By Mumtaz Moosa-Saley
The days seemed to move at lightning speed during this Ramadan, and there certainly was no barakah in the days.
I had planned meticulously to complete my Quran, but with age comes the loss of energy, your eyesight deteriorates, and as much as I tried, I found myself losing to the needs of my ageing body. I was trying, and Allah, all-merciful, knew of my trials, alhamdulillah.
Mohammed needed to catch up on this dhor, and I agreed to help him, and as he recited melodiously, I was sat listening. I thanked Allah for the beautiful person he was and thought of how proud I was of him. After all, every parent wants good children who are on the path of Allah.
As soon as he was done, I told him how happy I was that he was still doing dhor daily as if he was still a student.
“Dad, I am still a student, and I must fulfil. If I don’t do dhor, I find myself forgetting, which I don’t want to do.”, he responded.
After speaking about his children and family and catching up on lost time, we sat there. My phone rang, and as I looked at the number, I was reluctant to answer as I didn’t recognise the number. I answered anyway and was surprised to hear Farouk’s son, Ahmed, on the other end. He explained that his father was in a critical condition at the hospital, and he sounded scared and panicked.
Almost falling over my feet, I asked Mohammed to drive me to the hospital urgently as I told him of the call from Ahmed. My thoughts were like a herd of bison stampeding through my mind – what happened? How bad is he? Will he die and leave me alone?
Without realising it, I began to pray, “Ya, Allah do what is best for him.” I muttered. Mohammed reached for my hand to comfort me, and I felt sadness envelop my being.
Reaching the hospital, I felt the chill as we stepped out of the car. It also brought back memories of my beloved wife, who had taken her last breath here.
Baboo was waiting and embraced me warmly as he directed me to a set of comfortable chairs.
“Farouk passed out at home, and thankfully, Ahmed went over to drop off some food. He had to break a window to get in when Farouk didn’t respond. Apparently, he saw his feet from the kitchen window and realised that something was wrong.”, he said, trying hard to keep his emotions in check.
“It must have been a while that he was laying there before Ahmed found him.”
Ahmed arrived looking concerned, and I rushed over to find out about Farouk’s condition. But he had little to share, as he was still waiting on the doctors for an update.
“Have you notified Summayah? Is he on her way?” I asked.
“Uh, I’m not sure, as I couldn’t reach her since I arrived.”, he said distractedly.
I called Ayesha, explained the morning events, and asked her to check if she could go over to Summayah and bring her over to the hospital.
We sat in awkward silence as we waited on the doctors. Just as I began to feel my back and leg muscles complain, a young doctor arrived and asked who Solly was. I responded like a child at school, raising my arm with a look that said I was uncertain why the teacher wanted to see only me.
He asked me to follow him, and we left Ahmed and Baboo looking confused as to only I was being asked to accompany him.
Walking into the ward, I found Farouk pale against the hospital’s white sheets, hooked up to an array of monitors and a drip. He looked like death, but I smiled when he opened his eyes and beckoned me to come over.
“Solly.”, rasped as I got closer. “I really thought that this was the end, especially when I woke up with these machines all hooked. But I said to myself that I couldn’t die now. I made you a promise – to help with the boys at the youth day event. So, I prayed so hard to Allah to spare me, Solly, even though this is such a mubarak time to die.”, my friend, dramatic as ever, said.
I couldn’t help but laugh at his serious face, partially covered by an oxygen mask but full of expression as usual. I thanked Allah that he was at least doing better, alhamdulillah.
The doctor walked in and explained that Farouk had been fasting over the last few days and that his sugar levels had dropped so low that he passed out. He added that it was a miracle that his son found him, or he would have gone into a coma.
“Farouk, are you crazy, man? You are a diabetic; how did you think it was alright for you to fast? I asked, knowing full well what his response would be. He looked at me sheepishly and responded that he felt guilty not fasting during the holy month, especially during the last ten days.
“Ah Farouk, is not Allah merciful? You are exempt from fasting, and you can earn ajaar by doing other deeds like reading Quran, helping at the old age home, and giving charity. Oh, and listening to the doctors’ advice.”, I teased.
Summayah and her family arrived with Ahmed’s in tow as we were leaving. After exchanging greetings, we went as the family visited.
Driving home from the hospital, Mohammed told me how glad he was that we had fixed our relationship before something like this happened.
Late that night, I received a text message from Farouk. It must have taken him a few hours to type!
Solly, Allah is merciful! My getting ill scared my children, who asked for forgiveness for allowing me to live alone. It seems they’re talking again and are making plans for me to live with them on a rotational basis. Oh, and I will be spending Eid with Ahmed and his family! Sorry to do this to you at the last moment, but I know you will understand. Please explain to Ayesha and Ahmed as well. And the children too. But I will be visiting soon in sha Allah.
I responded, “Bhai, I am just grateful and happy that you are recovering and that things with the family have worked out well. alhamdulillah. And don’t forget to give your fidyah at the masjid. Hey, I see you’re typing faster!”
I chuckled as I imagined my friend smiling. I was glad that he was well and would live another day to share his dramatic stories with me!
Report narrated by Abu Dawood from Ibn’ Abbaas RA concerning the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g., an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for everyday).”