A New Hope

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


Life is like a garden.

And what it gets to feed it, is how it will thrive. With constant watering, sunlight and positive nutrients, the most beautiful flowers can flourish. On the contrary, if the seeds have gone bad and your soil is starved, your garden will dwindle into a barren piece of earth that will pass as a sand-pit.

As I sat on the concrete pavers of the familiar garden, I thought about the correlative theories I had about life. I felt too young to think this deep, but such was my intuitive mind. I was a thinker, and my deep love for reading and meaning had inspired many a hypothesis.

And so, with this in mind, I had applied caution for a long time… not allowing bad crop to contaminate my soil. I had carefully plucked out the weeds that were obscuring my natural good disposition.

And then of course, with the hurdles removed, the sunlight made its way through to nurture the stagnant roots within, awakening my soul to the orchard blooming within. The rainbow of splendor trampled the isolation…. and then I felt … there was only one word for it. Free.

In my garden, I was the most colorful butterfly. Magnificent and liberated.

And there I was, all lost in my little gardening world, when a voice from the distance broke my pleasant thoughts.


I whipped my head around to see Yunus almost sprinting through the little gate at the garden entrance.

I watched him come up to me, panting and babbling about something I could make no sense of.

“What?” I asked, impatiently. “I have no idea what on earth you are saying!”

“Abba!” He almost screamed. “Abba is here.

My poor heart almost ceased right there and then. Abba. My Abba? Abba was back.

Oh my goodness.

I dropped the garden spade that i held in my right hand, barely even bothering to cover up the new good seeds that I had found. I couldn’t focus right now. I had to see if this was real. I bolted up, gardening gloves still on my hands, and raced behind Yunus back home.

Halting to remove my sandy boots as I entered the back door, I hastily kicked off what I had on, and bolted to the front of the house.

Lo and behold, Yunus wasn’t seeing things. Despite me thinking that maybe his active imagination  had gotten the better of him, Abba was really there. Though worn and slightly disheveled, there he stood, with a slight smirk on his face, and arms widely stretched in anticipation of the many hugs he knew that he was due for. Tears filled my eyes as I flung myself forward, almost not believing he was there.

I breathed him in, already besotted by his mere presence. I was still awestruck. I couldn’t believe that he had come back.

It was a good few minutes that we all stood there, in utter disbelief, sniffling and stumbling over the words that we didn’t know how to say.

Abba was home. Abba was home. He was finally home.

I was speechless. There was only one thing to say in situations like this.

Alhumdulillah. Alhumdulillah, he was okay. Alhumdulilalh, he was back with us.  Alhumdullilah for the good. Alhumdulillah for the bad. Alhumdullilah for the ease. Alhumdulillah for the difficulties. Alhumdulillah for the ease after the hardship.

Alhumdulillah. All praise to the Lord of the Worlds.

How lucky we were that Imaam had humbled us to a point that we knew that everything and everything was in the control of our Rabb. How blessed we were that Alhumdulillah was an automated response that we would utter… in the calm and in the turbulence.

My vision was slightly blurry as I watched my siblings all embrace my father. Foi Nani stood back, tearing relentlessly.

Zuleikha. I missed my sister today more than ever. I wonder if she knew? Had Jameel really been true to his word?

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe he wasn’t as obnoxious as I always assumed.

This was truly a remarkable thing… and such a selfless thing to do for us. I knew that he had promised Zuleikha that he would sort it out, but to see the reality in front of our eyes was another feeling completely. Everyone was in high spirits and Abba excused himself shortly, saying he needed to get back into his own skin and start feeling normal again.

I didn’t ask him what had happened to him. No one questioned him as to what he had been through. I didn’t want to know. He didn’t look hurt, but Abba didn’t have to show it on the outside. Sometimes the wounds beyond the surface had a greater impact. Sometimes those spoke words that were the loudest.

The days passed, and that week of glory was one we wouldn’t forget. Zuleikha had still set off for honeymoon, and although we missed her, the fact that Abba was back more than made up for it. Even though he didn’t speak much and his bubbliness wasn’t quite what it used to be… him just being there was amazing.

I watched my father carefully during those days. Although he had a certain cloud looming about his head, there was something enigmatic about my father that I never did notice before.

My father had become my hero once again. He was so brave, and I couldn’t comprehend it. The same ferocity that Ahmed had within him was now visible, whether it was ihis words or his gestures. His resolve had been strengthened, not only from this, but firstly. from the tender years when he was faced and with the difficulties of a lower class lifestyle that he didn’t let get him down. When Mama came along, he shone out to be the true hero that was inside of him. Now I knew why Mama had loved him so. Now I knew exactly what my Abba was made of… and, now of course, knowing all this, I loved him all the more for it.

The days of delight passed by fast. Days rapidly turned into weeks, and Zuleikha was back after her three week honeymoon . Ahmed enjoyed poking fun at her, even though she wasn’t looking very pleased about it.

“Assalamualaikum alaykum Mrs Mahomed,” He said mockingly, almost in robotic speech. “Have you come down from cloud nineteen as yet? It seems like you are still stuck up there.”

She stuck her tongue out at him, and rolled her eyes.

“Whatever,” she mumbled, slightly embarrassed.

Ahmed made a weird face at me and then retreated to his room, not even giving Jameel a proper reception. He was definitely not impressed with our new brother-in-law and he made no effort to hide it.

I felt like we needed to thank him, but I didn’t quite know how to. How did you tell someone who was basically a stranger how indebted you re to them? I also didn’t want to cross any boundaries.

Zuleikha seemed happy. Even though she was different, I could see that Jameel went out of the way for her. I mean, he even brought Abba back. He would only do that  if he truly did love her, right?

I sighed, taking everything in. Wasn’t this what I wanted? A complete family… and everything that went with it? Why did it still feel like something was still missing?

With Zuleikha’s non-stop chatter now, and Yunus butting in to try and get some business tips from Jameel, everything felt idealistic. Our home. Our family. It was like everything was exactly what we were waiting for.

And then, without any warning, Abba cleared his throat and his voice boomed through the dining room.

“Kids, can I have a minute?”

He had been so silent and contemplative all this while, we couldn’t help but completely cease all chatter when he spoke. Ahmed has made his way downstairs again somehow. We looked at Abba expectantly, waiting for an announcement.


It was me who spoke, because I couldn’t bear the anticipation much longer.

“I have something to say,” he finally said, clearing his throat.

We all looked up at him.

“After everything that’s happened…” he started, swallowing hard and nervously. “I’ve made a decision that unfortunately will affect us all.”

We waited.

”We are not safe here anymore,” he said, and he looked at Jameel.

We all looked at Jameel. Jameel nodded, and I could see him shift uncomfortably in his seat. He kind of felt responsible for this now and we knew it.

“We need to move, and we need to move fast,” he finished off.

We all looked at him in bewilderment.

“Tomorrow you’ll need to start packing.”

And that was that. With that, he pushed back his chair, and got up, leaving the four of us gaping at each other in shock.

Moving? To another house?

My eyes filled with tears. But I didn’t want to! This was our home… how can we just erase all the memories? How can we kill all those dreams we had built? I couldn’t even think about how much I would miss this neighbourhood… I didn’t want to leave!

I bolted out of the room in seconds, trying with all my might not to surrender to the overwhelming emotion that was toiling within.

Suck it up, I said to myself. Just suck it up.

But it wouldn’t listen. No sooner had my foot reached the landing, hot tears rolled down my face, giving way to the cascades of emotion that I had been keeping inside all this time.

It had been a long time since I cried.

A long, long time.

I didn’t want to, but today, my heart felt bruised. I glimpsed the carved wooden furniture that Zuleikha had placed back in Mama’s cabinet, and my shoulder heaved again with the assault on my heart.

It just wasn’t fair!

And just when I felt like I could no longer contain them, I let it all out and relented.

I cried.  I cried for all the memories… all the memories, we would leave behind.

The days passed by in a blur as we packed away our memories, and got prepared to start  afresh. We didn’t have much of a choice. We had to move. Abba had already decided and there was no negotiation.

The new house was comfortable, but it wasn’t much of a consolation. It was in a secure estate on the edge of the town, away from the people and away from everything we had known our entire lives. I would miss my yard. I would miss my garden. Most of all… I would miss the company I had sought refuge in during the former years of my life.

The last day was a mixture of emotions, and our grieving hearts knew little pleasure in the mundane tasks of packing and unpacking that we had by then become accustomed to. Entering the new house just before sunset, we collapsed on the worn leather couch,  just enjoying the feeling of doing nothing for a while. I could hear Foi Nani rattling off instructions to the guys who were now heading off for the day after helping us move. It really had been such a tedious task….

Ahmed’s feet were up on the grey ottoman and Yunus was laying around on the couch. We were all too tired to even talk, but at least glad that it was over. The ringing of the new doorbell got us scrambling around in a frenzy, wondering who would be here at this time. It was, of course, I, who eventually went to the door, peeped through the keyhole and spied a girl of my age outside.

I opened the door gracefully, noticing her ecstatic smile as I opened, and her bubbly voice as she spoke.

“Hey, Assalaamualaikum,” she smiled, widening her eyes slightly as she saw me. “I’m so glad you guys have finally moved! My Dad’s been telling me all about you guys. My name’s Nusaybah. It’s so awesome to meet you!”

I smiled back at her, and eyed her perfectly tied hijab with not a strand of hair showing. Her glowing face was joyful, but behind that, a certain rigidity made her catch my attention in a completely different light.

She had become a legend. Her task had been to give water to the wounded, but Allâh Ta’alaa had planned for her a more rewarding role. She set out with her family with a waterskin, and arrived at the battlefield during the beginning of the day. At that time, the Muslims had the upper hand, and she went to see how the Messenger of Allâh sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was doing.

Then, came the turn of events that made her name. A mishap occurred. The Muslims, in weakness, committed a fatal error. Seeing the Quraysh on the retreat, they ran towards the booty, ignoring the Prophet sallahu alleyhi wa salam’s command to remain on the hill.

The chaos had begun. Khalid bin Walid, (who hadn’t embraced Islam yet), seeing the open flank, made a charge against the Muslims.  Suddenly, the tables turned and the tide had swung towards the Quraysh.

They panicked. They even fleeed.  Terror spread through the ranks of the Muslims. With fear, they retreated, leaving behind only the Prophet (SAW) and a handful of his Companions. It was terrifying, and with them in utter distress, a woman of great honour had been one of those to come through in defense.

Give your shield to the one who is fighting,” Nabi SAW commanded another companion. Such was the ferocity with which she was attacking.

Now with a little armour, she defended the Prophet sallahu alleyhi wa salam with it, using a bow and arrow and also a sword. The enemy was rigid but Nusaybah (RA) did not sway. She was attacked by a horsemen, but never wavered nor felt fear.

If they had been on foot as we were, we would have crushed them, Allah Willing.” 


I smiled as I saw this girl, who would become a dear friend.

A rose in the garden… a flourishing flower in my orchard of life.

Be it sun or rain, the soil of this friendship would remain uncompromised. Although I had felt like I had lost much… In this new garden, I knew there would be a new hope.