Jameela part 78
Who gets to determine when the old ends and the new begins. It’s not a day on a calendar, not a birthday, not a new year. It’s an event, big or small, something that changes us.
You know how they sometimes say that the whole lead up to the entire event is so much more nerve wrecking and overrated than the actual thing?
Well, let me tell you, when I spoke to Zubair for the first time, it was the complete opposite.
I mean, you would think that after all that obsessing over him from afar and conjuring up what my knight in shining weapons and armour (literally) was really like in person from figments of my imagination, I may have been a teeny bit…. extra.
But even so… all I could say was that the actual meeting with Zubair was something that I really did not expect to be so… ground-breaking. And I mean ground breaking in the sense that my entire world is now spinning on a different axis kind of ground breaking.
You see, an insaan, there’s very little that we do understand. We may think that we are wise and we are smart and that we have knowledge. But the vastness of Allah Ta’ala is something that our minds cannot fathom. We think that we know value and we know wealth, but Allahs wealth is something beyond all comprehension.
The intricacies of every creation, the anatomy of the human body, the unique patterns on every single leaf is a reminder to us that we truly know nothing of Allah and his magnificence. Nothing at all.
But we strive to learn. We go to lengths of constructing space ships, of drilling into the crust of the earth and of breaking all kinds of boundaries just to find out a little more than we already know. But still. Even the Jannati has no inkling if what Allah Ta’ala has prepared for him. Even the Jannati will get far beyond his expectations.
And sometimes on this earth, Allah Ta’ala blesses us with little pieces of Jannah, even if they are only for a short while.
And of course, my heart was only endowed with love because of the actuality of how Allah Ta’ala comes through for us.
It had been one of those exceptionally gorgeous days of the year, where the flowers were popping with colour and the sun was shining brightly. Despite it being January, there was a coolness in the air that brought little comfort. My eyes had been fixated on the roses that were coincidentally the happiest that they’ve ever been, despite being a little overgrown, but in all their colourful glory, they reminded me of happiness and joy and all things that made my heart swoon.
The fact that I knew Zubair tended to and made them even more gorgeous than they were, did something to my insides. A man who appreciated nature for me was already Mr Right.
But today, there was no time or reason for daydreams. Today, I was actually going to be meeting Zubair in the flesh, but of course, the ever present theatrics in our household that never ceased to exist made the day a little more interesting.
“Mohsina!” Nani screeched as my sister crept up behind her, trying to spy silently on what she was doing in the kitchen with about five hundred different utensils out. Nani had spun around, wooden spoon in hand and held her hand to her heart dramatically. “You gave me the frights!”
The Frights? Like, why do people even say that?
Oh my goodness, I was broken. I was holding my tummy and laughing the hardest ever as I watched Nani give Mohsina the mafia look, letting her know that she was not to be trifled with.
If there was anything to kill my nerves, it was Nani and her eccentric dramatics.
“But Nani, you gave us the frights,” Mohsina said, hiding her smile and placing her hands on her hips, while Hamzah grinned behind her. “You said you weren’t going to be here. Did Muneer and Nadeema already make their Nikah? So fast fast, Masha Allah.”
Mos had a sarcastic grin on her face and Nanis gaze faltered. I could see that for once, she was actually stumped.
“Muneer had emergency,” Nani said stiffly, adjusting her dupatta after a few long seconds, and I could tell that she was doubting something as she said it. “They came early also. Poor boy only got to talk five minutes and the message came. So hard he works, Allah, shame. But he is so rich so it’s okay.”
Mhhhmm. Shame, indeeed. She was holding out her free hand dramatically, looking as though her entire world had been shifted with the news. Only Nani will say things like that. Like money is the ultimate saviour and intervention no matter what the problem.
“But Nani,” Mohsina said evenly, raising an eyebrow. “Money doesn’t matter. You think money is going to make him a better person? He could have at least told someone else to take his place at the hospital so you wouldn’t have to rush all over the place.”
I mean, I knew that my cousin wasn’t horrible in looks but she was was no diva I also knew that Muneer was a shallow guy. From the biceps incident, I got the feeling that a little extra cushioning here and there may have been a game-changer.
Mohsina’s eyes bulged slightly before she glanced at me with interest.
If I didn’t try my very hardest and think the best of every situation it would have definitely been an ‘aha’ moment. I didn’t want to believe the possibility that Muneer was that shallow. Surely he had to see beyond the superficial. Right?
”Don’t think I came because I’m happy with you people,” she said grumpily when she saw me. “I only came because I don’t want you to embarrass the family.”
“Wrong granddaughter, Nani,” Mos said with an awkward laugh. “I’m the one who usually embarrasses the family. Not Jamz.”
There was something about the way she said it, that made me feel a pang of torment in my gut. Mos was dealing with so much more than I knew.
I waited for Nani to move away whilst grumbling something incoherent (probably about her useless granddaughters) and then turning into conversation to a sympathetic Hamzah before I went up behind my sister and draped my arms around her from the back. Resting my head on her shoulder, taking in her calming scent of Dove body wash and some designer shampoo, I could feel a slight tremble in her as she breathed in, and I realised that as she busied herself at the kitchen sink, she had been sniffling away.
Ah man. This day was way more emotional than I had bargained for.
”Mos, stop being so hard on yourself,” I said softly, feeling like for the first time in my life, I wanted to protect my sister. She had always been the one to protect me. To take care of me. And I knew that she had Hamzah to look after her for now but she was pushing him away and I didn’t know why she seemed so fragile all of a sudden. I wanted to wrap her up and save her from the world.
“I’m destroying someone’s life,” she said miserably, her voice breaking again. “Breaking so many hearts. I spoke to my in-laws yesterday. Spoilt the entire mood after Saaliha told us about the baby.”
My heart broke for her. She turned around and I looked at her teary face, unable to process what that meant.
“You told them?!” I asked incredulously. “I thought you were going to wait until Hamzah leaves…”
It wasn’t ideal but it made more sense.
“It was all Rabia’s fault, Jamz,” she said, shaking her head. “Honestly, I feel that she’s up to something. She mentioned that she saw Hamzah leaving work early the one day when he was coming to meet the lawyer with me.I think she was going to gym or something. She forced him to speak about it. It seemed so… plotted and vindictive. Like she wants me to fail… and I don’t even know why she hates me so much.”
She sounded miserable. And I’d never seen my sister so concerned about what someone thought about her. I guessed that perhaps because this was really affecting every aspect of her and Hamzah’s life.
I raised my eyebrows, wondering if Hamzah’s sister really was like that. She was probably just adding fuel to the fire because she enjoyed the show that came out of it.
“I can’t help feel like this is not going to end well,” she said softly, an evident panic in her eyes. “Do you know Zubair is putting himself into so much of danger trying to help Hamzah? Hamzah is still being so stubborn about everything, fighting to find a loophole. As for Rabia… she seems so thrilled, and then there’s still the instagram post…”
I wanted to ask what instagram post but it was at that moment that my attention had been diverted due to the doorbell and the swarming of butterflies in my tummy immediately turned to dragons.
”We’ll continue this later,” I said, squeezing her hand before she shook her head and smiled at me, as if she was back to being the unaffected and rigid version of herself that we were all so used to.
Zubair and family had just arrived and without even seeing him, as always, there was a heaviness in the room that made me immediately feel like I could barely breathe.
His presence was stifling.
And of course, even with all those thoughts racing through my mind, it didn’t take long after all the emotional greetings with Nusaybah and her winning Nani over with her beautiful ways before Zubair caught my eye as we walked to the small lounge, and I watched his face break out into a smile.
Honestly, after hating him for a few weeks and wanting to ring his neck, somehow, seeing him smile made me want to ring his neck even more. The way his entire demeanour had changed after Hamzah had somehow changed his mind was completely unexpected. Instead of being aloof and unapproachable, somehow it felt like I knew him so much longer than just a few months.
And there it was again, that feeling that he was not only just watching me, but he knew me without me sharing a thing.
Papa trusted Zubair, for some reason, despite his history and rocky past.
Papa had stayed in the next room to talk to his brother-in-law, the doctor, while the two of us had made our way to the little sitting area just next to it.
And though I was so used to seeing him, it still didn’t conquer the nerves that were dampening my hands every few seconds. There I was, avoiding eye contact with this roguishly handsome guy, trying to at least pretend like I was used to this. Honestly, I was actually a little afraid of meeting his gaze, because I knew what it would do to me. Turn me to putty. Having spoken very briefly, mostly about Mohsina while Papa and Zubair were at the coffee shop a few days back, I would have thought that this meeting would have been a little less nerve wrecking.
Well, I was completely wrong.
I could feel the perspiration even under my hijab as soon as his gaze landed on me. I felt hot and cold all at the same time. My heart rate had picked up and I already felt like I was close to having some kind of panic attack due to the intensity of him looking like he could see right down to my soul.
My goodness, my heart.
He looked up, and his tone was casual as he said it, and I almost did a double take when I saw him in the kind of clothes that were something other than his normal work slacks. Perhaps I was just being dramatic.
Zubair wore a blue-grey kurta with no collar, hitched up slightly as he sat down again, with a simple jeans underneath. His hair was brushed back under his topee and I had to focus on looking down so I didn’t start being all forward and staring at this man who was aesthetically quite something that I shouldn’t be looking at.
Sue me if I was attracted to the guy. It had been months of me seeing this dusty and ruffled up guy and I honestly couldn’t believe he cleaned up so well. Call me corny, but his bronzey skin almost looked like it was sparkling.
I almost giggled to myself, wanting to silence my thoughts, and then internally slapped myself instead.
I was so immature. Maybe I was just too used to virtual meetings. The meetings were showing up meant that you didn’t actually have to be present. Social media didn’t help with all of that and being a gen Z had made me socially awkward. Of course. That was it.
A weird feeling in my tummy made me a little giddy. This was so intense.
Meeting the week before had definitely made things less formal. Easier. But the swarm of butterflies were still there, in the pit of my gut. In fact, I think the butterflies were there from the minute he darkened our doorway, and never left.
“Hey,” I said back, looking at the carpet and smiling shyly. “Wa’alaikum salaam.”
I couldn’t look up. I just couldn’t.
I tried not to think of the flowing, pretty aqua dress that Mohsina had bought a few weeks ago and insisted I had to wear so he could actually see a better version of me. I kept my feet planted firmly on the ground, trying hard not to do any knee shaking that may make me seem unstable.
“How was your day?”
It was such an elementary question but the way he said it wasn’t.
”Erm,” I said softly, my lack of vocabulary a little embarrassing. “Alhumdulillah.”
Indeed. Alhumdulillah in every situation. I didn’t want to say much. Whatever the day had brought. However many emotions had been packed into it.
I breathed out while he looked at me briefly, and then placed a pink rose with a beautiful perfume on the table next to us, and my just kind of dissolved to putty. Roses were my absolute weakness and this guy knew just how to play his cards.
He brought an single rose- a colour I hadn’t seen in a long time- and while staring at it wasn’t ideal, I was working on avoiding eye contact as I sat on the couch furtherest from him, feeling all shy and out of my element, adjusting my scarf as I settled into a seat about a meter from him.
”That’s beautiful,” I said, blinking as I picked it up, noticing that he had shaved all the thorns off perfectly.
”Okay, I need to confess.”
It was him again and my heart raced again. A confession kind of scared me.
He had told Papa a lot about his past and though was good to know, I had so many more questions.
“Ive been wanting to ask you that forever,” he said with a shy smile, making me wonder what he was talking about.
I looked up, a little confused, rose in my hand, just a little speechless.
“What?” I breathed out. It smelt divine.
And okay, besides rendering me speechless every time he so much as moved, he had the most amazing teeth.
Like honestly, it was like a Colgate commercial.
”How was your day?” He said again, pearly whites all visible and … dang. “You have no idea … and you haven’t given me enough of an answer now because it looks like there’s so much more on your mind right now…”
The way this guy read me was like a book.
I looked down and I could feel my cheeks flushing a bit with the intensity of his gaze. Like, did the guy have any other way to look at people please? Everything about him was so intense and deep and completely disarming.
It made me realise that although I had been taking in by him and how criminally handsome he was, I had also been majorly attracted to the part of his personality that connected with people and made him so much more human than he realised. Yes, Zubair didn’t have money and rich parents but he was one of those few who had been blessed with integrity and amazing qualities.
From Nusaybah, I knew that he didn’t think much of himself, wanted to be better and felt that he had so much to work on… but to me, his consideration, his humility, him never overstepping the line with me even thought there was plenty of opportunity and always approaching everything with so much of thought and caution was goals.
He respected my father and in turn, he had earned my fathers respect.
”So?” He said expectantly, still giving me a small smile that knocked me for a six.
My mind needed to be sanitised. I was glancing at his mouth way too much.
“It was fine,” I managed to say, quite certain I was making a fool of myself. My hands were trembling and I sat on them to get them to stop. “Eventful. Mos is… emotional. Nani gave us quite the surprise and now you’re here…”
My words were fast and my voice had been a bit shaky but the sentence was coherent and true. It had been pretty eventful. I mean, I barely expected Nani to come.
I wasn’t sure what had happened and who had said what but her being here was something that actually consoled me. Like her presence meant that maybe things weren’t going to be so bad after all.
“I have a question.”
Questions. Right. That’s what we were supposed to be doing. I mean, I already knew so much about Zubair but I also had questions. Questions about him that no one knew. Questions about his life that made me want to get right down to the bottom of his story. About his father. About why they never reconciled. About what really happened with his uncle and his past life.
But I wanted to believe that we had enough time. I opened my mouth and closed it again, because he was already speaking.
”Im sure you have questions too,” he said, shifting in his seat and looking at me as he did it again. He read my mind. I finally met his gaze as he watched me, feeling completely exposed as his expression turned to one of compassion. “I just needed to check… are you sure about this…?”
I could barely even nod. I wanted to ask him if he was sure about me. After so many months of my silly crushing on him, I couldn’t quite believe that he was actually here. Wanting to marry me. And liking me enough to do it.
Maybe when he knew the real me, things would change.
I looked up and it was the most intense thing, his gaze when it was on me, waiting for my answer to this very important question.
It was the first time I had seen him so up close, and though I did notice his unnatural eyes before, I didn’t quite notice how stunningly haunting they were in the daylight. Two different colours that made him seem like someone supernatural. The right one was a brown with yellow specks and the left one was a green with golden specks.
It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that in my life.
“I wanted to see you and explain this to you in person,” he said softly, not realising that I was staring into his eyes like a kuku case. “You know about my past. I’m far from perfect and I don’t even want to ever bring you into the kind of life that I was in. With a history like mine, I’m sure you realise that I’ve had quite the reputation…”
I didn’t realise that I was staring at a spot on the carpet blankly until he shifted slightly, realising that I was actually being a little weird.
His voice was soft when he said my name. And oh my word, I was a goner.
Get a grip of yourself, Jameela, I chided myself.
Zubair was worried, and it made sense. He didn’t want to drag me into a life where he had earned so many enemies along the way. Coming here to the farm had been his hide out, his safe place and I had to understand that going through with this would also bring its fair share of challenges.
And of course, being who I was, feeling the way I felt right then, and truly feeling that love could conquer everything.
I wanted what I wanted, and that was that. I wanted to truly know Zubair. I wanted to spend more time with him. To be more than just someone who he would pass by and never talk to.
I didn’t think of what could happen after.
”I’m sure,” I said firmly, with not even an ounce of hesitancy in my voice, letting myself meet his alluring gaze once more.
”I’m afraid that you may change your mind if anything has to happen. And it’s not impossible. People can find me. They can threaten me. It’s why I never wanted to marry before, but I realised that at some point I have to also let go of the past.”
”And build a better future,” I said quietly. I almost added ‘with me’ like a creep but luckily my mouth wasn’t my worst enemy that day. Only my stupid brain.
Zubair’s eyebrows were raised quizzically but I could see something in his eyes as he said it.
His words too, were laced with fear. Fear for what, I wasn’t quite sure.
“Are you afraid of something?” I asked, looking up at him now and meeting his gaze. I wished that I didn’t.
I had to look away.
He was silent for a while, before he clasped his hands together.
“I have a weakness, Jameela,” he said, after a few seconds. “Maybe it’s a strength, because it’s for people who I care about. It’s just that in the past, the people I cared about didn’t really care about me. I would do anything to protect them. Even if it goes against my natural disposition. Even if it’s risky. Even if it exposes me. Sometimes I lose myself when those people are threatened. That day in the shop…”
He stopped mid sentence, and I already knew which day he was talking about. In the coffee shop when the horrid customer threw his weight around and made me feel like the scum of the earth.
There was a side of Zubair I had never witnessed or heard my father speak about. An angry, unhinged side that made me wonder who he really was.
But now I knew who he was. I knew that he had been on the wrong path once. I knew that he was fiercely protective. I also knew that although he told my father that things could get dangerous, he would never let anyone hurt me. There was something so right in the way that felt.
“I almost lost control of myself ,” he said in a low tone.
He may have been right. He had been angry. But people aren’t always the greatest, and anger is a normal emotion and natural response.
It’s how we control it that makes the difference, and he did.
I didn’t even think what it meant for me. I didn’t even want to ponder about Zubair actually noticing me at that time, like I actually meant something. He never showed it.
”It wasn’t like you beat the man up or anything,” I said, my voice sounding slightly squeaky as I tried to make light of the situation.
“But I wanted to,” he said seriously, his voice hard and full of dark emotion. “And that’s not what I was taught after I changed my life. That’s not what the Sunnah teaches. I wanted to be better. I wanted to be able to never hurt someone else in my life. I didn’t want to go back to the man who I was. To that cold-blooded monster who didn’t think or feel, and just do what he was being controlled to do. I wanted to change.”
He was so passionate and urgent in what he was saying. A huge knot of tension had formed in my stomach. Did this mean that it scared him to get close to someone? It explained why he was always here… alone, with nowhere that he really went to and no one he met.
“I’ve undergone so much of training,” he said softly. “I’ve been trying to reverse everything that had made me the person I used to be. I wanted to be able to overlook faults. To lower my gaze from people’s wrong. I’m trying to become type of character that can emulate the Sahabah. They had to experience so much for their Jannah, and we get overcome by emotion and give up at the slightest test…”
How he said it reminded me of the beauty of the ways of the Sahabah. I knew that many of them wanted to atone for their deeds by doing something amazing to make up for all the wrong they had done.
“But I’m failing. And it feels like the entire world has fallen into a drunken state and Islam is the only lifeline to sober us up. While everyone else sees blurred coincidences of chaos, we see the signs and we see the beginning of the end of times. I’ve seen so much of rot and ugliness, and it took me so long to change. Sometimes I don’t know if we even know that we have all the answers and solutions right in our midst…”
He placed his hand on his chest and I saw it, in the top pocket of his kurta. His lifeline.
The Qur’ān. It was the only lifeline here. When we hold fast to it, that’s the only time we see light within the darkness.
I widened my eyes as his long fingers grasped the edge of the pages and held them back in place.
“I know that this is a lot to take in but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I know that being who I was may be something that may make you feel uncomfortable. There are parts of it that were horrible. Terrifying. Painful. I don’t ever want you to suffer or start to hate me because of that…”
I shook my head, indicating that I wouldn’t ever do that. He came here to see me but all he was doing was trying to get me to change my mind.
I could feel myself getting angry as he looked down now, almost as if he had defeated himself.
“Are you done?” I asked roughly, feeling irritable that he had done that. Why did he have to be so hard on himself?
“Do you only have bad things to say about yourself?”
He looked shocked that I said it. I mean, even I was shocked at myself. Shy, dreamy Jameela actually had a mouth that spat out some vicious venom now and then.
And then, as I glared at him, with much resolve I must admit, slowly but surely, an amused smile crept onto his face, almost as if what I had said was the most hilarious thing in the entire conversation.
“No, I’m not done,” he said with a grin, his amazing teeth visible again.
The audacity. I still wanted to ring his neck and the need was more intense with every second his alluring grin widened.
I narrowed my eyes as he continued.
“I actually wanted to also tell you that I know Nani doesn’t like me,” he said, still grinning. I could feel myself flushing at that. How did he know that?
The walls had ears, for sure.
“And I don’t blame her at all. In fact, I think she’s right.”
”What?!” I scoffed incredulously. No. He wasn’t actually saying all this.
Telling me Nani was right was way below the belt. I mean, on the one hand I had Ken, I mean Muneer, who kept inflating his own ego… and now there was Zubair who kept hating on himself.
I didn’t understand it. What was it with this guy?
”I think she is right,” he said again, more calmly.
”Why would you say that?” I asked, shaking my head at him.
How on earth could he say that Nani’s outdated thinking could be right?
I was about to tell him so, but he was looking at me now, and his face was suddenly all serious, as if he hadn’t just been all full off nonsense and humour a few seconds ago. His jaw was set firmly and his entire body seemed to suddenly morph into something completely different. Honestly, this guy reminded me of some sort of shape-shifter.
“I know I don’t have much,” he said softly, his voice serious and foreboding. “Nani is right with that. But from what I’ve seen in life, from all the people I’ve met… I’ve learnt that these things, that everyone cares about so much, don’t really matter. I’ve seen men in mansions who are so unhappy that they are wanting to end their lives, and I’ve seen a man in a shack living life as if it’s his kingdom. Money doesn’t matter.”
He was right. It didn’t matter to me and it was obvious that it didn’t matter to him. What I knew was that pure contentment was based not on how much of money we had, but based on the richness of the heart. I’ve always heard that if you can make shukar, you will be like royalty, because everything you have will feel like it’s much more than you deserve.
The thing was, when I looked at Zubair, even in the past, I’ve noticed that whatever situation he was in, he was never wanting for something more. He was happy with his lot and he was grateful even with his little.
“I know it doesn’t,” I said, knowing that what he said was beyond true. “But yet, you still think what Nani says is right?”
Like, was she actually taking Nani’s side here after everything? Did he even know her?
“I think whatever is best for you, Jameela,” he said, sounding tired. He looked away now, and my heart couldn’t help but just sink dreadingly to my toes.
Was he really just switching me off here? Turning me away because he was afraid? Trying to change the way I felt because he really didn’t believe that he was good enough?
“I guess the point here is that I don’t want to be the one to tell you what you should do. I know that I want you to still have a choice to have a normal life. Consider this your freedom to choose,” he said as he got up to leave. “It’s all up to you, Jameela. I don’t want to drag you into my world but the thought of not seeing you in it…”
He didn’t have to finish the sentence, and why on earth did that warning just make me want it more? It was like something had been flipped on in me. Like some kind of magnetic force was drawing me to this, and nothing could deter me. No wealth, no status no worldly attribute could ever sway my decision.
His humility and his integrity was something that I could match to no one. His character had already drawn me to him from day one.
I knew what I wanted. All this time, even when I was forcing my mind to battle with my heart, I hadn’t stopped wanting it.
Yes, he had told me that I have the freedom to choose, but he had also indicated what he thought would be the best. He had, in many words, said that this wasn’t the best thing for me, but that I still had the freedom to choose…
And now, despite all that, I realised that being free isn’t ruining every good thing in your life because you have to prove you have the choice to do so. Its choosing good things because you can. Because it’s beautiful and it’s Halaal and it can do amazing things for your soul. It’s choosing to be in control of your destiny by being open to possibility.
Choosing to be happy because it makes you happy is the sometimes the only way to be happy….
Even if it was only for a fleeting moment in time…
Dearest readers: extra long post to make up. My sincerest apologies for the delay. Beginning of the term was exceptionally busy for me. Please keep me in your esteemed Duaas especially this week, as these great days dawn upon us.
Sunnah of the month of Rajab
Sayyiduna Anas Ibn Malik (radiyallahu’anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would recite the following supplication when the Month of Rajab would commence:
اَللّٰهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَناَ فِيْ رَجَبٍ وَشَعْبانَ وَبَلّغْنَا رَمَضَانْ
Allahumma baarik lana fi Rajaba wa Sha’bana wa balligh-na Ramadan
Translation: Oh Allah! Grant us Barakah (Blessing) during (the months of) Rajab and Sha’ban, and allow us to reach Ramadan.
(Shu’abul-Iman, Hadith: 3534, Ibnu Sunni, Hadith: 660, Mukhtasar Zawaid Bazzar, Hadith: 662, also see Al-Adhkar, Hadith: 549)
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..💕