An Extraordinary Heroine


Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem



I said her name softly before I entered our room, not wanting to intrude.

Although it was my room too, I didn’t want to be rude. It was one of the things I had learnt as I matured. Privacy. It was actually an important thing for bigger people.

There was no sound nor any reply from my sister. I pushed the door open slightly, and looked inside the room.

Zuleikha lay on the bed with her head propped up on the pillow, staring blankly at the ceiling above. Her eye didn’t even flicker as I walked in. It was like she was completely oblivious to her surroundings… lost in a world where no-one could reach her.

”Zuleikha, can we talk?”

It was Abba. He had just come up, and stood with his hands stuffed in his pockets at the door to our room. He looked somewhat apologetic, but at the same time, I could see the shame in his eyes. It was a look that my Abba didn’t often wear. He was embarrassed.

I don’t want to talk to you,” Zuleikha retorted, turning around and sinking her head into the pillow.

She turned her flushed face to where I was sitting on my bed and I could see her amber eyes were puffy. Her long hair was open, and a bit dishevelled as she tossed it around trying to avoid eye contact with my father.

”Zuleikha, I’m so sorry, my baby,” Abba said, stepping forward into the room and  looking like he was about to break down.

I was not going to feel sorry for him, I told myself.

Abba used to be my superhero. He was the perfect dad. The best husband. And then he married a woman with a dirty heart who ruined our lives.

He stood just in front of the couch in our room and kind of slumped down into it, almost as if he had no energy to keep himself up. His head fell into his hands as he sat there, witnessing his daughter sobbing into her pillow, knowing that this time, it had gone too far. This time, it was too much.

He looked up. Sympathy was creeping in from somewhere within the boundaries of my hardened heart. Although I didn’t want to, I was feeling sorry for Abba.

He was saying that he had left Aunty Zuleikha two weeks ago at her aunties house, because he wanted a divorce. He didn’t think she’d come back to the house because she was really angry.

”I know it’s been hard,” he said, now to us both as we sat there and spoke. “And I put you’ll through so much after your mother passed away. It was such a hard choice to make for me, but you’ll must understand… she was different then. I thought she will help us. ”

She was different then. She was never nice. But in the first year or so I still gave her a chance. After she twisted my ear and targeted me as a doormat, I wrote her off. I didn’t realize it but I had written Abba off too, the day he pushed aside my concerns and fell into his own world of wealth, power and luxury.

That’s what Aunty Nas did to him, and with all the damage done, it was a little too late for regret.

“I never want to see her face ever again!” Shouted Zuleikha, as she lifted her head up from the pillow. She was completely Infuriated and I didn’t blame her.

Abba just nodded and swallowed.

“Me neither,” he mumbled, looking out the window with a pensive expression.

He played with the threads of his stubble, that had seem to gotten a little longer during the past two weeks.

He seemed… sad. At that moment, he looked a little more like the Abba I remembered before Mama had passed away. With his slightly reserved nature, he had always kept to himself, but he was still the best. Caring, comforting and fun too. He didn’t have big ideas about the world and the things he owned. I missed Abba, even though he was sitting right there.

Without any warning, as I looked again, Abbas head drooped. His shoulders heaved ever so slightly, and were it not for the heavy breathing that accompanied it, I wouldn’t have known.

My ears were alerted as he shook his head, almost to himself, hastily rubbed his face, and looked up. The only evidence that his face wore was a slight glistening in his eyes. He was trying to hide it but I knew. I knew. Abba, my superhero, was human too.

”Dont cry Abba.”

It was my voice that spoke out but I didn’t expect it. It was like my heart cried it out before I could even think.  Although I had always been the strong one, to see someone else crumble before me was something that I couldn’t bare. Seeing Abba in distress was like my very own mountain crumbling before my eyes.

Abba pulled me to him, holding me tight within his outstretched arms. My father’s arms had always been open and strong, but today they seemed insignificant as they clung to me, almost for dear life. He hung onto me and I held him back, feeling slightly awkward but breathing in that familiar scent that I remembered as a child.

It had been months. Months since I had felt the consuming embrace of my dear father.  Months of a cold and pre-occupied father figure that was present in our home. Months that I had felt the warmth of Abba’s engulfing warmth once again. It felt so strange yet so welcome. I wanted to accept it and then lock it in, wishing it would never go away.

“I’m so sorry, so sorry…” Abba cried, still breathing into me, as he held on, his hazel eyes filling with regret once again.

“I don’t know why… what to do… how to stop it…”

Zuleikha’s head shot up, and her swollen eyes open wide as she watched us. She snarled as she said her next words, with not even an ounce of pity within her next sentence.

“Just give a damn divorce and let her overdose. She even got Dada sent to a home. She deserves to die.”

I sucked my breath in as Zuleikha spat out the last word. Dada. I thought Dada had gone to stay at his brothers farm. That’s what he had told us. I missed him.

I wasn’t sure what Zuleikha was saying about overdosing. My heart jumped to my throat as Abba looked at her in shock and then got up.

“I know you are angry, Zuleikha, but that’s not nice.”

”I don’t care,” Zuleikha retorted. “She’s a witch, even when she’s sober.”

“I’m going to sort this out, okay?” He said to her, pleading with her to be easy on him. Pleading with her to just keep it contained a little longer.

All Zuleikha did was exhale tiredly, and roll her eyes. I wasn’t sure who to feel sorry for anymore. This was all so confusing.

Abba ruffled my hair, kissed both of our foreheads and then left us in a hurry. Ahmed and Yunus stood outside the door, almost in anticipation, wondering where the next part of this road would lead us all.

I looked at my siblings, wondering how we had gotten here. The glimmering sunlight was streaming in onto that oak sideboard once  From running carelessly playing catch in the passage to losing the most important person in our lives. From streaming sunshine on and endless giggles as we would escape outside to play. From loss to hardship, and an ease within.

We had so much, yet been through so much, and yet still… we pulled through. It was tough and it was harsh, but we were still standing. Our fragile hearts had been battered and bruised, but instead of pushing us to the ground, it was our restoration. It was like a rehabilatiom for our mutilated souls. It was the means for us to withstand so much more than anyone had ever thought our little hearts could bare.

I breathed in, and almost as if the scar had penetrated within, the aching within my gut was now far, but very much still there. A lost mother. A lost friend. A lost hope.

If only someone had explained to us that all that is beautiful on the outside doesn’t always shine from within. That this world was not meant to be the eternal bliss that a kid always wished it would be.  That life hurts. That love hurts. That it hurts a lot.

But most of all, that it all ends. The hurt ends. The pain ends. Nothing in this life will push us to the point where it will break us completely, becAuse a Mu’min was not one who would lose hope. A true believer would never give up. That this life that played before our eyes was never the entire truth. A beautiful jannah awaits that not even the most brutal memories can penetrate.

But reach it, we have to comprehend. Our journey only begins here, at that point. The route to discovery was open, but it was our duty to explore, and find the beauty that can rest within your inner being. The beauty that lay beyond the obvious treachery of the world.

My eyes darted around the room, almost searching for a comfort within. All that met me was the barren gazes of my siblings, with no promise for me to cling onto. They too, were searching. They were also seeking some solace, and just as I was about to give up completely, I caught sight of a brown paper bag that had fallen between the bed and the headboard.

My eyes widened as I saw it, and I flew forward, grabbing it with fervor as I gaped at it in disbelief.

I could not believe that I had forgotten about it. Khalid’s gift. With the Aunty Agnus drama that night, it had fallen behind my pillow and I hadn’t even thought about it since then.

I sat there for a few seconds, not even blinking an eye. The day he gave it to me seemed like a lifetime ago. Was it really there? 

Ever so slowly, I removed the brown packet from over, sliding my hand inside slowly to pull out the contents with my right hand.

I could feel the hardness of a book and my heart beat a little faster with excitement, understanding that there was so much of potential within this little bag. An entire book of unveiled treasures, promising to add some depth and meaning to my life.

I pulled the book out with haste, revealing its bold cover in the dim light of the night lamp that I had since I was four.

The book, just from its cover, exceeded all expectation. It would be the tool I would use as my inspiration and my daily motivation. It was the foundation of my journey to the uplifting of my soul, and a burst of energy filled my gut as I re-read it’s title once again. It was the driving force I would need for a lifetime of battles that may still lie ahead. It was the hope that would bring me back to where I would find my roots again, and bring to light the struggles of people centuries ago who were raised in status because of it. It would bring me back, connect me, and help me to find my Creator within  the darkened hue of my life.

I didn’t know it then, but just a glance  would have an awesome impact on my life. I would discover not only my own strength, but would draw strength from the stories of the noble companions of my Nabi (SAW) who would teach me about what struggle really was. I would learn patience. I would aspire for their endurance. It was just what I needed and it was the perfect timing for it too.

Khawlah Bint Al-Azwar, it read.

An Extraordinary Heroine.






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