Real Time Moments

Bismihi Ta’ala


Memories are a funny thing. It’s weird how there are things you just can’t remember… and things you just can’t seem to forget.

It was a week or two after I turned six, that Khalid dragged me aside one day, towing me along with him in excitement as we got to the entrance of the gardening shed. It was no wonder that I could recall the time of year clearly, because it was when the trees were starting to lose their leaves and Autumn was proudly beginning to show it’s presence.

And that summer had been an adventure in itself. Since Mama was sick, I had enough time to spend looking for the right tools and seeds to invest in our garden, always trying new ways to help our plants grow. I had learnt that a toss of the soil every now and then can sometimes bring up seedlings of plants that I thought were dead and gone. I had realized that, with a little sprinkle of water, chatter and care as I worked along, my plants would somehow thrive on real conversation. Further more, after setting up a tiny enclosure for them with some sticks and  mesh that we had found in that very garden shed, the little seedlings that were barely growing before were prospering like there was no tomorrow.

I was becoming an expert gardener, even if I did say so myself.

“What is it?!” I said to Khalid impatiently, watching him as his silvery eyes darted around, almost as if he was looking for something that had once been hidden there.

“There it is!” he said suddenly, pointing as his face suddenly lit up. He was probably nearly eight at the time. He stretched out his long arm to grab what looked like some sort of handle, and before could even ask him what he was onto today, out came an old, but magnificent, two-wheeled bicycle.

“Today,” he said proudly, his face beaming as he looked at me. “We’re learning something new.”

I looked at him blankly and frowned. It wasn’t like it had ever been a great ambition of mine. But according to Khalid, everyone around me had learnt to ride and it was about time that I did too.

I still remembered him holding the back of my seat and then letting go… and that feeling of gliding along, knowing that I was doing it all by myself was just beauty…

The exhilaration of riding a bike was unmatched. It was, essentially, a true and unprecedented feeling of all-encompassing freedom…

And then as he ran ahead of me, something that had escaped my notice before had suddenly come to my attention as I watched him. I could see him kicking almost invisible pieces of something that lay ahead of me, precisely on the path that I was riding.

”Hey,” I shouted to him bossily. “Why do you keep doing that?”

Why did he take the trouble to stop every few seconds just to kick a small insignificant thing off the path.

And then of course, as he ran ahead in his boisterous voice and his Papa’s wise words, to told me the story of the man who was granted Paradise due to his small but sincere act of moving obstacles out of someone’s path.

And the most amazing part of the story was that never for one moment did that man who swept thorns aside or removed a branch of a tree from a path think that it would be the happiest day of his life… but he was told that because of that, he would enter Jannah.

Nabi (ﷺ) said: “A man never did a good deed but removed a thorny branch from the road; it was either in the tree and someone cut it and threw it on the road, or it was lying in it, he removed it. Allah accepted this good deed of his and brought him into Paradise.” [A narration of Hasan Sahih grade (Al-Albani); refer Sunan Abi Dawud no. 5245]

And until Khalid brought it to my attention, I had no idea that the act of saving people from harm and loss was so greatly liked by Allah, no matter how small it is. I didn’t know that to remove an obstacle from one’s path was not only about the physical aspect. It had a deeper and more profound meaning. By a little extra time taken on the path to make someone else’s easier… in a selfless act that costs nothing at all… can even be the very reason Allah grants you your Jannah.

“You’re doing it, Khawlah!” Yunus has shrieked as he made an appearance outside, thrilled by my achievement. “You’re riding by yourself!”

Whoop, whoop!” Khalid shouted, his voice echoing as he cupped his hands around his mouth to amplify his excitement.

I could glimpse him running around frantically as I concentrated, trying to get me to steer properly while I manoevred myself around the pavement.

Aunty Sarah!” Khalid screamed as I finally got the hang of it, obviously all hyped up. “Look out! It’s Khawlah! She’s riding!

And of course, as my mothers beaming face made an appearance from the top floor after a few seconds, I forgot about pressing brakes and went crashing down once again.

But that was all in the fun of riding, wasn’t it? The perseverance… the aspiration… and then the accomplishment of finally getting it right. It took me a few tries but eventually, I did.

The sweetness of childhood was so beautiful. The thrill that every new achievement brought was glorious as we played amidst familiar Jacaranda trees that towered above. The freedom that came with riding a bike for the first time was one of the few memories that I recalled of my mother…

And I didn’t realize it then, but those were the perfect memories were etched in my mind for years to come. Fountains of love.. spilling over with ambition… torrents of emotion that never seemed to deplete… so much had happened here, and I couldn’t help but let it all overwhelm me as I glimpsed  out.

That same window, in years to come, would be the one I would look up to as I played hopscotch in the street, climbed our favourite tree, or just happened to be playing some nonsensical game that bided our time. And little did I know that it was the same window that I would look up to again, to see Hannah often looking out, with a look of certain forced aloofness. I had almost forgotten her ever-presence, though it was eerily noticeable at the time.

Sometimes I wondered why she never came down. Khalid was a friendly guy and Yunus never really minded her. Hannah would have probably had quite a lot more fun in her childhood if she had let go a bit. Was she afraid to be a real child? What was it about her that kept her away?

Now that I thought about it, the memories of her gazing at us, almost in unexplained longing, were a little disturbing. It’s recollection made me see things a bit differently. I shuddered as I remembered, trying to block out her screeching voice on the days I would come home and witness her tantrums…

“Hey, are you okay?” Aadam said, reaching out to grasp my hand.

I snapped back to the present as I looked at my husband, not realizing that my thoughts were showing on my face. Damaged. So, so damaged. It was a pity that Aunty Nas had messed her child up so severely…

I glanced at Aadam and already felt comforted as he looked back at me with concern. No matter what had happened… or how much my past came back to haunt  me… being with him just felt like home.

And I was feeling all optimistic as he gave me his dazzling smile, because I really did expect the best today. Despite the drama and his mothers snide remarks earlier about my connection with Hannah, and behaving like the entire episode had been my fault… I had decided to overlook it. It was hard but I held my head high and walked away saying I would try and make it all okay.

For His sake. For the sake of Allah. There was no need to get upset. Of course, Aadam would say that she didn’t mean harm. She was just upset about everything that had happened. Her remarks weren’t to be take seriously.

What we didn’t know was that as we turned into the driveway I showed him, it would be a complete anti-climax. It wasn’t like we didn’t expect it, but my worst fears were already confirmed. Aadam’s face changed instantly as I spotted the car ahead. It was one with flashing lights…

Shabeer,” he sighed, closing his eyes and inhaling as he said it. He looked apologetic. “Always has to prove a point.”

I honestly wanted to cry. Even after asking him to hold off… he had still sent the police. I knew that this couldn’t bring much good.

We both jumped off the car, just as Shabeer and Ruby pulled in behind us.

“Where’s Hannah?” I asked, upset about the turn of events.

“Sorry,” Shabeer said, shrugging indifferently. “I had to do what’s best for my family. They’re taking her away to a secure rehab. I couldn’t risk it.”

I gritted my teeth as I turned away. Typical chauvinist male behaviour. Wanting to be the hero without even considering the facts. I rushed to the car that she was said to be in, hoping that I could speak to her. Hoping I could get some answers.

I peeped through the tinted car window, knowing this was the only way. Was she even in there? I could see nothing.

“Sorry ma’am,” the Indian cop said as he stepped in front of me. “She’s not in a good state… a bit of hallucination too. She needs to get help.”

”But I really need to talk to her,” I said desperately. “Please.”

The guy was adamant.

“Strict instructions,” he said, shrugging. “Sorry.”

And with that he got into the car with his partner and swiftly reversed out.

I felt completely deflated. I was so, so close… so close, yet so far.

And the thing is, though I was so angry for everything she had done to me, and how she had constantly used my name to tarnish my own reputation, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. I wished that I could see her…. to try and figure this out. I wished that we could revisit some of the places where everything had seemed to fall apart. The parts of childhood that we spent together were so hazy.

”I’m sorry, beautiful,” Aadam said softly, as he came behind me, reaching out for my hand. “I know she’s done a lot of damage… Maybe it’s better this way?”

“I don’t think he wants me to speak to her,” I said angrily, swallowing as I watched Shabeer with a look of satisfaction on his face.

Money spoke. Oh yes, it definitely did, and it wasn’t always fair.

“I think there’s another reason he did this. I think Hannah’s got deeper problems than rehab.”

Aadam sighed and shrugged.

“So does Shabeer,” he said obviously. “But let’s not spoil our mouths yeah? You want to show me where little Khawlah used to live..? I think we just need to forget about everything that happened today. Let’s just erase the last two hours and start over.”

I glanced at the house as everyone else departed with a few minutes. It was just him and me.

“I wish I could,” I said, wondering if that day was ever going to end. From Danyaal to Shabeer to Hannah… and then of course, my mother-in-law…

My husband seemed to think that things had improved between his mother and I. I didn’t want to break his heart and tell him that they had gotten worse.

“You need to learn to switch off,” he said as he watched me, turning me around and trying to physically relax my shoulders. “Come on, that’s what this morning was about. The sunrise… the sunshine. See… it’s such a beautiful day and being with you is the best part of it. Stop being such a hard nut. Forget about everything… it all going to get sorted. Hannah, Shabeer… even my mother…”

”Your mother hates me,” I said on cue, thinking how expertly my mother-in-law fooled Aadam. He was really such an unassuming guy that he suspected nothing fishy at all. He didn’t even notice her staring at me like she wanted to kill me.

”She doesn’t!” He said, looking alarmed.

”She does,” I retorted, looking him in the eye.

“Even if that’s true, which I’m sure it isn’t, one day it’s going to be different,” he said stubbornly. “One day, she’s going to realize who you really are, and she’s going to love you.”

”Yeah,” I said, without missing a beat. “After I’m dead.”

I could see Aadam closing his eyes and holding his head in his hands when I said it, desperately trying not to laugh. I couldn’t resist a teeny smirk.

Khawlaah,” he murmured, coming toward me and shaking his head with an amused grin. “She will love you. Before you die. For now it doesn’t matter. Right now, I love you. I’m happy with you. Can we just do something fun for the rest of the day. Forget about everything else. Today is your day. What do you want to do?”

I sighed and looked at the house, trying to forget. Did I want to go in?

Abba had never sold the house after we moved out. He had rented it out a few times, but it had been vacant for a few months now and I actually had no idea how Hannah was even aware of that…

I shielded my eyes from the sun as I stepped around for a minute, the route so familiar as I recalled running through the garden patch, down the back alley and into Khalid’s amazing garden. Ours was a decent size, but Aunty Radiyyah’s home was always the ultimate.

Aunty Radiyyah. Thinking about her always made me smile. I hadn’t seen her in ages. Things had gotten so busy at home… with school and Rubeena… I actually didn’t even have a chance to even call her.

“I got a better idea,” I said, yanking the car door open again. I wasn’t ready for the trip some memory lane. Besides, the time for Asr Salaah had set in and I knew that I would also have to find a place to pray.

Aadam was looking at me curiously as he started his car, his one eyebrow furrowing slightly as he eyed me out. I could tell that he was amused by my sudden idea.

“I want to visit someone,” I said glancing at him. “One of my mothers old friends… and mine too. She lives down the road.”

”Really?” He said, sounding surprised. “Did you ever tell me about her?”

”I might have mentioned her,” I said, not certain.  “Aunty Radiyyah. I used to play there often when we were kids.”

”Hmmm,” Aadam said, glancing at me sideways.

Did I see something flicker in his eyes?

“I think I remember,” he murmured.

“Keep driving,” I said quietly. “I’ll show you the house.”

”How old is she?” Aadam asked, putting on a sudden serious face and pulling down his mirror to check his appearance. “Is she nice?”

“Very,” I said, amused at him. “I’m sure you’ll like her. But she’s too old for you though, sorry. She had her Khalid a little late in life…”

”Shucks,” he said, pretending to be upset as I rolled my eyes at him. There was a mischievous glint in his eyes as he turned to peck me on the cheek. Of course he was just messing around.

She had once told me that she never thought she would be able to have a child. And then, Khalid came along, completely out of the blue….

“You coming?” I asked him, reaching for the door handle. Maybe Khalid’s father would be home. There was still fifteen minutes till Jamaat at the masjid.

“Is Khalid around?” he asked, catching my eye as he said it. I could see he was trying to figure my emotions as he ran his hands through his beard. He probably wanted to know more. “I’d like to meet him one day.”

I looked back at him easily. We were parked outside Aunty Radiyyah’s magnificent porch and I couldn’t help but admire my one of my favourite bushes that was staring right at me. The birds were teetering above in the nearby oak tree we used to so easily climb. Looking at it again, it seemed so daunting. I wanted to tell Aadam all about it.

Once again, so many moments that I had clung onto… but were now just a distant memory. It seemed like it was all so long ago… So did Khalid…

”I don’t think so,” I said softly. I was certain that he was still in Egypt.  “But one day, maybe you will…”

He smiled as we stepped out, just taking it all in for a few perfect moments…

The purple, lilac and white flowers ahead  were in full bloom, and I couldn’t miss  it’s deeply perfumed scent that I inhaled with unprecedented satisfaction. It was amazing. The fragrance of yesterday, today, tomorrow’s were my favourite kind of smell…

Besides being instantly calmed by natural ambience of Aunty Radiyyah’s front garden, the truth was that I was actually ecstatic to see her again.  This was going to be the best turn of events today…

Aadam stretched out his hand to grasp mine as we walked together down the once familiar path.

The same path on which we’d ran frantically through the rain as kids, to head back home. The exact path where we had played hopscotch on all those years ago, when we would be too lazy to draw the lines.The very path that held so many unfiltered memories, that I had to do let it all sink in as I recalled just how much of my childhood I had spent there.

And yes, there was so much that filled our hearts at the time. The nature.. the beauty… Memories and moments that we couldn’t put into words…. but right now… well, right then, those were the very moments that truly counted.

Because sometimes we don’t realize that the best thing about memories, is making them. Sometimes we need to stop right where we are, hold up and just take it all in. Cherish the moment. Soak it in. Let your heart swell with joy of the beauty of being in the present and making it amazing..

These real time moments were ones that we took for granted. What I didn’t know was that the little moments that I was living right then with Aadam were the ones that I would look back on as the greatest memories… for many years to come…

Authors Note: Please excuse if posts are a little delayed. Have been feeling a bit under the weather but will be back on schedule soon Insha Allah. 

Much Love, 
A 🌸

Sunnah reminder: Speaking Kindly: Abu Hurayrah(RA) relates that Nabi (SAW) may , said: “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent.  And whoever believes in God and the Last Day should show hospitality to his neighbor.  And whoever believes in God and the Last Day should show hospitality to his guest.”

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21 thoughts on “Real Time Moments

  1. Beautiful post as usual…
    Wonder what Shabeer is trying to hide…
    Poor Aadam, not realizing that his mother hates his wife but maybe with Duaa, who knows, she might just take a liking to Khawla…
    May Allaah grant you complete shifaa with Aafiyah🌹

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “What I didn’t know was that the little moments that I was living right then with Aadam were the ones that I would look back on as the greatest memories… for many years to come…”
    This sounds so ominous it’s giving me anxiety….
    Jazakillah for posting…

    Liked by 6 people

  3. SubhanaAllah how amazing life is.. we think things will turn out in a way but then suddenly there is a huge test that turns everything upside down n u think just wow.. ajeeb if only we understand the greater plan of Allah is better for us then what we think.. but we so kamzoor insan no patience.. we forget this world is nothing but a test there is a world coming where there will be no pain n that’s our goal.. I love this story so much I feel such a connection with khawla..

    Liked by 4 people

    • Exactly so on point… we are so ignorant.. we think we are meant to be here forever when we are not. We forget that this is the place we going to earn our Jannah.. and if Allah wants a certain level for us then He will, with no doubt, test us so we can attain it.
      All we can ask for is Aafiyah… Allah grant us the best of both worlds, Aameen – Shukran sister ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
    I read journey in a journal maybe a year ago. Came across a chance to change a lil while after but I never really read it. Alhamdullilah through the grace of Allah I came across
    Zaynah/ Waseems story again along with this one and honestly it has been my dose of spiritual medication. I havent came across anyone who incorporates Islamic lessons so well in a story.The lessons were so inspirational I actually wrote down part of your posts in a book under headings (eg.Finding the real gold… and then parts from Waseems story) , I plan to read them everyday inshaAllah to improve my imaan inshaAllah. I found this blog at the right time, being in grade 11 all the hype & pressure about marks/careers etc especially after September exams really killed me, and Alhamdullilah I learnt so much about Tawakkul and Allahs plans for us. Today there is so much of focus on getting 7As , making it to Uni , getting a degree and the blog has really made me see the reality of this temorary life we are all chasing. Love Zaynah&Khawlah , make dua that Allah guides me & uses me as a means of hidayat for othes also.
    Maaf for the long rambles… one more thing , that feeling when you reading post after post esp those that end in cliffhangers and others had to wait while you don’t and then BAM you come to the end

    Liked by 6 people

    • Wslm dear sister… Please make me maaf, I replied to your comment a few days back and I’m not sure why it didn’t go through. Sincerest apologies…
      Alhumdulillah, I am truly humbled by your comment and am really honoured to have that privilege of being a part of your journey. May Allah always bless you and guide you to make the best of choices, and make His Deen our focus at all times. It is truly a great test, especially in this day and age where there are so many counter forces and so much against this striving for Deen.
      Your writing these notes in a book is such an amazing idea, because we all forget, tend to lose our focus or just need a reminder..
      May Allah keep your focus on Him always. You comment reminds me of a post that I saw recently, I will post in on ajourneyinajournal blog shortly. ❤️
      Please rem me in your Duaas as well. Insha Allah, I will keep you in mine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
        No problem🌹
        Aameen @ all your duas.
        I will remember you in my duas insha Allah❤


      • السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
        No problem💖
        Aameen @ all your duas.
        I will remember you in my duas inshaAllah🌹


      • السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
        No problem🌹
        Aameen @ all your duas
        I will remember you in my duas insha Allah💕


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