Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Sundays. I just loved them.
And I didn’t always love them.
Most Sundays were spent sleeping off hangovers and late nights out… Another wasted day in my somewhat wasted life.
But since I had become clean, my focus for Sundays were a bit different. Sundays were my cooling off days. The chill-out time.
After a snack, an early morning jog usually did it before I hit the gym. All Waseem’s unused equipment was coming in handy, and it was an awesome way to divert my attentions and work off all my pent-up energies.
And then of course, I would venture into the kitchen (again) for some real nourishment.
I opened the fridge, and quite a surprise awaited me that particular day. Mum must have really gone all out, or maybe we just never realised how much us brothers ate when we were around. It was also possible that in my father’s chase for the world, he had probably even stopped eating.
The shelves were packed with food, most them my favourite dishes. I knew that Waseem wouldn’t approve, but I was ready to take it on. I took out about three different ones, aiming for a variety.
Being back home was good in some ways, because I felt glad to make my mother happy. I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing, but with my slightly more emotional state of mind these days, I had also become more tuned in to other people’s emotions.
She had known that I was with my brothers, but when I came home, I could just see the relief on her face.
“How’s Waseem?” She asked, immediately giving away her concerns about the blue-eyed boy. And no, I wasn’t jealous.
Okay, maybe a little.
“He’s gone missing,” I said, without missing a beat. Waseem had an episode a few years ago when he went AWOL.
No-one knew where exactly he had went, but I doubted that it was anywhere great. Maybe he was trying out ISIS.
“He’s fine, Mum,” I said, feeling slightly bad for her. “He’s staying at his place… He’s content.”
Contentment. That place I thought that only old people reach when they kick the bucket. I was actually glimpsing it somewhere in the near future even for myself. The urge for achieving and owning materialistic things was slowly diminishing…
I walked up the stairs to my upper-level refuge, hoping not to bump into my father. He was usually in his office on Sunday mornings. Well, come to think of if, I wasn’t sure when he wasn’t in his office. Instead of admiring his business approach, all I could think of now was: Didn’t he have a real life?
Like. C’mon. Dude.
I unpacked my bag and lay back on my two seater couch, initially actually glad to be back in my private dwellings. I unlocked my phone and ventured onto social media for a bit, surprisingly finding the world so much further away than I had thought.
Friends and acquaintances who were a constant on my social media feeds now seemed somewhat dull in comparison to what I knew was reality. And now, I truly understood how much of wasted time went into these pursuits.
I put my phone down, contemplative.
Loneliness. That’s what drove people to social media. This is what it felt like. For the first time in a while, I had none of my ‘guys or gals’ around. No-one. The feelings of ‘loser-hood’ were becoming a reality for me. In cutting everyone off, was I becoming a loser who no-one really liked?
I had even basically thrown my chic away, losing her to another guy altogether. Was I acting too irrationally? Did I just get an impulsive urge to reform that I knew I might regret?
My inner demons were knocking down the urge for good.
Call her, a voice was saying. Win her back.
I shook my head at myself, knowing that wasn’t an option. She wasn’t going to fall back into my arms either way. After all, I was just that ‘drunk guy at the club’.
My thoughts instantly then moved back to my crew… My friends who I hadn’t seen in a while, and like an inclination that was pulling me back on track, I remembered Waseem’s advice.
He was spot on with his predictions. Right now, no-one really had my back. No-one really cared where I was. Everyone was already moving on and moving along, only looking out for themselves.
The reality was already hitting me, as will be the case on the Day of Judgement, when all will be revealed for who they are. This was true… This was reality.
No-one could put in better than how Allah tells us…
الْأَخِلَّاءُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِينَ
Close friends, on that Day, will be enemies to each other, except for the righteous and God fearing…” •[Surah Az-Zukhruf:67]
And so, it was time to make some real investments. To find some friends who were actually going to have my back… Not the type of friends who I thought were going to benefit me here in my worldly pursuit.
As I stood on my balcony, I thought of the getting into contact with that guy who had been the start of the whole change. I had no idea how he came to be a part of our activities, but I knew he wasn’t anything like me. He was just a means that Allah had put into our lives to help us.
I sighed, lighting a cigarette and inhaling deeply, feeling somewhat lost. Without my brothers, I was weaker.
Well, my feelings were short-lived, because just as the isolation of my room started getting to me, voices from below caught my attention. Had I been inside, I wouldn’t have gotten an inkling of the happenings below me, but outside, the raised voices were clear as day.
It was like World War 75 in Dad’s office.
I sighed, shaking my head, preparing myself for still worse to come. I could hear that someone else was downstairs, and I could hear that my father was probably going to make it a scene. A disgruntled supplier? Irresponsible staff?
I braced myself, stubbing the cigarette I had half-finished on the wall. I could hear my mother banging on my room door, and hastily closed my sliding door, rushing to open the first door of my section to her distraught face.
“Ziyaad, please come,” my mother was saying tearfully, looking completely stressed.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew my mother needed some assistance. I usually didn’t get involved.
I had always been the last person anyone would call, but making a choice to grow up made people see me in a new light. The Zee was going to be something of a buffer… I would have to step up.
I raced down the passage, taking the stairs because the lift would’ve have just wasted time. The voices became starker as I approached, and I could clearly hear my brother trying to calm Dad down.
“Dad,” he was saying. “I’ve made my choice. I’ve just come to ask you to attend my Nikah-”
“DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT THE DAMN NIKAH,” he boomed.
Only, he didn’t say damn. He used a different word.
I shuffled on my feet, looking at my mother painfully.
Did I hear right? Waseem was getting married?
“YOU MESSED UP ALL OF MY DEALS,” he continued.
Only, he didn’t say messed up. He used an uglier version.
I sighed, rubbing my own temples. He wasn’t done.
“YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH OF SHIT I HAD TO CLEAN UP!”
I cringed. All the banter was a harsh contrast to the serenity I was feeling the past few days. Anxiety was building up because I was inclined to do something. My mother wasn’t a quiet woman, but she had a smaller frame, and I knew she wouldn’t dare interfere.
She would get caught up in the bust-up.
I walked forward, peeping in from outside. Waseem’s back was to me, and while my father’s hands flailed all over, Waseem just stood there and kind-of watched him. It was a bit like a spectator sport, only the difference here was that the opponents here were one and the same person.
My father and his greed for worldly things were the competitors. The truth of what Waseem had told me all that time ago came back to haunt me, like it was just yesterday. Except that this time, it wasn’t referring to me: My father was his own enemy.
I watched my father close in on Waseem, his hand outstretched to deliver the final physical blow after all the verbal abuse. It was like everything was in slow motion, even though we all knew what was coming.
“No, Cassim!” My mother literally screamed, stepping forward as if to save Waseem.
But it was too late. The sound of the blow was painful, but I couldn’t imagine the excruciating torture that Waseem must have been experiencing. I could see him wincing as he touched his head and then looked at his hand to check for blood.
He looked back at my father, who had now cornered him, and then finally put up his hands, as if to surrender. So unlike Waseem. He was just taking it, when I knew he didn’t have to. Why?
I took the opportunity to butt myself in, like a brainiac warrior with no armour, wedged in between the two.
“Da-ad,” I said, my voice shaky. I couldn’t look at my father. I was petrified.
“Zee, what are you doing?” Waseem whispered from behind.
“Don’t worry,” I said, putting on my mafia tone. “I got this.”
The whole impression I was trying to create just wasn’t meshing well with my true emotions. Instead of Jackie Chan, I felt more like Kung Fu Panda.
And my father knew it well. Either way, I knew he wouldn’t touch me. In those moments, seconds felt like minutes.
I looked up at him, glancing just once at his red face and widened pupils which looked like they were about to pop out, and offered the ultimatum as I turned my body as quickly as I could. I put my hand out, grabbing Waseem with all my strength, and decided what I had to do.
Kung Fu Pandas can’t tackle this shit. We had to make a run for it.
“Run!” I shouted impulsively. I wasn’t sure if I was being dramatic or if this was going to be the most awesome plan I ever had. “Just get out of here!”
I pulled him out of the room as I exited, doing the whole escape Zee-style. I knew there was no other way.
I expected my father to follow, but instead, my mother placed herself at the door, trying to calm him down.
I didn’t care about my father’s shouting, or the consequences after. I actually didn’t give two hoots about anything else, except that for the first time in my life, I was actually saving my brother’s back, instead of the other way around.
“Go do what you need to,” I said, hoping he’d take the advice and get away from this life. “Change your address. Get married. But do it quick.”
He had to, before more damage was done. He had to cut himself off whatever was holding him back. He needed to break free, and ease those shackles that had come with these attachments that we had thought were so important our whole lives.
“See you later?” He asked, getting a faraway look in his eyes. “After Asr?”
His cheek was still ablaze from the encounter with Dad, but his mind was elsewhere.
I nodded, but I knew I’d have to stick around here to make sure all was okay at home.
All this time my brothers had dealt with this, and I saw nothing wrong with the way our every day lives were unfolding. Day in and day out, the chase never ended. I was sheltered… Protected. I saw no wrong because to me, my wretched world was perfect.
Looking closer got me seeing a whole other reality. It was like the world I was now seeing was different world altogether.
Somehow, Waseem had seen the light, amidst this blackened horizon. And he had broadened it, to make way for our delusional minds to experience some of the brilliance. To encounter some illumination. To kindle the flame in our souls that had been nearly dead.
When one person makes the effort, and starts to change, it’s infectious. It’s like the effect of a ripple in the ocean. It’s effects may be slow and difficult to see, but deep down within, there are definitely felt.
He had done good. I was proud of my brother, no matter what my father or anyone else may say.
And of course, he deserved good back. I had to see that he got a shot, and hope for the best. As I watched him leave, I realised that it was happening right then.
Today, right now, was time for his payback.