Taqdeer. Or, in English, fate. It is believed that what has been written in a person’s taqdeer can never fail to occur – if it is meant for you, it will come. Perhaps not in the way you assumed it would, perhaps at the time you least expected it. But whatever fate has been ordained will eventually come to pass, because the taqdeer of every soul who walks this Earth has been written by Allah.
Taqdeer decided everything… Then what was the point in even bothering to try?
Answer: There wasn’t. Which is why I didn’t. Not any more.
If whatever was meant to be would be, then there wasn’t any point in slogging and struggling trying to get to something better. You got what you got and that’s your lot.
For some people, that might’ve been a hard pill to swallow. But I happen to have been given an excellent life. And I spent every day taking advantage of that.
I was born last into a fabulously wealthy family. That coupled with the fact that I was the only girl for more than four generations meant that I was spoilt rotten and given everything my bratty little heart desired. Even now, all I needed do was want something and it got handed to me without a second thought.
The norm here would be for my family to be neglectful or even abusive – just to balance things out. But they’re not. I had wonderful, kind parents and an older brother who’s only slightly annoying.
Everything in my life was good.
Everything except me.
It should’ve been easy for me to be a good person. But it wasn’t. I’m wrong somehow. Either I was born that way or something happened when I was a child. But I’m more devil than angel and it’s never more obvious than when I looked at the rest of my family.
My parents were doctors. They spent their days volunteering their services for people who cannot afford medical care. My brother ran a charity in the little spare time he scraped out when he wasn’t in a court room fighting against human rights’ violations.
And me? I played with make up and watched TV.
I used to try so hard to be like them. I’d fake it – the kindness and the willingness to help. But it rang hollow. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t make myself like them – my true nature always stayed hidden beneath, unchanging and rotten.
The truth was that I am just a terrible person. And I was beyond tired of fighting it.
What’s the point anyway? Who was I trying to fool?
Everyone I knew had cast me as the bratty little rich girl in their heads the second they’d met me. It was as though they could sense it somehow, as though it was written on my forehead.
“Azraa! How are you still in bed? We’re going to be late!”
I was abruptly pulled from my thoughts by the banging on my door. How many times had I told him not to speak to me so familiarly? I debated ignoring him entirely. I wasn’t in the mood to go to lectures today.
The knocking persisted. “Azraa! Are you dying in there? Wake up!”
Who was I kidding? Zaakir was too annoying to do the sensible thing and leave me in peace. He’d stand there knocking until he’d bruised his own hands just to make sure he got a rise out of me.
“I’m up already!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. “And don’t call me Azraa!”
There was a pause. “Azraa,” Zaakir stressed my name, sounding amused. “You’re going to be late if you don’t get up right now.”
“So what?” I mumbled, burying my face in a gloriously soft pillow. There was no way he could have heard me but he answered anyway. “If you’re late, they won’t let you into class. And if you miss another class, you’ll no longer have a high enough attendance rate to write your exams. You’ll have to repeat the year.”
And be in my first year yet again, five years after starting. I swore viciously. No way.
“Are you getting up?” Zaakir asked lightly, from the other side. I imagined punching him in the face and my mood brightened a bit. I’d gone to bed in black sweats and a tank top. Not the most glamorous of clothing, but it’d do.
I washed my face and brushed my teeth then grabbed both a jacket and my messenger bag from where they lay flung over my desk chair.
Five minutes later, face still wet and hair in a tangled ponytail, I flung open the door. “Let’s go!”
A peculiar expression crossed Zaakir’s face. “What?” I demanded aggressively, assuming he was laughing at me.
“Your eyes are red.”
Were they? I hadn’t looked in the mirror during my mad dash to get ready. “I splashed water in them,” I lied. “Now let’s go! If I’m late, you’ll be the one to answer for it. My parents won’t keep paying for you to bury your head in books if you’re no longer useful to me.”
He pursed his lips, all thoughts of my red eyes gone. “Let’s go.”
I’d offended him, I realized in the car when we’d driven for over five minutes in silence. Zaakir was only ever quiet when he was upset over something.
I squirmed uncomfortably. I hadn’t said anything but the truth, I defended myself in my own head. His job was to drive me to and from university – and wherever else I wanted every day.
We were the same age and had been in the same year originally. But now, four years later, he’d finished both an undergrad and honours in the space of four years and was studying his Masters while I had bounced around between faculties and had only a handful of credits that I couldn’t actually use to my name.
I squirmed again. I could have been more sensitive. I knew Zaakir hated being reminded that his parents worked for mine. The first time I’d done it – all the way back when we were five, a few weeks after my mother had hired his as our new housekeeper – he’d cried and refused to play with me for the rest of the day, choosing instead to hide behind his mother’s skirts in the kitchen.
It had been easier to apologize back then. I’d shoved the toy we’d been fighting over at his chest and he’d been all smiles again.
I couldn’t exactly hand him a university.
A noise shattered the silence, making me jump.
I looked down at my stomach. Had I made that noise? As I stared down at my middle, there was another gurgle. This time I felt it. My cheeks began to burn.
Without taking his eyes off the road, Zaakir reached behind him for a paper bag which he dropped onto my lap. “Here. From Mom.”
Lunch. For him – I went out for lunch and his mother had long since stopped making me a meal alongside his after seeing it go to waste so often.
I ate half the wrap before coming up for air. “Fanks,” I mumbled, my mouth full of food.
Zaakir took his eyes off the road long enough to give me a tiny smile.