Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
“A little more to the left.”
I tried to move my arm slightly, engaging and focussing once again, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. These things took time and effort. I needed to concentrate.
“I think that’s right,” Junaid whispered, shifting slowly.
It looked right, from how I saw it…. And it felt right. But I wasn’t sure if I could deliver the final blow. The whole thing seemed a bit.. Terrible. Maybe I would get used to it… Or maybe the Zee was just becoming a softy.
“Dude, now,” he mouthed, tapping me and trying not to shift around too much as he placed the ear-muffs back on.
I had to get into the right zone, so it was a long few moments before I finally placed my finger on the trigger… Getting ready to pull it.
Five… Four… Three…
The usually ear-splitting bang resonated through the air, and I looked up at Junaid with a hint of confusion.
The buck that we had focussed on just a few seconds ago was now on the floor already, completely lifeless. My heart was literally thumping in trepidation. Still.
Yohhhh! I was a Bo-ossss! I did it! I couldn’t believe that I did it… That I actually hunted an animal!
Despite my notions about being a bit of a useless guy, I had actually been able to accomplish something.
I looked up at Junaid with a look that said, “I’m the man”, but he just looked back at me blankly.
“What?!” I asked him, confused.
He was as emotionless as a dead duck… Or should I say… Dead buck?!
Haha. Okay, okay… Jokes aside… Didn’t I deserve some credit?
It was then only that I noticed the voices behind me, and we both turned around to see what seemed like an extended family of Muslim people coming from the top. A chic who was fully-covered and in hunting gear rushed ahead past us, in front of everyone else, toward the animal.
Junaid watched my confusion, finally taking enough pity on me to relate the truth.
“It was her,” he said blankly, shaking his head at me, feigning disappointment.
He moved forward now, grinning to himself while I followed, still in shock.
“That’s crazy shit. That chic?!” I said disbelievingly. “She hunted that thing?”
I was in shock. Like, in complete bewilderment. A girl could hunt?
I looked at the chic in question, clad in full black and army-print, and the only thing that came to my mind was: ISIS, anyone?
Waseem would probably pick my brains for stereotyping.
Despite that, I had to admit, I was impressed. Way impressed. It was way beyond my expectation to ever see a girl shoot like that.
“Who is she?” I asked, unable to control my curiosity.
“They come here often,” he said, trekking down the path and taking a detour. “Your sister-in-law’s connection.”
I was about to ask him which sister-in-law, but we were distracted by a few other people who were making their way through. These hunting grounds seemed quite popular, and they weren’t even that far a drive from home. I didn’t think that I would ever be in favour of the whole ‘killing animals as a sport’, but the whole thing was really civilised and controlled. Surprisingly.
And of course, I was all for conservation, but Junaid had made it clear that he only hunted certain animals that he could eat, as per Islamic law. Islam forbids any other type, and didn’t allow trophy hunting for what people call ‘conservation purposes’, because the animal was just basically a prize.
And though I was really sceptical about it, it was actually okay and also a great way to have some Halaal fun.
I had decided that I needed some time to cool off, since I had a free Sunday. From Waseem to my own stuff…. Then Dad’s plotting against us and my messed up life…
So much had happened during that time that I felt a driving force urging me to just take it easy. While I cooled off, I was actually blissfully unaware of anything else. It was a form of escaping a little bit of reality that I refused to think if just yet. As I sat there and watched the ISIS chic, I felt like I could just temporarily forget everything that I was trying so hard to.
“Stop staring, bru,” Junaid said softly, as we sat on a rocky surface nearly. He took out a bottle of water and offered it to me.
I looked away from the chic, shaking my head at myself.
“Boss, I dunno why you even waste your time on me,” I said guiltily. I didn’t even realise.
Any opportunity to indulge in sin always got me caught up. Moreso, after Dad had it out with me the previous week, I felt like I was on just scraping along. The attractive force to chics was like something that was just waiting to be released. I would think, after last week’s news, I would have learnt my lesson.
“I’m worse, bru,” Junaid said, trying to offer some comfort. “You have no idea.”
I doubted that. Junaid always seemed like he was so much in control. I wasn’t even sure how he had ever become someone who I could socialise with… Who I thought I could actually relate to.
I thought back to those dark days when I had first met him, wondering why he ever decided to hang out with us. I mean, he always seemed like he was decent… So why did he bother with me and my screwed-up crowd?
“When I first met you,” I asked, voicing my thoughts. “Why were you even there?”
“At the club?” He asked, and I knew that he remembered clearly
I glanced at him, nodding. He smirked.
“I was looking for a way in,” he said casually. “That’s what I do. I gotta assume their position. It doesn’t work to look down on anyone. So I make friends with the owes who may be slightly off-track, make effort on them, and see if Allah chooses to guide them.”
It seemed so simple… But it was the most selfless and awesome thing I’ve heard in ages.
I mean, obviously, it was through my Lord’s mercy that I was saved, but I could never underestimate the effort. It was what had brought me so far from where I was… It had dragged me out from the storm… Making me realise how off-base my whole life had previously been.
I had finally felt free, as I glimpsed what I had been missing all this time. Awareness of Deen was like seeing a light that had been blocked off all this while.
“So, you’ve done it before?” I asked, kind of enthralled. “How old are you?”
I had a feeling he was a few years older… And this had become something of a job.
“A few years now,” was all he said, and he got up again, closing the topic.
I wanted to ask him more because there was so much on my mind now that we had got talking about the past.
And although it was a reminder of the mercy that was literally showered on me, my heart sank because my reality was knocking me down… I was caught up in my own hassles until I realised that all it was, was a test.
And alhough I had been trying so hard to forget… The news that had been bringing me down came back to me at that very moment. It was like a kick in the back… Or a punch in the stomach…. Or both of those at once.
A reminder that after being as corrupt as I was, obviously, I could never escape unscathed.
“Allah is great,” he said, right on cue, as if reminding me, after we trudged along for a few minutes.”You’ve come a long way.”
It was ironic, because now, more than ever before, I no longer felt that way.
I wanted to tell him that he was wrong. I didn’t feel like I had come that far anymore. The truth was… I felt like I was going backwards, ever since the big episode with Dad. I felt like my life was a spectator sport, and the drama was just about unfolding.
As everything came down on me, I had lost my swag, and the energy that I always had. I felt isolated, not letting anyone in on what had been the worst news possible for me at that time. I was weak because I let it break me and I had forgotten the truth…
That obviously, nothing occurs in this Universe accidentally, without the will and power of the One who controls it all.
“And whatever calamity befalls you, it is due to your own doings and Allah forgives many of your shortcomings.” (Holy Qur’an: 42:30.)
And because my sins were literally unending, I had forgotten that it could have been so much worse… That this one test was merely just a test… And that my life could have been completely ruined.
I had forgotten that there will be a way out, but focussed on the fact that I had brought this upon myself, and why it had happened. How often we get caught up in the why’s and how’s and if only’s..
I mentally back-tracked, once again re-living those moments when it all came crashing down. The night after Waseem’s function, when my mother’s tears shook me to such an extent that I knew that I had to face my father. There was no escape, like there would be none in the hereafter. I even pictured myself having to have to account for my every action as I walked up the stairs that day, imagining that I was going to be doomed both in this world and after.
I couldn’t imagine the final account, but for then, I faced the music, knowing that I would have to, either way. I knew that my father would be angry, but I had no idea how angry he was until I got there.
This time, it was all me.
Waseem’s mess-up had nothing on mine because it did nothing to directly affect his business… To sabotage his deals. What I had done was putting his exhorbitant incomes at risk. There was no escape from the hole I had dug in my past.
I knew I was becoming something of a depression case, but the news broke me, just like it had him. I had failed… I had messed up. I had caused so much of turbulence in his usually prosperous business world, because I was the reason that a wedding which was probably just another business deal, was becoming a spectacle that the whole town was speaking about.
I had caused the conflict, and initiated the doubt. And now, their whole administration had become a joke because ‘Cassim’s son’ (once again) couldn’t be man enough to step up to what he had done.
The ammunition my Dad had on me was too serious. I had to either be whatever he needed me to, or I knew I would have no-one else to sort me out and stand up for me.
And don’t get me wrong, I know it could have been worse. I deserved much more for all the sins I had comitted, but I couldn’t help thinking…
If only I knew then… If only I knew now… Everything might have been different.
Everything might have been easier… Everything could have gone the way I had planned.
If only I knew then… Maybe I could have made it okay, even in the eyes of my Lord. Maybe I could have taken responsibility, or even built on the opportunity…
Maybe… Just maybe, I could have actually done justice of myself to be worthy of what she wanted me to be… And maybe she might have taken a second look at me back then, and realised…
Instead of just being ‘the father’, maybe Zee could actually have been a Dad.