3. Evading Fear

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Abu Hurairah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported: Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Allaah says, ‘I am as My slave expects Me to be and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me inwardly, I will remember him inwardly, and if he remembers Me in an assembly, I remember him in a greater assembly (i.e., in the assembly of angels).'”

–Saheeh Bukhari and Muslim

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Eshaal’s niqaab fluttered heavily in the breeze. She tugged at it for the umpteenth time that day, trying in vain to restore it to its original position. Once she was done fighting with it, she looked ahead and sighed. The road in front of her was blocked with vehicles of all sizes and shapes, making her wonder how long it would take for her to reach her destination. It had been a joyful but, at the same time, tiring day at the center. All she wanted was her cosy, fluffy bed right now.

She craned her neck, trying to peep through the vehicles ahead. It was of no use. It seemed as if she was truly stuck in the heavy traffic and would remain so for a while. She had barely moved fifty yards for the past fifteen minutes. Judging by the way things were going, she could tell that it would take her at least half an hour to reach home.

A car beside her honked in desperation. People turned around to give the driver a nasty glare. He honked persistently; and they all stared him down until he surrendered. Eshaal had to bite back a smile. The rainy season always brought out the worst in the people of her city; and it was almost funny the way they behaved like overgrown babies during such instances. It went without saying that every year around this time, most people walked around with a streak of childishness within them. They scowled for no reason, fussed about the slightest issues, and made a great deal of things difficult for themselves.

Another car honked. Someone yelled profanities in the next lane. Another sigh rose in her chest. She scrunched her nose, scratched her neck, and gave the road ahead one final glace. There was no improvement. This wouldn’t do.

Decidedly, Eshaal sat back on her seat and turned off the engine. She settled with a resolve to do something productive until the roads cleared. If things were going this way, she decided that it wouldn’t do her any good to anxiously keep staring at the vehicles that weren’t even moving an inch. Besides, why waste her time and energy on something that was going to take its own sweet time to get back in order? It wasn’t as if the police would allow her to do something about it and go clear the roads. A chuckle escaped her at the thought. An image of her directing the vehicles wearing a police cap flashed through her mind, and she smiled harder. She could almost envision herself ramming all the vehicles into each other if she was entrusted with the job. Being a clumsy person did bring in a lot of colours in life.

The wind played with her eyes this time. Eshaal’s eyelids, with thick lashes that framed her beautiful brown eyes, shut for a moment. She felt the cold breeze through the abaya she was wearing. In some place not far from where she sat, children laughed and a policeman made use of his whistle to issue a command. The wind brushed across her cheeks. She heard the rustling of leaves in the background. A sudden feeling of gratitude overwhelmed her. Her eyes blinked open, and the sight in front of her arrested her thoughts again.

The weather appeared bleak, seeming unlikely to improve. Angry clouds still loomed overhead, and the cold wind swirled and nipped at everything it could lay its hands on. The trees shook, the vehicles honked, and the barricades placed at certain places considerably narrowed down the roads, adding to the misery of the people who were used to the roads being wide. Eshaal could sense their discontentment. Even from where she sat, she could hear their usage of cuss words. So easily were they tossing around words as though they were chewing gums that a frown tugged at the corner of her lips. She wondered at their hate for the showers that had come upon them. She wondered at their discontent. Was the rain not a sign of Allaah’s mercy? Of Him blessing his servants from His bounty? Of Him catering to their needs?

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