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Sometimes people wrong us in such despicable ways. Sometimes we are the ones who wrong people. Sometimes we are oppressed, we are discriminated and mistreated. Sometimes we are the ones carrying the baggage of harming others. Sometimes we lose everything at once, sometimes it is so hard, it is difficult to move on. Sometimes is sometimes our always; each one of us desperately trying to understand why things go the way they do. How villains are still walking free while some really good souls are the ones to be diagnosed with cancer. How very evil, ungrateful, arrogant people could be the ones enjoying luxurious lives while a very hardworking person suddenly loses his hand which he desperately needs for his manual labour. It doesn’t make sense! It never does! How is it a very poor child loses their mother who was the only family they knew while an already rich boy wins a car he doesn’t even need…How is it that one prays for a child for ten years yet when they finally get one, the wife dies at delivery??…and sometimes we just want to ask God, ‘Why though?’


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Only God knows…
Sometimes we realize how lucky we are for not getting what we cried for and sometimes we never get the answers. And sometimes it is as it is. We can never know. Difficult things happen. We lose and sometimes we gain. Sometimes people hurt us, they betray us, they take our differences to another level it shouldn’t ever reach, they forget all the good and tough situations you went through together. Sometimes they realize they wronged us and apologize and sometimes they die believing what they did was right. That is the human being. He is insan. He forgets and he errs.

But we should always believe that there is a bigger picture. That as much as we don’t understand what is going on in our lives or why it is going the way it is, we should have undoubted faith that God knows what’s best for us. And this is actual test of faith; believing when it is hardest to do so.

We have proof in the qur’an that there’s always something more to our painful and even happy stories. There is always something extra that our eyes will not simply see and our minds won’t easily fathom.

In Surat Kahf, in the story of Nabii Musa aleyhi salaam when he was told to search for a servant of Allah who had more knowledge than him, we get to learn something very valuable. During their journey; Nabii Musa and his teacher, Al Khidhr, three occasions happen which agitated Nabii Musa aleyhi Salam:

71. So they both proceeded, till, when they embarked the ship, he (Khidr) scuttled it. Musa (Moses) said: “Have you scuttled it in order to drown its people? Verily, you have committed a thing “Imra” (a Munkar – evil, bad, dreadful thing).”

72. He (Khidr) said: “Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?”

73. [Musa (Moses)] said: “Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you).”

74. Then they both proceeded, till they met a boy, he (Khidr) killed him. Musa (Moses) said: “Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have committed a thing “Nukra” (a great Munkar – prohibited, evil, dreadful thing)!”

75. (Khidr) said: “Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?”

76. [Musa (Moses)] said: “If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.”

77. Then they both proceeded, till, when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them. Then they found therein a wall about to collapse and he (Khidr) set it up straight. [Musa (Moses)] said: If you had wished, surely, you could have taken wages for it!”

78. (Khidr) said: “This is the parting between me and you, I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to hold patience.

79. “As for the ship, it belonged to Masakin (poor people) working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective damage in it, as there was a king after them who seized every ship by force.

80. “And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief.

81. “So we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in righteousness and near to mercy.

82. “And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not hold patience.”


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If we were to witness these same occasions ourselves, wouldn’t we just react according to what is visible to the eye, as Nabii Musa did? If your boat was the one destroyed or your boy killed, how long would it take any of us to actually think that perhaps there is something greater, something bigger beyond what the mind comprehends? Were we the ones to be denied food, would we even want to smile at those people let alone build a random wall somewhere? If you just lost all your property in a fire and someone told you, ‘Perhaps it is kheir’ you would perhaps glare at them like they are the ones who set your property on fire. When misfortunes befall us we cry ‘Why God?’ yet we don’t know how much good Allah is doing to us by that same terrible incident. We tend to only look at what is in front of us. But Allah is the Most Merciful and there are a lot of instances where we should thank Allah for despite how ugly the situation is. And indeed, this story is the perfect proof that we don’t know everything. That however powerful, mighty, rich or knowledgeable we are, there are just some things we would never be able to explain or understand. That as much as we make plans, Allah has already written in detail how our lives are going to be. That we should always ask God to direct us to only what is kheir for us.

We may not have the answers but we need to trust Allah’s wisdom and choices for us. May Allah grant us the patience and guide us always. Ameen.

We plan and Allah plans, and He is the Best of planners.

P.S Humble Reminder: Do read surat Kahf if you haven’t. It still is Friday ūüôā


‚ÄúDo the¬† people¬† think¬† that¬† they¬† will¬† be¬† left¬† to¬† say:¬† We¬† believe,¬†¬† and they will not be tried?¬† But We have¬† certainly¬† tried those¬† before¬† them, and¬† Allah¬† will¬† surely¬† make¬† evident¬†¬† those¬† who¬† are¬† truthful,¬†¬† and¬† He will¬† surely¬† make¬† evident¬†¬† the¬† liars.‚Ä̬† (Qur’an, Surah Al-Ankabut, 29: 2-3)

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Since our childhood we’ve been told, taught and re-told about qadar (fate & destiny). We chorused it as one of the six pillars of Imaan (faith). We always say it proudly that we believe in what God has written for us. But how true is that? How much do you believe in the light at the end of the tunnel?

The true test of Faith is not when you win, not when things go as you wish, not when you are happy with your results. The true test is when you have worked extra hard yet still fail, when you have lost your beloved one, when your duas remain unanswered, when you don’t get a husband or when you get a divorce. It is these moments that you should question yourself; how much do I believe in what Allah had written for me?

When going through a hard time, it is so difficult to think straight. There is so much despair, pain and frustration. But do you take time to question yourself that perhaps this is really the best for me? That perhaps something good is to come from this? That perhaps Allah is protecting me from something more harmful?

I once asked a friend who was competing in an international project whether he believes there could be any good in him losing. The competition was that the winner would win 10 million dollars to do a huge youth project (that they had proposed) in their home land. He was short-listed and that was when I asked ‘do you believe there could be any good?’ But of course anyone would think, what could be good in losing 10 million dollars?! I mean, all that money could do wonders. But have you ever thought of it this way?

You get 10 million dollars. The first thing anyone does is throw a party. It’s time to celebrate. It’s time to hang out with friends. It’s time to party. It could also be the time for extravagance. The time for arrogance. The time to totally ignore your parents. The time to break all your principles. The time to do fasad. You think you can control money demons? Well, truth is, money always had a way of controlling man. This is why Allah S.W clearly stated it in the qur’an; that wealth is fitnah. Haven’t we seen very humble people become so arrogant because of wealth? Haven’t we seen how people change?

My friend never won. His project was so inspiring and amazing I was almost sure he would win yet he didn’t. Then I said, “perhaps this wasn’t kheir for you. Perhaps you would have changed and we wouldn’t be able to recognize you again…”

You will be disappointed of course. Everyone does. But how quickly do you recover from it?

One of things I really push myself to do is see things beyond. Take a different view point. When someone you love is very ill; the kind of ‘very ill’ that there is barely any hope in them you cry to Allah to give them shifaa right? You give out sadaqa, you do all you can to make them feel well but then Allah still takes them away. You cry again; you cry your heart out. ‘Why didn’t Allah answer my prayers?’ But have you ever thought of how much more this person would have suffered had they lived more? When my late aunt; mama two (for those who have read her story here) passed away her leg had been cut three times. She was diabetic. Sometimes I really feel nostalgic. I look at my nephew and wish she could be here to be an amazing grandma. But then I also imagine how life would have been for her in crutches. How spending her 50’s in all that struggle and pain would be for her. Then I say alhamdulilah. Allah knew she deserved to rest. Allah knew this life would no longer serve her much good. So yes, even in death, perhaps there is so much mercy that we never look at.

Many times people pray istikhara to ask Allah for what is best. But the problem is, you ask Allah yet you already have an opinion. You already want to travel. You have made a choice already, then how will you see Allah’s answer when you are already blinded by what you want? You pray to ask Allah if the job is kheir for you, when your prayer turns out negative, you still put your opinion that ‘perhaps I haven’t prayed well. Maybe I should just try.’ And many of us have become victims of claiming ‘I believe in qadar’ yet we think we are so smart to take onto life by ourselves.

You pray istikhara to ask about a spouse, it turns out negative but because the person seems good, family members start giving you a list of reasons of why you should agree. Hallo? Where is your imaan in qadar? Where is your belief that what is meant to be will be even if all humans are against it? Where is your faith that what isn’t meant to be will not happen even if the entire mankind gang up to support it? Trust me, when the right person comes, everything will work out miraculously. There will be no doubt. There will be no obstacles. There will only be Allah’s mercy and everything will flow as it should be…same thing with jobs, children and everything else we want in life.

So here you are, you get a wonderful job offer, you send your CV, you are so excited to start your new job then suddenly…they decline. They just change their mind. And you are left there, shocked and perhaps angry. You get another job which pays much less than what you would have received before. You wonder why. You start questioning why. God why?! Then this same job that pays you less brings out the best of your abilities and you prosper such that you keep climbing up the ladder. At that time, you don’t even remember to thank Allah that He brought you here and not there. You think it is your hard work. Yet it is Allah’s great plan to bring you to greatness.

Perhaps the best thing for you to do is ask Allah for what is kheir for you. Ask for success that is kheir. A job that is kheir. A spouse that is kheir. To grant you children that are kheir. To grant you wealth that is kheir…don’t rush to ask for things. Ask Allah from His own knowledge to grant you only what is best for you.

And when your duas are not answered you have to believe that this was simply not kheir for you. When you keep having miscarriages, when you are getting old with no husband, when you never get a well paying job…just think of all the bad possibilities that could have happened if you indeed got what you asked for. Think like a public relations manager. These people’s jobs is to think of the worst of scenarios before thinking of how they will deal with the situation. So you too, think about it.

If I had children…perhaps they would grow up to be very cruel children that would cause me nothing but pain.

If I had a good job…perhaps I would be too busy to be with my family anymore.

If I had a spouse…perhaps I wouldn’t be strong enough to deal with the challenges of marriage

And when people start questioning your calmness in dealing with your problems; when they ask you why you are not yet getting married, why you haven’t conceived yet, why you haven’t bought the house you wanted to…tell them; I am just going by the flow that which Allah has written for me. And what He has written for me is the best for me. So I will keep believing in His plan until the day He knows is the right time for my plan to come true.

Remember, all these obstacles you meet on your way to your destination are but reasons to drive you away to something better; something that Allah had written for you.

So whenever you are having a bad day, whenever things seem to be going haywire, whenever you feel in despair, ask yourself: how much do I believe in qadar?

 

How much do you believe in Allah’s best and great plan for you??

 

Hold on right there ūüėä

Photo Courtesy : Salem_Beliegraphy

 

“You are still poor. Why did you come back now? Today precisely?! Just when I was leaving to UK?! Do you know what it meant to me? That scholarship?!” He snapped.

“Please forgive me my son. I came back so that I can see you, see how you’ve grown and…apologize to both you and your mum. I have countable days remaining…”

Rashid staggered out of the hut. His mum was standing there, her forehead formed lines and her eyes were squinted. She was nervously playing with her hands as if it was her judgement day. Rashid looked at her for a while before pulling a stool from the side of the hut and made his mum sit down. There was a moment of dead silence. Then he started;

“How…” he looked at her in the eyes, “how did you survive after he left?”

She sighed loudly.

“Mwanangu (my son)…You know what they say? That when you truly love someone you let them go. You let them be happy…but it’s a lie. It means making a tough choice; a selfish one. It’s either they remain happy and you don’t, or you stay happy and they don’t. It’s a sacrifice no one wants to make especially when another woman is involved…and letting him go cost us our happiness. ..” Darkness had filled the compound and all that could be heard were random voices here and there from the neighbours. Rashid could see the tears forming in his mother’s eyes. He held her hand tightly and nodded at her to go on.

“For many years after your father left, I neglected my entire life. I neglected myself. I neglected you…I neglected you Rashid. I gave up on life. I was like a dead woman walking. Like a miserable zombie. I never worked and we survived on the money that your father left behind but also that came to an end. We had rent arrears and debts from shops. We had to shift here. We were too poor, too messed up. You grew up like an orphan child yet you had your mother with you,” she rised her hand and touched his face.

Rashid swallowed a bitter lump of bile that was now on his lips. How could he forget all those days he would beg his mum to take him to school and those nights he would cry out of fear yet she would turn on her bed like she was suddenly deaf. He would push her body back and forth vigorously calling out ‘mama’…all in vain.

“Perhaps you don’t remember everything…but came the day when I carelessly left hot ashes outside the house without warning you and you stepped on them. I still remember your shriek. It was like a wake up call for me. It was a reminder that I had a son. That I had a gift from God. That I had something worth living my life for….”

“Everything changed after that incident,” she gave him a weak smile. “Your feet were horribly burnt and you couldn’t walk for almost one month. I decided to re-start again. It was not too late. It never is. I got a job in the market to help a friend sell her vegetables while she went on with her other businesses. I took you to school and we had a new life altogether. It wasn’t the best kind of life but it was the best I could offer. I worked as a tailor after that, then a house maid, then sold viazi karai (fried potatoes), mahamri and mbaazi. After that I worked as a mchoraji wa piko na henna (henna tattoing) and finally was able to get my own kibanda (small stall)….You know it all from there…”

Rashid leaned forward and hugged her quickly, picked up his bag before disappearing out of the compound without a word. He stopped by a palm tree and leaned on it to support his weak knees. His eyes were wet when he heard some footsteps coming towards him. He quickly rubbed his eyes with his arms and disappeared once again. He didn’t come back until the next day.

 

Rashid walked into their home compound just to see his mother in the arms of their neighbour mama Fatuma. They were vividly in tears. He fastened his steps as his breathe got heavy.  They both turned around, their eyes red and tired.

“Rashid!!” Mama Fatuma said loudly, her eyes suddenly popped out like she had just seen a ghost.

“Mama…what happened?!” He said as his heart beat furiously…”did something happen to…dad?”

Rashid’s mother rushed into his arms and cried on his broad chest.

“We thought…I thought…you are gone…You have never slept outside before and you took your bag with you.”

“Rashid! I am so relieved you are back! We thought you had gone after the bus to go to UK…the bus crashed last night,” mama Fatuma said.

Rashid swallowed a rather huge lump of saliva.

“The bus crashed?!”

“Yes…we heard it on the radio this morning. ¬†16 passengers passed away and the rest are all injured.”

“Whoa! That was a close shave!” He exclaimed as he stood still in his place; pertubed.

“Nyamaza kulia¬†sasa mama Rashid (Stop crying now mama Rashid)…haven’t you already seen your son? He is fine Alhamdulilah,” mama Fatuma said as she dabbed her eyes with her leso and blew her nose loudly.

” I was at a friend’s place mum. I just needed…”

“It’s okay…I’m just grateful to have you back. Oh Rashid how would I live without you?!”

Rashid patted her back and led her inside the hut. She needed some rest.

 

Four days after, Rashid’s father passed on. Rashid sat next to his silently weeping mother throughout the funeral. He didn’t cry. Not a single tear. At least not for someone whom he considered a stranger. But there was that irresistible heart ache that was banging on his chest. Whatever the case, the deceased was still his father. Whether he liked the fact or not, he had to deal with it.

Right after burying him, an old limping man came towards him. He was leaning on his bakora as he took small but rather quick steps. His head was entirely grey which immediately gave Rashid the instinct that he could be one of his father’s associates.

“Assalam aleikum. ¬†You must be Rashid right?”

Rashid looked at him in puzzlement before replying the greeting and saying yes.

“You have really grown my son mashallah…” he said as he gave him a broad smile.

“Pardon, I haven’t recognized you.”

“You can’t remember me. You were too young. Come, come my son. I have a message from your late father.” He led him into a more silent corner and they sat on large rocks. They were quiet for a moment, staring at the scattered bushes and green grass around.

“I couldn’t risk waiting any longer to talk to you. I am very old and my grave is calling me.” The old man smiled weakly. Rashid never said a word.

“My son, ¬†once upon a time I was your father’s lawyer. I was in charge of all his dealings and his wealth. Those days your father had started building his own empire and your mother had his back always…well, that was until when Salma, his second wife appeared in his life. I believe you know about her by now?”

Rashid nodded.

“I’ll just try to cut this story short. After Salma left with all his wealth, what she didn’t know is that he had an offshore secret bank account. There was no much money in it but it was enough to make him live comfortably for a few more months or perhaps a year. But he decided that that money should be kept for you as a gift from him.”

“Strange…Why didn’t he mention that to me when we talked?”

“Because he didn’t want you to think he is buying you back. He just needed you and your mother to forgive him.”

Rashid was silent.

“Here,” the old man handed him the parcel. “This is exactly 500,000 shillings and God knows I didn’t deduct or add a single penny on it.”

“500,000?!”

“Yes.”

Rashid’s mouth was agape. He had never touched even a quarter of that amount.

“But why? He died so poor…he sold all his property to survive. Why didn’t he use this?”

“Because he regretted what he did to the only woman who sacrificed her entire life for his sake and to you…his only son. He cleared all his debts before he died and doesn’t have much left remaining, just a few clothes, shoes and such…but I will surely come to your home and deliver what is rightfully for you and your mother.”

Rashid was speechless. He stared once again at the horizon then at the skies. Perhaps trying to understand what was happening to his life.

“Son, I have done what was upon me…goodbye” he patted Rashid’s shoulder and started walking away.

“Excuse me…what is your name uncle?”

“Ibrahim…” he smiled again then continued, “I was not just your father’s lawyer, ¬†he was my childhood friend and a brother to me. Perhaps you doubt this but your father…he was a kind man; a good man. He may have made his mistakes in his youth but he really loved you, and worried about you throughout.”

“Why didn’t he ever search for me then?”

“Because he was ashamed…I hope you find it in you to forgive him. Take care of yourself son. Meet you soon in shaa Allah. ”

 

Rashid watched the old man limp away. He looked at the parcel in his hand and sighed loudly.

“Oh God!” He thought to himself.

He recounted all the recent events in his life; mum’s phone call, his father, the lost scholarship, the bus crash, his father’s death and then this…He could have died in the bus crash. He wouldn’t have met his father. He wouldn’t have known the truth. He would have left his mother alone. He wouldn’t have gotten this fortune. He sighed again. His mother would be shocked about the money…but this would help them greatly. ¬†Perhaps start his own business, work while he pays his own college fees. It is better to stay around with his mother. He needed her more than anything. For once, he remembered to thank God for the cancelled trip to UK. For sure better things were yet to come.

“Truly fate is full of surprises. ..” Rashid said to himself as he walked back home. He had a lot to tell her.

 

 

 

 

Photo Courtesy: Salem_Beliegraphy

Rashid sat by the window as his fellow passengers continued boarding the bus. It was already getting dark and his mind was far off. The smile on his face was clear even with the dimness of the lights at the crowded bus stage. He was finally heading to fulfill his dream and it was only his introverted nature that made him to not scream out of excitement. A young boy of about twelve was roaming around the bus restlessly, his lips looked so dry and his kinky hair seemed to have not touched water in ages. He finally found his way to Rashid’s window and very sadly, he extended his hand. Rashid looked at the hand for a while; debating with himself. His mother had always discouraged him to give beggars money. ‘They are just manipulative conmen‘ she would say. If someone heard her rather dis likable comments about the beggars, you would think she is just an arrogant lady with wealth and thus doesn’t know what struggle is. Totally opposite to that, Rashid’s mother had raised him singlehandedly. She worked tirelessly to ensure Rashid had a comfortable life but to this stage where Rashid was now going to university, it sounded like a miracle. She would always tell him how ugly it is for a human being to beg while they have limbs to use and a brain that is functional. It all made sense to him but even as he looked at that small hand still stretched out to him, his heart gave him a pinch.
“Shikamoo…chakula…chakula” The small untidy boy repeated the statement thrice; staring directly at Rashid.
‘I’ll just do it for today, he thought…it’s my best day anyway’ He searched in his pockets and gave him his last coins. His smile had now broadened. He felt accomplished; satisfied. He had restored humanity.

The boy was now smiling too as he moved away from the bus towards the one at the back. Rashid went back to his day dreaming as his face beamed happiness. There were just a few more passengers remaining to board before the bus would leave to Nairobi. This seemed like an unrealistic dream. Once he arrives at Nairobi, he was going to get a plane to UK for a scholarship program. ‘UK? Unbelievable!!’ he remarked to himself. Just a few days before he had given up that he will ever get to university and here he was…‘It is cause of mummy’s prayers, i’m sure’. He smiled once again and he seemed so confident that nothing; absolutely NOTHING would spoil his night.

Suddenly there was chaos from the bus behind them and some men were cursing in Kiswahili. Everyone in the bus was now peeping from their windows as a crowd formed. “Mtoto mkorofi!” someone shouted as several other people asked, “what is going on?”
Rashid stuck his head out, peeping over people’s heads. A man came out from the crowd and Rashid quickly asked, “Kuna nini?”
“Some young boy here stole a passengers wallet after he refused to help him and insulted him on his bad behaviour of begging,” he answered in kiswahili.
“Did you see the boy who stole? How does he look like?” Rashid quickly asked.
“He was a begger; a bit short. Looked really untidy,” he said with disgust.
Rashid immediately knew that it was the same boy who had come to him. He bit his lower lip hardly as he felt a cocktail of emotions. First it was rage; ‘perhaps what mummy said was right. They are just thieves and conmen at the end of the day.’ Then came the pity and guilt; ‘perhaps if I gave him enough money to eat he wouldn’t have stolen.’

Another yell interrupted him. It seemed like he was the one who had just been robbed off his wallet.
“Sasa mimi nitasafiri vipi?!” Rashid clicked. Whom is he asking that? But in Mombasa you never miss the sympathizers. A few people came in and handed him some money to take him through his journey. ‘Ironic right? He was no any much different from the beggar boy now. They both needed help and both of them had gotten money from other people. They were now equals. He definitely has no right to talk about the beggar boy anymore. Perhaps if he had helped him, all this wouldn’t have happened.’ Rashid snapped loudly. The old man seated next to him looked at him strangely, maybe wondering what this young man could be so angry about.

His phone was beeping in his pocket. He took it and glanced at the name on the screen ‘mama’…‘She must be calling to ask whether I already left.’
“Yes mama?”
“Have you left already?”
“Not yet…but about to.”
“You have to come back.”
“What do you mean?” Rashid sat upright.
“You have to come back immediately. Your father needs you…he is on his dying bed.”
“Father…which father?!” His tone rose.
“Your father… I lied to you. He is not dead.”
“Mama…what do you mean?!”
“Just come back home son. Right away.”
The phone went off. His hands were shaking now. He waited for a moment on his seat; as if comprehending the whole conversation. He took out his passport and the ticket and stared at them for a while. His dream had just been shattered. By whom? By a father he had never met. He ran his fingers through the ticket once again and cursed in a whisper. The old man turned to look at him once again, only this time it was a glare. Rashid ignored him, pulled out his bag and alighted from the bus.

He walked slowly and his shoulders weighed down. All he could see now were the blurred lights of the streets. The more he walked. the more his steps became more of a stagger. He met a few more beggars seated by the road with empty plastic containers. He opened his bag and pulled out the appetizing dinner that his mother had made him for the journey. When she first gave them to him, he was too delighted. There were several samosas, kebabs and ‘mkate wa sinia’. She had packed so many of them with the claim ‘you will stay for so long without tasting these special delicacies by your mum so make sure to eat them all’. But now it didn’t matter anymore; he was going back home and will get to eat them forever. He approached the old ladies seated by the roadside with their children and gave them the lunch box. They were now all crowding towards him and for a moment, Rashid thought they would get into a fight out of excitement for the food. This time he did not feel accomplished or even satisfied. It felt no different than throwing away the food in the dustbin…

Right ahead of him was their home. His cheeks still round in a frown, he stared at their house like it was the first time he was seeing it. Time had witnessed a lot of struggle in that house. Time was the only living proof of the mud house that was about to fall down at it’s own weight. The house was nearly swept off by rain more than once. And while everyone stayed safe in their homes from the floods, he and his mum were not saved from it. They would sit by their tiny table and float like in a boat; busy fetching the mad water from the floor and pouring it of the house. Only God knows how they survived. Only God knows how they lived through hunger and poverty for days. Rashid sighed and moved towards the open door.

Upon entering the house, he saw a few familiar faces seated next to the bed. It was a bit crowded and could barely see the faces clearly. Their living room was also their bedroom and everything they ever had. Every night he would spread some two to three cotton blankets on the floor to avoid the hard touch of the stony floor. His mother would sleep on the bed; the only bed. His eyes narrowed as he recognized his two paternal aunts and three uncles. He hadn’t seen them since he was very young. It was almost that same time when his father disappeared and his mum had told him then that his father had gone to heaven.

“What is happening?” Rashid broke the silence. He dropped his bag and took the small diminishing candle that was lit near the door. He moved closer to the bed and raised it high to see the face of a very frail, old man lying on his mother’s bed.

“I asked what is happening. Who is this?” The silence was loud. “And where is my mother?”
“My son…” the old man started.
“Rashid!” His mother made a quick entrance into the room. She was carrying some herbs which she dropped on the table before pulling Rashid outside the house.
“Rashid..my dear son…I will explain everything. Please don’t be angry. Just listen to what he has to say.”
“Why now? Just when I was about to kick off my studies. When else will I get such an opportunity?!” He said slowly yet in a firm voice.
“And when else will you get a chance to meet your father? Your dying father? He just has a few days left. Please come in…” she pulled him back inside before he could say one more word.

At the bedside, Rashid sat next to his father. They were on the same bed yet so distant. Everyone else had gone out, leaving them alone. The candle lit in a feeble way as their shadows displayed on the old curtains. The old man stretched his hand and placed it slowly on Rashid’s hand. Rashid pulled back his hand without a word but the old man was not about to give up. He held his hand again; firmly this time. As firm as his weak shaky hands would allow him.
“My son…”he started.
“Don’t start it now. Stop ‘sonning’ me. I am only listening to you because mum asked me to.”
“I…you have every right to be angry at me. I have been a bad father. And a bad husband too…but life teaches us the greatest lessons…”he stopped to cough. It was a painful cough. More of a groan.
“When I married your mother, she was that kind of woman who sacrificed her entire world to create our own small world of me, you and her. But I betrayed her. I was still young and started getting rich. Money deceived me. I remarried and left your mother. But I was still so young my son. I was very young to know that money has it’s end too… My second wife empowered me to continue building my empire. I forgot all the sacrifices your mother made to get me there. It is only after I was filthy rich when my second wife did the same thing I did to your mother. She left me. But she didn’t just leave me; she left me penniless. She made me richer than ever so that she can have the entire kingdom to herself afterwards…” he breathed loudly and Rashid could almost feel how slow his heartbeat was.

He paused a bit to catch his breath.
“And where were you all this time after she left you? Didn’t you regret? Why didn’t you come back to us?” Rashid said in a bitter tone.
“Kwa uso gani?…how could I come back to your mother after all that I had done? After hurting her so badly?…how could I face you after you already knew I was dead?…I was poor once again and nothing to offer to you two.”
“You are still poor. Why did you come back now? Today precisely?! Just when I was leaving to UK?! Do you know what it meant to me? That scholarship?!” He snapped.
“Please forgive me my son. I came back so that I can see you, see how you’ve grown and…apologize to both you and your mum. I have countable days remaining…”