Words Zahra K.
Photograph Tasneem J. (tjphotography)
Foreword Zahabiyah H.
By qualification I am a Home-Science graduate with a specialization in Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics from Nirmala Niketan College of Home-Science, Mumbai. 6 years after I left college and 4 years after I got married, I found my niche in writing and went on to do a short course in Creative Writing from St. Xavier’s Institute of Communication, Mumbai. I am a happy home-maker, a student for life and a deep thinker. I have an emotional connection to food and so cooking for me is therapy. I am an ardent reader and a bibliophile. I love to dig in the little details of everything that catches my attention. I have an OCD for running things on schedule.
Currently, I am working from home as a content writer. I also write about various topics on my blog occasionally.
We live in large, varied communities as mumineen and though this can be a source of strength it can also be perilous. As young women we are asked so many invasive questions, frequently and then must shoulder the burdens of the judgemental responses. Confusion proceeds and doubt takes hold. How do you see straight through that, when our own community can generate the fog? Perhaps seeing through anothers eyes is necessary.
The second in our “Turbulence” series this month.
I had been sick for most days in the month of Ramazan last year. The seasonal changes, perpetual rains and something that pricked me mentally for months, was now showing its physical manifestations. I was fighting for more than a severe health problem. Late nights lying sick in my bed, I would cry like a baby looking at both Maula’s pictures hanging on my bedroom wall. While my husband and family were in masjid for bihori, all I could hear was the pitter-patter of the rain on my window and my grandfather’s old voice reciting munajaat.
Before Ramazan commenced I had applied for my Masters Program entrance exam in the best possible subject out of the few available. I had graduated in 2009 with a degree in Home Science. After I got married I couldn’t make much use of it professionally even though I had a lot of options. My family was supportive but there was something inside me which kept me from going out to take a full time job.
In the first year of my marriage they thought I may soon have a baby and hence it’s ok if I don’t work. As time passed, there was no baby and no profession and I was bombed with questions like, “tame su karo cho?” everywhere I met people I knew. If I replied, “Nothing, gharej chu bass” or “just enjoying, and doing a bit of this and a bit of that” I was either looked upon with pity or indifference. It didn’t affect me initially, but in the fullness of time it started to percolate.
It was 3 years now since I was at home, and doing nothing, according to people around. So I enrolled myself for the entrance exam and thought, if I do this they’ll all shut up and it’ll add a feather to my cap; if I get lucky I’ll have a baby even before it ends.
It was the 29th of Ramazan marking an end of the many bethaks happening in Mumbai during the month. I had recovered considerably and the entrance exam was scheduled that day. Some things just happen. Or maybe they are meant to happen that way
I came home at 3:00PM after the exam and was told that I have to take my grandparents for qadambosi and drop them till Saifi masjid gate. It was raining heavily and I was feeling strange after the exam. I knew in the deepest corner of my heart that I had done extremely well, and the thought scared me. It would mean, going through 2 years of college more and then well… a job out of the house if I was still without a child.
I reached the masjid gate at 6:00 PM left them there, and started walking out of the street. But as luck would have it a guard opened the main glass door and told me to go in. Before I could comprehend I was inside Saifi Masjid and was given a sticker upon entrance. It was my token for Qadambosi. I had no money for najwa shukur, my rida was damp due to the rain and I was at my messiest self, physically and mentally. I was so vulnerable in that moment I could cry at the drop of a hat. I was in front of my Maula whose picture on my wall was my source of strength.
When my turn came and I walked towards Maula I was only filled with immense shukur, all the other worldly thoughts vanished into thin air. I did Salam and with joined hands expressed out loud, “Joilto fidaaka ya maula.”
We all know it is just a matter of seconds and you have to move out quickly. But today, was my day. What happened then changed my life forever.
Maula TUS looked at me with that meethi nazar and those scanning eyes and asked me the question I had heard a 1000 times from the world. As I heard it from him right now it seemed like he was forever lifting up a weight from my head,
“Tame su karo cho?” Maula asked.
Tears rolled down my face and I was choked for an answer.
Maula TUS asked a bhai saab standing there, “aa, ben ne saglu pucho”
But I managed a squeaky reply, “Maula Msc Food Processing & Preservation ni entrance exam aapi aajej aapni raza si” with joined hands; this was all I could think of in that moment.
Maula had a look of worry, “Em… Food preservation..? Karvu che tamne?”
With a deep thought looking straight into my eyes Maula added “Busaheba ne jai ne milo”
Busaheba patiently listened to all I had to say and said, “Puchi ne kais, tamaru number likhavi do, and remove that frown from your face.” I was amused and felt so good being answered that way. I was supposed to get a call back from one bensaab regarding Busaheba’s answer. But that never happened. I waited for days but nothing. This didn’t make me anxious at all. I was patient; I knew this had a purpose too.
Maula gave me an identity by asking ‘tame su karo cho’ I didn’t have to worry about the world asking me the same anymore. I felt so brave now, it was strangely liberating. Maula tus provided me the answer to his own question soon after. Such is the shaan of awliyah kiraam.
I didn’t go to see my entrance exam result. I had no idea what to do, but I was sure about what I didn’t. A month later I found myself in one of the best colleges in Mumbai doing a course in creative writing. How I ended up here is a long story in itself. But believe me, it was Maula’s mojizo how people and options started showing up unexpectedly after that bethak. I knew I was being led by him in every step I took, every decision I made. Soon after I began the course, a plethora of opportunities had already started coming my way.
I was doing what I loved since I was a little girl. I had begun to hone my skill, writing every single day.
Today, I write fiction and creative nonfiction stories & essays on my blog and otherwise, I have a bucket list of books to read, I am a content writer and a completely satisfied happy home-maker. I may not be earning a substantial penny, but I am at peace with myself.
I am doing what I love the most -stay at home, Cook, Read and write! I attend sabaqs, do my adna part in Maula’s khidmat wherever and whenever I can, and I don’t have to miss miqaats due to a permanent job.
I always knew I didn’t have an aptitude to go out and work or earn like other women. I was just scared to say it, even let it surface to my conscious mind due to the pressure I felt from the world around. My Maula saved me from what I was going to do much against my own will. He gave me a purpose and an identity. He gave me peace in my deen and duniya offering me the best of both worlds due his ek nazar. Can I ask for more? Well… Jitnu shukur karu kam che! His meethi nazar and foresight has changed my life like it has of thousand others. I know my worth now, I know who I am.
Home Science gave me roots, Writing gave me wings. Addaai yanzoro benoorillah.