In the same way that good deeds are a protection for us, and protect us from calamity… I’ve noted many times in the past that when you are submerged in sin it’s almost impossible not to openly welcome the wrath of Allah.
Often when you are drenched in darkness, the light seems very far away. Like that flicker in the distance, so evasive and unreachable, sometimes we lose hope completely of ever surfacing.
As a rule of thumb, Nani had once told me that reading my Tasbeeh every day is a foolproof hack to accomplishing even the most impossible of tasks. 33, 33, 34… and If I didn’t have enough time, even a shorter version…. Somehow, even the unattainable gets achieved and the improbable gets accomplished, when you take out a little time for Allah in the morning and evenings.
And I knew I should have. I should have stopped with my worldly whims and fancies. I knew I should have done more of the actual cleansing. Dusting off the dirt. I would have and I usually did. But the thing was, I was busy. And I know I always use that excuse but that week, the office was buzzing with talks of the new incentive based promotion that Faadil had let out the bag on Monday when he called us to his office.
Hamzah was right. ‘Bossman’ was looking for me, but thankfully I wasn’t the only one who missed the memo. It was a whirlwind of excitement and enthusiasm after the little meeting and the office was a little more alive than usual. Everyone was giving off their best. Trying their utmost. No-one wanted to miss out on the opportunity that was opening up.
And of course, there were a few preferences, he had said, as he paced up and down, hair immaculate, clad in Hugo Boss jeans and an apple green shirt.
I wasn’t even bothering to look down and be a little decent while he spoke. It had become normal to ogle at strange men. The guilt was becoming non-existent. That was the thing with social media, Netflix addictions and spending more time on it. Once you get used to looking at whatever image your eyes fall upon, it becomes natural to forget that there was a filter on the gaze before. The dust had already settled, and it was becoming harder and harder to scrub it off.
And of course, Nthando, Mikael, Lesley and I were still sitting in a combination of frenzy and limbo after Faadil walked out after the (second) meeting he had called for, still trying to figure out what it was exactly that was going to set us apart from the others in this three month long competition for a huge incentive and permanent position at Hammond’s.
Oh yes, there were a few preferred graduates but no-one knew who they were. Some people had glanced at me, while others had muttered Hamzah, Robert and Lesley’s name… but no one really knew for sure.
Nthando was already scribbling notes in her diary, Mikael was busy with his laptop and Lesley just had this dreamy look on her face.
“The man just gets me every time,” she said, and my eyes always bulged slightly as she stretched out her long tanned legs. I wouldn’t say that they were particularly toned or anything but the girl had good genes, okay?
I’ve caught the guys literally stopping and watching her walk past, and to tell the truth, I assumed she enjoyed it. She was wearing a skirt, and though we had strict office rules about mini skirts, Lesley took it to the limit by wearing them just at the knee.
Every. Single. Day.
I couldn’t imagine what Nani would say about that if she had to ever come to my work place. And maybe I admired her confidence, but besides that, something within me told me that it wasn’t the kind of attention that I wanted to draw. It was just devalued. Objectifying. And so unnecessary.
“Did you see the way he dominates the office?” She continued, throwing up her hands dramatically. “It’s amazing.”
”Jah,” Mikael said absent-mindedly in his Cape Town accent. “When I grow up I want to be like Faadil the great.”
With Mikael I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or sarcastic but I half-laughed anyway and got up, not really wanting to sit around and listen to more Faadil-obsession, knowing I needed to get back to work after the eventful morning. Even the L-squared dramas were semi forgotten as we shifted into work zone, and I found myself getting lost in the work day and week. Never mind about them. For now Layy had sworn me to secrecy about their plans and I had agreed and forgot about it.
Other than that, I felt like I was stuck in this bubble of work, and it was all just going to burst before I even got to enjoy it. Maybe it was the mention of the incentive. Maybe it was just the worry of my future. But it had been more than once that week that I found myself wondering about things that I never did before.
Was this what I really pictured myself doing for the rest of my life? Was this really my calling? Maybe I wasn’t cut out for an office job. Did I need an outlet?
I couldn’t think about it too much without getting anxiety.
A distraction was just what the doctor ordered. A coffee and selfie time was the solution to everything. Layyanah had gone awol since from Wednesday. I wasn’t sure who or what had gone down but I figured that for now, the less I knew, the better it may be.
The thing was, there wasn’t even much time to ponder about it or even message because before I knew it, the week was over and I wasn’t even sure if I accomplished everything I needed to. Everything felt so rushed and in the moment.
And though I was feeling unaccomplished, I knew that some comments and likes would cheer me up, so I scrolled through my gallery and found an old post of a some nature reserve that Papa had gone to on the West Coast and posted it. Nature wasn’t my thing but it looked good on my feed and it was completely appropriate for weekend vibes. To tell the truth, the picture didn’t even need a filter. It was that beautiful, but that was just by the way.
Caption: Weekend vibes!
Another amazing week- productive and exhausting and definitely calling for some unwinding time…
I put in the emoji of the dancing girl, the heart eyes, and some nature and weekend hashtags before stashing my phone in my bag.
It was time to retire for the week so I packed up my stuff, shut down my computer and went for the elevator just a mere half hour after work time.
And as the elevator pinged open, I was a little annoyed to see Hamzah in the lift, coming from the top floor, work backpack in hand and looking just as annoyed to see me. Yeah okay, I could see he was rushing. Plus he was a mess. His tie was loose, his teal shirt was hanging untidily and the entire lift was stinking of cigarette. Ten floors down with him is going to make me super claustrophobic because besides having to deal with the stench of cigarette for that long, to tell the truth, I wasn’t exactly into the polite thing this evening.
“Press it closed,” I said automatically, not caring about being rude and audibly sighing in exasperation. “I’ll wait for the next one.”
Ugh. Fifteen minutes at least. He shrugged and pressed a button, looking relieved, but then suddenly jerked it open again.
“Get in,” he said, stepping out himself and gesturing to me. “You’ll wait ten minutes by the time it comes back. You have further to drive than me.”
He wasn’t happy about it and I didn’t need hand outs, but the traffic situation was stressing me out and my Choti Kala was coming home tonight and I really missed our conversations. She was the only one in the family who got my urgency to gain my corporate fame and I really needed to have a heart-to-heart with her. About life. Relationships. Family. It was away over due.
So when I heard footsteps and spun around to see Faadil pacing the office hallway, probably checking to see if he can lock up, and I figured why usually annoying Hamzah was being so polite, I jumped at the opportunity of the headstart. Of course, I thought, feeling relieved.. It wasn’t a hand out. With Hamzah there had to be some ulterior motive.
Right? That could be the only explanation.
“Trying to impress the boss, huh?” I muttered as I walked past him, raising my eyebrows judgementally. I was only half joking. I just had to have the last say. It would save me from saying thank you. “What a gentleman.”
I was being sarcastic. I mean, until I glanced at him and saw that he was looking exceptionally confused and I realised that maybe, just maybe, he had probably not even seen Faadil pass in the first place. And then of course, it got me wondering if maybe I was wrong and he was just being nice, but like, Hamzah was never just nice. Not for no reason.
“Why would I want to impress him?” He asked blandly, pulling a face as if he was disgusted at the mere thought.
“Erm, duh,” I said, as if was self explanatory. “Getting a head start for the big incentive slash promotion that everyone is dying over.”
He still had that confused look on his face, and then realization dawned, and he purposely stomped into the lift, punched the close button and turned to me.
“You think I’m that desperate?” He said, a disturbed look on his face. “Not everything’s about money, Mos. The thought of signing with Faadil for another two years is not exactly my dream job. Just FYI. Not everything’s about the big bucks.”
It was the first time I had heard him call Faadil by the name and from that I knew that he was slightly pissed off.
And with that, the lift pinged open again sooner than expected and he sashayed out onto the next floor, cigarette stench and all, before two more people came tumbling in, leaving me feeling just a little crappy as I waited to reach ground and step out, wondering if maybe I shouldn’t have been so judgmental in the first place.
But also, in my defense, wasn’t everyone here for the big bucks? He couldn’t tell me that he was so in love with auditing and taxation that he dreamt about it lustfully every freakin’ night. Everyone who worked here was in it for the money. There was no other reason to work like slaves.
But then again, it was only Hamzah so there was no need to break my head over it because it didn’t really matter anyway. I wasn’t sure why he smoked if it didn’t help his chill levels. The guy needed to go for some aggro therapy or something. Yeesh.
I walked up to my car, only greeting the guard as I stepped into the parking lot, pulling down the mirror to check my appearance again. Today was a low profile kind of day. I had worn a modest bottle green blouse with a loose grey pants, since it was a Friday, wore a longer coat over. I still looked good and my make-up wasn’t completely trashed yet, in case I stopped at the garage for a coffee and there were any decent prospects around. My feet were breaking from the heels I had worn to make me appear thinner and taller, but beauty was pain and I got that.
I checked my phone before I started my car, pausing to see my last post reaching a 100 likes and then psyching myself for the trip home. The roads were surprisingly uneventful that Friday. Usually Johannesburg boasted at least 3 a highway accidents and umpteen traffic jams, but this Friday was a little easier to get to my semi-farm based home and it was a welcome record.
I had just taken the off ramp when my phone buzzed in my lap and I momentarily glanced down. I tried not to type while I drove, usually pausing to message only when I stopped at a robot but traffic was slow and it was more or less safe in this area.
What’s the plans for the rest of the eve?
It was a message notification from Maahira on Instagram. Seemed like she even forgot that there were other ways of communication.
She had sent me a picture earlier of her standing with a friend outside the London train station. It was pretty cool to think that my friend was so independent in a distant city all on her own.
I thought for a minute about what to say.
There was no need to say that I was going back home. The truth was, even though I was looking quite forward to spending time with my aunty, I couldn’t let her know it. That wasn’t the life we always dreamt of having. For Maahira and I it was always about the corporate life. The glitz. The glamour. The functions and events and the chilling with friends after work to catch up on social time so we could have the best of both worlds.
It had always been a dream of hers to work in London and I always wanted to work at Jo’burg CBD. It was just our preferences and though we often tried to convince the other to swap aspirations, we still supported each other’s choices.
I couldn’t help though but wonder how London must be like on your own. With no family to go back home to. No home cooked meals. No soji and mutton briyani on a Friday evening even. That was the part that got me, as I finally rode down our driveway. But for Maahira, she made it look so amazing.
Her Instagram following was close to 10k because London life was a huge draw card. And she really lived the life, I could see from her page.
Plus, she shopped at all these amazing places and people were always drooling over her modest fashion-wear posts. I suppose you had to make the trade off. Family life was nothing compared to all of that, materialistic stuff. When she comes down she promised she was bringing me a whole new wardrobe and I was super psyched.
I opened her message and replied.
Just had some fun times with some work friends. The night is still young.
I put in a winking emoticon and left it at that. I didn’t expect her to reply so fast though.
What happened at work this week?
Hmmm. I wondered if I should tell her about the promotion and offer from the company that everyone was going for. It was exciting but she might tell me not to try too hard for it. She always told me that I was better than some common corporate position and should only settle for the best.
Ah yes, I knew exactly what I could tell her about.
Just the usual craziness with a dose of dramatic office romance. It’s been quite a week!
Again, her reply was quick. Like, didn’t she have anything else to do on a Friday night. Like be out with some cool work friends.
Office romance! Ooh. Do tell!
And so I did. Only, I had forgotten that it was supposed to be a secret. Maahira seemed so far away, and letting her in on what was going on here was barely going to make a difference to her awesome life.
And for all my aversion to drama, What I didn’t realise was that my lack of filtering was probably going to cause a bigger drama than ever…
A little longer post than normal. Any thoughts on Mohsina and her way of dealing with things?
Love hearing your thoughts !
On that note, Sunnah of the week:
We should remember the famous saying, “If you do not have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Imam Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Nabi (Sallalahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say good or remain silent.”
An amazing quality to inculcate into our lives…
Assalamualaykum, I pray this reaches you in good health InshaAllah, I thoroughly enjoy your writing, MashAllah, Allahumma Baarik. Just a polite request, when you post about the Sunnahs then it’s better and virtuous to type out the whole Durood InshaAllah. Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. As we are being taught in Madrasah, it is highly disrespectful of us to type out long posts or have long conversations but when it comes to Durood we don’t bat an eyelid with abbreviations. May Allah Ta’ala forgive us. Jazakumullahu Khair
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Wa alaykum Salaam, dear sister. Hope that you are well too.
Shukran for your valued comment. Will keep in mind InshaAllah
JazakAllah Khair 🤍
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Boy oh boy, drama onto the already messy situation . Not such a fan of maahira already… but let’s see with time what happens.
Shukran for amazing post… eager to see what’s hamzas story
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lol, yes. Lots of drama and Mohsina has a way of drawing the drama to her 🙈
Shukran dear sister 🤍
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Definitely she’s a magnet for drama😂🙈
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MashAllah such beautiful advice with regards of how we become accustomed to looking at the wrong things on screens, and then in turn we forget about lowering the gaze in reality.
JazaakAllah khair for the lovely post.
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Shukran dear sister.. It’s so true, once it becomes habit then we forget that it’s haraam…
Aameen wa iyyak
Shukran dear sister Ayah 🤍
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Loved it!! Can’t wait to see how it unfolds💚💚 lol Hamza is making me laugh coz that’s like my hubby. No matter how annoyed they are with you they still the gentleman, very thoughtful..
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Haha, yes, I think most of them are- no matter how annoyed we may get at them or they at us, they’ll say it in a way that doesn’t make thme look too much of a pushover even though they are still being nice. Nice tactic they have…
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