Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
It was one of the awkwardest and longest few seconds, as we sat on the white leather three-seater, contemplating what to do next.
Sit here indefinitely? Leave? Or find out exactly was going on?
I weighed the choices in my mind, deciding on the most Zee-type of thing to do. Obviously, if I had to leave now, I wouldn’t know the juicy story behind this whole meeting. I would have no idea how this dramatically impressive Maulana Dude knew my brother’s wife. Was there a deep, dark secret somewhere in the works?
I got up, ignoring Waseem’s obvious ‘don’t you dare’ stare, and followed the other three down the passage.
What else could I do? I couldn’t help myself. I had an inquiring mind.
I could hear voices, and made my way to them, knowing that I was probably going to get a lot of my unanswered questions answered. Well, I hoped.
I stood back before the half-open doorway, able to see both my brother and that ‘Umar’ dude outside the bathroom door of the guest room.
“Aasiya, please come out,” Muhammed was begging, looking completely stressed. Maulana Dude was sitting back on the bed, chin in his hand, looking like he was probably going to be stuck there for a while.
I stifled laughter, finding the whole scene hilarious.
Muhammed turned around after a few unsuccessful attempts, looking almost accusingly at Maulana Dude.
“Listen,” Maulana Dude started, getting up slowly. “I didn’t mean to-”
Muhammed didn’t give him a chance. I could see his ears changing colour. Kind of like what happens to my father when a deal goes wrong.
“What?!” Muhammed snapped. “You didn’t mean to what? What is going on here, bru? How do you even know my wife?”
Maulana Dude looked down, and I could see him thinking about his next words.
The statement was flat compared to Muhammed’s. He sounded defeated, and started looking toward the open doorway. I slunk back, not wanting them to see me.
In all fairness, though, Maulana Dude didn’t even do anything. Aasiya was the one who caused the drama, and now he was getting the slack. The most amazing part was that he didn’t even refute Muhammed’s words. It was like he just accepted that he was wrong. No argument.
And it wasn’t because he didn’t want to cause a fight. I doubt that it was because he was worried about Muhammed’s reaction to him if he had to say anything back. It definitely wasn’t that, because I was sure that this guy wasn’t afraid of much.
That day was a day that I learnt one of the biggest lessons of my existence. Humility. It never fails. It always raises you.
The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, has said: “He who is humble for the sake of Allah by a degree, Allah will elevate him one degree, until he reaches the highest degrees and he who is arrogant toward Allah, Allah will lower him one degree until he reaches the lowest of low degrees” (Bukhari).
And it was amazing how it held so true. How it all worked out. For the pious people, I was sure, everything just seemed to come together that much quicker for them. There was no mistaking that Muhammed was immediately regretful, as he spoke again.
“How do you know her?” He said, gesturing for Umar to sit, sounding much calmer than before.
Maulana Dude rubbed his temples, still standing, staying silent for a at least a minute.
“She’s my sister,” he said, almost like he couldn’t believe it himself.
I couldn’t help myself. Just when I thought that life was settling into something less bumpy, another curve-ball gets thrown in. And now, I found myself wondering… Did Aasiya have any other sisters?
“Idiot!” The voice said into my ear as I jumped, immediately pulling me back further into the hallway.
Waseem. Yoh. He gave me a fright.
“What?!” I said, spinning around in clear irritation.
Waseem was still pulling me backwards as I protested, determined to get me out of hearing range. It was super annoying, because I really wanted to see Muhammed’s reaction to that revelation.
It was like mind-boggling. Made me think that we honestly had no idea where on earth Aasiya came from. I mean, she could have even been like an axe murderer or a serial killer or something. We would have never known.
The questions were filling my head as Waseem continued to drag me with him, back into the lounge. I broke my hand free, rubbing it in the spot Waseem had gripped.
What a revelation. Who was she? Where was the rest of her family? Why did no-one know what happened to her? Like… Did they think she had just disappeared into thin air? The whole thing was so… So strange.
“He’s her brother,” I said, almost to myself.
I knew Waseem had heard me. He just needed clarification. I gave him a look, just so he knew that I wasn’t going to repeat myself.
Now was Waseem’s turn to go into shock. He sat down, leaning forward on the recliner. He was pulling at his beard.
It was proper Sunnah style. This was no designer knock-off. I wish I realised earlier how important it was to actually keep the real thing.
“What..? But… But that’s not even possible…” Waseem was saying.
Poor Waseem. He looked completely confused. I shook my head at him. I mean, it wasn’t rocket science.
He looked up at me, weirdly, speaking again.
“His sister is supposed to be dead.”
Dead? Well, after what I’d heard, I wasn’t quite sure about that.
Now I was just as baffled as he was. This whole drama was like a soapie. And the last thing I needed was more drama in my upside-down life.
“They’re related?” He said again, completely disbelieving. “But…”
I got up at that point, leaving him to dwell on it. As for me, I didn’t have time to stick around and make more assumptions. I was sure the truth would come out at some point, and all would be revealed. Maybe tomorrow, when everyone could think properly, the truth behind everything would be all exposed.
Besides that, I had plenty of other stuff on my mind. I needed to sift and sort through the batch of consuming information that was occupying a substantial part of my thoughts.
The new discovery about Farah was really a shocker, but I could always use diversions to stop myself thinking about it. As I drove though, probably with the influence of my inner self and Shaytaan, my mind kept going back to ‘us’. To the parts that were somehow so clear in my mind. To the time we spent together. To every detail, including the smell of her perfume that was just so damn intense.
I sighed, pulling into a service station for cigarettes, since that was the only vice I had allowed myself to have.
Though my mind was boggled with all the new information, my senses were alerted as soon as I parked off, glimpsing a familiar face that I couldn’t immediately place. It was a pretty girl wearing a scarf, jumping off a tatty Toyota next to me. Another girl who was completely covered up jumped off next, followed by a kid, and as I caught a view of the driver of the car, I immediately realised who it was.
The ‘bombshell girls’ was the first name that came to my mind, and I crouched down slightly in my seat, hoping that they wouldn’t see me. I wasn’t sure if they would recognise me with the additions on my face, but I was taling no chances about it either way. I watched them, not yet thinking that I shouldn’t be, as they walked in and out quickly to buy bread, and found myself thinking one of the most unexpected things.
I suddenly reached an understanding that I never thought I would.
That, I realised, was what I had wanted in the girl that I had so thoughtlessly put all my hopes into. I remembered it as clear as day. That was exactly what I had wanted when I had looked at her that ‘morning after’, realising the true nature of everything that had come crashing down.
I had wanted a girl who would be only belonging to me… For no-one else to see. A girl who I could actually say was completely mine, without any fear of broken promises or half-hearted words. The type of relationship that wasn’t based on a lie, and wouldn’t just give me the type of satisfaction that was ‘just so temporary’.
It was truly a light-bulb moment.
That was it, I said to myself, suddenly awakening within myself. That was the gold.
And it was awesome how amazingly my religion had encompassed every one of these aspects so effortlessly. That was exactly what Islam brought altogether. The beauty of Deen was never only half-way there. It brought together everything that had goodness in it so perfectly.
Honestly, now I fully understood when people spoke so passionately about this. I agreed completely now with people when I had them say: If the entire world lived by Islamic law, most definitely, this world would be a perfect place to live in.
It was like a door that had been closed all along was suddenly ajar, allowing me to glimpse into the flowing stream of sunshine that I was being shaded from all along. I understood the thirst that came with learning, and with wanting to know more. I now understood the fervour to embrace it, like I was a completely new person.
My mind was still racing as I went into the shop, consumed by these new realisations.
But Shaytaan is always one step ahead in his dealings, because in just a few minutes, I would be tested in a way that I had previously failed.
I grabbed a cold drink, making my way to the till to get my cigarrettes and pay. iPhone in hand, I browsed through Instagram, maybe engaging in a little bit of futile activity. I closed the application quickly and slid my phone into my pocket, reaching for my wallet as I reached the front of the queue.
“And a box of Dunhill Menthol,” I said, still checking for my card somewhere in my wallet.
Placing my stuff on the counter, it was only then that I looked up at the cashier, only to see a very familiar face practically staring back at me.
It was like re-living some of the worst days of my life, as I gazed back at her, completely unaware of myself.
Farah was standing next to the lady behind the counter, scrutinising me in a way that made me feel completely uncomfortable. Her penetrating gaze was unexpected, and I could just imagine the thoughts that occupied her mind. The attention she was giving me was less appreciated than before. I really felt all exposed, as I stood there.
The nagging question here, though, was: How was I going to handle this ordeal?
The easiest thing would have been to walk away, and just leave my stuff on the counter, but I was stunted. I didn’t expect her to say anything, but the words were out of her mouth quicker than I expected.
This was all wrong, I was telling myself. So wrong.
I could practically hear my heart thudding away.
“Zee,” she said, in that oh-so-familiar tone.
I looked up again, momentarily.
“Gosh,” she said, sounding a little different now. “Is that really you?!”