I didn’t know what to do just then. My mind was totally blank for a moment… exactly when I needed it to work the most. I stared at the mobile phone in my hand, with a partly composed message to my teacher. I had to tell her I couldn’t make it to class today. Yes, that’s what I had to do.
Midterm exams are closing on. I hadn’t done my laundry and it would be hard to find proper clothes for going to the class. I looked around at my room to buy some time and spotted my college books. I remembered the difficult day at college I’d just had and grabbed my head in my hands. Why was it so difficult to do this? Why not skip class and study for the exams?
I’d missed last week’s class too. I stayed home and studied that afternoon and slept a little too… but every glance at the wall clock reminded me of what my fellow students would be studying in class, while I had held back. Later that week, a couple of days ago, I had heard a wise person say, “you only make time for things you really want to do.” How true that had been and the guilt underneath the surface had bubbled up, as if it was there just waiting for a trigger!
And today, I was again faced with the same dilemma – should I stay home? The exam is only five days away, a voice in my head reminded me.
“Yeah,” I thought. “But I guess I could spare three hours and study more over the coming days to make for it.”
The voice in my head changed to a different reason – clothes not ready.
“Yeah,” I thought. “But I could wash a dress quickly… still got about an hour and a half before class starts.”
And your unfinished assignments, which you have been lazy about? Just don’t go, you can always do them this week and give them the next rather than showing up without them!
I then thought of what I’d be missing and the voice quickly said I could always catch hold of my classmates’ notes. And my help-out duties after the class? The voice in my head quickly suggested I message a fellow classmate to help out with that.
Besides, the voice suggested, look at what you’ve become! You’re so “low” that you can’t really get any lower. All these classes, have they really had any effect on you? It all bounces off you! You go, you listen, you come home – end of the story! Even now, you’ve reached such a point that you can’t decide which deal’s better for you! Come on, one more missed class won’t kill you.
“But I wasn’t like this before! I knew my priorities, I used to jump at opportunities to get to the class, among such classmates and now, I’m debating between lousy midterm exams that won’t even be marked in the final grade this semester and my class, which is priceless?”
I turned the mobile over, feeling miserable. I’d have to go ahead and do the dreaded. I poised my thumbs to complete the message to my teacher, trying to think of words that wouldn’t sound lame. I paused again. Something was just not right. Ameera, you’re not who you used to be…
NO! This. Is. Not. The. Right. Thing. To. Do!
Each word was punctuated by my thumb tapping on the mobile – somehow, the message I had half-typed out symbolized the wrongness of the situation and as such, needed to be singled out for a bashing.
You’re mad, the voice in my head shouted at me in disbelief. It almost shook my resolve.
“No, I need this the MOST right now!” I said to the voice. “I need to be as far away from you as I can right now! Yeah… yeah, I’ll find clothes. I’ll do the assignments… I’m going!”
I jumped up, rummaged through my cupboard, quickly washed a shirt I wanted to wear and tossed it into the dryer. I grabbed the half-finished assignments and started completing them. I typed one out on my computer within ten minutes (sometimes, typing is faster than writing it out with a pen). I ironed my clothes as quick as possible, assembled my books and soon was on my way.
Two hours ago, I came back from the class. It was like a fresh breath of air, not at all how the voice kept trying to convince me it would be. I needed to be with my classmates, with my teachers. I needed to take that time to step back and take stock of my situation. The voice that kept holding me back wasn’t trying to help me at all! This week, I’ve been taking that voice’s advice a lot and oh, how I decayed and deteriorated because of that!
Go ahead, it used to tell me, and tell your sister how mean so-and-so was (a.k.a. backbiting). Forget the Sunnah and Nawafil this time. There’s still time to sunrise, you can sleep in a little longer. There’s no time for the Qur’an today, there’s too much to do, it would distract you. Shout at your sister, she won’t listen otherwise!
Go ahead, it prodded me and I listened to it, blindly accepting everything. Last week, I’d listened to a similar idea that voice had dangled before me tantalizingly – a Saturday off from the class… and I’d caved in. Not this week… Alhumdolillah.
When someone deceives you and you find out, that’s the end of any trust that existed between you two. But then, why is it that this voice that deceives me repeatedly, was responsible for deceiving my parents, Adam(as) and Hawwa(as) is my close aide, confidante and trustee? A voice that whispers into me ear, eager to see me lose out on all joy, is my chosen friend? Why is it that when I am at the verge of doing wrong and I know the voice is egging me on, I chose to listen to it rather than to what I know is right?
Writing it out helps. After all, if together we don’t write about the wrong that is done to us and we don’t expose deceivers, how will we recognize them the next time they dare cross our paths?
O mankind! do your duty to your Lord, and fear (the coming of) a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily, the promise of Allah is true: let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the Chief Deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allah.(Qur’an 31:33)