By Mumtaz Saley-Moosa
It was chilly, but I sat outside, soaking up the warm sunshine. I sat alone, enjoying the peace and being able to think. Even though I am glad to have my family close, I need the alone time. When I’m enjoying my rest, the phone must ring. I wish house phones would become obsolete. It’s painful for me to sit and then stand up. At my age, standing up from sitting is like an Olympic sport.
“Hello, who is this, I ask,” I answer.
“Dad, is that how you answer the phone? It’s so rude, yells Ayesha.
“Yes, Shaytaan’s keeper. Did you need something that you had to phone me on the house phone? What is wrong with how I answer, huh? And get to the point, I don’t want to be on the phone for half an hour wondering who is speaking. Never mind why you are calling me?
“Dad, I may be late. Can I send you an Uber with food for iftar? Ayesha asked.
“Behta, what does Uber sell, and how do you know I will like the food?” I had to ask, really a shop called Uber!
“Never mind, Dad. I’ll send a delivery over. You can invite Uncle Farouk for supper, so you’re not alone, she responded impatiently.
I wasn’t going to waste my time talking on the phone, so I sent a text to Farouk to come over as we were eating Uber. Shame, poor guy, it would take him half an hour to type, OK.
The world around us has changed, and I had the option of being left behind or catching up with it. I saw that Mohammed had posted pictures on my WhatsApp profile. My heart ached as I wished to be part of his life. I decided to give him a call.
I felt nervous, and when he answered, I froze, and my mouth was dry. Gaining courage, I said, “Mohamed, it’s me.”
“Dad, are you okay? What happened? He asked with a hint of panic.
“My son, I miss you. You haven’t called in a while. How are the children? They’ve probably forgotten me.” My words seemed to tumble out as I felt desperate to connect with him. After all, if not now, then when?
“Dad, I am at work. Can I call you later back? He enquired.
“Sure,” I replied with a heavy heart.
I sat there in a daze, thinking about all I had done for my boy. Is life so busy that you have no time for your father? Just one phone call, occasionally. That’s all I ask. Ya Allah, find a way to help me and my son come to terms and sort out the distance between us.
I stopped feeling sorry for myself and went to set the table. Ayesha had asked me to keep an eye out for the Uber food. It sounded Russian or something. I watched the world go by until I realised that Farouk was outside with the Uber man. I let them both in.
I tried to enquire about the Uber food cost, but the man said it was paid for. Confused, I yelled at him, and Farouk, who was as confused as me, tried to put some money into his hands. But the man was adamant that he didn’t need it. Out of desperation, the poor guy explained the workings of Uber to us.
Farouk sensed my sadness and began questioning. I brushed him off, as men don’t speak about problems. We talk about sports and cars. But neither of us watched sports or knew much about the new vehicles, and he would not let this go.
“Solly, Mohammed loves you. He doesn’t know how to show it to you. Think about when he was here, and you would call him. How long would a telephone call last?” Farouk asked.
Slightly irritated, I responded that Mohammed would speak to his mother longer than he did with me. And why didn’t he get to the point of his conversation?
He responded patiently that he’d text him first and allow the relationship to blossom if it was him. I took out my phone like a nervous child and started texting him.
It made sense now that Mohammed had nothing to say to me as I ran my home like a dictator. I gave a series of endless commands and showed little affection.
Sometimes we must speak about our problems and allow others to help us see where we have gone wrong. As Muslims, we should be open to being corrected repeatedly, which keeps us on the path we need to be on.
If I hadn’t spoken to Farouk about my problems, I would have said that it’s a child’s job to keep in touch and that if he wanted to talk to me, he knew how to, which made me realise that my arrogance had gotten the better of me.
Remember the Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever has a mustard seed’s weight of pride (arrogance) in his heart, shall not be admitted into Paradise.”[Jami` at-Tirmidhi]