Part 251

We went to Zul’s house first because Ahmed just could not wait to meet his long lost best friend. However he had a trick up his sleeve…

“You go first while I stay out of sight,” he told me when we pulled up on the curb. We parked a few houses before theirs so they couldn’t recognise the car, “if Asiyah opens the door you can prank her however you want. But if Zul opens the door tell him…………” he went on to outline his plan to me.

I laughed and raised my eyebrows under my niqaab, “seriously??”

“Ya but don’t get too friendly and chatty with him. Keep it short. I’ll be listening anyways so when the time is right I’ll jump out of my hiding place.”

“So you want me to prank the dude but you don’t want me to talk to him. And they say women can’t make up their minds,” I rolled my eyes and climbed out of the car.

I rang the doorbell and waited, my heart beating faster in anticipation. I didn’t know if I’d prefer Asiyah to open the door or Zul. Before I could think more on it the door opened and I found myself face to face with Zul. He looked exactly the same as I’d seen him last, looking at me with a polite but impersonal smile on his face.

“Assalamu alaykum.”

“Wa alaykum salaam,” I tried to keep my gaze averted, an extremely difficult thing for me to do when speaking directly to someone.

“You’ve come to see Asiyah? Let me call her…”

“No!” I burst out before he could walk away, “I’ve come to see you!” I tried to neutralise my accent this time before he realised who I was like Imaan did.

Zul stopped, looking confused. “Me?”

“Yes. My husband sent me actually. He doesn’t like me talking to guys but he said he had no choice this time because if he came himself he’d probably end up murdering you!”

“Okaayy. And who’s your husband?”

“Don’t pretend like you don’t know him! You asked him for £500,000 for your business venture and you promised to start paying him back in two months time but he still hasn’t received a single penny from you! You’ve stopped answering his calls and you run in the other direction if you see him anywhere! Infact that’s also why he sent me because if you’d seen him you wouldn’t have opened the door! How could you? Have you no shame taking peoples money like this then not paying it back? We also earned that money you know, it’s not like it grew on trees!” I had really warmed up to my role, raising my voice also like I was really annoyed. I glanced at Zul’s face and found him glaring at me angrily.

“I have no idea who you think I am, lady, but you have the wrong person. I’ve never taken any money from your husband or anyone else…”

“You’re Zulfiqar Ansari, innit? Your wife’s name is Asiyah and your son’s name is Sa’ad. I know you and my husband knows you so stop hiding. Give us our money back or there’ll be consequences that you won’t like. This is not on, you know.”

“Who the hell is your husband??” Zul yelled, thoroughly incensed by now, “tell him to come see me and we’ll have a nice talk! Tell him to stop hiding behind your skirts like a bloody coward and come face me. Go, go tell him I said all this…”

“Boo!” Ahmed yelled, jumping out so suddenly that Zul and I both jumped, “I am the husband you want to have a nice talk with. So what you wanna say, bru?” He stood with his hands planted on his hips, quirking a brow at Zul with a smirk.

Poor Zul looked like he was about to faint. “Ahmed???” He asked, shaking his head like he couldn’t believe his eyes, “wha…?” Then he looked at me, “Faz??”

Ahmed and I started laughing. “Gotcha!” Ahmed said, grinning at Zul.

It finally seemed to register to Zul. With a yell he jumped forward and punched Ahmed on his upper arm, “idiot! Couldn’t even tell me you’re coming!” Another punch, “and pranking me like that and making me angry,” a third punch aimed at the other arm but Ahmed dodged that one. They laughed and did their man-hug thing then Zul turned to me, “Faz when did you become a professional prankster huh? Speaking in that weird British accent as well,” he laughed.

I pretended to be offended. “Excuse me, my British accent was quite believable ’cause you fell for my prank hook, line and sinker!”

“Ya the look on your face bru! She scared you proper!” Ahmed laughed.

“Aah whatever. I knew there was something fishy there,” he ignored our exclamations of disbelief, “let’s go inside, people will think we’ve gone crazy!”

“Where’s Asiyah?” I asked once we’d stepped into the house.

“She’s upstairs with Sa’ad. Go on up,” Zul waved his hand towards the stairs then he and Ahmed went into the lounge.

I padded softly up the stairs. I spotted Asiyah immediately as I reached the top. She was in the room directly on the left, her back to me as she stood saying something to her son who was half-hidden by her body. I removed my niqaab, tiptoed forward and stood behind her, a grin on my face. Sa’ad saw me and his grey eyes widened but before he could say anything I placed my hands over her eyes. She jumped, clearly startled.

“Guess who,” I whispered close to her ear.

I could hear her loud sigh. “Come on, Khads. How many times do you think I’ll fall for this trick?”

“It’s not Khads,” I whispered.

“Yeah, right!” Asiyah snorted loudly and a giggle escaped my lips.

“It’s not Khads, kassam…err, promise” I amended hastily, realising that she probably wouldn’t know what that means.

Asiyah grew silent. I could almost hear the wheels turning in her head. “Okay, I give up. Who are you?” She asked finally, trying to turn her head. I let go of her and took a step back, grinning at her as she spun around. Her expression of shock was even more comical than Zul’s. Her mouth hung open, her eyes almost popping out of their sockets. I couldn’t help it. I started laughing.

“Faz?? Am I dreaming or is it really you?” Asiyah asked in disbelief.

“It’s me,” I replied, my smile stretching from ear to ear.

Asiyah shrieked and leaped forward, throwing her arms around me. We hugged each other tightly, tears of happiness forming in our eyes at this long awaited reunion. Finally we pulled apart and laughed, wiping our eyes.

“When did you come? You didn’t even tell me! Does Khads know?”

“That’s what everyone is saying. But no one knew. We surprised everyone, even my nana and nani. And no, Khads doesn’t know yet. We came here first.”

“Wow…I still can’t believe you’re here! Sa’ad, come meet Aunt Faz. You remember her, don’t you? We keep phoning her on the laptop?”

Sa’ad nodded and came forward shyly. “How are you, Sa’ad? You’re such a big boy now mashaAllah!” I exclaimed, crouching down to hug him.

“I’m five years old,” he answered proudly.

“Wooowww! Do you go to school then?”

“Yes! And I’m the tallest boy in my class!” Sa’ad said, standing on tiptoes to appear even taller. I laughed and hugged him again.

“He’s go gorgeous, Siyah. And you? How are you??”

“Good good alhamdulillah. The usual. And you? How’s the world tour going?”

“Oh, awesome alhamdulillah! Getting to see so many places…with so much history. It’s fun and at the same time I’ve learned so much as well!”

“Will you go to Italy? My grandparents are there, in Venice.”

“Venice? That gorgeous city with the gondolas and all? I’ll definitely have to mention it to Ahmed!” I grinned.

“Lucky you that Ahmed pampers you and takes you wherever you want to go. Zul can’t even take me to the seaside right here in England,” Asiyah commented, rolling her eyes.

I looked at her in some surprise. That was definitely a thread of resentment I’d heard in her voice. Before I could comment on it though her expression changed.

“You said Khads doesn’t know you’re here?”

“Nope, we haven’t gone there yet,” I replied.

“Let me call her over. I have to see this!” Asiyah said, whipping out her phone, “hello, Khads? Are you free?… Good. Come here as soon as you can, I have a massive surprise for you… I’m not gonna tell you that of course! Come here if you wanna see. And quick before it gets spoiled!… right, see you then. Salaams.”

“What do you mean, gets spoiled?” I raised my eyebrows at her.

“Meaning you’d leave,” Asiyah laughed, “but I couldn’t tell her that of course!”

Khads loved surprises and arrived in record time. As soon as we heard her footsteps on the stairs and her yelling for Asiyah, Asiyah pushed me into her closet and shut the door. It was pitch black inside as I stood there, hearing the voices coming from the other side.

“Well? Where is it?”

“First guess what it is.”

“Aah, come on, Siyah! Wasn’t me coming all the way here enough suspense for me?”

I had to fight to control my laughter as the two bickered away. Finally Asiyah tapped on the door and called out, “you can come out or else we’ll spend the whole night waiting for her to figure out her surprise!”

And then the door opened and out I stepped…

I was loving this…surprising people and seeing their reactions…and Khadija’s reaction was by far the best of them all…

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Part 250

Sister S….. here you go…your surprise post😉


I heard children’s shrieks and loud chatter coming from next door before I even stepped through the connecting gate. It was left wide open as usual and as I stepped through I saw Imaan and her whole family in their small back garden. A bigger family than I had last seen. I knew she’d had two more kids after I’d left, one of them quite recently…last year or something. Sure enough there were five of them running about. The twins had grown so much! When I’d left they’d been small boys; now they were taller and thinner…and I couldn’t tell them apart again! Then there was Haifa, grown from toddler to a young girl. Then there was another younger girl who looked around five and then the youngest who must be about a year old, judging by his slow, unsure steps as he tried to keep up with his siblings. I just watched them all for a moment, a fond, nostalgic smile on my face…then stepped back awkwardly, unwilling to intrude or spy on them. This obviously wasn’t the time to pay a social call. I’d come back later.

It was too late though. Imaan had already spotted me. Rising fluidly to her feet she scooped her son up in her arms and walked towards me, a polite but curious smile on her face. I was in niqaab so she didn’t know who I was.

“Assalamu alaykum,” she greeted in a friendly manner.

“Wa alaykum salaam habibti. Nice family you got here. Five children mashaAllah! Wow!” I replied, trying to hold back my laughter.

“Ermm, jazakallah. And you are…?”

“Oh, just passing through the neighbourhood and I decided to come see your little ones. They’re so gorgeous, who can resist them?” I pinched her son’s cheek lightly for emphasis.

Okay, now she definitely looked suspicious and wary. She clutched her son closer to her and away from me and eyed me with a frown. “You came through next door. Does Aunty Hafsa know you?”

“Of course she does!” I exclaimed, “we are best friends, I’ve known her all my life!”

Imaan stared at me…then to my utter surprise she let out a shriek. “Fazila??? Is it you???”

I started laughing. “Busted! What gave it away? The accent?”

“Yes, that and your voice…the way you’re talking…and you came from next door…my word, Faz!” She caught me up in a tight hug till her son let out a squeal of protest, “what a nice surprise! When did you come? Come, let’s go inside then you can tell me everything!”

I followed her inside with the rest of her family. She called them all to come meet me. Nasri was also there and he smiled and greeted me but then left so I could remove my niqaab.

“Uwais, Uzair. Do you remember her?” Imaan turned to look at the twins. They were looking at me in a confused manner but finally one of them spoke, “Faz?”

“Yes!” I laughed, “and which one are you? I can’t tell you apart again!”

“Uwais,” he replied, smiling.

“Gosh, look at you two! All grown up now! Come, give me a hug!” They were a bit awkward but allowed me to hug them tightly, “how old are you two now?”

“Twelve,” they replied.

“Wow imagine. Time flies!” I shook my head in wonder. Then I turned to Haifa.

“Haifa, you don’t remember me, do you?” Of course she wouldn’t, she was only three when I left. She was looking at me with an uncertain smile on her face, shaking her head but allowed me to hug her as well.

“This is Fazila from next door. She babysat you three for countless hours, giving me a break. And then you ran away, Faz, when I still needed you for my other two,” Imaan laughed.

“Yeah, I missed the births of these two. What’s her name?” I smiled at the younger girl who hid shyly behind her mum.

She’s Lina. Lina, sallimee habibti yalla,” Imaan spoke to her daughter. At least I understood her this time!”

“Lina, ta’aali hina, habibti,” I said, smiling warmly at her. With a slight push from her mother she came forward and I bent down to hug her.

“Someone’s learnt Arabic now huh,” Imaan laughed.

“The fus’hah version. Not the type you speak so I don’t know if I’ll understand everything you say. But better than last time!” I grinned. I leaned forward and got her baby from her, “and this one? What’s his name?” He was so gorgeous with sandy hair and big blue eyes, he reminded me of Haifa when she was a baby!

“Umar,” Imaan replied with a smile.

“He looks just like Haifa as a baby,” I bounced Umar in my lap and he chuckled and pulled my nose in return.

“Yes, they look similar. Now tell me, when did you come? You didn’t even tell me and Aunt Hafsa also didn’t mention anything!”

“That’s because she also didn’t know. I surprised them as well. I came yesterday.”

“Nice! With your husband?”

“Yeah, and my sister inlaw and her son. We’ve been travelling a bit, visiting different countries. This was one of our stops but nana and nani didn’t know when I’d be coming.”

“Yeah, your nani mentioned you went Morocco and Egypt. How was it?”

I ended up staying till lunch time, just chatting to Imaan and the kids. The kids warmed up to me in no time and we had a blast together. Nani actually phoned me at lunch time to ask where I was because I’d lost track of the time.

“Stay for lunch,” Imaan invited.

“I’d love to but I can’t. Nani’s already cooked lunch, enough biryani to feed an army!”

“Okay but you have to have a meal with us one day,” Imaan insisted.

“No man, why you want to go through all that trouble for me. We’ll just go out one day with the kids.”

The kids loved that idea so we agreed on going out one of the days. I greeted them then left…

***

Nani’s biryani was out of this world! Mum made it like hers but still, she couldn’t even come close. I’d tried to make it myself at home with the same recipe but it could never compare to the original.

“Nani, you need to package this and sell it with the label, ‘Nani’s Bomb Biryani’,” I drew quotation marks in the air, grinning around a mouthful of rice.

Nani looked horrified by the prospect. “Sell cold biryani to people?? Astaghfirullah!”

I snorted with laughter and choked, spluttering and coughing. Nani came over and dutifully banged me on my back until my coughing had subsided. “See, that’s why I tell you not to talk with your mouth full but you never listen!”

Humi was also laughing at our exchange.

“I love you, nani. You are the bomb,” I said, grinning affectionately at her. She psshed at me but was beaming in pleasure.

“And me, am I not the bomb also?” Nana demanded to know when I went into the dining room after I finished eating, “or has Ahmed become your number one hero now??”

“Just tell him he’s the best before he kicks me out,” Ahmed replied cheekily. Nana bent a stern look on him.

“Ahmed!”

“Jee, Qaarisaab?” Ahmed looked the picture of innocence as he smiled at nana demurely.

“Nana, of course you’re the best. No one can replace you, you my number one hero,” I replied with a grin.

Nana quirked a brow at me, “You know what they tell men, neh? When you go to your wife tell her she’s the best. And when you go to your mum tell her she’s the best. I hope you’re not pulling a trick like that on us.”

“Never, nana!” I said, feigning shock and trying not to laugh while I planned to do exactly that!

After lunch and a yummy dessert of Häagen Dazs ice cream Ahmed and I went upstairs where Ahmed immediately flopped down on the mattress. “Come sleep,” he said with a yawn, stretching his hand out towards me.

“Uh uh. If we do that we’ll never wake up on time and we need to go to Khad’s and Zul’s houses. Come on, get up!”

Ahmed groaned. “Can’t it wait till tomorrow? What’s the rush, they’re not going anywhere.”

“If we delay they’ll find out we’re here then our surprise will be spoiled and they’ll murder us for not telling them we’re here,” I made a slicing motion against my throat. Ahmed rolled his eyes in response, “so come. I’m going to wear my abaya.”

Ahmed grumbled a bit but got up eventually. We took nana’s car since he wasn’t going to be using it that afternoon and set off…

Part 249

Nana was staring at me open mouthed like he was seeing a ghost. “Fazila!”

I squealed and jumped into his arms, causing him to stagger back a bit. “Nana!”

And then the tears started. I didn’t know where they came from, they were just streaming from my eyes like I’d turned on a tap. Nana’s arms closed around me and I buried my head in his chest, breathing in his unique fragrance, clutching him like I never wanted to let go. He actually had to detach me gently from him after a while, smiling down at me fondly. “So much waterworks?” He joked. I laughed and wiped my hands over my eyes. From the corner of my eyes I saw nani approaching and I stepped away from nana, smiling widely at her.

“Fazila??? Ya Allah! Is it a bhoot or is it really my Fazzu??”

We all burst out laughing at that and I went forward to hug her. “It’s me nani, don’t worry!” I hugged her tightly and a few more tears of happiness fell from my eyes. It had been too long, way too long. Only now I was realising just how much I’d missed this place.

I left nana to greet Ahmed and do the how-are-yous and all and nani to fuss over Humi and Numair and ran through the house, beaming at the familiarity of it all. The kitchen and adjoining dining room and beyond that, the living room, then upstairs to nana’s and nani’s room, the small box room and then finally to my room which was exactly as I’d left it! Even my fluffy old cushion was still propped up against the pillows just the way I used to do. I laughed and did a running dive onto my bed, hugging the cushion against my chest. Nani hadn’t changed a single thing in the room. My heart ached at the sentimentality of the small action.

“Look at the smile on someone’s face, yoh!” I looked up to see Ahmed standing in the doorway, smiling at me. Clapping a hand against my mouth I feigned shock. “Maulana Ahmed, what are you doing here?? Go before my nana sees you and bans you from this house again!”

Ahmed grinned and sauntered into the room. Looking at the nostalgic look on his face I knew he was replaying old memories in his head as well. “Who knew at that time, huh?” He said softly, sitting down next to me, “who knew the next time I’d enter this house it would be with you, as my wife,” he ran a finger gently down my nose, tapping the end of it, the far away look still on his face, “how impossible it had seemed at that time…”

I sat up and moved closer to him so I could lay my head on his shoulder. “It’s amazing how Allah works. I’d never have imagined at that time as well that I’d marry you…”

Ahmed wrapped his arms around me and we sat like that for a while, lost in our thoughts, until someone clearing their throat outside the door brought us back into the present. “Maulana Ahmed, stop sabotaging my granddaughter’s attention otherwise I might ban you from this house again,” nana said sternly but there was a smile on his face. We burst out laughing and jumped up. So nana’s thoughts had also been running in that direction!

Supper was a jolly affair, with us laughing and chatting as we caught up. The men sat in the dining room while we sat in the kitchen but there was an open arch in between so although we couldn’t see them we could hear what they were saying and I, not wanting to miss out on anything, was contributing to the conversation on both sides. Only Humi was a bit quiet. She must be feeling awkward, shame, I thought, and made an effort to include her more in mine and nani’s conversation. Nani was also trying to include her and took Numair from her so she could eat nicely.

“Ahmed and your nana should have just sat with us. I would have sat in the corner,” Humi said when supper was almost over. I shook my head and smiled at her.

“Nana wouldn’t have sat with us because of purdah reasons.”

“But I don’t make purdah and neither does he, of course,” Humi said, looking confused.

“He does make purdah. Men’s purdah is lowering the gaze and not interacting with ghair mahram women unless there’s a necessity. That’s what he’s doing,” I replied.

Humi was silent for a while, till we had finished eating and nani had gone to remove ice cream from the freezer. “This isn’t fair on all of you. Because of me you’ll have to sit separate and your nana has to do purdah. I’ll tell Ahmed to find me an empty house where I can stay…”

“Don’t be silly…” I began when nani cut in. She had obviously heard us, having come up behind us with the ice cream.

“What’s all this talk of moving out, huh?? Where you want to go all alone, beti?”

“I thought I can find a place nearby so I don’t have to inconvenience you and nana…uhmm, uncle…uhmmm,” she stopped, clearly at a loss of what to call Nana. Nani shook her head and laughed.

“You’ll call me nani and my husband nana. Okay? And no more talk of moving out. You also my beti and you’ll stay right here.”

“But it’s inconveniencing nana so much,” Humi protested though she looked pleased at nani’s words.

“No, no, you doing no such thing. Your nana is used to it and he’s out most of the day anyways. Now come, let’s have this nice ice cream before it melts.”

I took the ice cream to the men in the lounge and sat with them for a bit before going back to the women. I was the only one going up and down because I wanted to be on both sides and be part of both conversations. Nani sat with Humi and entertained Numair who took to her really well. When I came back to their side he was half sitting against her and quietly chewing on the tassels of her scarf, looking at his surroundings with wide eyes. Humi offered to take him after a while but nani shushed her and told her to eat more ice cream.

By the time we finished eating and clearing up it was quite late. No helpers here so I washed up while nani cleaned the kitchen. I’d wanted to pop in by Imaan and surprise her but after looking at the time I decided to leave it for tomorrow. Tomorrow I’d pay her, Asiya and Khadija surprise visits. Nani took us up and showed us our rooms. My room only had a single bed so nani brought a spare mattress and I put the mattress from my bed onto the floor and joined it to the other one so Ahmed and I could sleep there. Humi was in the box room with Numair. Humi disappeared into her room to sort out Numair and make him sleep and I went back down to sit with Ahmed and nana. Nani also came to sit with us and we talked for a while before nana started yawning repeatedly. We all went up then and nana and nani disappeared into their room while Ahmed and I went into “our” room.

“No longer just my room now,” I said, grinning.

“Nope, now you have to share,” Ahmed said with a smirk.

It was weird and yet so beautiful and poignant at the same time, cuddling up to Ahmed in my old room, thinking of how much had changed since the last time I’d been here. Who knew at that time that the next time I’d sleep here I wouldn’t be cuddling up with my trusty old cushion but with a life sized teddy bear instead? I was still chuckling at that thought when I drifted off to sleep…


Did anyone else have a goofy smile on their face throughout?? (Meeeee!🙋🏻‍♀️)

Seriously though, I finished writing this post in no time! The words just flowed, I was picturing everything with said goofy smile like I was Faz and in the story myself! And I am so happy to be back! Home sweet home🤗🥰

Enjoy and drop me your feedbacks! And DON’T tell me you didn’t feel the feeeeels otherwise I’ll be very disappointed in you!

Haadiya,

xxx

Broadening our Horizons

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Hope everyone is doing well on this pleasant Sunday afternoon🙂 just chilling and making the most of it before the weekday craze hits again🙈 I really wish Sundays had a slow-mo button. I would have slowed it down so it just carried on and on lol!

Anyways…the reason for this somewhat random post is…I have 2 things to tell you’ll…

Firstly, I don’t know if you’ll have seen my new username. No, it’s not my real name. I just thought it’s better than oceanus lol. Haadiya means guide and since the purpose of my blogs is to entertain but at the same educate and guide I thought it’s an apt pen name. Hello everyone, this is Haadiya! *takes a bow*

Secondly, I love images, which I’m sure you all know very well. Scenery, quotes, food, whatever. I love them all, which is why I spend quite a bit of time searching for the perfect images to add to my posts. Now, some of those images have very nice messages etc so I feel I should share them more… and some of them were shared way back in the earlier posts so I’m sure we’ve forgotten them as well (including myself), which is why I created an Instagram account, to post the images there as well and refresh our memory. So head over to the link mentioned below and get following!👩🏻‍💻🤗

Follow me on Instagram! Username: oceanus868
https://www.instagram.com/oceanus868?r=nametag

Part 248

Granada was beautiful and historical, with the pinnacle being the Alhambra palace. It wasn’t only a single palace but a palace, fortress and compound in one. It belonged to the muslim leaders before being conquered by Catholics. We toured the various palaces and gardens, taking in the beautiful scenery and view of the entire city spread out before us from the top of the powder tower or bell tower. It was beautiful and historical, reportedly built according to the description of jannah. It had lots of inscriptions like La ghaliba illallah with fountains and lush green gardens spread out everywhere. The Generalife which were the gardens adjacent to the Alhambra were stunning, a true architectural masterpiece. It was a series of large gardens with water features and plants everywhere. The sights and sounds were mesmerising and I could have spent hours there. We did spend quite a bit of time at the Alhambra and Generalife which took up most of our first day, after which we simply relaxed in our hotel rooms.

The second day we took another walk at Carrera del Darro, one of the most scenic walks in Granada, to the right of the river Darro. It was also quite a romantic walk and Humi wisely walked ahead of us with Numair, leaving us to stroll along behind hand in hand and just soak up the ambience of the place. It was crossed by two brick and stone bridge and ran between the river, the forest of Alhambra and the Almanzora. It was an old street dating from the seventeenth century and had many old buildings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries including old Arab houses. It was also near Plaza Nueva, the oldest square in Granada, in the middle of the city. There were a lot of restaurants there so we stopped by to have a meal and just relax for a while.

And of course we visited the old Arab neighbourhoods of Albaycin and Sacromonte. It was like stepping into a different world, like stepping back in time. They were old districts with quaint, narrow streets lined with old, white Arab houses. We could see the Alhambra palace from there and from the most famous viewing point in Granada as well, the Mirador de San Nicholas. The views from there were panoramic, with the Alhambra and Generalife face to face, the city at it’s feet and the magnificent Sierra Nevada, the ski resort behind.

Scromonte was more diverse with Arabs, Jews, Spaniards and gypsies all living together. There were the usual houses and then there were the caves. I kid you not. They were proper caves designed as houses. We would have loved to stay there for the full historical experience but they had their music and dances going on so we didn’t.

On the third day Numair got sick so Humi refused to go anywhere but she insisted that we should carry on without her. Since we were in a pretty safe part of Granada we didn’t have any qualms about leaving her on her own. Grabbing the opportunity I told Ahmed, “let’s go to Sierra Nevada!”

We had only seen the ski resort from the viewing point of Mirador de San Nicholas. It was much more than just a ski resort though. It was a mountain range consisting of several small villages nestled in the hillsides which we could explore and take scenic pictures of. Since Humi and Numair weren’t with us we could hike everywhere and explore things more extensively. The villages were so quaint and historical and the views from the top were breathtaking! And of course, making the most of this opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do without limitations I suggested going to the Los Cahorros gorge. It had hanging bridges over the gorge, gorgeous rock pools where I unfortunately could not swim due to purdah reasons, waterfalls and tunnels to explore. It was an awesome, adrenaline filled day, just the kind I loved and we were exhausted but jubilant by the time we went back.

The next few days we relaxed and explored Granada at a more leisurely pace before moving on to Cordoba…

***

Cordoba… the Islamic capital of Andalus and the largest city in the world a thousand years ago…a beacon of light and development when Europe was still steeped in the dark ages…it had a whole lot of Islamic history as well. The grand masjid, though now turned into a cathedral was huge and magnificent, one of the most beautiful examples of Spanish Islamic architecture. It still had the old mihraab facing the qiblah. There could be no finer symbol of this golden age than the forest of columns and horseshoe arches that greet you upon entry, with their two-tone brick and stone pattern. There were 850 columns in total, and the effect of the sunlight that filtered through the hall was unforgettable, as was the Mihrab with its gilded calligraphy.

We took a walk along the Calleja de Las Flores, a narrow street full of pretty patios with pretty colourful flowers in flower pots which honoured the old Islamic tradition of patios set by the rulers of olden times to provide shade from the burning sun.

Behind the grand masjid or mezquita as it was called, was the Alcazar or Royal Palace though it wasn’t grand or anything, more like a fortress. The gardens were the highlight here, lush and sprawling with bright bursts of colour.

We took a walk along the Roman bridge at sunset, where we had the breathtaking view of the mezquita bathed in orange light against the evening sky. It was an ancient bridge-turned-walkway with historical significance.

The Calahorra tower was a fortification built in the time of the muslims as well. There was a nice museum there which told about the history of Cordoba under Muslim rule.

Then we went to Madina al Zahra…the forgotten city. It was built by the Muslim ruler AbdurRahman al Nasir and was the administrative capital of Andalus but only stood for sixty-five years before being abandoned and forgotten till 1911. It had been restored now even though not to its former glory but we took a walk through it nonetheless.

Our last stop of the country was in Barcelona. We spent a few days touring the city, walking along its promenade, going to the beach, visiting the urban market of La Boqueria and Park Guell, where we had panoramic views of the city from the parks terrace.

After spending a few weeks touring the beautiful country of Spain we were ready to move on…

***

I knocked on the door, my heart beating fast in anticipation. The wait was pure agony of suspense and I was hopping from foot to foot in my impatience…then the door opened and I found myself face to face with him. And as his face went from confusion to shock to complete disbelief a huge smile broke out across my face.

Home. I was home.


Apologies again for the long delay. Where time goes these days I don’t know. One week seems like three or four days man! And twice a week seems like every other day so you can’t blame me for not being able to post so often😉 ok jokes aside, I do try my best to post on schedule but life gets in the way sometimes. So bear with me, enjoy this post and drop me your feedbacks!

xxx


Open Letter to the Terrorist

THOUGHTS INTO WORDS

You wanted to harm us but you sent our martyrs to eternal success instead

You wanted to weaken us but you made us stronger instead

You wanted to obliterate us but you were the means of so many people entering our beautiful religion

You wanted to divide us and show the world your hatred so that others can follow in your footsteps but you united muslims and non muslims across the globe who showed us the true meaning of compassion, empathy and solidarity

You wanted to terrify us into leaving our mosques and stop praying but you made our faith unshakable, made us practice our religion more resolutely and made our mosques fill up to the brim instead

You wanted to spread hate and division but all you managed to spread is love and unity

So thank you

Thank you for everything you didn’t accomplish and everything you had no…

View original post 176 more words

New Zealand, we are with you…

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Sorry for the delayed post…

Honestly speaking, I haven’t written a single word of the next post. My mind is consumed by the tragedy that has hit our ummah…the New Zealand shooting.

The news of the attack on Friday shook me to the core. Then I made the mistake of watching the graphic video in which the sicko murderer live-streamed himself shooting people in the masjid (I strongly urge everyone NOT to watch that or share it. Delete it. Make it non existent because his purpose was to blast it to the world and inspire others to follow his footsteps. On his fb account which has now been removed he was actually hailed as a hero and given the Nazi salute. That is almost as depressing as the shooting itself. So please, don’t make his agenda succeed but do the opposite instead.) That video messed with my head. I could not think about anything else the whole day and till now it haunts me. How can a person, a human being so calmly walk into a place of worship and kill other human beings so casually?? How can he murder dozens of people in cold blood and not feel an ounce of remorse over it?? Didn’t he think that they were people like himself! No matter how people look from the outside we all bleed red. We are all Humans! Where has humanity gone? Are we really living in such a sick, cruel world?? Those questions continued to pound in my head…and then today I came across this…

This was created by a non Muslim. This touched me so much. So we are not completely lost after all. Humanity is not completely lost. There are good humans out there just like there are bad ones. New Zealands community has been amazing, with muslims and non muslims alike offering shows of support and solidarity. This is what we need. More love and unity and less hate and division in this world.

So my lovely readers, pray. Pray for the victims and their grieving loved ones that they’ve left behind. And more importantly, take lesson from this. This should not be a temporary thing where we mourn for one week then its forgotten and we carry on with our lives. We should take this opportunity to better ourselves and become even better and stronger muslims. We should take this opportunity to unite even more and show the world that love will overpower hate any day. And we should realise that death can come at any moment and prepare for our own deaths and increase our a’maal to build our hereafter. I end with our universal greeting… wassalaam. Peace be on all of you xxx

P.S. I’ll try and post the new post as soon as I can inshaAllah

Part 247

We only spent a few days in Seville since there wasnt much to see and do there. The Islamic history also wasn’t as much but it was a beautiful city nonetheless.

We started our days with traditional breakfast in nearby local restaurants. Toasted baguette with a mug of hot coffee was so delicious and filling.

We went to see the Real Alcazar, the royal palace that was originally Islamic before the Christians gained control of it. We got our tickets and walked all over the terraces, going from courtyard to courtyard and surrounding ourselves in the lush greenery of the sprawling gardens.

At night we went to the Triana neighbourhood with its epic views over the city and its traditional streets. We went on Isabel II Bridge as well, quite a romantic and charming experience. We also went there during the day for a plesant riverside walk.

The next day we went to visit the Metropol Parasol, an enormous wooden structure in the old quarter of Seville. It’s apparently the largest wooden structure in the world. It was nice to walk to the top and enjoy the views of the city from there and the views at sunset were just gorgeous!

We also went to see the Giralda tower which was originally a minaret in olden times. Ahmed and I climbed all the way till the top though Humi declined and chose to sit outside and wait for us instead. The climb was worth it because we got to see the breathtaking views from on top and I got to snap pictures with the new camera Ahmed had gifted me a few days ago. The unusual part about the tower was that there were ramps leading to the top instead of the usual stairway. This, as we learned, was so that the muazzin who gave the adhaan could ride his horse to the top instead of climbing. Fascinating, right!

We also went to visit the Plaza de España situated in the Maria Luisa park. It had other squares and nice spots for walking around and relaxing as well. The park was lovely and pleasant with paths weaving around lush green lawns and ornamental ponds and tiled fountains dotting the paths. The body of the park was a large botanical garden.

After a few days we moved on to the coast… to Cadiz.

It was a beautiful coastal town. There wasn’t much to see apart from the lovely beaches and some museums and castles for the historic experience but the beach was more than enough for us so we ended up staying for a few days there, strolling along the promenade, relaxing at the quieter beaches where I could also take quick dips and enjoying the fresh and varied seafood cuisine.

From there we went to Gibraltar, a British Territory bang in the middle of Spain. Well, not in the middle…more like in a corner of Spain. This was a place loaded with history and beautiful and scenic on top of it.

We stayed at the Rock Hotel which, as the name suggested, was right on the Rock of Gibraltar itself. The rock was massive, a huge thing jutting out in the middle of the city. There were several ways to go up; hike up, for the very fit ones, which we were not. Drive up the narrow winding roads, for the experienced ones with a car which we didn’t have. Or go up by cable car, the safest option. That’s what we chose. The views on the way up and right at the top were stunning, blue water stretching out for as far as we could see. Reminded me of the Table Mountain, kind of. There were lots of monkeys at the top and not as cute and innocent as they looked! We had been warned that they were sly, quick things who could make off with our things in a flash so we should be careful. That was something we saw firsthand when we were nicely strolling along and admiring the views. We suddenly heard a yell. A woman was shouting and waving her arms about at a monkey who quickly scampered off, a peach handbag in hand.

“My bag! He got my bag! Someone get him!” She screamed. No one could do anything though because the animal was fast. He was gone in a flash, leaving the poor woman crying and wringing her hands in despair. After that we kept a death grip on our bags and belongings, even keeping an eye out so that the monkeys couldn’t pick our pockets.

The food and especially the traditional English afternoon tea at the Rock Hotel was lovely and we enjoyed it on the terrace overlooking the sea, munching on fresh, hot scones slathered in clotted cream and jam, slices of cake and sandwiches cut in small symmetrical triangles, and washing it down with hot, sweet tea.

There wasn’t that much to do in Gibraltar as well. We visited the Ibrahim al Ibrahim masjid, the moorish castle with the imposing tower of homage and went to the botanical gardens and a few other spots but apart from that we relaxed at the beaches which were of course lovely.

After a few days we moved on to Malaga, another beautiful coastal town with history. I especially loved visiting the old castles and seeing how the people of the past lived. Those times were so dangerous, with threats of attack and invasion hanging over their heads at all times. So their entire upbringing was different. Where we gave our children toys and balls to play with they gave their children bows and arrows and spears to learn. Where we made our children ride toy cars and bikes they made their children ride horses. The children grew up, not pampered and soft like us but hardened warriors who learnt how to defend themselves and their families from a young age. How strong, how brave they must have been and how weak they would find us if they had to come see us today!

The old Muslim castle of Al Cazaba was one such wonder. Powerfully built, it could be seen from miles and was huge and impressive. It had two sets of walls protecting the inner and outer citadel. The outer citadel contained the palace’s stunning gardens with fountains and gateways which the arabs built out of old Roman columns. Within the second set of walls was the palace and dwellings spread across three peaceful courtyard gardens.

Likewise was the Castillo de Gibralfaro, another imposing castle which looked even more warlike with lookout towers and ramparts. This castle was the scene of the pivotal siege in 1487, when the Muslims were finally forced to surrender their rule in Spain. They held out for three months in this castle before surrendering when they ran out of food. It was sad to imagine what could have been if Muslims were still ruling Spain and the Iberian peninsula and what it is now. How tolerant the muslims were when they ruled, where Jews and Christians also lived peacefully and safely without fear of their lives…and how conditions changed when Catholics snatched power from the muslims and rose to power, where muslims and Jews alike were forced to renounce their faith and accept Catholicism or be forced into slavery or exiled. Where is this history when muslims are maligned from all directions and painted as cruel murderers!

We visited the museum and market as well, though I rather missed the bright souqs of Egypt and Morocco! This was also nice though and we got some lovely fresh fruit, cheese, bread and honey.

We visited the Parque de Malaga…sounds posh right! However say it in English and it’s a park. Plain and simple. It was lovely and cool though under the broad, lush fronds of the towering palm trees and we had a lovely picnic there.

We also visited the museum of the famous artist Picasso since Malaga was his birth place. I wasn’t really the artsy sort and some of the paintings looked downright ugly to me but Humi was so she was much more interested in the displays. The only art I appreciated was food! I mean, at least it wasn’t something we could just look at but do nothing else with, right! At least we could enjoy it and savour it to the fullest and get some benefit out of it. So Humi enjoyed her artwork and I enjoyed my food, of which there was quite a mouthwatering variety. I’d never had as much seafood as I was having now but it was just so delicious that I could never tire of it!

The other thing I was crazy about was…no guesses here…the beaches! Of course! Luckily Humi and Ahmed shared my passion here so we took out special time to visit the beaches of Malaga as well. One of them, El Pedregalejo, was especially stunning and it was in one of the more trendy neighbourhoods which had some lovely restaurants as well so it was a real win-win for us.

We had a lovely few days in Malaga before moving on to Granada…


NOTE:- The food and places mentioned are NOT certified halal . I don’t know any of the places personally and I haven’t researched their halal status so please make your own research before you go. Don’t take this blog as proof of halal and haraam. Jazakillah khair xxx

 

Part 246

I know, I know, I’d gone totally AWOL. The past few days have been so hectic and these posts need time and research. I’m a perfectionist so I refuse to post till it’s just right and I’m happy with it lol. So here it is, a nice long post to make up for the delay. I can’t promise when the next post will be. Might be before Monday if I have enough time or on Monday inshaAllah.

Enjoy and drop me your feedbacks. A lot of the readers have gone silent🤔 I love interacting with you’ll so come on, start commenting and make the comments section lively again!😁

xxx


He was a young Berber warrior, a new convert to islam and a freed slave who led the Muslim army comprising of three hundred Arabs and ten thousand Berber converts to Islam across the narrow stretch of water that separated Africa from Europe.

He was Tariq Ibn Ziyaad.

“Burn your boats,” said Tariq Ibn Ziyaad while addressing his small army after entering Spain through sea in 711 A.D. The order was instantly followed by his forces despite a huge army of opponents ready to attack them.

“My Dear brothers, we are here to spread the message of Allah. Now, the enemy is in front of you and the sea behind. You fight for His cause. Either you will be victorious or martyred. There is no third choice. All means of escape have been destroyed,” he thundered while addressing his forces before the battle began. The victory of Islam following the acts of valor, as well as piety, was imminent.

The army of Tariq crossed the stretch of water and Ianded at the opposite rocky area that till today carries his name, Jabal Tariq (Gibraltar).

King Roderic of Spain amassed a large force of 100,000 fighters against the Muslims. Tariq wrote to Musa Ibn Nusayr, the ameer of Ifriqiyah (Africa) for reinforcements and received 5000 cavalry men under the command of Tarif Ibn Malik (after whom Tarifa is named in Spain).

The two armies met in the Valley of Bekka, near Sidonia. The battle continued for eight days and ended in the sweeping defeat of the Visigoths who lived there. This was the decisive battle that opened the gates of Andalus for the Muslims.

The defeated Spanish army retreated towards Toledo. Tariq Ibn Ziyad divided his troop into four regiments for a hot pursuit. One regiment marched towards Cordoba and subdued it. The second captured Murcia and the third advanced towards Zaragoza. Tariq himself moved swiftly towards Toledo. The city surrendered without resistance. King Roderic’s rule came to an end in Spain.

Upon hearing the grand victory, Commander Musa Ibn Nusayr rushed to Spain with another large force of 18,000. The two generals occupied more than two-thirds of the Iberian Peninsula In rapid succession, Zaragoza, Barcelona and Portugal fell one after another. Later, the Pyrenees was crossed and Lyons in France was occupied. Spain remained under Muslim rule for more than 750 years, from 711 to 1492. In its swiftness of execution and completeness of success, Tariq’s expedition into Spain holds a unique place in the medieval military annals of the world.

Muslim rule was a major boon to local residents. No properties or estates were confiscated. Instead, the Muslims introduced an intelligent system of taxation, which soon brought prosperity to the peninsula and made it a model country in the West. The Christians had their own judges to settle their disputes. All communities had equal opportunities for entry into the public services. The Jews and the peasants in Spain received the Muslim armies with open arms. The serfdoms that prevailed were abolished and fair wages were instituted. Taxes were reduced to a fifth of the produce. Anyone who accepted Islam was relieved of his slavery. A large number of Spaniards embraced Islam to escape the oppression of their masters. The religious minorities, the Jews and the Christians, received the protection of the state and were allowed participation at the highest levels of the government.

As result of Muslim rule, Spain became a beacon of art, science and culture for Europe. Mosques, palaces, gardens, hospitals and libraries were built. Canals were repaired and new ones were dug. New crops were introduced from other parts of the Muslim empire and agricultural production increased. Andalus, as Spain was called by Muslims, became the granary of the West. Manufacturing was encouraged and the silk and brocade work of the peninsula became well known in the trading centers of the world. Cities increased in size and prospered.

Cordoba, the capital, became the premier city of Europe and by the 10th century, had over one million inhabitants. A Christian historian writes: “The Moors (Muslims) organized that wonderful kingdom of Cordova, which was the marvel of the Middle Ages, and which, when all Europe was plunged in barbaric ignorance and strife, alone held the torch of learning and civilization bright and shining before the Western world.”

Caliph Walid bin Abdul Malik invited Musa bin Nusair and Tariq bin Ziyad to Damascus. But when they reached the capital, the caliph was on his death bed. He honored them lavishly but he passed away soon after. Caliph Sulaiman succeeded him in Feb. 715 and he turned against the two commanders and deprived them of all amenities. Tariq died in Damascus in 720 in anonymity.

(Source: Arab News)

First on our agenda was Andalusia, a mere fraction of the former Islamic state of Andalus. It was like a big province in the south of Spain, closest to Morocco and with the most Islamic history. We landed in Seville, the capital city at night and went straight to our apartments.

After refreshing ourselves and grabbing supper at a nearby restaurant we chilled in our apartment again. I took this opportunity to make some much overdue calls.

We’d been so busy going around that I hadn’t properly talked to family and friends in ages! I kept getting messages saying I’d forgotten everyone so today was a good day to catch up and prove everyone wrong.

I started with my parents of course.

“Fazila! Nice to see your face again man, I’d forgotten what you look like!” Adnaan joked, peering over mum and dad’s shoulders.

I stuck my tongue out at him. “Same here, big bro. Not one phone call from you as well and I don’t know when’s the last time you even texted!”

“Ya because some people are too busy to talk to family now.”

“Oh please, stop making excuses! If you don’t call you can’t know whether I’m too busy or not!”

“Children, stop arguing,” mum said sternly. We immediately shut up out of habit then looked at each other and laughed.

“Faaaazzz! Finally seeing your face. Where you lost?” Han’s face suddenly popped up in front of the screen.

“She’s too busy touring the world to remember us,” Adnaan put in with a smirk. I shot them both a look.

“Shut it, both of you. Han, show me my niece,” and then I awwwwwed and oohed and aahed over my gorgeous niece who seemed to have grown wings in the past few weeks. She looked at me disinterestedly while I talked to her then wriggled out of her mother’s arms and was away like a bullet.

“Yoh, look at her go!” I said, laughing as I watched her crawl away.

“She can’t sit still now. I’m literally behind her whole day!” Han said with a sigh.

“So how’s things?” Dad asked.

“Lekker man! Though it’s like a whirlwind but it’s awesome! Now I realise how small our little corner is because it’s such a big world out here!” I said enthusiastically.

“You haven’t even seen the rest of the world!” Han chuckled.

“Nana is asking when you guys going to England,” mum put in.

I grinned. “That’s a secret, tell him.”

“You have to let them know, you can’t just pitch up. They’re old now,” mum said with a frown.

“We ourselves don’t know when we’re moving on. We never have our days set, we just take each day as it comes,” I said with a shrug, “and besides, we’re family. We’ll make ourselves at home there and sort ourselves out. It’s not like nana and nani have to run behind us. Chill mum,” I said with a grin.

I spoke to them for a while before hanging up with promises to call back soon. And then came the time for the less anticipated call.

“Do we have to?” Humi grumbled.

“Yeah, we have to keep in touch. They’re your parents,” I said gently.

Humi scowled. “They’ll just spoil my mood for nothing. Especially mummy.”

“Maybe she won’t this time. The time and distance may have made her introspect and soften up,” I said more positively than I felt.

“I like this. Being away from everyone I know, being in a completely different place with different people. No one knows my history, no one knows ME. It’s just so refreshing. I’ve cut off every single person from my old life except you two. Now you want me to open that can of worms again.” Humi looked annoyed with that idea…and something else…something that looked like fear.

“Come on. It won’t be that bad. You have to face your monsters sometimes, it’s actually better for your healing process and gives you closure as well. And with your parents, even if they’re the same you must keep in touch. Even if it’s just for two minutes. At least you’ll have done your duty.”

I dialled daddy’s Skype amidst Humi’s grumbles about bossy people which was definitely aimed at me. Ahmed was just smiling and shaking his head.

Luckily daddy answered on the third ring. “Humaira, Ahmed, Fazila. Nice to see you’ll. It’s been long,” he said, a big smile stretching across his face.

“How you, daddy? How’s things?” I asked after the formalities were over.

“Good, good, shukar. Quiet of course, without you’ll but we okay. And you’ll? How’s the travels? Where you now?”

“Spain,” Humi replied.

“Oh, nice. Been there once, long time ago. Which town, Madrid?”

“No, Seville.”

“Aah, nice. And where’s my grandson? Haven’t seen him as well in long. He must be so big now.”

“He’s sleeping…” Humi began then she seemed to change her mind, “let me check if he’s awake.”

He was, Alhamdulillah. Humi brought him in front of the screen, cradling him protectively in her arms. Daddy’s face genuinely lit up.

“Oh my. He’s so mashaAllah. Bring him closer, let me look at him nicely.”

They stared at each other in fascination, grandfather and grandson while we looked at both of them in amusement and pride. Humi was smiling as well when she saw the silent exchange going on before her. Then Numair let out a loud gurgle, breaking into a huge toothless grin and the spell was broken. Daddy laughed and touched the screen gently.

“He’s beautiful. He has your eyes, Humi, and Ahmed’s and your mother’s dimples. That reminds me, let me call your mother and Dalia. They’ll love to see you’ll as well.”

The mention of mummy darkened the mood. Daddy also noticed it and maybe that’s why he decided to share his other unpleasant news as well.

“And also…Mikaeel came to see me. He wanted to know where you and Numair were. Demanded to know infact.”

“Tell him to go to hell!” Humi spat out. Her arms tightened instinctively around Numair, who let out a squeak of protest.

“I told him I didn’t know and I’ll never tell him anyways so he must never come back. He shouted and threatened for a bit but when I didn’t budge he left, saying he’ll hire detectives to track you down because you can’t take his son from him. Empty threats I’m sure,” he added reassuringly, seeing Humi’s thunderous scowl, “you need bucks for that and I doubt he has that much. Anyways, let me call mummy. Wait,” he heaved himself up from the chair and walked out.

“I’ll die before I give my son to that bas****!” Humi said angrily, still clutching her son protectively.

“You don’t worry about that. Like daddy said he won’t be able to do that so there’s nothing to worry about,” Ahmed tried to reassure her.

Mummy and Dalia came then, right in time to see Humi still scowling darkly.

“Is this how you greet me, Humaira? After so long as well?” Mummy asked, raising her thin, shaped eyebrows.

“I was thinking about something else,” Humi mumbled quickly, “how you? And Daals? Howzit?” Her expression lightened when she saw her younger sister whose eyes were on Numair.

“He’s so gorgeous! And he’s gone so big and chubby! When I saw him he was so tiny!” She exclaimed excitedly.

“He’s a fatty bom bom,” Ahmed put in with a huge grin. Humi elbowed him hard and he burst out laughing.

“Yeah, he’s almost four months now,” Humi replied.

“You so far away. Not fair! I want to play with him!” Dalia pouted.

We laughed. “Oi Daals. Can’t even say salaam to your bhai huh!” Ahmed said.

Dalia grinned. “You look just the same. No big deal!”

“Oh, that’s how it is huh. Fine, I’m gonna eat all your nice lindt chocolates, wait.”

“Hey! Faz, post them to me before this greedy pig eats them all!” Dalia shot back.

Mum was quiet while we joked around with Dalia. Then she spoke up, her eyes on Numair.

“He looks a bit dark. Don’t take him out in the sun too much, Humaira. Keep him inside more.”

“He’s half black mummy, what do you expect??” Humi shot back.

“I know that! No need to rub it in. I’m just saying he looks a bit burnt and it’s hot there now so be careful!”

“Don’t worry, I make him wear a hat always,” Humi muttered in response, her scowl back.

“Ahmed, how you doing? You looking so mashaAllah now, your stomach is also coming out. You must be active there also, do something even if you are retired now. Don’t just sit and eat all day.”

Ahmed grinned, not the least bit offended. “Yes, ma’am. These two make me run around and carry all their million shopping bags so I’m active, don’t worry.”

“And you, Fazila? How you?” She asked, turning to look at me directly. I literally jumped, I was so not expecting her to address me directly.

“I’m well alhamdulillah,” I replied automatically, “and how you? You’re looking well.”

“I look after myself that’s why. Mustn’t let go otherwise you’ll age faster than your years. So how come you’re not getting pregnant now? Too busy travelling to think about having a baby?”

That stung. Ahmed jumped in before I could say anything. “That’s not nice, mummy. It’s not in our control.”

“I know, but come on Ahmed, some people don’t want the trouble of a baby while having a nice holiday. If Fazila falls pregnant it will be the end of your holiday and you know it. That’s why I’m just asking.”

“I’m ready to have a baby whenever Allah gives me. Make dua for us mummy,” I said, refusing to let the hurt overpower me. People will always talk and say the most thoughtless and hurtful things to us. However, how we responded to it was our choice. We could control whether we let their negativity affect us or let it slide and only absorb the positive aspects of life. I refused to let the negativity of one woman spoil the best days of my life.

The talk was mundane after that. After a while mummy left us so we could chat a bit more with Dalia before hanging up. We promised to keep her updated and send lots of pics. Ahmed felt so sorry for her at seeing her sad face that he said he would have fetched her to us if she didn’t have school.

“You see why I didn’t wanna phone her. She spoilt both our moods,” Humi said after we had hung up. I shook my head and smiled and said the same things I was thinking to her.

“People will always talk but we shouldn’t let it affect us. We have the power over that so we should try to do that much at least. We both need to grow a thick skin my dear, because we both will face lots of hurtful comments in our lives.”

“Hear, hear, Doctor Fazila!” Ahmed said with a mock salute. We laughed and that lightened the mood. Then there was Numair, babbling away happily, totally unaffected by any negativity in his life. He made us laugh as well.

So that was that! Social calls taken care of we could now concentrate again on exploring and creating more memories…

Part 245

Rabat, Fes, Tangier…

Those were the last three towns on our agenda.

Rabat, the bustling capital city of Morocco was beautiful with its mix of modern and historical sights. The beaches were just lovely, the ocean soothing…something I could never tire of.

Fes was more historical. We loved the historic beauty of it so much that we ended up staying there for a few days instead of just a day trip like we had originally intended. The ancient masjids, the Medina, the old buildings and architecture…it had a charm of it’s own.

And Tangier was another lovely coastal town with gorgeous beaches and other attractions. Called the gateway to Africa, it was a busy and colourful town.

We walked around cobbled paths of the Kasbah, admiring the scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

We visited the Grand Socco where we walked along the narrow cobbled paths and visited the market stalls where we bought dates, dried fruit and other stuff, then relaxed over refreshing orange juice and fresh mint tea, idly watching the people pass by.

And of course there was the food. I took Ahmed and Humi especially to the cafes and restaurants to sample their goodies and enjoy the views.… olives…harissa…delicately flavoured fish…tagine…ending off with desserts like créme brulee and fresh strawberries topped with mixed nuts and a honey flavoured sauce. I was sure I’d put on a tonne of weight by the time we went back home!

We did a day trip to Chefchaouen one day. Called the blue city it looked ancient and exotic at the same time, with streets of picturesque blue and white houses, blue walled narrow pathways with colourful trinkets and bags hanging on the stalls. We wandered around the Medina, had a delicious lunch then hiked to the Rif mountains. We couldn’t hike all the way because of Numair and Humi, who was huffing and puffing in no time, but we reached high enough to take in some gorgeous views and snap dozens of pictures. The entire blue and white town lay spread out before us like a canvas. It was so amazing!

We wanted to go further on to Akchour but Numair started fussing so we left it. We went to see the small waterfalls in Chefchaouen where local ladies, wrapped in bright skirts washed their laundry and kids splashed around in the water. We chilled there for a while, dipping our feet in the water and sipping on fresh mint tea. Numair seemed to like the falls as well as he quietened down and started watching the scene before him with bright eyes. Ahmed took him and dipped his legs in the water. His eyes popped wide open then he let out a loud shriek of shock. Humi jumped up on hearing it, scowling at Ahmed.

“He’s a tiny baby, how can you put him in the water like that?? He’ll fall sick like that! Give him to me!”

Ahmed burst out laughing. “Let the laaitie have fun, man. He’ll get used to it just now.”

Sure enough he did, calming down and even splashing the water with his chubby little legs.

“He’ll toughen him up,” I laughed, seeing Humi’s resigned face, “mothers are always softer and more cautious with their kids.”

“Ya, he’s like a father to Numair. I’m glad. At least Numair will grow up with a male figure in his life.”

A father. The word stabbed me deeper than it should have. It was true. Ahmed was so good with Numair and the two were so close already that they were more like father and son. I could tell that having Numair around made Ahmed long for a child of his own even more, though he never said it out loud. It just made me feel worse than I already did though I knew it shouldn’t.

“He’ll have a male figure if you get married again,” I said to Humi, trying to change the topic and get hold of my emotions.

Humi’s face darkened. “Never!” She spat, “never again will I put myself in such a position again, where a man can use me, play with my emotions then walk away like nothing happened!”

“But not every man is like that…” I began.

“Oh spare me Faz. I don’t wanna hear it!” Humi started splashing her legs in the water vigorously, causing water to splash everywhere, some even on Numair who gave a squeak of protest.

“Now look who’s wetting Numair!” Ahmed laughed, turning to look at us. He saw Humi’s dark frown and moved his gaze to me questioningly. I shrugged. Ahmed raised his eyebrows but turned back to Numair without saying anything.

We prayed asr and maghrib then went back to Tangier. Last few days left in this beautiful country before we moved on…to another continent.

Living life cloaked in modesty and islamic principles…