Day One: Qayamat

Day One: Qayamat.
July 28, 2018

After what seems like a lifetime of regrets put together as doomsdays that have gone unaccounted for, today the world has ended again; and perhaps for the final time. For the record, we’ll call it day one. If I survive this, what follows will be memoirs of my survival. After an entire month of being upset with me, one of my best friends decided today would be the day to reach out to me, clarifying that it wasn’t to rekindle but to see if I was okay.

“What could possibly be wrong with me?” I thought to myself.

I’ve gotten used to lying to myself and fighting with the heaviness that I carry in my chest. Of course, it hurts but not more than how much it was about to. I’ve dealt with a lot of pain, and different kinds of it too.

In 1998, I was 9 years old. We lived in a small apartment in Scarborough where I would spend the next 5 years of my life growing up. My dad owned a gas station; business was good until the long hours took a toll on his health. One night I was awaken by the sounds I still can’t get out of my head. I fell asleep watching cartoons in the living room, I guess somewhere in the middle of the night my mother had put a blanket on me. Being scared of where the sounds were coming from, I did what a brave 9 year old would do. I closed my eyes, and tried to sleep through it. Then I heard more voices I couldn’t recognize, and at this point I had to peek through the blanket to see what was going on. I saw the paramedics at my door lifting my dad on a stretcher, I could tell from his face he was in a lot of pain. My mother was as brave as ever holding his hand giving him strength to hang on. My dad suffered a major heart attack, and I cried myself to sleep that night not knowing what tomorrow would bring. That was the first time I experienced helplessness.

In 2001, I became friends with this girl I secretly liked since grade 7. She was from Afghanistan. She had these beautiful eyes, cherry red cheeks, she was short, and absolutely adorable. She had the smile you couldn’t get out of your head. It was the most innocent of crushes you could have on someone, where you’d look at them and you’d be happy without ever having to say a word to them. We had a few classes together in grade 7. In grade 8, her locker was right next to mine. I would wait around pretending to fiddle with my books looking for an excuse to see her first thing in the morning, and I did that every single day. I remember this one time my hand accidently touched hers as I was grabbing my locker door, and she hid her face as she blushed. I was quite embarrassed myself, especially after she told her friends who shared the lockers next to her. I can still hear them giggling as they looked at me. Life was beautiful back then, but that changed for me sooner than I wanted it to.

One day in grade 9, she didn’t show up to school. This was known for being the girl who had perfect attendance; she never missed a day since grade 7! She wasn’t there for first period, second period, third, and then fourth. You can imagine how worried I got at this point! I remember I was at the water fountain during lunch, and I saw her walk by. For the first time in years I saw her as if she was broken. I smiled and waived at her, as she did something very strange. She pointed at me and walked away. To my surprise, two grown men walked up to me, and put a knife to my stomach and took me off school property. Like a Bollywood movie, her elder brothers misunderstood our friendship, and for that she paid a huge price. I never saw her again, and I would spend the next 17 years of my life hating myself, thinking she was pulled out of school and sent back to Afghanistan. That was the first time I lost someone I cared about.

In 2005 I was ruthless, I was young, and I was on top of the world. I was the alpha of my group of hardcore teenage monstrosities. Losing someone I cared about, and being bullied by her brothers changed me as a person. I became aggressive, and careless and that led to consequences of its own. I remember clearly, it was April of that year and a rival gang caught me completely off guard. My reflexes acted out and I punched a 250lb guy through a storefront window. After twenty four hours of feeling like the Bollywood hero that I was beginning to believe I was, the bubble burst. The gang retaliated, and found my sixteen year old overconfident self completely cornered, and they fractured my face with brass knuckles. That was the first time I experienced physical pain.

In 2011, for the first time in my life I was madly in love. She was beautiful and I was awestruck at the sight of her. I avoided relationships for the longest time, but I was a point in my life where I knew I wanted to be with her forever. Twenty-two years old and hopelessly in love with a Pakhtun nurse that lived 75km away from me, the drive itself was a torment. I drove to see her whenever I had the chance, and every minute of it was worth it. I started learning Pashto for her, and every now and then she’d teach me a new phrase. My family was in Pakistan, and I’d go see them in the summer and tell them all about her – it was all planned. I met her best friend who totally approved of me; I had yet to meet her sister after which I planned on taking them with me to buy a promise ring. However, prior heartbreaks and depression led to decisions which still haunt me. One day everything was over, and that’s the first time I experienced excruciating heartbreak.

I remember burning a CD with the song “Heartbeat” by Enrique Iglesias, it was my absolute favorite! I’d play it on repeat while I was stuck in traffic, and I used to laugh at the thought of how angry she’d be because I’m always late. I never thought the same song would eventually bring tears to my eyes. It wasn’t too long after I started suffocating in my city and I decided to travel to Pakistan to find peace of mind. I got worse by the day, and eventually depression became a friend of my own. I spent a year there getting into trouble, learning Pashto, and simultaneously trying to move on. It didn’t work.

Eventually, I started suffocating in Pakistan as well and I found myself back in Toronto. I started praying, and reading Islamic articles on life, destiny, and decisions of God to try and make sense of things. A few years went by while I fought through depression, trying to finish school and battling the urge to experiment with drugs. I prayed it all away, and God helped me through it without ultimately becoming the monster I thought I was going to become.

Fast forward to 2016, I let my guard down and let someone else in. I fell in love again. As simple as it may sound, it wasn’t. This love was also meant to be a roller coaster ride of balancing religion, love, culture, family values, and not to mention surviving through her hoops of mind games and endless confusion. I fought my family for her, convinced them to ask for her hand in marriage. I was up for candidacy along with her maternal cousin, and she urged for me to speed up the process or I’d lose her forever. After being disrespected by her family who showed no interest in my proposal, I was met with more mind games and even more confusion, along with an expectation of $100,000 USD in Mehr (matrimonial gift to the bride) by her father; a secret which led her to cut ties with me by claiming she had no feelings for me to begin with. I guess it was easier to do that than telling me the truth.

A year of trying to make sense of everything that made no sense at all, for questioning myself of not being enough for her, and hating myself for everything I did in trying to win this battle, there I was ultimately broken again. I was blocked from everywhere, making it clear it was over. One day, she decided to come back and I found an email that read, “I have good news.” What could the good news have been?

“I don’t have to marry my cousin anymore, I rejected the proposal.”

To my surprise, I got blamed for leaving, and for never trying to reach out to her again. That’s the thing with a guilty conscience; you try anything and everything to blame someone else for your own shortcomings in attempts to console your conscience. No apology was ever given to me, no explanation, and on top of that there was continual refusal of having any feelings for me to begin with. Remember how I said she was confused? She was! She demanded my attention like I owed it to her. She was jealous of my best friend, she hated me for talking to her, she wanted me to urge my family to speed things up, she missed me more than anything, she kept everything I had ever given to her, she dreamt of marrying me, and she claimed to have no feelings for me at all at the same time. I hated lies, and I never understood why it was so hard to be honest, especially after all that we had been through. Of all things, why couldn’t I be worthy of the truth?

What was expected of me? Was I supposed to go on being a puppet? Was I supposed to continue validating her existence, and making her feel wanted? Was I wrong for my commitment towards her, expecting it in return? Was I only a safe choice, a backup plan for her to fall back on? What was I, and why didn’t I deserve to know? I had never been as honest with my feelings as I had been with her, and I am an honest guy to begin with. With her, there were no secrets. I was an open book. I don’t like playing mind games, and going in circles, and being far from the truth. Then why was it that I of all people was taken for a fool? I haven’t spoken to her since she lied to me again; I had no energy left in me to go through more hoops of mind games and confusion, and more pain.

Love has a way of either making you Godless, or bringing you even closer to God than you had ever imagined. These past few years I have experienced both to some degree. I prayed for her in ways I never imagined myself doing, I called out to God with every name He has, I have fasted, I have cried, I’ve done it all. I’ve stopped doing that now completely. It’s not that I don’t believe in God, I believe in His being wholeheartedly. I just don’t have it in me to find something else to ask for as strongly. I talk to Him every now and then, I thank Him for the mercies and the blessings He has bestowed upon me, I just don’t have it in me to ask for anything any more.

Another year of numbness, and being greeted by my old friend depression brings us to today. My best friend reached out to me and asked, “I wanted to know how you’re coping with the wedding and all?” My heart dropped.

“What wedding?”

She sent me a picture of my promiscuous beloved, on her wedding day. “Officially his,” a caption read below the picture. I stare at it with a heavy heart. Over the year, I’ve been through many ups and downs with coming to terms with myself. To better phrase this, over the year I’ve learned to lie. Even though the thought of her comes to mind every now and then, even though I listen to her voice notes every night, even though I still haven’t deleted her pictures off my phone, I convinced myself that I’m over it. Even though it hurts just as much as it did a year ago, I’ve probably lied to myself enough times to almost believe it. I was right back where I started. My heart is caught in my throat, I can feel my pulse racing in my chest, my hands tremble as I write, and every last bit of hope that I held on to was shattered.

Two hours later the question still remains, “are you okay?” I still haven’t answered my friend. I don’t know how to put it in to words.

Between you and I though, today is the first day my soul has ached, July 28, 2018. It’s a different kind of pain than I’ve ever experienced before. I write this with a heart heaver than it has ever been, and perhaps writing to you is the only thing that’s holding me together.

Despite everything, I want you to know that this isn’t about her. I’m at a point in my life where I feel like I’m unpredictable. I may not come out of this, but here I am promising you that I will. I also pray that you as the reader may never find yourself in a similar place where your soul aches, and may you never come to a point where you’ve stopped praying, and you don’t know where to turn to. However, if you ever do find yourself in this place, I want you to know that you’re not alone and I want you to hold these words close to your heart. Today I promise you, that I’ll survive the end of the world, and so will you.

14 thoughts on “Day One: Qayamat”

  1. Subhana’Allah my dear ghost….you just pierced thru my soul. May Allah swt give u strength and patience. May He shower ur soul with understanding and ease your pain. May you find comfort in knowing that there is someone out there for all of us and when u least expect it, you will rise again, love again, and live again. You are my brother in Islam and I love you for the sake of Allah swt. Always n forever you sister

    1. AssalamuAlaikum my dear sister, Jazak’Allah Khair for reading through something so long. I never imagined sharing this, I held on to it for months until a friend recently went through the same. In wanting to benefit him, I finally had the courage to share it out to the world hoping it’d help someone else too. Insha’Allah may we all rise again, love again, and again. Lots of love and Du’a in return. 🙂 May Allah always keep you happy.

  2. Peace be upon you Arslan Bhai,
    I wouldn’t ask you whether I’m finding you in the best state of your health and emāan because I do not want you to struggle to lie and to achieve the feeling that you fooled me by saying ‘Al’Hamdulilah I’m fine’. I woke up to your email and wondered how did I receive your email tried to figure out and reached out to friends who have been speaking to you on Instagram for them to do a favour; to help me reach out to you. Today here I drop a comment with Tawakul in Allāah that you will come across my comment only if it shall benefit you. Bhai, the Ramādan that passed by I came across your page and the beauty of your work in it’s actuality; was amazed to hear your voice and words. I would always wonder, if you can express hope and love for the one you love so beautifully how beautifully you would express your love for the One who created you. Your write ups inspired me to write in urdu and I remember how you gave me your precious time from your life full of hardships and made me understand how I should work on my articles. The amount of pain you have been through I would not say ‘Everyone of us goes through it’ because not everyone has fought the battle you have fought and none has felt how you felt and to be at peace none has sacrificed what you have. I’m sure even after writing your pain out you still cannot find words to express it in it’s depth. But don’t worry the world and its people are in need of your words to understand you but Allāah knows it without you even expressing it to Him. When you express your pain and shortcomings to people they start to identify whether it’s weakness of faith or is it really mental illness. However, it becomes difficult to make them understand to receive ease from pain we have been calling out to Allāah, we have been reading Qur’aan but the pain received from the separation of the one we love is like being dead while being alive. Bhai, Allāah knows it and He will make things fine for you. Out there you might be thinking your reach has become less but there are people who have started again believing in love and hoping to be blessed with someone who would love them and they have gained this feeling after going through the worst of nightmares. They say when you do things for the sake of Allāah don’t worry about the reward or the amount of people it will reach because its in the hands of Allāah when it’s for His sake and He will help you. Just trust Him and His plans. All I would say once you find yourself comfortable enough to face the world then know that people like me are waiting to hear how Allāah helped you heal those depressing wounds that you are finding difficult to get rid off today. There are people like me waiting to hear from you your love for Allāah and His favours upon you in your beautiful voice. We ask Allāah to bless every corner of your heart with His love, to heal every pain given to you by this temporary world. Aameen- Your sister in dīn Ayesha Humaira Shaikh

    1. Dear sister,

      AssalamuAlaikum. At times I am not sure if I am in the best of health and emaan. Emaan is something I’ve always tried to achieve, but I know it has taken a shaking and I’m trying my best to rekindle it. I’m glad you tried to reach out, and I have definitely gotten your comments through here, and through instagram. Thank you for making that attempt to ensure that I received it. I’m so happy to hear that I’ve inspired you in one way or another throughout my instagram journey. Life definitely is in the hands of Allah, along with the smallest of things that we experience from day to day. I trust Him and His plans, and it has taken a while to come to terms with that. Ameen to your Du’a and I pray the same for you and more. May Allah bless every corner of your heart with His love, to heal every pain given to you by this temporary world. May you never go to sleep with a heavy heart. May you always be blessed. Ameen.

  3. This is so strong and brave of you to write about. I really hope you’ll get peace in your heart and mind In shaa Allah. It is hard to go through heartbreaks, specially when you give everything to that one person and does everything for them, but you only get pain in return. It leads you to depression, low selfetsteem, bad health and much more.
    But be strong like you always have and like we all have seen you like. Don’t ever give up on trying to fight and be happy. Allah ta’ala aapko sirf khushiyan dein, because you deserve it.
    Sometimes we don’t understand Allah’s plans, even after years we don’t. But there always is. And everyone’s being tested in different levels. But never more than we can bare. We need to show Allah ta’ala that we belive his plans, and show Shaytan that he can’t get us low on imaan because of others breaking us 😔 I will keep you in my duas. In Shaa Allah, good will soon come to you.

    1. AssalamuAlaikum Noor,
      It took a lot to write it, and even more to finally decide to share it. I really do hope that I find the peace of mind and heart that I had before all of this. Subhan’Allah I’ve come along way, but it just isn’t the same. Ameen to your Du’a, and may Allah also bless with the same and much more in fact. Happiness, health, success, wealth, and unlimited blessings for your kind heart. Take care, and thank you for leaving this heartfelt comment for me to come back to. Jazak’Allah Khair.

  4. Bhai I don’t know how to put it in words — it’s beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. You’re someone I have always looked up to ever since I came across your account — 4 years ago to be exact. I used to think how versatile of a writer you’re to be writing for the loss of love, life and family — it all makes sense now. All the experiences you’ve been through are truly sad and I know for sure it has turned you into this beautiful person that you are.
    I have never seen you but I want you to know that I love you — you’re my brother and I pray we meet one day In Sha Allah.

    Your brother,
    memoirsofbilal

    1. My brother – I read this today and I am so happy for you to have left such a kind message for me to come back to. It definitely has been 4 long years. Jazak’Allah khair for the kindness that you’ve always shown me. I may not be the best at keeping in touch, and perhaps exchanging kindess – but it all means a lot. Insha’Allah one day we will meet, may it be in India, or some other part of the world – but Insha’Allah may be we connect personally for me to give you a big brotherly hug. Ameen. Stay blessed, and may Allah ease your troubles and your pain, and may your trials become easy and may the rewards be immense. May happiness and nothing else fill your heart. Ameen.

  5. 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

  6. Writing down about loss and how you feel about it is difficult.. it’s difficult to express yourself in such state of mind.. Wishing you peace in heart and mind.. May Allah ease the way for you and bless you with endless happiness .. Always in my prayers 🙂

    1. AssalamuAlaikum Tania,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. May Allah ease the way for you as well and make all your troubles easy, and bless your kind heart with unlimited happiness. Ameen to your Du’a. and Jazak’Allah Khair for keeping me in your prayers.

  7. Urmm, Assalamu Alaikum!
    I don’t really have anything to say because it’s so hard for me to convey my feelings & emotions about everything right now, but I just want to say that the amount of times you’ve helped people is just so unbelievable! You’re truly a gem & I want you to know that you’re a beautiful soul! You’ve helped people in many different ways, you’ve helped them heal. You’ve helped them feel good about themselves! (And you’ve done so much more!) And this is pretty amazing! You’ll ASAP slowly heal, InshaAllah. You have us to support you & Allah to help you always! Don’t forget, you take 1 step towards Him & he’ll take 10 steps towards you! Also, I’m sorry for reading this so late! ☺💜
    – Peace and blessings to you!

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