Habibati Sadeekun… (Beloved Friend)
The sky was dull and the clouds were dark. I knew there was a storm coming on. “30 second rule.. 30 second rule.. 30 second rule.”, I chanted, reminding myself to act mature and take the necessary precautions during the storm.
I thought of Mr. Hutsan, our high school science teacher and tried to remember his words, “If the time between a lightning flash and the resulting thunder is 30 seconds or less, in other words, 9.7 km or less, get to shelter immediately.”
“Come on Nemo! Hurry!! The lightning is so close! 2 seconds would be… Uh… Around 650 metres I think.”, I grabbed her arm and tried to speed walk to my house.
“Relax! Just calm down!”, Tasneem replied casually.
“Calm down?! Oh Ok… Good afternoon mam. I will be the waiter tonight. How would you like me to serve you to your parents? Medium rare or well done?”
Tasneem chuckled like I was crazy. It was like she had no idea how dangerous the situation really was. We were outside in the open, surrounded by tall street lights, electrical wiring and trees, plus we were still 5 minutes away from home. We were practically begging to be struck by lightning.
“Nusi you know you’re only making it worse right?”, she raised an eyebrow.
“What are you talking about? I’m saving your life because YOU’RE certainly not worried about it.”, I scolded. I was panicking for the both of us!
“Holding me only increases the chances…”, she looked pointedly at the way I was holding her arm.
“Ok miss smarty pants… Let’s see how you get us home safely since you are the reason we are out here right now. I told you we should’ve left earlier but you didn’t listen.”, I let go of her arm and huffed.
“Ok just breathe, and calm down! Follow me, we’ll be home in no time.”, Tasneem told me as we continued walking, trying to stay away from being near the trees. I tried keeping a small distance between us so that if one of us got struck, the other wouldn’t get struck too. Tasneem looked at me trailing along behind her and just shook her head and threw her hands up in the air as if to say she gives up on me.
It wasn’t easy to keep calm at all with the strong howling wind gushing in our faces making it hard to breathe, and the lightning bolts that looked so dramatically close by. Not to mention the sharp loud crack of thunder that turned into long low rumbles. It literally made my hairs stand, which frightened me even more upon remembering Mr.Hutsan’s words, “If lightning is about to strike you or strike near you, your hair may stand or you may feel a tingling in your skin. If you detect any of these signals, assume the lightning crouch immediately.”
Feeling tingling in my tummy as if it were knotting, I didn’t want to take a chance. I squat down with my feet together, tucked my head to my chest and between my knees and covered my ears with my hands, keeping my arms close to my body, just like how we had practiced in school. I can still recall Mr.Hutsan’s warning, “Do not lie flat on the ground, because this gives the lightning a larger target. The lightning crouch is a difficult position to hold and it doesn’t guarantee your safety, but it makes it easier for a lightning strike to flow over your body rather than through vital organs, so you may be able to sustain a smaller injury from it.”
“Nusaybah! What are you doing?! You’re in the middle of the road! Get up! A car could knock you!”, Tasneem yelled through the wind when she looked back and didn’t see me following her.
“Yeah! If the lightning doesn’t kill me first!”, I yelled back, my head still between my knees. She pushed her way back through the strong winds to get back to where I was. “Tas, Sit like this! Mr.Hutsan said it increases your chances of survival!”, I told her. “Nusi get up!”, she tried pulling me. “I don’t want to die Nemo.”, I looked at her with fear and desperation in my eyes. I don’t think I had ever been more scared in my life.
Tasneem squat down next to me in order to give me some sort of support. “You know… I know a better way than Mr.Hutsan’s lightning crouch.”, she spoke with her head between her legs. “Yeah? What is it?”
“Well… Instead of fearing the thunder and lightening, find comfort in the One who is The Creator of that thunder. There’s a Hadith in Tirmihdi, where there is a Dua that Our beloved Prophet (S.A.W) used to recite when he heard thunder.”
That’s what I loved about Tasneem. She knew exactly how to make me look beyond the problems of this world, making me see things from a divinely perspective in a way that is so comforting. “You want to repeat it after me?”, she asked me.
She has this motherly thing about her that makes you feel better almost immediately. I guess that was one of the qualities that made her such an excellent teacher. All the kids loved her.
اللهم لا تَقْتُلْنا بِغَضَبِك وَلا تُهْلِكْنا بِعدابِك وعافِنا قَبْلَ دلِك
Allahumma la taqtulna bi ghadhabik wa la tuhlikna bi ‘adhabik, wa ‘afina qabla dhalik
She made me repeat after her like she does with her madressah children. “And do you know what it means?”, she asked, I shook my head. “It means, O Allah! do not kill us through your anger, and do not destroy us through your punishment. Save us before your punishment.” she translated, making me feel so much better.
“So shall we go now?”, she asked me. I agreed and got up, following Tasneem as we made our way to my house. I made a silent Dua for her as we silently walked in a hurry, and I thanked Allah for blessing me with such a wonderful friend.
As soon as we got inside, I let out a HUGE sigh of relief. “Alhumdulilah!”, Tasneem said, reminding me to thank Allah for bringing us home safely. Mum came towards us waving the phone in her hand, “Why haven’t you answered your phone?! I’ve been going crazy here worrying if you girls were alright!”
“Woah Mum! You know lightning can travel through phone lines right? You’re carrying a potentially dangerous weapon right now.”, I said, slowly backing away from her. Mum looked at the phone and then quickly put it back on the hatch on the wall. “There’s no use of you having a phone if we can’t ever reach you on it!”, Mum was ticked off.
“I’m sorry Mum. My battery was dead and we were more worried about getting home safely.”, I told her apologetically.
“If you came home when you said you would, you wouldn’t have had to run through the storm.”, Mum scolded.
“Maaf Aunty Hasina. Actually, it was my fault. I held her up without realising that it was about to…”, A loud crack of thunder interrupted Tasneem and distracted Mum.
“Girls quick! Help me pull out all the plugs. I was so stressed about you’ll, I didn’t get to do it beforehand.”, Mum ordered.
“No Mum! It’s too late now. You could kill yourself. The thunder is already cracking less than a second after the lightning flashes, which means it must be very close. Just leave it now.”, I told her. She looked at me like I was out of my mind, but she listened to me.
Tasneem and I ran upstairs with a packet of chips and some juice to wait until the storm was over. I pulled my bed away from the concrete wall and plopped myself on it. Tasneem joined me. We stayed away from the windows, but watched from afar how the rain began pouring down. “With all the drought going on, this rain was much needed. Alhumdulilah”, Tasneem said.
I looked at Tasneem and smiled as if we were both thinking the same thing at the same time. We began reading the Dua when it’s raining like how Tasneem’s class children read it- loud and dragged along in a monotone.
اَللهُم إني أسْألُكَ خيرَها وَخَيْرَ ما فِيها وَخيرَ ما أُرْسِلَتْ به، وَأعُودُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرها وَشر ما فيها وشر ما أُرْسِلَتْ به
Allahumma inni as-aluka khairaha wa khaira ma fiha wa khaira ma ursilat bihi, wa a’uzhubika min sharriha wa sharri ma fiha wa sharri ma ursilat bihi
“And what does it mean?”, Tasneem asked as if she were in class.
“O Allah! I beseech thee for the good of it, the good in it, the good that it brings, and I seek refuge in you from its evil, the evil that’s in it and the evil that comes with it.”, we both said in sync, dragging each word out. Laughter just overcome us as we sat there, thinking about those cutie pies.
“You know Nusi… It’s related in Adu Dawud that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: ‘Two will not be rejected, Supplication when the Adhan (call of prayer) is being called, and at the time of the rain’. So why not take advantage and ask Allah for one GOOD looking husband?” She asked, crunching on a chip and trying not to laugh. She was purposefully teasing me about the latest suitor that landed on my doorstep. The guy had this gigantic mole on his nose and he had no manners whatsoever. He even did the worst thing a guy could ever do when trying to impress someone, he SCRATCHED! Yes… Down there. It was disgusting. Me pretending to be squint in order to scare him off didn’t put him off at all, in fact, it only made things worse.
“Gosh Nemo! I can’t believe my parents even entertained those people. But anyway… On a serious note, I do wish to have a husband who is nice looking, but not TOO nice. The last time I had a good looking guy in my life, he ended up in another girls house.”, I told her honestly.
“Hmm…”, I felt a little pinch on my heart for a second when she said his name.
“You never really told me why you two split.” Tasneem said, hinting for me to fill her in.
“I’d rather not talk about it. You tell me what you are going to make Dua for.”, I tried diverting her attention.
“For you to tell me your story. Please please PLEASSSEEEE!”, she pleaded, obviously not changing her mind about wanting to know. I raised an eyebrow to question her childish behaviour.
“Oh cum’on Nusi, please?! It’s raining, the most perfect weather for storytelling. Pleeeeease?!”
That was Tasneem’s one flaw, she wanted to know EVERYTHING! I put up with it because I loved her for all the other qualities she possessed.
“Ok fine!”, I looked at her while she wiggled her butt to get comfy. I had to bring back memories that I wished I had forgotten, but perhaps sharing it with someone would make it easier to get over.
I had been so hurt about Sayfullah not telling me the truth about his life, that it was taking me quite some time to convince myself that it was ok and that he was a changed man. Many times I thought of giving him a chance to explain, but the thought of him being with another woman made me sick to the core.
One day, Dad came to me with a weird look on his face as if he was sorry about something. “Sweetheart… I need to talk to you.”, he said. “Sure…”, I told him, confused as to what was going on.
“What is it Daddy?”, I looked at him, searching for answers.
“Nusaybah, Nazeem just phoned me.”, he replied, looking down at me like he was trying to put his words in order before saying his next sentence. He sat down next to me, “It’s about Sayfullah.”
My heart started racing. The thought that he could’ve hurt himself because of me, crossed my mind, making me immediately regret not letting him talk to me so that he could tell me his side of the story. What if my stubbornness costed him his life?! I looked at Dad, desperately hoping that it wasn’t what I thought it was.
“Nusaybah he was telling the truth. He was innocent. Nazeem even had his story checked out.”, he told me. He went on the explain how uncle Nazeem was sent a video from an anonymous source and how Sayfullah really didn’t know about anything until a few days before he came for the proposal.
My heart sank.
I couldn’t believe I didn’t believe him. How was he ever going to forgive me?!
When Dad was done, he told me that he would give me some time to think about things and assured me that whatever I wanted was ok with him.
I needed to speak to Sayf. I grabbed my phone. “Shit, shit, shit!”, I mumbled as i scrambled to look for the charger. My battery was dead and it took forever to start up again!
As soon as it had some life, I opened Sayf’s chat tab to type out a message to him, to let him know how sorry I was. As I typed out the message in a hurry and pressed send, waiting for the tick to pop up to show that the message was delivered, the network kicked in and I received a whole lot of messages from him all at once.
I scrolled up to see what he had to say. I went numb as I read further.
Sayf: I’m not going to put up with this anymore. If you hide from our problems now, how will you manage bigger problems after marriage?
Sayf: I thought I was the only one who is wrong. I beat myself up about it everyday but one day, after talking to someone I realised that I’m not only to blame.
He sent me a few screen grabs of a chat he had with ‘APA Fatima’, where she says she thinks he was making a mistake by wanting to marry me. He sent me their whole conversation and then sent a final message.
Sayf: I can’t change the past but I have changed as a person. But you still need to change if this is ever going to work out. Because I can’t keep begging you to forgive me every time there is a bump on the road.
When I was done reading his messages, I was angrier than I’ve ever been! How dare he?! And how dare she?!
I got a new message from him saying that he was glad that I came to my senses and asked when we could go ahead with the wedding plans. Little did he know what was coming his way next!
Me: scratch that last message I sent you. It was a mistake. I sent it before I read your loving conversation with ‘APA Fatima’.
Me: Who the hell does she think she is?! If she’s an apa, she should know that sticking her nose in other people’s business is wrong, leave alone chatting to non-mahrams!
Sayf: She was just trying to help.
Me: Don’t you dare defend her! In your whole chat with her, you didn’t defend me not even once against her. Even when she told you that marrying me will be a mistake.
Sayf: I’m not defending her, but she has a point Saybah.
Me: Don’t EVER call me that again!
Sayf: Stop it now. Com’on, this isn’t necessary. Just a minute ago you were ready to forgive me and move on and now you’re fighting with me all over again.
Me: Yeah, before I found out that every time we have a problem, you’ll go running to your APA Fatima.
Sayf: I just wanted to find out from someone neutral what they thought about it. I wanted to know if I was being unreasonable.
Me: So you went to her?! By the way this apa chats, it doesn’t even seem like she is elderly. So who is this? Your apa’s daughter? Or her granddaughter? Huh?!
Sayf: Ok… I’m sorry Nusaybah. It won’t happen again, please forgive me. Let’s forget about everything now.
I demanded to speak to this apa of his so that I could have my say. He said he had deleted her but I didn’t buy it. I knew he was just trying to shield her from my lashing. I threatened that if he didn’t let me speak to her, I would have his mother tell me who she is.
He finally broke.
Sayf: You know what Nusaybah. I want you to know that I really have changed. I don’t want to start our marriage off with a lie. So I’m going to come clean with you.
Sayf: Apa Fatima isn’t really an Apa. It was just a friend on my contact list. I changed the name and sent it to you because I thought you’d respect it if it came from someone of islamic authority of some sort.
Me: WHO – IS – SHE?
Sayf: That’s not important. The point is that I came clean, I apologised and I’m willing to move on if you are.
After demanding several times to know who she was, Sayfullah finally gave in.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe for a while.
Me: Naseerah??? You told me she deleted you after you told her about me.
Sayf: She did… But then she reinvited after she heard what happened. She just wanted to find out if I was ok.
Me: Are you that blind?! Can’t you see how desperate she is for you?! I want to speak to her.
Sayf: Stop it Nusaybah, she was just concerned. Let’s just leave her out of this.
Me: I swear, if you defend her one more time…
Sayf: I’m not! I just want to move on… With you!
Me: I want her number… NOW!
Sayf: Nusaybah drop it.
Me: I’m not going to ask again.
Sayf: Nusaybah stop being so stubborn. She didn’t do anything wrong.
Me: That’s it! If that witch is so perfect then go and marry her! I’m sick of you! I don’t want to be your wife if I come after all the other women in your life, including that prostitute you spent the night with!
Sayf: You know what… I think I’ll just do that. After all, she does have all the qualities I want in a woman, and she is beautiful too. You on the other hand are not worth any man’s time and I’ve certainly wasted too much of my life on you. You’re full of shit and you’re ungrateful and always wanting to be the man. Good luck finding a man who’s willing to be your wife! My patience has certainly run out.
**End Of Flashback**
“And with that, I blocked him and that was it. The end for us.”, I told Tasneem.
“So howcome you still wear his bracelet?”, she asked curiously. “I guess I use it as motivation to find the perfect husband. I told myself that the day I do, I will have my rich, good looking, amazing husband take it off my hand in front of him and throw it at his face.”, I joked.
Another sharp thunder crack startled us both, snapping us out of story mode. “That was the loudest one yet.”, Tasneem said. “Aha, and the rain doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon either. I guess you’re sleeping here tonight.”, I excitedly told her.
She looked at the window, and whispered a little Dua under her breath.
اللهم صَيبًا نافِعا
Allahumma sayyiban nafi’a
O Allah! let it be a beneficial downpour.
(Sahih Bukhari, hadith: 1032)
I looked down at my bracelet and made a silent Dua to Allah to bless me with an understanding and loving husband who is close to Allah. I know in my heart that I too was to blame for what happened with Sayfullah and that’s why I try spending my time being a better practicing Muslim. I feel like if I find my way to Allah and continue practicing, I will find a companion of a similar character.
Truth is, this bracelet taunts me. It reminds me of Sayfullah cursing me from ever finding a good husband. I keep it to remind me to never give my heart away so easily ever again. I hope to someday take it off when I find the man I wish to give my heart to fully and completely… After marriage In-Sha-Allah.
>>>Letting go of the past, repenting and moving on. I guess Nusaybah is still on the last stage… But she’s getting there.
“It is God Who sends the Winds, and they raise the Clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments, until you see rain-drops issue from the midst thereof: then when He has made them reach such of his servants as He wills, behold, they do rejoice!” (Surat ar-Room, 48)
Let’s continue the sunnah of the Messenger (S.A.W) and try and learn these Duas for rain and thunder In-Sha-Allah
WatCh This SpacE For MorE<<<