“Umm Salaamah, would you like a cup of tea?”
That single kindness imbued sentence took me out of my day mare. I can not call it a daydream because there’s only a bunch of scary thoughts.
“Sure, Umm Hala. Can I get an extra lime with it too? And can you use honey instead of sugar?”
I finally managed to find my ability to speak. I see the glances and worried looks on all their faces but I can’t help it. The once outspoken Fatima Ayn Muhammad is now nothing but a shadow of who she once was. I know that’s what they’re thinking but this is what depression does to someone. I cannot even tell them what’s going on in my life because it’s a taboo for a woman to spread tales of her problems with her husband here. I can only endure and pray to Allah.
Even when the tea comes and the room is in full bustle, I was as silent as ever, having not said a single word.
Just as my cousin, Zainab opens her mouth to start interrogating me as to why I’m so unusually quiet, my phone rang and in my mind, I heaved a sigh of relief. I didn’t know what excuse to give her and I might have burst out into tears from the pressure.
I excused myself to pick the call and walked out of the room, into somewhere more private. It was Salaamah’s father calling and I took my time to prepare mentally for what was to come next.
I always remember to answer his calls with the greeting of peace so that his heart may cool down.
“Umm Salaamah! Did I not tell you to not invite those women to my house anymore?”
He doesn’t even answer my greeting and proceeds to shout at me. I’m already used to it. This is usually how our conversations always go. Usually, I would scream back at him when I felt willful but I just didn’t have the energy to argue with him anymore. I’m the younger one in the relationship but with how childish and immature he was, you’d think I was his elder or something.
“It’s a religious gathering. They’re teaching us our religion, something you failed to do for me and my daughter. You don’t allow me to go out outside work and so I invited them to my house. I genuinely want to learn.”
I cannot remember what it is he said afterwards, I only knew that I hung up the phone when I got fed up with his baseless bickering. I know why he doesn’t like me attending an Islamic school or any Muslimah gathering. He doesn’t want me to learn my rights and demand them from him. He just wants to keep a firm leash on me and only sees me as an object. To think that I married him out of ‘mutual’ love. If this is his idea of love, then I wonder if it is synonymous to slavery in his head.
I would like to use the words of every woman and say ‘men are scum’ but the thing is, women are also scum. Humans are shit and unreliable. You’d be lucky if you know a few good ones because they are scanty.
I grew up as an orphan and lived with my one maternal aunt. She was good to me and treated me as well as her own children and I never had a chance to miss my own parents. I had the misconception that everybody was as kind as her but oh, how reality came crashing down on the sweet, sweet illusion I built for myself.
Everyday, I pray to Allah so I may be a good person like how my aunt was to me. It’s definitely not easy and my patience is tested everyday.
By the time I went back to the room, the little tea break had ended and Safiyyah, the marriage counselor was speaking about putting oneself first before family. I couldn’t get all of what she had said as Salaamah had woken from her little nap.
Having Salaamah was the turning point of my life. She’s the best thing that has ever happened to me and despite my initial regret at having married the devil of a father she has, I learnt to be thankful because only through him did my little angel come to me; my reason for staying here in this hell hole for as long as I have.
I want my daughter to grow up in a loving family with both her parents but maybe her father does not deserve to be in her life. My daughter deserves a caring and religious father that will support her back at all times. And Abu Salaamah is just not it astagfirullah. I have given him enough chances to mend his ways and be a part of our family in body and soul but it’s akin to speaking to a brick wall.
Just how much more would I have to endure? Till Salaamah turns 18 years old? That seems awfully too long. I do not know just when my breaking point will be and I need to leave before then. I need to break free and find my peace.
There’s nowhere to find peace but with Allah. In the embrace of His mercies and bounties. I believe so much in my Lord and I know He’s the one that loves me most, so I put all my trust in Him and I took a leap of faith that would change my life for the better. This is the journey of an abused woman breaking free from her abuser’s bonds. A journey to find my happiness and a journey to find Salaam after Talaq.