Everyone loves a good speciality. Trust me. I know.
I’m sure by now, you’ve at least figured that I’m not one of those sickly skinny girls who are obsessed with my diet. I do not spend my precious moments before tucking into my regular double-decker cheese burgers (with a fizzy drink) counting carbs and watching sugar intake. I don’t even understand people who guilt themselves about essential edibles.
And as the daughter of the locally sought-after culinary expert, I’m pretty well acquainted with the drill. And no, the skill is not hereditary, so please don’t ask me to cook for you. My food is passable and that’s that. It doesn’t mean that I’m the next Nigella or whoever the Indian equivalent is, but I do know that a pure butter pastry (margarine what?) tops the charts and that freshly ground garlic is the best thing you’ll ever waste your time making. I’ve learnt even though you can barely taste spices like turmeric, you cannot possibly make a good curry without it. I know that ready-fried onions makes my mother turn up her nose and rotis made with pure ghee are completely unrelated to those flattish pieces of dough that I sometimes buy from the shop down the road (when I’ve run out of my mother’s weekly supply).
My father can tell the difference just by looking at it, and if that isn’t skill, I don’t know what is.
The thing is, everything has its speciality, and I’m a big fan of the foodie version. There’s always a highlight of the lot. The exception to the usual. And we all strive to find that speciality, whether it be in a dish, a side or even just a extra thing we make for fun. We like specialities. We like to have ‘unique’ things. Everyone wants to be different.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that there’s a little underrated thing that comes for free, that sets us aside from everyone else. It’s an inherent quality, and having it makes us unique. It makes us the speciality. Me. You. Anyone who has it.
Its called sincerity. It’s called beautiful intentions. When someone comes to you with a pure heart and goodness overflowing from them, there’s just something special about them that draws you to them and makes you love them. And wouldn’t you want to be the speciality of the human race, as we know it? And I’m not saying that everyone is out there to con you, but when people are truly sincere in what they do, Allah sees the truth in what you are presenting, whether it be the tiniest form of a charitable smile or the hugest trip of lifetime ‘Fee Sabillilah’.
And then of course, comes the beautiful reality, because with sincerity comes a very special type of status. A status of exemption. The status of love. The Hadith of Jibraeel (AS) being summoned by Allah makes my hair stand on end every time I hear it.
Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘if Allah loves a person, He calls Jibrael saying,
’Allah loves so and so; O Jibrael love him…
And make an announcement amongst the inhabitants of the heaven:
“Allah loves so and so therefore you should love him also.
And so, all the inhabitants of the heaven would love him, and then he is granted the pleasures of the people on the earth.”
[Al- Bukhari and Muslim].
And no matter how often I hear this spectacular narration, I can never tire of it’s amazement. I mean, can you possibly even imagine Allah taking your name and mentioning it, not just to any angel, but the most noble of all angels that exist? The one who was given the honor of sending Wahee to the prophets and the likes. Can you imagine being so honored, that not only does your name leave their lips, but gets engraved with them so they are so much inclined to you, that they actually begin to love you?
The awe of it all just nearly sends my heart into cardiac arrest.
So, back to the point before I go completely off track here… Whilst on my pursuit to find the best form of sincerity in every action I did, like I had been learning in the Taaleem I’d been briefly attending before my Iddat, I had truly attained so much. Really. In hoping to be sincere in all that I did, I was making every attempt to move past my delusional past. I was hoping to find peace, contentment and to just keep my stomach full enough to stay away from sins and not put on exorbitant amounts of weight that will send my mother into fits of rage.
The only problem was that it seemed like Shabeer was living in some kind of ‘stupid zone’ during this whole advent. While I was trying to ‘find myself’, yet again, as I embarked on a mission to attempt to shake myself off of him and make future plans for the benefit of my kids and I, his constant calls and visits would come to throw everything off track again.
“Salaam babe,” his smooth voice came as I raced down the stairs with my abaya, hearing the front door open.
Crap. He was early. And crap again. I really needed to remember to take his keys away.
Shabeer didn’t understand boundaries. He was like one of those irritating mosquitos that relentlessly stuck around no matter how hard you tried to slap the life out of him.
”Don’t babe me,” I said through gritted teeth. Honestly, was this man dense or just delusional?
“What are you up to? Getting bored yet?” He asked, ignoring my statement.
He said it with a hint of cynical humor, and I clenched my fist in preparation for a mental punch. Maybe a few.
I tried to picture him with a blue eye. It definitely made me feel so much better.
”You’re not supposed to be here alone,” I said, tightening my scarf around my head and glaring at him. “Why can’t you just ring the doorbell like a normal person?”
“I can come when I want. What is all this nonsense?” Shabeer said in a low tone, looking me up and down with an ugly frown. “ You look like one of those burka aunties from Fordsburg. Come on Ruby, we were married for 11 years. Now you acting like some untouchable hijaabi.”
”Shabeer,” I said, as if I was talking to a kid. “Don’t. you. get. it. We’re not married anymore.”
”Ruby,” he said, his voice sounding calm and collected, as I breathed out impatiently. “Seriously. Stop this silly game now. Let’s make up like good, responsible parents and sort this out. You know you can’t survive without me. I’ve worked my backside off to give you the best life I could. A beautiful house. A trending car. Extraordinary holidays. How would you keep up, doll? No average guy will be able to compare… All your friends would laugh at you. Come on, just let me come back home.”
“For what?” I asked, rolling my eyes. “So I can put up with more of your lies? Why don’t you call to speak to the kids once in a while? To pick them up? Spend some time with your sons? Really Shabeer, I haven’t even seen one thing change in you!”
”Ah Ruby, don’t be so hard,” he said, putting on his pitiful voice that I knew so well. “Baby steps, alryt? We can’t all just change overnight. Dammit, you have such high expectations. All you high maintenance women, and you’ll wonder why your husbands mess around. Don’t you ever get tired of yourself?”
“You are such a -“ I started, raging. All my aspirations to be a better person were going down the drain. Turning the tables around was Shabeer’s speciality.
”Sheeeeshhh!” Shabeer said, raising his eyebrows and waving his hand at me. “Behave yourself, woman. The lawyer is here. We don’t want any ugly words reaching his ears. He might just label you an unfit mother.”
Shabeer sniggered as he watched my expression turn to thunderous, and I honestly wanted to break him.
The man made my blood boil. He really wanted to play things this way?
I glared at him with such venom that he promptly shut up and made his way out of my view to discuss what he needed to with the lawyer.
I knew that Shabeer needed money and wanted to sell the house, but I couldn’t even stomach the thought. He wanted to buy a flat for us, and get away cheap. There were lots of things to finalize and I didn’t want the kids to be around when we did it. Things that meant nothing to me, but I had to sort out for them. I had to get documentation in order so I could own the house, so I wouldn’t have to move out and disrupt their lives. I didn’t yet tell Shabeer about my plans, but I had enough money saved up to buy it from him, if he asked. I knew that this had potential to get ugly and I wanted to be prepared.
I sat on the couch and took a deep breath. I had to learn to breathe. Things were getting a little overwhelming for me and there was only so much I could do to stop myself from having an anxiety attack. And I knew I was that kind of person who didn’t deal very well in neurotic kind of situations, but as Shabeer finally left me in peace that morning, I knew that I had to get my act together and woman up.
And then of course, about half an hour later, just as I finally felt the rising in my chest subside momentarily, my heart kind of shot out my mouth at the shrill ringing of the doorbell that caught me by surprise.
Of course I wasn’t expecting anyone.
The last thing I wanted while I was in enjoying my peace were people coming to annoy my life. I could just imagine what the ladies from gym would say. They would be looking at me all pitifully, talking about how I must be feeling like I’m in a prison. The facts were that it was the majority of them who were still stuck in that prison of an unfaithful marriage and chasing the world.
And sometimes I really did wish that it had turned out differently with Shabeer. I still made Duaa that he would change some day, especially for the sake my boys. When I thought about how he had gone from bad to worse over the years, it was no wonder that my heart had changed too. I just couldn’t feel that love anymore.
And thank goodness that as I glimpsed outside, instead of seeing half a dozen brain-eating women on my doorstep, I glimpsed the lean frame of my awesome brother who was resting his shoulder against my front door.
He was alone, and as I pulled the door open to welcome him with the hugest of smiles (just because I was so relieved that he wasn’t Shabeer or a nosy woman who craved the latest gossip), something about the way Adam smiled back that day gave me a heads up that everything wasn’t okay.
“Assalamualaikum,” he said as he stepped in. “Where are the little guys? I’ve been missing them.”
Aadam had dropped them off the day before. Today, I had somehow convinced my father to take them for a few hours, just to kill their boredom. I wished I could be like those Instamums who did crafty arts and stuff with their kids all day long, but at this stage of my life, just the thought of paint on the carpet and glue all over the walls exhausted me. It was just hard to be at home with four kids all the time. They were literally eating my head in.
“They’re gone to mum for a while,” I replied. “I needed some time… can I offer you coffee?”
I didn’t elaborate on Shabeer as Adam nodded. Why should I bore him with my legal details?
He lowered himself into the couch, looking a little dazed while I switched the kettle on.
Now, I’ve always had an awesome relationship with my brother, and because he was generally so happy-go-lucky and barely complained about a thing, I knew him so well that if there was something bothering him, it was nothing that a good cuppa couldn’t squeeze out.
And of course, with my own neurotic tendencies, a cup of the condensed milk- sweetened version (with extra cream) was just what I needed to put all my anxiety at bay. So when Adam sighed and rested his head back in exhaustion, I couldn’t help but prop myself up next to him with two mugs of luxury coffee, stare him down and force him to spill it out.
“You’re alone today?” I said, thinking it a bit strange since Khawlah was on holiday.
He shrugged. He definitely was not even remotely himself.
“She’s been busy,” he said, glancing at me momentarily. “Her brother’s had somewhere to be a few days back. Some chic to see..”
”You mean Ahmed?” I said, my breathing a little stunted. He was going to see a girl?
Adam nodded and shrugged. Goodness. My brother looked heartbroken. Maybe even more than me.
Focus Ruby. Focus on Adam.
“They didn’t tell you to come with?” I said, really wanting more details, but also curious as to why Adam didn’t accompany them. He was married to Khawlah.
Plus, who was this ‘chic’ that Ahmed was suddenly interested in? The curiosity was killing me.
“She’s angry,” he said finally, raising his eyebrows. “We had an exchange. I suppose I didn’t think it was a big thing until I thought about it… but for her…”
I tut-tutted to myself as Adam spoke, feeling his pain, and forgetting my own inclination to know gory details of the samoosa run.
Trouble in paradise, huh? I just hoped it wasn’t serious.
“Was it something you did?” I asked him, not wanting to pry but itching to know. It was a completely tearing feeling.
“It was in the past,” he said, swallowing as he looked at me. “But I would never hurt her on purpose, Rubes. This is too much… she hasn’t spoken to me in days. She’s ignoring my calls. Doesn’t come out when I go there. It’s getting embarrassing to go there and I really don’t know what else to do…”
Adam looked absolutely distressed as he glanced at me and ran his hand through his beard. He was such a genuinely and sincerely nice person that I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. He placed the mug on the coffee table next to him, without even taking a sip.
Never mind. More for me.
I sighed as I watched him, looking like some kind of lost person. I didn’t know my brother’s past inside out but I had met his previous girlfriend, and I knew that it wasn’t just the kind of relationship that doesn’t leave any scars. At that time I didn’t know it was wrong. We were ignorant. The thing was, with Khawlah… she didn’t come from the type of life that we knew. The dysfunctional life that was full of gross details, ugly sins and disturbing dysfunction.
For her 16-year-self, though she was exceptionally mature, I could imagine that certain aspects of our immodest life were too sheltered to even process…
She lived in a childish fantasy where everything was sunny and earthly, and though I loved that and her idealism, the reality was that life was absolutely appalling.
And just as I was about to explain that to Adam, my words kind of died on my lips as a burst of rowdiness blasted through the front passage.
And it didn’t take a genius to figure out that all four of my boys were back. I figured that sooner or later my parents would get fed up of them, and as they burst into into the room we were in, there was a series of excited jumps and greetings as Adam welcomed them with open arms and boy-like gestures. And of course it was all fun and exciting, but as they high-fived Adam, and I glimpsed my mothers face… I was already reminding myself about all my aspirations for being a better daughter.
She had an irate look on her face as she stood there, her hands folded on her chest, and for once as I followed her gaze, I was so grateful that it wasn’t directed at me.
And because I was in the clear, I didn’t even dwell on it further as I busied myself making another cup of coffee for my wonderful father, while my mother shook her head at my offer and stood there with that expression that I thought had become her inherent one.
I was so busy counting my lucky stars and whipping up the perfect cup of latte, that I barely even noticed her staring with hostility at Adam’s retreating back. It was only when her screech for him reached my ears, did I fully process her unconventional attitude towards her darling son.
“Mum?” He said, backtracking slightly and looking at her with a frown. “All okay?”
”Do I look like everything is okay?” She shot back, her face all stony and down-right disgruntled. “Have you ever seen me like this before?!”
That was mistake number one. I honestly wanted block my eyes. Though I completely got Adam’s point, let me just warn you that if you ever meet my wonderful mother, never… and I repeat, NEVER, let my mother know that her grumpiness has been noted before. She will never let you forget it.
“Let me just tell you something, mister!” She almost yelled, her face beet red. Thank goodness the kids were outside. “I spend my whole life trying to make both you kids happy and this is the type of payback I get!”
Jasses. Why did I get tossed in everywhere? I was the resident dump-site. All I was busy doing was minding my own business.
“Mum-“ Adam started.
”You just listen to me!” she snapped, wagging her finger and edging closer to him as she tossed her newly highlighted hair back. “I won’t have you’ll making a fool of me. I will not be made into an unfit mother who brings up kids who can’t even hold together their marriages!”
She shot a look at me as she said it, and I cringed. I love how she blamed my failed marriage only on me. Like Shabeer was just a poor bystander. As if.
“Mum, I don’t think you know what’s going on,” Adam said pointedly.
And, there we have it, folks. Mistake number two.
Never, ever, tell my mother that she doesn’t know what’s going on. Even if she doesn’t know what’s going on, she still does.
”Oh, I know exactly what’s going on,” she snapped, raising her eyebrows. “I’ve had people asking me if you are also getting divorced. Already! Can. you. imagine. my. EMBARRASSMENT?!”
And I’m not even exaggerating with the punctuation there. That was exactly how she said it.
“They think there’s something wrong with me, that both of your marriages are headed for destruction! You brought that innocent girl into our home and you messed it up, didn’t you?!”
Adam was gaping at my mother like a goldfish. For once he had no smooth words to swizzle her.
”I warned you about this, didn’t I?” She continued with her resident glare. “I knew there’ll be problems. I even tried to show you before, but you were adamant!”
What? Was that what all her drama was about? I was dumbfounded.
When did the tables turn? How did people even know about the dynamics between Adam and Khawlah?
“It’s not as serious-“
”It DOESN’T MATTER!” my mother yelled, her glare still directed at Adam. “You fix this! I don’t care what you have to do or how you have to convince her. Even if it means that you sit outside her house day and night until she comes back, you make sure you put this right. You young people think that marriage is just a game! I won’t have both my kids moping around with failed marriages. I’m not an incompetent parent. Grow up and do what what it takes… or else!”
I was gob-smacked. Not to mention, absolutely terrified.
The last part was what scared me. From experience, I knew that ‘or else’ from my mother was not just a regular threat. It usually involved a helluva lot of sucking up, painful cajoling and sleepless nights of feeling like the failed and rejected child. Believe me. I know.
And despite my father gaping at her in shock yet again, and Adam looking like he really wanted to cry, with that, she tossed her glossy auburn-colored hair back, spun around on her dainty heels, and gracefully walked out.
WIll reply to all comments soon.. A longer post that hopefully makes up for the delay!
As per the previous posts, we are now on the Sunnah of Drinking Water
- The Sunnah of drinking water states that blowing on hot water or exhaling into a water glass can spread bacteria into the water. Therefore, it’s important that you move the glass of water away from your mouth after taking a sip so that you can avoid breathing onto thewater. Recite “Alhamdulillah” after drinking water.
FB: The Journeying Muslimah