Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Happy Endings. Everyone loves them.
It’s part of the reason why people get so caught up in movies and novels. The motivation and inspiration for that bubbly, elated and euphoric feeling that accompanies the moment when everything is just so damn perfect.
And yes, I hoped upon hope that somehow, the way out here could be something way beyond my wildest expectations. I wished and dreamed with all my might that somehow, the doctors were wrong, and all this was just going to be perfectly fine. I had hope, and I had faith, but most of all, I knew that whatever had to happen, with the grace of the One who Controls it all, it would be okay.
“It’s gonna be okay,” I said to myself as I sped up the stairs to the unit Farah was at.
The words were like a mantra in my head, just as it was the day Waseem said them to me. I couldn’t help but believe them now, as I scanned the board for Farah’s name, not wanting to waste any time. It was going to be okay. In the end, it always is.
“You’re here,” she said as I sped in, and I looked at her with a small smile.
I could hear the relief in her voice, and visibly see it in her expression.
I nodded, swallowing hard. I could see the doctor prodding her stomach, and my chest tightened at the very prospect of what could happen. This was way beyond what I ever thought I could handle, but somehow, I was dealing with the situation in the best way I could.
“Is everything okay?” I asked, my voice fairly unsteady. It was a question I had become accustomed to asking, but I always dreaded the answer.
The doctor looked up at me, and I could already see the apprehension in her expression.
“We’re going to have to do a caesar today,” she said blandly. “It’s a little early, but it’s the safest option for them both. Whether the baby survives…”
I blinked and sucked in my breath, because the enormity of this just hit me.
Today was the day. Today was probably the biggest day of my life, and I didn’t even know if I was ready for it. The worst part was that we didn’t even know what to expect. With no brain activity, as the doctors predicted, there was a very little chance of survival, but of course, we weren’t in control of that.
Cigarette. I needed a cigarette.
I knew that it was my body’s way of dealing with stress right now, but there really was no time my childish cravings. I had to man up.
They prepared her for the operation in record time, and I couldn’t be anywhere but by her side. If I wanted to prove just how much I had really changed, I knew that I had to be there for her right now.
Time was in fast forward as they wheeled her in, and I couldn’t even watch as they injected her amidst her contracting pain, and placed a sheet in front. I held her shaking hand with all the strength I could muster, because right now, it felt like even I had none.
Too fast. It was just happening too fast.
My palms were sweaty and my legs were wobbly, and as I bounced up and down in pure agony, I awaited the moment that every first-time parent does. I waited for the announcement, and for the first cry of the infant that I hoped would take over our lives, but with each millisecond that passed, my hopes were dashed, one by one.
“It’s a boy,” I finally heard, but the voice was stagnant.
I knew what it meant, and I squeezed Farah’s hand a little tighter, not daring to look down.
There was no cry. Just a tiny muffle that gave me the tiniest tinge of hope, and I held my breath in anticipation.
“Go,” Farah whispered finally, letting go of me, and I eventually got the guts to look at my wife.
Tears. Maybe of hope, or maybe it was just plain despair. The tears were relentlessly streaming down her cheek as her face turned to the right, and her other hand was hastily wiping them away.
I blinked back my own emotions, not sure of anything any more. The whole thing just caught me so unawares, that I wasn’t sure whether to leave her, or look at my son before they took him away for examination.
“Go,” she said again, and I immediately got up, trembling legs and all, to catch up on what I had missed all this time.
The two doctors were talking in muffled voices as I approached, and they both moved aside as they saw me coming near, trying to explain in some kind of hectic terminology what was going on.
“Basically, he’s alive,” the paediatrician said in simple terms.
My spirits momentarily lifted.
“But not stable.”
And then they plummeted all the way back down again.
I knew that I would have to see the little guy to believe it, and I immediately looked beyond the contraptions they had on the table to see the tiniest baby I had ever seen, wrapped and laying on the blanket they had placed underneath. His miniature eyes were closed, but his little chest was still heaving oh-so-slightly, almost as if it was a battle for him to take a simple breath.
It was like a kick to my system.
Just seeing him made me completely crumble inside. I bit back emotion, wanting to know what they would so with him now.
“We’ll keep him on the tubes,” they said. “In NICU. You can see him anytime.”
And with that, they placed him in a wheely crib thingum and wheeled him away from me. I was torn.
I wanted to stay with Farah, but somehow, paternal instinct was stronger. It was like a driving force that got me to place one foot in front of the other, and drive myself toward the place they were taking him.
It wasn’t far away, but once I got there, I knew that I couldn’t leave his side. He looked so helpless and dependant, that I couldn’t help but tear when I looked at him.
Doctors were sceptical about him making it, but my little guy had already surpassed expectation by living for nearly half an hour. The fluid in his brain was much less than they thought, but it was still there. From his appearance though, our baby looked like any other baby in the unit. He was, obviously, perfect.
This was it, I realised, emotion taking over once again. I couldn’t believe that I had so much of emotion going on right now. It was so unlike Zee.
This was the moment that my life, my role, and my entire existence was supposed to change.
I looked at little man, as I began to call him in my head, immediately realising that we would have to start to think of a name. We didn’t expect this… We didn’t even think so far.
I messaged Farah and we decided on a name, hoping it would inspire our son to be more of the little fighter that we knew that he was.
Hamza. After the Uncle of Nabi (SAW), the Lion of Allah.
And it immediately stuck, and since Farah couldn’t come in independantly to see him, I constantly updated her as I sat there, almost unable to physically remove myself from his side. If I ever felt love before, I knew that it was probably completely futile, compared to this.
This was… Well, this was sublime. It was all encompassing.
My every instinct was to protect him from whatever happened, and to shield him from the harsh reality of the world. I wanted to keep him safe from anything that could ever harm him, or anyone who would ever hurt him. It was a feeling so overwhelming , that I couldn’t shake it off.
The next 24 hours were like a dragged out scene from the one of most dramatic series I’ve watched.
Little Hamza’s lungs were not fully formed, and we almost lost him about five times, as his heartbeat dropped, and then stabilised once again. My brothers both made it in to see him, since my father had no way of getting there to see his first grandchild.
It was a long battle for our fighter, but eventually, our little Hamza breathed the last of his few breaths the following morning, as I sat and watched him struggle with his little life.
Even though we expected it, the shock was something I didn’t anticipate. I was right there, but I could do nothing. I watched my son die, without an inkling of how to counteract everything that this brought.
I held him gently for the first time as they handed him to me, now free of any cords, contraptions, tubes or masks that served as a barrier between us before. He was still warm, but I knew soon, he would be cold, and we would have to let him go completely. Soon, we would lay him down, to return to his Creator.
I placed him down for the last time, and the worst moments lay ahead of me as I trudged to Farah’s ward, knowing what I would have to tell her. It would break her, I knew, but I also knew that part of healing was accepting Allah’s will. I knew that she would have to, eventually see it the way I did.
My heart thudded as I entered and she was already awake, looking at me expectantly, almost as if she knew. It was as if she was expecting it. Maybe mothers just knew.
I swallowed the saliva that gathered in my mouth, completely speechless for the first time in my sordid life. I just couldn’t find the words to break her heart.
And then, of course, she whispered it, almost as if she was afraid to say it loud. As if saying it aloud would somehow make it more real.
“Is he gone?” the last word was almost sucked out of her, as her voice completely broke.
And of course, I couldn’t hold it back any longer, as I nodded just once, blinking furiously to stop myself from being all emo.
There was no need to even say the words because the expression on my face could only mean one thing. She turned her face away immediately, and her chest heaved almost involuntarily as she clenched her fists in agony. There was nothing as I could think of doing, and so I went to sit next to her, hoping to be at least a little bit of a comfort. All I could do was reach out for her hand, because at this time and place, words completely eluded me.
“Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Raji’oon.”
It was she who said it, and along the overwhelming grief consumed me, I felt an immense joy because I knew she understood. And then, grief overcame again for a few minutes as I let myself give into it, knowing that this was probably the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. Worse than losing my car. Worse than breaking my sound system. Worse than even coming down from a high, when I would feel like the whole world was against me.
I eventually had to leave my wife who lay in tears, because I knew that someone needed to sort out the arrangements for Hamza.
Everything was done in record time, and as my family gathered around me after the Janazah and at the cemetery, I waited for the the turbulence within me to finally erupt, but it wasn’t on the cards. Instead, as I lowered the tiny bundle of white into the small pit that had been prepared, my shoulders heaved with grief, as I watched my son leave to his eternal home.
I never thought I would see this day… The day I would bury my own child. I sat on the edge of the grave while they started to fill sand, just pouring out every emotion that I had held back for the past year.
He was gone. In the ground. Never to come back again.
Everything had happened so fast, but now… Now, it was the end. What I thought was the greatest curse in my life had turned out to be the most enormous blessing, and I just couldn’t fathom why it had been snatched away. Grief consumed me until I thought there was no more left, and finally, as a strong arm gripped me from behind, just as suddenly as it began, it all just ceased.
The words of the Du’aa that had been said just moments before came back to remind me, as Waseem repeated the words that had stuck. It was something that only some could comprehend, and now, as I heard them again, like Divine inspiration, I just got it.
“Ya Rabb… We are ignorant. We don’t know why You do what You do… But we only make shukar…. That You blessed us with Imaan.”
And then… Only then, did it all hit me.
As I lifted my heavy body up and allowed myself to be led away, the darkness I was immersed in slowly lifted, and the feelings of doom came to pass.
I didn’t know if it was even right to feel this way, but an unexplainable feeling of immense relief sunk in, and though the guilt plagued me, I couldn’t help but welcome the light amidst the anguish.
Because now, finally, I got it. I got this. It wasn’t a punishment. It wasn’t meant to hurt me and cause me more grief. It was meant to be an ease, and an alleviation. An escape from the pain… And basically, a way out.
“﴿وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجاًوَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لاَ يَحْتَسِبُ﴾”
And whosoever has Taqwa of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out. And He will provide him from where he never could imagine. (Surah At-Talaq: 2/3)
And of course, I knew that now. I knew that sometimes, relief comes in ways we don’t expect. Sometimes, the most painful things are the things that are what we will eventually appreciate. Sometimes, we just don’t understand grief, because we are too caught up in what it does to us.
But when we look beyond the obvious, and read between the lines, then we see what’s true. We see that we have so many blessings, beyond what we can’t comprehend, and we realise what it was all about.
This was life. It moves us, and makes us who we are. It inspires us, and sometimes, through everything that happens, it’s little miracles even change us.
But through it all, only one thing keeps us safe. The belief that beyond it all, Allah is in control and knows exactly what He does… That is what keeps us in check.
Happy Endings. Everyone loves them.
The silver lining… The cherry on the top… The sprinkles on the icing.
They’re awesome, I know.
But undeniably, in real life, there are very few. And there’s a simple reason for that. This world was not created to be that final abode that we are meant to cherish oh-so-lovingly. Our happy ending is meant to be somewhere beyond this meagre life.
As humans, we crave ease, although the path will always have challenges, tests and trials. There will be calamities and hardships, and there will be rain and storms.
But, with Imaan, automatically, you will be given ease within the hardship. You will see the light amidst the gloom. You will remain dry within the refuge of Allah. You will now begin to create your own Jannah, not within this Duniyaa, but within your inner being.
That’s what will keep you safe. That’s what will be your sanctuary. And that, folks, is what will keep you grounded.
Don’t forget our Super Sunnahs!
And ‘Umar ibn Abi Salamah said: I was a young boy in the care of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and my hand used to wander all over the platter (of food). The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to me, “O young boy, say Bismillaah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3576; Muslim, 2022).