15. More Explosions

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Narrated Abu Hurairah (may Allaah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer. There is good for him in everything. If he is granted ease of living and he is thankful, it is good for him. If he is afflicted with adversities and he perseveres, then that is best for him.”

–Saheeh Muslim
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The voice calling out to them in the dead of the night sounded quite close—too close that it demanded them to overcome their initial shock right away.

“Wasiq, beta, what are you doing here?”

The anger that had clouded her thinking capacity wavered for a split moment. With a racing heart, Rida realised that it was her uncle calling out to that guy. Her uncle—her very own uncle—was using an endearment for the guy who she wanted to throttle so bad. Things just didn’t seem right. Tell me I’m not dreaming.

The footsteps of her uncle echoed in the silent hallway. Rida spun around on her heels, watching her uncle saunter towards them with wary eyes. Her heart beat excessively loud—loud enough for her to hear its beats without any external aid. She looked at him, trying to read more of his face when she noticed that his eyes were not fixed on her but at something behind her. That guy!

Displeasure was painted all over her uncle’s face, and Rida quickly took a step behind as it dawned upon her that she had been standing with a male who wasn’t her mahram in a darkened room. What’s worse? In the middle of the night! Panic arose in her chest wondering what her uncle would start to assume after having seen what he had. Ya Allaah! What is he going to think now?

Rida felt unease settling within her. She bit her lip in anxiousness. Her uncle was close to any sort of parental figure she presently had in her life. It was only natural for her to not want to disappoint him. Her records had been clean until now. She had had no such thing against her that would have made him feel angry or ashamed for having taken her in. Her grades had been up to par, and her teachers always had good things to say about her. She hadn’t gotten into any fights nor had there been any snide rumours passed about her in their family circle. She was what any parent would want in their child, and she wanted to maintain it that way till the end.

As she watched, her uncle stepped forward. He closed the distance between them, not at looking impressed with what lay in front of him.

“Nothing, Phupha. She came down to get water, and the bottle cap slipped from her hands,” Wasiq answered, raising his hands confidently to show her uncle the bottle cap that she had dropped.

That sentence along with the stutter-free tone and the sight of the cap visibly calmed her uncle. His stance relaxed and that gave Rida instant relief.

“I suppose the girl is clumsy. Couldn’t even close a bottle properly,” Wasiq continued, clearly taking advantage of the situation and enjoying it a little too much for Rida’s liking.

“Clumsy?” Her uncle let out a bark of laughter. “Rida is anything but clumsy. She is such a smart girl, you know. Runs a math tuition center and excels in it, mind you. You would know how difficult it is to teach math. Moreover, I think anybody can drop a bottle cap by mistake. They needn’t necessarily be clumsy to do it.”

He slipped his arm around Rida’s shoulder. “She is a brilliant girl, my Rida. My pride.” The declaration startled Rida. Her throat constricted when her uncle gazed at her lovingly; and, even though she wanted to hug her uncle for that, she willed herself to not become emotional in front of Wasiq.

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