Nabeelah had come to visit me after two years that my family and I moved to our new house at Lerin. That day, I had decided to stay back home and have some rest. As soon as I climbed the bed, I remembered that I had to try out some pastry recipes I just composed, even if I was able to do just one of them. I loved to give my family the best treats they could never get from anywhere, not even in any restaurant. Healthy and fun innovative treats.
I got up and headed to the kitchen. I set up my table, board, rolling pin, baking pans and trays, batter and all I needed. I made sure I followed every measurement I had gauged. I would have a taste to know if it was enough or to add more and then adjust the measurements in my jotting pad if more quantities were needed. I got all the ingredients together and made my new pastry. I was placing the last tray in the oven when the doorbell rang.
After confirming who it was, I let my best friend in the house and gave her a warm hug. It was really a pleasure to have her in my house. It was a surprise visit as I had thought she wouldn’t be visiting anymore. It was two years already since we moved and she never came. She confirmed her mission to give me a surprise visit and she had succeeded with her aim. She had been to my office where my staff had told her of my decision to stay back home. I hugged her again and offered to show her around. We walked around the house and she was happy that we now had a beautiful house of ours too.
I walked her back to the sitting room. She marveled at the beautiful concrete floor. She breathed in the fragrance of the average height decorating flower that she stood by. The glass top center table, the couches with beautiful leather that surrounded it. The stools beside the couches were made of the same wood of the chairs. They were marble-designed. She couldn’t help but smile, hugged me “Alhamdulillah. I’m happy for you.” I hugged back and thanked her.
We both forgot we were still standing when I realized and sat her on the settee near her. We got talking about my recipes. She suggested that I open a baking shop or a restaurant but I told her that I don’t want to monetize my cookery. We then got talking about my business, then I asked her to let me catch up on what’s up about her too. We had a gist about her when something struck my mind.
“Babes, what about hubby? His promotion, has he been given?” I inquired.
It was as if I had hit on a boil on her. Her face went gloomy and her colour faded. She sighed. “Yeah. He’s now being promoted when due. Alhamdulillah. Thanks for remembering the days” She managed to smile.
Nabeelah and I had been friends for 19 years now and it couldn’t be difficult for me to identify her moods and tones even when she feigned them. “Honey, there’s something you’re not telling me.” I stressed. “What am I missing out on?”
“Many things, my dear… Many things” She nodded. “I have just been living a fake life and I hate it. Things have not been easy for me. Situations are not good. The home is not conducive anymore. I’m just tired of everything”. She lamented.
I became more confused. “I’m still in the dark”. I let her know.
“He changed. I have tried everything I could, but he just won’t say what I did wrong or what happened.”
Just then, the oven timer clicked. “One minute, sweetheart.” She said OK and rested her back to the chair while I left for the kitchen. “He changed? Well, maybe he’s just going through a phase or something.” I said.
“For how long do you think this phase will last?”
“Really, how long has this been happening?”
“The last time I checked, he’s been like this before you moved.”
“Nabeelah, you’ve been in this since then and you never shared it with me despite that we lived not too far from each other. Why?”
“I just couldn’t see myself talking about my home with anyone. Not even you, dear. Besides, I kept on praying and hoping that he changed back to how he was, even though that didn’t last more than a year into our marriage” She stressed.
“Hmmmm…” I sighed. “If he’s not been like that from the beginning, something is definitely wrong somewhere or he’s going through something that he can’t tell you but isn’t able to control his emotions”
“He no longer chats with me. He does what he wills when he wills. He rebuffs me anywhere, talks the way he likes, behaves like he shouldn’t be checked. He doesn’t care about what he does to me. My feelings don’t matter to him anymore. He doesn’t care about anything that comes out of his actions.” She counted.
“Well, I still insist on what I said earlier. There’s something wrong somewhere”
“You don’t seem to understand, Kay! He does these things to intentionally hurt me. He probably doesn’t love me, maybe anymore but he still wants to keep me. I’ve been reduced to his stomach and sexual satisfaction instrument. Nothing else goes on in that house. I hate it” She almost shouted. It was as if my words got to the wrong side of her. I could hear her teary voice. I came back to the sitting room, picked a stool and sat opposite her. She wiped her tears and I held her hands.
“Honey, leaving is not the next best solution yet. You’ve not exhausted all methods. For now, don’t think of leaving”
She withdrew her hands from mine and sat back. “What do I do then? Keep on being in the house and be his object of satisfaction and enjoyment? Don’t you get it still? He doesn’t talk to me. He’s making me lose my mind”
“Exactly! And yeah, I heard you earlier. That’s why I said you shouldn’t think about leaving just yet. Play him the same game he’s playing” I shrugged.
“How?” She asked stunningly.
“Ignore his attitudes. Behave as if you don’t care about his actions. Act like you don’t give a damn about his treatments. Don’t ask him for anything. Don’t start conversations either. But if he talks, reply to him. Just don’t overdo it – he says A, give him A and he says AA, give him AA. Season your words.”
She became silent while I watched. I needed her to say something before moving forward. Are we on the same page? I thought. I stood up to the fridge in the dining and got a bottle of one of my made beverages. It’s her favorite and I just made it that morning even though I didn’t know she was coming over. I went to the kitchen, placed it in a serving tray that I had set on kitchen table. I checked for the pastries in the oven and they were done. I brought them all out. I had to readjust the baking time on my jotter, so I did. I loved how it really came out – the taste that the flavors gave, more than just any strawberry or vanilla, they’re natural. The aroma could fill a famished stomach. I set a piece in the plate, went back to the sitting room and placed it on the stool that I sat. I sat back in the sofa I initially left for the stool. After a while, Nabeelah broke her silence.
“Do you think I can do that? That house will be a hell of a boring place than ever,” She rolled her eyes. “I hate it at present that it’s one person that has gone cold and you want me to go the same way? I don’t think that would work, dear” She nods. “I doubt it”
I smiled. “That’s why you need to go back to your old ideal happy self, don’t you think?” I looked at her with my eyes saying “d’u get my point at all?” I rested by back, waiting for her again.
“I’ve lost that, haven’t I?” She gazed in the air “I don’t even remember what that was”
I crossed my legs and sat up again, such that my back was straight and shoulders high to get me that flowing spirit to remind her who she was. “Baby, lots of people are missing you out there. They miss the gifts and talents you share with them. They miss everything about you. You’ve stopped giving them those spirit-lifting words of encouragement and admonition.” I began. “Honey, live for yourself. Create your happiness. Don’t expect it from anyone. Shop for yourself. Eat well and sleep well. Take care of your skin. You need to look at your own self and have a sense of gratitude and happiness. Intensify in your Ibaadaat and go back to the ones that this unhappy life has snatched from you. Increase your istighfar and your tahmid. Your ayatu kursiy and other adhkar. Always put on a smile. Get enough rest after your chores. When you go out for work, add more life to it. Let your clients know who you really are. I’m sure they don’t know how much you can offer. Let yourself and everyone feel you again. You’ve lost it” I paused “I also miss you,” I said with a low tone.
She looked at me and sighed. “Don’t you think he’d say I’ve become arrogant?”
That got a shock on me but I quickly hid it. “My dear, you’re not going to stop your duties to him as a wife or to his family and friends.” I shrugged. “You’re just bringing back your dead and forgotten self” I said, while placing a stress with the index and middle fingers of my hands when I said the ‘dead’ word.
“Hmmm… I think you’re right.” she nodded.
“If he has a conscience, which I believe he does, he’ll definitely come back, even if he doesn’t apologize verbally. But don’t loosen up immediately. Just keep up your good life”
She sighed again. “I hope he comes back and apologizes verbally and by other means”. She sat up, crossed her legs just the way I did and poured herself some of the beverage in the glass. She took a sip and swallowed it. She took another, then a third and heaved a sigh. “Alhamdulillah”, she said softly and picked the pastry and took a mouthful bite. “Oh em gee this is so tasty,” she said amidst chewing. “How many things did you add up in this?” she looked at the pastry and back at me “I can see the strawberries, I can taste the meat…” she looked back at her hand to give a more examined look “this, from the taste, should be avocado. Eeemmm… These are so many things and there are innate ingredients too” she kept looking at it and chewing. “What’s the name, woman?”
“You give it. I haven’t thought of any”
“Hmmm… Let’s see…” She kept thinking and eating. “This is a muffin, actually. It’s not just any muffin, so it needs a special name”. She swallowed her last bite and finished her drink. “Subhanallaaah!” She stretched. “I’m sleepy, buddy. Where am I crashing in?”
I stood up and held out my hand. “Come” I said. She took my hand and rose. I led her to the guest room in the inner chamber. It’s on the right side of the house, blocked from the sitting area. It’s been designed for female guests. I opened the first door to the lobby, and then the second into the room. I fetched a wrapper from the wardrobe and dusted the bed for her. I untucked the blanket from the bed so that she climbed in it. “Here you go, ma’am” I teased.
She placed her Hijab on the hanger and sat at the edge of the bed. She smiled. “Thanks love. You’re the best friend anyone could ever have. I love you so much.” She said. I smiled and patted her shoulder. “I’m going to get some rest too. See you by dhuur time inshaaAllah”. I said and hugged her. She moved to the middle of the bed and laid her back to cover herself with the blanket. I turned to go out and closed the door behind me. “May Allah ease your affairs,” I muttered.
The Arabic terms used and their concise interpretations:
Istighfar – saying Astaghfirullaah
Tahmid – saying Alhamdulillah
InshaaAllah – Allah’s willing
Dhuur – Afternoon Salat/prayer
Subhanallaah – Glory be to God
Ibaadaat – acts of worship
Ayatu kursiy – Verse of Footstool (Quran 2 verse 255). A recommended dhikr for spiritual protection and also lots of reward for reciting.
Adhkar (plural) Dhikr (singular) – remembrance of Allah. Refers to supplications chanted for this purpose.