From the moment I heard the voice, I knew that this person had some kind of hidden agenda. He wasn’t just concerned with what we were trying to conceal. He had some other motive for intruding. Aaliya and I looked at each other anxiously.
It was one of Robbie’s horrible friends. I could see the evil glint in his eye as he sized us both up, taking note of the fact that the two of us were here without any real defense. He didn’t know what Aaliya was capable of, though.
He smiled an ugly smile, before approaching us suggestively. I wanted to puke.
“So, what’s happening here, girls? Have I missed the party?” He sniggered nastily, nodding in the direction of Mark’s motionless body.
“Laila, right?” He was addressing me, but I refused to answer. Why should I give him the satisfaction of knowing I even acknowledged him? He was repulsive.
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Mark’s body move. I was a teensy bit relieved, because for a moment there I had actually thought that Aaliya had-
I shook my head to erase the thought. If he wakes up now, it might be even worse. He would definitely want to try to get Aaliya back for whatever she had done. What did she even do to knock out a hefty-sized guy like him?
I didn’t know what it was with her, but it seemed like she just had a way of attracting trouble. It was tiresome.
“We were just leaving, actually,” I said to the newcomer. I stared at him icily, attempting to convey across at least a little bit of my hostility. It seemed to completely bypass him.
He took out something from his pocket, and placed it on one of the desks. I strained my eyes to see what it was, but I couldn’t.
“Let’s play a game, girls,” he said, treating us like some kind of practical joke. I wanted to fist his face in.
I made my way towards the entrance, attempting to pass him. He blocked my way, moving wherever I went. It was kind of childish, actually. He thought I was scared of him, but I wasn’t.
From the minute he walked in I was reciting my Du’aa for protection, and I had full faith that we would be able to escape this situation fairly unscathed. I was surprisingly indifferent to his presence. My attitude evoked a bit of a disturbance somewhere within me, but the excitement of escaping also gave me a bit of a thrill.
But if I left, what would become of Aaliya? She seemed rooted to the spot where she stood, showing no intention of moving. I knew that she could defend herself, but what if she did something stupid again? I didn’t want to be responsible.
I stepped back, narrowing my eyes at him. I didn’t even know what his name was, the idiot. He didn’t know that I wasn’t the scared little girl that I used to be. I had no place for fear of a mere human being. The only thing I feared was the Almighty.
He smirked at me, as if challenging me. He was quite a sturdy guy, but I was being ambitious in my thinking. Just as I was thinking about shoving him aside and making a run for it, I caught sight of a figure at the entrance of the library. It must be Bilal, looking for me. I was so relieved.
As the figure approached from behind the repulsive intruder, I held my breath. I thought they would silently come in and diffuse the situation, but obviously they didn’t feel that was the best thing to do. I felt immediately disappointed. What was wrong with him?
He announced his presence quite audibly to us whilst greeting us all casually. He was still in school uniform, so was immediately recognised when he entered. It wasn’t Bilal.
I was baffled. How did Yusuf know we were in trouble? I had no time to even contemplate it.
“Howzit, Andrew?” he spoke normally, as if greeting a friend.
I wanted to knock some sense into him. I looked at him quizzically, as if trying to establish what his deal was. Couldn’t he see that this idiot, ‘Andrew’, was being difficult?
He caught sight of my questioning look, and held his hand up, as if signalling me to wait. Andrew just looked at him, unfazed. He was one of those guys who were seemingly fearless.
Until faced with a gun to his head, I thought hopefully.
“What’s the problem here?” Yusuf asked Andrew, still sounding friendly. “Why don’t you leave these girls alone so we can all just go home?”
Andrew shook his head. He spoke in a matter-of-fact tone.
“We have some business to discuss, actually,” he said to Yusuf. “Laila and I.”
He smirked at me, and I stared at him back with loathing. What on earth did this creep want with me?
Yusuf shifted uncomfortably, and I saw his expression change for a minute. There was a moment where I thought he was going to lose it. A moment when he wore a look of pure vexation, just like I had seen in Umar’s eyes, that day at the hospital.
He stepped forward, and stepped back again. Umar and Yusuf were brothers, but Yusuf knew how to control himself. Although I knew this, I expected him to do something a little more than talking at this moment. He was being too cautious. I wanted to literally go and shake him up. I couldn’t stand here and watch whilst ‘Andrew’ got the upper hand here. This whole discussion had to be something to do with Robbie.
I could no longer be quiet. Andrew had his arms folded, blocking my way. Aaliya was standing on the other side of the room, trying to be invisible. Yusuf… Well, he was being an idiot. Why wasn’t he doing something?
“Yusuf,” I started, getting panicked. “Can’t you see what this guy is doing? Do something, don’t just stand there!”
I was getting angry at him. The least he could do was threaten Andrew. Why was he being so annoyingly passive? He had authority here, after all. He should use it.
Yusuf shook his head at me. He was silent whilst Andrew smirked back at us. Looked like I had to take this into my own hands.
I tried once again to pass Andrew from the side, but he was too quick for me, this time shoving me aside. I landed on my knees, between two rows of shelves on the library floor.
“Laila!” Yusuf shouted. I could see his fist clenching and unclenching from where I was, but he didn’t move.
Now he was really angry. With me.
“What is wrong with you? Why can’t you just let me handle this?!” He said aggressively. His voice went soft again.”Dammit.”
He raised his hands in frustration, shook his head, still standing in the same place he was standing for the past five minutes.
Because you were being useless, I felt like telling him.
He turned to me from where he stood, and his anger seemed to have dissolved. He spoke firmly to me.
“I’m trying to do the right thing here! I don’t want any unnecessary fighting or bloodshed. You seemed to have forgotten where that landed my brother or how it hurt your sister. You’re caught up in your own world, Laila! You don’t know what people are capable of doing.”
He was addressing me as if there was no-one else in the room. Talking as if this Andrew wasn’t even here. He looked directly at me for the first time ever. He wasn’t done.
“Not everything is about getting revenge and trying to prove yourself to others. Sometimes, it’s about creating understanding, peace and tolerance. It’s about trying to be the better person. About being a Muslim.” He shook his head at me and looked away again.
Oh great. Now he was giving me a Bayaan. Frankly, I didn’t care. And who did he think he was anyway? Being all righteous and condescending.
Despite trying to remain nonchalant, I could feel my cheeks flushing, while Andrew and Aaliya both looked at me, waiting for my reaction. I think even Andrew was in shock at Yusuf’s speech. For once in my life, I had nothing to say. But I was furious.
I didn’t stop to think about the pride that was causing me to feel so bitter at his reprimanding me. It was the pride that had enraged me and made me so angry at him. I couldn’t put it aside to take heed of what he was trying to teach me. All I knew was that I didn’t deserve him telling me that. I didn’t deserve being spoken to like a child.
But what was I deserving of? What made me different from anyone else? I was truly deserving of nothing. I deserved every bit that Yusuf had admonished me with. I had nothing that was remotely likeable within me. Allah Ta’ala only knew if there was any goodness in me.
True humility is to truly believe that you are the worst. That everyone else is better than you… To take criticism humbly, and believe that you are deserving of any kind of insult. It was another level, completely beyond me.
I, however, thought I was too good to be told anything.
“Shall I inform you of the people of Paradise? They are every weak and humble person, if he takes an oath to Allah, it will be fulfilled. Shall I inform you of the people of the Fire? They are every cruel, violent and proud person.” [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah]
I didn’t realise all that then. I didn’t know how to deal with what he was telling me or how to react. I had forgotten that Iblees (Shaytaan) had disobeyed Allah Ta’ala due to his pride and arrogance. It was indeed a disliked trait.
Lash out or stalk off? That was all I was thinking.
I wasn’t sure what I was about to do in response, because I didn’t have time to process my options. Before I could even think about it, alarm bells starting ringing in my head.
Then everything went black.
Author’s note: JazakAllah and Thank You all for reading. Apologies for not being able to post every day, but I do aim to at least post four a week. If I miss a day, I will probably post the following day.
I know today’s lesson is a little difficult for us all, but I feel the readers are at a stage where they are ready for it. Pride is a very difficult thing to overcome completely, but constantly reminding ourselves that we are created out of mere clay, is one way to truly acknowledge how insignificant we are. Allah Ta’ala does not need us, so what makes us feel like we are even the slightest bit important?
SubhanAllah. Let’s try and diminish our inner demons and pride. Allah Ta’ala loves those who turn to Him in humility.
Quick Q(just crossed my mind): Anyone think Yusuf was out of line?
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