Although the whiff of country air had sent my spirits soaring, the nagging sensation that had haunted me the entire week was still occupying my subconscious. I simply could not just ignore it.
”Liy, just tell me one more time,” I said, glancing at Liyaket, knowing that he was probably going to be high-five my face real soon. I mean, I had only asked him the very same question about seven times in the last hour.
But I just had to. Just one more time. I had to know if he was ready for this change.
“Are you absolutely sure that you are ready for this?”
He glanced at me for a minute, and then looked away. I was almost certain that I had seen a flicker of hesitancy in his eye but when I looked again, it was gone and Liyaket appeared once again as the awesome and confident guy that I had known since grade three.
“Only regret the chances you didn’t take, right?”
Each time was a different response, and I had to admire Liyaket’s charisma. I looked at him warily, unsure if he was serious or just spinning a line.
The changes were obvious. His face was now sporting a small but significant beard and his eyes were literally twinkling with optimism. That was Liyaket. Always looking at the brighter side of things. The complete opposite of me, but I supposed that’s why we were friends, right?
And it was precisely this that made me realize the truth of our earthly existence. Sometimes, in the midst of our lives, we do things that cause us to run away from Allah, and but through our repentance, we run in circles, finding ourselves right back at His doorstep once again. No matter how many times we break that connection, one hundred times over, we strive to rebuild it.
And some people have many turning points. Many moments of definition. Multiple points in their life where they will reach an amazing and significant change, and find themselves pacing back and forth, in the same directions. And then some people just had one amazing awakening, and they are absolutely and irrevocably altered.
And right then, well, right then… was a that irreversible point for Liyaket. I didn’t realize it then, but in retrospect, the signs were as clear as day.
And it wasn’t only about the one event that entailed the Nikah. It wasn’t only about the marriage. It was so much deeper than that. It was a series of events that had led to this point, and that had reinforced for me that this was no coincidence and that a lot more was changing than just Liyakets relationship status.
Marriage, huh. It’s one of those turning points that I couldn’t quite figure out how you get to.
Like, at what point do you realize that you’re ready to spend forever (like really?) with one person and that’s that?
There was plenty of opportunity, so much to still discover. Well, that was what was screaming at us… calling for us… being drilled into us every day… at every avenue we take… whether it was the adverts we see, the crap we watch, or modernist articles we read.
We are constantly being taught that life is not just for the boring stuff. Why settle for what’s just normal?
And even when I found myself indulging a little more than I knew was okay, I knew that there was much that I was going to regret, but I just couldn’t seem to snap myself out of it. Sin is something like quick sand. Once you get stuck in it, it’s kind of hard to pull out. It’s sucks you in.. consuming you, holding onto you, almost like a parasite does to its host.
The thing was, around the time of Liyakets marriage, I wasn’t exactly the most amazing person. And who would have known it more than my best bud. Liyaket was eyeing my doubtful face as I sat next to him in my G-Star jeans and t-shirt in the passenger seat, before finally starting the car again.
We had made a quick stop at the service station and while Liyaket filled up, I restocked my cigarette stash. Since we were heading back to my home town, in the depths of Kwa-Zulu Natal, one of the greenest places I’ve ever been, I knew that the stall there didn’t stock the menthol brand I was after and I was going to have to do without them if I didn’t have enough.
“Bro, I think it’s time for me to give you some advice.”
I raised my eyebrows at Liyaket, taking the cigarette out from in between my lips and looked at him.
”I’m not sure if you qualify for that position as yet,” I replied with raised eyebrows, feeling around for my lighter in my pockets. I could never seem to hold on to one. I pulled the car lighter from Liyakets Yaris socket, lit it up silently as I pulled in deeply and exhaled, purposely leaving the window closed, just to annoy my best friend.
He shook his head at me.
“What’s that, number seventy -two?” He said, raising his eyebrows. “You want to kill yourself, don’t you?”
I didn’t count. I’ve had way too much stress lately and he was the last one to judge. In fact, in all fairness, Liyaket was to blame for my undesirable state of mind. He should have been the last one to talk.
“Just keep your eyes on the damn road,” I muttered, suddenly annoyed at him as he chuckled at me.
I was just grateful that the suspension worked out for the best and lots of good had come out of it.
Liyaket had managed to secure an even better position at a better company and if that didn’t work out, Imraan was even prepared to take him on. How a plan was unfolding for him was simply amazing.
The corporate world was seeming less and less appealing to me as the truth of it was revealed to me that past week and the best part was that finally, Liyaket and Layyanah were tying the knot. The Nikah was one hour away and for someone who was getting married shortly, Liyaket was amazingly calm.
Hell, I wished that I could be as cool as him in my normal state.
I was enjoying the peace but I knew the silence wouldn’t last.
“So who was that chic?” Liyaket asked and I knew that he was talking about the girl I had seen at the shop. I could see him watching me through the glass windows.
The thing was, that girl wasn’t my type, but Liyaket wouldn’t believe me. He wouldn’t believe it if I told him that all I was doing was standing innocently in the line while someone was talking about the best flavour of Doritos to buy for Nachos, and next thing I heard was:
”So, you may know me,” a voice said, and I turned to look at a shortish and semi-pretty girl who was talking behind me. “In case you wondering how I know about all this stuff, I’m Foodie Fantasy.”
At first, I couldn’t figure out whether she was talking to me or not. The girl who was behind us nodded, and then I realised that it was my turn to acknowledge her.
Foodie fantasy? Why did it sound dodge? I looked around the place, but I was still confused.
Obviously, seeing the bewildered look on my face, she felt the need to elaborate.
“My handle,” she said, looking directly at me now, and I frowned. “Underscore and double E. I have like, 35k followers, and I’ve travelled to 18 different countries to review their cuisines. You must have heard of me.”
Ah. Lightbulb. Instagram. @foodie_fantasee. Right?
I nodded, not trusting myself to say anymore. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to know this stuff. Was I living in an age where insta-likes meant more than actual people liking you?
Is life nowadays only based only on virtual reality?
The other girl tried to look interested but I could see that she was just as confused as me. She probably hadn’t heard of her either. Do people who have big followings think they’re celebrities?
And then all I could think was; Hell. Life will never be the same again.
Every decade that passed was like I was entering a new world. The fact that someone felt it was okay to introduce themselves by their Instagram name, well, I was absolutely floored. It was a first but I knew it wasn’t going to be a last. Now that, my friends, is why I feel like I should not have been born in this crazy era.
I didn’t tell Liyaket yet. I knew I would save this tale for later when all the excitement was over. It would be a good one to tell, with extra expression. Also, it was all his fault because my cigarette consumption wouldn’t have been at this point if the guy hadn’t put me through so much of stress lately with regard to his alleged romancing.
”Just FYI,” I said casually. “I’m a friendly guy, but I know where to draw the line. Unlike some people in this car who get lovestruck and starry-eyed at first sight.”
Liyaket snorted with laughter, as if it was the funniest thing he heard the entire day.
“So you trying to tell me that I’m backward because I want to settle down now?”
“With the first girl that you gave time of daylight to,”I retorted, shaking my head. “Like, couldn’t you at least find done that was less maintenance? All this admin is killing me.”
It was true. Liyaket was a good guy. Too good. Hard worker. Five times a day at the mosque. Good to everyone he met. And then bam. This pretty but baggage-ridden girl comes along, out of the blue, and then there’s trouble.
And I knew I wanted him to make Nikah but Liyaket had a knack of making me eat my words.
Running away. Hiding out. It wasn’t exactly an ideal situation. This kind of Nikah was super stressful.
“When you know, you know,” was all he said, and it was his turn to look straight ahead now as he drove, and I knew it was time for me to stop talking.
Liyaket would never say anything to rattle me, but I couldn’t help but wonder: Had I possibly crossed the line by saying Layyanah was high maintenance?
I knew he was a CA but things don’t happen over night. He still had to establish himself, make a name, gain his experience.
To tell the truth, maybe I had said too much but the day had been stressful.
It was an hour left and I was so glad that this day was going to be over soon.
We were just two minutes away from the entrance of our old holding. We would be passing it to get to the mosque down the road.
I had opened my window and the intense scent of damp moss and grassy plains was almost intoxicating. It took a moment before I realised that I had missed this immensely. Maybe even more than I thought.
It was here where Imraan was moving back to, and there was a stab of jealousy as I imagined him setting up office in this place. It was a home away from home that we all knew and missed, especially when we came back to taste it’s sweetness.
It was for this reason that we decided that this was the best solution to the problem that Liyaket was facing. He needed somewhere quiet and peaceful and away from home to have a Nikah and this was the perfect getaway. It was low profile and as far as possible from Jo’burg.
Listen,” he said as we slowed down, taking it all in for now. I looked at him, seeing the seriousness that he was conveying as he spoke.
“I know maybe it’s not the right time,” he continued. “But you my best guy, and I know that at some stage, you gonna get tired of running after the world. Think of the possibilities. There’s so much more out there then pointless pursuing and chasing the world. At some point, the new gets old. The novelty gets boring. Even work and those girls who make the place so exciting… well, they’ll move on and find other conquests and if you don’t wake up soon, you’ll be stuck on a broken train.”
I frowned slightly, not liking how he was pointing out my flaws all at once.
“Im just saying bro,” he said softly, showing that he had my best interests at heart. “When you wake up and decide to get serious, let me tell Layyanah to find you a nice girl. And I promise you- I’ll make sure she’s not high maintenance.”
He gave a wry smile and I cringed inwardly. So, he had taken offense. Just a bit. But sometimes, I had to say it as it was.
High maintenance was okay when it was just for kicks. But once it became high maintenance that you had to fit the bill for, well, then it wasn’t so fun. And despite everything that had happened in the past week, drama and all, my ultimate hope was that Liyaket was not going into this blindly. The truth was, even if he was, there was not much left to do now. Cars were already pulling into the Masjid and the time for his Nikah was scheduled to be just before the Jumuah Salaah. Even if he was having second thoughts, well, it was too late to turn back now.
“You sure you want to do this?” I asked him now, knowing I was bordering on crazy but still not understanding how we had got to this point.
I couldn’t imagine how he must be feeling. Knowing his life, his finances and relationship status would change in under an hour. Ah well, it was a helluva big thing but Liyaket was taking it on his stride.
We had reached the destination Mosque, and as I glanced at it wistfully as my mind filled with snippets of the past. It seemed so comforting back then. Hearing the Adhaan bellowing from the speakers in the midst of those sunny days. Running down from the top of the grassy hill. Sliding on the sandy bank nearby with cardboard boxes, just for kicks…
There were so many good memories that I had back then, when life was so much simpler, and the concept of money and making a name for myself hardly mattered. I recalled running around freely in the yard as a kid, chatting jovially the older men who came there regularly. As I got older, the mosque morphed from my playground to my refuge and the one thing I could always come back to no matter what or who was going down on my life.. but recently, caught up in working in Jo’burg, and the materialistic side of things, I had lost my connection with it. I hadn’t been home in months, and maybe I was making excuses… but Jo’burg scenes for me didn’t quite have that same homeliness.
Being back here though, where I was brought up, away from the beckoning of city life and all its materialistic perks, was awakening something within me.
The air was crisp and every breath escaped my lips now felt lighter and lighter. It felt as if, one by one, all the worries of the past few months away were shedding itself, reviving a new me, and evoking a feeling of freedom that had once been so familiar to me. Something deep within was changing too.
And as I straightened my hat and pulled on my Friday attire, though I knew that this day was going to be a huge event for Liyaket, what I didn’t realize was that this was the onset of what was probably going to transform my life significantly too.
Mission Sunnah Revival!
The beautiful Sunnah of using the right hand.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
رضى الله تعالى عنها
رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم would use his right hand for eating, drinking and wearing his clothes, and his left hand for some other tasks
(Aboo Daawood Shareef)
An amazing quality to inculcate into our lives…