By Alawiya Abdalla
He does not say anything for a few seconds and then he asks
What am I doing on TV? And why are they looking for me? I did nothing wrong! That was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw myself on TV
We all did not say anything when we watched it, But my uncle asked the first question.
“So do any of you wanna tell me what is going on here?”
“It’s not what it looks like uncle, Walahi” I try to explain the situation.
I did not do anything, well apart from using my slippers to bring down a thug Oh Subhanallah when I think about saying it like that, it sounds so demented
“Dad, I took Shaimaa to show her around in Hendon and she went in to give this girl her teddy in the bank and then the bank was being robbed by this guy and Shaimaa beat him up that’s all” Osman jumped in after sensing my hesitation.
“ Didn't you guys stay to give in your statements?” Uncle Khalifa asked hoping the answer would be yes
“Errm__well__I was kind of excited to have done that, so I ran out of the bank yelling I did it!” Oh no that sounds demented too
“Shaimaa! They could twist this whole thing and make it into what they want! The media hate Muslims here. But not to worry I’ll call my lawyer immediately” He told us off and went to speak with his lawyer straight away.
“This is all my fault” I say it holding my face in shame
“You've done nothing wrong. But like my dad said, they always look for anything to blame it on muslims. So just be prepared if that’s the case” He tells me with a worried tone to his voice.
“Let’s check the internet and see what they’re saying. We only watched the last bit!” Suggests Osman, opening the laptop at the same time.
He goes to Google and types video of a Niqabi+slippers, and A LOT of results come up. He clicks on BBC News, and we read the article.
“LOCAL NINJA SAVES THE DAY” It says
It says that I saved the day by hitting the thug with a pair of slippers, and that according to eyewitnesses they heard someone shout NINJA STOP (OH OK! So that’s HOW they assumed my name is Ninja)
Osman looks at me with a big smile and says
“You’re famous! You see calling you Ninja was not so bad after all ”
“Are you kidding? They’re actually saying that” I ask not believing this whole ridiculous thing
“They’re asking if anyone knows you or me, because the police want our statements. I guess it’s procedure? once you've witnessed a crime, you have to go in and give in your__erm__statement” He says hesitantly
“Are you OK?” I ask him after noticing his silence all of a sudden.
“Yeah! Yes I'm cool. But look at you little miss famous! Can I get an autograph please?” He pretends that he’s holding a paper for me to sign
“Not funny! I'm not famous! I don’t want to be, and I won’t Inshallah” I insist sharply
My uncle got off the phone at that moment, and he came over to let us know about his conversation with the lawyer.
“Seems like we have a hero in our house?” He smiles broadly
“Oh no. Not you too uncle!” I say it feeling really daft about this whole thing!
“Seriously, it’s all over the news. And if you put Youtube on, it’s there too. You’re like that women who grabbed a cat and dropped it in the wheeling bin, and the whole media is looking for you just like they were looking for her” He explains “But obviously you’re less cruel than that woman”
“Then we should make a move on now then_ right?” Asks Osman.
“Definitely, the lawyer will meet us at the police station” Replies my uncle.
We get ready and out of the door as fast as we can. I do not feel comfortable man! I do not like being the centre of attention, I always shied away from these kind of shenanigans
We were about to take my uncle’s car, when he looked uncomfortable all of a sudden.
“Dad, what’s up? let’s go or we’ll be late” Osman reminds his father after seeing his fidgety state.
“Why don’t we take your car instead Osman, it’s not appropriate to make him drive us while you’re here” I suggest it after seeing my uncle’s desperate looks towards me.
My uncle mouths (Thank You) to me , and I nod my head in return.
So we all get in Osman’s car and off we go to the nearest police station, which is in Colindale.
The lawyer is already there when we arrive. He greets us and informs us that he has spoken to the officers to let them know that we are on our way.
So we wait to be called out
He told us that they just want our statements, because this was an armed robbery and that they need to gather evidence to present it to court.
Two police officers come out to see us. They inform us that they will interview us separately, first me and then Osman.
That causes me to have a panic attack! I look over at Osman and he winks at me to reassure me.
We sit in a tiny room, and I notice that they have a small stereo looking thing with a cassette inside it ready to record
“Anything you say in this room is recorded and will be used in court for evidence” They start the interview
I feel my hands getting sweaty, so I recite Surat Yasin secretly.
I recall everything to them, from following the little girl who dropped the teddy to me fleeing the scene because I was too excited at the outcome of the situation.
They finished asking me questions, and I was let go. I was free woohoo! Even though I knew I was not being questioned to be arrested, I was still SCAAAREDDDD.
It is the way they were interviewing me! It was so formal. Was I expecting a cup of tea? Yes actually I was
If I was in Egypt and my uncle was this well known business man, I was soo gonna be offered tea and biscuits maybe even LUNCH!
But here, nooo. In a way it is a good thing I guess! Everybody is equal here? I have no idea.
Anyway it was Osman’s turn to go for the interview, and no I did NOT wink at him if you must know I simply nodded at him to wish him luck.
While Osman was being interviewed I took this opportunity to check on my uncle’s health.
“So uncle, how are you feeling today?” I ask him.
“Same binti (daughter) things just keep slipping out of my mind one minute, and then it’s OK the next. I just can’t wait till I get the results tomorrow” He says it with sadness in his eyes.
“Inshallah Khair uncle, Ramadan is next week. We will pray day and night to help you get through this Inshallah” I remind him about the blessed month of Ramadan.
“We?” He asks.
“Yes. Me, you and Osman Inshallah. He promised me that he’ll try and change his ways and I believe him” I tell him happily.
“Oh Shaimaa, we all tried to change him. None of us could, that boy is nothing but trouble” Says my uncle defeated.
“I don’t see him that way uncle. Is he walking in the wrong path? Yes. Is he unfixable? No. And do you know why?” I explain it to him, so he can see the goodness that I see in Osman.
“Why?” He asks interested in what I have to say.
“Because your son has a good heart. He might be arrogant and conceited, but he’s kind” I tell him my opinion honestly.
He does not say anything for a few seconds and then he asks
“Shaimaa. Are you falling for Osman? Answer me truthfully binti (daughter)”
“WHAT?? ME AND OSMAN?? NO WAY UNCLE!! You've let your imagination run REALLY wild Subhanallah” I answer him not quite believing what he insinuated
“We are talking now, he stopped being rude to me and all that. We actually agreed to be friends. Really there’s nothing going on AT ALL” I insist sharply.
“Is that why you didn't wear your Niqab this morning? Shaimaa I'm only asking this questions because you’re a good girl and Ozzy__Well, he is a heart breaker He gets bored easily with women, that’s just the way he is. Just guard your heart please” He warns me.
“Seriously uncle, you have nothing to worry about! I'm just trying to help him that’s all” I assure him.
Even if I start liking him at some point, and I am saying IF because I DON’T! But if I do, I will never act on it. In fact, I would make him a good enough muslim so he can get himself a nice girl.
He deserves a good girl, not used goods like me! I know where I stand. I gave up on my dreams of having a normal marriage and kids after that fateful night.
I accept that this is as happy as I will ever be as far as marriage is concerned. I am content with that, but that does not mean that I will stop helping him! Anyway he will never see me as his happily ever after wife once he has tasted the sweetness of Iman.
I am fine with that.
“Have I upset you Shaimaa? I apologize, I just thought you could do better than my son. Even if I say so myself, I'm not gonna sit here and defend him when I know how he’s like” He apologizes to me after seeing me lost in my thoughts.
“You have nothing to apologize for uncle. I'm fine Walahi! You’ll see. Once I'm finished with Osman, I’ll even marry him off to someone who will suit him perfectly Inshallah” I assure him.
“If he can’t see you, then he won’t see anyone else dear” He tells me chuckling at the same time
Osman comes out of the room, and we breath a sigh of relief as this whole thing seems to be over.
We were making our way to the car when Osman asked to speak to me privately.
“Do you wanna go anywhere specific today?” He asks suddenly
“Actually I wanted to go to the Central Mosque, but I wanted to go through a list of things with you first” I reply.
“A list?” He asks curiously.
“Yep. And don’t ask what’s in it because__well because__Alright I haven’t written it down but it’s in my head” I feel embarrassed because I wanted to make the list first and then inform him, but he totally took me by surprise when he asked me where I wanted to go
“Okay?” He says suspiciously
“Don’t worry, relax. We need to go through the list before the next course of action” I tell him happily
He does not say anything, but I can see that he is intrigued to know what the list is. I bet YOU’RE intrigued to know as well right? Well, you are just gonna have to wait OK
We finished with the police interview and as soon as I stepped out of the station I see missed calls from Amber
I really do not wanna see or speak to any of them at the moment to be honest. I think I should distance myself gradually from them, bit by bit so they will not suspect a thing.
I instantly thought about Shaimaa to distract me with this uneasiness I get every time I get a missed call from them, she always seems to know what to say or do.
So I asked her if she needed to do something, and as I suspected she wants to go to a Mosque! But before the Mosque she wants to show me a list
I wonder what is in the list?? You see what I mean? She always manages to keep me wondering, that girl. I do not know why I am hanging on to every word she says.
I do not know what is this feeling I get every time I speak to her??
It is not like the feelings I normally get with chicks do you know what I mean? No you do not cuz you are a girl? Well the dudes will understand
It is not pity I feel towards her, No. She is pretty strong considering what she has been through. I do not know what I'm feeling?? Its like I find myself wondering what kind of mother she would be for our kids! OUR KIDS? I HATE KIDS! Yet I find myself thinking about that!
And when she cooked us that amazing breakfast, THAT’ WAS IT! My mind was captured with that first bite I took.
What man does not like a woman who cooks?? I wonder what other dishes can she cook? I like a woman who knows how to cook boy!
And also I'm finding myself changing the way I talk. I automatically talk to her in NORMAL English not the__
“Ay blad, did you see me in da party it was butters till I got up and booooom ting__I ain't even joking bruv innit doe?” You see what I mean you cannot understand a word right? EXACTLY (The author DOES apologize for the cringe worthy usage of nowadays slang!)
Whatever it is, I know that I am finding it more and more difficult NOT to like Shaimaa.
MY FRIEND, Shaimaa! Maybe that is it! I like her as a friend? That must be it
I have never been friends with a girl before! I just did not believe in that. You can never be friends with a girl, you just cannot. Cannot explain it, just a man thing.
Actually I did not believe it until now, maybe that is how it feels when you become friends with a girl? I do not know
All I know is Shaimaa has been dominating all my thoughts lately!
We reach our house after 10 minutes. We go inside and Shaimaa immediately disappears
My dad tells me that he is leaving for work, so I am left by myself in the living room
Shaimaa appears with a notepad and a pen, and she also seems to be wearing glasses!
“I didn't know you wore glasses” I told her as soon as I saw her.
“Actually I don’t. These are just to make me look smart, don’t you think it makes me look smart?” She answers innocently.
“You’re mad!” I hold back a giggle.
“I know! Anyway. Before we go to the Mosque I would like to make a list of the things that is wrong in your life” She tells me while adjusting her FAKE glasses
“What do you wanna know exactly?” I ask her.
“First of all. Do you smoke cigarette or weed?” She asks.
“Yep and yep” I reply.
“Alright? Do you drink Alcohol?” She asks looking at me intently.
“Yeah” I say that guiltily
“Do you eat pork?” She asks.
“NO WAY!” I reply sharply.
“Wow, such a strong No there!” She remarks adjusting her fake glasses even though it never moved
“Have you_of course you have! I don’t know how to put this? You know what I mean right?” She asks awkwardly.
“No I don’t know what you mean” I say it even though I know what she means
“YOU_ SO_KNOW! I'm assuming the answer is Yes since you’re being all annoying about it” She says it angrily
“What is the point of this list?” I ask impatiently.
“In a minute Inshallah” She dismisses me with her hands
She writes something in her notepad and then mutters the word “interesting” to herself
What the hell is this all about man?? I did not have to wait long before she said
“I am done with the list. You can relax now Mr Osman” She says formally
“Are you alright today? Or did you just wake up and thought OH I THINK I NEED TO PRETEND THAT I'M SHRINK TODAY” I say mockingly.
“Make fun all you want Mr but the proof__is in the notes” She brings the notes close to my face, talking in that annoying shrink type voice.
“Would her highness care to share the facts with us?” I ask her sarcastically
“Well Mr Osman. You have a LOT of problems” She starts
“a) You smoke thinking yeah I'm cool like that (lowering her voice to imitate me) which of course we all know it’s not”
“b) you’re a raging alcoholic and__” I interrupt her by saying
“RAGING ALCOHOLIC?? Now that’s crazy!”
“You interrupted me again! That’s not an acceptable behaviour you know” She reprimands me like a kid
“YOU INTERRUPT ME ALL THE TIME! That’s not fair and I'm NOT a raging alcoholic!!” I do not understand where she got that from? she only knows me for like two days!
“Anyway. Moving on. When I asked you if you ate pork, you JUMPED like no tomorrow. Why is eating pork different than drinking alcohol? I'm very interested to know” She tips her glasses forward to take a good look at me, I never knew why people do that! Do they not wear glasses to SEE better??
“I don’t know why. I have always thought like that for as long as I remember” I actually DO NOT KNOW why
“And your__activities with the ladies? Doesn't it scare you that you could have a son or daughter out there?” She asks.
“I DON’T HAVE NO BABIES OUT THERE! I'm sure alright” I think?
“How could you be so sure? Have you talked to the ladies you were involved with?” She says it and shaking her head at the same time.
“I just know OKAY!” I do not like this anymore
“Look. I was only trying to make a light of the situation by wearing these glasses, and pretending I was a shrink. But, you really do have a lot of issues to deal with here Osman” She says it in that sincere voice again.
“I know that” I reply thinking there is no need to kid myself anymore, this road has lead me to nothing but destruction. It is time to face up to the truth.
“So will you help me help you?” She asks.
“I will Walahi. I'm fed up” I answer defeated, thinking about Kevin and Amber.
“Alright. That’s great! We’ll start by calling every girl that you have used and dumped. You’ll apologize to them and then ask them if you have fathered any kids” She informs me of her very scary plan!
“They’ll hang up the phone! They’ll curse me! They’ll kill me over the phone! Please anything but that!” I plead with her.
“Come on. It’s just like a band aid, quick and painless” She smiles while saying it
So we go through my phone list and call each and every single girl I have been with. I do not even have to tell you what they said to me, but you get the picture right?
BUT, the good news is I was not any kids' daddy Of that I am glad boy! How come I never thought about that I have no idea!
You see what I mean when I say that I'm hanging on to everything she says!!! If it was someone else who suggested this I would have sworn like no tomorrow boy!
But with her it’s like__Osman jump and I say How high! I do not get it
I put my feelings towards her aside as we get ready to leave. We are going to the Mosque, and I am feeling VERY anxious. I have not set foot in one since I was 9
I wait for her downstairs, and I can tell she is smiling from under her Niqab. I smile back and when I make my way to the door I stop when she calls out my name.
“Osman wait” She says.
“Yes” I feel my heart flutter
“Why aren't you wearing a belt? Your trousers are falling!” She asks totally ruining the moment
“I ALWAYS wear it like this” I protest.
“It looks stupid!” She remarks.
“Here. Happy now” I pull my trousers up
“Much better. Now you look like a normal human being with normal sized trousers” She says it happily
We are going to the Mosque by bus and I am feeling totally excited, I could do cartwheels
I have to admit that I am finding it sooo easy to get Osman to do what I ask him to do! And every now and then I see fear and worry that he tries to hide!
Maybe that is why he is letting me guide him so easily? I wonder to myself what kind of trouble he must be in, I hope nothing big Inshallah
Before we know it, we reached the destination and we are standing right outside the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
I take a few steps forward and I notice that Osman is hesitating at the entrance.
“Say this Duaa with me” I urge him
“أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ الْعَظِيمِ، وَبِوَجْهِهِ الْكَرِيمِ، وَسُلْطَانِهِ الْقَدِيمِ، مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ”. [بِسْمِ اللهِ، وَالصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَّامُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ] “اللَّهُمَّ افْتَحْ لِي أَبْوَابَ رَحْمَتِكَ”
I seek refuge in Almighty Allah, by His Noble Face, by His primordial power, from Satan the outcast. In the Name of Allah, and blessings. And peace be upon the Messenger of Allah. O Allah, open before me the doors of Your mercy.
He says it with me and he seems to have relaxed a little bit
We go to the entrance, and I see that the men’s section is right in front of us and the lady’s section is on my right.
“Go and do Wudu, then pray two Rakahs. Then we’ll wait for the Zuhur prayer OK?” I encourage him after seeing his worry.
“OK” He replies with a smile.
I head towards the ladies section and he goes towards the men’s section.
I enter the room and I could not make out where the actual praying place was! All I see was the ablution place and the toilet.
I look around and I spot this lady who was doing ablution as well.
“Asalamu Alykum sis. Where do I go to pray please? I'm new here” I ask her and see that she is with two kids.
“Wa Alykum Asalam, it’s upstairs I’ll take you there if you want?” She offers with a smile
“Jazakallah” I return the smile as I open my Niqab to make Wudu.
“It’s Aaliyah By the way. And these are my two kids Amal and Mohamed” She introduces me to her kids. Amal looks like she is bored and fed up but Mohamed offers me a big old grin.
She waits for me to finish my Wudu and then she takes me upstairs where we could pray.
As I enter the place I feel my heart soar with happiness This place is BEAUTIFUL beyond words. All I manage to say is Subhanallah Tabarakallah.
I go to the front and I pray my two Rakahs. After I finish I make Duaa for my whole family, including my new one
“Mohamed come back here next to me” Yells Aaliyah at her son.
“I wanna see my dad ma!” Protests her son.
“I asked you if you wanted to go with him and you said no, now you wanna go to him??” Says Aaliyah in an annoyed tone.
“Yes please” Whispers her son.
“Amal, take him to your dad please” She looks at her daughter for help.
“MA! Can’t he go by himself?” Argues Amal, looking at her brother angrily
“Please dear. Just do it this once, otherwise he won’t stop it and you know that” Pleads Aaliyah.
“FINE” Says Amal and throwing her hands up in the air.
She takes her brother by the hand, and takes him downstairs.
Aaliyah looks at me embarrassingly and says
“Kids! Nothing pleases them ey? I never did catch your name” She looks at me.
“It’s Shaimaa” I reply.
“Are you here by yourself Shaimaa?” She asks with a kind smile.
“ I'm here with my cous_husband” I say it cautiously
“Oh I see. Hold on a second, I just wanna make sure Mohamed is with his dad” She looks through this glass in front of us that I did not notice before.
“You can see where the men pray through that glass?” I ask her intrigued.
“Yeah, you wanna see your husband? Come” She motions for me to come over.
I look down and I look for Osman. I spot him talking to a man, and Aaliyah’s son.
“Which one is he?” She asks.
“The one who’s talking to your husband and your son” I assume he is the husband.
“That’s my ex-husband” She corrects me with sadness in her voice.
“I'm sorry” I apologize for my mistake
“Oh don’t be! It’s been four years since we divorced. Amal was only 6 years and she took it the hardest, hence the attitude” She says it jokingly even though I can sense the sadness within her.
“May Allah get you through this” I pray for her.
“Ameen Ya Rab” She replies with a smile.
At that moment a woman comes to our side and gives us leaflets.
“Salamu Alykum ladies. My name is Iman, and I'm giving out these leaflets to get as many sisters to sign up to my self defence classes” She explains what’s in the leaflet.
“You teach these classes?” I ask her.
“Yes Alhamdulilah” She replies confidently.
“Inshallah I’ll try and come” I promise her, thinking I really would like to take these classes.
At that moment, the Imam calls for the Zuhur prayer and we line up to pray.
I wonder how Osman is doing
As soon as I stepped foot in this place, I was hit with serenity that I have never felt before. I do not know how to describe it other than calmness that I have never felt before.
This place is huge, I look at the chandelier that is hanging from the ceiling and I become mesmerized. I look around me and I see men from all ages, sitting quietly and praying.
That’s when I felt ashamed! I do not know how to make Wudu, I forgot how to as it has been so long. So I just sit at the corner feeling awkward about not knowing what to do!
A man in his forties approaches me after seeing me looking confused. He tells me that his name is Samir. He asks me if I was a convert, and I chuckle and tell him that I am a muslim who does not know how to pray
Instead of judging me, he takes me to the ablution place and shows me how to make Wudu step by step. And then he asks me if I want to pray Jamaah with him, and I happily oblige. When we finish, we see a little boy running our way which turns out to be his son. After that the Imam calls for the Zuhur prayer, and sensing my worry he asks me to stand next to him and do exactly the same as before.
When we finish the prayer, I feel something jolting in my heart. I cannot describe it, but it was amazing. I feel safe and happy for the first time in my life
I do not feel scared inside these walls, I feel like staying here forever. Safe and serene, even though I have not recited anything.
It is the feeling of being a part of a group, finally belonging somewhere. I do not want to leave this place, but I know that Shaimaa is waiting for me outside so I excuse myself to go find her.
As soon as I see her standing outside waiting for me, I realize the weird feelings that I was experiencing towards her. I love this girl who came unexpectedly in my life and changed it upside down. I make a vow to change myself, so I can be the husband she can rely on.No more foolishness, this is a new and improved Osman. I am not gonna tell her how I feel until I am completely changed
I was making my way to her, when I heard my phone beep with a text message.
“Where are you? I'm at your house and your dad said that you left! Kevin wants you for a job tonight. I'm not leaving until I speak to you” I read the text from Amber
My heart sinks all the way to the bottom of the ground
I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)