As time was ticking, Aafiyah’s condition was deteriorating. She was unconscious most of the time. I was making all vain efforts to assuage myself. Hoping that suddenly Allah subhanah wa ta’ala would shower His mercy and Aafiyah would come walking out.
Lost in my thoughts, I heard an unknown voice. Husky, strong and with a heavy accent, “Is Mrs. Aafiyah inside? Are we allowed to meet her?”
I looked up, failing to recognise the man.
-“yes but you are..?”, perhaps an old friend or colleague of her’s.
I did not bother to notice the petite niqabi woman standing behind him, still studying his face, trying to guess who he was.
-” Mairah please go inside. I’ll wait for you here”. A chill ran down my spine as he uttered those words. I had given up hopes of her coming after she disconnected the call yesterday. As an obedient wife she silently went inside, not a glance shared, not a word uttered.
I remembered the Mairah I knew. Full of life, bubbling with joy and absolutely unreserved about life. I remembered the Mairah who uttered her shahadah the first time and entered into the fold of Islam fresh and pure. It took me a while to imagine her behind the veil, to imagine her shy and seeking shelter behind her husband. Certainly, Allah is the best of Planners. It is He who choses His servants and guide them towards Him.
“… and Allah sends astray (thereby) whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” [ Surah Ibrahim 14:4]
Husband. I suddenly realised the look of disgust that man had as he found my eyes stuck on his wife. In my amaze it didn’t occur to me that I kept staring. My eyes went down with shame. As he carried his child and sat a little ahead, I sat there observing him. My heart was filled with admiration. He seemed to be engaged in serious conversation with his son, responding to every innocent gesture of the child. The very look of the man reflected imaan, dignity, calmness and poise. A muslim, a true servant of Allah.
” And whoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make his matter easy for him” [Qur’an 65:4″
His very demeanour put me to shame. Alhamdulillah, my heart felt happy for her. She finally was with someone worthy of her. Indeed a pious man is for a pious woman. A part of my heart found peace.
” Good women are for good men..” [Qur’an 24:26]
My heart was beating fast and loud. She turned to look at me as the door squeaked.
Breathtakingly beautiful. She lay there weak and fragile, yet so graceful. She recognized me, I know yet there was a confusion.
-” as salamu alai kum. I’m Mairah”
I don’t know what I wished to hide. Whether it was my sadness, anger or pride. I kept my veil on. Tears streamed down her eyes and I had them too. An unspoken sadness prevailed in the room.
” and ever is your Lord Seeing.” [Qur’an 25:20]
Her attempts to sit up were all vain, following which she gestured me to sit beside her. Something within me wanted to spill all the bitterness I held within me, I knew it was the waswasa – whispers of shaytaan. I kept mum, seeking protection from Allah, seeking sabr and wisdom. The tongue indeed is the worst enemy of mankind.
The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasallam) said, “A Muslim is one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands.” [Sahih Al Bukhari Vol 1 Book 2 Hadith 10]
I obliged. Sat next to her not knowing what to say. Why had she called me? What does she want from me?
Her weak hands trembled as she extended them towards me, and I out of reflexes held them back.
Some whispers… soft words and murmurs which I couldn’t understand.. her tears and grief was choking her. I knew she was in deep pain. Emotionally and physically. All I could hear was forgive me….
I kept staring as she repeated, sobbing fervently, “please.. forgive me”
It was a moment of deep loss. I could feel the pain of a mother. These were the final moments before she meets our Creator, Al Ghani, Al Jami’ – The Rich One, The Gatherer.
My pride and my anger evaporated. Didn’t I want to be forgiven by my Lord too? Was I sinless? I visualised the day I will be pleading before Al Ghafur, Al Ghaffar.
And Allah says, “..I am indeed Forgiving to him who Repents” [Qur’an 20:82]
– ” I forgive my sister.”, I said stroking her palm, ” I forgive…”
I could see her relieved. It was a favour I did on myself. I realised that if anyone was being hurt the most, it was me. Indeed the wisdom behind forgiveness is beyond our limited knowledge.
I made her lie down and got up to leave. We didn’t have much to say.
– “Mairah..”, a soft whine..
– ” niqab…”, she was indicating me to show my face.
I didn’t want to lift my veil. It was as if I used it to upkeep the barrier between us. I didn’t respond and simply continued to walk away. However, as I reached for the knob, my heart knew I was being deceitful. I just said I forgave. AllahuAkbar, who was I bluffing? Allah azza wajal knew what my heart held.
“Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. ” [Qur’an 6:59]
I headed back to her, put up a smile as warm as I could and lifted my veil- hence lifting all confinements between our hearts. Her face beamed with happiness and her lips curved into a smile.
The voice within me made me bend and give a peck on her cheek. At that moment, I let go the 24year old Mairah forever. Our story had for ever completed it’s loop. It was a blessed moment. The affection that I carried, was a gift from Al Wadud – the Most Loving, the source of Love.
I said salam, put my veil down and left the room eager to meet my family. There was a certain frenzy when I couldn’t find Saaiq outside. I stood at the door in complete hysteria, when I heard a voice…
My heart clumped inside. It was him. My eyes started searching Saaiq even more fanatically. Something was hammering my stomach.
My feet got cold.. I didn’t know what to do.
To be continued. . .