Imagine you re sleeping in a dark room and suddenly you wake up and you're startled by how dark it is.You can't even see your hand in front of your face. The darkness didn't bother you before because you were asleep, in fact it helped you sleep better and now that you are awake the darkness agitates you it scares you and you search in the pitch dark for a switch or a door handle to lighten up the room. You find the switch and lights blind you and you squint but soon your eyes adjust to the light and you realize how much better the room is with the lights on, you never what to go back to facing the pitch darkness on your own again.
The past few days had been like someone had switched on the lights in the my room and now my eyes were adjusting the the light, almost as if I was experiencing them for the first time after a really long time. The realizations that I had had were unsettling but for the first time in a very long time I was being honest with myself and facing my doubts and taking my life more seriously. That night after sister Emily's guests had left and the left over food had been cleared up. I helped Aminah prepare dinner and the rest of the evening went by in a daze. At night when I lay down to sleep, I just couldn't sleep even though I felt tired but it felt as if there was someone constantly murmuring random thoughts in the ear and I just couldn't relax. I pulled away my blanket and walked up to the guest room cupboard hoping to find a spare pillow. I found one on the top most shelf and as I pulled it out a package fell on the floor.
I sat down on the bed and opened it and it was a package addressed to me, 'thats strange, why was this never posted to me, I hope it isn't something important..' I thought. When I opened the brown paper packaging I found that there were 30 or so letters all addressed to me in the same untidy handwriting. Handwriting that looked vaguely familiar. The letter were written in extremely untidy handwriting and the paper it seemed had been torn in a hurry from the same journal over and over again .
The writer hadn't even taken out the time to smooth out the jagged edges of the paper. The letters appeared as they were written from someone who was furious. The letters all bore Aminah's signature at the end: I felt a shiver run down my spine. 'What dark secret is Aminah hiding? I hope everything is okay between her and Omer' Many bad thoughts flooded my brain and I closed my eyes and tried to calm myself down. I took a deep breath , allowing myself to read through all the letters. You're probably wondering what I found:
Ever since Aminah had become more religiously inclined I had grown apart from her and I made no secret of it. I admired her for her courage to do what she believed in and in all honesty I was jealous of her, but I would not even admit this fact to myself. I tried to avoid being around her as much as I could not never have known or cared to know how difficult it was for Aminah to handle my cold shoulder treatment: these letters allowed me to experience what my younger sister had to say about my attitude. In her letter I saw an Aminah who was scared, uncertain and above all upset. Uncertain of how her new found closeness to faith would allow her to live a normal life.
Scared of spending the rest of her life with Omer and wondering if she knew him well enough to get married to him. She accused me of leaving her when she needed me the most, she was upset at me and she wrote of all the times I had gone out of my way to publicly humiliate her and mock her for trying to correct me or help me. Amazingly she never abused me for the way I treated her. The letters read out more like a diary, not every letter had accusations some letters were written to share something positive and as I read further the Aminah's tone became more calm , I could sense a sadness when she wrote of my behaviour but she accepted it and now that she was married new challenges had given way to new worries, I learnt something about my sister that I hadn't known before: her life had been anything but easy.
Aminah had always shared her feelings with me. When we were close we always had a lot to discuss and share with one another. Aminah trusted my opinion more then she trusted her own ability to make decisions on her own sometimes, those would be the times I would have to step in as her big sister, trying to protect her from harm's way, guiding her as best as I could but once we grew apart Aminah did not know who to turn to for advice and after getting married her letters portrayed her life to be filled with even more uncertainties; Omer had to work to jobs just to be able to support the two of them and to add to their problems it had been difficult for him to find a job that didn't go against the Islamic values. Some letters spoke of Aminah having to spend sleepless nights at our parents place as Omer would be working nights and not return home until early in the morning. The two would get into fights over petty issues, one could easily tell that married life took a lot of adjusting to for Aminah.
As I read through all the letter, tears ran down my cheeks. I felt ashamed of myself for letting my pride come in the way of me supporting my sister. I felt as if so much time had been lost fighting with Aminah and I wondered if things could ever be the way they were again. I doubted Aminah would ever forgive me. The last letter in package read something like this:
I don't think I will ever find the courage to post you these letters and I don't think I want to. What I want is to forget what ever bad blood there is between us and start afresh. I always tried to be civil with you and keep up ties but deep inside my heart I still hated you for how you treated me. Now I have decided to to truly forgive you for everything. I know that my forgiving you will not change your attitude but one must try from their end to do what is right and that is what I intend to do: I forgive you.
I have no expectations from you that you will ever realize the damage you have done to me but I have full faith in Allah that He will heal my pain and in time fix things between us, for He is the Turner of Hearts. I cannot carry this burden of resentment with me and I need to move on with my life, regardless of whether you are a part of it or not. I forgive you because you are my sister and some part of me still loves you. I forgive you because I want Allah to forgive me! None of us are free from sins or faults but just as we hope in Allah's All Encompassing Forgiveness we must also forgive each other of our mistakes. I have always told you that I never meant to disgrace you or humiliate you in front of anyone but you never listened and if you were to ask me if I would continue to try to correct you and share things that I learnt from the Quran and Sunnah, then my answer is yes. Yes I will not stop and seize every opportunity to help you in the way that I know best. What else do you do when someone you love blindly keeps going in the wrong direction? You try and try to snap them out of it, you try and talk some sense. Don't you want to be with me when we go to Jannah Noura, I want you there!
I hope Allah turns things around and makes everything better. Ameen.
After reading all the letters, I felt like my heart had been shredded in to a million pieces. The pain was intense and it overwhelmed me, I wished that I could go back in time, I wished I could have seen how the repercussions of my actions before I had even acted upon my selfish thoughts and above all I wished for Allah to forgive me. I quickly got up and made wudu and laid out the prayer mat and dropped in sujood asking Allah over and over again for Him to forgive me. I don't know when I fell asleep but it was the most peaceful sleep I had in ages. And when I woke up I felt as if a burden had been lifted from my shoulders.
It was time to let go of the past and it was time to make amends. I silently prayed to Allah to make things easy for me and I got out of bed , put on the prayer outfit and went to wake up Aminah so we could pray Fajr together. I could feel it , it was the start of a new beginning.
(Stay tuned for part 6 Insha'Allah :) )