By Mumtaz Moosa Saley
We had not seen Uncle Abdul since Aunty Fatima’s funeral. He had taken to keeping to himself and we understood. So, today, we invited him to join us for iftaar and I decided to bake. Uncle Abdul was everyone’s father and he was always ready to help where needed. With Ahmed being raised as his son, it was my duty to ensure that he was looked after.
As the smell of freshly baked cakes filled the house I have to admit that I was guilty of my sweet tooth cravings! Some days are more difficult when I’m in the kitchen and I have to constantly remind myself that I can’t taste all the tasty-smelling goodies until later. I made a mental istigfaar!
The doorbell rang and I quickly donned my head scarf before answering the door. My mother almost fell into the entrance whilst scolding me. This time she was upset due to my not having been invited to iftaar at my house. I happily rectified my terrible manners by extending an invitation to her and my father for the evening. She pulled out her mobile and called my Dad to inform him.
My dad was happy to come over and offered to do the school runs for me while I prepared for the evening meal. Alhumdulillah, parents are really a gift unto us - one that we need to cherish. I said a prayer for my parents who always had my best interests at heart.
Mohammed arrived home, happy and excited to have had his Nana fetch him from school. He loved spending time with my father and they got along like a house on fire. Amina was just as happy, having her grandparents around meant being spoilt rotten. As I prepared different dishes, I found myself praying. Making dhikr was becoming a regular habit, alhamdulillah!
Surprisingly, I found that I was able to finish early, leaving me time to recite Qur’an for about an hour. Soon, I was interrupted by the doorbell. This time it was Uncle Abdul, looking a little haggard but still smiling. He was a little sad and I soon realised why.
“My child, I can no longer stand to stay in the house alone. Can I stay a few nights with you if you will allow me?” My heart felt a twinge of sadness and I s agreed and invited him to stay for as long as we wanted. I knew it would be good for him to have Ahmed and the children around. The children too would love having him. Another grandparent to spoil them.
Having overheard the conversation, my mother whispered to me that he should go to his sister as I had more than enough on my plate. I was taken aback by her insensitivity but I kept silent. She rambled on about the issue until I could no longer hold my tongue.
“Ummi, if something were to happen to you, would you like me to take care of Dad? Should I leave the duty to his sisters or his aged mother? If something happens to you do you want us to shut our door and expect you to deal with your situation singlehandedly? Ummi, Dad doesn’t even know how to make a cup of tea never mind use a microwave.”
“I love you Ummi but understand that this is something I want to do and I don’t see it as a duty.”
“Yes, that’s noble of you Sabreen but it’s different. He’s your husband’s family.” I literally bit my tongue.
As I arrange the table for our evening meal and iftaar, Uncle Abdul appears and begins to thank me. I’m grateful that he has allowed me to reap rewards in this month of Ramadhaan. After my parents have left, I find Uncle Abdul busy in the kitchen preparing his suhoor. He refuses my offer of help and thanks me again for my hospitality.
“My child thank you for this, I am drowning in sorrow, everything reminds me of my wife. I miss her dearly. We shared memories and tears and now that she is gone I don’t know what to do.” “Yes, I can cook and clean but that’s not what I need. You and Ahmed have graciously allowed me to stay here and I’m grateful.” “But, I have to learn to be on my own.”
As he spoke the words I cried, I realised how much he missed his wife, that he has lost his best friend and the least I could do was open my home to him.
As he busied himself again, I took the opportunity to make a few journal entries. One of them being that I must allow Uncle Abdul the freedom to do things on his own and help when asked. And I added to allow him the time to grieve in a healthy way and find his space in the world again.
Ahmed came into the kitchen and I leave, giving them time to talk.
As I walk to the bedroom, I ponder on Al-Lateef, one of the names of Allah, the One who is kind to His slaves. Allah sends people into our lives to assist us through a difficulty or to guide and support us, sometimes just to share, grow and learn. Most importantly, we should accept the lesson and love the person. This is Allah’s mercy – allowing His servants to attain a reward by learning a lesson or giving a test that would be the lesson to get closer to Him.
Never turn anyone away - if you can not help find someone who can and elevate each other in this cruel world.