The next day, I woke up to my blaring alarm at 6 a.m. in the morning, feeling really tired. I really was dreading college, I was scared and nervous. But I could not just run away from my problems, I had to man up and face them. I took my time dressing up and eventually went downstairs for breakfast.
“Shurooq, have your toast and take this orange juice.” mom said handing me a glass of orange juice.
“Thanks mom.” I said whilst biting into a huge piece of the toast. It almost felt like I was getting chocked from the food, I just could not swallow.
“Are you nervous?’ Mom asked.
“Yeah I guess. I am.” I said gulping down the juice.
“You said last night that Allah saved you.”
“He did indeed.”
“Then He will help you today and every day. You only have to ask for His help.”
I grabbed my bag and headed towards the door but then I had this sudden urge to ask mom something I had been dreading to ask since a long time, “mom, I remember when I was kid I used to see you pray. Why did you stop?”
“Your father didn’t like me praying. He thought I was being very old-fashioned. I thought if I stopped praying he would start loving me. But it never happened.” sighed my mother.
“Mom, it’s no secret that your relationship with dad isn’t going well. Why don’t you just end it?”
“It’s not that easy! So many questions will be raised if we get a divorce now, after spending thirteen years of our lives together.” mom replied back
“People will always raise questions mom, but at the end of the day it is going to be you, you will live with dad, you will have to sacrifice everything. You already sacrificed so much.” I explained
“People wouldn’t like to get their sons married to a girl whose parents are divorced, you know how difficult it is to get a decent proposal?”
“Mom when the right time comes, and when Allah wills it, my marriage shall take place.” I shrugged
“Sometimes things get so tough, there are so many unanswered questions I wish someone could answer, I know Allah can help but…” mom sighed
“Then why don’t you start praying again?”
“I thought I was too sinful to stand in front of Allah again.” My mother said with averted eyes and a sad smile.
“I don’t think that’s true. I never prayed my entire life and He still helped me in my hour of need. I think you should start praying again mom.”
“I think I will, shall we pray Dhuhr together when you return?” mom said with a smile.
“You will have to teach me to.” I said smiling back.
After a 10 minute drive I finally reached my college. My heart was beating so loud and fast I could almost hear it. I remembered I had to meet Sara in the girls’ common room. The morning classes went off more peacefully than I could have imagined. Shahid did not come and I gave a sigh of relief.
I went to the common room at 1:30 and waited for Sara to come.
I reminisced the past, a time when Sara and I were good friends. Though it was for a very brief period, we did get pretty close. She even shared her deepest secrets with me and so did I. I remembered the day vividly when Sara told me her deepest secret. She had looked pretty upset and down, I had asked her what was wrong. She hugged me and told about how her sister attempted suicide by cutting her wrists. She informed me that she was in the ICU owing to excessive loss of blood. Doctors had warned them that due to excessive loss of blood, there was a less chance of her survival. When I enquired about the reason behind her sisters suicidal attempt she told that she had no idea. There was no note and she never seemed sad. After 2-3 days she passed away and the real reason could never be found out. Everyone was informed that she had an accident. Nobody knew it except me. Sara pleaded me not to tell anyone about it, ever. I shut my mouth on this topic forever. Strange how people in such a small amount of time become so distant.
My thoughts were interrupted when Sara entered the room;
“Hurry up! What is it?” She said keeping her bag down on the bench beside me.
“I want to ask you the reason why as to we’re not friends anymore?” I asked.
“I already told you, we don’t have the same principles. That is the reason why…” Sara shrugged.
“You also told me to stop acting because apparently everybody knows my ‘true self.’ Where did that mean?” I asked her with an emphasis on true self.
“Well, excuse me. Had you informed me earlier, I would have come prepared for this fight.” she smirked.
“No I’m just curious.” I said defending myself.
“We always thought you’re a great friend, until we came to know from people that you started spreading our secrets to people, especially to the boys.” she said furiously.
“What kind of secrets?” I asked, completely bewildered.
“You told everyone about my sister’s suicide. That was something huge and I trusted you with it.”
“I swear, I didn’t do anything like this. I swear.” I protested.
“Oh really, then why did Shahid come to me and offer his condolences for my sister’s suicide and as I quote told me “when Shurooq told I couldn’t believe it. It must be tough on you and your parents’ Sara asked
“I have no idea. I didn’t tell Shahid anything about you or anyone else.” I replied
“Anyways Shurooq it’s too late now. I don’t care if you’re speaking the truth or just plain lying, we don’t want to hang with you anymore. Do you even know how bad your reputation is? And nobody will ever forget how you used Shahid and then just left him because… well, I guess you got bored with him, like you got bored with us.”
“You were the ones who left me, if you were my true friends you would have confronted me and asked me to explain myself for any of the so called acts. You just assumed everything was true and started leaving me behind for parties that did not exist.” I said with tears rolling down my eyes.
“Goodbye Shurooq, please never call me again for any such meetings.” Sara said loudly and left.
I sat for a long time in the common room because everything was just so perplexing. If I did not tell Shahid about Sara’s sister, then how did he know? I thought to myself. I knew no one had answers to these questions except Shahid, and I could not ask him. It would highlight how stupid and naive I have been. It was rough day and I could not wait to go back home. I reached home at my usual time, mom tried cheering me up by baking a pizza.
“Shurooq I have something important to tell you. Please sit down.” she said sweetly.
“Yes mom? Is everything okay?” I asked
“Shurooq, I have decided to let go of my fears and take a divorce from your father.” mom said, grabbing my hand. I took my moms and kissed them and said,
“That’s the best decision ever mom, though it’s hurtful to let go but keeping it was more toxic.” I said reassuringly.
“Yeah, after you left I prayed again, after so many years and I cried in Sujood, my heart suddenly felt relieved and I decided that a person who tries to drive me away from my Creator doesn’t deserve a place in my life, or yours.”
“I’m proud of you mom.” I said hugging her
“Oh and you were going to teach me to pray today right?” I continued excitedly.
“Yeah, go have a bath then we shall pray inshaAllah.”
I went to have a long warm bath, then we prayed together. Though everything was so messed up in my life, I felt relieved and happy. After praying, I made tea and told everything about Sara and Shahid.
“How do you think Shahid knew all that personal stuff, mom?” I asked.
“Maybe he went through one of your old chats with Sara or maybe someone else from your group told him and blamed you” mom said shrugging.
“Shahid had my phone many a times, so that maybe a possibility.” I said thinking deeply.
“Shurooq, dear, just let go of it. Sometimes some answers are better left unanswered, they hurt you much less.” “It was a toxic friendship and either you can sit and cry about it or learn from it.” mom continued.
“I feel much better now mother, because I know where I’m going now and things are much clearer than before.”
Mom hugged me and whispered in my ear. “I’m so proud of you, my dear daughter.”
Eventually, Mom filed for a divorce from my dad. We got shifted to another place which was a little further away than the one which we lived in. Alhamdulillah, we started praying regularly, and observed strict hijab too. Initially everyone at my college thought it was a stunt to gain attention but I couldn’t care less about what they thought. Shahid got transferred to another college, because he succumbed to peer pressure. I did receive a text from him, from a new number and he was trying conceal his identity. I refused to reply, he sarcastically applauded me and said that I wasn’t naive anymore and hoped that I keep a security password on my private messages now. This explained the mystery of how he knew my friends secrets. Sara and others were the same as ever with their friendship growing stronger by each passing day. As for me, it was, and to be honest, still is very difficult for me to go to the college every day. Sometimes, people still pass hurtful comments and I was forced to sit all by myself. It gets more difficult when we have to do group projects and nobody wants to be with me. It gets very boring when we have a class cancelled or during our free time, I have no body to talk to. It gets very stressful if I miss a class because there is nobody to tell me what all I missed and help me to cope up. But nevertheless though I may walk alone; I have company. Though it may be more stressful to me than to others; I am still doing it. Though it gets very boring; I am content. And this was not possible without the constant help and support from Allah SWT. People will always talk about you, whether you do well or you do something bad. People will never give you a second chance, but Allah will always give you a second chance, and a third, and a fourth, and every time we do a mistake. He truly is the Most-Merciful.
Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Surah Az-Zumar, verse 53)