Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
“So, she thought we would come by and see if you were still looking for someone,” I explained, with bated breath. “And when we came, we were kind of caught off-guard… and then the guy just left!”
The guy. That was her brother, I just realised.
I could see Nusaybah wanted to say something here, but she wisely kept her thoughts to herself for once.
The lady, whose name I would come to learn was Rubeena, was still looking at us, as if we were talking gibberish. More like gaping. She looked confused. I wasn’t sure exactly what she was thinking.
This could go either way. Either very wrong or really right.
”Wait,” she started, holding her hand up for emphasis. “You mean he just let you’ll in? And he didn’t even know what you’ll were here for?”
I could see the fiery anger brewing in her eyes, and then, like an gush of water, her eyes fell on the sleeping baby in Nusaybah’s arms, and I could literally see it dissipating as she processed everything that had happened. Her expression changed from anger to shock, and then, she was just perfectly serene.
Seeing her little one resting so contentedly brought an untold peace… and I could totally relate.
“Is he actually asleep?”
Her gaze was fixed on the cutest little munchkin lying in Nusaybah’s arms, and my friend willingly handed him over to his dumbfounded mother, who was looking like she saw a ghost.
“Where did you come from?!” She said to me in awe, looking up with wide eyes. “This is a miracle! He doesn’t ever sleep like this… how on earth did you’ll do it, Nusaybah?”
I had gathered from here that she was familiar with Nusaybah. She just didn’t know me.
“It was all her,” Nusaybah said indifferently, pointing at me.
I shrugged, not wanting to take all the credit.
”Oh my gosh,” she exclaimed, still awestruck. The baby jerked slightly at her slightly raised voice. She lowered her voice.
“Let me just put him down and I’ll be back.”
Nusaybah took the opportnunity, and took me aside.
“Don’t be a pushover,” she warned me quietly. “This will be a tough job. Don’t let her off cheap.”
”I know,” I said, trying to pacify her and considering the fact that I might probably be alone with these four kids for hours at a time. I could hear one crying for something the other one had, and I tried to make some kind of truce between the two. It was typical childhood issues.
“How’s about a sweet?” I hastily bribed the one, trying to avoid a full blown argument.
I prayed that his mother wouldn’t come in as yet. I could tell that he was around two years old, but he knew exactly what I was saying when I said the word ‘sweet’. He immediately released the fidget spinner thing that both of them were clinging onto and looked at me expectantly. I dug in the little purse I carried, praying that I had something in there for him. I didn’t want to lie to the kid. I remembered learning that even when dealing with toddlers, telling the truth was so important. They take your word so seriously.
Some people may tell lies to small children because they know that children will not criticise them. They think it’s okay because they are small.
However, by doing this, they embed lying in their character from a very early age.
‘Abdullaah bin ‘Aamir reported that his mother once called him, promising to give him something, and the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam heard this, so he said to her: “What will you give him?” She answered: “I will give him some dates.” So he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to her: “If you were not to give him (what you promised), it would be recorded as a lie against you.” (Abu Dawood & Al-Bayhaqi).
I understood that kids weren’t always easy. Entertaining them might be a bit difficult.
But goodness, my heart was already so much more at peace than before I got here. Everytime like I glanced out the window I was blown away again. How I longed for a piece of that gorgeous garden.
Rubeena returned quickly, with flushed cheeks and an opportunistic smile. I could see that her entire approach had changed and I really didn’t need to convince her much longer. She had the same straight forward manner as her brother and even their looks were similar.
“So do you want the job?” She asked, with a hopeful smile on her face. “You’ll get snacks and I won’t make you do any housework. I just need someone to see to the kids… I’m so busy, and now my trainer’s got a new routine for me… I need to take it more seriously. My mother has her own life. My husband is never around. My brother is too busy with his work. Sometimes I just need a break from the four of them.”
I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t really anyone else’s responsibility. She acted like her family members were indebted to her. I wanted to tell her that she needs to take her kids more seriously.
But I wasn’t here to lecture the woman. I just found little humans so amazingly special, that I couldn’t understand how some parents just didn’t care about them.
Two of them had discovered she was back home and were taking turns to pull her in different directions, but she persistent on ignoring their pestering. She was still intent on getting an answer out of me before I left, prompting me to give her a price and available times.
And of course, I was bleeding inside. For the kids. My heart was already convinced. I really wanted to commit and give her my wholehearted word, but I knew that there was something that I had to do first.
After all, I was only thirteen. I couldn’t exactly act as if I could do as I pleased according to my will. I had to ask Abba first… and I really hoped he would agree.
“Can I talk to my father first?” I asked her, knowing that it might be difficult to convince him but also hoping that he may be open to it if he had to hear the pros of this job.
There were so many perks. She was paying well. The house was lovely. And of course, she seemed nice … I was just hoping that she was not fussy and demanding like other employers could turn out to be.
Nusaybah looked at me as she requested us to help get the two smaller kids into chairs for their lunchtime meal, and I could tell from how she was looking at me that she still wasn’t convinced. I said I would get back to her tomorrow, waved to the three little ones and then made our way to the door.
“Are you certain about this?” Nusaybah asked, her eyebrows slightly raised.
“I am,” I said to her firmly, hoping to convince her to join me.
She shook her head adamantly.
“I’ll go crazy,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I’ve had enough looking after babies, remember? My brother was only one when my mummy passed away… so I suppose that kind of explains it.”
I smiled sadly at my friend, understanding her feelings. I could imagine what it must have been like for her. She was only eight, and her father never did marry again.
I wondered who had looked after them after school… who had cooked their meals… who had seen to the finer details of a household. My friend seemed so much older than her chronological age.
I nodded to myself, leaving Nusaybah at her door and heading to my own home, still pensive. I was thinking about how to bring up the topic with Abba. How would I explain how this all happened? Would he be annoyed? Angry? Embarrassed?
I had just reached the door to my house, and still in my own little world, I pushed it open, not really expecting anyone to be home yet. Foi Nani would normally nap in the afternoons and Ahmed would be out for some kind of extra lessons.
Yunus was quite the sportsman so he was always involved in some match or the other. I expected the house to be quiet at least, and so of course, you could imagine my surprise when I entered to see Ahmed pacing the house like a madman and Foi Nani actually up and about, whispering to him with a worried look on her face.
I stopped in my tracks as I watched them, wondering what on earth was going on. All my plans about contemplating the best way to ask Abba’s permission about my dream job went out the window, as I saw at them, and I was unable to control my mouth.
“What on earth is going on here?” I asked, a little bit rudely, feeling flustered. Ahmed’s light brown eyes were darkened with worry and I could already see that he was planning something drastic.
”Kitchen,” was all he said, and I literally raced there, not at all expecting to see what I did.
It was Zuleikha who was sitting, just slightly slouched on the curved stool, with her back facing me. She wore a black dress and I could see her scarf tied up in a turban style from where I stood. I knew it was pointless because hijab was supposed to cover the neck as well, but I would contend with that later. I couldn’t even see her face, but as I approached and she sensed my presence, the bar stool she sat on turned slightly, and I almost screamed in horror as I caught sight of her face.
It was not a sight for the faint-hearted. The skin just above her high cheekbone was grazed deeply, and a large patch of fresh purple-black bruising could be seen just under her eye. She was looking down in shame, but as the chair swiveled right around and she slowly lifted her gaze, I could see her amber eyes were no longer as bright and sparkly as they had always been. Her face was devoid of make up and my beautiful sister was a sore sight to see. Her eye protruded slightly, and swelling was already quite severe. I heard a noise behind me, and I turned around to see Ahmed there, with a gun swinging from his hand.
I jumped back in shock, alarmed at the sight of the pistol after so many months. I didn’t even know what Ahmed planned to do with it… and frankly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to.
“I’m going to finish this off, once and for all,” Ahmed said threateningly.
It was almost as if he was asking Zuleikha’s permission and needed her consent. It was almost as if he needed her approval. He respected my elder sister that much, I knew. He would never do anything she didn’t want.
“No!” She said, shaking her head and standing up, and her hand immediately went to her mouth as she spotted the gun.
I was delirious with anger.
Jameel. Who else would do this? I always knew he had another side to him… but I didn’t know it was as fierce as this. Seeing my sisters state made me want to join Ahmed too in his hot pursuit.
How dare he lay a hand on my sister? How dare he scar her like this? How dare he abuse her?
There was nothing more appealing to me now than to conjure an awesome plan to get back at my brother-in-law for the allegations I had invented against him.
Zuleikha swallowed and looked down, and I could see embarrassment on her face as I waited for an answer to the questions I had in my mind. She said nothing. What could she say?
Instead, she slowly lifted her hand to her face and touched her wounds, gliding her fingers around the open cut, and let it fall again. I could see her wincing in pain.
“Please,” she finally said, swallowing hard, and collapsing into the chair behind her. “Put the gun away, Ahmed.”
Ahmed narrowed his eyes at her.
“I’m never going to let this go! They need to know we’re not stupid orphans with no back bone. They need to know that!”
Ahmed always took everything personally. He ignored my questioning gaze as I watched them, panic rising in my gut. I needed answers, and I needed them now.
The thoughts that were running through my mind were uncomprehending … I was captured by my own imagination almost immediately as I watched my brother.
He was furious. Spontaneous. Not to mention, wreckless too.
A warrior of sorts, though, he never failed to be.
Not much is known about her youth, except that as a girl young Khawlah RA learned swordsmanship and poetry from her brother, a well-known local warrior-poet named Dirrar RA who wrote epic poetry and mastered the art of swornmanship . Dirrar RA, as the son of the chief, had been trained from birth in the art of pushing these skills to the maximum, and in passing the knowledge along to his sister he actually in the long run ended up doing himself (and the entire empire) a favour by doing so. He even earned himself quite a title, through fighting with no upper garment, through his daring swordsmanship and is said to have butchered 19 of the opposition on a solo expedition. Although it was awesome, all were not impressed. He was warned about his wrecklessness by the great sword himself, Khalid bin Waleed RA, but he persisted in his great warriorship.
It was on one specific occasion when Khalid RA gave him a mighty task. He was assigned to ambush 10 Roman soldiers who were hidden in a hillock, waiting for an opportunity to attack. With knowledge and advanced tactics, Dirrar RA felt it would be better for them to kill the Romans in the guise of darkness before the morning came. Khalid RA agreed and Dirrar RA and his 9 men set out shortly after midnight.
It was a long and drawn out night. The battle was becoming lengthy and the men were starting to feel its heat. Khalid went to meet an ally, and as they spoke, with ferocity he grabbed Khalid in a strong hold and called out. It was a huge turnaround, and it came completely out of the blue.
Ambush. It was all they could decipher.
From behind the hillock, they spotted 10 Roman soldiers emerge and race towards them. Khalid RA could not help but think that Dirrar’s RA time had come and he had made no other arrangements for his protection.
The Muslims would be defeated. They were as good as gone.
But alas, it wasn’t their end. As the soldiers surrounded the two men, to his great surprise and amusement, Khalid RA suddenly noticed that one of them was not wearing any upper garments! It was Dirrar RA and his men who had put on the Roman soldiers’ clothing.
Khalid RA then recited the verse “They plan and Allah plans, and Allah is the best of planners.”
Indeed He is And who would question the authority of Allah when His plan unfolds? All we had to do was do our part with utmost trust, sit back and watch, and know that the Greatest Power was taking care of it all.
And of course, as my brother paced the room in utmost despair, he knew that he was going to probably be planning something too. I just needed to know exactly whose blood he wanted to spill. And would it really be worth all this fuss? Was it really the right thing to do?
Zuleikha looked at me with utter despair as she watched my brother, hoping I would say something to stop him. She knew that I was the only one who could. I just needed to know one thing first.
“Zuleikha, we cant just leave it as it is. What do you want us to do?” I asked, purely out of concern for her bruised heart. I could see she was hurting inside too, and that pain, I knew was a much harder one to cure.
“Nothing,” Zuleikha said adamantly. Then she lowered her voice, and her next statement was like shock to my system.
“It wasn’t him,” she said, looking me in the eye with her own battered one, and I almost couldn’t look at her back. Her eye was puffy and her wound was still fresh. It was like a broken window to a shattered soul. There was no hope in the house of her heart.
“Jameel left me here,” she said quietly. “It was his mother.”
Apologies for the delay once again, and shukran for all the messages and Duaas.
Alhumdulilah, I am almost back to normal.