Everything As It Seems A Short Story by Everything As It Seems

Surraya uncrossed her feet and then crossed them again. She shoved her hands deeper into her pockets, her itchy freezing fingers in search of some warmth. Gosh, it was cold, she thought. She was sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting for her turn. Her throat wasn’t getting any better, and after a week of taking cough syrup, she was back with an even worse case of strep throat. These bloody doctors don’t care about a thing except their bank accounts, she fumed, as she rolled her eyes and slumped back in her chair. She had a sudden urge to strangle someone with a stethoscope.

Suddenly Amira walked into the waiting room and Surraya’s eyes widened. She watched as her neighbour booked her name at the reception desk and came to sit in an empty chair across the room. Surraya’s gaze ran down from Amira’s crumbled dupatta, to her ugly cotton clothes with the ancient design, to the flip flops on her feet. Her dark unkempt black hair was playing hide and seek, with curls popping out from beneath the cloth on her head. There were horrible black bags under her eyes. Her face looked worn and exhausted, as though her affair with sleep had ended years ago. Surraya’s scrutinizing study came down to pause at her neighbor’s bulging belly. She’d heard enough about Amira to know what kind of person she was.

Her husband worked all day, brought money home, and took the kids out on weekends. She used to watch them on Saturday afternoons from her living room window. They lived in the huge bungalow across from her, with the rose bushes and vegetable patch. She had what Surraya believed to be the perfect life, with everything a woman could ask for. Yet the woman always looked sad and depressed, messy and weak. She avoided conversation and if someone did happen to talk to her, she would just snap back or not even reply. People in the community often talked about her; some even said she was ‘a bit in the head’. At a mosque gathering, Naseem the tailor had shared that she had gone round to Amira’s house the day before. She had found the kitchen to be filled with dirty dishes and saw that the kids were in front of the telly, still in their pyjamas. They told her that their mother was asleep upstairs. “It was disgraceful!” she said, her eyes filled with disgust. “The lady was sleeping through the afternoon, she had probably missed her prayers too!” Saeeda, the madrassah teacher, had quickly interjected saying how Amira didn’t even come to the Tajweed classes. She stopped coming after the first few days, she told everyone else disapprovingly. Surraya had listened to all the talk, and for the remainder of that evening, they had giggled, laughed, made up all sorts of stories, and then left after praying salah.

Surraya’s thoughts were interrupted by the entrance of a young handsome man who walked into the waiting room and came and sat next to Amira. He pocketed the car keys he’d been holding and leaned forward to say something to her. She whispered something back and then lifted her head to look up at him. Surraya had never seen this man before and instantly her heart was racing. Could this be what it looked like? She couldn’t believe it! The young man touched Amira’s hand, and with the other hand, he wiped the tears slowly falling from her eyes. Surraya’s eyes darted from the clutching hands to the pregnant belly and she heard herself gasp. Ya Allah.

***

Opposite Surraya, Amira sat with her brother, Malik, and angrily swept away the tears that were leaking from her already swollen and puffy eyes. Her body hurt, some from the bruises and scars her husband had gifted her the night before, and some from the pain and loneliness that was tearing her heart apart. Her skin condition wasn’t getting any better, forcing her to remain in old cotton dresses. She missed the days when she could wear anything from her wardrobe, from the sequined tops to the embroidered skirts. But now, they were brutal enemies to her. They burnt her skin and caused blazing forest fires to rage constantly throughout her body. Doctors had said it was a serious skin condition. She touched her swollen tummy, thinking about the innocence that lay inside, and suddenly her eyes were stung with fresh tears once more. How was she going to go through this again? She thought of her other three children, her precious little ones, and her mind raced to the horror and discomfort they witnessed a few times already. Their father’s angry beating and their mother’s heart-wrenching screams. Today, she had finally plucked up the courage to ring her brother who had flown in from Ireland. She was terrified about what her husband would do when he found out. She felt Malik squeeze her hand and she gripped onto it.

“It’s all going to be okay, Amira. Please don’t cry,” he whispered. The sight of his sister in so much pain was causing his blood to boil with rage and his anger to dance furiously in his body. He couldn’t wait to get his fingers round the throat of his brother-in-law, but his sister came first. So he sat there, wiping the tears slowly falling from her eyes.

Amira nodded, trying to calm herself. She kept her gaze lowered, and stared at her toes. She was terrified to look up and meet Surraya’s eyes. In her head, she could hear the sniggers, the whispered talk, and the stories she knew people published on living room walls and stolid park benches.


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  • Sabera

    This piece has a very strong, impacting message. I’ve heard quite a few stories about domestic violence. Brutal, disgusting stories. I’ve come close to encountering them as well, so I can relate to this story in a way. 

    It’s a terribly sad reality. May Allah protect us from such violence within our homes. Ameen.

    That being said, this piece was very well-written. Masha’Allah.

  • http://azizooooo.blogspot.com/ Aziza

    WOW that was a real eye opener, MashaAllah. Goes to show that you can never judge someone by outward appearances, for only Allah knows the secrets of the hearts. I also like how you reminded us of the many women who are suffering in silence…may Allah help them and give them strength. <3

  • SumaiyahKhan

    Wow, mashaAllah. Very hard hitting piece. 

  • Anonymous

    Omg. :o That was intense, and it just shows how far people will think when it comes to rumors.
    Never, ever judge someone unless you’ve walked about a hundred miles in their shoes, because you don’t know what they’ve been through.

  • Abu Yusuf

    Salaam Alaykum,
     
    Not all women who sport bruises and complain of domestic violence are telling the truth. I’ve heard of cases of women who run to a shelter to use false stories to use as leverage against a husband in a khula attempt or divorce case. There are a lot of conniving histrionic sisters out there who plot against their perfectly good husbands that many single women would die to be with. So please don’t rush to condemn every man that a woman speaks against. And remember, our Rasool (SAWS) told us in many authentic narrations that the vast majority of inhabitants of hell are women due to their backbiting and ungratefulness to husbands. Husbands who are accused of domestic violence – at least half of them are innocent and if that were not the case, then the vast majority of men would be in hell, right?
     
     
     

    • Sabera

      What does that even have to do with this story? You have something negative to say about everything, don’t you? 

      I doubt you’ve ever been harassed, beaten, or oppressed by a man. Sure, it’s not in Islam to be cruel to your spouse, but culturally men like (correction: love) to control women. (And I bear witness to that.) It’s funny that you have such negative things to say about your Muslim sisters. My experience with men hasn’t been very pleasant, but I wont accuse all of my Muslim brothers of being arrogant, selfish, inconsiderate, and controlling.
      And don’t assume yourself so innocent and pure just because you’re not a woman. We all have our fair share of sin.
      Allahul Musta’an. May Allah grant you the ability to see the positive side of things every once in a while. Ameen.
      Wa ‘alaykum as-salaam wa rahmatullah.

      • Anonymous

        Just to add my two cents, if I may?

        Brother Abu Yusuf, this is a story. A fictional piece of work, however fitted to describe lifelike situations. The woman in this fictional story received those bruises through her husband’s beatings, no matter what you would like to think. You do not control this story. Sister Ruqaiyya does.  

        Yes, some woman fabricate their tales to gain expedience over their husbands in court, but I can vouch that most woman have no other intention than to save themselves from torture. 

        This is a story, not an official law claiming that every woman’s bruises are due to her husband beating her.

    • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

      Wa ‘alaikumus salām wa rahmatullāh,

      JazākumAllāhu Khayran for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Abu Yusuf. While I do agree that there are some women that lie about being domestically abused, I wouldn’t go as far to say that holds true for the majority of these cases. From what I’ve seen, it’s always been an exception to the case.

      The argument that the vast majority of men would be in hell if they were truly guilty of this sin is intrinsically flawed. With this type of judgement, men would be in far greater amounts in hell, for being the main perpetrators and soldiers of war, for being the most murderous and criminal, etc. The hadith specifically mentions one attribute and that is how we should understand it. The fitna for women is far different than for men, and that should be taken into consideration.

    • Pffft, some people.

      Are you married? Because you don’t seem to like women very much,  do you?

    • Aurooba

      I recognize what you have to say, however, I ask you to read the following link : http://www.letmeturnthetables.com/2009/01/why-is-it-said-in-hadith-that-women.html .

      I am also sure that some women do fake violence, however, it cannot be denied that there is a lot of domestic violence in the world, and most of it is perpetrated by men towards women.

      Condemning every man is wrong, however, condeming every woman in retaliation is wrong too. 

      This story tells of the backbiting that some women do and of the suffering some women go through. There is truth in this story that needs to be heard. 

      We do not know what the numbers will be in Hellfire, do not assume things, please. 

  • Abu Yusuf

    Salaam Alaykum,
     
    No need to make things personal please. Kindly re-read my response and your response. Only one of us made things personal.  I noted the negative sentence in the essay against men: “Her body hurt, some from the bruises and scars her husband had gifted her the night before”.  The article is tagged at the bottom with words “bruises, domestic violence, horror, scars, etc. Not a single person spoke up against the continuing subtle male bashing and derision that has been going on for 2 years on Muslim blogs primarily because the authors and readers are mostly women. I can gather from reading the articles on this website and the comments that most of the audience are in their late teens, early 20′s and perhaps college-aged. This is the time when critical thinking skills must come to the fore and become part and parcel of your life arsenal. Group think kills. One must at least attempt to  understand the other’s point of view (see my response to the “Servant Thievery” article where every single commentator missed the point due to their lack of life experience and cultural subcontext). There are many upstanding and outstanding Muslim men in America. It is time to stop effeminizing them. It is time to start respecting them and honoring them as Allah asked 
     
     
     

    • Sabera

      That sentence was not against men. It mentioned her husband. ONE man. Not ALL men. There are good and bad of both genders.

      What makes you think that I am speaking out of group think? 
      What makes you so sure that I have not personally experienced or witnessed some kind of violence at the hand of a man? 
      Brother, there is a moral to every piece of literature on MYM. And you just seem to ignore it and go on ranting about your misinterpretations and your biased opinions.
      It seems that you just like to believe that you’re right and everyone else is wrong. If all you want to do is argue, I have nothing more to say to you.

      • Abu Yusuf

        Salaam Alaykum, may I refer the sister to my comments to the “Send me to the Planeterium” article? If she is fair and balanced, she will duly note that my comments in that article were encouraging. Also, I stand by my stance against male-bashing that has been going on. It’s subtle, it’s nuanced, it’s off-handed and indirect even. Male authors don’t go about outlining all the horrendous things females do, why do female authors subtly bash men every other article? Not fair.

        • Anonymous

          Yes, there “male-bashing” and “female-bashing” is subtly growing almost everywhere, but this article, nor do any of these articles, fall under this category!

          As Sister Sabera said, this is conveying the message that ONE man was misusing the trust and position he had attained through marriage. This does NOT by any means continue to say that every singly man is violent, or cruel.

          And not to mention… “all the horrendous things females do”? According to you, this would fall under female-bashing. 

          Thank you.

    • http://schoolfeeding.tumblr.com/ Ruzky Aliyar

      The end of the comment sounds like you’re saying that highlighting violence committed by men against women and thus trying to put an end to it is an act of ‘effeminizing’ men…

      It this is the case then there is some serious issues that needs to be addressed here..

  • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

    Very impressive piece, Māshā‘Allāh. The question that keeps on coming to me over and over is: “What happens if she didn’t have a brother?” 

    Sadly there are a lot of sisters in that predicament, or even worse, they may have families who tell them they’re at fault and should be better wives. May Allah (subhānahu wa ta‘āla) protect our sisters from pain and torture, Ameen.

    • help

      Please can you block Abu Yusuf from this site? He is really ticking me off.

      • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

        I would if he was including profanity. However, he has his own points, some of which has validity. Even though much of it is contrary and includes generalizations, it’s worthwhile for us to read since a lot of these thoughts are prevalent amongst many in our communities.

        • Sabera

          True.

  • Sarah

    really moving.. scary :/ 
    .. lol, wanted to hug the brother :)

  • http://schoolfeeding.tumblr.com/ Ruzky Aliyar

    Whats happened to the formatting? :S 

    • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

      I fixed it for you. That sometimes happens with Disqus. I’d recommend you make a Disqus account if you already haven’t, since they have an edit function :)

  • IdeasInspireIdeas

    MashAllah, very eye opening piece. I love how it takes place in just some random doctors office and how two charcters sitting across from eachother both have very different reasons why they’re there. Really makes me think about how a person who lives across from a person or a person who is sitting across from you, you’ll never know they’re story as much as you know your own and yet we let our eyes and ears create assumptions along with our  inventive imaginations to create a story for that person not knowing the facts. Reminds me of these quotes:
    > Don’t Judge her, You don’t know her story
    > Appearences are often deceiving