Have you ever loved a child? One of the most pure loves,there ever is. Their infectious laughter, their innocent observations, their tiny hands and wide ,open hearts. When a child comes into the home, a couple turns into family. A child’s laughter changes the grimmest atmosphere and a loved child is the anticipation of everyone’s hearts. So my heart turned over in sympathy when I heard Vic’s anguished screams echo down the stairs, I rushed over and saw his eyes look uncomprehending and he was shaking like a leaf blown away by a gale force.
“Victor! Victor! Calm down ! Now!” Oh no, he looks like he’s getting an anxiety attack! “If you don’t calm down how are we going to think Vic?”
“You don’t understand, my son is my life!” He screamed.
“I do understand, I also have a child…right listen to me…you comb the house…I’ll look outside.” I gently told him.
My heart nearly come to a complete standstill when I saw Umair’s face as I came down the steps to tell him that Carl was nowhere to be found in the house. “He isn’t outside either ,is he?”
Umair shook his head matter of fact, taking chare. “No. Come on, let’s hit the street.” I was glad he did because all my years of military service and being a journalist deserted me the moment I found my son’s bed empty.Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a child,especially one that you lose but have no idea if he’s dead or alive.“It feels like a living nightmare, these past ten minutes feel like 10 hours.”
Allah’s Messenger (SAW) kissed Hasan ibn `Ali (his grandson) while Aqra` ibn Habis -Tamim was sitting with him. Aqra` said, “I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.” Nabi (SAW )cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.”(Al-Bukhari)
As we walked further away from the house, Umair grabbed my arm when he heard a car move off.
It was the car that had been parked infront of my housed for hours.
“Vic! Wait! Let’s go back to where that car was parked! I’ve got a feeling…that Carl might be there…InshaALLAH”
We sprinted back to the vacated spot and Umair’s instincts were uncanny …
“Oh my God! My child he’s there! I can’t look Umair! What if they did something to him, please pick him up!” I felt as if lead was poured on my feet. I would go to pieces if he was…not ok…or…alive…
“He’s fine Vic, he’s fast asleep, phew!” Umair breathed out audibly in relief. I grabbed my son with such joy that I recall that moment clearly years back and remember the tsunami of gratitude and love that hit me in that moment.
“My baby! How could I have been so careless!” I kissed his cherub cheeks till he woke up,unimpressed. Babies,I tell you, ungrateful!
“Let’s get inside,Vic.”
“Ok I checked out the place there’s no one here. Don’t blame yourself Vic…these guys are going all out to intimidate you…you cant afford to break.”
“I can’t believe they stooped to such a low blow… it’s their warning to me… make a move against them and they will harm my son.” I told Umair as my eyes watched Carl play with a tassle on the cushion as if it was the most fascinating thing ever. Suddenly the door opened down the passage.
“I’m home, where’s my baby, Carl?” Jennifer called out.
Umair looked at me. “You don’t have to tell her what happened, she will worry unnecessarily.”
“Yeah…you‘re right as it is I’m starting to feel like a loser with her.” I said in a low voice.
“You’re far from a loser Vic, if you’re going to think like that,she’s going to think that too… Anyways let me be off to Aslam’s place. Come and see me before I fly back.”
I smiled, I knew Umair was scurrying off so he wouldn’t have to talk to Jen. Although I was ok with it, he would never take his eyes off the floor infront of women and would maintain a respectful silence. I didn’t fathom his faith fully but I did respect it. The whole modesty aspect was impressive because it was something so alien to Western culture.
“ Cool and don’t walk into any tap at Aslam’s place” I winked at him.
“Tap?” Umair’s eyes crinkled up in laughter. “You mean trap… I see you’re doing Aslam-speak.”
That night as we spoke over chai in the garden.
“So you’re flying back tomorrow Umair Jaan? Making any stops on the way?”
“Just one in Pakistan.”
“Oh in Peshawar?” He casually asked, pouring another hot cup.
“Jee…you very curious.”
No no, nothing like that Umair Jaan..I’m just thinking of when we used to meet at our greatgrandfather’s house in Peshawar…we had some real fun in our yacht.”
“Youth. Those were the days… “
Aslam shook his head. “But the family was never happy that my mother married a Pakistani while yours married Afghani and kept to her culture.”
“Let all that go Aslam Jaan… culture doesn’t matter at all…It is deen that should guide us in everything…we make life hard because of culture..”
Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “This religion is easy. No one becomes harsh and strict in the religion without it overwhelming him. So fulfill your duties as best you can and rejoice. Rely upon the efforts of the morning and the evening and a little at night and you will reach your goal.” [Sahîh al-Bukharî]
“Jee haa, you right…anyways tell me more about the training camps in Peshawar… perhaps I might visit when I go to see my mother.” Aslam intoned. And so I began telling him about one of the greatest passions of my life, Jihad. And the night grew darker and still, the house fell silent and by the time we were done, Aslam’s family were all enconsed in sleep.
“ very interesting ,very interesting.” Aslam concluded. I stood up and stretched.
“Khair… It’s been a long night, let me be off now…Allah Hafiz and remember that any good we do Aslam…it has an effect somewhere…we are not just living for ourselves and don’t worry about the money you lost because you’re not spying on me, you will be rewarded in the akhirah…asalamu alaikum” I hugged him.
“Jee… I’m not worried about it , never worried about it, …take care wa alaikum salam….”
It comes in a hadith… The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise and when he is entrusted he betrays the trust, even if he prays and fasts and imagines that he is a Muslim” (Muslim)
As I walked away, I turned around one last time to wave at my distant family,perhas we may never meet again.
“If we don’t meet again here ,we will meet in Jannat Aslam Jaan!” I shouted
With tears in my eyes and horror in my heart I watched Umair walk away…
What did I do to you Umair? Why did I lie to you??How do I deserve Paradise after what I did but I had no choice, why did temptation knock on my door…I couldn’t resist opening…