Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Sometimes in life, it takes a while to realize that things are not exactly the way that they are supposed to be. Sometimes we are blinded by the flowers of life, until it’s too late to see the thorns that are there. Sometimes you just don’t notice everything fall apart.
The haziness, although obscuring, is rather temporary.
And when the daylight finally finds its way through… it’s simply amazing how much you can truly see.
I blinked steadily as I looked through the window, taking in the sombre surroundings of the palatial home I resided in. It wasn’t ugly. It was just bare.
A beautiful water feature stood in the middle of the front driveway, but it looked so lonely, surrounded by the concrete that it lay on. Grey and bare. Cold. I wasn’t sure if it was me, but everything these days just looked so icy.
It was my mother-in-laws voice and I could hear her footsteps coming towards my section of the house that she very so often trespassed into. Jameel has told me to keep quiet about it, and I reluctantly obliged.
“What?” I said to her, as she barged into my lounge.
Her face turned a close to a purple colour, and then all hell broke loose.
“You bloody witch!” She screamed, and I winced as she hurled a vicious array of resentment at me, not even stopping to take a breath. It was the usual nonsense she threw at me when Jameel wasn’t around.
This time though, it was a little different.
“What the shit?! Ma, what’s happening here?”
Jameel. Thank God. Finally, he would see her true colors.
His voice was alarmed and his eyes darted from her to me, in utter bewilderment.
“I was just telling her she must be careful about the spicy food,” his mother said, her voice now suddenly sickly sweet and her face actually adorned with a smile. I wanted to puke.
She was crazy. So crazy. I swear… this woman was probably possessed by some really bad stuff.
I wobbled over to the couch, shaking my head and sitting down. This was the same kind of thing that would happen every day. She would go crazy. I would hold back. And then Jameel would just have the wool pulled over his eyes. Just when I thought it would be different. When was it going to end?
I sighed, not having any energy to argue. was huge. For some reason, I was not one of those gracefully pregnant woman who would only grow a tummy. Not me. I was round and big and I hated it. I especially hated how Jameel was looking at me now, with utter dismay as his mother complained about me. On top of it all, I had developed gestational diabetes, so I coudn’t even indulge when I would feel slightly depressed by events that happened in the day,
Liar, I scowled, listening to my mother-in-laws annoying voice in the passage. She thought I couldn’t hear her.
“I’ll speak to her, ma,” Jameel said calmly. “Go rest now. I’ll come see you just now.”
He was holding his nose and grabbed a tissue as he tried to usher her away.
Nose bleed. It was a normal for Jameel, probably related to the weather and stressful situations too.
She reluctantly left our section as he turned away, promising to be back later if he didn’t come.
“Let’s just leave it, and go,” he mumbled under his breath, shrugging away the negative energy that hung in the air, wiping his nose again and ignoring my pitiable look.
He knew it. He knew she was crazy but he would never admit it. How on earth was I going to go on like this?
I breathed in, and then out again.
Suck it up, Zulz, I convinced myself. Suck it up.
Why couldn’t he just say it and make me feel better?
Jameel turned to me, his nose all wiped up and smiled his dazzling smile. I couldn’t help but immediately forgive him for being such a coward.
It was inevitable. He just had this look that made me crumble. This was a small thing. When he had nearly broke me the last time… he had come begging for forgiveness, promising to be better.
He loved me, he said. He couldn’t stand another man touching me and when he saw me that day, he lost it.
I understood. It was a weak moment. Since we had found out about the pregnancy, he hadn’t laid a finger on me. He had just made a mistake.
I swallowed and smiled back, getting up and wobbling over again, trying to appear a bit more sophisticated than I felt.
“Are you ready?”
I nodded and sat down again, trying to clumsily strap the sandals I had chosen to wear that day. It was the only thing that seemed to match with the outfit I had chosen, and although heels were not the best choice, I didn’t want to spoil the look.
We were going for some work function that Jameel was invited to and I couldn’t look anything less than the trophy wife he would always boast about having.
Even though I didn’t feel like it, Jameel finally convinced me that I looked amazing in the metallic tights and baby doll style top that kind of suited my roundness, and we were on our way. I tried to forget about his mother’s accusations that I knew were founded on jealousy, and concentrate on the evening ahead.
Amazing. That’s what it was going to be. A seven course dinner that would be spent rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous in the city… you couldn’t compare to that, right?
I sighed as we reached the venue, slightly nervous as I stepped off the car. They had people to park your car for you- and if that wasn’t a good gauge of the function’s credibility, the bouncer type guards that were outside ensured that only the wealthy and affluent people would be entering the premises. I tossed my hair back breezily with an air of arrogance, even though I felt close to a whale.
That was the thing about being rich. You didn’t have to always look great. You just had to dress it.
As usual, Jameel was almost immediately sidetracked by some business acquaintances, and unlike the earlier days of my marriage, now I stayed planted by his side, hanging onto their every word and laughing modestly at all the appropriate times. Jameel nodded and winked as required, and we were ushered in this manner to the main table, where the VIPs of the town usually sat.
I was on cloud nine. The earlier events of the evening meant nothing now. Jameel grabbed a chair for me to sit, and I sat obediently, glad that I could finally rest my legs. Opposite us was a TV personality who I vaguely recognized. The other was the owner of the biggest chain of franchises in the country. I silently observed the other people at the table too, noticing a boy and a girl who were conversing in hushed tones as they spoke. They looked strangely alike, and as I turned away to read the menu, I couldn’t help but hear the idealistic chatter beyond the other end of the table.
Outfits. Houses. Cars.
That was the buzz around me, and even as I got caught up in the moment, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing.
I was here. In the poshest and most VIP function in the country… surrounded by the most affluent and influential people… but inside, I felt strangely empty.
Not just lonely. That was a different feeling. I felt like there was a void. A huge, empty hole in the pit of the my gut that I had been trying for so long to ignore… and I just couldn’t anymore.
Was this what life was really about? Was this the end all and be all?
“Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment“. [57:20]
A deceiving enjoyment. A perfect illusion. A beautiful lie.
Oh, how I knew all this and yet I still was here… with no regrets about what my life had become, and no intention to change. And then, like an arrow in the midst of the battlefield, aimed so perfectly… something precise and planned knocks you off your feet and gets you down on your knees again.
I was still stupidly starstruck by my surroundings, but as I sat back in order to ease the pain on my lower back, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation at my table.
”Don’t be crazy,” I could hear the girl saying. “She’s not our type. She lives in a one story cottage and she has no mother.”
I frowned, and I couldn’t help but feel like someone was stabbing me in my chest as I heard that. Were they talking about me?
I swallowed hard.
“She’s different,” the guy said, and his voice sounded convincing. “Real. Not like all these people we see here. Ruby… you may be older than me but I know more about life that you. This is all we ever knew and it never made us happy. This girl… what’s her name again? She’s got something about her.”
”She’s not your type. She’s too good,” the girl said. “Khawlah will never agree…”
By now, my heart was thudding in my chest… and I noisily pushed the chair back in haste, eager to get out of there and find my husband.
Khawlah. Did they just say Khawlah? My Khawlah? My sister. How on earth had my family history found it’s way back here… to this elite function where I thought I had hidden my past so well?
I pushed passed several people as I looked around blindly, trying to spot Jameel’s face in the crowd. There was music in the background, and I tried to ignore its undertones, almost taunting me to relent and sway to its melody, like many were. It wasn’t a club but with the amount of vices that were around here… I was sure that it was just as bad. I peeled my eyes for my husband, now eager to find him and grasp onto the one familiar thing I knew.
Without realising, I found myself at a black door, with bold writing.
VIP only, I read.
He was nowhere else. He had to be there. At any other stage in my life, I wouldn’t have dared to go in, but knowing that I had gained that status through Jameel, I pushed it open, facing two biggish guys who looked at me steadily.
“Yes?” Said the one, eyeing me out.
“Jameel,” I said, hoping that it will do the trick. “Jameel Mohamed.”
There was immediate recognition noted as I said it, and the man stepped aside with no questions. I pretended to be a true VIP as I walked through, trying to wave away the smoke that was cascading at me from the e-cigarettes that almost everyone there was smoking. I took shallow breaths and waded my way through, trying desperately to spot my husband in the growing crowd.
It didn’t take long.
Somewhere at the back I could hear his voice, and although I couldn’t see his face… it was obvious that he was there from the small crowd that only Jameel usually drew.
I edged forward, without much thought or evaluation.
I didn’t realise that this crowd wasn’t the usual type. This crowd wasn’t the type that would gracefully engage with his wife just to get on Jameel’s better side. This was a different kind of crowd.
This crowd was only after one thing. they just wanted to get the most of the situation… and unlike me, they knew things about Jameel that I was completely oblivious too.
The table was now within my view, and I could see packages that looked a little parcels… tied up, with tape on them to seal. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was… but as I got closer, I kept telling myslef that it could never be.
This stuff was like something out of a movie. Powder in packages. Money just thrown around. People snorting lines of white powder just another table away.
My heart was now hammering in my chest, like I couldn’t believe. And then, Jameel happened to look up, and our eyes locked in mutual disbelief.
It wasn’t the moment that it happened, but it was the moment that the realisation hit me. Our faith. Our home. Our marriage.
Our entire lives.
Everything in our lives was falling apart.
Note: Dearest Readers,
Sorry about the delay in posting. Things got a bit crazy this week. Hoping to explore a different aspect for the next few posts as this is a really scary and increasing problem in our community. We sometimes think that these things are so far-fetched until we hear of it happening literally under our noses. May Allah save us all.
I was so happy to see your post as I dearly missed the blog so much. I just knew it was drugs esp with the nosebleed. I just hope she has the courage to leave this mess. Oh no, he can’t be after our dear Khawlah. Looking forward to the next post. JazaakAllah khair for sharing.
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Shukran sis.. whenever I don’t feel like writing I just think that maybe someone may be waiting, so I’m so glad that you missed the story. ❣️Oh yes, Zuleikha is I trouble… let’s see…