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 greatlyūüėė‚̧‚̧‚̧


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‚Ķand 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‚Ķ”

“Mickey’s the name‚ĶMickey 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‚Ķshe’s married to him‚Ķhe’s her husband…her husband‚Ķ‚Ķ

“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‚Ķjust 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‚Ķyou 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‚Ķto 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‚Ķ”

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‚Ķit 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‚Ķnot 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‚Ķ World War Three was going to erupt in the Cassim household and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

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Part 225

Well, well, look who posted!ūüėĪ 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 herūü§ó 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‚Ķ? 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‚Ķ”

“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‚Ķthen 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‚Ķthree 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‚Ķfame, 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‚Ķthe kind of glow that hadn’t left her face since moving in with her husband‚Ķthough 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‚Ķ”

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

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‚Ķbut beneath it all was a bleakness‚Ķa 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‚Ķ”

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‚ĶI’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‚Ķall 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‚Ķ”

“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‚Ķand 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‚Ķwith 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‚Ķcalm down. It was only one little recipe‚Ķ” 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‚Ķhot water‚Ķdeliberately‚Ķthen sat there‚Ķenjoying every‚Ķbit of it‚Ķyou‚Ķyou‚Ķ” 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‚úĒ

6- troubled illusions

7- zahratun‚úĒ

8- Fazila Boodi‚úĒ

9- Fazila Boodi‚úĒ

10- Fazila Boodi

11- hajira

12- anonymous

13- rashida‚úĒ

14- Fiona Shaik

15- Fiona Shaik

16- Dee

17- Tayyeba Ibrahim Sarwan‚úĒ

18- diaryofadaeea

19- Maryam

20- ummUsaid‚úĒ

21- Aliyah

22- Fatima Ayoob

23- Atiya__k

24- Zainab

25- Zainab

26- cinnamonxsugar

27- Tasneem Karolia‚úĒ

28- Tasneem Karolia‚úĒ

29- muslimah seeking jannah‚úĒ

30- Haaj‚úĒ

KHATAM 2:

1- A.

2- A.

3- A.

4- kay_born_in_may

5- kay_born_in_may

6- Anonymous

7- Anonymous

8- Aa‚úĒ

9- Haalah‚úĒ

10- Haalah‚úĒ

11- Haalah‚úĒ

12- h vawda‚úĒ

13- laaibah176

14- laaibah176

15- Aisha‚úĒ

16- Fiona Shaik

17- veryberry2‚úĒ

18- A

19- A

20- kt

21- najmussaaqib

22- najmussaaqib

23- najmussaaqib

24- fayroez tayob Cassim

25- excerptsofabrokenheart

26- excerptsofabrokenheart

27- hijaaby‚ô°lover

28- ruqs‚úĒ

29- ruqs‚úĒ

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‚ĶAhmed’s mum was as unyielding as a rock, refusing to even so much as glance our way‚Ķwe 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‚Ķ

“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‚Ķleaving 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‚Ķnot 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‚Ķ

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‚Ķand 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‚Ķespecially 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‚ĶAhmed and I talking last night, making up‚Ķand 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‚Ķ” 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‚Ķand 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 ūüėúūüėĄ

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‚Ķfull time commitments. I had started my year-long internship at the local government hospital, which meant working from seven till five‚Ķwhich 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‚Ķtill 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‚Ķbut 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‚Ķlines 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‚Ķa memory of years ago…

Nana and Ahmed arguing, angry at one another, not on speaking terms‚ĶAhmed 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‚Äôt 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‚Ķ 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‚Ķor 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‚Ķ” 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‚Ķbeen going for therapy these past few weeks‚Ķ”

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‚Ķand the process of building myself up again. Ahmed‚Ķwe both thought getting out of your parents house would be the end of it‚Ķbut 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‚Ķat you and your mother…but mainly at you‚Ķfor 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‚Ķwhy didn’t you tell me? Why were you going through this alone? I could have been there for you‚ĶI 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‚Ķ”

“I could have been there for you from the time you started‚Ķnot just now,” Ahmed repeated, his voice tinged with regret. He tightened his hold on my hands, leaning forward slightly, “tell me everything‚Ķlet 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‚Ķmy 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‚Ķand yet I had no clue of the depth of your emotions. I‚Ķ” 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‚Ķ” 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 areūüėú

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!!!ūü§óūüėė‚̧

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


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‚Ķstrained. 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‚Ķbut‚Ķa 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‚ĶI 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‚Ķbecause 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‚Ķto 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‚Ķor 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‚Ķthey 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‚Ķtalk 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‚Ķnow 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‚Ķto 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‚Ķhow I was still feeling resentful over his inability to move out before this‚Ķhow 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‚Ķ?”

“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‚Ķhave 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‚Ķhow 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‚Ķ”

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‚Ķ 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‚Ķor 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‚Ķ

Unplanned Break…

The key word being “unplanned” here… I thought I’ll take my time in writing and whip up something by Tuesday or Wednesday at least. But now I know it’s not gonna happen. I’m still not 100% well and I need a small break to get my head in the game again, so to speak. I’m not sure when I’ll be back. Hopefully soon inshaAllah…

Jazakumullah khair for all the support and duas you’ll have sent my way. Keep the duas coming…

xxx

Part 219-AHMED

Thursday.

The day everything changed.

Almost a week had passed since Fadheelah had returned. She was not her normal self. She was quieter, more withdrawn. All my attempts at drawing her out were in vain. She did not let on how her relationship with my mother was now. She just moved through the days robotically. It worried me and I resolved that this weekend I was going to sit her down and explain everything to her. The document, the conditions stated within…the chains that bound me to this place. I would tell her everything then I would leave the final decision to her. If she said we should move out then that was what we would do. It was time someone finally gave her a choice. But that day didn’t come…because the tides changed before that.

I had no idea what awaited me that evening as I returned home from work. I had no idea that the undercurrents flowing through our house for months would erupt in a violent storm that would toss our ship about in it’s merciless hold. I had no idea that the bend in the road had finally approached; that the tide had finally changed, and we were powerless to control it. All we could do was hold on and let it sweep us wherever it willed. And there was no looking back. From that point in time we could only look forward. There was no more looking back; no more what ifs.

I heard their voices before I even set my sights on them. One raised, screaming, hysterical; the other calm but brutal, merciless. Then I rounded the bend to the kitchen and they came into view. I stopped dead in my tracks and with dawning horror watched the scene unfold before me.

Fadheelah was facing mummy, tears streaming down her cheeks, her voice hoarse with screaming. Mummy stood on the opposite end of the island, staring her down. When she got angry her eyes glittered dangerously, shooting cool fire. Her lips thinned until they almost disappeared, and her face whitened. Her hands clenched till the knuckles stood out in sharp relief, white tipped and deadly. Other than that she showed no emotion at all. She was at her most dangerous when she was like this, her anger at it’s peak. My mother did not scream or shout when she got angry. Her sense of control did not only extend to other people, it included herself as well. To her screaming and crying was a form of losing control and she would not lower herself to that…ever. The angrier she got the more quiet and controlled she became, until she was biting off each word, spitting them at her victim like white-hot darts, each one finding it’s target with deadly precision, right where it hurt the most. Her expertise was finding the chink in her opponent’s armour and drilling into that vulnerable spot repeatedly until she left the victim helpless, bleeding…reeling from the onslaught. And right now her opponent, her victim was my wife.

I had seen that anger turned on myself a few times, before I went to UK. I had seen it turned on Humi more often and once at Dalia as well. Even daddy had been the recipient of such anger a few times. I had never seen it turned on Fadheelah though, before now. It made us all back down hastily. No one could stand up to her in such a state…except Fadheelah. She met mummy word for word, thrust for thrust. But‚Ķthe stakes were different. I saw that right away. For my wife it was a battle of survival. The harsh desperation in her face, the way she attacked, was proof of that. As for my mother…it was a game. She was a cat, toying with a mouse she was planning to eat up whole. A jab here, a push there. There was no doubt at all who was the prey here‚Ķand who the predator.

Then, suddenly, it was all over. Fadheelah whirled around, her face white and streaked with tears, and ran blindly past me. I ran after her into our bedroom before she could slam the door behind herself and possibly lock it as well, and shut the door behind myself. Fadheelah was standing at the window, her arms wrapped around herself, shaking with the force of her sobs. The sound tore through me like a missile, making me feel puny and helpless. I moved towards her slowly and placed my hands gently on her shoulders.

“Fadheelah.”

She started and jerked my hands off her. I debated the wisdom of trying to talk to her now‚Ķbut I couldn’t sit by and let her cry like this.

“Fadheelah. Come here. Let it out on my shoulder.”

She whirled around, her eyes shooting fire at me. “Let it out on your shoulder??? On your shoulder??? Where was your shoulder when I cried all these months??? Where was your shoulder when your mother insulted me and degraded me all those times??? Where has your support been all these months??? Where were you when I needed you the most??? Huh??? Then you told me to make sabr and shrugged it off like it was no big deal! And just sorry doesn’t make everything right!!! Sorry does not solve anything!!! From the beginning I told you to move out but you’ll put me through hell but you won’t move out! My tears aren’t worth that much to you, are they??? You know what, Ahmed?? Not only have the people I vowed to take as parents let me down in the worst way possible, but even you, the man who promised to love and cherish me and keep me happy‚Ķeven you have let me down!” Her voice broke on a sob and she spun away and ran into the bathroom, locking it behind her. I sat there, stunned‚Ķshaken to the core. Fadheelah’s words kept going round and round in my head. “Even you have let me down‚Ķeven you have let me down‚Ķ” Guilt tore through me, self recriminations pouring down on me like acid. Yes, I had let her down. I had thought this would work out but why hadn’t I seen just how much Fadheelah was suffering before this? In all honesty I’d had no clue that she was taking this so hard. Call me dumb or blind but before today Fadheelah had never shown me this side‚Ķthis broken, bitter, disillusioned side of her. It was as though the smooth plaster had finally been ripped off, revealing the gaping, bleeding wound within. Still‚ĶI had no excuse. I should have moved out sooner. That was the bottom line.

Ya Allah! I paced up and down, waiting for Fadheelah to come out of the bathroom. Forget about waiting for the weekend. I would tell her about the document tonight! I could not change the past but I could change the future. I would not force my wife to live in this house a minute longer.

Fadheelah did not emerge for a long time. In a state of worry I went for esha salah then came back to find her sitting on the bed. She looked subdued and worn out. I approached warily, sitting down beside her. She did not look up. I took a deep breath.

“Fadheelah. There’s something I need to tell you.”

No response. I plunged on anyway.

“The day before we got married…my mother had my father draw up a document. She made him write down all the conditions she wanted me to abide by‚Ķwhich included living in this house with them for good‚Ķnot move out‚Ķnot go into any business of my own‚Ķnot go work for anyone else‚ĶI had to work for my father only‚Ķand respect her rank as a mother first and foremost‚Ķthere were a few other things written as well, all along the same lines‚Ķcan’t remember them now‚Ķthen at the bottom, what would happen if I broke any of those conditions. I would lose the right to work in my father’s business‚ĶI would be cut off without a single cent to my name. I wouldn’t be able to ask my father for any help whatsoever. I wouldn’t be able to open up any business of my own and I wouldn’t be able to work in anyone else’s business. Daddy is an influential person. If he decides to block my path and make things difficult for me in this town he can. So basically that’s what he would do if I ever broke the conditions.” Fadheelah was looking at me now, a horrified look on her face. “And to top it off, they would cut off all ties with me as well. I would be disowned as of that moment and would never be able to contact any of them again.”

“Is she mad???” Fadheelah burst out, “disown you for moving out??? And you agreed to that???”

“I didn’t have a choice. I had to sign at the bottom of that document. But daddy amended one part of the document. Instead of writing, “for good,” he wrote, “for one year.” Mummy wasn’t happy about it at all and made a big fuss but for once daddy put his foot down. He said he will bind me to these conditions for only one year. After that time if we were happy here we could stay on; if not we would be free to move out and none of those conditions would apply anymore. Mummy wasn’t happy but she kept her mouth shut. But I knew what she was thinking; that after one year if we thought of moving out she would get daddy to draw up another document with the same terms. And so on. So you see, princess,” I took her hands in mine, “I couldn’t move out. I’d have lost everything. I would have had to teach somewhere and we would have had to live in very basic conditions. I could have lived like that if it was just me‚Ķbut I didn’t want to put you through that. I didn’t want you to sacrifice because of me‚Ķ”

“So you thought I could sacrifice my sanity instead,” Fadheelah pulled her hands from mine and punched me on my shoulder, “you couldn’t tell me this before now?? You couldn’t make mashwara with me about this?? I’d live in a freaking hut if it meant escaping from this house! I’d choose happiness over wealth any day!” She jumped up and began pacing up and down, running her hands through her hair in agitation. “I’m so annoyed with you right now! How could you make that decision for me?? Couldn’t you ask me what I wanted??? Men! They think only they know everything!”

I watched her move back and forth, bemused. “There’s another thing. It’s not just about wealth. They would have cut off family ties with me. I didn’t want that.”

“Great! You know what? You stay with them. I’ll move out into a place of my own. And you can come visit me when you climb off your mummy’s lap.”

“No!” I burst out, horrified. As if I’d let her move out without me! “I’ll go talk to mummy and daddy right now. That document needs to be torn up. It’s nonsense.”

“Now he realises that!” Fadheelah muttered, rolling her eyes. I stood up, resolved to sort this out once and for all today. “I’m going. You can come as well.”

“No, thanks. You go sort it out. But for once stay firm. Don’t allow your mummy to sway you with her drama.”

I nodded and moved to the door.

The scene when I walked into the lounge was just as I expected. Mummy complaining to daddy with a tear streaked face. Daddy looking angry and torn. They both looked up when I entered.

“There he is!” Mummy burst out, “ask him! He was right there, I saw him! Ask him how his wife screamed into my face and insulted me! Ask him what nonsense she was talking to me! I have never felt as degraded in my life! Insulting me like that in my own house?!? What next, I tell you?” She started crying again while daddy comforted her and looked at me accusingly, waiting for an explanation. I took a deep breath.

“You’re right, mummy. This is your house run by your own rules. You’ve said that too many times before. It’s your domain and everyone has to do as you want. And Fadheelah isn’t doing what you want and that’s upsetting you. At the same time you’re putting her down because she can’t obey you the way you want and that upsets her. You can’t take this anymore and neither can she. And from tonight you both don’t have to tolerate each other’s presence. We’re moving out, mummy‚Ķdaddy‚Ķ” I looked from one to the other, “we should have done this from the beginning‚Ķor at least as soon as I realised that you two will never get on. I regret that. So many tears and unhappiness, just because I was too optimistic that things would work out and didn’t see the truth glaring at me. But now it’s enough…”

“Like hell it is!” Mummy burst out. She had been staring at me with her mouth agape till now, “have you forgotten that document??? You can’t move out and you know it so stop talking rubbish here!”

“Okay, why do you want us to stay?” I asked her, “you obviously don’t get along with her. You’re always complaining about her. Don’t you think your life will be more peaceful without her around?”

“That’s because she’s rude and disrespectful! But why should I lose my son because of her??? Why must I let her win and walk away with you? I won’t let her do it!”

“This isn’t about winning and losing. And you’re not going to lose me. I’ll be right here in this same town and I’ll come visit you regularly.”

“It’s not enough!” Mummy hissed, “I know the moment you walk out of here you won’t be the same anymore. She’ll take you in her hand and make you her puppy! Then you can forget about coming to see me!”

“I told you, that won’t happen…”

“No! And that’s final! Otherwise you’ll lose everything and then we’ll see how you come running back!”

“Daddy‚Ķcan you destroy that document?” I asked, turning to look at him, “it shouldn’t have been drawn up in the first place.”

“Like hell he will!” Mummy snarled before daddy could get a word in, “that document stands! Now shut up with your nonsense and sit down again!”

I kept looking at dad, waiting for him to respond. He sighed and rubbed his forehead. “It’s already been six months, Ahmed. You just have to stay for six months more. Then that document won’t apply any more.”

“Have you seen Fadheelah’s condition in six months?” I looked directly at him, “you like sitting with her in the mornings. I’m sure you’ve noticed. Does she look happy? She’s miserable! She can’t do anything her way and on top of that she has to listen to constant criticism and complaints from mummy. Last week mummy invited all the town’s gossips and degraded Fadheelah infront of all of them, calling her lazy, rude and disrespectful. Is that any way to treat someone? Can you live like that?? It’s not fair on her and I won’t put her through that any longer‚Ķ”

“What bullsh**!” Mummy spat out, “this is what happens when you only listen to your wife’s lies! So now I’m the bad one and she’s the angel??? See how she’s already twisting you around??? And you’re too blind to see the truth!”

“No. I was blind. Now I’ve finally opened my eyes,” I replied quietly, “the problem is, you’re too controlling, mummy. Your whole life you’ve had things your way so you need that control constantly. You can’t let the people around you live their own lives. They must live their lives according to how you want. Things don’t work that way. You yourself could never live under someone else’s rule but you expect everyone to live under your rule…”

“Shut up! You telling me how to live my life now?? Who died and made you my father???” Mummy shot off the sofa, her face white with anger but daddy’s hand checked her, closing around her arm like a vice. She stared at it then at him in astonishment but something in his eyes made her back up. She sat back down without a word.

“Take a step back and look hard around you, mummy,” I continued, “look at Humi. She’s an adult now. Don’t treat her like a child. Don’t suffocate her. Let her breathe a little. Even with Dalia. You love her and I know you mean well but you need to temper possessiveness with understanding. You need to start looking at things from other people’s perspective as well. How would you like someone treating you the way you treat Fadheelah? Would you like someone to tell you when to wake up, when to come in the kitchen, when to leave the house? Would you like to ask for permission everytime you touched something, to be told that it’s not your house and make you feel like a refugee? And after going through all that and trying to obey someone would you like it if that person still criticised you and insulted you infront of people? Ask yourself honestly‚Ķlast week at the tea party, what if you were in Fadheelah’s place and she was yours? What if she said those same things about you? Would you find it innocent then? Would you not have felt bad? Is it right, the way you treat her? No one deserves to live in an environment like that. The only option now is to move out.”

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you today. Did that wife of yours do jadu on you? Must be, for you to speak rubbish like that!” Mummy said, looking astonished and wary, “go sleep now. You’re not thinking clearly. Tomorrow we’ll talk again if you’re in your senses.”

I shook my head. I should have known that she wouldn’t accept her faults. It was too late for her to change. “I am in my senses right now. I’m leaving.”

“Fine, go! Leave with nothing but whatever you own! And don’t ever come ask us for help again! From today onwards you’re no longer my son!” Mummy spat out. Daddy put a restraining hand on her arm.

“Now, Nilofar, don’t speak in anger. It’s fine if they move out. I’ll destroy that document. Ahmed was right. It should have never been drawn up.”

“Don’t. You. Dare!” The same anger that had been directed at Fadheelah a few hours back had returned; this time aimed at daddy, “that document stands! If Ahmed leaves now he leaves with nothing! And don’t you dare help him, Imtiaz, or I’ll kick you out as well! Then you can go live with them‚Ķif that witch doesn’t kick you out as well! Let Ahmed leave‚Ķhe’ll soon come crawling back, watch!”

“The same Allah who provides for you will provide for me and my wife,” I replied, “don’t think you’re on top of things. Allah is above you as well. I haven’t cut ties with you, mummy. You’re still my mother and I still love you. I’ll keep coming to visit you.”

“You won’t be allowed past the gate. Leave and you’ll never step foot in this house again. It’s your choice. Do you choose your family or your wife? Choose wisely because your family can never be replaced but your wife can. Tomorrow if you get divorced or something you’ll be left with nothing! No wife and no family! So choose wisely you fool!” Famous last words from an embittered woman. I shook my head with a last regretful look at her and turned to go.

“I’m not taking any sides here. I’m still your son and I always will be. Assalamu alaykum, mummy.” She didn’t bother to reply, her face stone cold and devoid of emotion.

Fadheelah was still sitting on our bed when I trudged up the stairs and into our room. She looked up when I entered.

“How did it go?”

“Not good,” I sighed, “she said she’s disowned me. If I walk out of this house I can never come back.”

“Ya Allah!” Fadheelah exclaimed, “she stuck to that???”

“Yeah, she won’t budge. Come, let’s pack a few things and go. We’ll come and get the rest of our things later and if we can’t I’ll tell Humi to drop them off to us.”

“Where will we go?” Fadheelah asked, already pulling out suitcases from the closet.

“We’ll think about that later. Let’s worry about leaving now.” I replied.

We packed the essentials into two bags and went back down the stairs. We passed the lounge on the way but carried straight on, ignoring the swear words thrown our way from within. We got into my car and I switched it on and put it into reverse.

“Ahmed!”

I saw daddy run out onto the front porch, waving something in his hand. He jogged up to us and slapped something cold and hard in my hand. A set of keys. I looked at him, puzzled.

“What’s this for?”

“The house in the street behind is empty right now. It’s yours. Good luck, son. And don’t worry about that document. It’s as good as gone. It should never have been drawn up in the first place.”

I stared at him in shock. “But she said she’ll kick you out as well!”

Daddy barked out a laugh. “Kick me out of where? My own house?? And why should she kick me out? I’m her bank account right here. Those are just empty threats. She’s wrong to disown you for something silly like this and she better realise it. Now go. We’ll talk again soon,” he slapped me on my shoulder and moved off again. I drove off, mixed feelings running through me. It was indeed a bittersweet moment…


I’m finally…finally done with this post Alhamdulillah. By the time I reached the end of it I was exhausted…even though I had written the first part a few days ago and I just had to write the second half. Guess it made me realise just how much writing takes out of me…but shukr Alhamdulillah.

So…no promises of a post on Monday as well. I’ll post whenever I can manage inshaAllah.

Keep me and my family in your duas‚̧

Living life cloaked in modesty and islamic principles…