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Moments before falling asleep, Rania had revisitations of memories passed. The scene replayed in her mind that had taken place two years ago.

“You will regret this, Rania,” her mother admonished her as she stepped out to go for taraveeh next door.

“What did I do wrong?” Rania thought to herself. “I only told her that she should receive Mamoon’s call from Canada, herself. He is her brother. She should have let him know that she would talk to him later.”

Still unable to understand the logic of being an un-necessary ombudsman, she stepped out from her house only after Amma had entered the neighbour’s house.

The taraveeh started. After the Surah Fatiha, as the imam proceeded to recite a familiar verse, tears rolled down Rania’s cheek. The verses were related to parents, particularly mothers.

“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: ‘My Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood’ “(Surah Isra’ :23-24).

Ashamed, “Ameen” escaped her lips at the dua. But then the nafs set in. The admonishment and the futile disagreement for which she was chastised, surfaced in her mind.

O Allah, you know what the situation is. You are the All- Seeing, All Encompassing. What did I do wrong? Why does she always make it hard for me?

Suddenly her mother’s face flashed before her eyes while still in salah. A feeling arose and encompassed Rania’s heart…

“La Taa’ Khaf…” (Don’t worry)

Maybe this is what is called “sakeenah”, Rania realized. Everything will be fine.

It’s not easy for your widowed mother. Everything will be fine.

Consoled, she heard the imam say “Allahu Akbar” and followed the jama’at into the ruku.

The tears had stopped flowing.

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“The Gift”

“I have a gift for you, Ammi!” the attendant exclaimed as soon as she entered my mother’s room. Excitedly, she searched the expression on my mother’s face: Pleased.

I thought it must be a beauty cream, since she was really fond of cosmetics.

Ammi beaming with her smile, coaxed, “Take it out, bhaiee!”

“Yes, Ammi…my children gave this to me to give it to you.”

Rummaging through her rather big purse, she produced a neat bundle of buntings- with the green background and white chaand sitara.

“Oh, the Fourteenth of August buntings?” I sneered with contempt.

“Yes,” Ruby said with pride as she handed another special object- a badge of Pakistani flag.

“But we are adults now…”

“Yes, children are children…they are innocent.”

Flustered, I tried to reason in my mind that the above mentioned buntings will not adorn our house tomorrow, the Fourteenth of August.

“Acha, you can decorate Ammi’s room with these. What will  the neighbours say? She has just been discharged from the hospital – after three major surgeries…we are NOT celebrating.”

As soon as I had uttered the words, I realized how devoid of feeling my demeanor was. Exiting my mother’s room in a fit of anger, I had one word in my mind: Celebrate?

What does Ruby know- she’s just a Christian!

I wonder now after ten days, had I celebrated the birth of Pakistan, a predominately Muslim country, would it have done any harm? Feelings of embarrassment shroud my head and heart with the sentence, “what does Ruby know- she’s just a Christian.”

“Tales of Horror”

As I eagerly lifted the lid of the steaming pot; I discovered that yogurt had been introduced in it. My Chinese style drumstick gravy had lumps of white swimming in it alongside numerous black semi circular structures- to my horror, it was the bagharr. I realized that Ammi had silently left the kitchen.

“Another Day”

Tears blurred her vision of the greasy and crumpled 100 rupee note that she held in her hand, as the white car sped away from the chowrangi.

Two weeks since the first incident of that greasy note, she stood again on the same site. It was another day.

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Chowrangi : an Urdu word meaning “crossroads”.