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


I sat after Tahajud peering out the window. The month of mercy and blessings was upon us. It is strange how we both dread and are excited when we know Ramadan is close. We allow worldly things like food preparation and schedules to take over the month’s importance and countless blessings.

I sit, taking in the quiet, but soon the roads will be filled with traffic as people go about their lives. The stillness at this time of the day makes my heart sing with joy. And with it, I forget the pain and trauma of the year that has passed.

As I enjoy the moment, I see my mother’s silhouette framed by her kitchen window waving at me. My thoughts turn to her as I realise that I am becoming more like her, in habits we share and mannerisms too. She calls me to tell invite me over for suhoor. But when I ask her to invite Taskeen too, she gives me a disapproving stare and shrugs, leaving me uneasy. So, I declined the invitation saying I’d take a rain check.

I get ready for suhoor and wake my beloved Ebrahim up. As we sat in our tiny kitchen, he asked me what the one thing I would be making dua for was, and my heart sank. “Ebrahim, you know my dua, it’s to fill this space with a child. It’s all I want.” He reaches out and holds my hand, trying to comfort me whilst explaining that it was all in Allah’s hand.

As we ate, he told me the story of Ebrahim (AS) and how he and his wife craved a child. Whenever I mention being unable to have children, he reminds me of the struggles the Prophets and their spouses faced. (may peace be upon them). At first, I despised him for it and later, as he told me story after story, I found that it soothed me as I began to understand them.

Just before we could finish, I heard the doorbell ring and knew it was my father. Each day before Fajr, my Dad would wait outside for his son and son-in-law to accompany him to the masjid. I found this beautiful and caring and wondered why fathers could adapt to a son-in-law, but mothers find it challenging to adapt to a daughter-in-law.

The men left for the mosque, and while waiting for the Adhaan, I checked my messages. Taskeen asked if she could come before the men returned to practice her dhor. A practice we shared since the first day she married, where she would come over once a week. I admired her and wished I had the courage to memorise the Qur’an.

We both knew the man would return late from the masjid as my father involved them in charity work after Fajr before their day started during Ramadhan.

As she practised her dhor, I realised how close we had become over the last two years, and I silently prayed that my mother would open her heart to her too.

As she finished, the doorbell rang, prompting Taskeen to draw her niqab over her face as my husband entered. Surprisingly my brother Aadam had accompanied him, and the two chatted until Taskeen insisted that they had to leave.

Just as they left, my phone beeped. Instinctively, I knew it was my mother, curious to know what Taskeen was doing in my home and why I hadn’t come for suhoor.

Today, I would need extra patience as this would sour my mother’s mood, making me wonder if living so close to my mother was a blessing or curse.

I reminded myself then that the best response is none at all.

Arabian proverb: “خيرة فيها تأخيرة كل” “Behind every delay, there’s khayr (goodness)”.


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