The truth is, at some point, everyone’s lives have become desperately in need of a cure. I don’t think there has ever been a time or era where we’ve forgotten more the importance of human touch. Of kind and beautiful words. Of shaping the memories that bind us as one body, and build us into the kind of human beings that we really want to be.
And amidst the chaos and worldly pursuits… There comes a point in life where it all becomes too much. When we get too tired to fight anymore. When you have to tread the line between failure and quitting, and then decide which way to go.
Especially when someone you really love is involved, sometimes it’s hard to find hope where there really is none at all.
Every once in a while, when there is no more joy in the continuous pursuit of advice, when inspiration is on the low, there comes a point where you find yourself believing that there’s only so much of watering, pushing and coaxing you can do, before you call it a day and abort an already failing mission.
But as a gardener, I once learnt from the amazing ‘Rose Lady’, who I had recently learnt was named Khawlah, that pruning away the dead, diseased and overlapping branches of plants is the best way to ignite some hope and to inspire more vibrant, productive growth. Sometimes you have to trim something, to cut something back… to bring it down almost completely… before it flourishes again.
It’s a common rule of gardening, that when I see leaves withering away, and the stems looking a bit drab, most of the time, cutting the plant right to the bottom is the most effective treatment.
And sometimes cutting back, in other senses too… pulling away is the only day to remedy an almost hopeless situation. Stagnant roots are revived, people become more engaged, and new ideas find fertile ground once again. Basically, attitudes that aren’t helping to improve our lives are being pruned away, to the betterment of all of us.
But you just needed to take that plunge, because sometimes, in spiting a plant of its branches, you can even risk its life.
And right then, as I stood in the hallway of my home, faced with a decision that may change our lives for the better or worse, depending on what I did… I felt like I was torn in two.
I’d always been a good judge of character, and I knew that there had to be a reason why this was just giving me a really bad feeling…
Go ahead and stand putting everyone at risk, by calling Mohsina out right here, with our house wide open for them to do anything they can… or stand my ground and tell them to back off.. If only I could gain the courage….
“Please,” I pleaded with the older of two, hoping it would appeal to his fatherly side. If he had one. I had to try and salvage the situation where I could. “I’m not sure what this this is about and it’s not a good time right now. I can tell my sister come and meet you… She’s already got a lot on her plate and -”
“If you don’t call her, we can just go straight to your father and give the old guy a shake-up,” the older guy cut in, giving a small snicker as he said it. “The last time he got away with a heart attack, and your sister saved him. This time, I’m not too sure.”
My sister saved him? I didn’t understand. My heart was thudding even more in my chest, as I saw the lack of empathy in his eyes.
The younger guy, on the contrary, glanced at me, looking slightly uncomfortable as he watched my eyes fill with unexpected tears. Almost as if he was embarrassed.
“We’ll wait at the garage,” he said decisively, and it was almost an uncertain statement because as the older man looked at him menacingly, I figured who the boss here was.
“But how will we know that she will even show up?” the older man asked, looking agitated.
The younger guy shook his head.
“Like you’ll let this go anyway,” he said bluntly, turning away to go to the car, looking strangely unsettled by the whole situation.
What was even going on?
All I knew was that one minute I was relaxing comfortably in my home, listening to Nani and Mohsina having it out as usual, and the next, these thug-life people come with sinister intentions and topple my entire mindframe, bringing in the most embarrassing waterworks.
And I know I wasn’t exactly in the most conducive situation, but I really couldn’t help it. The thing was, like any little girl, my father has always been my hero. To think that anyone remotely evil could ever be after him, was a completely foreign and uncomfortable notion. The brave, generous, loving kind of father that I always knew and loved was the one who I would go to any lengths to protect, no matter what the circumstance.
When it came to Papa, I recalled often how he would tell us about how his family never really had time or money for luxuries. Maybe getting through life when you had seven younger siblings’ mouths to feed wasn’t always easy.
And perhaps this was why, Papa’s nature, by default, was always to give. To bring every one of his siblings through school and an opportunity for tertiary education, was his responsibility because his father was very much absent throughout his life, hopping from one second wife to the next while his mother would fill samoosas for a tuppence.
And then my mother came into the picture, understanding where he was coming from, knowing the history, and she didn’t hold him back either.
”It’s his money,” she always said, with a careless wave of her hand. “He works hard. He must do what he wants to with it. He must help people.”
And so he did. To give and give and give, it didn’t even matter if he had nothing left to give. When it came to loving for others what he loved for himself, Papa took it in his stride. Even if he put himself into debt and problems in the process, Papa still continued to do what he loved to.
Amazingly, because of this quality, it turned out that Nani too, had a certain respect for Papa that was unmatched to anyone was else, because Papa was the one who had helped her son, her son-in-law and everyone else in the family who went through any financial difficulties… even when he himself was not in the most amazing of circumstances.
His very nature was oozing with generosity, and I had a very strong feeling that this was the reason that Allah had saved us from many downfalls over the years.
The Prophet Muhammad, Sallalahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said ‘Give the sadaqah without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.’ (Tirmidhi)
A Sadaqah, of course, is always a means of cure and a means for avoiding a calamity.
And being all stressed out and emotional beyond consolation, I couldn’t help but be all panicked over my father finding out and risking his health again as I made my way in a frenzy toward the lounge. Calling Mohsina out now would only cause a scene and make Nani more suspicious. It would also put Papa in a bad light, thinking he was involved with all these thuggish people when there was no way I could imagine him to be.
There had to some mistake.
I prayed so hard at that moment, yearning for this all to go away. It was that desperate, aching from the heart, purposeful prayer that you made whet you wanted something really, really badly.
And I wasn’t sure exactly how it all happened, but before I knew it, Ma had intervened between the two of them and somehow convinced Nani to come with her to the nursery down the road, where they left from the other entrance. And then, as I approached Mohsina, panic once again, set in, as I had to recall what these people had just told me.
Ya Allah, my heart was screaming, as I wondered how he knew all this. Please make this turn out okay.
Explaining to Mohsina, it like she immediately knew exactly who the people were. Her expression was ridden with worry, but as always, Mohsina had the amazing ability to remain calm even in the fiercest of storms.
She sighed audibly, her brow furrowed now as she thought.
“Looks like we have no choice,” she murmured as she grabbed her bag and keys. “I’m going to meet them to explain to them that the car isn’t mine. And then take it back…”
“She sighed again as she half-limped over to the Porsche, opening the door to battle he way into the driver’s seat. Her leg was still pretty bashed up but there was no way that I was driving in this state of mind. How she was keeping it together, I wasn’t sure.
I slipped into the passengers seat while she started up the engine, all kinds of scary and unwanted thoughts about murderous thugs going through my head.
My heart was beating rapidly and it felt like the knot in my stomach had become some sort of bouncing soccer ball. We had just pulled up at the garage, and before I even knew what was going on, she was already back in the car.
And it felt like hours, but it was probably only a few minutes that they spoke, but it was very obvious that from her very strangled words of annoyance that they weren’t relenting. She had said that calling the police would just cause more problems for us. She had already phoned and explained to her boss that she needed his help and there had been a misunderstanding.
I wanted to just leave them and save ourselves… but Mohsina was courageous beyond her years.
”Who are they?” I asked, not sure if I really want to know. I could have been mistaken, but it seemed like she knew the one guy.
“Don’t worry,” she said, brushing me off. “I just have to sort this car out. Can’t believe this thing’s caused so much of grief…”
Oh yes, the Porsche had taken the tea that weekend. I was certain that she was never going to set foot in it again. Couldn’t say I was sorry about it either.
“Mohsina, please…” I started, feeling really uneasy. I looked at her now while I gained a little more courage. “You have to tell me. What do they want from Papa? From you?”
Mohsina swallowed and glanced at me. She opened her mouth and closed it again, almost as if she was hesitant. And then she took a deep breath before she spoke again.
”They’re loan sharks,” she muttered, swallowing hard. “Bloody money-hungry idiots who are looking anywhere and everywhere to pay off a family debt. Can we just drop the topic?”
A family debt? That didn’t make sense. How did this even become a problem, and why hadn’t Mohsina mentioned it before? She knew much more than she was letting on, and one day, I knew I was going to get it out from her.
I just didn’t know that the way that I would eventually learn about it would come in a completely unprecedented form.
And as I sat there, half trembling, all she did was take a deep breath, squeeze my hand assuringly and then push open the door as she psyched herself up for one helluva type of meeting.
And as he stepped out, waltzing out of the building now as if he had no care in the world, was a tall, good-looking but highly manicured looking Muslim guy who I could almost certainly say was her infamous boss.
There was no question about it. It was Faadil, for sure.
I looked away as he came up to us, listening to them from afar, but I couldn’t escape the fact that something about the way he was interacting with her was just giving me a prickly sensation at the back of my neck.
There was a whole lot of backwards and forwards that went on between them and the two thugs that I had come to call them, when finally, I saw their car drive away as Mohsina closed her eyes and let out a huge breath.
”I’m so sorry to drag you into this,” I could hear Mohsina telling Faadil apologetically as he came up to us for the last time, looking like the cat who had caught a mouse. It seemed that something was finally resolved, but Mohsina was shifting uncomfortably due to severe embarrassment.
I wished that I could escape to Mohsina’s car to save myself from it too. Apparently one of her friends had her keys and had brought it over, but it was still locked.
”Don’t worry,” he said casually. “It’s sorted.”
”Alhumdulillah,” Mohsina breathed, and of course, I couldn’t help but say the same.
Maybe Faadil had been a means but Allah Ta’ala was the ultimate saviour.
These people had come, literally out of nowhere, turning our lives upside down and causing so much of mayhem on what was supposed to be a peaceful evening. Also, it was nearly Maghrib and we needed to head back to somewhere we could pray.
The fact that we would be on the road when it set in didn’t even bother Mohsina. What was happening to her?
Mohsina was worried about other things… and it was making me a teeny bit angry. What happened to ‘But first, Salaah’? It had been a common saying of hers up to a few months ago.
In fact, her boss’s presence here was unsettling. I needed to be alone with my sister, get down into the middle of it, find out what was going on.
Instead, her voice became fainter as she stepped away, and both of them went out of earshot for a few minutes. What was said, I had no idea, but when she came back, I could see her looking a little less stressed than before.
I, on the other hand, was feeling completely irate.
“He’s so bloody gracious,” she said, blinking back tears, looking back at him as if he was some kind of king. “He won’t tell me what they asked… I’m so embarrassed about the entire situation…”
I instantly felt myself get a more annoyed at her. But also, what did I expect?
I said nothing.
Gracious, but at what cost? She had probably bared her soul about what I was asking her about just an hour ago… while she… well, Mohsina- my very own blood sister – had become like a stranger who told me nothing and you could no longer get through to, no matter how much I spoke.
And of course, I was almost fuming as we walked back to where the entrance of the building was, and Faadil went up the flight of stairs to go back in.
“I needed to go and fetch my spare car keys from the apartment,” she explained as we stood at her car, not meeting my eye. “He’s going to bring it.”
I took a deep breath in, picturing exactly how this was going to happen. I was at that breaking point… the point where I had to say what I needed to or I would forever beat myself up about it.
“Listen Mos,” I said quietly, with great forbearance as we headed to her car together.
I didn’t want to say it, but someone had to, and it rather be me.
“Don’t you think that this too close for comfort?” I asked, trying to maintain my cool. “Office and home doesn’t need to mesh so much. It doesn’t look you are maintaining healthy distances. Maybe Nani has a point…”
She narrowed her eyes at me as I said the last part, obviously trodding on a sore point.
I continued anyway, knowing that I might as well go all out, since I had already started.
”Listen,” I said, appealing to her as she crossed her arms over her chest with an almost arrogant look on her face. “I don’t think that it’s okay to borrow things from him, let him feel as if he has some responsibility over you … and then on top of it, just let him into your flat as if you guys are so close and whadda whadda. You need to-”.
I lacked the charisma to fully explain and I had barely even started but she was already gone into defensive mode and already onto me from the word ‘listen’.
“How the hell do you expect me to go up there with a leg like this?!” She almost shouted, cutting me off and widening her eyes at me. “Not like you guys even care. Even Faadil noticed I was hurt! You made me drive and injure it even more! Of course he would offer to do it for me. It means nothing! It’s the human thing to do!”
Oh, the pity party. How sweet.
“I would have gone,” I said quietly, ignoring her outburst. “Why didn’t you ask me?”
”Please,” she scoffed. “You can’t go into my place alone.”
I frowned. Yikes.
I can’t? But he can? Woah.
She sighed. She knew exactly what I was thinking.
“They own the place, okay,” she said, rolling her eyes at me. “Let’s just drop it. It’s like, sorted. Stop doing my head in.”
I took a deep breath, trying to dispel my anger and try once last time to knock some sense into her.
“All I’m saying is this,” I said, leaning against the car, still staying calm as I tried to get my point across. What on earth was even going right for her these days?
“Maybe all this is happening for a reason. Maybe Allah is trying to show you something, and maybe you need to listen to whatever that message is.”
And just as I finished, she turned and looked at me, her eyes betraying her words as I literally saw her shutting me off, and placing herself strategically behind that stone wall that she had set up the past few months.
“Maybe you should just mind your own business,” she said steadily, and with that, she grabbed the key that the door man had brought down to her at that point, without even thanking him, opened the car door of her car and then slammed it shut, leaving me wondering why I ever made an effort at all.
I mean, it was like nothing was hitting home anymore. She was losing her family, bit by bit. She had, very clearly, completely lost Hamzah. And I’m not sure at what point, but soon her Hayaa was on the verge on being completely lost too…
She said nothing and turned her face away, and for me… that was the breaking point. The day when. I pulled myself out… The day I decided that I was no longer going to try.
We drove home in silence, avoiding each other as skillfully as we could for the next few days while she was on leave.
The week passed by and we barely spoke. Mohsina was barely around anyway, because her new infatuation was the baby and every waking moment was spent at Layyanah’s or getting something for Layyanah. By the time she headed back to work, it had been almost two weeks that we hadn’t spoken and I was refusing to make the first move.
In my mind… Mohsina had gone too far this time. She was pushing everyone away, and she had absolutely no regard for anyone’s feelings besides herself. Somewhere along the way, not only had she lost us, but she had lost the kind of person that we had all loved and admired.
I didn’t even stop to wonder if maybe instead of cutting her off, I could have kept her closer, offering her the support she would need to change her life again. I didn’t think further than that, or stop to realise exactly what had happened when Mohsina started slipping out of our reach completely, and that this was probably going to push her into a deeper corner and into a bigger problem than before.
The days were passing by at lightning speed, as we busied ourselves with renovations in the shop, making plans for accommodation that Papa was intent on offering, and basically getting on with life… and before I even knew it, weeks had passed and life went on, almost as if it was normal to be like be like enstranged siblings who barely knew each other at all.
And yes, I missed her, but I couldn’t quite push my pride aside and offer her what she really needed.
I couldn’t even offer her a word of hope. I cut her off, and myself back, pulling away, hoping that maybe to see her come alive again, she needs to lose a little more. That to grow, she needed some kind of hope and watering.
And I suppose that when I looked at my parents or generations before mine, I figured that maybe they took comfort in each other because they didn’t have the false sense of security that everyone else values their worth by. Maybe they didn’t have 12k followers liking their pictures at their disposal when their real relationships got a little bit hard. Meanwhile, the people who love you without a filter on your face become an option and the rest of the world who sees the illusion becomes the priority.
I had unfollowed Mohsina on Instagram, blocked her on WhatsApp and only messaged her on the odd occasion that my mother needed to check something or my father wanted some business advice. I just didn’t want to see everything she was getting on with, while we were just ‘by the ways’ in her life. Cutting my sister out of my life was not only the worst mistake I had made, but not knowing what her day to day activities were was not only a recipe for disaster, but probably a direct catalyst in the path that she was taking the past few weeks.
And it was on a week day, a few weeks after the Porsche drama, as I perched on one of the wooden bar stools in the empty coffee shop, lost in a the version of only English Qurán translation and Tafsir that I’d been reading on and off for the past few weeks when I wasn’t clean, that it happened. I had made myself a cup of our famous Red cappuccino, barista style, as I lost myself in the stories of the past Prophets,and lessons that served to remind of many of the things we may have forgotten along the way.
It was a healing and soothing, a reminder that was very much needed when we found ourselves sucked in with the distractions of real life…
And as always, reading was my down time, my cooling off activity… the time I took out when I wanted to wind down and forget about everything that usually unsettled me. Sometimes we needed that little something to bring us back down to earth, to help ground us, and to help us to find our base once again. And what better than the reading and healing of the Qurān to relieve the heart that was so immersed in the world at any other given time?
And because it was quiet that particular day, Papa had sauntered off to the back of the shop for a quick stock take. On weekends, it got particularly busy, and with Layyanah being out of action, we had also put an ad out in the front for a manager, since Ma generally didn’t like me being in the serving section.
I glanced out for a moment through the translucent glass doors, only seeing the silhouette of a car in the driveway, thinking it was probably some passer by stopping for a drink as he or she would be on his way again.
The last verse was still floating through my head.. The essence of it was that evil must be removed with kindness:
Good and evil are not equal. Repel (evil) with what is best, and you will see that the one you had mutual enmity with him will turn as if he were a close friend. (Holy Qurān, Surah Fussilāt)
It was a tough lesson to learn that made me instantly ponder about my behaviour with my sister. How do you continue to be kind to someone despite them pushing you away? Despite you finding their behaviour repulsive? How are you kind to someone who doesn’t appreciate the effort….
Maybe it wasn’t about that.
I glanced down at the lesson of how the closeness of Allah can inspire not only your goodness, but more good, letting it capture and enlighten me for a few more minutes. And I was all caught up in my own thoughts as I wondered if I should maybe message her or not, opening up the channels of communication … until I heard a voice in front of me, not yet looking up because I was well aware from the voice had come from a male customer.
“Salaam’u’alaykum,” he said, and I could almost swear that the voice was mildly familiar but I wasn’t quite sure.
I closed my book and hopped off the stool, letting my legs touch the ground, telling him to gie me a minute as I glanced up at him, and then literally froze in my tracks.
Gosh, he was even better looking than I remembered, when he had darkened our doorway, just a few weeks back. His eyes, their colour couldn’t quite capture yet, boring into me as I looked away.
And okay. I couldn’t exactly say that I hadn’t thought about this guy a few times before this, but it didn’t make it right.
It was wrong by any standard, but I mean, any insanely handsome guy that asked about my father the first time I had seen them would probably make a lasting impression. It was just that this particular guy was asking to see my father for all the wrong reasons.
Bad news, Jameela , I warned myself. Lower your gaze immediately. This guy is not just bad news. He is dangerously bad news.
I sucked in my breath, frozen again for what seemed like ages, as I swallowed, wondering if I should really call Papa or not.
What if this was some sort of trap?
Oh, how I wished that Mohsina had just told me what was going on the fisrt and last time I had seen him. I wished I knew more. Crazy thoughts were racing through my head as I thought, once again, of all the things that could happen. And then he spoke.
”Listen, I’m not here to scare you,” he said, his voice actually sounding… normal. “I wanted to talk. I see you have an ad in front…”
Oh goodness. Don’t they stop with the chasing? Because we are employing people they probably think we have so much of extra money lying around to pay off stupid debts.
“It’s not what you think,” he said, his voice dropping, almost to a whisper. “I think it’s important that you know… I’m not like my uncle. Nothing like him, in fact.”
He was emphatic about the last part.
So that was his uncle. The scary, beady-eyed looking man who had freaked me out just by his mere presence. How were they even related?
Anger was rising within me as I thought of how they had come to our home, demanding things that we were impossible at the time and turning our world upside down.
I turned around slowly, swallowing hard as he looked down now, a little bit embarrassed.
Well, he better be. After all the havoc he’d caused, that’s the least he could be.
“I need to speak to your father,” he finally said, still looking at the floor. “There’s something I think he needs to know.”
A little bit of a twist, but a fun one maybe?! Love to hear your thoughts as always 🤍
Mission Sunnah Revival
In an effort to revive a Sunnah, let’s try and put our family first, instead of friends, followers and anyone else… be the best we can be to those who truly do love us the most ❤️
Sunnah of being best to our family.
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family. When your companion dies, then do not abuse him.”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3895
Du’aa for Rajab
اَللّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِى رَجَبَ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان
Allaahumma Baa’rik La’naa Fee Rajab(a), Wa Sha’baan(a), Wa Bal’ligh’naa Ramadhaan.
“O Allaah! Make the months of Rajab and Sha’baan blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhaan.”
This story is super super gripping.. Masha Allah MashaAllah
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Aw Shukran sister 💕
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I hope it ends well
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Ah we shall see 🤍 a bit still to go..
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Oh my….the suspense…
Each post gets better and better
Loving the story
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Shukran dear sister.. some real worrying stuff here though…
So true…mohsina is not thinking about the consequences…even after she lost hamza..
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Caught up in her own world of illusion unfortunately…
I stil have 80% left to read… but… I just stopped to say that I’m smugly smiling because I can see who was the inspiration for the rose analogy.
Ps, I cut it down, and it looks exactly as it did last week, no better, no worse… so I’m still hoping.. still praying
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Yesss… lol, I had to do it, I’m sorry, but I just had to.
And it was so befitting …
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Rose lady appears, hehe
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Khawlah and her flowers always brings back good memories.. hehe
This gets more and more mysterious.. waiting to read how this turns out!!! I love the tree analogy 💚will always remember it. Beautiful writing as always dear author🤩
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Also meant to ads that when someone is drowning, not everyone will reach out to the rope or lifejacket that you throw. If the person is weak,hell need you to jump right in the water, swim up to them, grab hold tightly and then bring them back to shore.
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So true… and sometimes, in real life… i think it’s also possible that people don’t know that they’re actually drowning…
Mohsina definitely needs to be saved…