Asma foi was a tall, plump woman who greeted us with a big smile of welcome then set about making us comfortable and bringing us refreshments even though we protested that we didn’t want anything because we had come straight after breakfast. I looked at her bustling around and shot Ahmed an amused smile.
“That’s daddy to the T.”
Humi and Ahmed both laughed. Asma foi resembled her brother in looks as well. I could tell they were family by looking at them. When she finally came and sat with us, after placing a tray of refreshments on the low coffee table between us, she smiled around at us.
“How you all? Imtiaz told me you’ll are here but you never showed up till now.” Her arched brows demanded an explanation.
“Sorry foi, we kept meaning to come but things kept coming up,” Ahmed said. Humi and I nodded in agreement.
“Well, never mind that now. How you’ll been? You looking well, Ahmed. I must say marriage agrees with you.” We laughed then she turned to Humi.
“And you, Humaira? How you been, ma? I heard what happened with you and that haraami rubbish husband of yours. It’s why I always say we must stick to our own jaath (kind). Can’t trust these lot, you know. What what they can do to us, ey. Not worth spoiling our lives over them.” From the corner of my eyes I saw Humi’s face set in mutinous lines. Asma foi must have seen it as well because she hurried to add, “oh well, all that’s in the past now. Nothing we can do to change it. But you’re still such a pretty young girl, Humaira. You’ll easily find another husband. Infact there must be some right here in Manchester, Ahmed might even know some of them…”
“I am not interested in getting married again,” Humi said flatly.
“Ya, no need to jump into it, of course. Whenever you’re ready, ma.”
Humi simply nodded briefly and turned her attention to Numair. Ahmed and I picked up the thread of conversation and talked to her about different things. She was a nice person, even carried Numair and cooed over him and said he was such a handsome little boy. Humi was quieter after their exchange but she did relax a bit when she saw Asma foi playing so nicely with Numair.
After a while we left, promising to come back again before we left. Asma foi insisted on giving us dawat though, so we agreed to eat dinner at her house on Sunday.
“She’s a nice person,” I commented as we left.
“Yeah, she’s okay,” Humi replied abstractedly. I glanced at her to find her looking out of the car window, lost in thought. She was quiet all the way home and disappeared into her room as soon as we got there, only coming out at lunch time.
Since it was jumuah I took a nice bath and wore a nice dress, applied perfume and prayed Surah Kahf and a bit of my daily portion before lunch. Jumuah lunch was the best. Nana was home and nani usually went all out, making her delicious dhall and rice with potato fry, paapar, kachumar and achaar..all the typical side things to go with. Dessert was caramel pudding which we loved, including Numair who slurped some up with relish. Humi was quieter than usual all through lunch as well and afterwards when Ahmed and I asked her if she wanted to come with us she declined and disappeared into her room again. I looked at Ahmed worriedly.
“Maybe I should find out what’s bothering her.”
Ahmed shook his head. “Give her her space for now. If she’s still like this at night then you can go talk to her.”
I agreed and left it at that.
Ahmed and I spent the afternoon out, touring some other places in Manchester, doing a spot of shopping and stopping for coffee at a lovely little cafe when we were done. We came home in time to pray asr and a little while later the men left for maghrib. I looked at Humi’s closed door and debated whether to go in or not. There wasn’t much time till supper… then I heard a crash and a couple of loud oaths that had me knocking on the door worriedly.
“You okay??” I asked, popping my head in warily.
“Ya, I’m fine…no, actually I’m not and this Numair doesn’t wanna sit still! Can you take him for a while please?”
“Sure…come, Numi bear!” I cooed, picking up the baby fussing on the carpet and giving him a smacking kiss.
“Numi? No thanks! Humi is enough!” I heard Humi grumbling as I shut the door behind me. I chuckled and took Numair to my room where I handed him my tasseled handbag to distract him while I prayed maghrib, then sat and played with him till Ahmed came.
“Look at you two,” he said, raising his eyebrows at the comical sight we made, Numair pulling at tufts of my hair till they stuck out in all directions then shoving some in his mouth. I laughed and disentangled myself from him then plopped him in his mama’s arms while I shook my hair back and tied it back again neatly.
“Where’s his mum?”
“Still moping in her room. I’m not kidding,” I added when I saw his look, “she even got annoyed with Numair so I took him away. Or she asked me to take him away, rather. There’s definitely something bugging her and I’m finding out what after supper.”
“Uh oh,” Ahmed muttered, seeing the determined glint in my eyes, “here comes the freight train.”
“What do you mean by that…?”
“Nothing!” Ahmed grinned and slipped out of the room with Numair.
Humi was so quiet and preoccupied at dinner that even nani noticed and kept flicking worried glances at her. She opened her mouth a couple of times to say something then shut it again.
“What’s wrong with her?” She asked as soon as Humi had disappeared again.
“I have no idea but I’m gonna get to the bottom of it,” I replied, quickly clearing and washing up so I could go to her.
While Ahmed entertained Numair I knocked on Humi’s door. I heard a muted, “come in, Faz,” and slipped inside, closing the door behind me.
“How did you know it was me?”
Humi rolled her eyes. “Who else would come knocking to interrogate me?”
“I didn’t come to…okay, fine, I did,” I sighed, “so what’s wrong?”
“Ugh, I don’t know! I don’t know how to explain it!”
“Your mood soured after visiting your foi. Was it what she said?”
“That too, yeah. Everything. I guess it’s been building up for a long while now.”
“What’s been building up?”
“I envy you,” Humi said suddenly. I started, not expecting to hear that, “and I envy this large, happy family you have. Look at your parents, your family life. So stable and happy. Your nana and nani. So happy and clearly in love even after all these years…decades! Your cousins and family back home…Aliyah and them. You’re all so close…one big, happy family. I don’t have that,” her voice had lowered to a whisper, “I’m just a messed up girl coming from a dysfunctional family…a dad who’s too busy making money to see what’s happening at home. A mother who belittles and controls us all. You wouldn’t understand how it feels to be brought up in that…that mess! Or maybe you would. Six months in that house and you ran for your life. I spent my whole life there! Is it any wonder that I turned out so messed up then!”
“You didn’t,” I protested, “you’re alright, Humi. One mistake doesn’t make you messed up. It happens. Everyone makes mistakes.”
“It’s not only about Mickey. It’s me! Look at you and look at me. You’re so happy and bubbly and confident and no wonder, because you’ve had such a wonderful, stable family and life. No wonder Ahmed fell for you. You’re everything he needed after running from that mess. You know he didn’t come back even once after he left for his studies? He only came back after completing all his studies, over here then in Pakistan. And then a short while later he married you. I don’t blame him for running away. I would have run too if I’d had the chance,” Humi sighed long and deep, looking so small and lost that I just wanted to hug her and tell her it will all be okay in the end. “You’re so lucky to have such a wonderful family. The amount of love I’ve gotten from your nani I haven’t gotten in my life. If I could stay here permanently I would,” she smiled a bit, “so yeah. Guess I was just feeling sorry for myself today. I’m all alone, you know. It’s just me and Numair. How will I bring him up on my own, I don’t know. Without a father and a messed up mum. I hope he doesn’t turn out to be as messed up as me.”
I went and sat next to her, pulling her into a hug this time. “You’re not alone. You have your brother and you have me, your sister. And now you have nani and you have Numair. And most of all, you have yourself and this life that Allah has given you. Don’t waste it moping over the past, Humi. Bury the past and look towards the future. You can build up your own future and be as happy as any of us. You just have to have the determination to rise above it all and come out stronger. I know you can do it,” I smiled encouragingly at her and was rewarded with an answering smile and a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
The conversation with Humi made me realise how much we took for granted. Parents. Family. Relatives. The safe haven they provided for us throughout our lives. We didn’t realise how important it really was, how all the small things added up to be great, significant things…how it was the fabric of family woven tightly around us that made us who we were…that if even one thread had to unravel we wouldn’t be who we are today. Ask a person who doesn’t have family and loved ones how it really feels to be alone. But we don’t realise and we spoil this beautiful blessing by petty quarrels and fights, allowing shaytaan to sow the seeds of disunity amongst us. Family ties are so important to maintain that its importance has come in several ahadeeth;
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever would like his rizq (provision) to be increased and his life to be extended, should uphold the ties of kinship.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5986 and Muslim, 2557).
The Messenger of Allah S.A.W also said, “The one who maintains a relationship with his relatives only because they maintain a relationship with him is not truly upholding the ties of kinship. The one who truly upholds those ties is the one who does so even if they break off the relationship.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5645).
A man said to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “I have relatives with whom I try to keep in touch, but they cut me off. I treat them well, but they abuse me. I am patient and kind towards them, but they insult me.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “If you are as you say, then it is as if you are putting hot dust in their mouths. Allaah will continue to support you as long as you continue to do that.” (Reported by Muslim with commentary by al-Nawawi, 16/115).
And finally, the warnings for breaking those ties had also appeared in ahadeeth;
Jubair b. Mut’im reported on the authority of his father that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: The severer would not enter Paradise. Ibn Umar said that Sufyan (explained it as): One who severs the tie of kinship would not enter Paradise.
I planned to call my family that night and let them know how much they meant to me, then went down and hugged nani tightly.
“Uff! What’s wrong that you squashing me like this?”
“Nothing. I just love you, nani,” I grinned and kissed her on her cheek. She beamed happily at this impulsive gesture and I smiled back, feeling light and buoyant.
Alhamdulillah for all the small blessings in our lives that turned out to be such great blessings…
Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…
Last post before ramadhan so I touched on one very important topic…maintaining family ties. Let’s forgive, let go of grudges and enter this beloved month with clean hearts. Keeping grudges is not worth it when we dont know if every moment will be our last. Rather forgive for the pleasure of Allah and earn jannah in return InshaAllah…
See you’ll after ramadhan inshaAllah. Remember me in your duas and forgive me for any shortcomings❤