Faiza stared at the closed guest room door, biting her lip in worry. Taahir had arrived home late and had immediately headed for the bedroom, barely pausing to greet her. That had been more than fifteen minutes ago and she was still waiting for him to come out and eat supper.
She got up from the kitchen table and walked purposefully towards the closed door, losing her nerve halfway there and returning to her seat.
He probably wants privacy… she thought to herself. I shouldn’t disturb him.
A moment later, she shook her head and got to her feet again. He needs to eat. And he looked horrible when he walked in.
Nerves made her stomach turn somersaults – she’d never disturbed Taahir in his unofficial bedroom before, having neither the desire nor the bravery to intrude on his private space. But now, the discomfort had been overwhelmed with concern. She was worried about him. He’d been ashen and shaky when he walked in and the desire to help filled her.
Faiza had never been one to stand by when she saw anyone in distress and this time was no different.
She knocked quickly on the door, before she could stress herself into sitting back down and leaving Taahir to his solitude.
There was no answer. She knocked again insistently, getting more worried by the minute. “Taahir?” she called worriedly. “Taahir, are you alright?”
Faiza reached for the doorknob but it refused to turn. He’d locked the door. Frustration made her ball her hands into fists. She knocked harder. “Taahir, open the door! Taahir!”
Eventually, Faiza gave up, accepting that Taahir wanted to be left alone. She cleaned up the kitchen, packing away their uneaten meal into the fridge and went to change into her pyjamas.
She caught sight of her face in the bathroom mirror and raised a hand to her cheek. There were tear stains on her cheeks. She hadn’t even realized that she’d been crying.
Hopelessness filled her. She was so worried about Taahir and he wouldn’t even talk to her! Wild visions of him hurt filled her mind. She wouldn’t even be able to do anything if he were hurt – the door was locked and she didn’t have a key.
She grabbed her cellphone eagerly, searching for a distraction. A message from Saeedah caught her eye and before she could stop herself, Faiza had messaged her best friend, seeking comfort and advice. She hid the specifics of what had happened but what she did say held enough information for Saeedah to become concerned.
The two women talked for a long time, Saeedah doing her best to calm and distract Faiza until she eventually fell asleep in the middle of typing a message. Saeedah understood Faiza’s lack of response as her friend having finally succumbed to sleep and breathed a sigh of relief. Faiza had sounded horrible on the phone and she had felt awful for her friend. Knowing that there was only one thing she could do to help, Saeedah sat and prayed softly that Allah (SWT) would ease Faiza’s difficulties. “Ya Allah, allow them to understand one another and confide in one another,” Saeedah begged, her heart aching for her poor friend.
The guest room was in a shambles. Book and magazines were strewn about carelessly, the bed was rumpled and the cupboards stood wide open. Taahir sat in the middle of the chaos, hugging his knees.
The conversation with his father had been painful. Taahir had been forced to hear several things he didn’t like about himself and he was still reeling. He could feel the anger trying to rise up again, just thinking about it.
He’d left without even speaking to his mother, barely able to still be civil towards his father and come home to barricade himself in. He was afraid of seeing Faiza, afraid of speaking to her and losing his temper, of saying something else that would hurt her.
He’d heard her knocking at the door, heard her calling him and crying and he’d hated the weakness that had led him to lock himself away. He hated the loss of control – he’d always prized himself on being logical and unruled by emotion but he’d been lying to himself. He had no control over his anger and it was destroying him.
Deep in despair and self-hatred, he felt a spike of resentment towards Faiza. Before he’d married her. he’d been perfectly happy with himself and anyone who’d suffered from his temper had been deemed too sensitive in his mind. Now, however, he had to confront the truth – that he’d hurt people with his carelessness, that he was in the wrong.
It was hard. It would be so much easier to deny any wrongdoing and go back to the way things were. But he couldn’t. He just couldn’t keep hurting Faiza the way he had been.
Why do I care so much? Taahir demanded of himself viciously. Why do I care about her feelings?
A stray thought struck him and he denied it immediately. No! No way! It cannot be that! It just can’t.
But it was. Quite without his knowledge, Faiza had found a place in Taahir’s heart. He loved her.
Faiza woke up the next morning with a raging headache. She had prayed Fajr in a daze and had climbed straight back into bed. She had been too tired to even think of trying to speak with Taahir again.
She looked at the time on her phone and sighed. It was the first time that she hadn’t woken up to make Taahir breakfast before he left for work and the change in routine made her feel sad. She made a quiet prayer to Allah (SWT) for help and headed to the kitchen to try and bake away her worries. In the back of her mind, she worried over Taahir, hoping that he was alright and resolving to speak to him as soon as he got home.