Jan 24, 2015


by Ruksana
Read Chapter One


Ahmad entered Khaled’s room. Khaled had just finished praying ‘asr, and was reciting tasbih.
Ahmad perched at the end of his brother’s bed and waited.

“AssalamuAlaikumBhai-Jaan,” Khaled smiled at his oldest brother, looking up to him from his sitting position on the floor. 

“WalaikumAssalam, little brother Khaled. I am happy to see that you have maintained your Islam even after your time in America.”

“Bhai-Jaan, I cannot forget Allah, after all that He has blessed me with. Ama always told us, you know that.” Khaled’s eyes glistened thinking about his beloved mother’s recent passing.

“Yes, you were always the one who listened to Ama best,” Ahmad said.

Khaled did not know what to say and smiled faintly. An awkward silence filled the air, as the two brothers studied each other, having been apart for two and a half years. Because of their nine year age gap, the two brothers had never been close, and Ahmed had been like a paternal figure to him, since their father had died just before Khaled’s birth.

“Khaled,” Ahmad started, “I wanted to ask you…if Ama had mentioned us …you know it’s getting hard here in the village…”

“Bhaiyya – please,” Khaled stood up and sat next to his brother, “You are my older brother and you have the right to demand, rather than ask. I know what you want to say…Ama had mentioned it, but even if she had not, you know I would support you.”

Ahmad grinned. “I know my little brother would never forget us,” he said, patting Khaled on his back.

“Of course,” Khaled nodded, “You and Bhabi should come to America. We must stay together. But you know that it’ll take a bit of time, since I have only been there for a year.

“Yes, yes,” Ahmad nodded, “that is understandable. I know you will help us, we will wait for you. May Allah give us all sabr.”

Ahmad patted Khaled’s hair, just as he always used to do. He left the room, elated and found his wife standing five feet away. But before he could say anything to Tahmima, Khaled came into the hallway.

Bhabi,” Khaled called. Tahmima turned around and fixed the edge of her sari over her hair.

“Don’t worry,” Khaled assured her, “Allah has given me the means to help my family and I plan to bring you and Bhaiyya to America. Insha Allah, have some sabr.”

Tahmima smiled and nodded her head. She and Ahmad walked back to their room.

“I told you, “Ahmad informed her, “Khaled would not let us down.”

“Of course not, how could he face the shame from the village, if he neglected to help his only brother. I tell you, you have the right to demand. You must stop being so passive.”

“In time,” Ahmad told her, “my dear, we have to behave passively now, so Khaled will feel bad for us. Don’t worry, I have it planned out.”

Khaled was not completely in the dark about his brother’s feelings towards him. In fact, he had held some suspicions before he had left for America. Ahmad had seemed a bit angry that Khaled was getting an opportunity to study in America.

But it was their mother’s cousin who had chosen Khaled to come back to American with him, instead of Ahmad. Maryam had not questioned his reasons, because the wise woman knew both of her sons well and agreed with her cousin’s choice. Ahmad had asked his mother countless times, “Why, not me? Why Khaled?” However, Maryam always told him they were in no position to choose and to just be happy that one member of their family was getting an opportunity that would raise the family from poverty. Khaled was never privy to any of these conversations between Ahmad and Maryam, however he suspected that his older brother felt a bit envious, but he, like Maryam, believed his mother’s cousin had good reason for his choosing. Now two years later, he was happy to give the same opportunity to Ahmad, and to perhaps take away the ill feelings Ahmad had against him. Hopefully in America, they would be closer brothers…that would happen, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it? Why not? Khaled again slipped into a reverie, about their life in America.

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