“Don’t come back if you go now!”
“Seema, what are you saying?” I’m not going because I Want to get away from you’ll.”
“Is it? Because that’s how it seems for the last 9 years.”
He looked like he’d been slapped. And the effort of holding his tongue was visible in his reddened face. Then he remembered…the words which had been preserved and retold, unaltered through the ages;the words of RasulAllah SAW- ‘Mann sakata Salima-Whoever is silent is safe.’ He felt the heat of anger ,evaporate and tried to put himself into her beaded shoes.
“Seema, come with me.”
And I saw him hold her hand and lead her down our balcony,into the garden. They stopped at a rose tree.I couldn’t hear them from here. All I knew,was my stomach knotted up whenever my parents fought. I wish I could wipe away the distance in my mother’s hazel eyes when she sometimes looked through me. Oddly enough, since Major Idrees&Zulfikr arrived, she swung between cheerfulness and …resentment. I couldn’t understand it.
“Seema, do you remember when we planted this tree together?”
She wanted to say no. But she did remember that day. He brought her out of the room after months and she saw her pale face,etched with grief that sprung from her heart. He took her into the garden that day and asked her to help him dig. She remembered the soft soil and the shock that passed through her at how it felt so good and made her feel so…Alive. The velvety feel of the emerald leaves. So green. Planting Was a therapy and she smiled,genuinely for the first time in months. She recalled his words on that warm day,as they worked in comfortable silence. He looked at her with such hope as they surveyed their handywork. “Take this as a sign,that good things will come again. Right now ,it’s just leaves,but one day roses will bloom on it. We’ll be happy again Seemu. And we planted this together… isn’t that special?”
And she would watch the rose tree with such intensity,that he would jokingly tell her,that her nazar would kill it. “Everything in it’s time.”
Then one day… a baby pink bud appeared and her heart soared. A sign of life. At that time,for the very first time in years,she began reading Salaah… praying fervently after each one and just as the roses began to bloom, the doctor was called home…to confirm the happy news… she was expecting! SubhanAllah!
“You Do remember.” He whispered and she nodded and collapsed in his arms,sobbing. The leaves of the rose tree, rustled in the wind as they stood there. Years of emotions,bubbling over, crocheted itself around them in a shawl of understanding.
“I’m so sorry, you are my easiest target. And I lash out at you,because the pain never went away fully and sometimes you’re not here and I’m scared …what if what happened to my family…happens to you and I feel guilty too because… I could never love Johara as I loved him.”
“Seema… this is a test from Allah. Do you know when Ebrahim passed away, how it broke me? But I had to be strong,for you.”
“But you acted like you were so fine? That hurt more.”
“How foolish is insaan. If we only spoke properly then. Ya Rabb. I was Not fine,at all. Seema… do you know that when someone’s child passes away as a baby, and the parents are patient and hope for a reward from Allah,then a palace called Baitul Hamd is built for them in Jannah. Our Ebrahim,is there with Ebrahim AS,in Jannah, waiting for us ,one day,we’ll be together.All children,who have passed away are with him,playing on swings made of Nur,in gardens that have flowers of every colour and scent”
She smiled and rested her head ,uncharacteristically ,on his shoulder.
“Give Johara a chance,Seema. I know she can’t replace Ebrahim in your heart but she’s still our only child we have now. Try and love her more.”
“What must I do? I wish I could love her more…I do…”
“Johara! Since when you’ve been standing here?”
I turned around and ran inside.Tears streaming down my face, my little heart broken by my mother’s words. That was the day I changed.