Battles and Boundaries: Zaynah

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

“What are they doing here?’ Waseem asked, narrowing his eyes, sounding like he wasn’t very pleased.

I turned to look at him, and he immediately changed his expression.

“I meant….” he started, slightly apologetic. “It’s just a bit late.”

It might have been late, but Nabeela was welcome here at any time. She was like a sister, and though I knew why she had come, I was surprised that Raees had brought her so late.

I didn’t have to say anything to Waseem. He wisely kept his mouth closed. I was glad.

“Jelly baby?” He said sweetly, offering me the open packet that he kept in his car. It was clearly a cover-up.

I pursed my lips tightly, not meeting his eye. It was our first ‘almost argument’ and I found myself feeling grateful that we didn’t argue about much.

I kept a straight face, not relenting, but grabbed a few anyway. The stash in my room was low. Actually, come to think of it… Everything in the house was low.

I looked at our house as I knew it, realisation  dawning, and I felt that familiar sinking feeling again.

I had forgotten.

Coming home now, I expected to walk in and find Abbi sitting on his favourite couch, reading his favourite section of the newspaper with a cup of tea near his legs. I longed for his tender smile, as he would watch us play silly games, almost like we were little kids again.

And now, as I stepped off the car, my heart yearned to see his face peeping out to watch us come in, like he always would when we would come home.

But it would never happen again.

That was the hardest part about someone dying.

Things would never be how they were. Things will just never be the same.

“At times,” Nabeela said, as we stepped into the entrance hall. “I still can’t believe he’s gone.”

Her voice echoed and the house felt even more empty than a few hours ago. Well, it was virtually bare. Tomorrow I would leave. Waseem said he had found the perfect place for us, and though I was excited to see what lay in the future, a cloud loomed ahead.

Waseem was my husband, but he was still new for me. Knowing that he was the only person I could consider as my true family, was a huge responsibility. Although Zakiyya was around, with the new baby almost here, I felt slightly at a loss. She had her life to worry about, and I had mine.

“You’ll back early?” Nabeela asked, after we settled in and I put the kettle on.

I could see where she was going with the question, but she didn’t know what exactly to ask. Besides that, Waseem was still hovering around. I gestured to him discreetly to take Raees and sit in the lounge.

He eventually obliged, and I could immediately see the relief on Nabeela’s face.

“We left early,” I said, answering Nabeela’s question. “Too much of mixing… Waseem walked out.”

Even though the function was supposed to be ‘separate’, it was a bit disturbing for me that men kept coming into the ladies’ side. People had seemed shocked that Waseem was leaving his own brother’s function, but what’s wrong was wrong… No matter who and how many people were involved. The thing was, with pleasing people, you shouldn’t dare to displease Allah.

I wondered if his parents would rattle him about causing a scene. I shrugged my shoulders, not bothered either way. The function was annoying me anyway. Too extravagant. It made me feel sick.

“Is she pretty?” Nabeela asked, looking hopeful.

I looked at her with a small smile, not knowing what to say. I knew exactly why Nabeela was here and why she was asking me all these questions. I just didn’t know what to say to her. If I had any idea before, I would have stopped her from having any hopes whatsoever… But Nabeela was a dreamer. How can you crush a teenage girl caught up in her own little world?

To tell her that she was probably getting carried away would probably just push her away. After opening up and telling me about her innermost feelings, how could I go all hectic on her? I had to find a more diplomatic method.

“Does it really matter?” I asked her, looking her in the eye. “He made his choice. Why don’t you just make Du’aa that they are happy?”

I wasn’t even sure if she would understand this. I just had the hope that she could come to terms with the fact that sometimes, Allah plans things in a way that is in our best interest. Sometimes we know, and the signs are obvious… But at other times, it’s so difficult to see.

Allah, the Almighty says,which means,
“And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (AI-Baqarah, 2:216)

Only Allah knows the true reality of every situation.

A Mu’min should simply ask his Lord to choose good for him and make him pleased with His choice, for that indeed, would be the best ending. When a person leaves all his affairs to his Lord, and is satisfied with His choice for him, Allah will support him by relieving all his burdens and freeing his heart.

I just hoped that all of this was bringing her closer to Allah, and she was using the time away for her benefit…. To free herself from everything that had been bringing her down.

But her next words caught me completely unaware.

“I love him.”

I closed my eyes for a split second, processing the words. She loved him? Did she even understand what she was saying?

To me, she was still that 6-year-old playing with her favourite doll. And now she was claiming to love a man who was married.

“You need to get over him,” I said sternly, knowing that softness would get us nowhere.

What did she want me to say? Go for it?

There were certain circumstances where we no longer had to worry about being all tolerant and patient. Right now, I knew was one of them.

And I was all for being accommodating, but when it came to breaking the laws of Allah, I knew there was zero tolerance. Right here is where I drew the line.

I couldn’t be in a conversation like this. It was wrong.

I busied myself with making the tea, but it wasn’t long before I heard a slightly muffled sound coming from behind me.

I stopped pouring the tea, and immediately turned around to see my poor cousin sobbing her heart out from behind her hands. She was trying so hard to conceal it, but it wasn’t working very well. I reached for a few tissues to give her, only to find that the box was empty.

Shoot. And I hadn’t bought more because we weren’t supposed to be staying here.

Poor Nabeela was scrounging around with her Abaya sleeves, trying unsuccessfully to wipe all her snot and tears. I wanted to actually laugh at how ridiculous she looked, but realised that it would probably be really rude to disregard her emotions.

Now, I wasn’t going to go around the house looking for a tissue. I knew we didn’t have any. I kept a straight face and tossed her a used dish cloth, only to be thrown completely off-guard when she grabbed it and simultaneously let out a huge snort.

Yes, a snort.

And then, I just couldn’t hold it in any more.

I burst out laughing, trying to conceal it at first, until I finally saw our ice-breaker. A tiny smile appearing amidst the tears she had been relentlessly shedding. A ray of light emerging from the darkness that she was caught in.

The smile turned into a giggle as she slowly realised what I was laughing about.

“A dish cloth, Zay?” she muffled, in between breaths, as she half hiccuped and giggled at the same time. “Really?!”

I giggled some more, and so did she. It was a moment I could never forget. So enlightening, that we both forgot everything that was bringing us down till now. We had simply let every mishap and downfall slide under the rug, because we had realised that it really wasn’t worth worrying about any of it.

This was where the road had lead us, and this was where the beginning of something new will begin. There was no use clinging onto old memories, emotions and sentiments, because how would that ever help us in gaining new ones? It was time for us both to let go of everything that we had been holding on to… Defeat that battle with our conscience, and to release it all and move forward to a new beginning.

It was just what we needed. We were still giggling, though not as hard, when Waseem came in.

I immediately assumed he had come to check on the tea.

“Sorry!” I said guiltily, immediately getting up again. “I got distracted.”

“Listen, love,” he said, and I immediately looked up at him.

His usually cheerful eyes were filled with worry.

“What’s going on?” I asked, immediately alerted.

Something was wrong. The seconds were feeling like hours. It seemed like forever before he answered me.

“It’s my father,” he finally said, rubbing his temples. “He’s had a terrible accident.”

New Sunnah: If you’re feeling down… Smiling is a simple, inexpensive act that helps lift your mood and make you feel better. Our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was seen frequently doing it. So,come on people,  let’s follow along this great Sunnah!

Consciously take note of your usual facial expression: Is your normal expression a happy one or do you always appear sad, exhausted, preoccupied or frustrated? It will take a bit of regular effort, but you can cut down on the frowning, smile more often and spread joy and peace around you as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed.

Click to read more:

Ibn Jaz reports: “I have not seen anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).”[Tirmidhi]




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