DaysOfTaqwa: Rebirth- ChapterIII


Chapter Three: The Trials of Temptation

Naasir was finding it hard to get his system accustomed to fasting this year. It was only Day 2 of Ramadan and already he was so weak he feared a slight breeze would blow him away.
The hours stretched ahead of him – dull and bleak. It was just 12 pm. Iftaar would be by 7 pm. All those hours and nothing to fill them with. Now that his dad had confiscated his Play Station, he didn’t know what to do. All his online pals would wonder why he hadn’t joined the marathon. Naasir clamped down the stab of anger that accompanied that thought.
Hissing, Naasir picked up his phone to text Sholape. Talking to her always made him feel better.
Babe, what’s good?
She replied instantly.
I’m good. You?
Missing you.
Awwn. I miss you too hon.
I wish you were here. The old man has been getting on my nerves lately.
He always gets on your nerves, S.K.
Naasir chuckled. He could picture Sholape’s eye-roll as she typed.
No seriously. It’s gotten worse. He’s been breathing down my neck because of Ramadan. Can you imagine, he seized my PS?
😱🤯 You’re lying jo.
I’m serious! Although we have an understanding sha. Wo Sholape you won’t understand. Let’s leave that.
Alright. Go hang out with the guys abi?🤷🏾‍♀️
I’ll do that. Shola when are you returning abi una never finish burying grandma ni?
😂😂In 2 weeks we’ll be together again.
I can’t wait.
S.k I have to go. Mum wants me. Love ya!😘❤️
Naasir snickered. Sholape’s recent clingy attitude did not bother him much. Instead, it irked him whenever she bombarded him with endearments or over-the-top PDAs.
As if she wanted to brand him as hers alone.
I thought she understood that we are only having fun.
He replied to her last message with a thumbs up, then texted his friends to set up a meeting. Hanging out with the boys would be a good idea. He’d go there just as soon as he finished at Lend A Hand.
Minutes later, Naasir knocked at his sister’s door.
Egbon e, I’m going out o.
“Really? Where to?”
“Lend A Hand.”
“Maa shaa Allah!” Nusrah exclaimed. “I would’ve come with you but I have this thing I want to submit…open the door na. I’m decent.”
Naasir opened the door a fraction and stuck his head in. Nusrah waved him inside.
“Come all the way in. I also have something to tell you.”
Naasir shrugged and entered his sister’s room.
“So you still go to Lend A Hand?” She asked,
“I never stopped.”
“Mum would be proud. Baarakallahu feek, Ace.”
Naasir’s heart swelled with love at her use of his nickname. Nusrah was the only person who still referred to him by the nickname their mum had given him. And the way Nusrah was looking at him now – with her characteristic big smile and something like pride glistening in her eyes – made Naasir uncomfortable.
He cleared his throat, shifting from one foot to the other. “Aamen. So what did you want to tell me?”
Nusrah patted the space beside her on the bed. Naasir joined her. She began.
“I didn’t want it to come as a shock to you, so I wanted to let you know that I’m going to start wearing the niqaab in shaa Allah.” At Naasir’s blank stare, she added: “The face covering.”
It was Naasir’s turn to exclaim. He even clapped his hands for added effect. “Oga o. This your Saudi school has really changed you o. First, it was the flowing gown….”
“Jilbaab.” Nusrah cut in.
Naasir ignored her. “…Now you want to be eleha. Or you’re getting married ni?”
Nusrah chuckled. “No silly. You don’t have to be married to wear it. Anyway, I already told dad and Umm Sulaym and they pledged their support. I’d be grateful for yours too,” She finished softly.
Naasir scoffed. “ Me, I can’t stop you from wearing what you want o. But know that we can’t be seen together in public sha.”
“Why is that?”
He gave her his most ‘isn’t it obvious look’. “You’ll damage my street cred!”
Nusrah burst into laughter and hit his shoulder. “I know you’re joking.”
Naasir joined her laughter but it quickly fizzled out. All of a sudden, a sense of loss settled over him. He was losing his sister to … whatever this was. She used to be so much fun to be with until she betrayed him and allied with their stepmother. And ever since she started University in Saudi two years ago, she donned the hijaab and began treating their dad better.
How wrong he was, to have thought they’d be partners for life.
Naasir smiled wistfully. “What happened to us Nusrah? We used to be thick as thieves. Now you’re more…” He searched for the right word: “… religious and you’ve joined forces with daddy and his wife. Tell me, why do you even call her Umm Sulaym? She has no children.”
“Don’t say such things Naasir. A miracle may yet happen biidhnillah.”
Naasir snorted in response to Nusrah’s reproachful look.
“You know she didn’t do anything wrong. All she did was marry Daddy…”
“My point exactly.” Naasir jumped in.
Nusrah smiled and gently pulled his cheek. “Hmm, my beloved baby brother. You are too sensitive for your own good.”
Naasir pulled back from her and rose. “I’ll see you later. I don’t want to be late.”
“When will you be back?”
“Six maybe? Before Iftar sha. I’ll be meeting the boys.”
The smile on Nusrah’s face disappeared. “Ace, you know you are fasting.”
Naasir bristled at her words. “And? It’s never stopped me from hanging out with them before. I won’t eat or drink anything if that’s what you are worried about.”
“Fasting is not only about staying away from food and drink. You must also guard your eyes, ears and tongue against inconsequential stuff. Hanging out with your friends will most likely expose you to such.”
Naasir squared his shoulders and said simply. “Thank you.” He turned to leave.
“Will Sholape be there?”
“I’m not in the mood to have this conversation with you.”
“You’re still going out with her, even after I warned you against it last year.”
“It’s a wonder she’s still going out with me, after how you harassed her last year.” Naasir shot back.
Although his back was to her, he heard Nusrah rise and come to stand behind him.
She sighed deeply. “You know that girl thinks she has a future with you.”
Naasir made a sound deep in his throat. She was right but he wasn’t about to admit that.
“Sholape knows we are only having fun, No strings attached.” He glanced back at her. “Look I really have to go now. Assalamu alaykum.”
He shut the door gently after him.
As soon as he finished at Lend A Hand, he went straight to Femi’s place to join the rest of the boys.
They were’ considerate’ when he told them he was fasting and didn’t offer him anything to eat or drink. He wasn’t the only Muslim in their group however, Shakir, the other Muslim, hadn’t bothered to fast.
It was all fun and games, laughter and song, everything Naasir should have enjoyed doing. Yet Nusrah’s words continued to echo at the back of his mind.
“Guard yourself against inconsequential stuff.”
Everything happening here now was indeed frivolous. To top it he was beginning to regret coming at all.
Were his dad and Nusrah starting to get to him?
His phone beeped, just then. It was a message;
Assalamu alaykum. I am waiting for you at the mosque.
Naasir slapped his palm against his forehead. He had completely forgotten about the appointment. It was already 4:30 pm. How had Muneer even gotten his number?
Of course. Dad must have given it to him. Once again, anger swelled in him. This invasion was getting out of hand.
I have to put a stop to this. Besides, I don’t have to go if I don’t want to.
He typed a response before he lost his nerve.
I’m unavailable now. And all through Ramadan.
Feeling satisfied with himself, Naasir put his phone on silent and joined his friends’ banter at the foosball table.
© Hafsah bint Nurein
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