I never thought that I’d be the one to say this, but one thing I learnt in the past few months is that patience is hard. It’s really hard. And I promise you, I’m not one of those impatient people who can’t wait for things (except for food when I’m hungry, of course). I am one of the most patient people you will ever meet. As long as I know that it’s happening, I’ll sit back and relax and wait (patiently) for it all to unfold. But man, patience under some circumstances is like trying to push a nail through a metal wall. It’s practically unattainable.
And yes, I had tried my utmost to bear the tests. There were times when I was tearing my hair out with frustration, wondering if I had really done the right thing. I couldn’t help that creepy feeling that overcame me in the middle of the night and shook me awake, asking me if I was crazy. I couldn’t wait to se if it was all really going to turn out okay.
And then there were times when I sat with my kids, and for the first time in years, just enjoyed their chatter and company while they engaged themselves in some activity involving mud that would usually make me scream my head off, but barely phased me then. Those were the times when I was completely and utterly convinced that I had done the right thing. That the patience would pay off. That nothing in the world could ever beat the peace and contentment that I felt right then.
And at the end of the day, it was all about patience. Sabr. And it’s no wonder that the Saabireen are promised the greatest of rewards in the hereafter. They have been promised a reward that is unlike any other… where mercy will be raining on them in the hereafter. And surely they will never get left out because Allah knows exactly what every soul bears..
“Do you think that you will enter Paradise without Allaah knowing who struggled (in His Cause) and who has been of the As-Saabiroon (the patient)?”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:142]
Patience. It’s a really tough thing. To have the faith to continue to believe that your Allah does have a plan for you… that everything will fall into place, even when things get complicated… that no matter what you’re going through right now, it all will pass… this too shall pass.
Well, that’s something like a superpower.
”So do you ever wonder what the future holds for you? If you think you’ll ever venture down that road again?”
“You mean… find someone else and going through all the hassle of having to make a man happy all over again?” I asked with raised eyebrows.
I could practically see her smiling through the receiver.
”You make it sound so amazing,” she laughed.
I sighed, contemplating for a moment what she was saying.
”It’s not that easy,” I said. “Not when you have four kids. Men don’t want baggage like that. Lots of women think I’m crazy for doing this… but Zahira, what was I supposed to do? We think we’re keeping the peace by staying together but all we’re doing is causing more damage to kids when we put them through the pain of conflict… Sometimes we think it’s better because we’re keeping our family together. We may be doing that one thing but we’re breaking them apart in so many other ways…..”
“You’re so right,” she said convincingly. “I know how it is. I know after Saffia got divorced, it was a rollercoaster for her and Hassaanah for two years. I feel for you, doll… Being four hours away is hard when my friend is going through such a tough time. Listen, please don’t lose hope. You know you’re going to be okay, right?”
And at the end of the day, all I needed at times was someone to tell me that I had done the right thing. That it was going to be okay. She was really one of those rare kinds that made a difference just with her reassurance. And no, I didn’t expect the world to stop just because I was going through a tough time… but with everyone being busy with their lives, and me where I was right then, I couldn’t help but feel lonely at times.
The thought never crossed my mind before, but being in Iddat after a divorce could get exceptionally lonely. It wasn’t like when you lose a husband. Then there were streams of visitors coming to offer sympathy and somehow, family of friends were around to fill that gap. Adam had his own life. My mother was busy with hers. I couldn’t even dare to keep imposing on my father.
Chatting to someone who I could relate to and knew where I was coming from was so much easier. Even though Zahira was happily married with two kids, she always held fast to the fact that even happy marriages were a helluva lot of work. One day maybe, I might know what that feels like…
“Oh yes before you go,” she said, sounding excited. “I just spoke to Saffia this morning. There’s a guy who came to see her a week back, and he’s phoned again. He’s a bit younger but she really seems to like him. So looks like we’re going to have a Nikah in the family… and you know what’s the best part?”
”That’s great news!” I said, so excited for my friend’s sister. I didn’t know her well but she was an amazing girl who went through a tough time with her rubbish of a husband. He wasn’t as bad as Shabeer, but it had turned out that he was seeing someone else throughout their marriage and she never suspected a thing. “I’m so happy for her. She deserves a good guy. Where’s he from?”
”That’s the part I’m coming to!” She laughed. “He’s from somewhere on your side of the world, so we’ll probably be coming down and I’m going to make sure that I see you. How many weeks left till I can take you out for a cup of coffee?”
”Three weeks,” I sighed, not really anticipating it. I was getting so comfortable in my little hide-out that the thought of leaving it was now making me anxious. “Or you can come have coffee with me in my hole. I make an excellent cuppa.”
She laughed as Danyaal’s voice called out for me from upstairs. We quickly made plans to speak the following week, and I expressed my heartfelt appreciation to her being there for me throughout everything I had been going through. Her constant presence, support and reminders that Allah had a better plan for me was just what I needed to get through this.
And as I made my way down the passage, I couldn’t help but think to myself that another great thing about being home now was the amount of time I suddenly had on my hands. Like, I really didn’t know that there could be so many hours in a day. Right now, I felt like if I focused enough, I could give my kids all the attention that they needed. I felt like the terrible mother less and less every day, and more like a mother who was just trying to do the best.
And yes, it was normal because I still slipped at times.. when I got tired and frustrated and didn’t know what else to do with them except dump them in front of iPads and sit with my phone, but the thing with not having Shabeer around now was that it wasn’t much different from when we were married. There was no adjustment phase because the amazing thing was… he never was around anyway.
Being a Friday night, it was generally our time to chill with some books, indulge in some much-craved junk and just cruise around in the lounge. As I got the bowls and cups out for the night ahead, and read my maghrib Salaah, the buzzing of the intercom caught me a little unawares that night.
Of course, I wondered who it could be as I made my way downstairs again, checking through the window as I saw a familiar car. And of course, upon seeing it, my heart lifted because although I hadn’t seen him in ages, his visits were always exceptionally welcomed. I pulled the door open in semi- excitement, glad to see the huge and familiar smile as he pulled me and Zaydaan into a warm embrace.
”It’s been ages!” I said as I pulled away, looking up at my uncle as he took Zaydaan from me. Although Zaydaan didn’t know Siraj as well as the bigger two boys, there was something about my uncle that all kids liked. I suppose that he had a pleasant demeanor, and the fact that he and their favorite uncle looked alike was also very much in his favour.
“How’s my amazing niece doing?” he said, smiling sympathetically. “I know you’re sick of my excuses. I keep meaning to visit and every time I come to town I get stuck at the hospital and it’s impossible. Today I put my foot down and made an excuse. Aren’t you proud of me?! And guess who I’ve brought with me..?”
I glanced out as he said it, wondering who the surprise guest was.
”Na’ilah?” I asked, looking for my uncles estranged wife.
Na’ilah was a pretty lady who my uncle was married to, and though they were married for over ten years now, they had yet to have any kids. Siraj was just three years older than me, and even though he was my uncle, because we were so close in age, I really felt it for them as time went by, especially since my kid to adult ratio was increasing at an alarming rate and there’s was still stagnant. Siraj seemed to take it in his stride, but for Na’ilah.. it had hit her quite hard. I supposed aunties at family gatherings weren’t exactly the most considerate and would ask really insensitive questions that she didn’t like. Eventually, as the years went by, we stopped seeing her altogether…
”Na’ilah’s busy with work,” he said indifferently. “But I’ve brought another special lady…”
And of course, he didn’t have to say anymore because as she made her way up the three steps and I saw her one-dimpled smiled, my heart was already bursting.
”Ma!” I breathed, almost not believing my eyes. “You came to my house! I can’t believe this…”
I swallowed hard as I looked at my Ma, now so much older yet still looking as young and beautiful as ever. The memories of being a free and boisterous little kid while Ma entertained us were amazing. I had sorely missed out on that bond for these few years. Of course, I had seen her in between but it had never been like this. When I was married to Shabeer she would never dare to come to my house…
And I wished that I could find the words to tell her how sorry I was that we hadn’t been as close these past years. I wished that I could tell her how much I had missed her quirky humor and ever-present wisdom. It was just a pity that we had drifted apart after I got married.
”I’ve missed you so much,” she whispered as she held on to me, and I couldn’t contain my emotion anymore.
It was like all the hurt and pain and difficulties of these few months had been accumulating deep within, and now, through this channel that had finally arrived… it was the ultimate release. She came like a breath of fresh air and a breeze of unlimited hope. Ma’s presence in my home that day was like a magic I never felt before.
Since I was married, something had changed with us and losing that bond I had with her was something I often thought of and regretted. Now that she was here… I was absolutely certain that with her Duaas… everything would be okay.
Whilst Siraj took the smaller two boys to play, the bigger boys watched us silently, obviously confused about the drama as we chatted tearfully. And just as I took a seat at the entrance hall couch with Ma, hoping to stabilize my erratic emotions, I immediately heard a squeal of delight from them as their eyes locked on the open door.
Somehow we had missed the sound of his car arriving, and before I even turned to see who it was, the ‘clickety-click’ of my younger brothers crutches were already an indication that our all-time favorite person was here.
”Hey, Salaam Ma,” Adams voice said as he stepped in. “Fancy seeing you here!”
Ma turned and gave him a smile as he came forward to greet her, with Khawlah in close pursuit. I watched the pair of them come in with an ecstatic reception from the boys who were obviously excited that their bed-time would get delayed. It was one of the main highlights of their day.
”We came to see you,” Ma said to Adam with a smile. “But Siraj says that you had other plans.”
”I did,” Adam said, pulling a face. “But the function was so boring, Ma. All those people talk about is money, houses, cars…. oh, and guess what else? More money. I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to find the escape route.”
I could see Khawlah shaking her head at him as she glanced at me. It was the first time that I had seen my sister-in-law so stunningly dressed up, and though she looked amazing, I could see that she was obviously not impressed that she had made all that effort for practically twenty-five minutes of short-lived excitement, unfamiliar company and not even a catered five-course meal to show for it. It really is a bummer.
”He called as soon as I found a seat,” she was complaining to me and Ma. “He didn’t even wait for his award. I think his boss might kill him. Personally, I don’t think he liked all the attention he was getting so he made a run for it.”
Adam grinned as he took a seat, resting his crutches next to him as Dayyaan dragged Khawlah off to see his new LEGO creation. Danyaal, who knew Ma a little better than the others, grabbed her hand to check out his extensive book collection. The two of them had a more than a few things in common and my heart instantly warmed to see them getting along so well…
And as I looked at my brother, I kind of knew that he would be back early when I heard about the fancy work function he was forced to attend that night. Adam wasn’t cut out for the corporate part of his job and for him, despite being so well-known, he hated all the glamour that went with it. That was just my simple brother and I loved that about him. Well, it was what everyone loved about him.
”Hey, it’s the man of the hour,” Siraj said as he walked into the room with Zaydaan still on his hip. “Too busy to even take his uncle’s calls.”
Of course, as soon as Zaydaan spotted my brother, he wiggled down and immediately and ran to climb onto Adams uninjured leg. Adam planted a huge affectionate kiss on his cheek before looking up at our uncle.
”Howzit, Uncle Siraj?” He said, giving him a wink. “I see you’ve finally tracked me down. Sorry man, it’s been a hectic week.”
”Hectic week or you been avoiding my calls?” My uncle said, narrowing his eyes at Adam. “You could have called me back at least once.”
”Don’t give me a hard time, yeah?” Adam said, his expression changing. “I was giving you a chance to catch up with your work. I knew I’d see you sometime…”
Siraj was looking at Adam sceptically as the two of them bickered on. The weird thing was that they weren’t usually like this. Usually it was me who was getting into fights and Adam who got along with most people perfectly fine. I could most definitely sense the annoyance, but as Zia came up to ask for a chocolate and I tried to convince him that it really wasn’t a wise idea to have it right then, since it was past his bed time, I kind of lost the plot of what they were saying until I heard my uncles voice rise…
Then of course, I hastily stuffed the entire Bar-One into Zia’s mouth and sent him along, hoping it really wouldn’t give him a twenty-five hour day… now already on high alert as Siraj bellowed on about something slightly concerning that I had absolutely no idea about…
“It’s not a bloody joke, Adam!” He was almost yelling. Adam winced and simultaneously blocked Zaydaan’s ears as Siraj went on. His one eyebrow was raised in dismay. “You have no consideration for your health whatsoever! You can’t even make a decision! I sent you all the options for treatment and you’re dragging your feet! What about everyone else? Don’t you think they want to see you get better? How can you just go on like this… it’s just damn selfish man. Does your wife even know?!”
Of course, I was already half frozen in my tracks as I watched them, my eyes darting from him to Adam and back. I could see my uncles chest heaving dramatically as he looked at Adam, demanding an answer. He was unquestionably all worked up and red in the face and Adam was… well… just stagnant. Completely and utterly unemotional. Something was definitely not right.
”Errrr,” I said, swallowing hard as I tried to ascertain what the problem was. Once again, the performance wasn’t centred around me and I was kind of glad. Only, I felt bad for my brother because it looked like he was drama’s new scapegoat. “Can you guys tell me what on earth is going on?!”
Siraj’s eyes narrowed as he looked at me, and then shook his head at Adam again.
”You telling me that you didn’t even tell your sister?” He said incredulously. Siraj was still on a roll.
”Tell me what?!” I said, really feeling like banging both of their heads together. ”Is there something I’m missing here?”
Adam said nothing as he looked at us both. He just sat there and looked on, as if he wasn’t sure how to say what he needed to. And I knew that there was definitely something to say.
“Adam should’ve be the one to tell you,” Siraj said, looking a bit calmer now. “But he’s dragged this on for too long now. He’s not in the best of health.”
I frowned slightly as I processed what he said. So that was what all the fuss is about. My brother being stubborn and probably refusing to take his meds or something. I mean, really. Why couldn’t Adam just listen and do what he was supposed to do?
”Okay,” I said calmly. “So what’s the big deal? Can you guys stop behaving worse than my kids? We’ll work on it together and come to a solution. It’s not like he has cancer or something.”
The minute I said it, the regret of the last three words I had just uttered immediately gripped me.
And yes, I could barely believe it but the expression on both their faces already gave it away.
And as my heart literally shattered in my chest, I knew that amongst many other things… life as we knew it was about to get very much more complicated…
P.S. I’m sorry…
Sunnah of Drinking water
Drink water while taking three breathing pauses. It is prohibited to drink water in a single gulp as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Do not drink water only in one breath, but drink it in two or three breaths.”
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