BISMILLAHIR RAHMANIR RAHEEM
“ Juwi! The pot’s about to overboil!”
“Coming!” I gritted my teeth and ran down the hall. I just had entered the house and already I had to go into crises-mode. Couldn’t they give me a break? I needed some unwind time after a stressful day at the office.
On my way to lurch for the offending pot, I tripped over Zaheer’s toy car and nearly fall face down onto the stove!
‘Damn it! Zaheer!’ I hollered angrily as a scared little face appeared around the door. By this time,the milk had spilled over the edge of the pot and down the stove.
Zaheer burst into tears with one look at my reddened face and ran off into the awaiting arms of his Dadi.
I hate you Hamza. I totally hate you! I thought viciously as I glanced down at my phone. Nope, total silence from his side even though he was last seen 38 minutes ago. Hamza had been gone for almost 3 weeks now and although I knew it was necessary, I hated the fact that I had to live with his family,without him. He insisted on it ‘for our safety.’
My mother in law appeared with Zaheer in her arms. ‘Juwairiyah, why don’t you go rest a bit?’
I bit my tongue till it felt like it would bleed. Why did she have to tell me to rest as if I needed a cure from a mental disorder? Why That tone! Why did she have to act oversweet? This life wasn’t what I signed up for!
I stomped up the steps.
“Juwi… how are you doing bachu? You know today GoriFoi called and…”
For the first time I carried on walking and didn’t stop to listen to Ma’s stories. I could see the hurt echoed in her wrinkled surrounded eyes. But wasn’t it time I came first? How many times did I have to hear the same thing? There was a limit!
I flung open my cupboard door, I needed to go for a swim or something, just get away from it all. As I pulled out my track pants,a box fell and a worn out diary fell out. Just one glance at the handwriting transported me to another time. To better days.
I collapsed on the bed and with trembling hands opened it. I was scared of what I might find. Sometimes, even across this divide of time, it seemed as if her words knew my soul.
13 June 1976
Haider Ali is leaving today for Tableegh. I am not too sure what this is but apparently it is going out, travelling from Musjid to Musjid in different areas to invite people again to Allah. I asked him why do we need to do that in a Muslim country? Why not go to invite non Muslims like our Nabi did? He said he will ask his ameer that question. He talks so much of his ameer , I get quite jealous at times! See you later dear diary.
5th July 1976
Today the pages of my diary are wet with my love and grief struck tears. How I miss my beloved husband. Why did he have to leave me and go! It is not even a year since our nikah! After the Esha azaan beautifies the air, the men leave for the musjid. I hear every footstep return, except his. Except his. Where is her? What is he doing? Has my letters reached him?Does he remember his bride whom he left behind? What is this effort that keeps him away from his beloved? My heart is so heavy, all that consoles me is Qur’an. It smoothens the rough edges of the wounds that are still open within me.
26 July 1976
Haider’s letter arrived today! Alhamdulilah! I read it 5 times! He speaks so passionately about people whom he has met that are muslim in name but who cannot even read the Kalma. Shocking! He hardly wrote anything romantic though,sigh. All he said was I hope that my beloved is looking after my other loved ones. Is that all he married me for? To look after his family while he goes off! I wish I could find the postman who carried off my letter and tell him not to give it to my husband. Because my letter is filled with loving words,unlike his. Horrible man.
4th August 1976
Today AmmiJaan got very , very sick. The Doctor said we have to be with her 24/7. I doubt I can write much in the coming days.
11th August 1976
Many relatives have come from far and wide to visit AmmiJaan, they fear the worst. Many have not met me as yet as Haider and I had a very simple nikaah after everything that had happened. After all that we went through,how did he leave me ? Teek hain,not forever,but still.
Anyways, I am at Fathima Foi’s place for the past few days and as much as I love AmmiJaan, I don’t want to go to my sasuraals. Because I know my in-laws will make me sit and talk to every rishtedaar there. I know they like me but I feel like a showpiece. I will wait for most of them to go then go back.
14 August 1976.
Today a letter arrived from my Sasuraal, there will be a dawat for one of Haider’s cousins who completed his hifz. All the family will be there and they want me to please come. I feigned a stomach ache and replied I will not be able to,to the Chachu who brought the note.
Later that night.
Today Moulvi Salimullah came to visit. He gave a bayaan which I must write here. He has just returned from the England and everyone wanted to hear what he had to say. Our house and balcony was full. We sat behind purdah outside in the ladies garden.
“Muhtaram bheno aur bhaiyo, When the British left our lands,they said we are leaving India but don’t worry because we are leaving people who are Indian in looks but British in heart. What do we find in these people that is good? Everywhere I went, there is one thing I saw over and over, the family system is falling apart. Each man for himself. Our women here are like hooris of Jannah in the way you run our homes. There, no one cares even for the lady that gave birth to them.
The one who joins family ties, whether far or near, blood or in-law, like the Sahabah did. Whether we like them or they irritate us, Allah Ta’aala becomes so happy that HE joins ties with us! Allahu Akbar! Don’t we want that?
Our rizq will gain barakah, our lives will gain happiness, our lifespan will increase.All this from joining ties. What does it cost to smile at someone? To make salam? To be a little patient on an elders repeated words? Will we die from being a little extra kind? People wont remember what we did but how we made them feel. Yaad rakho.
After that bayaan, I packed my bags and returned to my sasuraals the same night! The way they welcomed me, even though that little annoyance from shaitan was there, I smiled and eventually my smile became real. I helped out and happily met all the new family I hadn’t met before. If it was this easy to make my Allah closer to me,then why not??!
We are not like the kuffaar,we are musallmaan, we are a community. We make hearts happy. Even if it goes against our nafs.
AmmiJaan has recovered remarkably since I came back. MashaAllah!
20 December 1976
My Haider has returned! I hid in the room feeling butterflies like a new bride. When he opened the door and saw me,the way he smiled,all the months apart,faded away.
Later that night, he held my hand and told me that AmmiJaan told him all about how I helped out at Naazir’s Khatam and how the family loves me. He said that alone shows me how much I loved him, even in his absence,my actions of love carried weight and joined my heart to his.
I realised then, that it’s what we do, not what we say, that matters more.
I closed the diary with a weeping heart. I was so far from my granny. I liked my comfort zone too much and hated any ripples. My in laws were so in my face that it irked me all the time. I knew they liked me or did once, but I like my space you know?
My phone rang.
Asalamu alaikum, Juwi…Howsit?
Wa alaikum salam Hamza! I waited all day for you to message!
I was waiting to get a chance to call you,didn’t want to just send a lame text. I wanted to tell you… JazakAllah
For taking Ma and Mummy to the doctors yesterday and visiting their family. I know you cant stomach my family at times. You even look constipated at times when we visit,so
Are you complimenting me or insulting me?
Sorry Juwi, I was really touched by the whatsapp message Ma sent me about an hour back, she said I’m lucky to have a wife who took my family as hers, you have no idea how much that means to me Sweety.
And that was when I realised,that my Granny was right, we are Muslims, we can’t date and stay together unmarried, we have to make nikaah, we get married. And when we marry, we don’t only sign on to one person like the Non Muslims do, but a whole tribe of hearts waiting to call us theirs. How lucky was I? We spoke for an hour after that.
Yes I was his beloved who would look after his loved ones, I opened my room door and went to meet them with a smile.
Joining ties with my Rabb, here I step towards you.