I managed to shove my sorrow to the back of my mind while I taught my angels their letters and duas but after madrassah it was weighing on me again, dragging me down. Without conscious thought I pulled out my phone and dialled the one person whose voice I needed to hear right now.
“Assalamu alaykum,” his deep voice slid through me and I instantly felt like a weight was lifting from my chest.
“Wa alaykum salaam,” I replied.
“How you, princess?”
“I’m fine.” The words rolled off my tongue automatically. Then I sighed, “no, actually I’m not.”
“Why? What’s wrong?” He sounded instantly concerned.
“Nana and nani left today. It’s so hard to say bye to them every time. I don’t know when I’ll see them again…I just wish they didn’t have to go back,” I admitted, brushing away stray tears with one hand, the other on the steering wheel.
“I’m sorry, princess. It’s never easy to say bye to a loved one. It’s hard for me as well and he’s not even my nana…well, he is now but you know what I mean,” I smiled at that. “Are you driving?” He asked suddenly.
“Yeah. On my way home.”
“Don’t talk while driving,” he said immediately, “call me when you get home.”
“Relax, babe, I’ve put you on speaker. And I’m not driving so fast,” I said, grinning now.
“I don’t trust your definition of “not so fast”,” his sceptical voice came through and I laughed.
“I’m driving on eighty! Happy?”
“Wow serious? I think you’ve broken some kind of record today. Slowest Fadheelah driving ever,” he joked.
By the time I got home my spirits had greatly improved. I hung up after talking to Ahmed, prayed asr then sat down with my assignment. Ahmed’s message came as I was engrossed in it.
What’s up? Wanna meet up?
I smiled wistfully and called him.
“Assalamu alaykum. I wish, man!” I complained as soon as he picked up.
“Why? We can go somewhere for supper if you want.”
“It’s not that I don’t want. I can’t. I’m bogged down with work.”
“What work?” He sounded confused.
“Remember I told you I’m doing my masters from home? Yeah so that. I’m busy with an assignment right now.”
“Shoh, you really do work hard, man. How many things do you do in a day again?”
“Let’s see, I teach Riyaadh first thing in the morning…then go to school for the morning…then madrassah in the afternoons…then come home and study or work on my assignments,” I ticked off each thing on my fingers as I listed it.
“Do you have any free time at all?”
“Nope, none at all on weekdays. I don’t go anywhere on weekdays except work and home. And I’m busy on weekends as well sometimes. I’ve slacked off since getting married…not that I’m complaining,” I added hurriedly, “but the thing is, masters can take one year or two. I want to finish it in one year so I’m really pushing myself.”
“Why not in two years?” Ahmed asked curiously.
“Because this studying business is taking forever! I’m getting tired of it now…just want to get it over and done with. Besides, did you know I have to do community service after I finish? For one year.” I held my breath as I waited for his reply. Somehow we hadn’t gotten around to discussing any of this before.
“What does that mean?” Ahmed asked carefully.
“It means I have to work in a government hospital for one year. Full days. No part time or anything. Seven-thirty to four p.m.” I had found out all these details before deciding to do my masters. Not that it would have changed my decision. I had to do this if I wanted to be a fully qualified psychologist. I had no choice.
“Hmmmm…hectic,” was his response.
“Do you mind?”
“Well, it’s all very new to me. All this time I thought you’re done with your studies.”
“I did tell you I’m doing my masters when you came to see me.”
“Yeah, you did. I guess I didn’t realise what that meant at that time. But anyways, don’t worry about it now. We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”
“Sure,” I agreed instantly, exhaling in relief. The last thing I wanted was a battle on my hands so this reprieve was more than welcome.
“So that means no meeting up on weekdays?” I could almost see him pouting.
I smiled then sighed. “No, I can’t afford to. I’ll give you my entire weekends though, inshaAllah. I’m all yours over the weekend.”
“Good. I’ll make the most of it then,” Ahmed replied.
And he did. He was outside my gate at one-thirty p.m sharp on Saturday, texting me to hurry up. I opened the gate for him and went outside to call him in.
“I’m still eating. Come join us,” I said, placing a quick kiss on his cheek. It was so good to see him after so many days. His heavenly smell, itr and his own unique scent, washed over me and I inhaled deeply, drinking him in. He smelt so good…he looked even better.
“No, jazakallah. I’ve already eaten,” he said, brushing the backs of his fingers down my cheek, his intense gaze capturing mine, “I missed you,” he said softly.
“I missed you too,” I replied, smiling up at him.
I led him inside to the kitchen where everyone was.
“Ahmed, come, join us,” dad said with a warm smile, gesturing at the empty spot on his left. Han was luckily sitting with her back to him so she hunched over and carried on eating. Sumi, sitting opposite her covered her face with her scarf and turned away slightly. Ahmed kept his gaze trained on dad as he answered, “jazakallah but I’ve eaten already.”
“This isn’t good, Ahmed. You must come eat lunch with us tomorrow,” mum put in.
Ahmed looked at her and smiled, “okay, I will, inshaAllah.”
“Have some ice cream at least. Faz, get the ice cream for him,” mum added.
I winked at Ahmed and removed the tub of choc mint ice cream from the freezer then pulled out a bowl and spoon for him. I led him to the lounge because I knew he would be more comfortable there.
“Dig in. I’ll be right back.”
“Come eat with me,” Ahmed looked at me with puppy eyes. I grinned at him.
“Food before dessert, babe. I’m off to finish off my biryani now.”
“Come back quickly. I want to share this with you.”
“More like you’ll be sharing with my dad and bro,” I chuckled then left to go eat.
Ahmed did end up having ice cream with dad and Adnaan and talking to them, while I finished off my food and went to get ready. I packed my swimming costume this time incase we ended up going to the beach house again.
Ahmed stood up when I reappeared in the lounge, smiling at me. “Ready?”
“Yup!” I replied, smiling back.
“Don’t stay out till too late. It’s not safe,” dad cautioned.
“Jee, daddy, I’ll be back early inshaAllah. But I’ve taken the house keys just incase,” I replied.
“By early she means anytime before midnight,” Adnaan grinned. I stuck my tongue out at him even while I admitted to myself that that was exactly what I had meant.
“So where are we going?” I asked Ahmed when we were on the road.
“Guess,” he grinned, reaching over to clasp my hand in his. I loved this habit of his, of playing with my fingers while he drove.
“The beach house?”
“Yup! Clever girl!” He shot me a wide grin.
“Like there was any guessing involved in that!” I rolled my eyes playfully.
“I like you all to myself, habibti. What can I do?” He said and my heart jumped in my chest at the new endearment. When Ahmed spoke in English the words slid off his tongue like warm honey. When he spoke in Arabic the words sounded like a caress…seductive…sexy…and wasn’t I sounding so poetic right now? I thought with a chuckle.
“What? What did I say?” Ahmed looked at me quizzically.
“Nothing. I was just thinking how nice you sound when you speak Arabic,” I answered honestly.
“If I sound nice why did you laugh?” Ahmed arched his brows.
“Because…” damn, how should I answer this? “…because my mind ran away with me.”
“Where did it run? Take me where it is,” he was smiling now.
“You don’t wanna go there, believe me!” I answered emphatically and he burst out laughing.
The beach house was lovely as usual. I felt the same thrill when we entered through the lounge and I kicked off my shoes, abaya and hijab before making a beeline for the kitchen doors leading onto the deck, with the vast blue ocean spread out beyond it. Ahmed caught up to me before I reached them, snaking out an arm and pulling me against him. He had also removed his kurta, imaamah and shoes, I realised as I saw his muscular bare forearm wrapped around my waist, his bare feet alongside mine. My heart started thundering as he bent his head, his warm breath tickling the side of my neck.
“Hold on a minute, habibti. Let me see you first.” He turned me around gently to face him, holding me at arm’s length to look me over nicely. I was wearing a blue tank top and white skinny jeans today… my face burned as his gaze slid over me, feeling self conscious despite the fact that I’d worn a more revealing costume just the past weekend. His face broke into a smile.
“You look gorgeous,” he said softly.
I smiled and gave him the same once over. “You’re not too bad yourself, habibi.”
Ahmed grinned. “Arabic suits you as well….habibti.”
He led me onto the deck and we stood there, letting the salty breeze whip through our hair, watching the waves crash in the distance.
“What do you wanna do first?” Ahmed asked.
“Swim,” I immediately replied, bringing a smile to his face. We changed and dived in, enjoying ourselves thoroughly. Ahmed tired me out, racing me from end to end, chasing behind me to dunk me when I wasn’t looking and throwing me over and over into the air. I could never tire of that and I thrilled in having a husband strong enough to carry me and toss me up like a child. It had been a dream of mine for years that I should get a fit, strong and energetic husband. Definitely not a flabby couch potato who couldn’t even lift his sock to the laundry basket, never mind a fifty-something kilogram woman. I had even made dua for a fit husband and I was ecstatic that my dua had been accepted, thinking, “Alhamdulillah!” even as I shrieked at rocketing out of the water yet again.
After we had worn ourselves thoroughly in the pool we took a walk on the beach. The sun was lower in the sky now and it was cooler. We walked hand in hand, shoulders bumping, chatting about anything and everything. I was so grateful for that as well. Often I had thought of what married couples talked about all the time; what I would talk about with my husband when I got married. I had heard of newlywed couples spending hours on the phone. What on earth did they talk about everyday? I actually worried sometimes about going blank about an hour into the conversation then having to like fake a yawn just so I could get off the phone before I embarrassed myself with my silence and awkward stammerings. But not once had that occurred. We had pulled many all-nighters but never did we run out of topics Alhamdulillah. Even now the conversation flowed as we strolled along, engrossed in each other. Finally Ahmed sat down, pulling me infront of him so he could wrap his arms around me. I leaned back against him, tracing his arms with my fingertips, watching the waves crash and recede with their soothing rhythm.
“Any news from your nana?” Ahmed asked.
“Yeah, he phoned when they reached UK and again today in the morning. They were saying it’s so quiet there with just the two of them.” I sighed, missing them again. I wished I could transport myself there sometimes, to give them company, to help them with their chores, to just sit with them and listen to their stories. Ahmed and I really needed to visit soon………
“Anyways…about that qiraa’ah story…” I said, my mind going to that incident as I thought about UK and the memories it contained. I also remembered that we never had finished this conversation the other day…, “mind repeating it to me again?” I twisted in his arms to face him, flashing him a mischievous smile.
“What story?” Ahmed asked, looking at me innocently. He started tracing patterns up and down my arms, across my shoulders…distracting me with his featherlight touch which was no doubt his aim. I swatted his hands away and raised my eyebrows at him.
“Stop distracting me and start spilling!”
Ahmed shot me a wry look. “You won’t let go of it, will you?”
“Nope! Never!” I replied with a grin, “so go on. I want to hear it from you.”
“There’s nothing to tell. I came to your house to give your nana a kitab…and I heard you praying. I couldn’t help my reaction. It’s like I forgot your nana was there, I was so engrossed in listening to you. Till he called out my name. And stupid me told him how beautifully you were praying,” he cringed at the memory, “And he asked me if I want history to repeat itself. I was confused by what he meant so he told me how your dad fell for your mum the same way. Then he asked me again if I wanted history to repeat itself.”
“And? What did you say?” I asked, amused.
“Nothing. Damned if I said yes and damned if I said no. So I kept quiet.”
“You could have said yes. Saved us so many years of heartbreak,” I said softly. I hadn’t explicitly told him how much I’d liked him from back then, how his absence had affected me.
He looked at me then, his gaze intense. “Yes. I should have. And I wanted to, Fadheelah. I wanted to marry you so much, from that time,” his hand lifted, cupped my cheek, “but I couldn’t. Circumstances prevented me.”
“It’s okay. At least we’re together now,” I replied, leaning into his touch, “was I praying Surah Ar-Rahmaan, by the way?”
“No. Surah Noor,” he replied, smiling.
“Oh…then it wasn’t an exact case of history repeating itself,” I said, “my dad heard my mum praying Ar-Rahmaan and went gaga. Fell so hard he still hasn’t recovered,” I giggled.
“Actually history did repeat itself in a way,” Ahmed said slowly, “it was Surah Ar-Rahmaan that made me fall for you as well. And I still haven’t recovered. Don’t even want to,” he grinned.
“Ar-Rahmaan? When?” I frowned.
“One day by the lake. In England. I was walking when I heard the most beautiful qiraa’ah ever. It was you. I was completely captivated. Lost my heart to you that day.”
I scrunched my forehead, trying to remember. By the lake? I had a vague memory of being upset…going by the water to calm myself as usual…praying Qur’an to calm myself, also as usual. He was there that day?
“You heard me??” I asked, looking at him wide-eyed. He nodded, his eyes soft with remembrance, “wow. I had no clue.”
“So history did repeat itself,” he said.
“Yeah. Imagine!” I smiled.
“It’s been a dream of mine since that day…to hear you recite it again, this time for me. To lay my head in your lap and just listen to you praying,” Ahmed grasped my hands in his warm ones, pressed them to his chest…watching me expectantly…waiting… and for the first time ever I felt nervous butterflies flutter in my stomach. I’d prayed to audiences before but none of it was like this moment. It felt like time had slowed down, centred on this moment. I nodded slowly, turning around to face the ocean again. I sat cross legged and watched Ahmed turn and lay his head in my lap, brown hair shining against white denim. He smiled up at me and I smiled back, laying my hand lightly on his cheek. Taking a deep breath I looked out at the endless expanse of blue water and began to pray…………
Her voice was magic. It wound around me, casting me in it’s spell again. I had never heard a voice like hers before. Soft, feminine, yet powerful, gripping. It dipped and soared effortlessly, switching between high and low tones seamlessly. She had a rare gift and I was the luckiest man alive to be handed the gift in the palm of my hand. I closed my eyes and let her voice wash over me, bathing me in it’s sweetness, in the sweetness of the kalaam of Allah.
فَبِأَيِّ آلَاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ
Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both deny………
When she prayed the last ayah there was a moment of profound silence. I opened my eyes and stared up at her, grappling with the right words. Everything seemed so paltry, so lukewarm. I usually had the right words for every occasion, knowing exactly what to say, how to express myself, but this time words failed me. And mere words were not enough to convey the depth of my feeling at that moment so I went with action instead. Lifting my hand I glided my fingers up her cheek, brushing her hair back. I stared deeply into her eyes, watching her own eyes darken, her cheeks turn pink. Sliding my hand into her hair I gripped the back of her head and brought her lips down to mine, conveying in that single kiss how deeply she had affected me…pouring my heart out without words… because this beautiful girl in my arms had rocked my world…had in this short space of time become my entire world………………
Aaand there we have it! Our last post before ramadhan… next post will be up on 18th June inshaAllah…
Love and duas xxx