It was a beautiful moment full of excitements. Both friends ran into each other’s embrace and dwell in there almost forever. Tears of joy rolled down Kawthar’s cheeks as she stared amazingly at Amirah, they both couldn’t utter a word for few seconds, they just stared at each other like a magic has just occurred. After a while Iman was the first person to speak.
“Kawthar how are you?” Iman asked and instead of answering the question she burst into tears and Amirah who had been watching them in silence was really surprised.
“Kawthar! I never knew you can cry, I have never seen you cry before.” Amirah said in amazement while Iman dried her tears with a hand towel.
“Kawthar please don’t cry, ain’t you happy to see me?” Iman teased.
“I am very much happy to see you, it’s just that I never thought I could ever lay my eyes on you again.” Kawthar said amidst tears.”
“It’s been destined that our path would cross again, I still can’t believe my eyes either, what are you doing here?” Iman was curious.
“My dear, it’s really a long story. A lot has happened in your absence. After your family relocated to kano, my dad found out that I accepted Islam and it’s been a tug of war since then. My family thought I was mad and when they realized it wasn’t madness, I was asked to denounce my faith which I refused abruptly, my dad couldn’t condone it again so he said he disowned me and a banishment from home was my punishment.” Kawthar explained in summary.
“Subhanallah!!! All this happened to you? Oh I am very sorry to hear that, it’s actually a price you have to pay for receiving Allah’s guidance and be assured that all your troubles never go unnoticed by Him. He will surely reward you and your status will be raised in His sight.” Iman consoled.
“Thanks dearie, When Alhaja told me her niece would be visiting, I had liked to meet you and was really eager to know the highly enthusiastic girl who has been memorizing the Quran, I never had the slightest idea it could be you. So tell me how has life been treating you?” Kawthar asked in a more cheerful tone.
“Alhamdulillah, after my secondary school, my dad enrolled me in the school of Tahfiz owned by his friend here in Lagos. Big mummy got me a Jamb form which I did……..” Iman tried to say and Kawthar interrupted her sharply.
“How was your Jamb exam, what’s your score?”
“My aggregate was 270.” Iman replied.
“Awww, my friend is a brilliant girl Maa shaa Allah.” Kawthar praised
“I am still trailing your footstep, the genius Kawthar, so do you still get in touch with your family?” Iman asked.
“Yes I still do, I saw my mum yesterday and I still saw Bro John today.” Kawthar replied.
“That’s good, so your dad isn’t changing his mind about you at all.” Iman said.
“Don’t worry, he’s going to succumb at last. Iman do you know I am still surprised that you’re Alhaja Iwalewa niece, She said she grew up with your mum in the same household.” Kawthar said.
“Yes that’s true, when we were still resident in Lagos, we always spend our vacations here. Do you remember I always tell you I was going to Big Mummy’s house, Alhaja is the big mummy I always talked about.” Iman reminisced
“Yes I remember, I also remember how I always beg you to take me along but your mum always refuse on the ground that my parents wouldn’t like the idea. Oh it’s such a small world.” Kawthar said
“And do you remember I always tell you that you look like Big Mummy’s daughter?” Iman said sharply.
“I remember but it never occurred to me that Alhaja is your Big Mummy, may Allah forgive Fridaos and make her death a means to Jannah for her parents.” Kawthar supplicated.
“Aameen, she was really a sweet girl, whenever I was here, the two of us were really inseparable. I always have her support whenever Tohir and Yasir were bullying me then. It was a sweet and memorable experience.” Iman said and Amirah cuts in.
“Iman please, Yasir is your cousin so you should know more about him. Please tell me about Yasir.” Amirah begged Iman but the latter was confused.
“I don’t understand you, like what exactly do you want to know about him and why?” Iman queried.
“You see, I like him and it’s not really a bad idea to know more about the guy I like.” Amirah revealed without shame while Kawthar and Iman exchanged glances.
“Amirah!! Will you ever change?” Kawthar snapped.
“Leave me, what is the big deal in what I’ve just said.” Amirah replied rolling her eyes at Kawthar.
“Amirah, it’s been a while since I saw Yasir and I wouldn’t know how he’s really developed, character wise so I don’t have much to say about him.” Iman answered innocently oblivion of Amirah’s obsession.
“You don’t have to answer her.” Kawthar said.
“Why won’t she answer me, do you think everyone is as rigid as you are. Thank you Iman, I can always count on you.” Amirah said while Iman shuttled her gaze between Kawthar and Amirah, she doesn’t understand what was really happening.
Alhaja Iwalewa was really glad and surprised at the same time to know that Iman was the one Allah used as a tool to guide Kawthar to Islam, ‘it’s really a small world’ she chanted repeatedly. She always knew Iman and Kawthar had something in common and had always related their character with each other but she also like Kawthar, had no idea that Iman and Kawthar were actually childhood and lost friends.
Iman had always been an upright girl whose uprightness had been influenced by people around her. Her arrival furthermore brought another positive impact. Kawthar had always looked up to her as a force to reckon with and as a model to follow her footstep, and when she arrived wearing the hijab, Kawthar knew that was an aspect of Islam she needed to follow not because Iman did it but she’d read it herself but wouldn’t start because there was no encouragement. Now that Iman had brought that encouragement and assisted with the leverage, the urge to observe the hijab, to obey that aspect of the religion was now her priority. To start with, she had to beg Iman to give her one of hers while Alhaja Iwalewa was there. The latter scolded her for begging for hijab while she could simply demand for money to get hers. Alhaja then gave her some money to go get hers and that was the beginning of a new appearance for her.
After spending her one week break with them, Iman went back to the school of Tahfiz while Kawthar was already feeling the vacuum her absence would create even before she left. In the last one week, both of them were really inseparable and Kawthar as usual learnt a lot of things from her, they studied and read the quran together, Iman taught her a lot of adhkar and they also play and gist away with a very strong bond.
Few days after Iman returned to the school of Tahfiz, Alhaja Iwalewa brought the good news that their names had been out in the admission list. Happiness was really an understatement, the joy they felt within was really indescribable. Kawthar hugged Alhaja and appreciated her great effort towards her life so far, Amirah did the same and Alhaja smiled at them and replied that their happiness was really her delight as a mother.
That night Kawthar and Amirah talked into the night. They were really too happy to sleep. All their fantasies about the University had come to reality and they couldn’t curtail the excitement that radiates on their faces and also found it’s way to their mouth, because they couldn’t keep quiet. They felt like having a vigil till morning.
“Ah kawthar I am too excited, now I am going to be an undergraduate and my status as an ordinary school certificate leaver would be erased, and in four years time, I’ll be a graduate and by that time, I should be able to fit in beside Yasir.” Amirah said rolling her body as she speaks.
“Continue dreaming………” Kawthar was saying when her phone rang, Amirah ran to the phone and picked the call having seen that the caller was Yasir.”
“Hello Kawthar.” Yasir said from the other end
“It’s not Kawthar, it’s me Amirah. Kawthar is sleeping.” She lied while Kawthar made an effort to collect the phone from her but she dribbled her.
“Oh Amirah, congratulations on your Admission, may it be the beginning of good things to come.” Yasir prayed.
“Aameen, Yasir I missed you o.” Amirah said.
“I missed home as well.” He replied and Amirah hissed lightly.
“I said I, Amirah, I missed you, I didn’t say the house missed you.” Amirah emphasized
“Tell Kawthar I called when she’s awake.” Yasir said ignoring what Amirah said.
“Okay.” Amirah replied dully and the call was ended.
“You really have a problem, a big one at that.” Kawthar said shaking her head.
“I should be the one speaking to him, I said I like him and you said you don’t so you shouldn’t be talking to someone you don’t like now.” Amirah replied while Kawthar lie down and shut her eyes, she was pissed and that was the end of the discussion.
The following day, Kawthar was in her mum’s shop to share the good news of her admission to her. Her mother was very happy and danced joyously to the good news.
“How about the fees?” Mrs marcel asked her daughter.
“Don’t worry, Alhaja said she would take care of everything.” Kawthar replied smiling.
“That’s very kind of her, may God continue to enrich her and elevate her status. She’s really a rare gem and a cheerful giver. I wish to have one percent of her giving spirit.” Mrs Marcel said.
“Yes mummy she’s really a cheerful giver. Not only her but all Muslims are cheerful givers and do you know why mum?” She asked her mother.
“It is so because Muslims are made to believe according to Quran and Hadith that it is what they give out that is really theirs which is retrievable and the one they spent on themselves is gone and never to be retrieved.” Kawthar explained
“I don’t understand, how can you retrieve something you’ve already spent in charity.” Mrs Marcel queried in confusion.
“Take for instance, I have #100, I bought a shoe for myself for #60, I gave #40 out as sadaqah, the sixty naira I spent on myself is gone while the #40 spent as sadaqah is really my own in the sense that I am saving it for a day when wealth or children would be of no importance but what I have already sent forth as good deeds. I can retrieve it on the day of qiyyamah because Allah is not unfaithful, He’s a God who always reward good with good so anyone who always think deeply would always spend less on himself and give more as Sadaqah because at the end of the day you’re only helping yourself. Another good thing about Sadaqah is that it pushes away evil, if there’s any evil that’s supposed to befall you and you’re the type that is rich in the act of giving, Allah will wade away the evil or minimize it. An accident that’s supposed to take your legs and put you on a permanent wheel chair will only leave bruises on your body as a way of rewarding you for your good deeds.” Kawthar explained and her mother was wowed.
“Kawthar, I think I am convinced about Islam already, it’s really a religion that encompasses so many things, please take me there.” Her mother said convincingly
“Yes mummy, Islam is the total way of life. Are you sure you’re ready.” Kawthar asked.
“Yes my dear I can’t be more sure.” Mrs Marcel replied.
“You’re going to encounter trials and obstacles, rejection and dejection, are you sure you can bear them all.” Kawthar asked again.
“Kawthar I gave birth to you, you took after my resilience spirit, I’ll bear it with faith and with the solace that good things awaits me in the hereafter.” Mrs Marcel said with conviction again and Kawthar ran to embrace her with tears of joy rolling down her cheeks.
“Thank you mummy, thank you for accepting the truth.” Kawthar said while both mother and daughter enjoyed the beautiful moment.
The resumption date was drawing closer, Alhaja Iwalewa took the trio of Kawthar, Iman and Amirah on shopping to get things they would be needing in school. They shopped for clothes, shoes, bags, kitchen wares and other things. They would be living in the school and only go home during weekends.
One Sunday morning, the Sunday that preceed the Monday they would be leaving for school, Kawthar received a call from her elder brother John, he asked her to come to his house as he had some things to discuss with her. Kawthar informed Alhaja and her two friends proposed to go with her. Alhaja instructed the driver to take them there and off they went.
The driver pulled the car to a stop in front of the house and Amirah paused for a while before getting down from the car, she sat and refused to go down. Kawthar asked her to come down but she burst out crying instead. It took Kawthar a while of consolation before she opened up that the house was the house she once lived with her aunt and she wasn’t sure if still lived there with her husband. The duo of Amirah and Iman now told her to summon some courage and face the situation, after all she wasn’t at fault but the couples were instead. She later got down and they all walked into the compound together.
The first person they saw upon entering the compound was Amirah’s aunt. She shouted upon seeing her and ran towards her.
“You this girl, where have you been, I didn’t throw you out of the house but you disappeared without a word.” Amirah’s aunt said shouting.
“Aunty please leave me alone, I didn’t come here to see you , as you can see we’re here to see my friend’s brother.” Amirah snapped at her.
“Oh my dear, I know I have offended you but that doesn’t mean you should run away from home , the street is not safe for you.” Amirah’s aunt said again which got Amirah furious.
“The street is better than your house, the street is safer than the hell you call a house. Do I even have the opportunity of sleeping under a roof, after molesting me, you guys threw me away in the veranda where I spent my nights in the cold, you turned me into the despicable girl I am today and I will never forgive you and your husband for ruining my life, you will never go unpunished.” Amirah said in anger while her aunt turned to Kawthar and Iman.
“Please help me beg her, even the man we’re talking about has left me to be with a younger woman. Please Amirah forgive me for being wicked and insensitive.” Her aunt begged.
“Amirah please forgive your aunt…….” Kawthar was trying to say when Amirah cut her short.
“Please don’t beg me to forgive her, wear my shoe first and know exactly where it hurts before you intercede for her, I’ll be in the car, when you’re through come out and let’s go home.” Amirah said and was about to leave when John came out of his flat. He saw Amirah and turned to her aunt.
“congrat o, your house help is back, now you’ll stop complaining about tiredness.” John said to Amirah’s aunt.
“She’s not her house help but her niece.” Kawthar corrected her brother who obviously knew but was only teasing Amirah’s aunt.
“Ehn Ehn!!! I thought she was her house help the way she always treated her like a piece of trash. The girl had to run away after she could no longer endure the serial torture. I don’t know how some relative could be so heartless and self centered, anyways what’s my business, Kawthar please come in.” John summoned and Kawhar with Iman followed him into his flat leaving Amirah’s aunt standing and looking very guilty.
John showed both Kawthar and Iman to a seat and didn’t waste time in revealing the reason he sent for Kawthar. He brought out the copy of the Quran Kawthar gave to him and gave it back to her.
“Why are you giving the Quran back to me? I gave you and asked you to study it now.” Kawthar said.
“Just take it from me first.” John instructed while Kawthar obeyed.
“Yes, now give it back to me.” John instructed again and Kawthar grumbled, she was getting tired of his pranks already but still obeyed and gave it to him while a beautiful smile formed on John’s lips.
“ Very good, I asked you to take it at first so that you can give it back to me. The first time you gave it to me, I collected it with reluctance, this second time you can see the way I am beaming with smiles.” John explained still smiling.
“I can see you’re smiling, take me out of this misery. Don’t put me in suspense.” Kawthar said eagerly.
“Kawthar darling, I studied the Quran you gave to me, I studied it so hard my eyes hurt due to sleepless nights of studying. In the Quran I found the hidden truth, I am glad I didn’t study with prejudice because if I was to study it with bias and scorn in my heart, the truth wouldn’t have been glaring to me. Islam is really a misunderstood religion and some Muslims attitudes really pushes one away from the religion. This is absolutely a divine book, incapable of being written by human but Allah. ‘This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…’ John quoted from Surah Al-Maeda verse three and Kawthar was in awe. She opened her mouth and couldn’t close it for a while, she continued to stare at her brother unbelievably while the latter went on and on revealing what he had realized and gained while studying the Quran.
“Kawthar I am truly proud of you, you’re really a blessing to your family. I love your effort, you’re such a heroine.” Iman said to the still surprised Kawthar who still thought she was dreaming, she wouldn’t like to wake from this sweet dream, her mother and now her brother all in the space of one week. She had always learnt that there’s something called Sajdah Shukr [The prostration of appreciation] but she hasn’t done it before. She moved to a corner of the room and said her Sajadah shukr, it could only be Allah.
Then it was few days to the second semester exam. Kawthar got in trouble with the SUG president ………..