By Mumtaz Moosa-Saley
I thought preparations for Ramadan started months before, but as I got up on a chilly morning, I could hear Ayesha talking to herself. I walked to the kitchen; seeing the mess, I knew that I had to make myself scarce for the next few days as she planned her Eid menu; now that the tenth fast had passed us, she could function again.
I walked by slowly, so she would not notice me. The last thing I wanted in this cold was to be sent to buy dhania! What is the point? It’s just decoration! As I was making my getaway, I got the biggest fright.
“Where are we going, huh?” Busted! She had seen me! But when I turned around, there was no one there. My heart started to race, and I began to recite Ayatul Khursi. Thankfully, Nusaybah’s giggle gave her away. Ya Allah, this child almost gave me a heart attack.
I asked her to meet me outside, signalling to her not to make any noise. We snuck out, drove around, and planned to buy some takeout for supper. I enjoyed spending time with my granddaughter.
“Nana, you seem to understand me better than my parents. For them, everything is an issue. I blink, and Mummy finds a fault!”, Nusaybah complained. I was her go-to guy. Usually, I drive until she has finished her rant, and she knows that I’m always happy to listen to her.
Suddenly the car sputtered, then chugged and finally, it hissed to a halt. I got out, lifted the bonnet, and started to inspect the engine when Ms. Brightspark appeared next to me, enquiring if I knew what I was doing?!
I gave her an incredulous look and muttered that I had no idea. She looked at me, slightly confused, and asked if she should call her mother. Of course, she knew that that would not bode well for me, as Ayshoo would have a fit and scream at me like a banshee.
I saw no familiar faces or approachable people to ask for assistance. Maybe it was too early in the morning. Who could I call and not get myself into trouble? Ah-ha! Farouk! But the toppy doesn’t have a car! Well, Ahmed was my next rescuer.
I whispered when he answered, “Ahmed, salaam, don’t tell Ayshoo it’s me, okay. I forgot to fill petrol, and I’m stuck.” I sounded like a naughty teenager conspiring against his mother.
My phone began ringing immediately after I ended the call. It was Fathima sounding frantic as she informed me that Nusaybah was missing.
As I ended the call, Ayshoo called, frantic, as she informed me that Nusaybah was missing. She was sobbing and not making much sense as she tried to wipe her nose and talk to me simultaneously.
Feeling guilty but more sheepish, I let her know that Nusaybah was with me, and we’d gone for a drive together.
The scream emitted from the phone into my ear almost left me deaf. “Dad, you are so irresponsible. Why do you sneak out of the house as if you’re ten? For God’s sake, you’re a grown man. Just let me know you are going out.”
I was about to let her know that we were stuck on the road and that Ahmed would assist us, but I knew that would only stoke the fire, and I didn’t want to hear the full bayan.
We sat in the car, waiting for Ahmed, when Nusaybah asked why I didn’t buy a new car.
I smiled as I remembered that day I had purchased this car. “You know Nunu; this beauty has not given me any trouble, and, yes, she’s old. But she’s paid for, and I’m happy with her.”
We must learn to be content with Allah’s things for us in life. We should be grateful and know that should I choose to have another car, it would be through the will of Allah and my bank balance!
“You know, Nunu, we only receive what Allah has written for us. Nothing more, nothing less. And should He change His mind, I am grateful to accept or return, algamdoelillah,” I explained to her. She reached over and hugged me.
I looked at her and thanked Allah for allowing me this opportunity to live long enough to instil values in my grandchildren’s life.
Soon, Ahmed pulled up behind us and brought along a jerry can of fuel. “Ahmed, I love you, nah, please don’t tell Ayshoo about this. She will eat me alive.”, I begged my son-in-law, who burst into laughter.
I prayed hard as I drove home, knowing I could not avoid Ayshoo’s wrath and word.
As I entered the driveway, I saw her standing with a spatula in her hand. I felt like a kid about to be given a lecture and a “goie pak slaai!”
Ayshoo pounced before I got my arthritic legs to obey me. “Dad, she was supposed to be home catching on her Qur’an recitation. And you don’t have the courtesy to inform me that she was going with you or that you were leaving!” she spoke threateningly.
Ayesha was so angry. I walked towards her and folded her into my arms. She was taken back, as I seldom show my feelings. But she smiled and then hugged me back, saying she’d sort me out after Ramadan.
As I walked into the house, I wondered why I didn’t show affection to my children. Growing up, my father never did, and I assumed it was normal.
But as a father, I realised that I needed to show my daughter how I felt about her. Did I want her to be a cold fish like me?! Our Nabi (SAW) was loving to his children and grandchildren, and this is the way I should be.
Well, old man, it is never too late to change!
A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that there came a few desert Arabs to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and said: Do you kiss your children? He (ﷺ) said: Yes. They said: By Allah, but we do not kiss our children. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Then what can I do if Allah has deprived you of mercy? … [Muslim]