The Wrong End of the Hedge: Zaynah

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

“‘And so there are some who spend their whole lives seeking. Sometimes giving, sometimes taking. Sometimes chasing. But often, just waiting. They believe that love is a place that you get to: a destination at the end of a long road. And they can’t wait for that road to end at their destination. They are those hearts moved by the movement of hearts. Those hopeless romantics, the sucker for a love story, or any sincere expression of true devotion. For them, the search is almost a lifelong obsession of sorts. But, this tragic ‘quest’ can have its costs—and its’ gifts.
The path of expectations and the ‘falling in love with love’ is a painful one, but it can bring it’s own lessons. Lessons about the nature of love, this world, people, and one’s own heart, can pave this often painful path. Most of all, this path can bring its own lessons about the Creator of love.’

“Beautiful,” I murmured, thinking it so apt that love itself even has a Creator. Of course.

Who could forget the that He, the One who was in control of every man’s heart, created one of the most beautiful things… Indeed, Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.

Zakiyya put her phone which she was reading from down, and looked at me openly. It was a snippet from a book of her favourite female authors, I could tell.

“So?” She said, scrutinising my expression. “You think you fall into that category? Searching… Believing that it’s a long quest… A hopeless romantic?!”

She emphasised the word romantic, almost taunting me.

“Pssht,” I scoffed, denying her allegations. “What nonsense. Me? Puh-lease.”

She grinned at Nabeela, and I ignored them both, getting up to fetch a glass of water. I was starting to feel a bit flustered. I just hoped that Winter’s coming was going to speed up, because the Summer heat was at it’s peak, even though it was already March.

The sound of the new buzzer gladly got the attention off of me, and I could hear Abbi opening the door to see who it was. Hassan, my younger cousin, raced out to look out the gate.

“Who is it, Abbi?” I called, grabbing my scarf to throw on if I needed. I peeped through the wooden blind to see if I could recognise the car, but I had no idea who it belonged to. It was a nice car, that much I could tell… But it didn’t look familiar. We didn’t get many visitors, so it left me even more curious.

Nabeela’s younger brother was with us till the weekend and was craving something other than the company of three girls, so he followed Abbi out to investigate.

“I’m coming now,” Abbi called. “I think they’re from the Masjid.”

“Gasht now?” Zakiyya said, looking confused. It was the middle of the day.

I shrugged my shoulders, concentrating on my nails. I needed to trim them. I hated them to look so overgrown. Long nails always irritated me, and I got more paranoid about Whudhu being valid when I forgot to cut them. If a single piece of dirt or food was stuck there, I knew it would be questionable.

I dug in my middle drawer, looking for a nail file, just as I heard Nabeela let out a horrific squeal.

I jumped in my seat, just moving my eyes to give her a look. More like a glare.

She looked back at me from the window, all wide eyed, like her mouth was literaly stuck.

What?!” I snapped, clearly irritated by her behaviour.

Now, I always have been an impatient, intolerant kind of person. I tried to improve, but at the worst of times, the less admirable side of me always came out. Zakiyya, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. Always cool.

She walked calmly to where Nabeela was, looking out, and then quickly hurried back.

She murmured something that I didn’t hear, and I looked at her just as impatiently as I had with Nabeela.

“What exactly is going on?” I snapped, looking at both of them alternatively. “Are you’ll going to tell me or not?!”

I got up at that point, determined to find out for myself.

“Zaynah!” Zakiyya exclaimed, coming forward and pushing me back down on my seat. “Just relax, ‘kay? Don’t panic, but it’s those people.”

Those people? I was confused for a good few seconds.

Who was she talking about..?

Ah. Lightbulb. That person she spoke about the last time. The father had phoned Abbi. The one who came to ask about…

“The same one?” I asked, almost starved of oxygen. I wasn’t breathing very well.

The thing was, besides being an impatient, intolerant kind of person… I was also a very neurotic and disturbed kind of individual. Right then, I was sure that a few versions of my chill pills would have gone down really well. Both Zakiyyah and Nabeela knew it well.

“Emergency drawer!” Nabeela shouted, taking note of my expression, diving on the bed and getting out a packet from my bedside pedestal. She tossed it Zakiyya who promptly opened it.

“Open your mouth!” She demanded.

I did as she said, letting the sugar do its thing as I let the extra soft gums melt in my mouth. It always did the trick.

“Calmer?” She asked softly, looking at me sceptically.

I nodded, letting everything, include the high sugar intake, digest.

“At least he’s got a nice car,” Nabeela commented, looking back inside.

At least? I glared at Nabeela questioningly.

Like I cared. It was irrelevant. Nice car or whatever… I couldn’t care less.

Instead of being impressed, by any degree, this whole visit just made me more angry. After their father phoned and took off with Abbi, I really didn’t have any time for stories. I mean, after the things he said to Abbi, when Abbi always paid his rent on time… I couldn’t believe that they actually had the audacity to still come here and ask for it. Just because we weren’t from here… From  their side of the neighbourhood. And on the pretext on Gasht, to top it off. It was sick.

And maybe I was being judgemental, but from what I had seen… What was the point in having the best of everything when you couldn’t even show gratitude to the One who had blessed you with it? How can you savour this world, which was the basis for admittance into Jannah, and have no concern for the hereafter?

People didn’t understand. If even in Jannah we see the rewards… When we express our gratitude to Allah for His blessings and for entering us into Jannah, Insha Allah, even then Allah will bestow more bounties.

Abul-Abbaas al-Qurtubi said: “. . . gratitude for blessings – even if they are few – is a means of attaining the pleasure of Allah, may He be exalted, which is the noblest situation of the people of Paradise.

When the people of Paradise say, “You (Allah) have given to us what You have not given to anyone among Your creation,”

Allah will say to them: “Shall I not give you something better than that?”

They will say, “What is it? Have You not brightened our faces, and admitted us to Paradise and saved us from Hell?”

Allah will say, “I bestow My pleasure upon you, and I will never be angry with you after that.” [Al-Mufhim lima ashkala min Talkhees Kitaab]


And I knew well that when we’re asked about this world, when we are questioned as to how long we have spent here… In retrospect it only appears to be a very trivial amount of time. A few days, the first group will say. A day, others will say. Less or part of a day, others yet will correct.

And though it there will be this controversy… I couldn’t help but think to myself: If this span of time is so short in relativity to the hereafter… If this life was so meagre… Could we not spend even this tiny space of time in Allah’s obedience? In gratitude to Him.

It was a question that hung above me… Constantly. Obey Him. That’s all He asks.

Instead, we spend this time in this world looking for every excuse not to.

I sighed, looking out the window if I could see these ‘people’ that Zakiyya was speaking about. My palms began to get sticky as I realised the implication of this whole thing. Were they going to kick us out of our home? Had people really sunk so low in this day and age?

I halted my thoughts. Wait a minute.

I mean, I didn’t even know what this was all about. I mean, I knew that they owned the house, but we were paying to live here. Abbi always kept to his word. Why were they coming here to harass us?

And though I had no real basis, here I was, allowing myself to hyperventilate for no apparent reason.

“Oh my word, they’re sitting there,” Nabeela hissed, moving away from the door.

Oh goodness. I think, more than anything, Nabeela and Zakiyya were getting me more stressed out about this whole visit.

What did these people really want? Couldn’t they just phone first before they came like normal people?

It was a long wait, and though Nabeela was trying to eavesdrop on the whole thing, I didn’t trust her feedback ability. I moved down the passage with my niqaab on, trying to peep into our sitting room. I moved Nabeela aside and paused at the doorway in a position where no-one could see me, scanning the room from behind them.

Our sitting room wasn’t very well-lit, even during the day, so as my eyes adjusted, I wondered to myself if I was seeing right.

Hassan, who was usually a reserved and quiet child, was propped on someone’s lap, like he knew these people for years. In fact he had made himself so comfortable, that I couldn’t believe that he hadn’t met this person that he was getting so acquainted with before.

Traitor, I thought to myself, thinking about how I would punish him later. Maybe I would restrict access to my sweet drawer. He had to learn.

I started straining my eyes to check if we actually did know these people, when someone got up suddenly.

“Maulana Umar, I’ll be back now,” Abbi said, walking briskly towards the doorway.

It was just as well that Abbi got up at that point, because I’m sure I would have exposed myself if it was anyone else.

Wait. Did he just say Maulana Umar? He was a good guy… Well-known and admired. Abbi had known him before we had moved here, and I couldn’t help but think to myself why he had come to see us with the neighbour guy. I mean, had people stooped so low to bring Maulanas with them when they came to kick tenants out?

I started getting angrier by the second. This was all just too much. Such a huge inconvenience.

With the torrent of emotions mounting, the tears were on the verge of ecsaping. My eyes were brimming with emotion, and I looked away quickly to wipe them.

I stepped back until Abbi came toward me, looking at him questioningly. I hoped to myself that he would tell me what exactly was going on.

“Zaynah,” he addressed me quietly. “Get something, please.”

I put my hand to my mouth, completely shocked at Abbi.

I mean, really? How can he even offer them stuff when they had come with that intention?

I found myself wanting to knock some sense into my poor father. He was always so obliging… So accommodating. This time, I had to stop it.

“Abbi,” I started, speaking a little louder than usual. I wanted them to hear what I had to say, and I really didn’t want Abbi to try and smooth the whole thing over. If Abbi didn’t say it, I knew I had to.

“I think…” I started again, even louder this time. My voice sounded extra strange, because I barely ever spoke so loud. The niggly feeling in the back of my mind was approaching my conscience, but I ignored it. Completely avoided it.

I had to say it. I cleared my throat.

“Abbi,” I said, finally, speaking as clear as I could. “Please tell them to leave.”