I didn’t mean for it to get that far.
Okay, maybe I did. Maybe I meant for it to go very far.
But don’t judge me, okay. My heart wasn’t as black as it seemed, or at least, that’s what I thought.
Just hear me out, because it’s only natural that different people see the same things from many different angles and perspectives. And okay, maybe my different is a little unorthodox, but it made good sense to me until it didn’t anymore, but by then… it was too late to do anything about it.
You see, how I see it was… for me, Hamzah was always good. Maybe not always the best. But good.
A good guy. A nice person, most times, until he went through his bad patch at Hammonds. Someone who some of my nicest friends even had silent crushes on as we grew up, and though he was oblivious, he wasn’t ever the type of guy to hurt or take advantage of someone on purpose. He knew his limits and where he needed to stop.
And even though I would never tell him that he wasn’t exactly a complete kachra to his face, it was no secret that at twenty-three, before he had tied the knot, was one of the few good decent ones left.
I still had a few friends in mind that could have worked for him. Even if Hamzah didn’t pick one of them, he was then supposed to so the normal thing and surprise us with a nice, homely girl that one of his friends wives may know who could actually take care of him.
You know that ayat that states that good women and for good men and vice versa? I justified it, knowing that there had to be no other way. Saving Hamzah from an ill-suited partner was my duty.
All I was doing was showing my love for my brother. I wanted the best for him. I wanted him to be happy. What he didn’t know when he chose Mohsina, was that she could never make him happy, and that’s precisely what I wanted to show him.
It was meant innocent at first. A little bit of snooping and posting. The defaming post from my spamming account was meant to be deleted after a while. The additional comments I posted from two other accounts were just a little catalyst. It had been a small scandal, but it had unsettled my sister-in-law. And it worked, for what I needed at that time.
She was thrown. I knew that Hamzah didn’t care about social media, but he thought that he loved her, so where she hurt, he would also naturally get upset, but no one knew it was me.
It was just a small interference. But posting that had opened up a channel for me. One person had messaged, promising to give me the scoop on how Mohsina had lost her job, for me to when I realised that it may have not been true.
And then, meeting up with my lawyer friend had opened up a door for me. She happened to see Faadil stop by for a latte at the coffee shop we were at near Melrose Arch and meeting him was something that I never actually anticipated happening till that point. When we had spoke, and he heard that I was Hamzah’s sister, his eyes lit up in a way that I didn’t understand. The fact that he wanted to get back at Mohsina had thrilled me in a way that I couldn’t quite explain. It’s not that I wanted to see her crumble. I just wanted the social media diva part of her to know that there was no guaranteeing that her entire feed and influencer profile that she spent so long perfecting was going to last forever.
Also, now that it was probably well on the way to going as planned and Faadil and Mohsina were possibly patching some things up at least, I found myself feeling like a dead loss. I felt like an extra branch, drifting in the wind, not quite sure which way to sway. I hadn’t heard from Faadil, who had become my new BFF for the time I was helping him to get somewhere in his new aspiration of gaining Mohsina’s trust again, and I had a feeling that I probably wasn’t going to anytime soon. His agenda was already sorely exposed to me.
I sighed, wondering how everything had gone so wrong. How I hadn’t foreseen this minor factor, that was that once I had broken Hamzah and Mohsina apart, the link with Mohsina and I would also be severed, which meant that Faadil would simply not need me or what I could offer anymore.
I tapped out a message to one of my instafriends, wondering if they were free to meet up the next week for coffee. I desperately needed a diversion and some good foodie pics. I also needed to spill my story to convince myself that I wasn’t as bad as I was feeling. To assure myself that I wasn’t as foul as I thought I was.
I wasn’t always a bad person. Somehow, that just happened. Maybe I had forgotten what it was like to happy and contented. Maybe I was being ungrateful for my mediocre life. Or maybe, I had just lost hope after everything that had gone down with my marriage and the love that I was so desperately trying to hang onto, despite accepting that maybe I had also messed up a bit.
And now, I found myself stuck in the hope that perhaps I would somehow still be able to overcome the pit I’d sunken into, even when it seemed like it was bottomless.
“Rabia, can you put down that phone, and go and do some reading at least. It’s Eid day. It’s not acceptable you sitting here with the phone all alone, ignoring everyone else.”
As usual, it was my mother, going bayaan-mode on me, and I knew that the only valid response I would have for her was an eye-roll.
She didn’t get it. I needed something to fill my life up, and social media made me happy. Seeing people happy, made me happy. Even though it sometimes made me grumpy and disagreeable, somehow, that also made me happy.
“The phone doesn’t go down,” Hamzah said to her as he finished his meal and walked past me to go outside, and I could already see him search in his pockets for a lighter. Forever story. “It’s attached to her fingers, Ma.”
“Just like your damn cigarettes,” I shot back, while Hamzah tut-tutted and my mother gave me the stink eye.
“Rabia,” my molther hissed on cue. “We have visitors. You lucky they arent close by. I keep telling you to watch your language. You waste so much of time on your phone, don’t you realise how important this time is? You don’t even have to worry about a husband or any of those things, but you don’t realise how important this time is to just throw it away in useless pursuits.”
Oh my goodness, it was that lecture again.
“I don’t have to worry about a husband because he ran away with another woman, mother,” I said, my face as deadpan as I could manage.
My mothers face, on the contrary, did the whole disgusted and outraged thing, and then I knew where I was headed in this talk.
“Everything happens for a reason,” she said, shaking her head, and definitely not falling for my pity party. Given, I’d had quite a few in the past few months. “I know it seems so unfair, but you don’t realise how much you have going for you. You’re healthy, you are intelligent and you have all this time on your hands because you don’t have to worry about running household yet. You young girls have way too much of free time on your hands. I think I need to get rid of the helper and actually let you learn life the hard way.”
Oh great. It was the don’t-you-realise-how-lucky-you-are lecture, only, I didn’t feel lucky at all. I was the one who had to deal with divorce stigma, the third wheel and the other woman who didn’t deserve to be the woman because apparently I wasn’t worthy of it.
I failed at everything in my life. Marriage. Studies. Friends. The one time I ran a household, I thought I was doing okay, until I was divorced for not being the right kind of woman.
“Don’t give me that look,” my mother said, her voice dropping as my Masie entered the kitchen. “You have so much of time on your hands. Do something. There are so many classes you can go for. Tafseer? Qur’ān classes? It doesn’t even have to be Deeni. What about sewing. Or knitting? Cooking?
Do something, Rabia.”
”No thanks,” I shot back, not liking the bayaan mode but also knowing that she may be a little obsessed with household chores because that was all my mother did.
I mean, who cares if I could run a household or not? I did everything for he-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned and he stabbed me in the back with his infidelity.
Bibi Masie had a twinkle in her eye and Zaid in her arms, and seeing him was already enough for me to want to stop moping and cyber stalking people and rather pinch his chubby cheeks.
I put my phone down and grabbed him, blowing raspberries on his neck until he was forced to giggle. He was the only person I really liked here. Oh, and Uthman, because he stayed out of my business and didn’t judge me when I sat on my phone the whole day.
Small people were so much easier to please. Adulting was a huge pain in the behind.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but did you guys hear that bayaan about how we are growing our kids into spoilt adults who will be incapable of running a household and living independent lives?”
Oh my gawd, Masie was onto another bayaan. She wasn’t even done.
“Like every kid of age is living in this fantasy world – thinking life is one big fairy tale, with no awareness of what real life entails. It’s all these instagram stories, this illusion that makes people think that life is one huge dream world.”
My mother was nodding and lapping it up as Bibi Masie gave her the lowdown about how people were fighting about it and saying that it was sexist when it fact it refers to both our younger male and female generations who are so lazy and incapable of basic household tasks that it is embarrassing. Take away was becoming the new household cooking and the Barakah in the home was basically non-existent because there was no awareness of what was expected of the people of the household.
My mother was nodding and shaking her head at all the appropriate times, blatantly glancing at me from time to time, as if trying to show me exactly how useless I was as a housewife, and that was probably the reason why I was the the D-word.
And I beg to differ. Maybe it was debatable. Okay, so I didn’t always know how to run a household. But I did try. Being the only daughter gave me a good chance at being spoilt, but being married to an ogre was a reality that shook me. I didn’t want to relive how much I had failed. What I had maybe done wrong. Maybe my divorce was actually more to do with my inability to run a house properly and some other stuff too and not so much about how attractive the other woman was. Maybe my husband just had another agenda that I had mistakenly exposed when I married him.
I grabbed Zaid and left the room, not wanting to dwell and happy that Mohsina had left him with us again that morning, after her puking incident, remembering that my mother had said that she was sick gave me an idea. It meant that I could finally have something valid to message Faadil about, and not sound like I was desperate for his conversation.
And just as I was about to pick up my phone and ask Faadil whether Mohsina had been sick at any point when she had come into the office, the doorbell that rang was kind of unexpected right then.
Being Eid day, it wasn’t like it was unexpected. My mother was obsessed with having visitors, as much as I abhorred it, because to welcome people into our home was like her life ambition.
The Mehmaan talk that Ma and her always have was starting to get on my nerves already. All I wanted to do was sit in peace and enjoy my free time.
I mean, who had the time to entertain guests, feed them, and then see them to the door these days? My Ma and Dadi had always stressed it, but it was so extra and old-fashioned to wait on people who could do things for themselves. Back in the day, all that stuff was normal, but now with cell phones and WhatsApp, there really was no need for all that admin.
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reported that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:
‘Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should honour his guest.’
(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 601
“Can you please check who it is?”
My mother was calling from the kitchen, and I assumed that I was the only person she would take advantage of right then. I mean, that’s what I was there for, right? The rejected one.
I didn’t have a job or any real tasks to do, so I might as well be the damn butler.
I sighed as I plopped Zaid on the floor with a toy, knowing I wouldn’t win the argument anyway, hoping he would stay there while I quickly checked the intercom. It was only after I answered that I smelt the cigarette stench behind me, and I knew Hamzah was behind me to see who it was, but I was already halfway through the task to give it up.
Plus, it was a huge delivery of flowers and I simply wasn’t just going to leave without seeing who it was from.
“I got it,” I hissed at my brother. “Zaid’s in the lounge with his hammer toy. Check on him.”
Hamzah and his disgusting stench retreated into the next room, while I unlocked the gate, my sense already overwhelmed by the deliciously aromatic scent of the lilies that were bunched together with multiple other gorgeous blooms. I loved flowers. Loved getting them. Loved receiving them. I loved how they made me feel. How they made my heart burst with happiness.
And I was so enamoured by the gorgeous bunch as I placed it on the counter and looked for the card, that maybe my mind was already going into overdrive, hoping and wishing that this was my reward for all my patience and endurance and I finally gotten.
I was living in the dream that someone had finally realised my worth and sent me flowers to prove it, and lo and behold, as I pulled the card out from the two flowers it was stuck between, I guess was I was a little overwhelmed to actually take note of what I was saying.
It was a simple Eid message, a greeting with wishing you all an amazing day, and though the greeting sounded a little generic and impersonal, I knew that the sending name wouldn’t disappoint.
At the end, it simply said:
Fardil and Family
And my heart was already bursting with pride and appreciation (not with love because I knew that he was hung up over my ex-sister-in-law) but still feeling very much impressed by this big show, that I couldn’t help but murmur blissfully to myself.
“I can’t believe he remembered me.”
“Faadil,” I said without thinking. “After so-“
Shit. Shit shit shit.
It was Hamzah and I was so shocked at seeing his name, albeit misspelled, probably by the florist who packed the flowers, that I didn’t even realise that Hamzah had come up behind me with Zaid in his arms.
And call it twinstinct, but somehow, even without looking at my twin brothers face, I already knew that he was extremely, irrevocably pissed off right then.
Just catching a glimpse of his reddening ears was enough to get me stuttering and stumbling over my mistaken words, in a poor attempt to erase the past few minutes.
”It’s not- I didn’t mean that guy- you know, the one who was in the office, Hamzah- Faadil, I mean, the one I’m talking about…”
I didn’t even know what I was saying.
My jumbled up words were falling on Hamzah’s reddened ears and the more I said, ten more stormy his face got. And oh my word, I knew I was in deep trouble, because there was barely any way that he was going to believe me.
“How the hell do you know Faadil?!”
His tone was even but definitely intimidating as he watched me, his stare a mixture of confusion and disbelief.
“I don’t!” I said, a little too quickly, holding up my hands, and then placing them down again, not knowing what else to say. “I mean, which Faadil? It’s not like there’s only one Faadil in the -“
His tone was so menacing that even Zaid stopped slurping on his own fingers for all of five seconds while Hamzah’s eyes bored into mine.
My silence was all he needed to confirm what we both already knew.
Hamzah’s head hung now, as he shook his head, turning around hastily while he stopped to dump Zaid in a passing Saaliha’s arms, just before he stalked up the stairs, while I tried to maintain a poker face.
Where he was going, I don’t know. What I did know was that he probably had a lot to figure out now that I had more or less admitted to being an accomplice to whatever Faadil had done. And I was. I was, and I knew it. The thing was, I wasn’t even that sorry about it. All I felt was a little regretful that I had revealed myself so easily.
Saaliha was watching us both, her eyes slightly bulging as she processes Hamzah’s inaudible hissy fit, and then immediately looked at the bunch in flowers in my hand.
“Is that from my sister?”
I stood there, my entire stance completely frozen for a minute, as I wondered why she would ever think her sister would send that. And then it clicked, because as always, Saaliha’s family always sent something for our Eid table every Eid, and oh-my-word, I had just made the biggest mistake of my life.
Fareeha and Aadil. Far and Aadil. Oh crap. That was why it said family. Fardil. I could only expect that stupid celebrity type nickname from Saaliha’s looney sister… And the message was so generic… so of course it made sense.
The entire thing was completely screwed up, and I locked my gaze on Saaliha, knowing that my goodie two shoes sister-in-law was way too unassuming to ever conspire against me, but helpless against everything this would bring.
Hamzah took two hours to re-emerge from the room, even knowing that everyone was there waiting for him.
And knowing that I could do nothing more, I buried my nose in my phone for the rest of the night, catching up with friends Eid outfits and double tapping on plate settings, even though my tummy was completely revolted by the thought of what had happened earlier that day.
My mother continued nagging, and I couldn’t put my phone away any longer. Well, sue me while I escape the messed up reality for a bit. Even though we all do it in one form or the other, I knew it was time for me to also check in on how the plan that Faadil and I had worked out was actually going.
I needed to know more. If Mohsina was actually buying it. If anything had worked. If me chatting to Faadil, and if Hamzah finding out, was all worth it. I was panicking inside, but I forced myself e to breathe and calm down. After all, there was nothing else that he knew besides the fact that I knew Faadil. That alone wasn’t an incriminating fact, and I knew that I had been really careful and deleted all evidence of my involvement in the whole necklace saga too.
It took a few days for Hamzah to say a word to me, and I still hadn’t received a reply from Faadil either. I pretended like I didn’t care about either. I was pretty much in the dark, and I hated it.
I had tried to convince myself that my entire existence didn’t depend on that. I was way past Hamzah’s stupid tantrums too. I still believed that I had done him a favour by getting Mohsina out of all our lives.
After all, she didn’t truly love him. Aren’t we all attracted to people because of superficial aspects anyway? Money, looks, what status they may represent. Everyone had their own agendas, and they were pretty transparent here.
For Hamzah, he probably just liked her pretty features and ability to swindle him where no one else could. For Mohsina, her agenda was only Zaid and my brothers generosity in footing the bills for her high flying lifestyle. It’s precisely what made her say yes to him, and the sooner he saw that, the better it would be for them both.
He would probably move on and find a better mother for Zaid anyway. The way she carried on, I found it hard to believe that she really cared about them both.
It was a few days later when he was leaving for the ijtima, and I wanted to tell him that he rather not go. I mean, what was the use of going for it when he had all this dirt in his heart, but there was some distant part of me that was actually stopping me from lashing out at him and wanting to strangle him.
I didn’t realise that the dirt that had been building up on my heart was so thick that it was already ingrained on mine. All I could see was how stupid Hamzah was beeing, and as he rolled his bag to the door, glanced at me briefly, and I wanted to strangle him again for the next words he said.
”I don’t know what you were playing at, Rabia, but when I get back, I expect you to have contacted Mohsina and let her know exactly what happened with my old boss.”
And with that, he greeted my parents, turned his back, and left me narrowing my eyes at him in utter exasperation.
I had already made my mind up that I would never do it. There was no way I was ever going to be blackmailed into talking to Mohsina. She was the one who had caused all this.
There was no way that I would ever admit defeat. What I didn’t know was that when Hamzah returned a week later, finding me still in an unfazed state, my deepest secrets were going to be explosively exposed in a way I didn’t quite expect…
Sunnah of Entertaining guests
Hosting and entertaining guests is indeed a significant deed in Islam. The first man to entertain a guest was Nabi Ibrahim (‘alayhis salam).
This quality is directly linked to the level of one’s Iman.
As seen in the above narration, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) coupled honouring the guest with Belief in Allah and the Day of Qiyamah, which are two fundamental aspects of our Din.
Someone asked Ali (RA): “How much was the Sahaba’s love for the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam)”
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..💕