body around to look behind me and caught a flash of his white kurta as he melded into the people milling around, “crap! Let me catch him before he disappears completely!” I hurriedly walked in the direction I had last seen him. My luck was in yet again when I spotted Ahmed walking away from me in the distance, probably going to his house.
“Ahmed!” I gasped, jogging to keep up with him, “wait up!”
Ahmed whirled around, a frown on his face which deepened when he saw me rushing towards him.
“What?? What’s wrong?” He grabbed my arm then snatched his hand back instantly as though it had been burnt, “sorry,” he mumbled, shoving his hands in his pockets, “what’s wrong?”
I ignored the tingling feeling in my arm and smiled brightly at him, “nothing urgent, don’t worry. I was only running so that I don’t lose sight of you.”
“Okay…” he looked at me quizzically as though wondering why I wanted to catch him in the first place.
“My nana…and you…how’s things between you’ll?” I asked in a rush.
Ahmed’s face clouded over instantly. “Not good!” He said, blowing out his breath, “I apologised to him, for not thinking of offering him a lift and for raising my voice at him. He didn’t say anything…”
“That’s good, right?”
“No, it’s not. It means he shrugged off my apology. He simply nodded and turned back to his work. And now I’m pretty much non existent to him. He won’t talk directly to me anymore and if I have to talk to him first he’ll give me short, abrupt replies then turn away again. I don’t know what to do!” He ran his hand agitatedly through his hair, causing his imaamah to fall behind him, “I even went over to your house yesterday. I took him a gift and apologised to him again,” absently he bent over and retrieved his imaamah, setting it firmly on his head, “he only nodded again. Then there was such an awkward silence between us that after five minutes I left. I couldn’t take the coldness between us.”
“Oh no,” I whispered. I knew that nana was hurt and he was probably acting on that hurt but he should know the rewards of forgiveness. Ahmed couldn’t turn the clock back and do things differently and nana should realise that and forgive him so that they could move on. I was sure that Ahmed was too sensible to let a repeat of this incident happen again. “Unless I speak to him,” I murmured softly, “maybe he would listen to me.”
Ahmed looked at me doubtfully. “Wouldn’t he get angry at you for defending a strange guy? He would wonder what your interest is in all this.”
“Yeah, he wouldn’t take kindly to my standing up for you,” I replied, “but I can try, subtly, indirectly. Let me see. There’s no harm in trying.”
Ahmed flashed me one of his wide, dimpled smiles, making me go weak at the knees.
“Jazakallah, Fadheelah. Your support means a lot to me.”
“It’s fine,” I shrugged as though his soft words and warm smile had no effect on me, “I know you would do the same for me so we’re even.”
“Anytime,” he smiled once more at me, greeted me and left.
Over the next couple of days I watched nana carefully, waiting for opportunities to subtly bring up the topics of forgiveness and joining ties. In our home talim I read the chapter on joining ties from Fadhaaile Sadaqaat and also mentioned the sahabi who was promised jannah by Nabi S.A.W simply because he went to sleep with his heart clean and having forgiven everyone who had wronged him. Nana seemed to be listening but I obviously had no idea of what he was thinking.
On the third day, however, the perfect opportunity fell right into my lap and I wasted no time in grabbing hold of it with both hands.
Nana had called me into his study after dinner to help him with some of his work and now here I sat, infront of his computer, rapidly typing up what he dictated to me from his kitab. For a while there was silence, punctuated only by the clicking of the keyboard. Then nana read out a hadith;
“Every son of Adam is a sinner, but the best of sinners is the one who repents.”
I dutifully typed out the hadith then paused for a few seconds, my thoughts tumbling around in my head. Without volition my mouth opened and the words poured forth, “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.” Instantly I tensed as nana’s head whipped around to stare at me. I pretended to be as stunned by my words as he was and looked back at him as if to say, “well, look at what this genius brain of mine just conjured up!”
“What did you mean by that, Fazzu?” Nana’s voice was stern, his gaze penetrating, as though trying to peep inside my brain.
“Nothing,” I replied quickly, “I…uhmm…it just came to my mind so I said it,” I held my breath, praying that he wouldn’t probe further.
“You’re right,” nana said abruptly after a while, “say it again.”
“Huh??” I stared at him blankly.
“Say what you said again.”
“Uhmmm…I said we should forgive and move on…because uhmmm…everyone sins and makes mistakes…” maybe my brain did have a genuine moment there because for the life of me I couldn’t recall the exact words I’d said to nana.
Nana’s mouth lifted in a slight smile. “Okay, let’s carry on. Where were we?”
I went to my room after I had finished nana’s work, wondering if he had gotten the hint and if he planned to do anything about it. I fell asleep with visions of nana and Ahmed on a battlefield, declaring a truce, floating through my mind.…
I sat at the back of the class, my head bent, scribbling furiously away to keep up with Qaari Hammaad’s pace. I heaved a sigh of relief as he finally concluded the dars (lesson) with some wise words of wisdom as always. Dropping the pen on top of my book I flexed my sore fingers and rotated my neck to get the crick out of it.
“I’ll head over to the library now,” Qaari Hammaad said generally and that was a sign that the class was dismissed. Immediately the owes started getting to their feet, slinging their bags over their arms and shoulders and shuffling out of there. They did not stop and offer to carry Qaari Hammaad’s kitabs for him because they knew that it was always I who did that. I carried Qaari Hammaad’s kitabs and accompanied him to the library; I searched for whichever kitabs he wanted and got them for him; and I drove him home afterwards if he hadn’t come in his car, or took his kitabs to his car if he had. And that had been our routine even after our quarrel. No one had an inkling that things were not right between us and we preferred to keep it that way.
I lifted Qaari Hammaad’s kitabs in my arms and followed him silently out of the door. Even as I searched through the kitabs and got the ones he wanted, even as I led him to my car and drove him to his house there was an awkward silence between us that stretched with every passing second till I felt like screaming just to break the tension.
“Qarisaab,” I blurted once we were in his study. I’d had to follow him in here to place his kitabs on his desk and, pretending to stumble, I had slammed the door shut with my elbow. Qaari Hammaad had simply regarded me seriously and waited for me to deposit his kitabs and leave. But I couldn’t. I had to sort this out now and I hoped he would listen to me this time.
“Please, Qaarisaab. I know I was wrong but please make me maaf. I said things in anger that I was not supposed to and I regret it now. I won’t do it again inshaAllah, please forgive me.”
I held my breath when Qaari Hammaad lifted his head and pinned me with his piercing gaze, his expression unreadable. When he opened his mouth the last words I expected to hear poured forth;
“Every son of Adam is a sinner but the best of sinners is the one who repents.”
I stared at him, baffled, unsure of what he meant. Qaari Hammaad smiled slightly when he saw my confusion.
“You were wrong, Ahmed, but I was wrong to hold a grudge against you for so long as well. The best way to move forward is to forgive and bury past mistakes. We can’t let our past control our future.” He appeared to be quoting from somewhere and his smile widened as though remembering something. I didn’t care about that though. Qaari Hammaad was talking about burying past mistakes and that’s all I could concentrate on. He moved forward and lay his hand on my shoulder.
“You are like a son to me, Ahmed. That’s why I got angry when you went without me. But I realise that I should have made myself clear to you…”
I nodded quickly. “That’s all in the past like you said, Qaarisaab. My main concern now is whether I’m still like a son to you…” I paused significantly.
Qaari Hammaad laughed. “Of course. I can’t disown you so easily,” he pulled me forward into a hug which I wholeheartedly returned.
“It’s a good thing Fazila made me think twice,” Qaari Hammaad mentioned offhandedly as I was about to leave, “otherwise I would have still been stuck in my anger.
Fadheelah made him think twice? So that means Fadheelah had spoken to him? “How?” I asked, trying to sound as casual as he did.
“She told me that I need to bury past mistakes. And she said I can’t let my past control my future,” he shook his head and smiled, “I don’t know what she was talking about but she did make me think.”
I stared at him, my mind whirling at this piece of news. So Fadheelah had spoken to him after all, and had actually made him reconsider his stance. Once again Fadheelah had come to my aid in a difficult time and once again she had left me gobsmacked at the ease with which she managed to accomplish what I couldn’t. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude flow through me, filling me up till every nerve ending of mine tingled from the onslaught. I wanted to step up to her nana there and then and claim her as my own. I wanted to win her hand in marriage so that she belonged to me only. I wanted…
“Ahmed?” Qaari Hammaad was looking at me, his brows furrowed in puzzlement, “what is it?”
I shook my head. “Nothing,” I mumbled. I forced myself to smile and greet him before walking away from there on leaden feet.
Not yet…not yet…