The other day I read something that said:
“There was a last time you played outside as a kid and you had no idea that it was the last time you did.”
And I know it’s just a fleeting thought that may have crossed a random someone’s mind at some random time, but it hit pretty hard for me. Because, well, the truth is- we never do know when the last time is the last time, do we?
And other emotions aside, but my just heart kind of sunk as I thought about all the last times that may have happened without me even knowing it. The last time you ‘played’ at a friends house or the last time you ever spoke to someone special… the last time you sat on your father’s lap or in his house or the last time you all enjoyed a meal with only your siblings before you moved on to another chapter of your life…
Life is a series of moments… a series of ‘last times’. A series of events that are strung together, a combination of last times that sometimes leave an aching feeling in our gut till long after.. even though you don’t always see it at the time.
And every so often in life, it happens that we see things for what they truly are. A pious man once called this world our ‘Earthly Existence’. And it was so true, because sometimes we forget that this part of our being is not the temporary one. We forget that there’s a world that’s bigger… that’s greater, that’s purer… that’s more real and millions of times more beautiful than this one. That doesn’t have any lasts or goodbyes, because all it is is a collection of eternity that knows no bounds.
Sometimes we are tested so we can see this, and sometimes when we are tested we forget this.
And it was the day before I was set to leave home, as I sat with my common and repossessed addictions , when I was sucked into it like never before.
I was all stuck in this rut of devilish screen time and feeling sorry for myself, feeling as if everyone was moving on with their life and almost as if no-one cared that I wouldn’t be here anymore when my fathers voice boomed from just outside my room door.
True echo of my fathers voice in the hallway of the second floor of our house was enough to make me literally freeze, tap the pause button and slide off my Queen-sized bed.
And it was about time. Jameela and my mother had made several attempts, with no luck. I supposed it was only expected that my father would have been the next and last resort.
“Mohsina,” his voice sounded again, but it was gentler this time.
Almost like he remembered that he had to be sensitive. That I was leaving tomorrow and I wouldn’t be here anymore. That I had endured a few great ordeals recently and desperately needed some TLC.
Almost as if he was trying to coax me out of the gutter that I was lying in.
I swung the door open haphazardly, and then quickly grabbed the towel from behind my door.
I had forgotten that I was wearing a t-shirt and shorty-shorts and if I didn’t cover myself in record time my father would have another heart attack.
And okay, I hear you. It was my father but Nani was always on my back about my dressing and even in the house I knew that it was only out of a little bit of shame and respect that I should dress decently in front of him and my brother. The fact was, spiritually, I was on a low, and my outward self was taking the battering.
Over the years I had come to realised that my level of Imaan and my modesty went hand in hand.
The thing is, Hayaa is a protection of Imaan. If one goes, the other will also be lost.
And when you do good deeds, they were a magnet for good deeds, but it was like-wise with bad deeds. When I found myself getting involved in questionable and off- track things, my mind overpowered my reasoning and sunk lower and lower…
Papa shook his head at me, his look of disdain fading as he ran his hand through his grey beard and tried to offer a small smile.
“Put on your cloak and come down,” he said, pleading with me through his eyes. “Everyone is asking for you.”
I so did not want to go downstairs right then. Besides Nani and some other family members making an appearance this evening, I felt like killing time, enjoying my room which would soon become office space for Papa and Jameela with their new venture… and just being by myself for now.
And okay, I admit it, Nani and I weren’t exactly on speaking terms right then. She conveniently turned her face away when I entered the room the other day. If she didn’t ignore me completely, she openly insulted me. She spoke around me, about me, almost as if I wasn’t even there.
Her eyes would follow me around the kitchen as I tried to make myself a cup of coffee to take back up to my room.
“Bengori,” she told my mother that day, almost in a whisper. As if I couldn’t hear. “What you think if I get a taweez? It’s two times now, beti. How can happen two times? Everything going upside down here. I can ask Khairoon – her son is a Maulana, he’ll give something for Mohsina. Must be someone put too much eyes, that’s why her life is like this!”
I rolled my eyes. She was digging up old dust and although it stung, I closed my eyes momentarily, trying to forget once again, what happened had in the past.
She was referring to two years back, a Samoosa run proposal hadn’t exactly gone according to plan. What she refused to accept was that it was hardly my fault, and that it was largely due to her favourite granddaughter spreading stupid rumours about me and no one listening to me until the damage was all done. Of course, this was the reason there was a huge fall-out, and why my cousin and I didn’t get along.
The break-off was for the best, though, in retrospect. The guy was a spineless idiot who cared too much about his parents opinions about unimportant aspects. Everything, from the furniture of our house to the color of my wedding dress had to go through them. People who don’t have a back bone are hardly my type of people. I wasn’t exactly craving an oppressive relationship.
Obviously I was upset at the time…. But those were the unmentionable things that we didn’t mention. Maybe it was time that I set the record straight….
I opened my mouth and shut it again as she continued.
“Such good proposals,” she continued sadly in guji, her voice sounding strained as she sighed and I poured my coffee silently. “There must be a reason why this is happening to me. How will she ever get married now.. any other boy will think something is wrong with us..”
I widened my eyes and opened my mouth, ready to explode.
How can she make this about her? This was my life. My marriage. I was the one enduring all the hurt and criticism and she was still blaming it on me.
Ans I was about to say it but it just took one look from my mother for me to keep my mouth shut and swallow all the words on the tip of my tongue. Talking about the past would open up a can of worms. Nani was upset, and so was I. I knew my parents were hurting and disappointed too, but they hid their hurt because they didn’t want to rub it in my face. They silently put on a smile and loved me no matter what… when all I was doing now was letting myself slip further and further into a gloomy hole.
”Mummy,” said Ma calmly. “I heard the other day that the one of the most effective things to read for nazr.. for protection from peopel is usually Quls and last two verses of Surah Qalam.”
Protection duaas, of course, were the greatest preventative.
And I knew the evil eye was real.
The hadeeth clearly states: “The evil eye (nazar) is a reality.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #5740)
Nani though, usually took it to another level. Everything was Nazr.
I stirred my coffee without a single word. Sometimes it was just life. We went through hard tests and times. Stuff happened. We had to learn to heal, to reach out, and to ask Allah for help during those times of trial…
What I was doing about it though… I wasn’t sure.
Nani was saying something about turning salt, md I really wasn’t keen on trying those out-dated and dodgy methods.
“Listen, please, Ma,” my mother continued. “Please don’t go and ask aunty Khairoon because she will tell her whole family and everyone else and it’s not nice. We read manzil. Every day. I’m sure Mohsina is doing her morning and evening duaas and reading everything she can. Right, Mosee?”
She looked at me and I nodded back guiltily.
I feel like I’d been targeted and exposed.
Ah yes. I was taking the tea when it comes to complacency. Thinking I was too good before Thai. Too religious. I wanted to be better but lately, I’d been sucked into distractions.
You see, it took me some time but I realised very fast that forgetting someone is not as easy as double tapping and unliking an Instagram post. It was far more tedious and it wasn’t exactly my favourite thing to do.
In an effort to shove the past behind me and get on with it, social media had become my refuge once again. Netflix was my new and old go-to and with my favourites streaming once again during the festive period, I couldn’t help but resist the temptation.
Sometimes in life it happens that we forget what our purpose is. When we are a little good, we become complacent. We think that we are beyond sin. That we won’t fall into a trap.
In that spirit of festivity, when everyone around is having a good time, our purpose becomes one and the same. When we are overwhelmed with emotion, down in the gutter or feeling a little out of sorts… we are no longer the slaves of our Creator.
I felt hurt. Deserted. Abandoned, even when I knew that Allah will never abandon me… I was refusing to step up. Instead of relying on my Creator, I relied on everyone else to prove my self-worth.
Layyanah too, after her coaxing and comforting the past two weeks, had gone away on a baby-moon while Liyaket was on leave and left me to my own devices. Like, literal devices of delusion, that I couldn’t stop with.
And from one movie watched in that spirit of craziness, I ended up getting hooked on three different series.
And that’s the thing with these subscriptions, isn’t it. One movie isn’t enough. It’s not enough to get the required ideology across… to infiltrate the warped concepts and ideas… to really immerse someone in the message they are trying to put across. It’s not called ‘series’ for nothing. Over a continuous dose of addictive episodes, your mindset becomes contaminated with the thoughts you probably never knew existed.
Besides, drowning myself in mindless series with their subliminal messages was also the best way to escape Nani’s prying eyes and escape into another world.
It didn’t help that everyone else was busy too and barely enjoying the holiday time. On the home front, Jameela was busy with her big renovation of the front building and Papa was in the process of handing the shop over to someone else. Ma was busy doing what she can to keep the peace and Nani was, as usual, eyeing me out with a look of disappointment every time she saw me.
And though home it was my refuge at times, my mind was screaming for a relief.
And so my escape was first the office, where everyone was in high spirits at the end of the year. Going through the motions. Winding down. Cooling off. I mean, it’s not called the silly season for no reason. People really do get pretty crazy and at the end of year when there were usually an array of parties and occasions that were hosted by work, it meant that I couldn’t simply escape it all.
And maybe I wasn’t doing the things that people usually do, but in my own way, I was resorting to my own kind of silliness.
Yes, my family was supporting me silently, but it wasn’t good enough for me. All I saw was Nani’s battering and the stigma that was getting attached to me, I saw people’s judgements and dreaded meeting family. When it came down to it, something was telling me that a new and fresh start would be just the thing to set everything right.
So when Faadil mentioned in passing that the package I had scored came with an apartment or a rental allowance, I jumped at the opportunity to see the apartment. The company already had a few that they owned.
When things broke off with Hamzah, I had a feeling that something may have been circulating that general office people had gotten wind of, but didn’t mention it to me.
I wasn’t sure what it was and who said what… but the package that was promised came ahead of time. It was almost like a reward.
There were added benefits on my contract that weren’t mentioned before and better perks. I couldn’t believe how good it was all looking on paper. The apartment, obviously, was the welcomed bonus. It was a stunning penthouse in the heart of Johannesburg which was a mere 5 minutes walk from the offices. It would save me the trouble of morning traffic and also mean that I could sleep in till a seemingly ridiculous hour for a work day.
That was the life, I told myself, the day I went to see the apartment, floored by its spacious living area and master bedroom. This is what I’ve worked so hard for.
It was all about me. About what I wanted. About what I could do to help myself. I mean, I had been through enough, shouldn’t I have something to appease myself at least?
And due to that, the decision came without much thought. Time was racing by and it was finally the week when I would get occupancy. It was the week when old contracts were ended and new ones began. It was a start of a new chapter for many people at Hammonds too.
What I was trying to forget was that this was the week that Hamzah would leave permanently and the week that our Nikah was scheduled to be. I buried the thoughts under the haze in my mind, trying to forget it completely.
Lesley had come in early those few days while we tried to work out the year end tasks. Mickey and the rest were busy trying to be busy with nothing in particular. Hamzah was absent for a good portion of those last few weeks. From what I heard from Layy, because I barely saw him, was that he took intermittent leave in those few weeks purposely, on account of everything that had happened and some huge change in his life. I didn’t ask what it was. My life was perfectly fine knowing nothing more about him.
He had also probably found a new route to the roof smoke breaks so I barely even saw him on our floor anymore. If I was feeling it, I didn’t show it. I had become pretty good at masking my emotions.
And with all that, I was all psyched up that day as I grabbed the keys from the envelope Faadil had sent to my desk earlier that day. The new bunch looked all shiny and fancy, with a special disk to enter the building from the parking lot.
My heart was all racy with trepidation as I grabbed my new Micheal Kors work bag to sling over my shoulder, making sure that I had all my work essentials in there for the weekend. It was no use being in my new place if I didn’t make full use of the space.
“Hey babe,” Lesley called, as she saw me heading out. “All the best for the big move.”
She was styling in a pants suit today and I couldn’t believe how it suited her. The change in her, since she started dating the Muslim guy from HR was absolutely shocking. I had an idea that she was considering taking it to the next step with him but that was a different story altogether. I wasn’t in the space to advise her, because I was so off-track myself.
Before Nikah I would assume she had said that she was wanting to revert, and though I was so happy for her and what this had brought… I couldn’t help that feeling that made me feel like she was ten steps ahead of me and I was still lagging behind.
I chatted to her for a few minutes about weekend plans, and though she was all excited for my new place, she had her own plans and I felt myself playing up the whole thing a little too much. She had also got a pretty good position at a firm close by. I was actually so good at pretending nowadays that I found myself faking smiles and laughter even unconsciously. And as I grabbed my phone from the front compartment of my bag, opening Instagram to check out the latest posts on my feed, the lift pinged open and I automatically walked in, not even processing if anyone was in there.
It took me a few seconds before I looked up, wanting to greet and make eye contact with the elevator acquaintance but already feeling a coldness from behind me as I turned to see who was here.
And that’s when I saw him.
It was Hamzah stood there, his eyes fixed ahead, almost as if he was completely immune to my very presence. His expression was unreadable and his mere being was reeking with aloofness, obviously stemmed by me being less than a metre away from him.
I swallowed hard as glimpsed his familiar jawline, set now in a steady but grim fashion as his eyes narrowed ever so slightly, before I looked away. I couldn’t quite digest the feelings that were hitting me at that point.
Seeing him like this was as painful as ripping my heart right out of my chest. He seemed like a different person. He acted like someone I had never met before. As for his appearance, his face now sported a fully grown beard and his demeanor was entirely transformed.
I stood silently, with my gaze now averted, knowing truly well that he didn’t offer even a single glance my way before the lift door pinged open again and he waited silently, as always, for me to step out, before he did so himself.
And as I did, it was only a few seconds, it felt like old times, and my heart was overpowering my mind.
It was stupid but I couldn’t help it. Like a magnet was drawing me to the spot, almost as if I couldn’t move on until something pushed me away, a fierce wind of emotion overpowered me as I stood there for a brief moment, merely waiting.
I waited for something. Anything. A glance of acknowledgment. A word of greeting. A murmur of familiarity.
Even a sigh of irritation would have been welcomed right then.
But all I got was the silence of the empty entrance hall as he walked away, two work bags and a backpack on him, with not so much as even a single glance backward.
It was the last time I would see him leaving, and I felt like my heart was crushing within my chest, as I realised the full extent of what was happening here and how everything was just leaping further and further away from me, as I struggled to come to grips with it all.
Because what were are.. what we were… was only a moment. A wrong moment, every time. A moment stolen, that probably wasn’t even ours. A moment where we forgot everything else but what our Nafs wanted for that time. A moment where life, death, wealth and reality intervened, where disastrous choices had to be made and everything was destined to come crashing down.
A moment where I had lost myself, but had come back… only to lose myself once again as I struggled to cling onto that very wrong moment. And now, a last moment of realisation, where I could have used to change my path, to turn back the page, to come clean and erase the past few months and just start all over again if I wished.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t take back what I’d done and there was no way I could ever explain.
This was it… like two threads hanging in the open, until a gust of wind brought them together again as they approached, but no-one would see if they could meet or intertwine once again.. whether the wrong moments could be righted, whether the darkness of sin could be purified, or if wisps of time could have perhaps gifted us with the knowledge that this wasn’t really goodbye…
That forever moment, the last time I glimpsed his back in the steely entrance hall of Hammonds’ office block would be the last time we didn’t say goodbye.
Sorry for the heartbreak.
Really appreciate the feedback, it really helped me to see so many sides of the issue of polygyny… different perspectives, as well as challenges many face. The second wife controversy continues and we’ll get to it soon.
(Seems the ladies may really like to see Fareeha get into it, as that may be another story altogether…hehe)💕💕
Just something to note for Nazar: (from Path to Paradise Kitaab via Uswatul Muslimah)
The last two verses of Surah Qalam are very effective in removing nazar. They should be recited eleven times and blown on water, which the patient should drink. The water could also be sprinkled on his face and head, or used for bathing. Alternatively, the verses could be merely recited and blown on the patient.
Should be combined with Surah Humazah, Surah Falaq and Surah Naas three times each, preceded and followed by durood shareef three times. It could then be used in the above mentioned manner.
Revive the Sunnah of being Active
Especially in this day and age when there are so many Haraam recreational options available for entertainment, it’s crucial that we try and adopt a clean environment or even a hobby that’s beneficial and Halaal.
In one of the Hadiths, Abu Hurairah mentioned that The Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessing be upon him) said that:” A strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than a weak one, and both are good.”
This particular Hadith outlines the importance of being healthy and strong physically, which shows that exercises and keeping fit are important for Muslims. In a world where everything is one click away, people are no longer willing to do any effort to stay in good health physically or eat well. Let’s try and revive the Sunnah of being active, through running, swimming or exercise.
Can’t they both patch up?
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My heart just broke on the last sentence 💔💔
Riveting writing as always!
And JazakAllah for always being so punctual with your posts💕💕
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Shukran dear sister… trying to keep to some sort of schedule… 💕
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I believe good is coming insha’Allah as this is NOT the last time we will see the both of them in this beautiful story
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I have some bad vibes about this apartment..
Faadil is bad news …
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True that… sometimes on paper, things seem much better than they really are…
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Hoping to hear from Hamza next.
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On it xx
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Where is chapter 26? Last one was 25? 🤔
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My bad 🙈
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