She lay on her back on the bed too scared to breathe. She had just put the fussing baby to sleep and she did not want to make even the slightest sound that could wake little Maryam, for she knew it would take her another half an hour just to get her to sleep again and then she would not have time to pray the Fajr prayer. Humph! Another day of joy, she thought sarcastically.
Before the birth of Maryam, Nasreen always prayed on time, and tried to stick to the ‘waqt’ time no matter where she was. Now, however, she barely managed to pray at all, let alone on time. Praying on time was one of those things that Nasreen valued dearly, so much so that she chose her husband, largely based on the fact that he too was very punctual about prayer. The idea of not being able to pray during the allocated time let alone praying at the beginning of the waqt was daunting. Is this what motherhood was about? How does a woman be a mother, a wife and a daughter and still nurture her soul? To Nasreen, it seemed improbable, if not near impossible!
“Allah hu Akbar, Allah Hu Akbar”
“Allah hu Akbar, Allah hu Akbar”
The sound of the athaan wrang loud in her home. Still trying to gather her thoughts together she knew that this was a special time to make dua’ for alleviation of her difficulties. But she was so tired the thought of having to make dua’ did not seem appealing. Instead Nasreen got up to make wudhu for the fajr prayer.
“Why don’t you make a dua this morning? You hardly ever make dua these days.” Yusuf asked her after the congregational fajr prayer. He liked praying at least one of the five compulsory prayers at home with his family.
“No,” she bit back. Her icy, short-clipped answer made Yusuf turn the other way. He made a dua’ and got up to get ready for work. immediately Nasreen regretted her actions, but she did not apologise.
The strain that she was putting on her marriage was enormous. She had never been this ugly person with him. why was she now? After all it was not his fault that she was having so much difficulty with Maryam. She wished she could hold him and tell him that she was sorry, that she loved him and she didn’t know why she was behaving like this. But she knew she wouldn’t. she didn’t trust herself to say what she wanted to. She wanted pity, she didn’t think she was able to be lovable at this point in her life. If she cannot even love her innocent baby as she deserves to be loved then how could she say those words to her husband?
After fajr the day seemed to drag on as if there was no purpose to it besides breastfeeding. Nasreen tried to stay at home and busy herself with chores, in between looking after Maryam but it all seemed so mundane to her. She frequently remembered the days of her university life, when she would be able to bask in the sunlight all day long, chatting and laughing with her friends about some nonsensical story one of them just told. Today she was remembering the times when she would be able to wake up in the morning and decide not to go to class but to the beach instead, or spend the entire day at a friends place watching Bollywood movies and crying her eyes out for the dramatic story-line. It was this memory that lingered at the back of her mind the entire day, and when Yusuf came home, she could not help but look at him as if he was the reason that she could not have that carefree life again.
Even though it was her idea to get pregnant sooner rather than later, she still wanted to blame him for taking away her youth. Because that was what it inevitably was: she was old now, like her mother-trapped in the house due to responsibilities. It was up to her now to make their house a house of peace and tranquility, as her mother had made her childhood home. She was the one who was supposed to see to it that the house was clean, good food was cooked, the children (in this case child) was bathed and dressed before the husband came home and that the day ran smoothly. It was her responsibility to check on homework, as her mother did, to keep tabs on teachers and schools, to make sure the kids are home before magrieb and to keep their development on track, not to mention teach them Quraan, salaah, fiqh and all the rest.
Just thinking about it, Nasreen made up her mind there and then that she did not want anymore kids. Allah willing, one is enough she thought.