As narrated by Maaherah:
Days had turned into weeks, but the guilt that ate away at me refused to lessen. Because of me, a man was confined to a wheelchair.For life. I couldn’t even look Zubair in the eye anymore, even though all that he did was try to get me to snap out of it in the nicest of ways. I didn’t deserve him,not at all.
I thought that I had found what I needed when I partied that night, but it only left me even more unsettled than I was before. That unexplained feeling of emptiness that sunk into the most hollow pit inside your being, the missing piece of a lifetime puzzle..that feeling of true belonging and acceptance, that feeling of truth, that feeling of sweetness. That was missing in my life but I was too proud and stubborn to acknowledge it. It would make me like other people and I wasn’t ready for that.
But the more that I tried to stay away, my heart lunged ahead. My Creator had plans for me…
Zubair and I made small changes at first, but the insatiable hunger for all of it eventually led to an almost immediate lifestyle change. I had sinned so much, that now, I just wanted to do everything right.
“Remorse, regret, repentance is a form of acceptance”, a lady at Islamic classes told me, and it melted my heart. My Allah chose for me to come closer to Him, He gave me a chance and that made me feel so humbled, so grateful and I didn’t want to let Him down. I was alive, and being alive meant I had a chance to fix things…
The world could laugh at me, the world could judge me and I may as well have been the most downtrodden of the lot- but He had faith in me…and that was more than enough.
As narrated by Amreen:
Where do I begin? Like many other girls back on campus, I too had a crush on one of the most popular guys, but unlike most of them, I didn’t drop it when I could see that I meant nothing to him. Instead, I persisted. We had a few classes together and a similar circle of friends to a point, so when we went out a few times, it felt as though maybe something was there.
It was on those few times that I realised that he wasn’t interested in commitment or any kind of relationship. Nemo was like a bird who had been kept in a cage his entire life, and now, being in Joburg, someone opened that cage. Or well, atleast that’s what he behaved like.
I knew about Aara, but vaguely. She didn’t seem like a threat because most of the time , he barely acknowledged her.
Eventually, I couldn’t handle the rejection and I gave up. I left campus and wallowed in self pity and misery while the world carried on spinning.
Aadil was actually a breath of fresh air initially, because there was no expectation. I was so wrong. I should never have accepted his company, ever.
After Abu Bakr and Yusuf moved me to New Zealand, I learned that Aadil had shot Aara, and she was fighting for her life. This was only and entirely my fault. He targeted Nemo because of me, he targeted Aara because of me.
Why don’t we think about the possible consequences of our actions before we engage in them??? Life can be so simple if we just followed the rules!
But if there were no mistakes how would we learn? How would we appreciate? Would there ever be a lesson? Would we taste the goodness of true repentance?
I kept telling myself over the years that I was supposed to be dead. I wasn’t supposed to be alive. Other people paid for what I did and even though my therapist told me time and again, that this was a chain reaction and each of us had a small part in it, I knew otherwise. I had no hope from life but I had to live for my family. I owed them that much.
And so four years ago, while at the Rehab Center that was home to me,one of my therapists, Saeed, much to my shock, proposed to me. Despite everything that he knew about me…and a new chapter began.
Saeed was a classmate of Aara’s husband, and I didn’t know that until I bumped into an equally dumbstruck Maaherah a few months ago. She was shocked to see me and I was stunned to see her! Maaherah had changed so drastically that I didn’t even make her out!
Catching up with her over coffee, I got to know that Zoheb had passed away and that Aara was coming to New Zealand.
This was my chance, I had to meet her…
As narrated by Aara:
“And that’s how you’re here in my house today”, Amreen smiled, as she wiped away a tear.
I whispered, swallowing the lump in my throat and tried to speak but no words escaped me. Silent and almost invisible pieces of a puzzle I didn’t bother much about, was falling into place. Life really does leave one speechless sometimes…
“I wanted you to know that there was never anything between Naeem and me”, she continued…”It may have looked that way but it only did because that’s how I made it out to be for everyone to see…I guess I had hope that he too would eventually see me in the same way that I saw him”
That didn’t mean anything to me because Nemo had his own life and well he was already way past this.
“It doesn’t make a difference to me now but I have been carrying this burden with me for so many years…”, Amreen wept, “a lot could have been different, lots of things would never have happened and I am really really sorry for all the trouble that you had to face indirectly because of me..”
I shook my head and smiled..“It’s destiny..it’s the choices that we all make, Amreen if it weren’t for the choices we make there would be no story to tell”
Whatever she said after that, I could barely remember…because I was suddenly fueled by an explosion of courage after that philosophical one liner and I knew that today would have to be the day that Naasir Patel relented!
After promising to meet again, Maaherah, Hana and I left.
“Will you drop me off at Mr. Patel’s office please?”, I asked the driver
“Aara are you sure?”, Maaherah asked, her voice full of concern…”I will come with you”
“No it’s okay..I need to do this on my own”, I smiled, “you can go home with Hana ”
“Wait…you trust me with your daughter?”, she asked, wide eyed
“She’s also your brother’s daughter”, I said as I gave Hana another kiss
Her eyes spoke every single word that refused to leave her mouth and I knew that if Zoheb could see us now, he’d be smiling that dimpled smile at both of us.
With each step towards Patel Family Architecture’s emerald green skyscraper, I felt as though I was on that bridge again. I was no hero, I was no saint. I was the widow of a man who was a diamond in a world of pebbles. A man who only ever did everything to make me happy, to make me smile. An angel who held my hand and turned every sadness of mine into a rainbow of happiness, colouring every single corner of my world with his love.
It was as though Zoheb was sent just to give me hope, to restore my faith in myself, to love, to live…and he was called back. Looking at my empty hand which once held his, felt bittersweet. But this was life…and my angel was only human. It was my turn to fulfill his wishes even though he wasn’t here with me…
I closed my eyes in front of the large fountain that magnificently stood out in front of Mr. Patel’s building, not caring about who was watching…
“There’s this huge fountain in front of my dad’s office, you’ll love it! Actually it’s the only thing that I like about his office “, Zoheb grinned
I raised my eyebrow at him questioningly…
” I designed it”, he admitted
“Aha! so THAT’S why you like it!”, I laughed
“Of course”, he winked, “there’s an ulterior motive behind that though…behind the fountain is Mr. Angry Obnoxious Naasir Patel and in front of him, in total glory is Zoheb..flowing away on his own in happiness and freedom, taking away a big portion of Naasir’s public attention”
I punched him gently, chiding him for being so rude…
I reached out and dipped my hand into the cold water, relishing in the way which it sprayed onto my skin, gently “wiping” away the tears that escaped my eyes and I smiled…
Some things in life cannot be seen, they can only be felt. Like his legacy…which would always, always remain…
A belated Eid Mubarak to all of you who celebrated! Hope that it was awesome!