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?

“Coming?”

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?

 

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