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Behind the Kitchen Walls – Her sanctity, her listener, her keeper of secrets – By Mumtaz Moosa


I woke late and was in a foul mood, having missed my morning chai. That good-for-nothing Baboo didn’t wake me but rushed to walk with his son to the mosque. Honestly, this man has no care about my safety, leaving me alone at home. My mother always said to get married to a different caste, and you will suffer.

I woke, stretching lazily and wandered into the kitchen; the walls were annoying me. I picked up the phone to call Fatima, but the doorbell rang, and there she stood, almost like I had summoned her telepathically!

“Sabera!” Fatima shouted, sounding out of breath.

I rolled my eyes at her and asked her sarcastically what ailment worried her today. Fatima was a certified hypochondriac with a new ailment daily.

She followed me into the kitchen and started her daily rant.

“Sabera, you know the Molvi was saying we are unfair to people, especially domestic workers and beggars. He said that we sometimes give our leftovers from days ago to them, thinking that, kaynee (never mind – Gujarati), no one is going to eat it, they can. Did you know nah, we must give to others only what we can eat,” Fatima went on.

“Molvi said that Allah tests us all in different ways, and this is one such test”, she ranted.

I had switched off mentally, not in any mood to hear that outdated Molvi’s advice. He needs to get with the program; we all can’t be giving the best we have. I hadn’t realised that I had said this aloud, and an extended rant from Fatima followed.

I love my sister, but she is like dial a bayaan. Even cooking time turns into a taalim session with her. People like her need to go live in a cave, I thought to myself.

I was so fed up with her, and it wasn’t yet lunchtime. I decided to shoo Fatima out and get Baboo to buy takeout for iftaar. I was in no mood to deal with cooking. I hurried off to watch my soapies.


The Holy Qur’an states: “O you who believe! Spend on others out of the good things that you may have acquired, and out of that which We bring forth for you from the earth; and choose not for your spending the bad things, which you yourselves would not accept without averting your eyes in disdain. And know that Allah is self-sufficient, ever to be praised.” (2:267)

Muslims are cautioned not to offer charity things that they would not like to receive. We must guard against offering ‘inferior acts of kindness’ as tokens of appreciation and gratitude.


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