I woke up to the shrill ringing of my phone on the bedside table. I picked it up and looked at the time groggily…
4 A.M???? Why on earth was Zee calling me at this time??
“What???” I grumpily answered.
“Faaazzz!!! We passed!!!” an excited Zee squealed down the phone.
“Huh? Passed what?”
“Our exams, duh!!!”
“Ohh!” realisation dawned as I remembered that our results had come out last night. “couldn’t you wait till morning to tell me?” I asked, annoyed.
“It is morning! Stop groaning and start celebrating! You can start by praying 2 rakaat salah of shukr. Its tahajjud time now!”
I grunted and cut the call then made my way to the bathroom. Once I had made wudhu my brain started functioning and I started jumping with joy. I raced to my parents room; luckily they were already awake. “I passed!” I exclaimed, startling them both.
“Ya Allah, Fazila, you’ll give us a heart attack 1 day!” my mum said, putting a hand on her chest.
“Sorry mum, I’m just excited.” I said sheepishly.
“MashaAllah, I’m so happy for you, dear.” mum came forward and hugged me. Dad hugged me too and congratulated me.
In the morning I told Adnaan and Han the news and teased them that they have to treat me now. They laughed and Adnaan came forward to hug me,”I’m proud of you, sis!” He was the type who didn’t show much emotion so I was touched by this gesture of his. After breakfast Zee and I went to pick up our results. Alhamdulillah I had passed with distinctions. I went home and told my parents and Dad smiled and said he’ll tell Adnaan to begin applying for uni now.
Few weeks later Adnaan came to tell me that I had been accepted. I was stunned. It all seemed unreal till now but now that I had actually been accepted it made it seem more real. I took a deep breath to calm the nervous feeling in my stomach and went to tell mum. Mum teared up when she heard the news,”I can’t believe my baby is going so far away!”
“Who told you to suggest it then?” dad asked smugly. He shut up when mum gave him a look and turned to look at me,”I hope you realise how much trust we’re putting in you and don’t disappoint us.”
“Yes, dad, don’t worry. I’ll try not to let either of you down.”
Dad nodded and went to tell Adnaan to start sorting out the visa and stuff.
The year only started in September there so I had a few months left before going. Mum suggested that I do my hifdh in that time. I had a good memory alhamdulillah and I was free at the moment. If I pushed hard I could maybe finish in these few months. If I couldn’t manage to finish then I could just finish off by nana when I went there. She also suggested that since I have time right now, I must go in the kitchen and learn how to cook and bake. I was happy at her first suggestion and groaned at the latter. “Muuumm! Do I HAVE to?”
“Yes, you do my dear. After you finish your studies and come back it will be time for you to get married. Then you won’t have time to start learning everything. Rather start now. And this way, you can also help nani make things or cook on days you’re free so it can be easier for her.”
That convinced me. If I knew how to cook I could at least help out nani, like mum said. So I started learning hifdh in the afternoons by an apa that lived close by and I would go in the kitchen in the mornings. Zee also joined me because she said my mum had more patience to teach her than her mum. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I actually realised that I loved baking and making desserts, and the added bonus was that we got to eat it all afterwards. Dad had an extremely sweet tooth so he was happy to try out all my experiments and mum was happy because she didn’t have to make sweet dishes for him every other day so it worked out well for everyone.
My hifdh was also going really well alhamdulillah. I was picking up really fast and Apa Nazia was in awe of my reading abilities. I told her it ran in my family and when she heard that I was Qari Hammaad’s granddaughter she understood,”oh mashaAllah! No wonder you recite so well! I knew your nani when she used to live here and my boys learnt hifdh by your nana. They said he is a very talented qari with such a mashallah voice. All the men used to love it when he led salah at the masjid. I didn’t know you’re that Rabia’s daughter.”
I pushed hard and managed to complete hifdh in 6 months alhamdulillah. My family was overjoyed and nana was also really happy and gave me lots of duas over the phone. People asked me how I did it but to be honest, it was no achievement of mine. Allah made it so easy for me. I was in awe of how easy Allah made the memorisation of the Holy quran even though we didn’t understand arabic. And what a great honour it was for us, because we were the only ummah who were given the honour of memorising their book. And Allah made that the means of preserving His holy book so that not a single letter can be changed till the day of qiyamah. How fortunate was I that Allah had selected me to be a means of preserving this sacred book and passing it down to my future generations.
Before I knew it the time had come for me to leave for UK. I had to be there a month before uni started. Adnaan was coming with me and he would stay there for a week to “see the place” as he put it. I knew the first place he would go see is Old Trafford. Adnaan was a crazy fan of Manchester United and was excited to finally be going there.
“Maybe I can even meet some of the players!” he said excitedly. Han and I rolled our eyes.
“And what’s so exciting about that?” I asked him,”they’re just humans like you and me. 2 ears, 1 nose, 1 mouth…and a sweaty, smelly body.” I scrunched my nose up.
“Errr, I’m not going to start smelling their armpits, weirdo! Just shake their hands, get their autographs. Or get them to sign my shirt or something! Then I can frame it in my room!”
“Whatever rocks your boat, brother dear,” I said while Han faked a yawn. Adnaan humphed and went to go find a more interested audience.
“I wish I could come!” Han moaned.
“Awww, don’t worry, maybe you can come next time. Give me a list of what you want and I’ll try to buy it for you and send it with Adnaan. Just don’t go overboard please!”
Next came the hard part…packing! I called Zee over to help me. She walked into my room and gasped at the sight of my room. Clothes and shoes were strewn everywhere, my hijabs lay in a messy pile in one corner, and other bits and bobs were scattered about. I had literally emptied out my closet to see what I had. A couple of suitcases lay open and in the middle of all this mess I was sitting cross-legged,”was there a hurricane in this room or what??”
“Help me, Zee! I don’t know what to take and what to leave out!” I groaned, holding my head in my hands.
“Just take the important stuff. You’re gonna come back, you know.”
“Zeenat! I’m only coming back after like a year. I have to take everything I’ll need but I don’t know if everything will fit in these bags!”
“You’re going to UK, man! You can buy whatever you don’t have.”
“Ok but just help me to pack will you!”
We managed to stuff mostly everything in the suitcases, though I had to sit on them afterwards and Zee had to force the zips closed.
“When you open these bags everything will explode out of there,” Zee laughed.
The next morning, before anyone was up, I wore a loose t-shirt and track pants, slipped on my trainers and hijab, and jogged down to the beach. We lived like 10 minutes away from the beach and I often jogged this way early in the mornings…when I was in the mood for exercising that is.
I slipped off my shoes and sat down on the shore, sinking my feet into the sand. The beach was almost empty at this time so I removed my hijab as well, allowing the strong breeze to whip through my hair and blow stray strands onto my face. I turned up my face, inhaling deeply, letting the crisp, salty air infiltrate into my lungs. Scooping up handfuls of sand, I let it drizzle through my fingers slowly as I stared at the endless stretch of water before me. I could look at the ocean for hours on end without getting tired…the way the waves rose high, their peaks frothing and gleaming white, then crashed down again on to the water, creating the muffled, dull roar that was so soothing to listen to…the way the waves gentled as they came closer to the shore, till they gently kissed the shoreline before receding again. As though they were making sujood to Allah Ta’ala…
I was reminded of the power and strength of Allah Ta’ala every time I watched the ocean. How great must be the One in whose control the oceans lay, the same oceans that had the power to destroy the strongest of ships, yet they could not go beyond the hukm of Allah Ta’ala, they had to stop and recede…
Looking at the water, listening to the muffled roar always brought me a sense of peace and calmed the turbulence in my mind. Whenever I felt restless or down, or had a lot on my mind I would come here to calm down and gain some perspective. I thought about my move now and wondered yet again if I was making the correct choice by going. Was I cut out for this? Would I be able to handle all the new challenges and hurdles that were thrown my way? Would I be able to stay strong and not get caught up in the temptation of sin? I mumbled a silent prayer,”oh Allah, keep me strong and steadfast on my deen and don’t let me stray in any way…ameen.”
I stood up and jammed my hands into my pockets, looking at the ocean again, trying to memorise the feeling. This was one place I would miss the most. I walked backwards, trying to linger as much as I could. Then I blew a kiss at the ocean (don’t laugh, the ocean was the love of my life), retied my hijab and shoes and slowly walked back home.
Two days before I left Zee called up all our school friends and we went out for coffee. We had a lovely time just catching up and being our carefree selves again. I looked at them wistfully. I would miss these familiar faces, these wonderful moments. I would have to make new friends in UK. I didn’t know if I would fit in or be an outcast. The thought was daunting and I almost wished I could cancel the whole thing. But then I pulled myself together. I had been in PE all my life. It was time to explore new pastures, time to venture into new territories and embrace the unknown…
UK, here I come…