The Red Box

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


Nothing happens without purpose.

No move. No change. No transformation. Nothing. Not even broken spirits and shattered hearts.

The thing is, every setback is a sign for us.  A change in the path is a sign for us. A sudden death is a sign for us. Broken hearts, too, are a sign for us.

These are all signals that something has to change.  That the very fact that pain exists, is a pointer to where our attachments lie, and what needs to change.

Emotional pain reminds us that we need to detach. That we may have to break free of the shackles that are binding us to this duniya. And the more this world hurts. And hurts. And hurts. The more it hurts, the more we keep our distance.  The more we move towards the eternal fulfillment.

And the path to the purest fulfillment, though necessary, can be painful too.

“I’m sorry, Khawlah,” Khalid said again, and I looked at him in confusion, not understanding what’s the big deal.

“Papa says he’s sending me to the madrassa two hours from here. I won’t come home very often. And they don’t allow girls there either. He said we shouldn’t play together anymore.”

I cocked my head to one side, not really believing what I was hearing. Khalid was going away? And on top of it all, when he would come back, I wouldn’t be able to see him anymore?

I didn’t understand.

“Papa says we are gone too big now,” he continued, sounding like an recording machine. “And boys and girls are not supposed to be friends.”

I could tell he was just robotically repeating everything his Papa said. I only met his Papa twice before but I already didn’t like him. How dare he take my best friend away from me? 

Khalid was supposed to be my forever friend. I didnt know what the problem was with boys and girls being friends. I wasn’t completely naive at that age. I had heard friends talking and seen the stuff on the TV Aunty Nas watched. Maybe Khalid’s Papa was worried about that?

I felt a funny feeling in my stomach.

“I’m sorry Khawlah,” he said, looking at me now with glazed eyes. He looked sad too. Even though Khalid wasn’t the same, he was still my friend. And I would definitely miss him. This was so … terminal.

There was a voice in the distance. It sounded like his mother but I wasn’t sure.

”I have to go,” Khalid said, shifting around now, his shoulders slumping a little more.

I nodded, because I didn’t know what else to say.

Khalid!” The voice rang out from the back part of the house now, and we knew he was being called back.

“I have to go, but maybe I’ll see you before I leave,” he said hurriedly, shifting his feet and turning around to leave. He paused for a few seconds, and then turned back and pulled something out from under his jacket.

It was a paper bag, and I could see there was something a little hard in it.

“Mummy sent this for you,” he said in his croaky voice, giving me a half, almost apprehensive smile and then turning around again to go back to his home once again.

The packet was slightly warm from being concealed under Khalid’s jacket. I held onto it, keeping it close to my thudding chest, letting its warmth comfort me.

My heart sunk a little lower as I processed everything that happened. The hole in my gut seemed to expand as I covered the seeds I had planted, and located a bottle to fill some water. I loved planting but I wasn’t in the mood anymore.

I trudged back home with a heavy heart, feeling betrayed by life and angry at the world. I had lost my mother. Our father was barely around. And now, the one constant in my life was going to be lost too, forever.

This wasn’t fair. I was only 11. Why did I feel like I had the burdens of the world on my tiny shoulders?

I wished I had some place to bury my fears. At that tender age I didn’t know much about talking to Allah. Mama had always said I could, but I had forgotten her wise words.  I had forgotten that Allah knew every single whisper of my bleeding heart. I had forgotten that a Muslim does not complain to anyone but Allah. I had forgotten where to place my hopes and wishes. I needed someone to remind me that He is always there.

Allah says: ‘Fa Inni Qareebun’

‘Truly, I am near.’ (Holy Quran: 2:186)

I slammed the back door as I entered, making my way up the stairs in a huff. I didn’t even greet Aunty Agnus as she smiled at me, because I was angry at her too. For what reason, I didn’t know. I just wanted to be angry and show it too. Thankfully, Aunty Nas was not there. That would have been the cherry on the top.

“Hey, Khawlah.”

I looked up as I entered my room, and was pleasantly surprised to see my elder sister there, smiling at me with her pretty eyes twinkling.

She looked like she was getting ready to go out. I studied her with curiosity, noticing her slightly smudged eyeliner and her berry coloured lipstick. She wore her scarf in a turban style, with her neck exposed, and I could see her eyebrows were shaped wven from where I stood. Her long nails were painted red in that new nail polish that some girls at school wore. They said it was okay to use when you made Salah. I wasn’t too sure.

Since I had turned 11, somehow I noticed finer details a little more. And although my sister looked pretty, there was just something artificial about her that I was wary about. She gave me a little bit of the feeling that Aunty Nas always did, and a sneaky feeling of judgement crept into my thoughts. Mama wouldn’t have liked how she looked right now. She would have probably made her change.

“Where are you going?” I asked her inquisitively.

She frowned slightly, looking confused.

“Nowhere,” she said, matter-of-fact. “ I just got home. What’s wrong with you?”

She scrutinized my forlorn expression. Her own face brightened and she rushed to her bedside dresser.

“I have something to show you,” she said, looking excited.

She silently removed a red box and left it on the bed, beckoning for me to have a look while she opened it.

We slowly lifted the lid, and I almost gasped as I saw the contents.

It was the red velvet box full of Mama’s jewelery, and  in it was also the little furniture that Hannah had taken all that while ago. My heart swelled with joy as I saw that, reaching out to feel the little pieces of carved wood. It reminded me of Mama.

Zuleikha slapped my hand away and shut the box.

“You can’t take it!” She said, shaking her head crossly. “What if she sees it? Aunty Nas can never know!”

I looked at Zuleikha, confused. Aunty Nas? What does she have to do with this? It belonged to Mama, not her.

”I heard Foi Nani talking to Abba the other day,” Zuleikha said, in a hushed voice. “I think Abba wants Aunty Nas to go.”

I was still confused. Did she mean like forever? Like divorce?

Divorce wasn’t a nice thing. I heard a bout it in madrassa. Allah didn’t like it. I had also heard about it from one of the boys in school. He asked me why my mother didn’t stay with us. He asked if my parents were divorced. I told him to mind his own business.

“Why?” I asked, as if I didn’t know how horrible she was.

Zuleikha shrugged, and used an ugly word as she spoke. It kind of summed up her true feelings on the matter. She didn’t like her. I wasn’t sure if any of us did. Not even Aunty Agnus.

I was still holding the brown paper bag in my hand, and although I was still sad about losing my friend, I was excited about the gift. It was the silver lining.

I sat on my lilac duvet cover and braced myself for the contents of the packet. The lump in my throat was still there, but there was a slightly accelerated anticipation as I tore the bag open, eager to peep inside.

It was at that moment when I heard a shrill shriek from downstairs, and my hands froze.

“It must have been you!”

The voice was ugly, loud and intrusive.

It belonged to Aunty Nas. I didn’t even know she had come. Zuleikha and I looked at each other, wide-eyed with shock.

Both of us were here, so what on earth was going on? I just hoped that she wasn’t fighting with Foi Nani again. That wouldn’t be nice at all.

We raced to the top of the stair, trying to see over the ballistrade, our eyes searching for the recipient of her screams. Aunty Agnus stood at the bottom of the stairs with a fearful look on her face, tears in her eyes and we didn’t envy her.

”You took it, didn’t you?!” She accused her. Her voice was patronizing, her eyes wide with fury and her finger was pointing at her newest target.

Aunty Agnus was shaking her head fiercely. It was a terrible accusation.

No, missus!” she almost cried. “I’m not stealing!”

Aunty Nas’s eyes narrowed as she stared her down, not backing off.

“It was in my cupboard, and now it’s not there!” She shouted, her eyes flashing angrily. She put her hands up, annoyed at the no response she was getting.

Aunty Agnus was silent, but she was trembling.

“You just wait!” She said after a few seconds, her expression changing again. She had a slight smirk on her face, and her arms were crossed over her chest.

“When boss comes, and I tell him,” she said, almost sadistically. “You’ll see. He’ll send you away and you’ll never come back!”

Dear readers,

I am so sorry about the delayed post. Due to a family death I could not get a post together sooner. I will try and post regularly this week. Hope everyone is enjoying the read. InshaAllah it will be beneficial.

Much love

A xx

9 thoughts on “The Red Box

  1. انا الله و انا اليه راجعون
    May Allah Ta’ala grant your family remember the highest stages in Jannah and grant all those left behind sabr jameel…Aameen Thummah Aameen


  2. انا لله وانا.اليه راجعون💔
    Thats soo sad to here….May Allah Ta’ala grant him/her janatul firdous!!
    Jazakallah for still taking out my the time to post💙

    Liked by 2 people

  3. السلام علیکم ورحمة الله وبركاته
    Rereading this story for all its lessons and benefits 👌🏻
    Maaf jst an edit on the ayah : Fa *inni* qareebun

    Liked by 1 person

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