The aroma of biryani Abida had cooked overpowered the smell of room freshener. She inspects her flat one last time before she dresses up in one of her fine clothes. It was a special day. Her college friend was going to meet her for the first time since Abida had got married. Well, she hardly had any visitors she knew. She wanted to impress her friend. “I hope Sadaf is not taken a back by the building’s location”, she thought.
As she waited she heard the phone ring. “Sadaf should be close by. May be she forgot the flat number.” Much to her disappointment, it wasn’t Sadaf. She hears nagging Rashma crying aloud, “Hallo Abida. You won’t believe what happened?” Abida knew now Rashma would treat her like a dump yard of emotions and there is nothing much she could do to console her. She replies politely, “Hi Rashma. Oh dear, no matter what it is don’t take it to your heart. I am sure things would turn around for better.” Amidst sob’s Rashma utters, “As usual my husband forgot all about me. He had…” Just then she heard a bell. Delighted to find a reason to escape Abida quickly interrupts, “I was expecting my friend. I have to attend her. I feel sad to leave you in your distress. I am sure your hubby will cheer you up. Bye” She cuts the call and rushes to the door.
The friends were glad to meet one another. Abida felt as though she was meeting her long lost sister! Abida did her best to make her friend feel like a queen! Sadaf and Abida spoke for hours about their days together on college. It was time for lunch. Sadaf was impressed by Abida’s culinary skills. “Abida, you could be a chef at a five star hotel. I just can’t have enough of the biriyani you cooked. You should share this recipe with me.” Abida gladly agrees. Sadaf wonders, “Abida I knew you couldn’t make tea and was happy to dress in casualwear. Now you have changed a lot. You look prettier in our silk robes and jewels. And the food you cook is divine. Your husband is a lucky man. Tell me the secret behind this transformation. Is it love?” Abida blushes and then replies honestly, “OH dear! Love is just a small part. Almost every weekend I have guests visiting us. We can’t afford to dine them out every week end. Inevitably I learnt to be a better host. So far I was only catering my hubby’s friends and family. You are the first person whom I had been acquainted with to come to my home. So, I was really eager to make this day special.”
The conversation seemed to change gloomy. Sadaf was too concerned about Abida’s tiring life. “It should have been tough catering to so many guests. A young couple needs to go out and have fun more often. You were pampered like no other girl at your parents’ home. I am sure your hubby should be helping you with the chores.” Abida open’s her heart out, “The only help he does is to invite.” Sadaf gasps, “Oh my God! You should hate being treated as a servant.” Abida argues, “It’s not all that bad. You know I enjoy having company. I love having guests around. Well, until…” Abida wishes she hadn’t uttered more. It was too late. She recollected a heart breaking incident which occurred about a month ago. Sadaf urged her to continue, “Until what? Tell me. You would feel better.” Abida could not hold herself back, “well, one of hubby’s cousins had stayed over during holidays. We planned to go on a picnic next day. I had worked hard and took best care of the guest. Then I also cooked and packed for the picnic. I was last to sleep and first to wake up. I was very tired and fell asleep in the car. I could partly hear everything they spoke. My hubby called me lazy. He said I sleep all day. I hoped his cousin would defend me. Instead, he was feeling pity for my hubby. Would he do the same if his BIL said this about his sis. I came back and confronted my hubby? He was unapologetic.” With this Abida broke into tears. Sadaf handed her a tissue. She said, “That should have hurt a bit.” Abida snaps, “A bit? It felt as though he was tearing my clothes and was exposing me. Aren’t husband and wife meant to be like clothes to one another? Shouldn’t they protect, complement and save one another from evil. Now, I wonder what else had he been telling about me to his relatives. I strain so much to please him and what do I get in return?”
Sadaf starts a new chapter, “You had earlier told your hubby is very loving. Someone should have pushed him to turn like this. Is she your MIL?” “Oh no, she is such a darling. There are few differences in way we see things. That’s normal. Let’s speak about something else.” Sadaf agreed. She focused on Abida’s home. “Your house is well kept but it is not in prime location. What kind of neighbours do you have? The smell of fish on the way to your flat was hard to bear.” Abida’s turns defensive again, “Well my hubby is saving to buy a better car. Once, he saves enough we will shift to a better location. Hey! That same neighbor also taught me to make biriyani. It’s not her fault that our kitchens face corridor.” Sadaf pities her, “It’s sad to see you adjust so much. How selfish of your hubby to leave you here so that he may enjoy luxuries. You should have been stern. If he doesn’t care for his newly wed wife, do you think he’ll care for you few years from now? Your parent always kept your preferences above theirs. It should be tough for you to live like this.” One thing led to other Abida was spilling beans out. When Sadaf left, she felt depressed and somehow oppressed. Lively home seemed devastated. Nothing seems right. She wonders why she ever married. The couple fought by evening and her young hubby went alone to meet his friends! She thought, “Now he’ll go and blabber everything to his friends.”
Things looked better again. Her hubby and she missed each other’s pleasant company. In no time, the conflict was pushed aside. She wonders why she ever fought with such a loving husband. A week later she receives call from her mom. Her mom was very upset. On questioning she reveals, “Does Ahmed take good care of you dear?” “He is very good to me.” “I know everything dear. You stay in a crappy place to save money. You work hard to please his guests and end up being called lazy. Your MIL and you have differences. And …” Abida is stunned to hear all this. She had only spoken to her friend about these things and they were not exactly said like this. She quickly comforts her mom, “You selected best man for me. He involves me in every decision. When he helps me with chores he makes things worst. So, I ask him not to help me with chores. Most of the guests help me tidy the home before they leave. My MIL tries to treat me like her daughter. I am very happy here. Did Sadaf meet you?” “Well, be careful of what you say to others. I am not the only person she has met.”
Having spoken to her mom she calls Sadaf. She confronts her in anger, “What rumors are you passing around? I trusted you. To make things worst you made up things. I would like you to announce everybody that you misunderstood things.” Sadaf fights back, “I only told the truth. Oh! I felt suffocated to hear you. Your heart is filled with hatred and negativity. Your poor hubby must be having a tough time to live with you! There was nothing pleasant about visiting you. You deserve to live in a fish market. I live in a better place and hubby is very happy with me.” With this she snaps the phone. Abida didn’t know what to do? She sat there weeping and hoped her hubby never hears the rumors. She had become the victim of backbiting.
Her friend had been there only for gossip. Abida’s life didn’t really concern her. Now, she was making most of the information she had got. She and her gossip loving friends will prey upon her life like zombies, enjoying every bit of the dirty details spiced up to their liking. Now she could recollect how her friend had coaxed her to spill the beans. She was pretending to be caring to suck the information out. Such tale bearing vampires are only after one thing- GOSSIP. No matter what she did to impress her it would be forgot. All such wanted was a proof that she was better than her and she had a better life. They would do so by sucking positivity and inducing negativity around them.
All this could have been prevented if Abida had restrained tongue. Abida had been part of her own agony. She can’t blame it on her innocence. It’s time to grow and learn from her mistake. Yes, her hubby had been mean to her by calling her lazy. Now by announcing about it, she had exposed him too. Was she being a good garment? Now she might have to pay a heavy price for this.
She also recollected, how she had made things worse, she had fought with Ahmed and induced him to speak ill about her to his friends. It was as though she had turned into zombie and had made zombie out of her naive hubby. Backbiting is contagious. Now, she was tempted to call her friends and speak ill about Sadaf. Sadaf in turn would spot something else to speak about it. Abida decided that she will not be a part of this chain reaction. Yes it is tough to remain silent and swallow the bitter pill of humiliation. It hurt her ego. But the reward is humongous. The rumors would die once gossipers find something else to prey upon. SILENCE WAS THE ANTIDOTE REQUIRED TO KILL THE ZOMBIE WHICH WAS GROWING WITHIN HER HUNGRY FOR REVENGE.
Abida wondered what should have made Sadaf like her. Was it her wasteful dull life? Or, was it just a need for reassurance to be seen as better than other? Or, did Abida unknowingly hurt Sadaf in some way? Had she been waiting to get back on her? Did she envy her? Or, was it the plainly the company of zombie friends to whom she has to provide everyday meal! She hoped she turned back into sweet friend she used to be. If only she kept good company. May be she should give one last try to change her for better.
She typed down the recipe for biriyani. She added a line at the end. “Insha Allah, everytime you taste biriyani I hope you could recollect the good times we had together. May Allah bless your happy married life with more happiness.” She quickly mails it to her.
She hears her phone ring. It was Rashma. She had forgotten to call her back. She knew she was going to grumble about her in-laws. In past, she had consoled her by stating how she had managed supposedly ‘similar situation’ by stating someone’s flaws. She realized she was gossiping under the pretext of consoling.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A man utters a word pleasing to Allah without considering it of any significance for which Allah exalts his ranks (in Jannah); another one speaks a word displeasing to Allah without considering it of any importance, and for this reason he will sink down into Hell.”
Are those secrets safe with Rashma? They were suspended like time bomb in Rashma’s memory. She could utter it to anyone anytime. When Abida couldn’t keep things to herself how can she trust others with her secrets? Now she had stop this. Abida picks the phone. “Oh Abida , it happened again..” Abida cuts in, “I can’t see you in your misery anymore. I have decided to speak to your MIL and let her know how you feel.” “Ah no. What will she think of me? I just want you to listen. It’s soothing.” “I am afraid, this makes me feel terribly hurt to be a silent listener. But I know someone who would listen to you and make things better for you in a mysterious way.” “Who is it?” “He is All Knowing All Hearing Allah. When you feel like sharing your grievances pray Salah and open your heart out in sujood. You’ll feel much better and your secret is well kept. I am afraid I might utter something without my knowledge. Remain patient. Happiness unfold in front of one who stops complaining”
Dear reader, we humans are imperfect. We all have something to be looked down upon. Let us remember our fellow brothers and sisters for the good they did. Frankly, even people in refugee camps and prisoners who are wrongly accused find reasons to thank Allah. So, why are we crying about trivial things? May Allah overlook our faults and bless us with perfection in Jannah.
Do share your tips to kill the Zombie.