Petty Cash

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

It was that time of the year again. The year was rapidly coming to an end, and a sense of hope and renewal took over some, as they looked forward to the year ahead. People were in the mood, feeling free of responsibility and ready to just let loose. It was the most hectic time of the year.

It was a tough time for me, because it seemed like I was seeing things in a slightly altered light to before. My horizon had broadened and I had managed to keep myself a little more in control than before. No credit to me though, as I had Waseem kind of watching my every move. It got me majorly frustrated at times because it was a serious kill-joy. He insisted that the life I was after was not for ‘us’. As usual, I wasn’t too sure what he meant. What was his problem anyway?

Nevertheless, I was on my balcony that Thursday evening, the last of the year, watching Waseem’s car drive in at that very moment. The night had already nearly set in, and I could feel the anticipation in the air. I was just ready to head back in, before a light shining just a street away caught my eye.

The yard was a direct neighbour to us, but just out of the gated complex that we lived in. I knew that the property was one of Dad’s, because he had wanted Muhammed to live there originally, and I wondered why it was lit up. It seemed like there had been activity going on there, and I made a mental note to check up.

Tomorrow. Maybe I would be more useful to my family in the new year. Resolutions, right? Waseem would be proud of me for taking some initiative.

I shelved the thought and went back inside, lazing around for a while. There was a party later that night, a New Year event, and I was taking it easy until the latter part, chilling and listening to the new MP3 I had burnt.

Waseem never gave me back my remote, so I just bought another system. Dad’s credit card came in handy for things like that. It was a studio system, and apparently one of the best in the world. I was completely lost in the beat, as I browsed through Instagram to check out the updated pictures of all the chics who would be there. It gave me a thrill to get a sneak-preview of the night ahead.

I didn’t even realise how loudly (and slightly off-tune) I was singing along, until the sound stopped completely.

Livid, I spun around in my rotating lounger, ready to let loose.

“WAS-,” I started, before realising that it wasn’t Waseem.

Muhammed stood in the doorway, watching me carefully as he moved forward to take a seat.

“Are you guys ganging up on me or what?!” I asked, annoyed.

“Who, me?” Muhammed asked, feigning innocence.

I could just tell that Waseem told him to come up here. I glanced up at him momentarily, paying attention to my phone again.

“I came to take you out,” Muhammed said. “Having a braai at home and called the guys. It will be fun.”

“Not my scene, bru,” I said, unenthusiastically. “Besides, I’m invited somewhere.”

“I see. Cool,” he said, after a few moments of silence. I had a feeling that he was going to say something else but he didn’t. Thankfully.

He got up, finally, without saying another word.

“Hey, put my stuff back on!” I shouted, as he was leaving. It was really getting to me. I couldn’t even get peace in my own room.

Muhammed held the remote for a minute before switching on my speakers again, coincidentally, almost at the same time the Esha Adhaan sounded from outside.

Now, a week ago, I had a completely indifferent attitude to it, but something within me had been altered that evening when I realized that I was missing the whole point. It was nothing major, but without even fully realizing it, my heart had been affected. The heart, as much as you try, can’t be controlled.

Muhammed turned around to leave, but not before voicing exactly what I was thinking,

“Choose your path carefully, boss,” he said as he flung the remote back at me.

With the beat thudding away within the confines of my room, and the local Mosque speakers resounding within the neighborhood, I made a life-changing decision at that moment.

Of course. To me, it was nothing big, but it was probably a huge move in the eyes of the Greater Power.

I pressed the power button on my remote, sitting in my couch for a few minutes, just to listen. I put my phone aside, just for that meagre time. It was nothing great that I did. Waseem would have said it was simple ethics. Respect.

And when it was over, without a second thought, I got dressed, loaded the perfume and grabbed my keys, ready to take on the night.

I was mostly looking forward to seeing Farah, who I was sure would be there. I didn’t think beyond that, but I knew that somewhere within me, I was hoping to make it up to her. I wasn’t ready for the big commitment but I wanted to show her that I was getting better. I wanted her to know that, however selfish I had seemed previously, I wasn’t just going to waste her time. I had thought about it earlier that day, and I needed to tell her that. She was going to be ‘the reason’ I changed.

Well, that’s what seemed logical to me, at the time. That was what my life revolved around.

Little did I know, as I stepped outside into the crisp night air, Waseem and Muhammed heading off to their braai, there was going  to be another ‘reason’ for me to do  some sort of reformation.

My crew would be waiting outside the joint for me, and I was looking forward to just taking it easy tonight. I was sure that it was going to be a good night, and, since I was feeling particularly generous and in a ‘giving’ sort of mood, I decided to even stop by Mo’s place for the braai. I knew that the food would be awesome, so at least that would be a perk of joining them. Mo’s wife always went all out for these things, preparing the most amazing spread for anything they did. I actually felt myself looking forward to it, as I listened to the low hum of my car, taking off into the night.

I was quite focused as I stopped at the robot, watching it change from red to green. I didn’t look anywhere but ahead. I mean, who does? When it says go, most times, I just go.

As always, with my window slightly open, my foot floored the accelerator, anxious to hear the engine sing its usual song as it picked up speed. But I didn’t quite hear that.

A complete anti-climax.

Instead, a shock to my senses as I took off, a massive blow to the right hand side of my car caught me completely off guard. I had momentarily glimpsed the small truck approach from the corner of my eye, but before I could even register what was happening, the car was doing a complete revolution, almost in slow motion. My mind was still trying to fathom how it could be possible, yet as my eyes focussed on the blurry pictures ahead of me, there was only one thing I could hear. Only one awesome reminder stuck with me.

“...there’ll come a time when you’re going to be accountable for every single thing you do, and everything you own.”

It was Waseems voice, replaying in my head, as if he was inside it. Right then, it sounded more terrifying than ever.

The words echoed within my mind as I witnessed the car taking a most unnerving spin. Gravity seemed to fail at that moment, as my body lifted, and I tried to hold on to whatever I could.

At that moment, there was nothing in this entire world that mattered to me.

I couldn’t care less about my iPhone 6 plus, wedged in between my legs, as I sat, motionless, as if a spectator in my own life. I wasn’t, in the least, worried about new, top-of-the-range sound system, with the surround sound speakers… Or my Armani shirt, that I had worn tonight, for a ‘special’ occasion… Amazingly, at that moment, I couldn’t care less even about my matt black M3, that I loved more than anyone and anything else in this universe.

It’s just you and your deeds, boss, I could almost hear Waseem saying.

The realisation hit me, and fear gripped my entire existence. There was absolutely nothing I could do now. My heart pounded incessantly, waiting for the next part of this unexpected story to unfold.

And then… Then… Darkness enveloped me, as another penetrating collision resounded within my midst… And everything went black.



Missing in Translation

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

“Mo, my bro!” I yelled across the house, making sure I was over-enthusiastic.

Yeah, sucking up, you could say.

I skidded down the laminated wooden flooring, stopping expertly just in front of my eldest brother.

“So, now you have time to greet, bru?” He said, raising his eyebrows at me. “Almost a month, and you can’t even stop a few roads away to visit your eldest brother?”

“Tell, him, Muhammed,” my mother said, walking out of the dining room.”Sometimes I wonder if he actually lives here or not.”

“I’ve been busy, how,” I said, smirking at them. “You know how it goes… Places to be… People to meet.”

“Yeah, heard about your stunts,” he said, not giving away any information.

My mother shook her head at me, and I gave her a quick shoulder squeeze before moving on. I felt slightly guilty.

Waseem must have told him about what a wreck I was last week. The thing about coming down from a high is that you feel even more crap than you normally feel. It takes a few days to get back to normal. That is, if you manage to stay away from ‘stuff’ during that time.

I was on my way out that day, ready to take on the world again. I had thought about what Waseem had said to me a few times, and I tried to make a promise to myself to at least stay away from anything that made me lose my senses. I was trying, but things didn’t happen overnight. At least for me, it didn’t work that way.

At least my car was sorted out. I was in a better frame of mind today, and I was determined to make today the perfect day.

First things first, I had to phone some of my crew. I hadn’t seen them in days.

Not to mention Farah, who I hadn’t called either. I felt slightly guilty, but to be honest, I didn’t have much to say to her.

I felt just a tiny bit crappy about how I behaved, but not enough to apologise. I gave her a call anyway. Just for the heck of it.

“Hello,” her voice sounded through the reciever, quite serious.

I had phoned from a spare number so she didn’t recognise it. I was actually kind of worried she wouldn’t speak to me if she knew who it was.

I know. I was a coward.

“Hey gorgeous,” I replied, sounding smoother than ice cream.

“Yes?” She said, sounding slightly confused. “Who is this?”

“It’s me,” I said, maintaining my composure, but slightly less confident.

“Oh,” she replied.

Oh? What did that mean?

“Listen, can we meet today?” I said, cutting to the chase. I just needed to see her.

“I don’t know, Ziyaad. I’m a bit busy.”

Okay. So now what? I knew where she stayed, but I couldn’t just pitch up there.

“Cool. Maybe later?” I pressed.

“I’m not sure.”

She sounded so… Cold. I had to salvage the situation. Somehow.

“I’ve missed you, gorgeous,” I said, with all the emotion I could muster. “I thought we could just chat, babe. No pressure.”

There was a long silence before she finally relented.

Well, to me, it sounded like she did. I just had to get on the better side of her before I made any more moves. I breathed out, feeling slightly relieved.

I couldn’t quite place it, though. I felt on top of the world, but there was still a niggly feeling at the back of my mind… Like something I was doing just wasn’t right.

Baby steps, Ziyaad, I convinced myself. At least that was sorted for now.

I called some friends and went back home after arranging to meet a few of them at the house. Waseem and I shared a huge section, so we had a private area to entertain friends. My parents didn’t mind friends as long as we kept it clean. Well. Clean-ish.

I would say that we usually did, but Waseem seemed to have a different take on things these days.

I was just glad he wasn’t here today to dampen the mood. He had asked me to come with him to work this morning and I declined.  He was checking out some properties for Dad, and it was keeping him busy. Didn’t seem exciting to me. At all.

The day was closing in, and I took a loose from the new guy, lighting it and leaning back in my balcony recliner. I was feeling a bit drained so had abandoned the other guys inside to play on the PS4, while I cooled off.

I looked up, feeling new guy watching me.

“Whatsup?” I asked, taking a pull from my cigarette, enjoying the late afternoon sun.

“Nothing,” he replied.

I racked my brain. Junaid. That was his name.

I felt a little self conscious, which was weird for me, but I ignored the vibe. If he had a problem with me, he should say so.

I pulled in slowly, letting the smoke fill my lungs, fixating my gaze ahead of me. I took time to admire the salmon-coloured horizon against the glow of my cigarette. The sky, though serene, looked like it was on fire, against the background of greenery within our gated community. It created the most perfect picture.

It was… Well, there was no other word for it. It was gorgeous.

“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.
Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”
[Al-Qur’an – Surat ‘Āli `Imrān: 190-191]

Almost as if it was a reminder, the call for Salaah immediately sounded. I exhaled, letting the smoke escape into the horizon as the words that I heard so clearly now echoed throughout the neighborhood. I would have never admitted it at that time, but that moment was one that I could never forget or re-create.

I had never felt so peaceful and at such complete ease in my life. The thought crossed my mind, just momentarily: If this simple Aadhaan could so affect me, I wondered how I might fare when it came other acts of worship? How can the blessed name of my Creator not invoke a feeling of complete bliss within me?


I almost jumped as a voice cut into my baseless thoughts.

It was Waseem, towering over me. Where did he come from, all of a sudden?

“Where?” I asked puzzled.

“Mosque,” he replied, moving his head in the direction of the local Mosque.

“Nope,” I said, wondering when Waseem started going to Mosque. I watched his expression change, but I ignored the underlying message. He was getting hectic on me again, and I couldn’t deal.

“I’m coming,” Junaid said, getting up and putting out his cigarette.

Waseem nodded, and they left, leaving me feeling just slightly at a loss.

That feeling again, that there was something missing… Why was I always feeling like something was just a little off base? Was I missing the whole point?


Glitter’s not Gold

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

“How long do you think you can go on like this?” He was asking. “Did you even hear me?!”

It’s all not as awesome as it seems. All that glitter’s is not gold.

That’s what he was trying to say. Erm. I didn’t get it.

He continued, despite my confusion.

“Lemme guess. Feeling like crap?”

I sighed, unaffected by whatever Waseem was trying to tell me. I wasn’t even fully alert. I was feeling kind of good now. I had switched off emotions and I really, really didn’t need his righteous attitude right then.

“Girls, clubs, drugs,” he started, as if he was lecturing me. Again. “It won’t be this good forever. It all passes. And when you come down and the high is gone, when all the owkes have moved on… Think. What are you left with? Who’s gonna have your back?”

I immediately got defensive.

“I’m no addict, Waseem!” I retorted. “I know how to  handle myself! Once in a while I just need to chill out. That’s all.”

Why the hell was everyone on my case about this stuff? I needed to have a good time once in a while. Everybody does it.

“That’s where you wrong.”

Huh? What was he on about now?

“Zi, you’ll be shocked if you just get your head above the water. Some people don’t live the life we do,” Waseem was saying, sounding a tad bit serious for my liking.

The life that we live? Or the way we live? I knew that. I knew we were probably better off than some people, but most of the people in my crowd were alright.

No-one I knew was really suffering or anything. I really didn’t care much about what I heard about in remote corners of the world. My life was pretty cool.

“It’s not my fault that people in the world are getting killed and starving,” I said callously. “Get off my case, dude!”

I was annoyed with Waseem’s condescending attitude. Did he really forget just how caught up in the high-life he was, like just two weeks ago?

It’s not like he was born a damn saint. He was actually far from it. Notches in the bed post and all of it. I had even witnessed him in action a few times, and it was pretty hectic.

There was a good few minutes of silence, and I reached out to put my sound system back on. I needed to drown out my inner conscience… And Waseem’s annoying banter.

He grabbed my hand before I could get the remote, roughly pushing me back.

I was suddenly enraged. For some reason, probably to do with my mood, I just couldn’t stand not having things my way.

“What the-,” I swore, lunging forward at him, but Waseem was too fast for me. He held my arms down relentlessly, disabling me immediately. He was almost twice my size, and I couldn’t over-power him. Especially not today.

“Lil bro,” he said seriously, literally breathing down my ear. “Be careful. You may think no-one is watching you, but there’ll come a time when you’re going to be accountable for every single thing you do, and everything you own.”

I tried to turn my head to snarl at him, thinking it so ironic, but he grabbed me even more fiercely. I was certain that I was going to start tearing with the pain.

I hated being in a fight with Waseem. Most times I felt certain he was close to hurting me really badly. He was relentless.

“Remember,” he continued sternly, still adamant. “The only thing you leave here with is what you’ve eaten to nourish yourself. This world will make you think that it’s at your feet, when in reality, bru, you’re just getting played.”

The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing). (Qur’an 3:185)

He let go of me, and the pressure siezed. My arms felt close to normal once again. I slouched back on my recliner, feeling totally defeated, staring into space.

I knew I got a bit hectic last night… But Waseem was getting too heavy for me. I got the feeling he was talking about death, and it was a bit far-fetched for me. Actually, quite a lot.

I raised my eyes to finally focus on his face, as he leaned against my desk, watching me back.

He looked different. My eyes moved down to his ankles. The jeans he wore were folded at the bottom. I couldn’t imagine why. It wasn’t a Friday. My eyes moved up and scanned his face again, to see his usually clean-shaven face now sporting a little more stubble.

I had a feeling that he was going to say something important, but before he could, his phone rang. Thank goodness.

I took the opportunity to look at my phone. No messages. I was already feeling like I needed another diversion.

“That chic you’re with,” Waseem said, all of a sudden, closing his phone and cutting his call. “When you mess her around… And you know you will…. Your father will finish you. Her father is one of Dad’s suppliers, so I suggest you just leave her alone. Clean up your mess. Try something new. Go study. Ask Dad. Get a job.”

Now he had gone too far. I narrowed my eyes at him, not having energy to do anything more.

Who the hell did Waseem even think he was, rattling me like that? Even my father didn’t give a damn. I always did whatever I felt like. And it was always cool.

I knew that whatever efforts he had tried today were probably wasted ones. I was the way I was, and I liked it. I wasn’t going to change for anyone. Nothing he had said, by then, had even stirred within me, to create any kind of awakening. He was wasting his time.

“Look at your eyes. You’re broken, Zee,” he finally said, with just a little compassion. stepping forward, hopefully to leave.

I was intent on turning a deaf ear, but something about the way he said his next words just made me look up at him.

“Listen,” his whole tone changed now, and it caught me completely unaware.

“One more thing, Zee” he said, stopping in the doorway, still watching me. “Instead of chasing all this stuff… Temporary stuff…”

‘Temporary’ stuff? My ears pricked up, just slightly.

“Why don’t you try finding the real gold?”


The Night Before the Morning After

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

From what I actually recall...

I tossed the tot glass I had just drunk at a random girl with a tray, turning around to find my way back.

Yikes. I could barely walk straight. I felt like my legs were on some kind of stilts, as I pushed my way back onto the floor. I grinned at my date as I finally reached her, pulling her close to me, only to realise…. Shit. It was someone else.

She was on fire though, whoever it was.

“Sorry, sorry,” I apologised, letting go of whatever I had grabbed of her, trying to control myself and take a step back. Focus, Ziyaad.

New chic didn’t look like she minded. I grinned at her, following her again and she smiled in an overly-enticing way. She nodded off to the new beat that was taking over and I heard someone calling me, ever so faintly.


I only heard that much as people started getting rowdy for some reason, and she was drowned out. I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening until I was literally spun around by someone.

“What the hell, Ziyaad?! That chic was like, all over you! And you…”

I held my hands up in self defense.

“Sorry, gorgeous… I thought it was you,” I said, not all that convincingly.

I leaned forward, aiming for full on mouth contact, but I ended up somewhere near her ear. So much for trying to kill the tension.

“How drunk are you? Idiot! Did you take that stuff that guy was handing out?!”

I looked up at her, shrugging my shoulders nonchalantly. What, exactly, was the big deal?

“Ziyaad, when will you ever-”

“You ready to go?” I cut her off, bouncing my head to the beat and trying to change the topic, to cut myself some slack.

She nodded, clearly hurt. I ignored the tears in her eyes, leading the way out.

I made sure I stopped to greet my loyal crew. There was a new guy, looked from somewhere in on the outskirts of town or something, trying to get in with the crowd. He looked a bit out of place. I  ignored him, even though I took at least ten minutes to make a scene and finally say my general greetings for the night. I had to keep my standard. I couldn’t let them know I was launching them for a chic.

Farah waited patiently, and the remainder of the night, I was sure, was probably epic. Problem was, I couldn’t remember much of it.

It had all just hit me as I woke up the next morning, trying hard to pry my heavy eyes open, aroused by the noises in the kitchenette of the Houghton apartment that Dad had recently bought.

Farah. Last night. Was it all I had always imagined?

Shit. I honestly couldn’t remember. Did we even…?

I sourced my iPhone 6S plus, on the bedside pedestal, unlocking it promptly.

Haraam satisfaction is only temporary.”

What the hell, man? Why was Waseem’s message still there? Had I really not opened my phone since before I picked up Farah? Was last night so hectic?

“Farah,” I called out. I needed to know. Only problem was that my voice sounded like a croak.

Nonethless, she entered, already dressed and ready to leave. I vaguely recognised the same skinny pants she had on yesterday, from the after party, and a borrowed a striped Guess shirt that I had left in the cupboard last week.

I couldn’t shake what I felt. She looked like a model. At that moment, I didn’t want anyone else to even look at her, so extreme was my possessiveness.

I found myself staring at her, feeling like I had lost a million dollars. Because I couldn’t even remember what it was like being with her.

“Don’t worry, my brother will fetch me,” she said. That was a bit of a blow. She had a tiny smile on her face, but her eyes told another story.

“Okay,” was all I managed to croak, rubbing my eyes. I tried to climb out of bed, massaging my temples. I quickly covered myself again, realising that I would be quite offensive if I stepped out.

Last night was a very sore reality for me, right at that moment. As daylight took over, I felt like my head was being pounded with a 10 ton hammer. Serious hangover alert.

“I made you coffee.”

“Cool,” I replied.

That would solve my headache. Maybe temporarily.

Temporarily. Temporary. Why was every single thing so damn short-lived? I couldn’t put my finger on it.

This sinking feeling in my gut… And the lump in my throat as she left… Why did it always have to end like that? Why did it always end up feeling so… Kak?

I drove home that day, after having coffee and a cigarette, dressing quickly, only to find that my tyre had got a puncture sometime last night.

How did I not even notice? Every single thing that could possibly go wrong, was happening. The clouds that I felt looming over me seemed to intensify. I was sure that last night was amazing, so why the hell didn’t I feel like it?

After calling the BMW technician to come home to sort out my car, the only thing I had left to do was shower. I needed my shower, with the overpriced Lush products I had spent on last week. Meant to ‘rejuvinate’. Let’s see how it works.

I ignored my household members, chasing only the feeling of being renewed, after a rough night out. I had just had the longest, steamiest, most fragrant shower, and finally emerged in my towel, admiring my frame in the mirror.

At least I was still looking like me, despite how I felt. I switched on my sound system for a music diversion, towel dried my hair roughly and looked longingly at my bed.

Yeah. That was more like it.

Ever so suddenly, like the socket was pulled out of the wall, the beat in my room just stopped.

“Think you can drown your sorrows with music, Zi? It don’t work that way.”

Oh, hell.


Draw Cards

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

My reality, at the time...

Perfectly set tie. Check.

Matching matt belt. Check.

Tom Ford Oud. Wow. Check.

Hair looking cool. Duh. Check.

I glanced at the mirror, slightly dissatisfied with what I saw. Something wasn’t right.

Fitted jeans or tailored pants? I was torn. I was wearing my new 5 grand shoes, and just couldn’t decide which pants set better on them.

I shrugged, deciding not to make it an issue. Either way, I would still look like a boss. Girls needed to think that I didn’t really make much of an effort. Not that I did anyway. I had plenty of suits but I had decided against wearing one today. I was taking it easy. Everyone would be in a suit. I wanted to be different.

“Where’re you goin’?”

I swung around, only to see Waseem watching me. It looked like he was probably standing there for a while.

He still had that weird, far-fetched look in his eyes. I just hoped he was going to snap out of it soon enough.

It was already one long week of his crap that we had to go through. I hesitated to tell him about our matric dance ‘do’. I didn’t want to kill the buzz, with him being a wet blanket.

“Out,” I replied, being evasive. “Like normal people. Remember?”

He nodded, moving his head slowly.

“Keep it clean, bru.”

He had a warning tone in his voice and I almost wanted to laugh. Keep it clean? Like Waseem knew how to keep it clean. What was that saying? Practise what you preach? The pot calling the kettle black.

“Yeah yeah,” I replied, indifferently, turning my attention back to the mirror.

This was going to be the night. Instagram would witness the beginning, as I snapped a shot. I had asked one of the hottest chics to the dance, and it was on. And I was seriously not going to let anything break my flow.

I literally raced down the stainless steel staircase, checking my pockets for my M3 key. The love of my life. For now.

Dad had bought it for me after exams were over. It had a sleek, white leather interior, and it was a real draw-card for me with everyone. I was always popular in school, but this made me a real boss. And I loved my new cab.

“MO-OM,” I screamed from the doorway, not finding the key or spotting it on the front key hook. She always did this. Moved the damn keys around so I could never find them.

“No need to shout, Zi,” a voice said. “Watch how you speak.”

Waseem again. That was the crap I was talking about. Always trying to fix everyone.

“I need my keys,” I said sharply. “She always does this. So freakin’ annoying.”

My mind blocked out anything that Waseem was trying to say. Like, what was up with him? I didn’t need someone picking my brains.

Racing down the passage again, I didn’t bother to pause at the lounge, where I could quite clearly hear Muhammed and my father having it out.

“You can’t do that, Dad. The property looks like shit. Raising the rent would be completely unnecessary… Not to mention, greedy.”

“Greedy?! GREEDY?” My father was shouting now. “Let’s talk about who’s being greedy, why don’t we?!”

There was a series of swear words, and I took that as a cue to turn a deaf ear. It was a common occurrence, and like always, I ignored them both. I didn’t even greet Muhammed, who I hadn’t seen in over two weeks.

I admired my Dad. He knew what he had wanted out of life, and had worked hard to get there. My eldest brother, though, was more my kind of person than anyone. He was more like what I always wanted to be like, but I didn’t have time to give him attention right now, leave alone nod a greeting. I was late.

After muttering to myself continuously about my mother’s annoying habits, I finally located my keys in my room. The top shelf. Where I had left them.

I only felt the minutest bit of guilt as I started my car. The night ahead was consuming my mind. It was going to be the perfect opportunity to kick-back and unwind. I drove, speedily, down the road, music blaring to set the mood. I needed to be in the right ‘zone’.

Nothing calmed me more than the sound of my favourite song. Track 5 on folder 2 on my latest mp3. The beat resonated from the brand new sound system, taking me into another world. I had asked Dad to tweak the standard system, giving me the most awesome surround sound. It felt like I was already in the club, and I felt myself looking forward to tonight. The after party.

It was only seconds after that, when I pulled up outside her house, hooting twice to announce my arrival. I had thought about going and buzzing, but no-one really did that.

I turned my attention to my phone as I waited, skimming through text messages from friends. And Waseem.

“Haraam satisfaction is only temporary.”

What the…? I chuckled to myself, only slightly taken aback. He was a real cracker.

“Hey, you,” a familiar voice said, slightly drowned by the music.

I stopped chuckling as the door opened, and my beautiful date entered the car.

Of course, I couldn’t help but stare. I was mesmerised by her. Her perfume, I was sure, the Jo Malone I had bought her last week, was completely consuming. I was utterly fixated.

It felt like I was rooted to the spot, as she leaned forward, her hands locking around my taut shoulders, lips just brushing my cheek.

I wasn’t a shy guy, but I felt just slightly awakened to my senses, as she pulled back and I put the car into gear again. I pressed down on the accelerator, releasing the handbrake, hearing the chipped exhaust popping with the backfire of petrol.

The lyrics to the song were blaring, and I felt more comfortable as I let them sink in, and control my emotions.

This was what it was all about. Tonight was going to be great. The night was still young.

A Little Intervention

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Muhammed was just an ordinary guy. An ordinary guy with an ordinary life. Plain and simple. Nothing special.

Honestly, now that I think about it, he had nothing going for him, except the fact that he was, I suppose, ‘street-wise’. And that’s what he had used to get to the top. He really lived the life. And, no, you could never undermine it. His life was what anyone would call a high-life.

Somehow, he had bagged himself a trophy wife. No-one really knew where she came from. And she was anything but ordinary. He just kind of came to us one day and said he was getting married. And that was that. Done and dusted.

Of course, there was always a favourite child. Then came Waseem.

He was in the middle, but very evidently, the blue-eyed boy. Waseem was the leader, in any crowd. The conspicuous one. Always in a good way. He never passed a crowd of without anyone noticing him and trying to chat him up. And yeah, he enjoyed the attention. As much as it annoyed the hell out of me, I was kinda proud that my brother had a reputation. He was an outright flirt and a complete charmer, but I didn’t really care. Well, at that time, I didn’t. It was his life, his call. And then, when he suddenly announced that he’s starting hifdh, I got, like, over-suspicious.

I mean, how was he ever going to do it? No-one in our family had ever attempted it. We just weren’t that type of people. The nagging question, though, was the most concerning. Why?

I still remembered his firmly set jaw line, as I spoke to him that December evening. Just the look that he had on his face shoud have told me not to bother.

I squinted my eyes in the almost-dark hallway, trying to figure out if I was seeing him right. He looked different, but I couldn’t ascertain exactly what it was…

“Bru, I reckon you’re taking a shot in the dark,” I met his eye steadily, glad that I had finally said what was on my mind.

“Don’t you know?” He said, after a good few seconds.

I looked at him quizzically, obviously completely ignorant. I squinted. Was that stubble on his chin? It looked like Waseem hadn’t used a blade in days.

Back to the point though… Know what?

“Don’t you know what a great thing it is?” He raised his head, continuing, looking like he had got some great revelation. “To memorise the Qur’an, Ziyaad? Like can you imagine… No other nation had ever been able to do it… Except us.”

I vaguely remembered something I had heard a few years ago, when I had attended some function. I couldn’t even remember where it was… But my mind made some connection, as I digested, just momentarily, what he had said.

And We have certainly made the Qur’an easy for remembrance, so is there any who will remember?” (Surah Qamar)

I glanced at him, giving him a weird look. What was he on about?

I had shook my head at him and didn’t say a word after that. After all, thats what youngest brothers are there for. Go with the flow. I actually didn’t really care. I was that type of guy. Carefree and unassuming.

And so life went on… Almost as if we were living in this universe that would never terminate. Life.

We didn’t realise that some things could change in just a second. A simple incident that, we did not know at the time, would rock our world.

However out of synch we had been at the time, we didn’t realise, in the next few months, we would become completely with it.

Our lives would be turned, literally, upside down.