Breaking the Barriers: Zaynah

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

At some point, you have to make a decision. You have to seize opportunity.

Boundaries don’t keep other people out, they fence you in. So, you can waste your life, being apprehensive, and drawing the lines that you’re too afraid to step over… Or you can live your life crossing them.

Now, I’ve had my fair share of proposals before moving here.

Well, three is fair when you’re under twenty. Lack of compatibility made me tell Abbi that I was too young to make a decision like that. The guys I had seen had always just fell short of what I had always wanted, and I seldom mentioned the experiences because I really didn’t feel it worth remembering.

Back home, people were starting to think that I probably thought I was too good for any boy. And I had stopped accepting requests if I knew there was a very slim chance.

Why should I put myself through it again?

Every time I had to expose my face to a guy, and make mundane chit-chat was me putting myself and my dignity on the line once again.

It was an effort. It was torturous. Not to mention, humiliating.

And the worst part was afterwards. Waiting. Anticipating. Uneasy. Wanting to be wanted. Even if I didn’t want it myself.

Expectations are suffocating.

And so, nothing was more welcome than what had stepped into our lives that afternoon, turning it into something I had never expected. I didn’t expect to let myself be swayed. I didn’t expect to be caught up in what I would have always called clichéd.

I remembered our short meeting, and my spirits soared momentarily.

When I was so sure that we wouldn’t ever be compatible… When I had so many reservations about him and his likes. How was it that this guy was actually close to perfect?

The cynical, antagonistic streak in me was just awaiting some kind twisted secret beyond this whole supposed fairytale.

Honestly, sometimes I was so certain that I was slightly bipolar. There was no other way to explain how fast emotions got me swaying.

There had to be something wrong. There just had to. He just couldn’t be that great. He was a guy, after all.

Nabeela phoned Zakiyya to give her the slightly exaggerated account of the afternoon, and my sister graced us with her presence after Esha that day.

“I had to actually throw a small tantrum to get Riyaadh to bring me. This better be good.”

She looked at my face and sighed, exasperated.

“So? As usual… Still no expectations?” Zakiyya said, sitting down with her slightly protruding tummy.

I shook my head, then nodded. Should I tell her?

“He proposed,” I said, not believing it myself.

“Oh my gosh!” She squealed, covering her mouth.

“Like immediately?” She gasped. “That’s a record, Zay!”

I nodded, still in shock.

He had phoned the very evening to ask what my answer was. Decisiveness in a guy was something that was extremely admirable to me. I always wanted someone who was clear about what they wanted… No nonsense.

The thing was, I just needed to settle my own concerns.

I was quite overwhelmed, to say the least. I could feel the anxiety rising up again. Like an over-boiling kettle.

“Zaks!” I could hear Nabeela saying, like she was in the distance. “She’s doing it again. Emergency!”

Zakiyya giggled, shaking her head, and Nabeela came to sit in front of me, cross-legged, trying to get my concentration on her.

“Breathe, Zaynah,” she said, trying to calm me down. “Breeeeaathe.”

Nabeela was trying to do some kind of knock-off Japanese technique that was way beyond my frame of mind. She held my shoulders down, trying to get me to relax.

It just had adverse effects. I hated people touching me.

“Just get me the damn sugar,” I scowled, pushing her hands off me.

Zakiyya looked at me reprimandingly, wagging her long finger.

“You know, Zaynah,” she started. “You need to start being more civilised. If you’re going to be married, guy don’t like all the drama…”

I zoned out, taking a jelly baby from the packet Nabeela was offering. The sugared sweet melted on my tongue, and I immediately felt calmer.

A realisation suddenly hit me.

This guy wanted to marry me. He actually wanted to marry me.

I really needed to start getting my act together. If he had to find out about the real me, I was sure he would scurry away, horrified.

“Can’t I just go and crawl under the bed?” I asked, sticking out my bottom lip.

“Stop being such a drama queen,” Zakiyya snapped, getting annoyed.

Instead of stopping me from crying, now I was just feeling more emotional. All of this reaponsibility was now mine. I had to make a decision. Whether to give myself or not. I needed support, and Zakiyya was just being so cold.

My lip started trembling, and before I could control it, the tears were flowing. It was all too much for me. I needed a break. I needed someone to just tell me what to do. I needed my Ummi.

“Oh gosh, Zaynah,” Zakiyya said, slightly apologetic. “I’m sorry, okay? But this is not the time for all of this. Let’s just talk, okay?”

I nodded, wiping back the tears. Abbi had come in earlier to tell me to make my Isthikhaarah and decide, but it seemed like such a huge thing to do. The thing that was scaring me was the very fact that I was just so tempting to accept.

“You know, Zaynah,” Nabeela said suddenly, coming to sit next to me. “Remember the ‘investigation’ that I said I was doing?”

I turned to face her, searching her face for tell-tale signs of news.

Was it going to make my whole decision easier? Was there some deep dark secret lurking there? Skeletons in the closet? A girl he made pregnant?

I felt bad for thinking such terrible things, but I always had a feeling that people from that kind of lifestyle had plenty of hidden agendas and unexposed secrets. Was he just the same as them all?

“We-ell,” she started, building up the suspense. “I asked around at school.”

“And?” I probed, all ears.

“A-and…” She said, trailing off, not meeting my eye.

“What?!” Zakiyya almost screamed, frustrated.

I think the pregnancy was really getting to her.

“A friend of mine’s… Her sister knows them,” she said, mysteriously.

“And?” I pressed, glaring at her.

She paused dramatically. I wanted to strangle her.

I wasn’t even sure about Nabeela’s sources, but I still wanted to know.

“She says that they’re very rich,” she said, looking awestruck, and as if it was a deal-breaker. Or deal-maker.

Rich? Was that all she got, out of her whole big investigation?

Zakiyya sighed, clearly exasperated.

She turned to me, glaring.

“Zaynah, it’s like you just looking for flaws. You’re looking for a reason to say no.”

“I’m not-” I started saying, trying to defend myself.

“Think of all my friends I had told you about,” she said, forcing me to reflect. “They’ve been refusing even good proposals, for silly reasons. Every single guy that proposes… There’s always a story. It’s always ‘never right’. And now they’re nearly in their mid-twenties and can’t find any guys. Maulana Umar wouldn’t have brought him if he wasn’t worthy. Getting a good one is like a needle in a haystack. Don’t be stupid.”

She was right. I knew it. Abbi had told me to make my choice, but I knew what he meant.

These days, it was so difficult to find the right type of guy. All the answers I had got from Waseem had seemed perfect, so was there any reason to delay?

I had always wanted to do things the right way… I was always stressing on how I needed someone who would be best for me and my Deen… I had always wanted it… And Abbi seemed so keen.

So, wouldn’t it be hypocritical if I didn’t take the words of our most beloved Nabi’s (SAW) seriously?

He (SAW) said, “When someone with whose religion and character you are satisfied asks for your daughter in marriage, accede to his request. If you do not do so there will be corruption and great evil on the earth.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi.)

And I had seen so often that when the advice was not followed, often, things took a turn for the worse.

In aspiring to do what’s right, I knew that there would be no mistakes.

Yes, there might be hurdles, but I would have to speak to him first to clear up whatever concerns I may have had. I would ask Allah to guide me, and try taking a plunge, for once in my calculated life.

Nabeela noticed my expression, and smiled.

“She thinks he’s gorrr-geous,” she  said, in a sing-song voice. “She wants to lurvvv him… She wants to marrrrrry him…”

I shooshed her, not wanting her silly movie songs at that moment in time. She watched so much of junk, that I was considering telling Abbi to take the laptop away from her. It needed to be thrown into the bin.

At the moment, though, there were bigger fish to fry. This whole marriage thing was a big step for me.

Huge. Iconic. But I wanted to break the barrier between his world and mine.

I wanted to see how the two would mesh, how we would merge as two separate people, united by the Sunnah ceremony that my heart was so inclining towards.

It was an awesome step for me, and a huge and somewhat unsteady bridge to cross. I was apprehensive, but willing to try, hoping for the best.

Expectations. I had them too, and I always will. I wanted to prove that it could be awesome, if I allowed it to. I wanted to convince myself that happy endings might actually exist. That after all, there are some lines that are worth crossing.

Here’s what I know: If you’re willing to take the chance… To take the leap, and reach that place where where there are no limits…

In simple terms: The view from the other side…. Can actually be quite extraordinary.

3 thoughts on “Breaking the Barriers: Zaynah

  1. MashaAllah yet another lovely post sister! Wonderful advice on seeking the correct marriage partner. Soo happy that Zaynah is finally seeing Waseem in a different light! Nikah vibes soon!!! Or will there be more drama???.. Hmmm wonder what waseems dad is going to say…. Can’t wait to find out how this is going to unfold!


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