Step Up

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Waseem: The next step forward...

I had decided to take the step. Number three on the list. The last step left to take, and I had tried.

And if there was one thing I realised as I went through with the final measure, it was this: It doesn’t matter how tough you are. A wound always leaves a scar. It gets under your skin before it leaves completely. It follows us home and changes our life. But maybe the pain has a point. Maybe we have to get a little messed up, before we can step up.

Because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that there were way too many hurdles to cross before I could actually be worthy of a lifestyle that was actually straight. At first, hope had completely evaded me, until I realised what it was due to.

A test. It was all a test, to see how I would emerge. Defeated or not. Firmer faith or not.

“You want to get married?” Mo had asked, looking just slightly concerned.

His expression didn’t falter, but I looked him in the eye, not denying Ziyaad’s random comment. I wasn’t sure what he was getting at with telling Muhammed at that moment, but my gut told me that it was an opening to ask my eldest brother’s honest opinion.

“Time to change my life,” I said, sincerely meaning what I had said.

Because when it came down to it all, that’s what my aim had to be. Till that point, every single thing in my temporary life was just a huge hoax. Nothing I knew was true, so how could anyone ever possibly enjoy a lie? It was like taking pleasure in a dream, when you know that it’s going to end. Pointless and inevitable.

Because as they had told us the other day at the Masjid, when it came to Jahannam, such was it’s strength and horror, that when a person is dipped into it, even for the minutest time one can imagine, it will be such that he forgets every pleasure and happiness he has ever experienced in his life. It will be as if he had never had a favourable moment during his entire existence.

And yet… Yet, when it came to Paradise, once a person is given that privilege of experiencing it, even for just a fraction of the most trivial amount of time, he is absolutely astounded. And at that moment, he will recall no grief or hopelessness in his worldly life. Amazingly, he will remember no fear or dissatisfaction at all. His world will be coloured by the Jannah that he had been momentarily surrounded by, just for that short while. A mere milli-second will eliminate every hardship he had ever encountered.

Because when the believers are given their rewards, our Lord’s promise always holds true. And that’s what He tells us:

“O My servants, you will have no fear on that day, nor will you grieve.” (Surah Zukhruf: Verse 68)

No fear or grief for His servants. It was unimaginable. I wanted that so badly. A realm of perpetual bliss. Of gardens where rivers flowed. A place to abide eternally.

Yes, I wanted the gold, so I had to work for it. I wanted to be at a place where life wasn’t as taxing as I had felt all this time. I wanted to go to a place of tranquillity, reside in the realm peaceful bliss. I wanted to meet the friends and lovers of Allah, and sit in their company for eternity…

My mind instantly backtracked to the mental picture I had stored in the back of my mind of the girl I had seen, and I remembered the urgency I had felt on that day. How badly I had wanted to see the other side of life.

And when I thought of how I wanted to become a part of that life, I realised that none of my previous tricks would work this time. All of my well-versed pick-up lines and game moves wouldn’t serve me for this pursuit. It was like using an outdated engine in a brand new BMW. Completely anti-climatic and useless.

“You have to go ask her father,” Muhammed finally said, as if it was the most obvious thing.

I knew that was a possibility but the thought of discussing marriage with a man I barely knew seemed so… Strange.

But I had to follow what my heart was inclining me toward. At that point, I had no other guidance but Mo and my own ego, so we made a stop at the house that I had been to the previous week, determined to go ahead with my initial intention.

I left my brother to do the talking, and although the man was polite as he was the last time I had met him, the minute I asked about his daughter, I could feel the strain. He also seemed extremely surprised at our request.

“Your father didn’t come?” he asked, looking around the room.

I wasn’t sure if that was the way that these things usually went, but I thought that I would rather make it clear from the outset.

“My father trusts our decisions,” was all Muhammed said.

He nodded slowly, pulling softly at his greying beard.

“Maaf, bha, but my younger daughter is not ready yet,” he said, sounding only a little apologetic.

I could feel the impact of those words on my heart already. With a heaviness somewhere within my chest, we greeted and left. The whole thing seemed pointless. How did I get to change my life when every door of opportunity was being shut on me? I felt like my past was still coming back to haunt me.

“Don’t stress, boss,” Muhammed assured me. “I’ll ask Aasiya. Maybe she knows of some other girls.”

I knew there was no use arguing. My spirits were on a low at that time and I honestly believed that this was payback for all the crap I had done and put girls through. Despite what Molvi Umar had said, I believed that I didn’t deserve anything good.

And so, as a last resort, I approached my own father to speak to him, hoping that he would be some sort of assistance in the whole thing. It was such a weird request, because I had never relied on my parents for anything. I never knew their value when it came to issues of this nature. I was always self-sufficient, and I was proud of it.

And that was my downfall. Pride. Leaving every other vice was a piece of cake, compared to the egotistical vices that surged within. Pride and anger… That was the real test. When you leave the evil of those influences… That’s when you became a real man.

So I took the plunge and approached him one evening. It was either bad timing, or fate, that my father was checking his accounts that night.

“Waseem, why is this statement still reflecting last years amount?” He asked, taking off his reading glasses to look at me.

I was confused, but I took the statement and scanned it, looking at the one he had ringed in red. ‘M Trust Property’, it said.

Confused, realisation quickly dawned.

Oh shit. I had completely forgotten about the rent. I didn’t even tell him about what I had decided. I knew I had to.

“Dad,” I started. “That place is a dump. You can’t raise the rent.”

My father narrowed his eyes at me, and his face changed slightly.

“I didn’t ask for your opinion, Waseem,” he said steadily. “I’ve got plans for that house, and if they’re not going to pay the price, then they rather move out.”

“They can’t,” I argued.”Lease is signed for a year now.”

I barely got scared of my father, but at that moment, a streak of fear shot through me. There were no words to describe my father’s outburst right then. He sounded like he was going to literally blow the rooftop off.

“Dad, chill,” I said meekly, trying to calm him down.

In retrospect, I realised that maybe it wasn’t the right thing to say… But I just had no idea how to deal with it.

It was completely unexpected. I mean I didn’t even see it coming. My father was a big man, but I was never afraid of him. I never thought I would witness this, but over the years, there was one thing I had learnt: When it came to money and power, my father never backed down.

He shoved me hard with both hands, asserting himself and his power. Without a second thought, still raging and swearing, he came up close, provoking me. I wasn’t one of his business acquaintances. I mean, really?

I wasn’t going to lunge at my father, as irritated as I was. The best thing for me to do was to turn and walk away, as difficult as I found it at that moment. I wished I could just sit and talk to him, for once, without him yelling or complaining about something. It was like his whole life revolved around the things that I was trying so badly to stay away from.

With all the noise and fury, both Ziyaad, my mother and two of the helpers in the house came rushing towards his office, looking worried. They were trying to find out what exactly was going on, but I really didn’t have the patience or energy to explain. My father wouldn’t back down either way.

If it wasn’t Muhammed and my father having it out, it was my mother getting the brunt, or me. Ziyaad was most like my father, so he was the only one who seemed free from the effects, so far.

I made up my mind, at that moment. I really didn’t need to deal with this. I need peace and a clear frame of mind if I wanted to stay straight. It was always these issues that made me resort to every vice that I had so mindlessly been addicted to. I didn’t want to go back to that dark place, so I knew I had to step up, and do what was best for me and my Nafs.

I went to my room, pulled out my new suitcase, and packed essentials for a few days. Zipping my bag, I knew that there was nothing to hold me back now. This was the only way I was going to break free from this environment and everything it had brought with it.

The heavy weight seemed to immediately lift off my shoulders. I wasn’t sure where I was going to go, but one thing was for sure.

I had to leave.