5. Uncertainties

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Abdullaah ibn ''Amr reported the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) affirmed: The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of your parents and the displeasure of your Lord is in the displeasure of your parents.

-Sunan at-Tirmidhi; graded as Saheeh

***
There was the unmistakeable sound of his mother's heavy footsteps paddling up the staircase.

"Faheem, Faheem, beta." He could hear her calling out his name from where he was hunched over his laptop.

"Faheem."

As a reflex, he quickly shut his laptop after saving the presentation he was working on and rushed towards his bed. Switching off the lampshades and pulling the quilt over him, he curled up on the mattress, intent on putting up a pretence of sleeping.

"Faheeeem."

Just as he shut his eyes, the door flew open. "Faheem! Why are you not ans--" His mother paused. There was no sound after that. He pictured her placing her hand on her hip-the way she always did when she was upset. He pictured her staring at him, eyes wide and filled with distaste.

"Faheem." The voice was soft this time. She sighed, sounding defeated.

Something passed through Faheem after that. Something cold and uncomfortable. Most probably, he surmised, it was a wave of guilt. His mother had climbed the stairs despite her knee pain in order to talk to him, and this was what he was subjecting her to. His breathing grew shallow.

"What do I do with him?"

Precisely, Ma, what do I do with you? How many times do I have to let you know I cannot do what you want me to? Why are you putting yourself and me through this? He shifted in his bed, hoping she would walk away.

"He just does not cooperate."

Words that wanted to be spilled from his mouth were held back with difficulty. He kept up his pretence. It wasn't as if his mother was not aware why he had been avoiding lengthy talks with her for the past few weeks. He knew she understood all the issues that he had cooped up in his mind for the past few years. She knew of his insecurities. She knew of the thoughts that ran in his head, and she also knew from where all those negative beliefs he harboured in his mind had stemmed. There was no doubt about the fact that she empathized with him. She did, but at the end of the day, she was a South Asian mother who believed that marriage was the one weapon that could be brandished on the face of adversities, and that it was the only way to help her son to not be hung up on the past.

She had tried reasoning with Faheem that what had passed cannot be changed. It cannot be undone. What had occurred, had occurred by the will of their Lord; and while the imprints of the past were here to stay, she wanted it dulled. She wanted it to fade. According to her, enough was the wilting of their lives under the weight of what had already taken place, she wanted to look into the future now- a future she wanted for her son.

For months now, she had been behind him to consider marriage. In so many words had she told him she wanted him married. She expressed her belief that it was high time he settled and started a family of his own; but Faheem, being the stubborn guy that he was-a trait that he had inherited from none but his mother herself-had managed to evade her at every turn. He had refused to talk about it, refused to cooperate, and plainly refused to do anything pertaining to marriage.

On the street, there was some noise indicating the passing of a procession. His mother walked to his window to peep. "If only he agrees, I, too, can conduct a wedding and bring a daughter home," she grumbled and then in an evident show of rage, closed his window with force. He held in a breath. There was no doubt that she was starting to get angry. He knew that she was mad. Most days, he didn't sleep until it was eleven at night; and today of all days, when she had literally barged into the room to discuss things, she had found him in bed.

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