When Little Secrets open Big Doors…

Bismihi Ta’ala

Rubeena

 

We all have things that we don’t talk about. Things we’re too scared to say out loud. We protect others. We protect ourselves. Sometimes, no matter how much we’re aching to come clean, we hold onto those little secrets because we don’t want to face what comes after.

And the thing is, in this day of social media, where everyone’s life is on show, sometimes it’s hard to adjust to the meaning of living a private life. Of living a life that’s not for everyone to see. Whether you say it or not, people are hanging onto every thread of information. Even the Aunty at the fruit shop wants to know the darkest details about your failed marriage that you’ve never even told your mother. No matter how much you try to avoid it, privacy was slowly becoming a concept of the past.

And during my life, I’ve had many things happen that would have shook anyone to the core. They were just that unbelievable, yet I kept the deep and dark secrets to myself because revealing them would have revealed way too much.

Then there are times when the secrets sometimes out themselves.. sometimes, things happen to reveal everything for what it is. Allah makes it happen at the right time… to relieve you. To unburden you. Like He promises, for us there is never intended any difficulty.

And when that happens… it’s like a world of opportunity suddenly opens for you. You can do things you never thought you could. See things the way you should have all this time. When that finally happens, you see a part of life that your little secrets were hiding away all along…

”So what does your mother say about your daily dramas?” Siraj asked, glancing at me with amusement in his eyes.

I was glad that he thought it was funny, but I couldn’t have been more embarrassed. All I was doing that evening whilst I waited for my uncle to fetch us was trying to juggle my crazy life, plus give my kids a dose of the good stuff at the same time by sitting down for some reading… And then of course, we were interrupted by the terrible sound of Shabeer’s voice which was bellowing from outside…

My cheeks flushed again as I remembered my husband making an utter fool of himself. He honestly took the tea when it came to crazy drunken people. It wasn’t the only time it had happened… but it was the first time any of my family members had actually witnessed the untainted reality of my ex-husband… and boy, was it a sore sight to see.

”You know my mother,” I sighed, pulling the seatbelt to click it in as I glanced at my uncle, glad that he had pitched up and sent Shabeer away with his tail between his legs.

“She’ll find any  reason to prove what a failure I am in my life. If she knows, I’ll never hear the end of it. She just loves Shabeer. Only Allah knows why. There really is nothing to love about that man.”

Siraj shook his head. I had a good mind of calling Shabeer in as a service to my poor neighborhood, but I wasn’t sure if I could handle that terrible sound inside my house.

Thank goodness the boys just thought it was amusing. They didn’t know that their father had a genuine problem that was probably going to cause a lot of issues in the future. I shuddered at the reality.

He really needed help. I still could not believe that he had pitched up at home in that state….

”Does he drink often?” Siraj asked, looking slightly concerned as he drive. “He seemed convinced that you are his dream girl…”

I rolled my eyes. He was obviously too drunk to remember how caged he felt in our marriage.

”He does,” I said.

And yes, I was all up for giving people credit for their good qualities, but with Shabeer, there was absolutely none due.

“Ever since I remember…”

Siraj raised his eyebrows.

”I didn’t know….” he said, shooting me a sympathetic look. “Looks like the guy put you through hell. Rubeena, do you ever think you’ll recover?”

I smiled, slightly touched by his concern.

I supposed he couldn’t fathom it. Siraj was, after all, a good guy. I could tell that his wanting to pick me up before we headed to Adam was because  he wanted to make amends, but he didn’t know how to. The two of them had been at each other’s throats since the diagnosis and Siraj was obviously feeling guilty. After all, you can’t stay angry with a sick person, right?

I sighed, thinking about Shabeer again, how misguided he was, and whether he would ever change. The truth was, it actually wasn’t funny at all. When Shabeer was my husband, I had hidden all his faults. Every single dirty one of them.

Now that he wasn’t, strangely, I still felt a need to protect him… but Siraj had seen something that I didn’t anticipate. He had unintentionally seen the truth of what I had dealt with for all these years… and it wasn’t very pretty.

”I might need a helluva guy to knock me off my feet if I ever do,” I said in jest, knowing that I didn’t intend on it. Right now, guys were the last thing on my mind.

And the thing was, it wasn’t like I hadn’t thought about it at all. There were moments when I was lost and confused, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I would end up growing old and lonely with no one  at all. And then of course, I had ambitions for the hereafter as well.

I knew that I hadn’t been a perfect wife either. I was far from a saint in my marriage. But when I eventually did make that move, I wanted to do it over. I wanted to do it right.

I wanted to have the kind of marriage that really did give me everlasting beniefits.

A believing woman who prays her salaah, fasts in Ramadaan, guards her chastity and pleases her husband will be told to enter Jannat from a whichever door she wishes. (Mishkaat)

Those were real goals. I wanted that. And it really wasn’t so hard, because  all we had to do was refrain from sin and do our duty… and we get such an amazing guarantee.

”Don’t let your mother pressure you into marrying an idiot,” Siraj said as he turned into Adam’s road. “Find someone who’s willing to accept your kids and love you with no reservations. Someone who has your interests right now…”

”I know,” I said, glad that Siraj had more common sense than my mother. “I need someone whose serious about being a better Muslim too. I always admired the bond that you and Na’ilah had. She’s got a lot of faith. You’ll are so solid…”

My uncle said nothing for a while, as he listened to the boys in the back seat talking about some soccer club in the area that Adam took them to once.

”I’m actually not sure what’s going on with Na’ilah,” he said, his voice dropping. I could see his expression change as he glanced at me. “Sometimes I don’t understand her. She’s lost interest in everything. No matter how much I tell her that it doesn’t matter… she still gets cut up about not having kids. It’s tearing us apart.”

I looked at my uncle in surprise. I had no idea. Not having kids was completely out of anyone’s control and I’m sure she knew that. I supposed that it was easier said than done, but with pure conviction, and knowing that Allah will only test you as much as you could bear… I knew that it was a challenge that could be conquered.

”Did you guys ever think of adoption?” I asked, thinking it seemed obvious.

“Plenty of times,” he said, shrugging and pulling into the parking space. “But she always comes back to the point that what I’d want my own kids. I would love to adopt. Really. She wants me to take another wife. You know what my life is like. Besides the fact that I’ll need time that I don’t have to find one… Tell me, Ruby, which woman in her right mind will actually suggest that and be okay with it?”

I smiled as he said it. It was crazy, but as soon as he saw my expression he immediately looked apologetic.

”You’re looking right at her,” I said drily.

“Hell, Ruby,” he breathed, as he got off and helped me take the rowdy boys out the car. “Is there anything that man didn’t put you through?”

”Haha,” I said. “I’d have to think really hard about that one. I can ask him for some tips for you if you’re really serious about finding another wife. He seemed to have mastered the technique.”

Siraj chuckled as we walked into the building, me behind him as we stepped into the lift.

And yes, the shenanigans that Shabeer had been up to we’re far from easy at the time… but looking back now , I was glad that I could smile and say that I had made it through. It definitely meant that I had made progress and was on the way to recovery.

Ans of course, I was in the best of spirits as I entered my brothers flat because I knew that my mother wasn’t there. It wasn’t that I avoided her completely. I just felt it better got my general well-being if I spent as least time as possible with her. The more we steered clear of each other, the less chances of any explosions in the vicinity.

Khawlah greeted as I entered, giving me a quick hug as I followed my boys in, and quickly escaped  to the kitchen as she saw my uncle behind us. Khawlah just had this amazing quality of modesty in every situation that I always admired.

“How’s Adam doing?” I asked as I followed her, wanting to know what to expect before I went in.

She smiled as she glanced at me, knowing my habit of having random emotional outbursts when I saw my brother. By nature, I was not the most emotionally stable of people, and seeing Adam in the state he had been in a week ago set me off like a never before… snorts and all. I was a tad bit embarrassed.

“He’s fine,” Khawlah assured with a smile. “I think he’s just glad it’s the weekend.”

I widened my eyes comically. I knew the reason why.

My mother had been staying here in the week and basically micro-managing everything from his visitors to his diet. I could imagine that Adam must be quite relieved about her temporary absence. All I knew was that my father was particularly excited about the turn of events. When I spoke to him yesterday, he sounded like a man who had been let loose after a century of captivity.

“Shame,” Khawlah was saying sweetly. “I think she just wants to take really good care of him. She’s made four different lists of things that he needs to do. I didn’t know that she was so… particular.”

More like annoyingly controlling. It was quite typical that my mother would turn this into something so selfish. Making up for lost time was well and good, but I always felt sorry for Adam as a kid when my mother wouldn’t be around when he’d come home on the weekends. I supposed that’s what made us closer. We never spoke about it, but I’m sure Adam knew exactly what she was doing.

I glanced at the list of weird cultures and juices that he was meant to stuff down his throat daily. Low GI. Gluten free. Fresh vegetables. Weird concoctions. Yoghurts that I’ve never heard of before. Poor Adam had to probably just sit put and bear it all.

The kids were already all over Adam as I stepped into the room to see him on the bed, sprawled out now as they jumped around like four crazy monkeys. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched them, wondering how my uncle and Adam were actually having a conversation amidst the madness that was very evidently going on.

And yes, I was slightly surprised at how quickly Adam and Siraj just shifted back into comfortable companionship gear, thinking how strange men were. Men were just unassuming like that. No fuss. No grudges.

And as I stood there, I couldn’t help but feel a lump in my throat as I thought about the reality. I knew that I was getting to that crazy and emotional state of mind that would bring on the ugly tears, but despite the obvious downfalls of Adam being sick… I couldn’t help but think of how amazingly it had brought our family together.

For Ma and Mum… for Adam and Siraj… for me and the boys and the rest of our family. Sometimes Allah has really strange ways of working. Sometimes there’s more good that comes out of a less than favorable situation than we ever anticipate…

”I think we need to take them to the park later,” Adam finally said as he shook his head and tackled Zia who was literally diving head-first off the bed. “These guys have way too much energy for my humble apartment.”

And of course, as I tried to simmer them all down, I couldn’t help but think how on earth Adam would manage with the boys in his state… but then again… why not?

Why shouldn’t he enjoy his nephews before there came a stage when he couldn’t anymore? Maybe Adam needed to be out and about. Get some fresh air. Feel more alive.

I plopped myself on the single chair as Siraj left for the hospital and Khawlah came in, luring the boys with some awesome pasta dish that they were obsessed with and giving me some peace to spend some much needed time with my brother. She was so amazing with them and I didn’t even know how she did it.

And as she smiled at Adam, I could clearly see that it was her who Adam drew his immense strength from. She was so unwaveringly ‘together’. I wasn’t sure how she did it it, but my brother was already looking so much stronger, now that she was here. A little more optimistic.

Today was a good day, and I was glad that I was here to see it.

“Are you coping?” I asked him, watching him stretch out his legs as he sat back in the rocking chair he kept in his room.

He looked at peace. Content.

”I’m fine as long as you’re not feeding me weird stuff that makes me want to cringe,” he said steadily. “Mums been on quite a mission. You think she’d mind if I tell her to that she can stay home?”

I stifled a grin, wondering how long this would really last. Adam’s bound to say something critical at some point, which would probably send my mother off on a tantrum about how her children don’t appreciate her. Besides the diet, I could just imagine my mother coming into the room every few seconds, checking to see if he was still breathing. My mother got seriously suffocating at the worst of times.

”I think I may have a solution,”  I said, with a smirk. “It involves some cotton wool and cello tape…”

Adam grinned back at me. I knew I was being mean but the thought of my mother not being able to say the random and overbearing things that she was accustomed  to gave me a weird sense of satisfaction.

”Seriously, though,” I said, dropping my tone. “Have you spoken to Khawlah?”

Adam looked at me questioningly.

”About what?”

I wasn’t sure how to say it without seeming intrusive. I just wasn’t sure if my brother had thought that far ahead… But I mean, come on. It wasnt really on the list of things we usually spoke about… but which normal guy doesn’t think about these things?

”About her staying here,” I said carefully. “Don’t you think it’s time you guys make the big move?”

I could see Adam looking slightly pensive, as he glanced at me.

”I’m not sure what you guys are waiting for,” I added, raising my eyebrows at my brother and crossing my arms over my chest. “I know what you guys planned, and everything that’s supposed to happen.. but right now you’ll have no idea what the future holds. Haven’t you heard the saying… ‘time waits for no man’?! Come on, Adam… I think it’s time for a change of plans.”

“Ruby…” Adam said, looking a tad bit uncomfortable. “I can’t just tell her to put everything on hold in her life and save the day… although I would love to have her here… it’s not fair…”

”Why not?” I pressed urgently. “What if you’re not being fair?! What if she wants to? What if she’s waiting for you to say it? Do you doubt her love, Adam?”

“Not even for a moment,” he said without missing a beat. He wore a tired expression on his face as he continued. “But it’s not what you think. I’m no longer that guy who she married. Right now I’m okay, but there are times when I don’t want her to see me… when I’m in such an appalling state. I don’t want her to have to deal with all of that. With the drowsiness and the irritation and the rest of my annoying habits. If I opt for chemo then she’ll have to deal with that too. I’m certain that Allah is going to bring us through this and it’s going to be exactly what she expected when this is over and we take that big step…”

”And what if it never happens?” I asked, my voice rising as I looked at him. I didn’t want to say it but someone had to. “You can’t wait that long. You’re missing the point, Adam!”

He shrugged, almost as if he hadn’t thought that far ahead.

“What if you never get better?!” I continued, internally shuddering at the thought. “What if you guys live in this dream world where everything is going to come together again and it never happens?!”

Adam blinked and watched me unemotionally as I stared at him, waiting for an answer. As far as I knew, there was a 50-50 chance. This could go either way.

What if? What if?! There were so many uncertainties in this life. He remained silent for a few seconds before he spoke again.

“You’re scared,” he said softly.

I swallowed and looked at him. Of course I was scared. Of course.

I didn’t want to lose my brother. But more than that, I didn’t want Khawlah to feel like my brother didn’t love her enough to show her who he was, despite what was happening to him. Because that’s what love was about. No matter what or why or how, to give to each other and receive and be absolutely unconditional in every way. That was love. That was what I wanted them to see.

And even if I never got to experience that kind of amazing love, I knew that with him and Khawlah, being there for each other would raise them to completely new heights.

”I’m not scared,” he said quietly, lifting his gaze to look at me.

I looked up at him as he said it, frowning as I realized that he was actually serious. He wasn’t?

His face was pensive again, and I knew that with Adam, no matter what, there was always something cooking in his active mind.

”I’m not scared for me, Rubes,” he said, in almost a whisper. “But I’m scared for you. Maybe for Khawlah. But more for you. I’m scared that you’ll crumble. I’m scared that if things have to take a turn for the worse… you might come crashing down. Just like how you want me to think about my future… I want you to consider yours too.”

”What do you mean?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him. “What future?”

Your future,” he said obviously, with a glint of humor in his eye. “Love. Marriage. Maybe more kids, yeah…”

He grinned as he said it, while I widened my eyes at him.

More kids? Clearly that Cannabis oil was having other kind of effects on his brain.

”Adam,” I said, shaking my head at him. “It’s too soon. You can’t expect that from me.”

“Okay I’m kidding about the last part,” he said with a smile. “But it was worth a try. How’s about a deal, yeah? I’ll go ahead with my big move and I’ll help you to make yours?”

“What kind of deal?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him suspiciously. I was half anticipating, yet half dreading his next words.

”Well, it’s kind of a secret,” he whispered mysteriously. “And you have to promise me that it will stay that way…”

I nodded silently as he opened the drawer next to his bed,  pulling out a pen and a notepad, and tossing it to me.

What I didn’t know was that there was a lot more to this little secret than he had let on. This little secret was going to be one that would open huge doors.

“My muscles are too tired to do any of this,” he said, looking at me with his eyes shining with excitement. “So I need you to start writing…”


Dearest Readers, 

A little bit of suspense but I’m trying to keep it as light-hearted as possible.

Hope everyone is having a good break and remembering that throughout our fun and holiday entertainment, we are Muslims first. ❤️

Safe Travels for those who aren’t around .

Much Love, 

A xx

Don’t forget our Sunnah this holiday! 

Umar ibn Abi Salamah said: I was a young boy in the care of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and my hand used to wander all over the platter (of food). The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to me, “O young boy, say Bismillaah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.” 

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5376; Muslim, 2022).

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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