Jameela Part 66
Sometimes you just have to be kind.
Treat people the way you want to be treated. Be good to even the nasty people. If serving people is below you, leadership is beyond you.
And honestly speaking, service wasn’t exactly my forté. I would rather be in out in the wilderness, breeze caressing my skin, blinking beneath the cherry blossom trees and basking in the glorious sunshine, than stuck serving stuck-up corporates in a coffee shop.
But such was life at times. Sometimes we just humble ourselves, even when it’s hard.
The thing is, there were just a few valuable lessons I was learning from not being my usual lazy self.
Some people are never happy, no matter what. Some people are grateful, no matter what. There’s no feeling quite like making a someone’s day. Oh, and comfortable work shoes are worth their weight in gold.
“One latte. One carrot muffin. I’m in a hurry.”
I’ve messed up two macchiatos and spilled an entire litre of hazelnut syrup on the ground. The outdoors is looking like an awesome, unfiltered escape and the coffee machine was being an absolute horror this morning. I really could do without the added pressure that this man was persisting on giving me as he watched me nervously fiddle with the gadgets, and looked at his chunky watch again.
“I’m sorry, I’m just…”
It’s already been a few minutes since I swiped his card and I can see his patience dwindling.
Today is definitely not my day. For some reason, I can’t do a single task without messing something up.
He didn’t like to leave me here, but Zubair was apparently gone out for some emergency and Papa said he had some errands to do too. All I knew was that Papa had predicted it to be a pretty uneventful morning but as predictions go, it was anything but.
I filled his coffee just as there is a noise from the back, the sound making me stumble slightly, hoping that Papa had arrived. Before I can turn my head, my foot slips on the little residues of hazelnut sauce from earlier causing me to tip backward, the burn from the sloshing coffee scalding my skin.
In the rush, I had just spilled whatever little coffee I had managed to get out onto my dress.
“Is there anyone here who’s competent enough to get me my order?”
The guy’s haughty tone is unnerving and the sting from the coffee mixes with the tears collecting behind my lids.
What do I tell him? I can’t figure out the machine? Why did it choose now to act up? Of all times.
Why was I so useless? Give me a book under the flawless blue skies and I would sit and read it till night falls, but when asked to do something productive- I was utterly unproductive.
Everything was going wrong.
“Am I going to get some service today?” He asked, now full on irritated as I pressed another button, water from the machine splurging out, looking up from his device as he watched the progress with his order.
I hated dealing with male customers, especially these type. The rude type. It wasn’t very often, especially during the day, but well… wasn’t today just my lucky day?
I swallowed back my emotion and pushed up my chin. Customer service. I had to numb my emotions.
“I’m so sorry about that. I’ll make you another one, on the house.”
His lips are pursed together as he glares at me.
“I already paid. Just make the damn drink!”
I flushed. I feel like making the drink and throwing it in his face. But of course I couldn’t.
“I’ll take over,” a deep voice says from behind me, and my body freezes, wet coffee-soaked dress sticking to me as I tried to hide it with my scarf, but I knew it was no use.
I couldn’t help but spin around, watching him avert his gaze as he moved forward gracefully, pulling out another cup as I had no choice but to move aside. His unusually coloured eyes were scanning the machine and expertly I looked away as he tapped something and did some magic with it.
He was wearing his Friday attire, kurta and hat, as if he had just come in, and not the usual uniform I saw him in. Catching a glimpse of the tasbeeh counter he had just released from his hand that was already showing quadruple digits, and I felt a stab of envy as I realised that I was still sitting in the three hundreds for my Friday Durood counter. Perhaps he went somewhere far?
I had no idea where he was but he had probably saw the customers car from outside and thought that no-one would be helping him. Except I was. It’s just that I wasn’t doing a very good job of it.
The angry customer scoffed, his gaudy watch counting the seconds.
“I just thought I’d be able to get a cup of coffee without it becoming some kind of circus performance.”
I could see Zubairs jaw tightening as he said it, effortlessly pressing in the tray that wasn’t clicking earlier and watching the steaming water with milk shoot out through the spout.
I moved along near the till to pack the muffin, careful to use the tongs carefully before he gave me scores about that.
”Sir, I’m so sorry about -“ I started, as I placed the muffin on the counter.
”It’s ready,” Zubair cut in abruptly, and I swore I could see him shoot me a glance of annoyance as he passed the cup over, and I hurried to grab a serviette from underneath the counter, packing the muffin into an eco-packet, always aiming to please.
The customer is always right.
And though ‘customers’ can be very difficult and might not respond to you in the way you expect, despite your good attitude, customer service is never about the results or the sales. It was hard being on this side of the counter. Customer service is about the experience you create when that person is with you.
But I tried to keep in mind that every time you meet somebody, you’re selling them yourself – your image, your personality, your goals, your personal brand but most importantly … you’re also selling Deen. You are in a mode of exchange with that person through every interaction.
I just wished that people could treat others, especially in the service industry, with a little more dignity. Sometimes a simple hello and thank you can go a long, long way. Sometimes a little overlooking can also be a saving grace.
Character was gold. Whether the customer or the person who is serving, I do feel like whichever position you find yourselves in… you had to just turn it around to your benefit. It was easy to be good to people who were good to you. But people who tested your patience and gave you uphill were the greatest test. It’s just that even with that, there is a limit to what I could take.
I had to keep telling myself that.
”Thanks,” the guy said to Zubair, not even sparing me a glance as he picked up his wallet from the counter. “Next time I’ll just ask for you.”
“Next time, try and be more polite to the lady,” Zubair said back, without missing a beat, and my eyes widened involuntarily as I wondered if I had really just heard him say that.
He was looking the customer squarely in the face with a fierce look as he said it, and I could see the customers eyes flashing angrily at me before he spun around and walked out.
I took a few steps backward as I watched Zubair’s entire posture morph, almost as as if he had just put on one persona, and was slowly gearing himself to go back to the usual.
I was shocked. And I didn’t even know why I was still even standing there. That was completely unexpected.
I never thought I’d see this side of him. In fact, I didn’t even know that this side of him existed. Up until now, he had been so… passive.
Conservative. Polite. Ihsaan kind of character.
Never had I heard Papa ever mention once about Zubair even raising his voice to a single person. This was completely out of character for him, and as I took a few steps backward to escape to where the single helper was working in the back, I couldn’t help but remember what I had found in that room two weeks ago.
Perhaps now that I knew… and he knew that I knew… he didn’t have to pretend. Maybe this was the real him. Maybe he was a violent and dangerous mafia killer who lost his mind and went off in a tangent. If maybe it was just certain things that ticked him off…
I felt like asking him how and when and why, but of course I couldn’t. I couldn’t get into the nitty gritty of these things. They would just bring up more uncomfortable topics that’s I wasn’t ready to delve into. It was an opening that would lead to other sins, and I was wiser than that. I couldn’t risk more.
I shook my head at my own craziness as I grabbed my phone from next to the till, trying to dispel all the weird thoughts as I glanced to the front to see Zubair was gone, probably to change, but knowing that he would be back soon to take over.
Mohsina had been messaging me from the morning, with something about Hamzah and his strange behaviour.
He had disappeared early that morning and Mohsina couldn’t reach him. She was going crazy with worry, and though I felt for my sister, I honestly didn’t know what to tell her. Hamzah and her had way too many secrets and I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to know them all.
He’s not at work.
It was her latest message, she had sent before the rude man walked in. I tapped quickly, wanting to know if she phoned the office.
Are you sure?
Her reply was quick.
I called. They said he didn’t come in today. He’s hiding something, Jamz. You think it’s someone else? Someone from his past?
I sighed. Of all things.
Hamzah won’t do that. Maybe it’s something else. A family matter? Something to do with Liyakets estate?
Her reply didn’t come fast enough. It was at least a few minutes before she finally messaged to say:
He just got home. Rabia is with him. Wish me luck.
I instantly wondered if that was the case, why he was being so secretive. Could he have just gone to fetch Rabia?
It was weird… this whole thing that was happening. There was Zubair and his big secret, that I could tell no one because there really was no way that I could tell anyone that Papa’s favourite worker is an arms dealer or mafia member.
Plus, I had no proof. And then there was Hamzah, who had his own secrets and was also somewhere from the morning.
The message from Mohsina came through and I found myself looking at the time.
Was it just a coincidence that both of them were gone at the same odd times? Zubair usually never left in the week. Hamzah too.
It was exactly 20 minutes ago that Zubair had arrived to save the day and that was the time it took to get the Mohsina’s new place in the North.
Were they perhaps together? I wasn’t even sure if they spoke but I had an idea that they did cross paths on the farm a few times. Hamzah was always outside and Zubair didn’t really have many places to go.
I wasn’t sure if I should tell Mohsina. What I did know was that she may just hyperventilate and then we would have more problems. Where my sister and her marriage was concerned, I rather just keep quiet and mind my own business. What I did want to desperately find out was if they were together.
And as I walked along the rose bushes, drying my dampened dress, breathing in the scent of outdoors as my mind cleared slightly, I couldn’t help but set my phone aside and let my roses distract me for a while. The afternoon sun was blazing down on my covered head and I didn’t even have a hat on, but I didn’t care. I was in my element right then and that’s all that mattered.
“Hey you,” a familiar voice had called behind me, a baby perched on her hip as she smiled. “I can feel the nature vibes bouncing off you. Thought I’d find you here.
I plunged my garden fork into the ground and slowly got up, dusting my hands off onto my baggy jeans as I smiled at the little munchkin in Nusaybah’s arms. She was a few months older than Zaid and she was super adorable, with these fat cheeks and black locks.
“I had to ask Zubz where the roses were and there you are, looking as stunning as they are this spring…”
She grinned as I had blushed, well… as red as I could go, given that my skin resembled a slightly coppery colour due to all those hours in the sun. Almost like that burnt peach rose. I was actually glad that my skin burned painlessly, unlike my sister, who would peel at the slightest touch of sunlight.
Nusaybah smelt of lavender and fabric softener as I leaned in for an hug, and I couldn’t help but hug her a little tighter before she leaned back again. She had become something of a sister to me too.
”You’re embarrassing me,” I moaned with a smile, shaking my head at her and taking the baby from her. “Why don’t you come in for some tea?”
And though I didn’t know much about Zubair and his past, I did know a few things about the present. Like with his sister leaving back for London this week, it was highly probable that she was the only other person that he would have been with this morning. Maybe I could somehow find out if they were together.
It was amazing spending time with her and her dolly when she was around. She was such a natural and easy-going person to be around.
Nusaybah’s husband was here trying to get a medical post in one of the nearby hospitals and assumed that it may be good to spend a few years closer to their family here. It was just proving to be more difficult than they thought. Going back to London was a temporary fix. From what Nusaybah had said, she really wanted to be close to family, especially with her little one growing so fast.
“I would have loved to but I cannot even spare a minute,” she said emphatically, answering my request and shaking her head. “I literally just came to see Zubair because he wasn’t around this morning and I needed to speak to him about my grandfather’s condition.”
“Ah okay,” I said softly, hoping it wasn’t too bad.
Also, that meant that Zubair wasn’t with her this morning. So who was he with?
“I promise I’ll stay longer one day,” she said sincerely. “ I have to meet your mother properly as well… you have no idea how grateful I am that my brother is here with such an amazing family and so much of stability. You don’t know what it means to me.”
Time and time again, this girl just got me.
She was grateful? Without Zubair, Papa would be so lost and unfocused. Even though we had a few workers, it was them who breathed life into the walls of our home and business and kept the momentum going.
And though we sometimes took our extra help for granted, sometimes we genuinely disregard the amount of time they actually put into giving us the best of themselves. They sacrifice family, sleep, even their comfort in many cases, just to make sure that things run smoothly in our homes and businesses.
Now and then, a simple smile, greeting or just a thank you was something that wouldn’t hurt us to give them. The thing is, we will be accountable for how we treat the employees who work for us.
Plus, the value of trustworthiness was something that was invaluable.
It made me think of the Sahaba, and in particular, Abu Dharr Ghifari (RA) who was known for being one of the most trusted and honest Sahaba.
After the light of Islam found its way to his heart, our Prophet Sallahu Alaihi wa Sallam asked him, ‘Where are you from, my Arab brother?’
Abu Dharr (RA) answered, ‘From Ghifar.’
A broad smile appeared on the Prophet’s lips SAW and his face was filled with wonder and astonishment.
However, Abu Dharr (RA) was also smiling, for he knew well that the reason behind the Prophet’s (Sallahu Alaihi wa Salam) astonishment was because the man who had just embraced Islam in front of him was from Ghifar. Ghifar was a tribe with a notorious reputation for highway robbery. Its people were famous for theft and were known as allies of darkness and night.
But as time went on, Abu Dharr’s (RA) reward was going to be abundant and his greeting blessed. He was known to have attained the highest, most honourable, and most respectable medals. Generations and centuries will pass away, but the Prophet’s opinion about Abu Dharr will always stay alive in people’s memory: ‘The earth never carried above it, nor did the sky ever shade under it a more truthful tongue than Abu Dharr’s’.
SubhaanAllah. There was no way to even honour such rare character.
“My father treasures your brother,” I said softly, shaking my head. “We should be thanking you.”
She had briefly mentioned that Zubair and his uncle had been close for a few years before the huge fall out happened just before he came to work for Papa. She had mentioned that her brother was pretty capable of looking after himself and kept apologising for the inconvenience, which I didn’t even understand. For Papa, Zubair helped us out so much that he actually felt indebted to him.
”No ways, it’s his job and he needs to keep it,” she insisted, taking a seat on the bench as her daughter started playing with my garden set.
A familiar feeling of despair arose in my gut as I wondered how on earth I could ever do anything to sabotage his job? Nusaybah was so grateful. I sighed softly and looked back at her, seeing a small smile on her face.
I switched off my thoughts to watch her daughter, finding it so cute that there was no way you could keep the garden from kids. They were just inherently magical and full of opportunity. They were drawn to it like moths to a flame.
”So, I’ve been meaning to ask… how was your weekend?”
The way she said it, with and her eyes all curious with hidden hope and her eyebrows raised, immediately got me a little suspicious. She smiled mischievously as she watched me, and I wondered how she knew. Did Zubair even know about the doctor who came to see me?
“Err,” I started, biting my lip and not wanting to say anything bad. “It was interesting…”
I could see her face transforming from excited to suspenseful and I wanted to laugh too, because somehow, the situation was just really funny.
Thinking about Muneer and his biceps were also getting me all giggly now. I’m sure Nusaybah didn’t know about that, but it really was something.
”Sorry,” she finally said, covering her mouth secretively. “I was really not supposed to say anything but I couldn’t resist. My brother will kill me if he knows that I mentioned it. I’m so sorry. I was just curious to know…”
I smiled, feeling a bit awkward that Zubair knew that I had seen someone last weekend. Actually, I shouldn’t have been surprised because Zubair was probably the one who opened for them. I’m sure Papa was the one who mentioned it and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.
“Do you like him?”
Nusaybah’s question caught me unaware.
My heart hammered as she asked me and I couldn’t help but look away. I knew that she was asking about he doctor but here I was, thinking about her brother instead.
What was wrong with me?
”He was fine,” I said non-committedly, hiding my true feelings. “He seemed nice. He’s a doctor too.”
She smiled but her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. Since her husband was also a doctor, it seemed like she may have been slightly appeased, but not entirely.
There was something on her mind and as I looked at her… something unsaid in the way she looked at me as I answered and although I wanted to ask her, but a bellowing from across the rose bushes sounded as I whipped my head around, immediately spotting Nani at the kitchen door.
Where did Nani come from? She was supposed to be at my uncle’s this weekend. There must be a reason why she decided to crop up here unexpectedly.
And before Nusaybah could even chip in and say anything further, Nani’s stern voice was already in top form.
”Jameeela!” She screeched, in our true family-renown fish-wife style, and I grimaced as I saw the amused look on Nusaybahs face.
She obviously did not know that I had company. Or she just didn’t care.
“Come quickly. Aunty Khairoon phoned back. We have news!”
I smiled awkwardly at my new friend, nervousness creeping in as I wondered how I was going to react to Nani and what she had to say. Perhaps she had some hidden hopes of something I was oblivious to.
Was it news for her or news for me?
Great. Doctorsaab was back in the picture, and I really wondered what Nani would have to say about him…
Mission Sunnah Revival:
Being able to view the lives of others as if they are our own in the main building block to social media life.
It is only human to begin to think that the lives of strangers appear to be so perfect, as opposed to reality. Little do we notice that their content is carefully crafted to do this very thing, making us discontent with our lives.
To combat this, we should look to those inferior to us, so we do not become envious and begin to realise the bounty Allah Ta’ala has gifted us with.
Keep in mind:
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Wealth is not in having many possessions. Rather, true wealth is the richness of the soul.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6446, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1051
He replied: “By Allah! To us The Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam) was dearer to us than our riches our children and our mothers, and was more cherishable than a drink of water at the time of severest thirst.”
SubhaanAllah… what perfect imaan they had… May Allah enable us to practise..💕