“Where’s Zulfikar?” I asked later that day as I hadn’t seen him since I had awoken and had Chachi and Ammi fussing over me. It felt good.
And I felt a coldness wrap it’s fingers around my heart. We were alone together for the first time since Papa had passed away,there was no distraction or buffer and someone to sort things on the fields with the workers or help to calm Ammi.
The person who helped me remember that I Could cope without my father,was gone.
The sun quietly slipped behind the clouds.
“When do you think he will return?” I asked Ammi
She looked away. “Not anytime soon Johara,we need to learn how to live again.On our own.”
I nodded as a tear slipped down my face.
We forgot,didn’t we that insaan would let us down,leave us ,betray us, not meet our expectations… and we fall apart because we allowed that illusion to cocoon us, until it is taken away.
No matter how much someone loves us,one day they will either upset us,anger us and definitely one day, either way, leave us.
If we live for someone’s praise,then we will be slain by their criticism.
It was a lesson that would take me a long time to learn, to own my own happiness,to build and embroider such a beautiful bond with Allah Taala that our relationship with insaan, doesn’t shake or alter our relationship with him.
When we need to cry,we cry infront of Him. When we need to smile,we share it with Him.How light are those hearts which perpetually converse with Him.SubhanAllah.
And no matter how people were, I would learn,that it shouldn’t harden me orsharpen my responses and tone.
This journey is for a few days my Rabb,help me travel it well.
A few days later,Ammi came to see my while I was sketching outside. She stood quietly and an awkward silence fell between us.
“Do..do you want to go to the plantations for a visit Johara? I haven’t been out of the house for more than four months, I think we should go for a few days?”
“I’d love to Ammi!” And I really did. One of my favourite things to do with my father was to accompany him to his saffron plantations. The lilac coloured fields,the golden saffron threads,the friendly workers,I loved it all. I could close my eyes and the rich scent could almost be conjoured up.
Sometimes we buy things for our kids,anything and everything they want but it’s really the simplest things done together,that they will remember us by. Baking together,walks in the park,reading Quran side by side,pushing them on a swing,describing the creation of Allah,a SubhanAllah said in chorus…
Ammi smiled. “Do you want to start packing?, we’ll leave after Jumah.”
With a lightness that had disappeared from my step,I bounded into the house and went to take out everything I’d want Chachi to pack for me.
“Chachi! Why are you taking out shawls for me, it’s so hot!”
‘But the nights can get cold, oh no,Chacha didn’t bring the other bags up! And he’s gone to read namaaz.”
“No problem,I’ll go and get it.”
The basement wasn’t a place I came to often because I couldn’t breathe in closed spaces, I felt that they were closing in on me ,but I couldn’t let Chachi go to the trouble when I saw how she was limping recently.
I pulled out the bags when I saw a chest behind them. I slowly opened it. Gorgeous silken shawls with embroidered lilacs lay at the top, a few glittery handbags and other items. It was so curious. Who did all this belong to?I had never seen anyone wear this. I pulled out the items,and then my hand brushed the top of a diary,covered in dust…