By Mumtaz Moosa-Saley
I was deep into reciting my Qur’an when the telephone rang. I realised that it would be a while before I could wake up from the chair and make my way across the room to answer. “HOLD ON!” I yelled as I made my slow approach. I wondered why most people phone on the house phone, my cell phone is in my pocket.
Baboo’s familiar voice greeted me. “Can you come over, please? I would appreciate the visit.”
“Baboo, listen, I visit no one when I’m fasting; what is the point of visiting when I can’t have tea and biscuits. Baboo, I tell you, it’s nothing; whatever you need, send me a WhatsApp message, nah? I have WhatsApp; ask your grandchildren to teach you.”
I was annoyed why he had to call when he could send a voice note. Do I need to spend half an hour trying to get up from the chair to be invited to visit? What is it with people? It would have taken him five seconds to text me to come over!
“Solly, it’s important. Can you come, and must I get someone to pick you up? I feel like talking. My brother sounded distressed. Reluctantly I agreed, took my keys and my sjambok and prepared to leave.
“Dad! What are you taking a sjambok for, and where are you going? Ayshoo called out, appearing from nowhere as usual.
“Bhetha, no time to chit-chat. My brother invited me to come over. I think that that old man started a fight with someone, and I need to be the backup.
“Daddy, you can’t even walk; Chacha can’t even see!” my skelm daughter retorted.
I drove as fast as I could, tried to exit my car as quickly as my arthritic joints would allow me to and shuffled my way to Bhai, sjambok in hand. “Where’s that skelm? I’m here to sort him out.”, I shouted as I entered Bhai’s home.
“Solly, calm down! Did you think you and I were going to rob a cash-in-transit van? At our age, we can barely stand up to fight! Now come sit down and let’s talk.”, Baboo shouted impatiently.
I looked around the house, and I saw his wife with a sad face. The tension was thick, and I began to be worried. “Bhai, what is it?” I asked him with a tremble in my voice. He looked pale, and my mind began to race. Were he and Amina getting a divorce? At this age, what would be the point? Is he dying? A million thoughts ran through my mind.
Baboo sat down, clearly shaken and trying hard to hold himself together. “I have cancer,” he yelled out eventually. His words shocked me, and my heart broke. My brother and I hadn’t spoken for years until my wife passed away. After many years, we’d buried the hatchet, and now he will die!
“Solly, don’t stress, Amina’s niece is a good doctor, and she will cure me.”
I looked at him, and his words angered me. I tried to control myself, but I could not. “Bismillah, I said to myself as I decided to correct him. “Baboo, what you are saying is shirk.”
“What do you mean, this is no time for a bayaan.” Baboo blurted out.
I gently explained to him that Amina was an excellent doctor only by the will of Allah. Allah is the only One who can cure you. Placing your trust in her as the one who will heal you is incorrect and is tantamount to shirk.
“Argh, you old soppy geyser. Since when do men hug or cry, huh?” Baboo asked as I hugged him close.