Amla gazed at the crimson sunset for the umpteenth time and said a silent prayer in her mind. ‘This is it, isn’t it?’ she asked herself once more as she drew the curtains across the window panes.
She had objectively searched her heart over again and had been convinced like many other times in the past that this indeed was the edifying step she needed (not wanted) to take for a rebirth of her lost self, old… crass… ugly… whatever. Irony is a familiar word with her now and always, for she was certain she was in no hurry to forget it so soon. She heaved a sigh of relief… almost joyful. ‘At last we have gotten here!’
This was no hypocrisy really. It was a demeaning life she had been forced to live; masked, lying to herself and others that things were fine, that she was lucky, happy to be where she was or better still where she had been put.
When Haydar had married her, she’d had no doubt theirs was going to be a balanced, almost apt union. They both looked forward to a religious, fun-filled and romantic life. And if it had been as they had planned, their affairs would have been such a beauty to behold really. For didn’t Allah say that “Whosoever holds on to the rope of Allah has indeed held onto a grip that’s firm that will never break (Al-Baqarah:256)”?
It wasn’t always like this anyway. Before she had her first child, Aneesa, things were really fine. Haydar was love and affection personified! He provided for her excellently well; they were all happy and she had nothing to bother her. How many envied her then; to be married to the brilliant, eloquent, good-looking da’i, Haydar was something to covet really. But after Aneesa came Wardah and slowly life began to drain out of their relationship.
Haydar was away for da’wah most of the time. She and the children rarely got to spend quality time with their father anymore. At first, he was understanding and all, making an effort to soothe her worries and make changes to what needed to be adjusted. “After all, you are my family. You come first and deserve my best,” he would say.
Subsequently, he began to feel somewhat trapped. Making excuses and promising to make it up to her.
Then the indifferent phase set in. ”Why do you nag me these days, Amla?” he would say, puzzled that she complained. “Don’t you want me to serve Allah?” Amla felt hurt by his sudden non-commitment and how easily he would shrug off her concerns when they meant so much to her. ‘Patience Amla, patience’, she would calm herself. How often she had sat up in bed at night to cry and stare at his empty side of the bed. And in the day, his sitting chair remained vacant. The house maintained a freezing coldness even though the weather was hot.
The children’s activities were what kept her warm those many times. She felt so inadequate. The feeling roared inside her, seeking to burst forth. Apt words to explain her plight simply evaded her. How did she feel? What did she feel? When? How?
But she had managed to keep sane these past years, Alhamdulillah!
All but ‘this’ complaint would have made them such a wonderful family, but ‘this’ is no simpleton. It is a profound ‘singleton’ that has striven to bring all crashing down.
Amla had persevered to make Haydar see reasons to create a balance. Though he always returned with loads of gifts from his ‘excessive’ trips, she always wondered painfully if he thought his gifts could ever equate his time. There were times she felt the impulse to fling the gifts at him and scream her head off; at such times she would struggle hard to put her bad thoughts in place, mumbling istighfar in her heart.
As for the kids, they were often pained by her misery; they would try to cheer her up, but then they were just kids with fleeting memories, weren’t they? And Amla would remain laden with her grief afterwards. She had taken time to think about the fate of the children should there be a divorce, but she should have a life, shouldn’t she? Moreover, the kids were meant to be sources of joy, not barriers to happiness.
Some of Haydar’s family members and friends were with him in his decision, some were neutral and some many more were in Amla’s support. After a series of counselling together with no progress, she had very few options left.
The very first time divorce as an option had struck her mind, she had cringed from the mere thought of it. But as time went on, it appeared to her as the only available alternative to breathe free, to live anew and indeed to get her faith back on track.
How many times would she go to his parents to seek advice? About twice she had sought audience with the Assigning Committee to plead for his name to be replaced by another, all to no avail.
And now, she stands on the mountain top of life. She has made up her mind to get separated from Haydar, she has bidden her time and will fly; soaring, breathing free of this life of misery that binds her to this hearth where she once lived.
Aisha Sadiq (Umm Imran) is a mother, wife, sister. She shares her time, tutoring, mentoring, writing, and indulging in diverse, life enhancing activities. She loves all things ennobling and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.