Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Time drags. Seconds seem like minutes and minutes seem like hours. Time almost stands still for a while as we wait in anticipation for a dreaded outcome.
I stood with feigned confidence at the door, looking at the police man with an heir of indifference. To keep it together was my expertise. Composition was the key.
”Where’s your Mum?”
The police officer was peering at me curiously as he said it, obviously not knowing the impact on the information that he may be imparting to us. It wasn’t that he didn’t know it was serious. It was just that he didn’t know how much we had been through.
”Ya Allah,” I could hear Foi Nani in the background. “Ya Allah!”
She sounded like her heart was being ripped apart, piece by piece. The cries were getting louder and I was struggling to hear what the two officers were saying to each other. Did they mention something about a car-jacking gone wrong?
I sucked in my breath, feeling the little bubble of hope deflate.
But it wasn’t the end of the road yet, right? I mean, no-one was saying he was dead.
“Please sir,” I blurted out, not wanting to prolong the anxiety any more. “I don’t have a mother. Can you just tell me where my father is?”
The one officer looked startled by my directness, while the other looked unaffected and bore a stern look on his face. He glanced into the house, almost as if he was addressing someone else.
“I’m afraid, Miss,” he said, still not even glancing at me. “That’s your guess is as good as mine.”
He shrugged as he said it, and I looked at him , really confused. Is he for real? He’s the police. He’s supposed to know about these things, right?
I looked at him in desperation. I didn’t know what to say.
“What is it?”
It was Zuleikha that came up from behind me, finally growing the guts to face the music. Her voice was timid and she was expecting the worst.
“Is he… okay?”
She was stammering as she said it, probably wondering if she should ask or not. Her amber eyes had traces of red around the edges, giving evidence of her mellow emotion. She had donned her hijab before she came outside, knowing that there were two male officers outside.
She had been hushing Foi Nani too in intervals, telling her that a Muslim should not cry or shout in loud voices, even if it’s in grief. Besides, there was nothing to be grieving about… no-one even knew what happened to Abba.
They were explaining the process of a missing person… and all I caught was that Abba’s car was found idling on the road with no- one inside. It was something of a kidnapping… it sounded so sinister.
The cops were soon gone and Ahmed and Zuleikha went with them to open a report. I sat on my bed, zoning in and out of reality as I processed the days events.
I missed Abba. I longed to hear his voice and I ached to feel the warmth of his embrace. As I slept, before Zuleikha could get home, I imagined his salaam and his jolly face.
Abba would come back, I told myself. Abba will be okay.
The night passed in restlessness, as I awoke multiple times, with that nagging feeling that everything was not the same. Zuleikha’s voice could be heard in the passage and Ahmed was talking on the phone. I drifted back into slumber, not wanting to check in to reality once again. I wasn’t ready to remember the days events… it was too exhausting.
Morning eventually arrived and a new day was here. A new day, and we were hoping some good news. I started the day with an optimistic salaam as I entered the kitchen, a little demotivated by the half-hearts greetings I got back.
Yunus, Ahmed and Zuleikha were all looking at me, with a whimsical look on their faces. I took out a bowl and poured my cereal, and the turned around to get the milk out of the fridge.
“You going to school?” Zuleikha asked me, looking surprised.
Ahmed raised his eyebrows. My elder brother looked even older than Zuleikha now, and his sturdy expression was just like Abba. I think he and Abba looked almost identical now.
“I don’t see the point in sitting around and waiting,” I said, shrugging. They looked like they had no direction. There was not much we can do anyway. I instructed Yunus to get ready too, because there was no point in sticking around.
They watched me eat, almost in awe, and then I grabbed my bag and we waited outside for the lift club. Abba would be okay. I had full faith that Allah would take care of us.
My heart was still pounding in my chest, as it was the previous night, but I stayed strong and held my feelings within.
I thought about Khalid. I wonder what he would say about this. Maybe he would have found it strange. He might have even laughed. And then I thought about Mama.
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.
Although my heart was aching deep inside, the courage I sought was finding its way to the surface. Although I wasn’t looking forward to being at school and dealing with the girls, I knew that right now, we needed a diversion. A distraction.
You’re strong, Khawlah, I told myself. You’re a warrior.
The school corridors were desserted when I arrived, but as I got into my class, instead of the usual hostility I would usually feel from those few girls, I could sense something different today. Today, I could sense a change… today, all eyes were on me.
And then I knew it.
I knew that they knew. They knew, and I knew it too. I put my head down, feeling ashamed, although I wasn’t sure why. I was brave, yes, but this… this, I wasn’t prepared for. I didn’t expect it.
And, of course, the whispers started. They weren’t accusing or ugly. They were just curious. Curious and interested. I hastily took my seat and ignored them until the break, when of course, I knew I would get hounded. I grabbed my lunch and darted for the door, but I wasn’t fast enough. It was Faaiza who caught up with me first, but only because I allowed her to. Another girl who I knew vaguely was on her tail.
“Khawlah!” She said as she caught up with me, huffing and puffing away. Although Faaiza was a little on the chubby side, she was still a commendable athlete in school. It was just that I was a tiny bit faster than her, and could maneuver myself a little more skillfully.
“Everyone is talking about you,” She half-whispered, through her pronounced breathing. “They say your dad is being held for a ransom. Is it true?”
I widened my eyes as I turned to look at this girl who was once a good friend. Where on earth did she hear that? More importantly, was it true?
I didn’t know much about Abba’s situation. No-one has told me. All I knew was that I had put my faith in my Allah and that He would get us through. There were moments of hopelessness, and of utter desperation…. but when I would hear Mama’s words echoing through my mind, it was like waves of wondrous magic making everything beautiful and blossom again.
”Ask only of Allah,” she would say. “You just talk to him, and He will give you even if it’s the entire world. And even that will decrease none of His power.”
I only understood now what Mama meant. It was the purest definition of unconditional. The true meaning of limitless. That was my Lord, and that was what He was ready to give.
It was so extensive… so unimaginable… yet it still blew my mind.
If only we could truly understand the extent of our lord and His favors. If only we truly believed and had faith in his provision.
Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “If you were to rely upon Allah with reliance due to him, then he would provide for you just as he provides for the birds. They go out in the morning with empty stomachs and return full.”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2344
I prayed a silent prayer, wishing for Abba to be safe. Right now, I felt like I just wanted to be home again, maybe I was too brave sometimes. Like this morning. Too brave for my own good.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” I said to Faaiza, not relating any of my true feelings in the process. Even if it may be true what she was saying… I didn’t want to delve into it.
The day passed in a blur. Girls kept coming up to me and asking me random things. Even a boy. I quickly answered him and walked on, not wanting to engage in conversation. As I was getting older, these things made me a bit awkward.
It was finally time for the last bell, and I waited eagerly, already tired of this long day. I was awaiting the peace of my home, and itching to get news from Zuleikha. Was Abba Home yet? What was this ransom thing? How did everyone even know about him?
I practically jumped off the car before it stopped fully outside our house, ignoring the looks of disdain from Aunty Rahima who drove the mini bus. She was always worried about safety, which was why Abba trusted her enough to take us to school since we were quite young.
I bolted into the house with purpose, this time, my mind far away from food. I wasn’t hungry. I couldn’t even stomach my thoughts. Everything was making me anxious.
“Zuleikha!” I shouted, my eyes searching the empty passage for her familiar face. Any familiar face. Where was she? Where was Foi Nani?
”Foi Nani!” I screamed, even checking outside.
Yunus wasn’t home yet.
No-one was Home. Except for the time when Mama had died… I never felt so alone in my entire life.
I continued to call.
I spun around in shock as I heard him, seeing Ahmed’s face peep out from the top of the balustrade.
My brother looked taller from downstairs, and for the first time in months I studied at him, trying hard to give him a death glare at the same time.
He looked different. He had that penetrating gaze like Abba, and his hair stuck out at the top, because he refused to cut it. His face had stubble around it, and I thought of how Mama would shout if she knew he was shaving. I remembered her scolding Abba too. I had a good mind of telling him so.
“Couldn’t you hear me shouting for everyone?” I asked him, annoyed that he had been here all along and didn’t answer. He took out an earplug from his other ear and shrugged at me, clearly disregarding my irritation.
”I’ve been busy,“ he merely said.
I stalked after him, following him into the main bedroom where he had come from. He had an iPod on the bed and another set of earphones were sprawled on the dresser. There was a closed case next to them too.
“Everyone in school talking about Abba?”
I wasn’t sure how he knew but somehow he had found out.
“How do you know?”
“Come,” he said, ignoring my question and gesturing for me to follow him. I watched my brother with interest, as he bent down, stretching his hand under the bed and getting a hold of something underneath. He pulled his hand out and I almost jumped as I caught a glimpse of what was in his possession.
It was a gun. A real gun.
“Ahmed, are you crazy?!” I shouted at him, my legs trembling slightly as he held it and pointed at the screen in the room. This was dangerous. I mean… I knew Abba had a gun, but I didn’t know he kept it here. This was too risky.
Ahmed smirked at me, and gave me a small nod as he opened the cartridge. I could see the gold range, fierce and flashy.
“Khawlah, I thought you’re braver than that,” he said, raising his eyebrows at me, as if it was a dare.
He placed the cartridge back and held the gun out to me.
I didn’t take it. I wasn’t going to touch it.
“I’m going to teach you a thing or two… like Abba taught me,” Ahmed said, placing the gun in my hands. He placed my fingers around the handle, tightening the grip I held on it a little more.
“Ahmed, I don’t want to hold this thing!” I squealed hastily, feeling overwhelmed by the cold metal.
“We have to, Khawlah,” he said, this time serious. “You and me. We have to step up. We have to be stronger. We have to be prepared. I can only rely on you, Khawlah. Abba needs us.”
I looked up at him in hesitation. I wasn’t sure if my brother was gone off his rockers or not. I wasn’t sure if this was a dream…. It felt like some kind of movie… a scene from those action dramas I used to see Aunty Nas watch. I knew all that stuff would affect us at some point. Maybe it had gone to Ahmed’s brain.
I swallowed hard, thinking about what he had said. Abba needs us. We had to be strong. My mind was racing.
They march on, weapon in hand and only victory as their aim. They are just a few women, but they carry the strength of 100 men. They are warriors. They are fearless.
The battle edges on, and inspired, the Muslims turn to fight again. The men have drawn strength from these few heroines. As one body, they raise their swords and follow the black knights into the smoky battle. Chests puffed out, and heads held high as they smelt the scent of the victory that awaited.. their gleaming swords know no limit.
It’s extraordinary. Arrows are shot, heads are slashed and the war is near its end. Soon the Byzantines have fallen or run away.
The skilled and fearless fighters are humbled. They know that this is not due to their own might. Their faith has come through for them once again…
The Muslims have conquered… yet again.
“Okay,” I said finally, knowing that stepping down would be to give in to defeat. I didn’t want to let Abba down.
You’re a warrior, Khawlah, the voice was saying. I wanted to ignore it. This wasn’t real, I told myself. Was it even right?
“Khawlah, you’re a warrior,” Ahmed said now and I almost couldn’t believe it was his voice.
He grabbed the case lying on the bed. In it was a bigger pistol, a spear and two butterfly swords. It really looked like he and Abba had been up to some serious business.
I shivered slightly. Now he wanted me to be a part of it too.
“Come,” Ahmed nudged me lightly and waited, almost as if he was showing me that I had a choice. He gestured to where he was headed, showing me the stairs to the roof garden from Abba’s balcony.
Now was the time… I could either pull it off with style or accept defeat. It was like a game of chance… where you could either outshine, or get shot down. Or where you could come with an entirely differeng approach… and just blow everyone’s minds.
Ahmed wanted to teach me, but what he didn’t know was that he too would learn a thing or two.
About the Controller of it all. About life. About faith. About being a true warrior… and not just about waging a war.
Sincere apologies for the delays.
Ahh! Loved this post! 👌 It makes up for the delay💖💝
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Aw JazakAllah sis 💐 trying for two a week but it’s not happening.. 🙈
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MashaAllah… Love the way you write… 💕
Enjoying every bit of the story….👌
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Shukran for your comment.. 🌸
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Ohno!! They’ve gone through soo much already💔
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Asalamualaykum sister… Beautiful writing and lessons as always😍 where do we purchase the book on Hazrat Khawlah (ra).. Would love to read a biography of her.. Jzkl
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Wow I was just going to ask the same thing
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I’m going to check up and get back to you guys InshaAllah … 💐 shukran sis ❣️
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You sure have us intrigued!
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