“Not again Seema.” My father said darkly, stalking past my mother. “I don’t want any complaints.”
My mother looked like she was about to snap but restrained herself and what had I mistakened for anger,was actually anxiety welling in her eyes.
“It’s it’s …a summons. For you’ll to report at once to duty,a skirmish broke out at the Chitnagar border.”
Chitnagar. My heart screamed No!
Chitnagar; The place where soldiers went to an almost sudden death.
A silence fell so heavily on the room, as if a huge oak tree had fallen& crushed the carefree-ness right out of us.
The Next Morning…
“Such deep thoughts?” Zulfikar smiled at me.
“Huh?Maaf keejeh,I was daydreaming.”
“I can see that, are you done with your Quran? I haven’t read my para as yet.”
I handed him over my Quran, which was bound in a leather cover that my father had handmade for me.
The sun was still about to peep at us from below the horizon. We were all scattered all over the balcony, my father’s deep tones reading Surah Yaseen. Every day,after the Fajr prayer,I sat next to him and read a portion of the Quran to him. He told me that Allah pays special attention to the Tilawat of the Quran at Fajr time.
Imagine then,the Salaah of Fajr.
How simply beautiful,that when people are still looking for a reason to wake up for,in their middle years, already as Muslim children, are instilled with a reason to get out of bed, to wash off the effects of shaytaan &sleep with wudhu,raise our hands in Takbeer&throw the dunya behind us.
How sad&truly pitiable are those homes in which a child is woken up for school without compromise, but not for Fajr,even if he is baaligh.
A day started with worshipping Allah,is a beautiful day.
We were sipping chai and I pulled out my sketchpad.
“Hey Johara,can I try drawing in your book?” Ilyaas asked&I pushed it over to him.
“What IS that? A moth? A beetle?” Abbu exclaimed
Ilyaas looked offended. “It’s a house! To thank Johara, for letting us stay so comfortably as mehmaan in her house.”
“Well,then Major Saheb,we’re lucky,you just drawing a house for her because if you actually build like you draw…my daughter would be living in rubble.” Abbu replied amused. ‘Chalo,Major ,give me a hand,I want to exercise my leg abit,coming Seema? Johara?”
Mother replied that she was going to prepare their food for the road&I was too engrossed in the way a flower was fighting it’s way through the cracks.
I was busy sketching it when I saw a shadow flit in the distance beyond our gate. I stiffened. I couldn’t have imagined that,could I?
‘What’s wrong?” Zulfikar asked from behind.
“I think someone is there…” I didn’t want to seem a foolish child.
“I’ll go check,probably a deer. Hey, you’re okay?’ Perceptive even then.
“I always feel like this when Papa leaves,but this time I feel sad and worried ,like something is going to happen.It’s not the same without him”
“I understand. Chalo…look at the leaves from the chinar trees? How the wind just blows them away?”
“Sometimes in life,we just have to picture our worries,as leaves,leaves in the wind,gone. And you’ll feel lighter,happier. I don’t know if you understand what I’m trying to say.”
“I think I do.”
He went down to check what was the shadow I had seen,I closed my eyes and imagined my anxiety over Abbu leaving,over being alone with Ammi& thinking about her other child,about the way she looked through me,about the silence that would fall after all the joy Zulfikar&Ilyaas brought, I pictured them all as leaves,and saw them fly away with the wind.
“Bismillah” I whispered softly. Abbu said,if I wanted anything to work out,my magic word should be Bismillah.
We all stood on the balcony as they left to jump in the car,the driver would take them to the station. Ilyaas gave a backward wave ,Zulfikarsmiled and Abbu turned and looked at us for the longest time,as if he were capturing us in his heart.
“I’ll bring him back,don’t worry!” Ilyaas shouted,looking at my mother and I crying ,hoping against hope,that by some miracle,my father would stay.
And he kept his word,months later.
He did bring my father back. He brought him back,
in a kafan.
Asalamu alaykum, a few points,
no.1 JazakAllah for your patience
no.2 Kashmir,the country were this story is set,is currently in serious turmoil,war has once again erupted and our Muslim brothers&sisters,are being killed. The least we can do,is make dua for them. Currently,Muslims in India are being imprisoned&stabbed,why? For eating beef. While we were pleasantly enjoying our Eidul Adha, our “bored” because it wasnt “fun” enough, or carcasses were too “eww”, there were Muslims in certain parts,of India,whose Biryani,was inspected,for meat! And that was grounds enough,for criminal charges.
I wish I was joking.
Let’s try ,Quran at Fajr,make dua immediately after that for the Muslims &let’s try the sunnahs of simplicity&shukar.
No.3)Make dua for this flawed sinner.