This is War

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


“Jameel, you’re…” I tried to say, fear gripping me from within, and my heartbeat escalating to a nearly unbearable rate. 

Hurting me, I wanted to say. You’re hurting me.

But the words couldn’t escape my lips. Even my saliva wasn’t able to slip down my throat.

His grasp finally loosened and I loosely fell to the bed, coughing and gasping for breath. I was so sure that he was going to hurt me. I almost thought he would kill me. For the first time in my married life, I felt out of control. Out of control, and freakishly fearful of what this man could do.

But this was your choice, the voice within me said, reminding me that I’d basically dug my own grave. I had to let go and give up. There was no way I could get out now… no way I could leave this. I told myself that there was no escape.

And although not ideal, life becomes such that, you find yourself in some kind of rhythm. Abnormal things become the usual. Strange things become a norm. 

I was stuck in this world, sworn to secrecy and trapped in a place where I wished I could get out of…

At the beginning I would think a lot. I kept on thinking about Abba. About what Jameel had said. Did he mean that he made Abba go missing? Did he mean that Abba was involved in drugs? No matter what way I looked at it… nothing seemed to make sense. It just made me feel even more lost in the home that I was beginning to feel like a prisoner in.

Jameel didn’t let me go anywhere alone. To console me, he said he would stop the cocaine. I believed him. I forgave him. I wanted to forget it. Maybe he wanted to stop. Maybe he truly thought he could get better. I did too. 

It was okay, I would tell myself. He gave me everything of the best. It was just a small compromise.

I knew I was being foolish, but I couldn’t help myself. What would I do if I ran away? Where would I go? No-one would want me after this… especially pregnant with someone else’s child, I stood no chance.

It was a case of manipulation and forced guilt. It’s what Jameel would tell me when he would realize that I was catching up with his antics too. The thing with cocaine was that it was a drug that wasn’t easy to always detect. It had really short periods of ecstasy and really fast crashes. Because it caused the user to become ultra alert, something else would have to be taken to kill that. I learnt that those were called beans, and they helped Jameel when he came down, or needed to get some sleep. All this, I realized long after I needed to.

Sometimes I thought that maybe he was high. Sometimes I didn’t know. Sometimes I just suspected. I tried to learn more. Jameel was good at hiding it. Things didn’t change. The parties would continue. The life of luxury, material wealth and unlimited pleasures, for him, was at its best. There was no shortage of good things…. no limit to the worldly whims that had become a part of our world.

The voice inside would remind me… as always… but I felt helpless. I was sucked in… devoured by the world of that was at my disposal. The money. The cars. Food and drink. It knew no limits… it was pure extravagance. The endless socializing that Jameel was always a part of. Those nights always ended off with a drug binge, and we would end up at square one, with a screaming match that always ended in tears for me. 

“This can’t carry on!” I had screamed, on one particular night, not caring if his parents would hear and have a rant about waking the neighbors. They didn’t care that he was abusing drugs. They didn’t care about me or the baby. As long as they didn’t lose their respect in this world of wealth, game and fame.

I was exhausted from running after him, trying to keep tabs on this grown man. He was an adult, for goodness sake. Why was I always having to look after him… to make sure he didn’t lose control?

Tonight was wild. It was one of those nights when the party had reached a height of extremity. It was rough and very much explicit. Too many people knew him. Everyone wanted a piece of him, and Jameel, as usual, would go to the limits to satisfy. He would compromise the anything for the respect of the VIP’s, no matter what it meant to me or our marriage.

The music was purely satanic. The drugs were too exposed. The women were too naked. Everything was just too much. That night, I had reached the limit. 

Of course, Jameel thought it was all cool. My bulging tummy now made me more tired than usual. I felt heavy, burdened and really, really exhausted. 

“Leikha, just chill,” Jameel had said, trying to persuade me that it wasn’t a big deal. The problem with Jameel was that nothing was a big deal. He didn’t realize that we were living our lives like non-Muslims. I wasn’t even sure if our Imaan was still in tact. 

Chill?!” I asked incredulously, so fed up with his laid back approach to things that were both morally and religiously wrong. On so many levels. “I will not! This is getting out of control, Jameel. You are getting out of control!”

I still had the fear of approaching him after the last time, so I tried to lower my voice as I noticed his face hardening. I didn’t want another onslaught of his. I could see his high was starting to wear off, and he came a little closer to me, tightening his grip around my bare arm.

“Zuleikha, you don’t own me,” he said stubbornly, clearly irritated and wanting his way. “In this business, I have to do what it takes to step up. I have a big deal that’s going through. You think all this money comes from nothing?! You think I just make a few deals and we get rich?! Babe, I have bills to pay. People to impress. Don’t give me shit about my job. I know what I need to do.”

And with that he shoved me away as he stepped back, gave me a dirty look and stormed to the room, slamming the door. It was time for him to crash and I didn’t want to get in the way.

I sighed in relief, rubbing my arm. At least he wasn’t violent. At least he didn’t try and force me to be intimate tonight.  The drugs didn’t change him all the time. It was only sometimes… before he would crash… that a slightly sadistic side would come out. That was when I had to watch my back, and stay out of his way. Nothing I could do could make him see sense, and of course, his family would be of no help.

On top of it all, there was this innocent life inside of me that I felt I was ruining even before it breathed its first breath. 

The tears were rolling down my cheeks, as I thought of my life that night. ‘The introspection was bound to come sooner or later, and with the emotions toiling within me, I knew now, I had to reflect. Jameel ignored the sobs. I couldn’t seem to control them either. What was I doing? What was I doing

I wasn’t raised like this. This wasn’t how my Mama had brought me up. What would Abba say? If they knew what had been going on in my life, they probably wouldn’t have been able to bear this. I was on the verge of tipping over too. 

Where was the inspiration? I wanted to change, but I didn’t even have the energy to take the step. What had our lives become?

It was a rivalry… a competition for worldly wealth that was being chased.

I wasn’t sure when last I had truly prayed. I had tried to read some of my Salaah. I didn’t remember when last I had opened the Quran. I had known so much… I had been so aware. I had looked at people like me before with pride. I never thought that anyone could lose so much of Deen, but I was a perfect example of neglect. 

I got up from where I sat, slowly walking across the room as I reached for the Qur’an on the top shelf of my cupboard. There was actually dust on its cover, and I felt like a hypocrite as I wiped it off, and settled on the dressing table chair. The dim light in the dressing room was sufficient to see. I didn’t want to risk waking Jameel. I opened the cover carefully to my marker, eager to see what the last page was that I had read.

My eyes settled steadily on a page toward the end, and I sucked in my breath as I read the verses. I knew exactly what he devoured us. 

It was just as Almighty Allah says, so clearly and aptly. Just that first verse sent chills down my spine. 

أَلۡهَٮٰكُمُ ٱلتَّكَاثُرُ

Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you

I was astounded with the truth that stared at me.

The increase. The constant competition for increase. The rivalry that came with the increase of wealth. It was a curse that couldn’t compare… until reality hits. 

2. Until you visit the graves.

3. Nay! You shall come to know!

4. Again nay! You shall come to know!

5. Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge.

6. Verily, you shall see the blazing Fire!

7. And again, you shall see it with certainty of sight!

8. Then on that Day you shall be asked about the delights!

The delights. What delights we were enjoying in this world… would surely be a cause for the fire in the next. I had forgotten was simplicity was. I had forgotten about the most beautiful examples. I had forgotten about the lessons that I needed to change.  


Where had I gotten lost? Where was I going? So far I had wandered… and my life was such that I had no relation whatsoever with the pious people of the past. 

I was lost. Truly, I had lost my way. Was I going to die like this?

No. I couldn’t.  But how did I find the path again?

I breathed in. I breathed out. Where did I even begin?

Everything seemed to be going downhill. I couldn’t seem to find a way out.

And then later that day, as I lay in pensive thought… I heard a loud knock on my door. Because my house was attached to the main house, I had no bell and neither did I get many visitors. I looked up, wondering who it was. 

The mad knock on the door was loud enough to wake the dead, but Jameel slept on obliviously, as I went to open. I almost jumped  with shock as I saw my brother standing at the door, muttering something about a psycho woman who I guessed was my mother-in-law. I remained silent as I let him in, noting his roaming eyes as he surveyed my home and then let his gaze settle on me. It was only the second time he had been here.

“Yoh, you are HUGE!” Ahmed said loudly, not even trying to be polite about it.  I looked back at him, narrowing my eyes.

 “Thanks,” I muttered, wanting to get to the point and get him out of here fast, before Jameel woke up. He didn’t like my family visiting. He had his reasons, but I knew he was worried I would say something that would kill his reputation as being as amazing as he always pretended to be. It was only Ahmed who didn’t seem to take to him. 

“What are you doing here?” I asked. 

He poked around in a few of my stuff as he walked in, finally settling on the suede couch near the kitchen.

  “I came to see my sister,” he said, as if it was obvious.  “You’ve been scarce. Jameel treating you okay? Whens the baby coming?”

There was a hint of something in his voice and I almost suspected that he knew more than he was letting on. 

Baby stuff. I had been thinking about that. Somehow, with everything going on, I didn’t even have much time to look at the options. I had ordered the basics online, and kept them in the little room in the back. I just couldn’t seem to get very excited about the baby at this stage. I wasn’t sure if there was something wrong with me.

 I was about to say something back, but the door of the room slowly opened as Ahmed continued talking about Khawlah and her plans for when the baby arrived. They were expecting me to come home. 

Jameel sauntered in casually, and I already knew that something was up. For all I knew, he was probably pretending to sleep. He had that look on his face and I was already wishing that Ahmed didn’t come. I didn’t want him to see this side of Jameel.

“Zuleikha is not going anywhere,” he said, and his voice was icy as he eyes Ahmed out.

Ahmed’s expression changed in an instant, and he stared at him, with his eyebrows raised. I remembered the time Ahmed wanted to kill my husband. The situation was getting close.

“No one asked you, idiot,” Ahmed said, and I could tell that he wasn’t scared. That was the problem with Ahmed. He wasn’t scared of anything.

I could practically see the smoke coming out of Jameel’s ears. He was fuming. He started hurling swear words at my brother like there was no tomorrow, and Ahmed looked back at him, with an indifferent eye, almost in amusement. I wanted to run but I was frozen. This was soon going to get out of hand, as Jameel got even angrier. He couldn’t stand when someone made him feel stupid, especially on his own territory.

And then, just when he couldn’t take it anymore, his entire body suddenly lunged forward, and charged at Ahmed. It didn’t help that he was still slightly out of his senses. It probably contributed to his disorientation.

As he reached Ahmed in a kind of fury that I had seen glimpses of in recent weeks, I could already sense that something bad was going to happen. I wanted so badly to control it, but I could do nothing. Jameel shoved Ahmed backward as he almost stumbled himslef, but he remained intent on getting his own back. And then, my worst fear became a reality. 

It was almost in slow motion that I saw Ahmed pull out his handgun, and my heart jumped straight to my mouth as he aimed it at Jameel, and then looked at me in expectation.

I was in limbo. In utter limbo. I couldn’t say a thing. Time was at a standstill.

Ahmed was always quick. Too quick. Quick with his food. Quick with his work. Quick to lose it… completely.

He was equally quick with the trigger. 

The piercing bang resonated through the air, just as I felt trickling down my leg. I couldn’t believe what was going on, and even as I averted my gaze to focus on what was going on with me, the feeling of excruciating despair was overwhelming. 

What had he done?! What had he done?

I couldn’t swallow it. It was all too much. We didn’t know what this would all bring… and I didn’t know that it would go so far. I could hear the screams from somewhere close by but I didn’t know who it was.

All I knew was that whatever the outcome was here…

This would be war. 



12 thoughts on “This is War

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s