One Hundred and Forty

A peek into the past – Rameez:

“Can we go for this?” I ask, shaking the flyer slightly.

“Of course,” replies dad. “I was hoping you’d ask…”

Unsure of how to respond to that, I remain silent.

Neither of my parents had brought up the topic of drugs since I’d told them… until now.

“I’m glad you want to go, and I don’t have to force you. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for you, Rameez, but I’m praying that you don’t take things further from here, because it will only go downhill now.”

Suddenly I want to talk.

“I didn’t even know it was drugs the first time,” I admit.

“Fang gave it to me, as an answer to a question I’d asked. I was obviously mad, that to him it was a big fat joke, so I crushed it. Scar flipped. He literally sent me sailing,” I say bitterly, remembering the pain my body felt as I crashed into the wall.

“When they left, I sucked it off the floor. I hadn’t had anything to eat for far too long, and Fang said it would make me happy. I knew it wouldn’t; nothing could make me happy then, but I was curious..

I don’t remember if it did make me happy, because I fell off to sleep shortly thereafter. The next day, when they let me me go… well, when they returned me home, I found 3 pills in my jeans pocket. I told myself I’ll chuck them out… but, I didn’t.”

“That was your mistake,” says dad.

“I know, because when I took the first one, I knew that I’d definitely take one again. But I had to make them last, so I only took one in two days. To be honest, I think I would have managed fine without them.”

Dad nods.

“You didn’t depend on them,” he says. “That’s good.”

“I took the last one the day I went back; Tuesday. I don’t know if it was a different drug or what, but that night, I was so hyped up. I felt like I was on a movie set. It was pitch black. Scar had a gun. We had night vision goggles. They were using code language through their walkies. I think if I hadn’t been so afraid, it would have been quite an experience!” I admit sheepishly.

Dad shakes his head at me, a small smile on his face.

“But then Scar killed the guy and I watched his head explode and he might as well have killed me because that was the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life and I wish I didn’t have to see it because I don’t think I’ll ever forget that,” I say, all in one breath. “Like, one thing is seeing it through my laptop screen, but actually watching the guy smash to the ground, frozen disbelief on his face… And the blood. Oh god, Dad, the blood! There was so much. And it just kept gushing out.

I think I kind of shut down for a moment, because when Scar came rushing back to where he had left me, I didn’t register why we had to leave so quickly. The shock of what had just happened momentarily paralyzed me. That’s why, when Scar offered me a pill, I took it. That night, I depended on it entirely..

And the night we came back.. I took 3, at once. It didn’t matter at that time, because I didn’t think we’d make it,” I say quietly, a lump forming in my throat.

A heavy silence settles in the car.

“Sorry,” I mumble, shutting my eyes to prevent the tears from flowing. “I’ve already told you all this. I just….”

I pause, my voice breaking.

Dad takes my hand in his.

“It’s okay,” he says comfortingly.

“Do you think the pain will ever go away?” I ask, sighing heavily.

Dad doesn’t say anything as we wait for the garage door to open.

“Some days it feels like it never will,” he finally says.

His voice is quiet, his tone gentle, honest.

“But, we just have to work harder, I guess.”

It’s quiet for a moment before dad speaks again.

“I’ll give you one advice from my experience during the last couple weeks. But first, let me ask you something..” says dad.

“What kept you going?” he asks after a pause.

“Well..” I say hesitantly. “I don’t really know. I mean, I haven’t thought about it.”

What kept me going??

I think back to the moments where I felt like giving up..

“Was it music? The drugs? The gym?” asks dad.

“Urm..” I begin, still thinking.

“Me??” he adds with a slight grin.

I laugh.

“What made you want to stay alive?”

“I think.. it was the hate,” I finally say. “The thirst for revenge, perhaps. I was so angry.. I still am so angry, at the unfairness of it all. I would wake up wanting to take revenge, go to sleep wanting to take revenge. I thought of endless possibilities and ways of hurting them like how they did to us. And even though it was all hopeless, it’s still kind of in me.. that hatred, and that… that anger. I don’t think it will ever leave.”

Dad nods, a pensive expression on his face as he removes the car key from the ignition.

Then he turns and looks at me.

“What about your hope in Allah?” dad asks quietly. “Did that help you keep going?”

The questions hits me directly where it should – right in the epicentre of my heart.

For a moment, the empty feeling in the pit of stomach is indistinguishable.

Is it regret, or sorrow?

The silence prolongs as I’m left without an answer to give.

And then the realization comes tumbling in like snow does in an avalanche.

How did I not think of that?

How did it not once cross my mind that Allah is my hope, my strength, my guardian?

How did it not once cross my mind, that as a muslim, I have Allah on my side?

That things would be okay, because after hardship there is ease.

That this dunya is a temporary testing place and perhaps this is my test.

What kind of a muslim was I to not put my trust and reliance in Allah?

What kind of a muslim was I to question His command?

And then, a thought that turns my blood to slush..

Is there still any hope for a person like me? 

“That’s what kept me going. And of course, you and your mother,” says dad.

As if hearing my unvoiced question, Dad speaks up again.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t is, that no matter what, we have Allah. No matter how many mistakes we’ve made, no matter how far we’ve strayed, there’s still hope.”

His voice is low, full of awe and amazement.

“Keep Allah on your side, Rameez. Focus and revolve your life around pleasing Him, and everything will fall into place. I promise.”

Then, he reaches over, takes my hand in his and kisses it.

“And never forget that I’m here for you, if ever you need anything. I love you, my son.”

He squeezes my hand before letting go.

And then it’s just me, sitting on the leather seat of my father’s car, trying to make sense of the swirling emotions within me, trying to slow down the speeding train of thoughts inside my head, wondering if I’ll ever be me again.

Somewhere hidden deep among the chaos of my heart and mind, a spark of hope shines.. a tiny spark of hope that assures me, I will.

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*This is the last post of Season 3, and the last post until after Ramdhaan. Author’s note with my necessary (and maybe some not so necessary) rambles will be posted tomorrow, Insha Allah. Much Love, Troubled Illusioner. ❤

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