**”Bismillahir rahmaanir raheem”
-in the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful-**
Naeema was trying really hard to settle in. She was young and didn’t know much about marriage and responsibility and here she was basically thrown into the deep end…
But having an understanding husband like abdullah made the whole situation much easier.
It wasn’t so much easier for abdullah either. He was the middle man. He had to make life easier and bearable for his new bride and at the same time continue being the best father and only real parent to his kids.
Hanzalah was old enough and knew how to handle things- thanks to his great upbringing. But habeeba was still little and not mature enough to know where to draw the line. Besides, she didn’t get the same upbringing like hanzalah did because naseema fell ill when she was still too young.
Hanzalah loved his sister and tried to be the protective yet loving older brother to her. He tried to teach her right from wrong and guide her the way his mother did.
She was now in an all girls private school across the road from hanzalahs. She was learning a lot and would come home to teach naeema whatever she could. In her innocence, she ever so often made naeema feel a little out of place.
Like the other day for example. Naeema decided to cook something that abdullah mentioned he enjoyed a lot. It was a beef nihari curry with extra chilli, ginger and lemon on the side. He never ordered her to make anything special, but the way he spoke about it could make anyones mouth water.
So she attempted to prepare it exactly the way he said he liked it.
She was used to cooking a little differently back home and wasn’t accustomed as yet to the way abdullah and the kids enjoyed things. She still had a while to learn and get used to their habits and ways.
She took so much of time and effort that day. Maybe a little too much of effort though.
In her nervousness, she couldn’t seem to function the steam pot properly. she never really used one before but abdullah said that it will speed up cooking time and the steam pot basically cooked the meat tender and soft to the bone.
So first she put in too much of water and didn’t seal it tight enough. She placed the pot of high and while she prepared her dough for some garlic butter naan, left it cook. A few minutes later, the entire kitchen was a mess. The curry exploded everywhere in the tiny kitchen and all over naeema too.
She was so frustrated and they didn’t have a helper yet so after she went to get herself cleaned up, she started scrubbing through the kitchen. The stove looked disastrous and a couple of good years old with all the stains of he curry and ghee…
Finally she was done cleaning up the kitchen only to realise that she hadn’t completed making her naan dough. When was it going to rise? It would soon be dinner time and the curry still wasn’t even cooked and the naan dough still needed to rise before she could roll them out and fry them.
In her panicked state she tightened the pressure cooker once again with much less water in. She turned her stove to 6, which was high and rushed to complete her dough. She covered the plastic container of dough with the hope of it rising quickly.
In the meantime, she rushed to shower and pray her asr prayer. But she couldn’t concentrate well. She was choking and coughing throughout her salaah and once she made salaam, she realised that something was burning.
She was right, the pot of curry was smoking on the stove.
She wanted to cry. Everything was just going wrong and to top it all off, the naan dough hadn’t risen. Because in all her frenzy, she forgot to add the yeast. The unopened packet of yeast was hidden beneath the container of dough.
She added it and re-kneaded the dough and left it close to the stove to rise whilst she set the dastarkhan(floor mat for eating) for supper.
When she gazed at the clock, she became aware that abdullah and the kids would be home in 10 minutes so she rushed to roll out the dough while her pan was getting hot.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough time and the naans were hard but raw.
Abdullah put his first morsel in his mouth and shifted in his seat but continued eating with a smile as if he was eating the best food ever.
Hanzalah too didn’t say anything. Instead he took longer to eat and washed the food down with gallons of water.
But habeeba ofcourse had to have her say.
“what are we eating?” She asked as she chewed slowly with her mouth open and her face all funny.
“Food!” Abdullah replied abit too quickly.
naeema could already see the awkwardness.. “nihaari kari and garlic butter naan habeeba beti”
“But why does it taste like this?” Habeeba pulled her face some more.
“Habeeba!” Hanzalah scolded with big eyes.
“What bhai jaan? Its tasting like… Smoke..” Habeeba continued.
Naeema looked at abdullah and then down in her plate and played with her food.
“Habeeba.. If you don’t keep silent, I will send you straight to your room without supper.” Abdullah threatened.
“Okay abba jaan.. I’ll rather go to my room than have supper tonight. This food is awful. Its not like ummis nihari and the naan is hard, like I’m eating cardboard.” Habeeba remarked as she scraped her chair backward slowly and ran off to her room.
Jumu’ah mubarak to everyone. Hope u all are well and remembering us in ur duas.