The voice was slightly shrill… As if it had been calling for a while.
Yusuf’s big eyes widened as I glanced at him, immediately reaching for the remote to switch the channel.
The door swung open, and I braced myself, but instead of seeing the owner of the voice that had called me, instead, it was Umar who stood there, shaking his head.
“You two are at it, again, huh?” He said, raising his eyebrows. “You know how long she’s calling?”
Yusuf was about to open his mouth but I quickly interrupted him, not wanting him to incriminate me.
“It’s just a game, Umar,” I said, my hands on my hips.
Umar didn’t approve of me watching anything at all on the Television that my father had bought for me. And neither did his mother.
“Where’s Ummi Jaan?” I asked, waiting for her to enter and start about the ‘Shaytaan box’ again.
It was bound to happen. It was a daily occurrence. I honestly hoped that she’d just get over it and realise that I was never going to get rid of it. Maybe some day when I changed, I would. Some day, in my ignorance, that I was sure would come.
My father had sent it for me, and though I appreciated his gifts, I really wished that he’d rather just take them back and spend some actual time with me.
I mean, who could be so obsessed with their job that they couldn’t even bother to form a bond with their child?
“Aasiya, please come down and set the table for me.”
Ummi Jaan. Again. It was a Sunday, and we were all expected to help with something.
This time, though, she appeared in front of the doorway, just behind the smirking Umar.
He may have been bigger than me in size, but I knew that if I really tried, I could have somehow injured him. For now, though, I would just get back at him in other ways.
“Ummi,” I said, building myself up for an argument. “I think it’s time Umar had a chance to do kitchen work. I’m tired of the sexism that’s so rife in this household… It’s like we’re living in the 1940’s.”
Ummi Jaan looked at me, frowning.
“Erm,” she started saying carefully, acting as if I had sworn. “Sexism? Aasiya, Umar also helps me.”
“Lets swap… I’ll do it if you do the toilets!” Umar piped up, grinning again.
“What?!” I shrieked, appalled. “Never!”
I pushed past him, heading down the stairs to do the dreaded task.
It was only later that evening that I realised that Umar was actually being serious… I didn’t realise that he actually had it in him to do any housework, leave alone clean toilets.
We ate supper that night, and I rushed back up to the room without helping them to clean up.
Let them do it, I thought selfishly.
In retrospect, I realised my error, but I was too caught up in myself to fix it.
I just needed to be alone. Away from the discussion… From the madness. All they ever spoke about was what we were going to do next year… And how Umar was so focussed on becoming an Aalim.
And because he was so focussed, all eyes immediately diverted to me, filled with unanswered questions.
What’s your plans, Aasiya? Don’t you want to try doing Hifdh? What about an Islamic course? You can even study something if you want… Of course… From home…?
Suffocating. It was the same annoying concern, every day. I was already studying enough this year, through home-schooling. I had no plans to head the same way Umar was going. I needed some time-out from this extremism.
Well, that’s what I felt like it was at that time… It was all just too much. Too overwhelming to waste my time on. I didn’t want to see the love and affection etched in it. I didn’t want to put it all down to them doting on me, because I was fixated on the notion that they were just all out to get me.
I logged on to the internet and put on the latest Lady Gaga song, blocking out everything else. The music calmed me… Gave me a sense of ‘peace’. It helped me to switch off and divert my thoughts.
It consumed me in such a way, that I was able to forget about everything, for that time.
I didn’t realise though, that a soon as that song faded, the audio pornography that filled my ears no longer had that effect. It just made me crave more. It made me crave more to an extent that there was no satisfaction. I didn’t realise was it was creating in my soul… The hypocrisy that it was feeding. I went with the ‘Scholars’ who said it was Halaal, doing what suited my Nafs.
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Among my ummah there will certainly be people who permit zinaa, silk, alcohol and musical instruments…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari ta’leeqan, no. 5590; narrated as mawsool by al-Tabaraani and al-Bayhaqi. See al-Silsilah al-Saheehah by al-Albaani, 91).
But how mislead I was at the time. And I didn’t realise, that as I grew up, it would be this reason that I would grow to despise it so much, that I didn’t even tolerate my husband to listen to it, even when I wasn’t in the car. Because with music, there were so many other evils that connected to it, we couldn’t even begin to imagine the harm it could cause.
And one sin that it lead me to in my youth was using my time for things that had no good in them.
At that stage, social media was on it’s way to evolving, and though many had Facebook and Twitter, I would have never imagined how much it would end up taking over our lives in the near future. A random message from a friend caught my eye, but I ignored it and went to the one I didn’t recognise. A message from a person who’s profile just said Aayisha.
No profile picture or detailed info.
It was a weird way to spell the name that was so common. The second strange thing was what this girl asked.
“Is your father’s name Faizal?”
I quickly tapped out a reply in the affirmative, wondering where this was leading, just before I heard footsteps down the passage again.
I closed the browser before my door opened with no knock, and I spun around in my chair, already narrowing my eyes.
“Yusuf,” I said, immediately softening.
He was my favourite person in this house, and although he had just entered his teens, I was glad that he still found time to spend with me. He was different. I could just tell that my younger brother was definitely going to be a softie when he grew up.
In later years, I would often wonder about how he, especially, had grown up… And what kind of man he had become.
“Want some?” He asked, holding out a bag of Lay’s chips.
The green flavour. My favourite.
I nodded and we both sat on my bed while we ate. It was a timeless moment.
In fact, most of my moments in that house were timeless. Timeless, priceless, and invaluable.
I often wondered why I had always been so rebellious… Even when I was surrounded by so much of goodness. The family that Allah had chosen to entrust me with to was the best thing for me, but I didn’t realise it until it was too late.
I didn’t see that, when I finally grew up, they would be my doorway to allowing me into a realm where the money and status I knew for so long would mean nothing. I didn’t realise how much they had considered me their own, until I had glimpsed Umar’s true colours, years later.
I was the outcast, but not because they made me that… But because I chose that for me.
And when the message from the mystery girl appeared in my Inbox just minutes later, at that time, it would be my way out. This girl, who claimed to be my sister, would be the reason that I could break free.
Yusuf had eventually fell asleep on my bed whilst playing Mario on my old Game Boy, and I silently exited the room, to check where Umar was. His room was half lit, and I feared that he would still be awake and risk my escape that night. It wasn’t the first time that I had been through this whole routine.
I pushed opened his room door to check if he would react, but Umar was glued to his own computer, shaking his knee and concentrating on some project, with his Qur’an player speakers plugged in his ears.
We were just so different. Who would have thought that we were even related?
I sighed, slightly relieved. I knew there was probably no way that he would hear me, because he always had it on maximum volume.
I closed his door again, draping a scarf over my head and grabbing the keys from the hook on the landing. Thank goodness the alarm wasn’t on as yet, else I would have had to contend with Papa’s security team. The night was still as I stepped out, and I shut the door behind me, looking for the headlights of a car in the distance. It was easy to spot.
I rushed forward, almost as if someone was behind me. A hint of doubt slipped into my mind, wondering what I was setting myself up for.
It wasn’t something I had planned, and I wasn’t sure where this would all lead… But I had to convince myself that I was ready.
Finally, I was ready to find out the truth.