I had entered a new institution; and to move into a place where you only have unpleasant memories to hold up your image, is not a fun feeling. I had been here before for quite some time, and that had not been a good time period.
As a fellow student, I had been popular due to my language and confidence. But, just as I was getting used to it, life started taking a different turn for me.
A girl in my batch, I believed, had made a resolution to keep me as unhappy as she could, for a reason I could never decipher. Planting things in my bag and framing me for whatever went wrong; she was so good at proving me guilty, and I always happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The worst part was, I had no one to believe me; and I got called into the principal’s office more times than you could count. The principal herself thought I was guilty. I wasn’t exactly what you could call an ideal student, but in this case, I was innocent. When my mother got sick of being called to the school repeatedly, she suggested that I switch to another school. I eagerly jumped at the opportunity.
I was ecstatic. Finally, I got a chance to reinvent myself, a chance to start over. I turned over a new leaf- changed my priorities and my grades improved. I could focus at school and had great friends. I started praying regularly; and thanked Allah (swt) for the brilliant opportunity, whenever I could remember. There I found a person who inspired me to bring out the best in me. Her name was Maryam Raza. Every action of hers left me in awe. To me, she was a perfect role model. She stayed calm in situations that got people hysterical, and also had perfect grades.
The teachers there loved me. I wasn’t the best at studies, but my frank and playful attitude, along with my innocent tricks made me fairly popular in the staff room gossips. My English teacher Ms. Shireen, simply adored me, and I loved her too. My paternal grandmother died before I was even born, so I placed Ms. Shireen as close to me as a grandmother. Spending time with her wasn’t formal; I hung on to every wise word she told me, every advice she gave me.
I found my ease. And Allah (swt) has not said that after hardship comes ease, He said it comes with.
But like they say, all good things must come to an end. Due to some maintenance issues, the school had to shut down. However, after a protest by some devoted students, the management negotiated and only my year had to be dissolved. That was the hardest part. Letting go of a place that holds priceless memories is hard on even the strongest of people. To make matters worse, the time for admissions was up, and the only open option for me was my old school. Hence then, not only I had to leave a place that I held so close to my heart, but I had to go back to the place that held the worst memories of my life. I complained so much to Allah (swt), demanding as to why I was being shown such cruelty. Yet, every time I went to a Quran class, or attended a lecture, it felt like Allah (swt) was there, talking to me through the words of the Quran- telling me that it was a test, and I had to be patient.
The first day was the worst. Every glance was hostile, every look held judgement. The new students knew about my past, the old were waiting for me to strike again. Every time someone went, ‘Where’s my pencil?’ or ‘Where’s my book?’- several heads turned in my direction. I had no friends, and I could hear people whispering about me behind my back. It felt like no one was ready to give me a second chance. Then, one of my ex-classmates joined, and things started working up. After almost a year, people started letting me in, recognizing me as one of their own. I started seeing the good in them, something I thought was non-existent.
Finally, in my last year, I made plenty of amazing friends. My best-friend was a shy girl called Humnah. The bond of friendship between us was very strong; it overthrew every obstacle in our way. She helped me through my last year and never once betrayed my trust, like many had before her. I was finally happy.
The gist is, like Allah (swt) said in the Quran, ““So verily, with the hardship, there is relief.” (Ash-Sharh 94:5)
I found my ease. And Allah (swt) has not said that after hardship comes ease, He said it comes with. Every time I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, I cried in prayers, and my heart found peace. A big help was the company of friends I had.
Like Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan repeatedly tells us, we have to select friends wisely, who would help us be better Muslims. Alhumdulillah, Humnah kept track of my daily prayers and gave me an earful if I missed one.
I learnt to move on and face the challenges life threw at me with bravery; and thanks to the many beautiful people who truly cared about me, and helped me be a better version of myself. And of course with Allah’s (swt) Mercy, I became a better Muslim.