Bimillahir Ramaanir Raheem
I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it.
It was a bit overwhelming for me. I mean, since the previous week, I knew that something within me wanted to change. I had even started trying to pray my Salaah. I mean, I was really trying.
And then, when Waseem came to me this morning, asking me to give him company for an errand, I thought maybe it would be just another boring day. I hadn’t contacted Farah in days, after messaging to tell her that I needed some time to think about ‘us’. I know it was so typical, but it gave me room to think about me, my issues and what I wanted myself to become.
I knew that I wanted to be better, and I had been looking for just the thing that Waseem was telling me to find. He kept on telling me about how I was looking for love and satisfaction in the wrong places.
“Contentment,” he had said, sounding oh-so-wise. “That’s what’s gonna calm you down.”
But really, where was this ‘contentment’? It sounded like a far-fetched thing to me. Like a place that old people reached when they’ve nearly kicked the bucket. A place where you’re just kind of chilling out because there’s nothing else really left to do.
But man, I was so wrong. I realised that today.
“Waseem, are you even hearing me?” I asked him, waiting for some kind of reaction from him.
Okay, I knew that I might have been in a little bit of trouble, but in hindsight, I was just trying to be helpful by checking the house. I had heard the old man mentioning something about leaks so I thought I’d just see what the problem was. Not that I would know what to do, but just so I knew what was going on.
Well, at that time, it kind of made sense to me.
“Ziyaad,” Waseem finally said, sounding a bit too calm for my liking. Not for long, though. “What the hell were you THINKING?!”
The last word made me jump, and I noted Waseem’s blue eyes looking even more icey than normal. Honestly, he was just freaky when he got angry.
“I was just going-”
“Just what?” Waseem snapped, cutting me off. “Just thought you’d take a walk into someone else’s house?! C’mon Ziyaad… I thought you were sharper than that!”
Now I was beginning to feel a little silly for actually doing what I did. I was quickly beginning to realise my mistake.
But, like, those girls didn’t have to act like they were seeing a ghost. The one actually went to hide under the table. It was just darn weird.
I shrugged off the niggly feeling I was getting. It was my Dad’s place. I could do what I wanted. And plus, I had found what I was looking for. I finally knew what Waseem was talking about all this time. This was the other side of the fence. Where serenity was the brush that painted the picture. Where the grass was definitely quite a lot greener.
And of course, I grinned to myself, where the girls were nothing short of bombshells.
“You need to cool off, Waseem,” I said, finding that he was over-reacting. “I was just trying to see the place. I didn’t mean any harm. Those girls were squealing like they never saw a guy before in their sheltered lives. They must be stuck in that house the whole day. You know how people like that are.”
Uh-oh. The words came out of my mouth before I even thought about what I was saying.
Waseem didn’t reply to me straight away, so I assumed that he decided to ignore my dumb comments and the discussion was closed, until we turned into Muhammed’s driveway. He pressed the bell and then turned to me, looking like he had got a lot still left to say.
“People like that?” he started, sounding reproachful, and I knew I was in for a long speech.
“I meant,” I started, trying to do defend myself. “I mean, you know what I meant. They’re just different… To the people we usually see.”
I looked straight ahead, watching the guard coming toward us to open the gate. I avoided eye contact with Waseem. I knew I was in for it.
“People like that are the reason why there’s still some hope in this place,” he finally said cynically, driving forward. “You don’t know about them because their qualities are of people we’ve never learnt before. Modesty is something that you and I never cared about, but they take so seriously. It’s so important… A quality of the wives of our prophets.”
Modesty? Is that why they were so… Different?
“And yeah, they are different, but it’s only because nowadays, being on Deen, means you’re strange. The minute you tread on the straight path, immediately, people call you weird. And thats exactly what people like you and me think.”
Islam began as something strange and it will return strange as it began, so glad tidings for the strangers. (Ibn Maajah)
That was, ironically, so true. I actually felt a little ashamed at myself, because I was guilty of thinking the same too. Yes, I knew that there was something special about those girls I saw, but it was only because of superficial reasons. There was something ‘mysterious’ about them that made me call them different.
It was stupid to base my words on that, but I knew that these people probably had what a lot of people I knew didn’t. I mean, I’ve seen and rubbed shoulders with some of the richest Muslim people in the country, but what I felt in that house was just different. It was just pure. Real.
I didn’t say anything as I jumped out of the car, and Muhammed walked towards us. It looked like he was squinting his eyes as if he wanted to see me properly.
“Ziyaad?” He said incredulously. “That you, boet?”
I cracked a grin, and he squeezed my face in his hand, as if feeling my new stubble.
“Waseem, what are you doing to this owe?” He asked, turning to Waseem. He was smiling like a fool.
I could hear Waseem telling him about the place we went to see and I left the two of them to talk, going inside to find something to eat.
My sister-in-law was busy in the kitchen, and I grabbed a few of the cheesy chip things she was setting on a platter.
“Hey!” She said jokingly as I sneaked away, and went to sit with my brothers. She was busy spooning some green stuff on the top that looked kind of weird.
“What’s that?” Waseem stopped talking as I came in, eyeing my third cheesy chip thingum.
“Get your own,” I said, kicking back on the recliner, thinking that it was a nice day for a swim.
I expected Waseem to get up and get his own, but he just sat there like a recluse, and started talking to Mo about rent on some property.
“Aasiya,” I called out, hoping Mo’s wife would hear me. My snack was finished and I was too lazy to fetch more.
She came on to the balcony, platter in hand, setting it on the white outdoor table. She took a seat opposite me, scrutinising my face.
“Suits you,” she said, nodding slightly.
I didn’t say much, because I noticed that Waseem and Muhammed had suddenly gotten very quiet.
Waseem was looking slightly uncomfortable and it took me a few seconds to realise why.
Mo gestured to his wife, and she got up quickly, leaving us alone again. That was just weird. Waseem was getting a bit hectic.
I mean, Aasiya was family, did he really have to be so awkward even with her?
I rolled my eyes, obviously not understanding any of it. Yeah, I was trying to change, but at that stage, I just thought that Waseem was taking it a bit too far.
Nevertheless, I had the perfect opportunity to put in my two cents about my latest discovery. What Waseem was talking about the other day. I had to tell Mo.
We needed an ice-breaker. I knew that I was in no position to take the step, but I knew who was just perfect for it. And just the right person to compliment him…
“Mo,” I said, leaning forward and adopting just the right tone. I was about to drop a bombshell, but it was definitely gonna be fun to see this going down.
He looked up inquiringly. I was itching to say it.
“Mo,” I said again, building up the suspense. Wait for it.
I paused until I couldn’t hold it any longer.
“Mo, our brother is getting hitched!”