More than the Bargain

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


It’s amazing how life unfolds so beautifully, for the people of Tawakkul.

There’s one lesson that I learnt along the way, that I knew would never leave me. If you really and truly believe that Allah is the sole provider, and it is Him and ONLY Him that can provide for any need, be it a mountain or even a shoelace, then He is the One who comes through for you.

Over and over again. By some means or some will… the plan is made, and the path is opened up. That’s the magic of Tawakkul. Tawakkul is not looking for the pathways to pave the way. Tawakkul is just looking for Allah, and He will map it all out for you.

It’s what Nusaybah had told me too, and as I travelled up the pathway that I had been traveling the past few months, I felt my heart swell with joy as I thought of the afternoon that lay ahead.

I loved my job. I truly did. In fact, I didn’t even call it my job. It was my calling, and it was my refuge. It was also, really and truly, more that I had bargained for.

I stepped up eagerly, ringing the familiar doorbell and waiting for Rubeena to open. She had insisted that I didn’t call her aunty.

“Don’t make me feel old,” she said, brushing me off when I said I felt awkward calling her by her first name.

Today, she took a few extra minutes to open, but she finally emerged with a towel on her head and still barefoot. I figured that she had just had a shower, and I realized that maybe it had been a bit of a rough day.

“Zaydaan is sick,” she said, sounding exhausted, and of course, that explained a lot. “I asked Shabeer if he can stay and help out but of course, you know my husband. He always has some important meeting and I’m getting a little bit sick of his excuses. Idiot. I’m actually not sure what I would do without you, Khawlah.”

She turned away in a huff, hastily grabbing her shoes from the front room and then calling the two older boys.

”Danyaal! Dayyan!” She shouted. “Khawlah is here!”

The two older boys literally raced out of the room, and their smiles were from ear to ear as they saw me. I was almost knocked over by their fierce hugs as they grabbed my legs, obviously excited and chattering away about something that had happened over the weekend.

I could hear an occasional roar and then some other animal sounds, and I could gather that they had been to some ourltdoor excursion. I just hoped that it was their father who had taken them and he had actually been spending some quality time with his family. It was really strange that I had been working here for a few months, and I hadn’t even seen him once. Not that I wanted to. I just wanted to know that he knew what an amazing family he had.

“So,” Rubeena said quickly as she applied some lipstick on her pale lips. She looked at me gratefully as I took the baby Zaydaan away from the helper who was passing. “Patricia needs to finish the kitchen so please maybe take the kids out of the way so Shabeer doesn’t have a fit when he gets home. You know how fussy he is. And, of course, the bedrooms need to be in a decent state so it’s not a big fight again. Last night he couldn’t understand how the kids could make a mess in five minutes flat. I told him to stay at home for once and watch them. Of course, he shut up fast after that.”

She rolled her eyes and I smiled awkwardly.

Gosh, this woman always complained about her husband. I wondered if he was really as ogre-like as he sounded?

She rattled off a dozen more instructions about the helper and where she shouldn’t go to me as she put on her trainers, and then she tied her streaked hair up in a neat bun and left with a bag and gym jacket.

I let out a sigh of relief as she left, gathering the four boys and slowly guiding them towards the back exit. It reminded me of the days of our old home, when leaving through the back door would give me a gorgeous world of opportunity… a gardening feast that I would look forward to endlessly. I was insatiable when it came to my adventures of planting hope… I just couldn’t get enough.

Danyaal, Dayyaan and Zia. The other three boys were chattering and joyfully parading down the stairs to the garden, as I held little Zaydaan in my arms and followed them through. They were just as excited as I was, and I daresay that gardening was as contagious as chickenpox, because I dug into the patch that Rubeena had started some planting, the four boys not only watched, but gathered pales and spades, ready to ‘help out’ wherever they could. I would often giggle at their ambtition, though sometimes a little overdone. And of course, I sometimes had to hastily wash the mouths of the smaller ones when I would find them stuffing handfuls of soil in. I still didn’t understand what was so amazing about eating sand, but the Zaydaan was a little obsessed.

Having this time was a welcome break and wonderful refuge. After everything at home, my mind really needed to take a break from reality as just forget about the ast few months. I had been so worried about Abba’s work… about Zuleikha’s marriage… even about Foi Nani’s health. I desperately wanted to get my mind into my passion for planting and let it be.

Zuleikha had returned back to her home after a month, when she was looking almost back to normal. And then of course, she phoned with the news that she was pregnant and awfully sick. I wasn’t sure whether to be happy for her or not. I could gather that she  didn’t even know how to feel herself. I just hoped that the pregnancy wouldn’t be a reason for her to stay in a marriage if she knew it was going to be trouble for her. I yearned to see my sister, hoping she would come by this weekend. I delved into the task ahead, trying to forget about Zuleikha for the moment.

Of course, what started a a half hour session turned into two hours, and amazingly, the kids are very busy with balls, spades, buckets and a number of other activities outside. It was only when I went to get some snacks and water did I pick up little Zaydaan and notice his eyes a little smaller than usual. They were slightly glossy, and as I held him, it was unusual that instead of wiggling and trying to squirm free, he actually lay his head on my shoulder without a fuss or fight.

Now this would have been awesome if it was his bedtime, but as I touched his bare cheek, the heat that emanated from it gave me a mini panic attack. And then, of course, I remembered Rubeena saying he wasn’t well. It all came flooding back as I wracked my brains about what next to do. He was clearly down with fever again and needed treatment. ASAP.

Did she say where the medication was? Did she say what to give him? I was now at a stage where I was becoming a little more than just anxious. Uneasiness was settling in and I was frantically searching drawers for some medication or some kind of instruction.

I hastily grabbed three bowls, poured in some flings into each so they wouldn’t fight and planted the three kids on the carpet in the playroom.


I shouted for the helper, wondering if she would know any better. She was fairly new but she might have seen something that Rubeena had given him earlier. She might know what to do.

”Yes?” Patricia said, coming out from the kitchen and looking at me questioningly.

“He’s got a fever!” I exclaimed, hoping she would assist. “What did ma’am give him earlier? What must I do?”

Patricia looked at me blankly and shrugged. She didn’t seem very fazed by my emergency. She was not your regular domestic. She was educated and this job was just a means for her to earn some money to complete her degree. I couldn’t blame her though because she was only there a week. Rubeena’s criteria for a helper was always someone who was well-spoken and could read. This would ensure that she could do the work that Rubeena, or any other women of the house would usually do without a communication barrier, including seeing to and reading to the children. She was the third helper since I was there and I already knew that she wouldn’t last.

“Medicines are upstairs in the room,” was all she offered, and walked away.

I couldn’t go upstairs. I never did. What was I going to do? How can Rubeena be so irresponsible?

Now by now, as you can probably gather, I was downright panicked. Stressed and panicked. As I tried to put the baby down to fetch a wet towel, I could see his eyes kind of rolling back and my heartbeat immediately escalated.

This was not good. This was not good. The baby was not well… the least Rubeena could have done was give me proper instructions. I berated myself for not asking her. What on earth was wrong with us both?

I grabbed the house phone, looking for a list of emergency numbers. Rubeena’s number was all I could find and I dialed it, my heartbeat slightly reducing as I felt relief. All I had to do was call her and ask. Maybe she will come back.

But of course, it was Murphy’s law. The phone rang and rang, and no-one answered. Maybe I should call someone else? Panic was setting in again and little Zaydaan was not looking good at all. Even with dabbing him down, his temperature was not showing any signs of coming down. He looked miserable too. His light brown eyes were still shiny and he pouted slightly as I put him down, wanting to be carried again.

I wanted to cry too. I sat down on the hallway carpet, limp baby in hand, trying to provide some comfort to him by rocking him gently and dabbing his forehead. He didn’t like the wet towel but he seemed too weak to care. Two of the older boys had finished their chips and had come to look for me. The little boy in my arms was delirious and I had no clue on how to help him. I knew that I had to get some help. I had no choice. If something had to happen to little Zaydaan, I would not know what to tell his mother.

I hastily dialed my brother’s number from the phone that was in my hand, already worried about how I would explain my job to him. Yes, it was selfish but that was my main concern.

No-one knew. Not even Abba. They thought I had extra lessons at school, and although I would help Abba but stuff for the house, Abba didn’t ask about how I did it and neither did I offer any information.

I was hoping Ahmed would understand. As he answered, I cleared my throat, speaking clearly, and hoping he wouldn’t pick up on my panicked state.

“Ahmed. Where are you?” I said gingerly, hoping he wasn’t far.

“I just came home,” he said, sounding annoyed that I was asking. “Where are you?”

He probably noticed the strange number. I hastily gave him directions and an address, telling him I’ll explain when he got here.

I blew my nose and tried to occupy the kids with a story as we sat and waited. It was the first time I had been faced with a challenge of this sort and I couldn’t help but realize that kids weren’t always fun and easy to see to. They took time. They took care. But most importantly, they weren’t always a walk in the park.

Over the past few months of seeing to these kids, I now saw motherhood as a kind of super power. Allah really chooses those who he gives the gift to. I just sometimes wished that Rubeena put a little more care into her kids. I felt like they were left to fend for themselves a lot, and I felt bad about it.

Goodness, I would have to tell her. This was the last straw. Leaving a sick baby with me with no instructions was disastrous.

Thankfully,  It was less than a minute later that I heard a car outside, and I didn’t even think before shooting up and heading for the door handle. My hand automatically turned as I heard the car switch off, not wondering why it sounded very much different to the noise I was used to of Ahmed’s citi Golf.

I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that it might not be him as I impatiently pulled open the gate, and waited for my brother.

I was so busy with the three kids that were with me that I didn’t even notice the car in the driveway. It was only when I heard the unfamiliar clearing of someone’s throat did I realize that it wasn’t Ahmed. In fact, Ahmed had not even arrived yet.

The vaguely familiar scent of perfume stifled me as I looked up, and I almost jumped as I saw him suddenly in front of me, with a huge box in his hand.

He looked different today. I couldn’t help but think that he looked better than I remembered. I didn’t want to look, but the guy was right in front of me and I could not miss seeing that perfect nose that Nusaybah kept going on about. I was a little disorientated as I processed all that was happening, but as he frowned at me, I realized  that I was in his way and hurriedly looked away and moved aside.

At least the older two kids are now diverted by the newcomer and his package, so I could focus a little more and wonder to myself about exactly what had happened.

I remembered him.

Adam, his name was.

He was, of course, the famous brother that Rubeena had always spoken about, that Nusaybah was extremely charmed by and I was a less than impressed with. There was, of course, a lot more to him than what I had known at that point.

Watching them, I forgot for a moment that I was supposed to be waiting for Ahmed. I was still holding the feverish baby in my hands, hoping that something miraculous would happen and make everything be okay again. I just didn’t realize that it had already happened… and that the very fact that this visitor was here and I could see Ahmed pulling in too was all part of a plan that was about to unfold.

A plan. A plan. A plan that held a deeper and greater meaning for us all… and a plan that would most definitely change a life.

Little did we know, that plan was already in place. It was already in progress, and as my brother jumped out of his car in a frenzy and made his way over, I held my breath, hoping that this wouldn’t bring any trouble.

Maybe I had panicked too soon. Maybe I had  been a little spontaneous. Maybe everything would have been okay… but right now, I knew that I would have to think fast.

All this was just a little more than I had bargained for.

7 thoughts on “More than the Bargain

  1. Aai yaai yaai. . Did you have to end there? Sometimes I wonder why ladies like Rubeena are made to be mothers when there are much more caring & wanting ladies that are waiting to be blessed with motherhood but doesn’t happen. . Allah Ta’ala’s will I guess. He knows best. . What to do. . Loving the storyline. . Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

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