Somehow when we think we are moving ahead, we realize that we end up right back at square one.
But what we don’t realize is that we go away so we can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
The thing is, mankind is such that when we are tested with good, we think that Allah has honored us. When we are in difficulty… we think Allah has humiliated us. In Surah Fajr, Allah uses the word ibtalaa for both honour and blessings and also restriction of provision, thus proving that while bad times are a test, good times are a test too…
And as human beings, we crave ease. But we also appreciate change. Sometimes we thrive on it. It makes us think. Reflect. Ponder over the reality of this temporary life.
Even at a very young age, I had many things that I could be thankful for. Even though I had been through many tests, Allah had blessed me with many, many favours. Sometimes when you feel a little hurt… a little pain, then you are able to appreciate the beauty of what Allah had given you to make you smile…
I remembered as a young girl, when Khalid gave us the kitten, it was only a matter of time before he had broken to us the news of him leaving to go to Madrassah. I often wondered if he had been planning it, to leave some sort of reminder of him, for when he left. It just so happened that every time I saw that cat, that Aunty Agnus had somehow managed to save and keep from the vicious hands of Aunty Nas and Hannah, I couldn’t help but smile.
Over the years, Tim Tam, as Yunus had so adorably named him at the time, grew into a calm but uninterested domestic cat, who resided in Yunus’s room. Despite Yunus not being able to spontaneously strike up a proper conversation with another human, I was almost certain that Tim Tam and him had lengthy chats in his room when the rest of the world was probably asleep.
Seeing Tim Tan jump up onto the window sill now made me feel nostalgic. As I glimpsed the cat, it was almost like the cat knew exactly what had happened too… What a shuddering loss it was.
Indeed, to Allah we belong, and to him we will be returned.
Loving and losing,
Just one letter apart.
A mere consonant of change,
Yet a million degrees of pain.
“Honey, are you okay?”
I looked up from where I sat, registering Nusaybah’s penetrating gaze on me, and nodded meekly.
She was the only one who truly knew how much Khalid had meant to me. And although I felt like I had no right to be so feel this way, as she came towards me… I couldn’t help but break down in her arms. She held me back comfortingly, offering her soothing words as she attempted to console me. I could see Zuleikha looking at me worriedly, as I held on to Nusaybah… in desperation..
I couldn’t tell her. I just couldn’t find the words to say how much I had once loved my dear friend. Once upon a time, there was a boy who meant the world to me, but that telepathy that had existed within the confines of my heart… well, it wasn’t meant to blossom.
“Must I come with you to see Aunty Radiyyah?” Nusaybah said softly, pulling away as she studied me with concern. “You need to meet her.”
She was right. I did need to meet her but I didn’t want her to see me like this. I didn’t want anyone to see me like this.
“Give me a few minutes,” I said as I went to my room, trying my best to make myself appear normal. I dried up my eyes and pinched my cheeks.
Nusaybah spoke softly as we sat at the back of Jameel’s car that Zuleikha drove, trying to figure out what exactly had happened to Khalid. I could see Zuleikha eyeing us from behind her niqaab. Her journey had been a long one but she had finally found what calmed her soul. I was so proud of my sister.
My mind shifted to Khalid again. His cat-like eyes. His animated smile. What was so strange was that when Ahmed had seen him, he seemed so well and normal… and now…. My heart felt so bruised. He was so young and alive. Even in my memory.. he felt like he was still here.
On hearing the news, Aadam had made his way straight to the house. My husband was really a sterling example of selflessness, and I could not even understand how he did it. I felt like a traitor by feeling so grieved at Khalid’s loss. Aadam was just so nice. I knew that he had sensed my despair… He was certainly not a stupid guy.
He had an inkling that my strained voice and refusal to accompany him was not regular, but he didn’t push the issue. He didn’t ask me why I was being so emotional. He gently said he’d see me later, because he knew. He let me be, because he knew that I was dealing with a grief of my own.
I wanted to hug him as I saw him outside the house, talking to someone about something serious. I glimpsed the shadow of a smile as he saw me. He was my rock, and I loved him for having that patience with me during that time.
Nusaybah held onto my shoulder as she guided me through the door, where I saw a few ladies in the lounge. On the right was Aunty Radiyyah, and kneeling down next to her, I could see Khalid’s father whispering fervently.
“No!” She was saying. “Don’t say that!”
It was all I heard as I looked at them, a little distressed as I wondered what they were arguing about.
“Radiyyah,” Khalids father said, his voice with just an edge of a impatience. “Please my darling, you have to accept it… The car was burnt. There is no chance he would have survived. Khalid is gone. He’s gone.”
Aunty Radiyyah looked at him blankly and shook her head. She was adamant.
“Not my Khalid,” she said stubbornly, lifting her chin. “Khalid is not gone. I have this feeling deep in my gut. I just know it.”
I could see Khalid’s father rubbing his temples as he walked past us to go out. He had given up. He seemed like he was in a daze of his own. He saw nothing as he exited, and my heart burned for his reality.
What a test it was to lose a child. What a test it was to lose your only child. But is it not true that Allah lends you a beautiful blessing in him or her, and can take it back at any time? Is it not true that Allah gives you a gift for this short worldly existence, and can claim it back as He seems fit?
My heart ached for her. Her hijab was wrapped loosely and her expression was so empty. Her usually glowing skin seemed to have been robbed of its lustre. The wrinkles on her face seemed to have deepened overnight.
Aunty Radiyyah, my beautiful confidante. She was so broken at this loss, but the idea that Khalid was still alive kept her in hope. I could see it on her face as she looked at people greeting her… I could see that she would never accept his death until she saw his body.
And I wished that she could finally get this closure because seeing my dear Aunty Radiyyah like this was breaking my heart.
We spent a few days at Aunty Radiyyah’s house, helping out and assisting where we could. I wasn’t sure if she had finally accepted the truth out of force, or whether she really believed it. With Khalid gone, her entire life would change. Everything just seemed so different. Her entire being just seemed to lose it’s sparkle.
It was Aadam who made his way there every morning, checking on them, trying to offer some comforting words… or just being there, because there truly was no-one else. When the visitors had stopped coming and everyone had either gone away on holiday or seemed to move on with life… Aadam was there.
Even on days when I felt too depressed to see Aunty Radiyyah’s empty soul, Aadam was the one who dragged himself, with a smiling face, to see to their needs. He was relentless in his efforts. He truly believed that one day he would see that glowing face and laughter fill that house again.
And of course, with the sincerity that Aadam had in his heart, it was no wonder that I eventually entered one day to find Aunty Radiyyah’s eyes smiling once again. As school started and my time had become more limited, the few visits that I made to their house finally felt like a dream come true.
I could tell by the way Aunty Radiyyah’s eyes would light up as she saw us, that there was a new kind of hope again. His easy nature and ability to just weasel his way into the heart with the best of intentions was priceless. I wasn’t sure how he did it…
“How do you do it?” I asked him one day as we sat together, in the midst of summer heat. He had taken so much on.. achieved so much in such a short time…
It was early February and things had been a bit crazy with the start of the new year. We had stolen a few minutes out of our busy schedules just to spend some time alone together, and I was trying to savour them.
“Do what?” He said, stifling a yawn.
Why did I feel like he was always so exhausted these days? His tiredness was beginning to worry me. I shoved the thought aside, putting it down to all his extra commitments.
Although Aadam had done the three days out a few times, his ultimate ambition was to go out for a full forty day Jamaat. For now, since he was funding and seeing to some other projects nearby, I could see it taking his toll on him, even though he tried to hide it.
We had taken a short walk to the park near the apartment, and as we sat on a bench near the pond there, watching the fish swishing by, Aadam slung his arm around my shoulders as he played with the tassels on my scarf. I watched him intently as he looked ahead, enjoying the sight of my soothed husband as he closed his eyes, reveling in the peaceful perks of surrounding nature. His brow was was firmly set and a small smile played on his lips as he opened his eyes and glanced at me lovingly.
”How do you make everyone just love you?” I said, shaking my head at him.
It was a rare occasion of uninterrupted time with my husband. Even though he had cut back on his work a lot that year, like he had always wanted to do, his time now went on seeing to projects that his Maulana had assigned to him. He had stuck to the notion that he had more than he could ever need. At the beginning of his career, he had focused on earning big and making it to the top… but now, money had just become by the way for him.
And it was amazing to see his focus change, as he grew and learnt. As he took the plunge, he had bloomed into something that I was in awe of. He wasn’t afraid to change. Like a wise man once said: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
And that was Aadam. He wasn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone and embrace new things. He wasn’t afraid to see things differently to everyone else. He wasn’t afraid to put the round pegs in the square holes. He wasn’t afraid to change the way we see everything.
“Sometimes we have to decide whether its going to be ‘one day’… or ‘day one’ of the chance to change our lives.”
He spoke softly as I looked at him, glancing at me from the corner of his eye.
“One thing I’ve realized, after Khalid… Life is so short, love. We only have one shot at this. We have to do whatever it takes to make someone smile, to ease someone’s pain or just to be someone’s reason to take another chance in life… It doesn’t matter how we do it. What matters is what’s in our hearts. We earn our Jannah simply through our good deeds. And the thing is, I never understood how it feels to make someone’s day until I actually did it…”
I thought of Aunty Radiyyah. About how her whole face lit up when she saw him. Dada was another one of Aadam’s faves. Where it was so hard to even get him to crack a smile before, with Aadam around, he was always chuckling. And then of course, there was my very own heart that was his biggest fan… it literally leapt with joy when I was with him.
What an amazing feeling it must be to be of those contented people who saw nothing more than to make other people happy.
“Have you ever heard Khalid recite?”
I blinked as Aadam said it, completely out of the blue, and turned to him in confusion as I looked up. How was that even possible? Khalid was gone.
My heart sank as I recalled the reality.
“I heard a recording,” he explained, glancing at me. “He sent it to his father just days before…”
Days before he was burnt alive. An arsonist who intended foul play had interfered with the car him and his cousin were travelling in. They had barely left the town when the entire car lit up in flames. Now that I could actually process it, I couldn’t help but shudder at the cruelty. It was heartbreaking. Two sisters lost their sons on one day… Khalid’s cousin had also died a martyr.
Aadam tapped into his phone for a few seconds, and I couldn’t help but freeze as it started to play.
Now, I had heard Khalid recite Qur’an when he was younger. His voice had still been immature and his tajweed (Arabic pronunciation), though excellent, was a little imperfect. Now, as Aadam played the audio…
I was absolutely stupefied.
His voice was simply unbelievable. Like cascading waterfalls… a falling and rising of emotion that swayed my very soul. Every letter and word was pronounced with unhindered purpose, and as his voice peaked and dropped at just the right inflections, I was lost in it’s harmony. His pitch had just the right amount of required force blended with melodious ease. It was sensational.
But what was most amazing was the verses from Surah Fajr that he was reciting, that I knew the exact meaning of… and as I heard it, I was sure that Allah had sent this very recording as a comfort to his parents, because now… I just knew.
[To the righteous they will be greeted with],
Oh contented soul,
Return to your Lord, you well-pleased with him and He pleased [with you],
So enter among among My [righteous] servants
And enter My Paradise.” (Surah Fajr: 27-30)
I was speechless. Now, I felt like Khalid had attained exactly what he had wanted. Amidst the anguish that he had probably felt, Khalid’s soul had been contented in most unassuming way. And as the glad tidings of the verses came alive for me in his perfect recitation, I could only imagine that he must have been elevated to such a rank that I was quite certain that he had somehow earned that very special place in Allah’s eyes.
It was too beautiful for words. I sat there in limbo, mouth agape as the recitation played, and ended, and replayed again…
I could see Aadam’s eyes fill with tears as finally I looked at him… and as for me… well, I was literally bawling my eyes out. That was how deeply moving it was. I had no idea that Khalid had such an amazing gift. I had no idea that Khalid had such an outstanding voice. Like a remarkable blend of two of my favourite Haram reciters… I was in with awe as I heard it. ..
“One day,” Aadam said, swallowing as he stopped it and looked at me. “My son’s going to read just like that…”
I blinked, zoning back to reality.
“Now you want a son?” I said, swallowing hard from teh emotion but not being able to resist a dig at him. Aadam smiled.
“Okay, let’s just say my nephew, yeah?” He said with a teary grin, as he squeezed my shoulders, telling me not to be so hard on him. When he heard reading like that, he couldn’t help but get carried away.
“So did you hack Khalid’s father’s phone or did he send it to you?” I asked, trying to lighten the mood. Thinking about Khalid again was making my heart ache.
I smiled as Aadam grinned, asking me if I thought he was a crook.
”My days of hacking people’s phones are over,” he said comically, burying his head in my scarf as he rested there for a few more moments of companionable silence..
The hour had sped by so fast and I almost wished we could stay there a little longer. There were so many emotions soaring through my mind… but reality had called once again.
It was time to head to his mothers house for a long-awaited family supper that we had been avoiding. One thing I was looking forward to, though, was seeing the kids after ages…
”Mum’s waiting for us,” Aadam said softly as he checked his buzzing phone. I knew it was my mother-in-law.
I had a feeling that Rubeena had intervened on my behalf, and though she had been ignoring me in a most polite way, his mother had been on our case about spending time at Khalid’s house. She had a hard time sharing her son, and I tried to understand her point of view. All she wanted was her sons undivided attention, and it wasn’t an easy call. I mean, even I didn’t get that, often enough.
Aadam grasped my hand as we walked back, picking up speed as we glimpsed Aadam’s car ahead. Yes, things had improved. Maybe not drastically, but I felt more content as we made our way to the house, chatting about plans for the week and ambitions that we had for the future.
What we didn’t know yet was that something completely unexpected was waiting to unfold that evening… that would put everything right back at square one…
I know it’s a bit out of character for me but I’d humbly like to do a shout out. *grins*
Okay, just to explain… so I happened to reply to a younger reader who commented a while back, and it didn’t go through. Sister Amatullah, please make me Maaf – I did reply now again.
Just a shout out to say I appreciate the comment and it truly humbles me to know that I made a difference in someone’s life and thinking. May Allah keep my focus on what is important. This is why I write, even when sometimes in this ugly world it feels like there’s no point…
And since I’m doing a shout-out, a big ‘Heya!’ ❤️ to all those lovely ladies who always take the time to read, comment and like the posts. A little goodness and love really does go a long way, you know who you are. JazakAllah Khair to every one of you, just for reading!
Okay, I’m done now. Sorry for the rambles. Love to hear from you guys too.
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