Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Human beings are slaves to different things. Some are enslaved to money. Some have enslaved our hearts to other people. We love them as we should only love our Creator. Some of us are enslaved to status or to our careers. Some of us are just slaves to our desires. We just do what we feel, with no regard for consequence. With no regard for any sort of penalty, or reprimand.
At times, a sometimes putrid thought may exist in our mind, that we don’t act on, but still lurks within. It exists somewhere within the mind, and we keep warding it off in an effort for it to just completely disappear. But Shaytaan is brilliant in his deception. He will see the opportunity to blow it up. Shaytaan uses his tactics to make it appear so alluring. And then, you give in. You give up. You just snap.
And although my behavior was atrocious, I didn’t care.
At that very moment, I didn’t care. I just needed to free myself. My inner being. My soul, from the burden I had been carrying. My heart was in my throat too as I lunged, knowing very well what this may bring and very well how serious this can be.
But I didn’t care.
By now, the stubborn and callous nature I had developed had become very much an unchangable part of me. It was hard for a leopard like me to change its spots. And a leopard was the right word for me at that moment, as I knocked Hannah over with a swift force, wanting to inflict as much harm as I possibly could, with the least effort.
The voice was loud and the tone was abrupt. I halted in mid attack as my mind adjusted to the reality again, realizing that this was never going to end well for me anyway. I might as well do what I intended to.
“Khawlah!” another voice screeched. “Stop!”
My teeth sunk into the pinkish flesh of Hannah’s upper arm, and a piercing scream escaped from her mouth as I unclenched my jaw, knowing that she would only feel the full effect in a few seconds.
Served her right, the little crybaby, I thought to myself as she started to bawl like a baby.
I could feel the burning scrapes of her finger nails that had dug into my neck and I knew that a clump of my hair had probably been pulled out. I wasn’t unscathed. But I didn’t care.
I allowed the firm hands that hoisted me up from behind me to pull me away, knowing that it wasn’t the end. Knowing that this would be the unfinished business that I would somehow find a reason to finish.
“Take her to her room,” I heard Aunty Nas tell Aunty Agnus as she bent over Hannah, examining the marks on her darling daughter.
“And leave her there,” she completed abruptly, glancing backward at me with disdain.
“Why Khawlah?” Aunty Agnus was saying in her half English, as she took me up to my room. “Why you must hurt the girl? She not trouble you. Leave her alone.”
I stared ahead blankly as we entered the room.
I had to see Khalid. He would be coming home anytime now.
I couldn’t go now, though. I knew Aunty Nas would be looking for me. I would be in deep trouble if I disappeared after the whole escapade. For the first time, I regretted being so impulsive.
Zuleikha stood next to us both silently, not saying a word. I had no idea what she was thinking or why she said nothing. The silence was deafening.
“What?” I said to her angrily when Aunty Agnus left. “Why are you not talking?”
She looked at me and shook her head, biting her lip and breathing in slowly, unsure of how to say what she wanted to.
“I know this is hard, Khawlah,” she started, and I could see her thinking hard about her next words. “But this is our life now and this is how our home has become. You just can’t behave like that all the time. You will make it hard for us all.”
My eyes flashed angrily at her now, annoyed that she was making this about her. It was true, but how dare she make this about them?
That horrible girl started with me. She took my stuff. She stole my things.
“Did you even see her stupid doll house?” I screamed, appalled at Zuleikha’s callousness. I lowered my voice.
“That’s our furniture,” I said icily. “Mama gave us. And she stole it.”
I could tell that Zuleikha knew about the furniture way before I did from her indifferent attitude. It made me even more annoyed. So she knew and she didn’t even care? She just let this irritating girl get away with whatever she wanted? I really hated her now.
I turned my head away from Zuleikha, appalled at her attitude. She didn’t care. She probably liked Hannah. Maybe because she was more girly than me. Maybe she preferred her to me because she wasn’t all rough and rude like I was.
I sat at the edge of my bed with my arms crossed, ignoring her for the rest of the afternoon. Aunty Nas came to check on me, but I knew it was only to check if I hadn’t disappeared.
If it wasn’t for the fear of disappointing my father again, I would have gone against the rules. I wouldn’t have listened. I would have gone to see Khalid.
But for a child, security was gold. The only adult who truly loved me depended on me to just be good. And I had let him down.
The punishmnet was long and hard. I remembered those me feelings of remorse when I saw the look of utter defeat in Abbas eyes that night. It was like he was trying so hard to prove everyone wrong, and now, he had failed. Failed to prove himself. Failed to be the best father. And failed his own expectations in the process.
“But I don’t understand why she would do that,” Abba was saying, while I pretended to be asleep that night. “She’s not usually so…. wild…”
”Well, the evidence is there, Nazeer!” Aunty Nas said, raising her voice. “She literally threw herself on top of Hannah and bit her like an animal. Hannah is traumatized. I don’t know if she will ever forget this. I’m sending her away for a while. You need to decide what to do with your daughter. ”
Abba said nothing for a while as he stood there at the door and watched me. He came a little closer to the bed and I could feel his warm hand on my back, before he quickly withdrew it and headed out again.
”Khawlah will be punished,” Abba finally said, sighing as he closed the room door. “She’ll be grounded. She must stay in her room except for meals and…”
That was the last part I heard. Their voices faded as the walked down the passage, and my own trembling heart seemed to soothe itself as I heard them going into the main room.
The week went by slowly and painfully. A week of grounding was horrible. I had never been grounded before. The worst part was not being able to see my friend. I missed him terribly.
I paced the house aimlessly, looking for things to do. Aunty Nas would see me and turn her face away, but I didn’t care about her. Abba would look at me pitifully when he would come home. As for Hannah, she went to her father for a few days. My heart soared when I heard the good news, knowing that at least one good thing had come out of my behavior. I wasn’t proud of it but I was definitely glad that she was gone.
And then of course there were moments when I felt like the loneliest little girl in the world. It would eat me up from within as the emotions of inadequacy would brew, bruising my inner soul. My heart would feel like an empty vessel and just existing would make me feel lost. I couldn’t explain it at that time, but whenever those feelings would engulf me, and the darkness would take over, I would simply get into bed, cover myself, and remember Mama telling me my favourite story.
Her whimsical voice. Her soft skin. Her perfumey scent.
And then of course, I would remember what Khalid had told me when Mama had died. He was feeling so sorry for me that day. He was trying everything to get me to join in the fun he was having but nothing worked. Finally, he came and sat next to me, with a knowing look on his face. His steely eyes were serious.
“Whenever you feel sad, Khawlah, remember this one thing,”
I nodded, eager to hear the remedy.
“Promise me Khawlah,” he said, looking so serious. “Promise me you will.”
I nodded, desperate to know now. It sounded like the best-kept secret.
”Just picture it,” he said simply. “Jannah. Where there’s no saying no. Where we can play forever… and we never have to grow old. Where the yummiest things will be our food. Where we can pick whatever flowers we want, Khawlah, and Ummi won’t scold. And where your Mama is, Khawlah. Think of Jannah, Khawlah. Think of Jannah and you can never be sad.”
And so, I thought. Those moments when I just wanted to escape reality and be somewhere else became a refuge for me as I picture my Jannah. I would drift away into the sweetest dreams, sometimes even wishing I would never awake.
As for Yunus, I could tell that he missed me a lot. He would go and play but would always return quickly, already bored with himself because he never knew how to make up his own games. He relied on me to entertain him, and it had always been that way. I was actually glad that he needed me. It made me feel a little better, and became my comfort in the darkest of times.
It was particular day in the middle of the week that I noticed he was gone for an extended amount of time. Worry consumed me as I thought of all sorts of things happening to my baby brother. I kept on going to the windows to check on him but Yunus was nowhere in sight.
I lay in my bed and escaped momentarily to my dream land, hoping when I would wake up he would be back. I opened my eyes after few seconds, feeling like someone was watching me. Was Hannah back and I didn’t even know?
I shot up, feeling the familiar raging within me. It subsided almost immediately as I saw Yunus sitting on the opposite bed, watching me carefully.
“Where were you?!” I hissed, giving him the stormiest look an eight-year-old elder sister could manage. How dare he leave me here alone for so long?
He shifted nervously on the bed, and I could just tell that he was itching to say something important.
”Khawlah, you have to come!” He blurted out, and immediately widened his eyes as he said it.
“Why?” I scowled, not impressed.
“It’s that house,” he said, immediately looking worried. “The purple one.”
I sucked in my breath, and widened my own eyes as he spoke, explaining to me the long events of the day. I didn’t realize he was gone for so long until he recounted the entire story.
The purple house. It was the house that lay almost exactly in the middle of our house and Khalid’s, and it wore tiny broken shutters and a dilapidated door. It’s walls were peeling and discolored, and it’s pickety fence was futile and rotting. I had once dared Khalid to go in but he quickly diverted the topic, knowing that he would never attempt it. I didn’t want to either. I wasn’t scared of much but this house was definitely worthy of being my weakness.
We would cross the road whenever we would pass it. I saw others do it too.
It was ‘The haunted house’.
Now, at our tender age, we didn’t know much about parallel universes or what existed beyond our knowledge, but Khalid had made it a favourite pastime of his to tgell us scary stories that he had heard from his friends or cousins. We knew about Jinn and that they could be bad. We also knew about Shaytaan.
But beyond the shallow understanding of an eight-year-old, we could never comprehend.
We just knew that something weird was happening there. We never knew what it could be.
“Khawlah, are you listening?” Yunus half shouted, breaking into my thoughts.
I nodded eagerly, waiting for more. This was an emergency. From what I understood, it had to do with that house, and I had to get there. This was a call for the brave. For the too tough for their own good. It was a calling that I needed to get out of this house with the best excuse ever. No-one can dispute the importance of this.
This was the most thrilling, yet terrifying news for an eight-year-old in captivity.
“We have to go look for him!” He exclaimed, worry filling his eyes. “He went inside to fetch his cricket ball… and he never came out!”
Masha Allah keep up the good writing🤗💙❤
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JazakAllah sis 🌸
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Ma sha Allah
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Uh oh indeed…
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