Strange Behaviour

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Khawlah: One year later


The voice was mild, but still piercing. I frowned as I heard my name being called, half annoyed and half anxious about the repercussions it may bring. I didn’t move.


Her voice changed it’s tone as it got louder. A bit like a shrill bell ringing. Aunty Nas was sitting on the couch with her head back and her legs up, peering at me expectantly as I approached. I could see her manicured toes. I scowled.

“Don’t do that to your face,” she spat, clearly irritated. “You look like a devil.”

I frowned at her, wondering why she called me to her. I didn’t want to hear what she had to say. I don’t know why she just didn’t go away. I supposed she wanted to be there because my father stayed with us.

Sometimes I wished that he’d also go and stay somewhere else, so I wouldn’t have to look at this annoying woman.

I put my hands on my hips and pursed my lips, waiting for her to talk. She raised her shaped eyebrows and looked at me up and down.

“You’re filthy.”

She stared at me, not impressed by my dressing. Of course, I wore my oldest jeans and my white sand shoes. We had just finished playing outside. Of course we would be dirty.

I rolled my eyes as I turned around, eager to escape her gaze.

The woman was strange and she made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t think it was possible for me to even feel more weird, but Aunty Nas always had a way to make a situation worse.

“Were you playing with that boy again?” she said suddenly, causing me to stop and look at her again.

If I was rude I knew Abba wouldnt be happy. I had to be tolerant, as hard as it was.

“That boy,” I said, turning and looking at her again, with a hint of irritation in my voice. “He has a name.”

“Don’t you think you’re getting a little too old for all these boy games?” she asked, looking at me condescendingly. She thought for a few seconds before she continued, in a sing-song voice.

“Unless you’ll are playing other games…”

She was silent for a few seconds, and then suddenly burst into shrieks of uncontrolled laughter. It was more like a vicious cackle.

At that moment, I honestly doubted that this woman had even an iota of sanity within her. She was that crazy. I wasn’t even sure what she was talking about.

For all I knew, she was probably comparing me to her Hannah who acted like she was 21 insead of just 11.

WIth her posh accent, double straightened hair and cherry lip gloss, that girl was really something. My friend Faaiza from school didn’t even believe that she was our age. Sometimes I felt the same way.

Aunty Nas’s strong perfume was toxic. Abba was doing really well in business and she didn’t miss out.  This woman made sure she had the latest of everything, and I could just tell it was expensive  stuff.

I shook my head and started backing out of the room.

Little did my step mother know, Khalid barely played with us any more. It was mostly Yunus and I, and sometimes one of his friends who lived close by.

What was more strange was the fact that Khalid’s mother would seem happy about it. She said we were always welcome there, even if we wanted to play in the garden, but many a time, Khalid wouldn’t join us. When I finally did see him a few days back, his behaviour was so odd that I actually wished he would go back to his house. He was acting so strange.

I shook my head to myself as I walked up the stairs to my room, taking off the takkies I had been wearing. My cap was fading from the rays of the sun hitting on it, and my arms were extremely tanned. I could see that summer was not far off, and inwardly I was delighted. The holidays were my favourite part of the year.

Yunus was still outside with his friend, and I enjoyed the peace inside as I lay back and took out my favourite book. It was a book that Khalid’s Mummy had gifted me last year, about a little girl who had lost her mama. It was such a perfect gift for a girl like me, because I could relate so well. The most important lesson was that in the end, she found Allah.

I had come a long way from where I had been… but every time I read it, I wanted to be closer to my Creator. I remembered Mama saying that He was always the most important. No matter what. No matter who. He was always there. He remained.

When they slept, He was awake. When they broke, He carried you. When no one else was there, He was. He remained. He always remains. Remember that always, Khawlah. Remember that. Remember Who you owe everything to. 

I jumped out of my bed, not wanting to dwell any longer. I had to show it too.

”Yunus!” I screamed out the window. “It’s nearly dark. You have to come in!”

It was Maghrib time. The time when our crazy household would somehow come to a temporary standstill, and we would all pray.

At least one prayer a day for now, Mama would say when I was six. And though I tried to read more as I got older, I never fully understood the importance of it. About how I should never miss even a single one. About how it cleanses your heart and soul too, when you pray.

Khalid had taught me a lot of what I knew, but how I wished I had a mother to help me with the important things. Zuleikha was so scarce these days.

The holiday, as always whizzed by, but the warm summer days left us with unforgettable memories. Abba had taken us away for a few days, and we were ecstatic at the break without my step mother.

I wasn’t sure what he told her but when we returned, she didn’t look very pleased. I would hear the arguments, but I didn’t want to dwell on it. Abba knew that we weren’t thrilled with Aunty Nas and he was just trying to keep the peace.

Once again, towards the latter part of the holiday as I heard an argument escalate, I escaped through the back door, entering Khalid’s garden gate with a sunken heart. She said such ugly words sometimes.

I loved my Abba but I didn’t like to see him unhappy. I feared that we were making his life hard. Was all this our fault? 

I grabbed a garden tool from the shed, delving into the moist sand and letting the fingers of my other hand revile in its beauty. I fell in love with nature all over again as I sat there. I was thrilled by the fact that the soil was so dark and wet. There was so much of opportunity. So much of potential. It gave me so much of hope.


I looked up, a little startled by the intrusion. The voice sounded a bit different, but I still knew it.


I looked up at him, frowning slightly as I tried to guard my gaze from the afternoon sun. He realised, and came around to the other side of me, smiling slightly as he bent down, letting his own hands toil with the topsoil. He knew that it was the perfect planting opportunity too.

“You have any seeds?” I asked him, tucking into the sand with fervour, and enjoying every bit.

He shrugged.

“Maybe in the shed,” he said in his croaky voice, but he didn’t move to fetch them. I frowned.

I was doing all the work here, couldn’t he at least get something? Why did he even come here?

I stood up forcefully, dropping the tool on the ground with a clank. I wanted to whack him on the head with the spade, but I restrained myself.

Pushing the door of the garden room, I grabbed a pack of seeds from the shelf and tore them open. I ran back and sprinkled some in the hole I had dug, reaching out to grab the garden tool again.

Khalid was thinking along the same lines as me, and also extended his hand at the same time to take the spade. I didn’t think much of it then but as I tightened my grip to show him whose boss, Khalid pulled his hand back in haste, almost as if he had been stung. It was so strange, and as I turned to him with a questioning look, I saw him shake his head and swallow hard, almost as if he was scared.

“Khalid, what is wrong with you?!” I blurted out, studying him for the first time in weeks.

I noticed tiny hairs above his lip, and his facial features had become more pronounced. His eyes were even more cat-like than they had previously been, and I could definitely see a change in his height. Khalid wasn’t Khalid.

“Sorry,” he muttered, almost under his breath. He frowned slightly, fiddling with his fingers as if he was nervous.

Nervous. This was so strange. Why on earth would he be nervous?

“I need to tell you something Khawlah,” he started. I looked back at him, trying to be neutral. I knew something was building up. What was this big secret that he couldn’t divulge for so long?

“But please, Khawlah,” he continued. “I know I should have told you long ago. Please don’t be angry.”



4 thoughts on “Strange Behaviour

    • Shukran sis… good hearing from u. 🌷
      I’m so sorry for the delay, readers. We have had a death of a close family member so it’s been a little hectic, emotionally too. InshaAllah will post soon.


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