The Garden

Bismihi Ta’ala


There are some people who can walk through the most magnificent of gardens and not bat an eyelid. And let me tell you, for one, my sister was never one of those.

She’s one of those who can literally smell nature’s gratuity from miles away. I always remembered her saying, even as a grown kid, that some people can hear the most incredible of recitation, yet their hearts are never swayed. There are people who can merely exist through every bounty or difficulty of this journey, yet never be awakened to life’s true purpose.

And yes, it’s basically someone going through this entire life without realizing that there’s an Aakhirah. For the believer, there comes a time in life when you are forced to open your eyes. When your lens is suddenly cleared. When the eyes of your heart, are finally opened.

Hadrat Ali R.A narrates that Rasulullah Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam is reported to have said, “The world has departed with its back turned (towards you) and the Aakhirah is coming facing you, and each one (Dunya and Aakhirat) have children (that is followers and slaves that incline towards them). You should become children of the Aakhirah, that is, those that will desire the Aakhirah and not children of the world. Today is the (time of) carrying out actions and there isn’t any reckoning, and tomorrow is the day of reckoning where one won’t have the ability to carry out actions.

And if we truly grasp that, we would understand that there really was no time to waste on futile activities in this world. Some people, well, they just have that ability to see eternity in everything that they do. Its what defines them and keeps them in line. And I think because my sister had a better knowledge… a more real experience when it came to love and loss because through what she had seen and been through, somehow, her windscreen of life was always defogged.

“You ready, Khawlah?”

I was smirking at my sister knowingly, only to get back a scowl in response.

”I’m more than ready,” she said defiantly, placing her hands on her hips. “I’ve never been the chicken in the family.”

I chuckled. I could practically see her nose growing longer as the door opened and she feigned a indifferent expression.

The thing was, when my cousin Faheem had asked me to join him to see this house, I really didn’t know which house he was talking about.

And as he pulled up to the house… it hadn’t clicked with me immediately either. I had only become fully aware as we drove up and saw a shivering Khawlah on the brink of what looked like her version of jumping over a cliff. I could honestly see her head going in all directions as her eyes were probably peeled for some scarecrow or weird phantom-like thing to pop up through one of the windows and freak us all out.

And no, of course it never happened.

I grinned as the estate agent unlocked the door, and like a domino effect, I could see her resolve subsequently crumble.

If there was one giveaway, when it came to my seemingly fearless sister… Even when every ounce of her was fierce and determined, her trembling hands were always her weakness. She stuffed her hands into her Abaya pocket as she caught me watching them. I could tell she was as scared as a mouse.

”I feel like closing my eyes,” Khawlah whispered, only so I could hear, as we took the first step into the house.

I shook my head in humor and held onto her arm just in case she was thinking of making a run for it.

My sister could be the bravest of warriors in the face of an imminent war, and a clucking chicken at the very prospect of the ‘purple house’. I knew it was Khalid’s childhood theories that were still on her mind, but as I grew up it did occur to me that those theories were… well, just theories. I was just surprised that she never realized it too.

I watched Khawlah as we stepped in, amused as I watched her peeping through her fingers behind me. She was making sure that no one else could see her and it was quite hilarious.

And lo and behold, as light flooded into the room and we looked around, all I could describe the expression on my sisters face as she put her hands down and widened her eyes…. was ‘bewildered’. The light streaming  in through the open door now made the entrance hall look so… inviting. Instead of the rickety windows that were once fitted, new wooden shutters were gleaming at us. The ceilings were high but not in a creepy way.  I couldn’t quite believe that this was the very house that was so daunting to us as kids. The floors were a shade of classic mahogany, and the built-in finishes were absolutely professional. And because I had learnt a bit of carpentry over the years, because often Khalid would take me to his fathers warehouse when we were kids, and course, Aadam knew quite a bit himself, I could appreciate the workmanship. It looked like there was some major renovation that had happened recently and the turn-around that the house had made was quite unbelievable.

Solid wood floors and newly tiled bathrooms. I could still smell the paint on the walls, which was a comforting shade of light blue. I could almost imagine someone sitting on a leather reclining couch near the lounge window, soaking up the sun that was streaming in. Empty, the place looked great. I was sure that when it was furnished, it would be something else.

”I can see you guys are quite impressed,” the estate agent said, bringing me back to earth. It must have shown on our faces. Here I was, getting all carried away…

”I love it,” Khawlah said neutrally, probably surprising herself too as Nusaybah and Khadijah echoed her sentiments. My cousin looked from her to me, and then looked a bit worriedly at the estate agent.

“Is the owner up for negotiation?” He asked meekly.

Faheem had always been a conservative spender. I supposed it was a bit out of the budget, but because it was so close to Ahmed, he really wanted to see this place. Being away from family in the UK for so many years, he had a strong inclination to be near family now that he would be living here.

I nodded as the estate agent said we could discuss it with owner, and then started talking about how it had been revamped after it had previously belonged to an old lady who had lived with almost a dozen cats.

Cats. Cats. Why did that ring a bell?

“You see?!” Nusaybah was muttering to Khawlah with a huff.

Though Nusaybah was often quiet around me, I never missed her and my sister’s little theatrics. Of course, since we were all in one room, I couldn’t help but overhear the two of them squabbling.

”See what?!” Khawlah replied, looking annoyed.

Cats. Why did cats sound familiar? Had I maybe known this before? 

”That’s what you’ll end up like!” She hissed at my sister, clearly unimpressed. I was really trying not to listen to them but they had always cracked me up.

“The old lady who stayed in this house,” I caught her saying. “With a dozen cats! Can you imagine?! Leaving her house to her cats?! That’s how you will end up if…!”

Oh hell, now I remembered.

This was where Khalid had found the cats! The one that Khawlah had gotten into trouble over. The same kitten that he had given us way back when. I could not believe that I didn’t make the connection before this. All these years I had wondered what had really gone on in this house and now it was so clear.

Okay, maybe not so clear. But much clearer than before.

I recalled Khalid coming back and then showing us the kittens.. had he possibly maybe encountered the old lady here and then found more cats? Turned out that the purple house wasn’t as scary as we had thought. I had to remember to ask him for the full story one day.

”I will not!” Khawlah insisted. “You are horrible!”

Apparently, the lady had no children and had left the house to her cats. Her cats. I was absolutely amazed…

I mean, it just made me realize… how gracious is Allah that he has clear cut instructions on how to even distribute our wealth after our death. For every avenue… every little path that we venture in this way of life, there is rule that we follow. And yes, we may think it is only because we are obeying, but the clear cut truth is that everything Allah decreed is for our benefit too. I mean, imagine leaving everything you own to your cats?

The two of them argued on as the door leading outside was unlocked, and as I glanced at my niece I could already see where her eyes were fixed.

Khadijah had clearly inherited my sisters addiction to the outdoors, and I could vouch for it at that very moment. Her eyes widened as the door opened, and as she grabbed and pulled me along, I could almost feel some kind of magnetic force just drawing her towards the greenery.

”If you’ll love the house,” I could hear the estate agent saying to Faheem as they walked out. “You’ll are going to be blown away by the garden.”

And of course, when they heard that, I could already hear the two girls behind us. The view that we had glimpsed from inside was already a drawcard, but as I stepped out, I could barely describe the reality. My gaze was locked ahead as I reveled in it’s existence, just for a few minutes, before I actually took it all in.

I sucked in my breath as I stood, motionless at the stairs, wondering for a moment if this place was real or not. It was pin-drop silence for a few seconds as we all just stared.
The contrast of the colors against the bluest of skies was a sight to stop anyone in their tracks. Their clarity was simply breathtaking. And then of course, just below, rows and rows of flowers, planted methodically as we looked ahead. Bougainvillea cascading over the walls, dozens of trees, bushes and lollipops in intervals along its path. And yes, it was unusual for a guy but because I had spent so much of time with my sister in the garden as a kid, and even until recently, that I couldn’t help but know the name of every flower I could see. From lilies to roses, dahlias to hollyhocks.. to orchids of every colour perched on unassuming trees…. it was a feast for anyone’s eyes.

I mean, it was just something indescribable. I couldn’t understand how anyone could see this.. so much beauty and life… and not be swayed? How could anyone see such natural and unconditional splendor and still deny that there is a Magnanimous Rabb?

I breathed in the scent of nature, honestly mesmerized by the sight before us. I mean, whose needs a park when you have one in your back yard? I grinned to myself as I watched my pretty niece twirling in a sunny spot on the path. Khawlah’s eyes were bulging open.

So much for the haunted ‘Purple House’.No one would have ever assumed that this house would boast such splendor in its back yard. Honestly, such unprecedented marvel in this home was one of the most unexpected surprises. A bridge over a tiny pond with wisterias was truly a splendid scene. It even boasted a treehouse with an extensive jungle gym attached. It was a children’s dream. As my mind processed this.. like a magical garden…. it was nothing like I’d ever seen before.

”Imagine Jannah,” the voice in my head said to me.  “Just imagine Jannah, boss.”

”It’s great huh?” Faheem said in awe, as he turned to look at me.

I looked at my sister. Great was definitely an understatement.

SubhaanAllah,” Khawlah said, looking like she was in utter shock. It was the only appropriate word I could think of. “I’m in love with this garden. If you guys aren’t taking it I’ve got amazing ideas. This will make be a kids paradise. Maybe an orphanage or a children’s Madrassa or something along that  line. It was always Aadam’s dream to be involved in something like this… and what a way to earn eternal rewards. Just being here makes you want to make Dhikr. I’d love to be here, maybe even teach here… and see this place grow..”

I breathed in as she said it, slightly taken aback at my sisters awareness.

How amazing was it that even in this incredible garden, her thoughts were still on Aakhirah? There were just some people who had that kind of unwavering perspective. They didn’t only look at the ‘now’. They saw beyond. Far beyond the present. I felt immensely proud that my own sister was one of those rare people. She didn’t want Duniyaa just to have Duniyaa. For her, it wasn’t about now. It was about the treasures of the afterworld..

And though I knew that, I couldn’t figure out how to some people it just came as second nature. It sounded so familiar as she said it. And why did this place seem like is known if before? It felt like I was missing something all this time.

And because I was so focused on the appeal of the garden and it’s unprecedented splendor, only when I felt the brushing at the bottom of my kurta did I realize that there was a very furry and well-fed cat that lived here. And as I kneeled down to pet it and Khawlah spotted, I could practically see the lightbulb flicker on in her head.

”Hey, isn’t that Khalid’s cat?”

Of course, it hadn’t clicked with me and she said it without thinking but it was a dead give away. Because my sister was as unassuming as she always was, it took her a few moments to put the pieces together.

Err,” I said, scratching my beard. Well, he did look just like Khalid’s. And ours. But there was something about Khalid’s cat that you wouldn’t miss for anything. They had the same identical eyes. Maybe he was just visiting? But then why was there a cat house and play post here too?

”Wait,” she said, her voice slightly strained as she looked around us. “Who does this place belong to? That lady with the dozen cats died years ago, right? This one looks like it’s well cared for…”

I kept silent. I didn’t know want to say it. The pieces were just about fitting together in my own head.

The memory was clear to me as if it was yesterday.

“You see, Yunus,” Khalid had said softly, his gaze meeting mine. “We all have hopes. Visions, plans for the future. I’m sure you do too.  I thought that I had it all set out for me. The perfect house, a perfect girl, the perfect plan… a perfect life that I wanted to live with the best of everything. But one thing I’ve realized is that when our plans are toppled, there is something else waiting for us. We can’t dwell on it because I’m sure that you, more than anyone else, know that only have a set number of days. Life is too short for that kind of negativity. What we put forward today is going to help us tomorrow. The only thing we take with us is what we give forward in deeds and charity. When we plan for the Aakhirah, we can never go wrong.”

There I was, thinking that maybe it was just some awesome parting advice, but little did I realize that I’d missed something really important right there.

”Yunus!” Khawlah said with her eyes narrowed as she scrutinized me.

Jasses, there was so much more I could read into if I wanted to. But what was the real proof that this house belonged to Khalid? 

My sister was looking at me skeptically and I wished that she couldn’t read me like that. She already knew that my mind was abuzz with a new influx of information and I didn’t even know how. Somehow, the mystery was slowly unfolding itself as most of the pieces were fitting together and Khawlah was not one to miss it…

”You have to tell me,” she said, forcibly pulling me aside out of earshot and looking me in the eye.

”Tell you what?” I almost squeaked.

”There’s something you know,” she said, wagging her finger at me. “About Khalid and this place. And you have to tell me what it is.”

Sunnah of Du’aa after Salaah: One of the Sunnah of asking Allah is never to be despondent of Allah’s mercy. Remember that He is always listening and waiting to answer our prayer.

Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that Allah the Exalted had said: “I have divided the prayer into two halves between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks. When the servant says: Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe, Allah the Most High says: My servant has praised Me. And when he (the servant) says: The Most Compassionate, the Merciful, Allah the Most High says: My servant has lauded Me. And when he (the servant) says: Master of the Day of judgment, He remarks: My servant has entrusted (his affairs) to Me. And when he (the worshipper) says: You alone we worship and of You alone do we ask help, He (Allah) says: This is between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for. Then, when he (the worshipper) says: Guide us to the straight path, the path of those to whom You has been Gracious not of those who have incurred Your displeasure, nor of those who have gone astray, He (Allah) says: This is for My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.” [Sahih Muslim]

Lots and lots of Duaas. Let’s focus on trying to bring Du’aa into our daily lives…

How easy to practice …











Twitter: @ajourneyjournal





16 thoughts on “The Garden

  1. Eeekkkk what beautiful but very surprising post.. that purple house haunted me too but who would have thought.. Subhanallah..

    Mashallah tabarakallah dear authoress.. your imagination is lovely mashallah..

    Liked by 3 people

  2. السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
    Jazak Allah Khayr for this post.This blog has inspired me to have a garden of my own insha Allah..a place to admire the magnanimity of Allah , jst like Khawlah insha Allah🌸
    I jst cant help but think how perfect Khawlah and Khalid would be…not forgetting Khadijah

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Did khalid buy this house n make it all up for khawla but has lost all hope now n is selling it.. that’s so heartbreaking.. i hope you post soon sis because curiosity will kill me..

    Liked by 4 people

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