The sweet, pearly scent of jasmine from the wayward creeper behind me filled my nostrils as I trudged along, carried away with my tasks, almost immune to their beauty as I passed them by for the twentieth time that afternoon. Well, almost.
The thing was, no matter how many times I passed them, I couldn’t not pause in awe over how, in that expanse of dry land, they stood out so boldly, in all their glory, still possessing the courage to bloom in such staggering numbers. Their beauty was art at its finest… designed by the most Powerful Creator… unrivalled by the works of man…
It was that word which was purest in form, which raises your rank… that deed which is better than gold or silver… even greater in reward than Jihaad…
I whispered it, under my breath, as I stood still for a moment on our stretch of partly grassy land, soaking in the scorching sun before retiring to the small patch of soil at the edge.
On the small plot that we had called home for nearly two decades, I was finally seeing it with a new eye. The way the land curved would be perfect for a little slide and play area for kids . The extensive acres would work beautifully for bench and table chill-off and picnic spot. And the corner where the existing barn was, would be the perfect spot for the coffee stop and rose garden.
Mohsina and Papa had finally given me the go- ahead for the revamp and I was bursting with energy and enthusiasm to get this thing running, making my way over to the spot where I was determined to plant the sixteen rose plants I had grabbed at a discounted rate a few roads away.
‘Rose Plants for Sale’, had said outside, and I barely even entered the premises when I was blown away by the garden than boasted not only every colour of rose, but every flower under the sun.
I had expressed my awe to the lady and little her daughter, Khadijah, who owned the house. The lovely niqabi girl had given me a few gardening pointers, and I appreciated it. She seemed like she kept to herself and her little garden and that was my inspiration for my own little space…
This, for me, was a small start but it had to start somewhere, right?
I tossed the spade aside, my bare hands delving into the dry Earth, pulling my watering can to offer some moisture to the parched soil, allowing my nails to soil unreservedly as dug into the textures that existed beneath the surface.
Compost. Yes. A little compost would be just the thing needed for a little more potential. I pulled the bag I had bought towards me and poured out the contents onto the patch of soil, immersing myself in the textures and colours of the sand as I forked it in, now with my personal garden tools. My finger nails were still edged with brown Earth but the feeling of crusty nails was welcomed. It reminded me of hard work and toil and I wanted to feel like I was working with a purpose…
“Salaam Jamz. Howsit? What you up to?”
I hadn’t even heard the car drive in. I looked from my eyes where I was kneeling to see Layyanah standing at her car, her cheeks looking slightly more flushed than usual as she stood, baby bump protruding cutely, looking like a perfect little mama-to-be in a sage dress top and skinny jeans that sat below her ankles.
Her scarf was tied around her head traditionally and she looked like she was probably coming from home. Even with no make-up, Layyanah looked amazing. I looked a bit like a hobo, in my torn overalls and gum boots. It was the only way work got done with its full intent.
“I’m getting this thing going,” I said, gesturing to the soil. “It’s our new business venture. Did Mohsina tell you?”
Layyanah smiled, her face instantly looking more at ease than just a minute ago.
”It looks lovely so far,” she said sincerely, nodding. “I love the concept. A little stop over for travellers or even an outing for a day. What a stunning setting you guys have here. What about a little petting zoo? I told Mohsina you guys have plenty of space. Where is she, by the way?”
A petting zoo?
That was an amazing idea. I made a mental note and looked up at Layyanah, who was waiting for my answer.
We had plenty of space. And even more so, because Mohsina had decided that it was time that she moved closer to work and got her own place. It was a fully-furnished and included in her package and I kind of understood why she would be crazy not to take it. It was just that I couldn’t help the heaviness I felt in my heart when I said it.
“I think she’s gone to look at the apartment ,” I replied, wiping my forehead with my palm and not wanting to delve into the subject and how it made me feel. How it made all of us feel.
I looked at Layyanah as she looked confused, and then she remembered. Of course she did.
The apartment. The part of the package that she had taken … what seemed to be the start of all these new changes and also a little heartbreak too.
“How are you feeling?” I said, changing the topic purposely as I gave my attention back to the now promising soul.
“More energetic in the past week,” she conceded, and as I glanced at her, I could see her face had fallen.
“Is she really moving out?”
I swallowed, not saying anything in reply as I continued with my task of tossing sand around..
By nature, I was a dreamer. Even as I absorbed myself in work, my mind was miles away. A reader, a nature-lover, and a people-pleaser. I loved my family , and I loved things to be smooth and easy. When a little bit of drama usually ensued, my solution was always to tuck myself into my own world and to quietly get lost into the thicket of nature, daydreams and parallel universes.
The new venture though, was exciting me. It was the silver lining here. It kept me busy and calmed my mind.
Reality on that day was a far cry from where I really wanted to be, even though I knew that I needed to be there. Even though I knew that diversion was the best medicine right then.
Layyanah shook her head sadly and pulled the white garden chair to where I was, taking a seat opposite me, instead of going back home. She leaned into the back of the chair, stretching her legs out as she looked at me, almost as if she was unsure of what to say.
“Is this really happening?” She asked, pressing on, now looking like she was about to burst into tears at any point. It was obvious that she had this on her mind for a while and needed to get it out.
I looked at her and shrugged. I knew exactly how she felt. Mohsina was also ignoring me when I tried to talk to her about Hamzah. It almost seemed like she was a different person to the one who had been my sister for the past few years. Something in her had changed and I wasn’t even sure what it was. How could I ever understand or sympathise when she wouldn’t even give me the time of day?
The thing was, I didn’t understand it. This was what she was most scared of, but no-one else besides her was in control of. This was what was on her mind, when she was so scared of hurting people. It was almost as if she knew this would happen…
“How is Hamzah?” I asked, knowing that Layyanah probably would have seen him or known from her husband.
Layyanah sighed, her face looking slightly pained.
“Liy says he’s never seen him like this before,” she said, and my heart broke for them both. “He’s taken a week off… gone back home to the farm. His brother is there. He doesn’t talk about it but it’s obvious that he’s sunken into a hole of depression. It’s making me depressed. Is there nothing we can do to fix this?”
My heart contracted as I wondered the exact same thing.
But then again, I don’t blame him for heading back to that beautiful retreat that set my heart alight when I thought of it. I simply loved the small town feel, the nature and the feeling of not knowing what could be beyond the meadow..
The one time I had been there was like a dream.
Well. Until the intrusion of my peace by the girl who literally had me running beyond the hillocks.
And okay, maybe I was a bit naive, and I did expect the odd aunty or even some random guy… but it’s more or less goes without saying that anyone who had a fellow girlfriend making moves on you at any time and space would have found it creepy. I mean, you could easily move over to the ladies side if it was a guy stalking you.. but how do you escape a girl whose attention you didn’t want? Who had weird ideas? How do you explain the truth of what it is.. that’s it’s disgusting and you will never consider something so ridiculous?
Right? Because I knew that to walk away and remove myself from something that I had no control over, was the best thing, I did just that.
Like the sleepers of the cave, when the situation got overwhelming… their solution was to remove themselves and then leave Allah Ta’ala to do the rest.
And now, in this day and age, it seemed like trials were coming in quick succession. And I never did tell anyone the reason why I had to escape so suddenly, the day of Layyanah’s wedding. It was something that had eroded my mind for a few days, and then like anything that happens in life, fades into the background of our lives and then we forget about it.
And it was scary how my generation was getting on with the dialogue of ‘inclusivity’, as if it was all cool… and I was in shock so I didn’t anything or mention it before but I did realise that maybe it was a sign… a sign that maybe in this era, with social media at our fingertips and everything so accessible, just the constant talk about it and the fact that it’s becoming so normal (even if you condemn the act, which is a the way it should be) was actually detrimental to our Imaan.
Astaghfirullah. I sought refuge from the bottom of my heart.
Was I just so weak to be silent about what was forbidden and only hate a sin at heart?
“Are you okay?”
Layyanah was looking at me oddly and I nodded my head as I shelved my thinking for later.
I couldn’t tell her. Of course, I couldn’t say that it was one of her wedding attendees who was probably a connection who seemed to be exploring avenues with that were completely immoral. No. I couldn’t mention a thing. Wouldn’t that leave me to be questionable too?
I was still too young to deal with the scrutiny. Maybe it was better to just ignore it and act like it never happened…
“I suppose we all have to just accept it, don’t we?”
She said quietly, and I nodded as I realised she was talking about Hamzah and Mohsina again. I dropped my garden tools and stretched out on the dry lawn in front of her. My heart was feeling a little less burdened in the sunshine.
”I suppose so,” I said, feeling a little sad about just that.
The afternoon sun was blazing down on us, and although I was perspiring slightly, I quite enjoyed the feeling on my back for that moment. It helped me forget the worries of my world.
Layyanah looked at me, cocking her head to one side.
”You know, if you really think about it,” she said, almost as if she was reminiscing now, her expression looking a little more at ease. “I know… Hamzah wasn’t Mohsina’s cup of tea, you know? Looks aside, I know girls go crazy for him and he knows it but Mos didn’t fall for his tricks, neh? But when it all happened what I can’t forget is what she did always say that even though he was stubborn and set in his ways, he had good values. He was a social butterfly, he was trusting and he was passionate about whatever he did, right? She admired it. Like he was cut out for what he was doing and he loved it. And it seems odd because he is so different to her because even though Mos is a genius at what she does, self-sufficient, a hard nut at a glance… she’s actually a bit insecure at times , but she shows it as being over confident, whereas she’s a beautiful, soft and loyal soul on the inside and when you dig deeper you can see it so well…”
Her ideology was perfectly fitted. She had pinned it right down to the absolute truth. Their personalities were absolutely contrasting.
They could probably spend every day fighting about mundane things. They could clash over everything. I mean, I’m sure they would argue about everything.
Were they just too different?
“And I keep thinking to myself,” she continued, her eyes dancing now as if she realised something extremely unexpected. “I know that they are complete opposites, but it’s almost like they fill in each other’s blanks, don’t they? Can two people ever compliment each other better?”
Ah. That was what she was trying to say, and she had a point there. Could that not just be the perfect combo?! Maybe. Differences can be fun too, right?
“Do we really have to?” She said, with a small smile playing on her face. I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about now and what she was so optimistic about, when everything had seemed like a dead loss.
”Do we really what?” I said, confused.
Layyanah’s eyes were shining slightly as she watched me.
“Do we really have to just accept their decision and move on?”
I shrugged. They obviously didn’t see it the way she did. Mohsina had said that they just aren’t compatible. Hamzah was too old-fashioned and had different ideas about their future.
She looked like she was onto something but I wasn’t really wanting to interfere. The situation between Hamzah and my sister was pretty hopeless, according to me.
And as I glimpsed out into the horizon, as Layyanah said it was getting late and had to leave, I could see a figure that resembled Papa making his way toward us, slowly, as if he was soaking in everything around him for the first time ever.
He was venturing outside for the first time in ages as he slowly recovered, and I couldn’t help but smile broadly, thinking of how every cloud definitely has a little bit of silver around it. How even in the worst situations there is a sliver of goodness that we sometimes can’t see until they were right in our midst..
Some things just took a little longer… little more tears to get to the light… a little more energy to reap the rewards…
Some people just carry a torch with them, wherever they go. Light follows their footsteps, almost as if it doesn’t know how to shine without them.
Having hope is not dangerous. It’s essential to keep us going. Layyanah might have been talking a load of hogwash that didn’t make sense to me at the time, but when she left that day, somehow, my heart felt a load lighter than it had been those past few days. In any dark cloud, I could see a sliver of hope that was shining in the horizon.
Khair (goodness), people often say, comes even out of the most hopeless of situations.
Maybe, just maybe… everything wasn’t going to turn out as horribly as it seemed…
So I managed one more, next after the New Year InshaAllah ! Hope everyone is well! 💕
Quivk Q: Was wondering what do readers think about bringing Covid into the story, to bring in deeper lessons… or do we keep it completely fictional regarding that?
Would appreciate your feedback 💭
Just keeping it simple and sticking to the Sunnah we’ve already done. Being holiday time sometimes it’s better to maintain our current deeds… Allah make it easy ❤️
Sunnah of Making Salaam
It’s common nowadays that even when seeing other Muslims out and about, people are hesitant to greet. Let’s try and bring back this beautiful Sunnah and reignite the love ❤️
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
٤ جمادى الأولى
Hazrat أنس رضى الله تعالى عنه narrates that he passed by some children, so he greeted them (made Salaam) and he said: رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم used to do so (greet children).
(Bukhaaree Shareef/Muslim Shareef)
Greeting children inculcates humility, and at the same time, teach children the importance of offering Salaam.
It creates love and affection in hearts.
If there is fear of lust, by greeting a pretty girl or handsome lad, then one should refrain.