A Bunch of Breaths


Assalamualaykum warahmatullah,

A Bunch of Kindness

The rays of sunlight filled her closed eyes as she stepped out of the van. She took a deep breath of the crisp fresh air as the mutters of her brothers could be heard in the background.

“I never understood, like why. Why do we have to do these all? Like, we could be somewhere else enjoying precious time with family. But now?”

Sakeenah smiled as she packed out the boxes out of the van. That was considered a normal respond she kind of expected after a two hours drive.

“I second you Abang Tawfiq. Like, why are we ever here???” Yusuf followed his sister packing the boxes and bringing them to the porch.

It was the  most dilapidated house they have been in the entire lives. There were a few clucking food-deprived chickens scurrying in the lands with some old cats lying under the house. It was a cliché village house with tall coconut trees shading the area. A young girl aged around 5 was seen in the distance running towards them.

“Kak Kinah!!!” Her chirpy excited voice could be heard in the distance.

Yusuf and Tawfiq looked at the girl as though the girl just arrived from Venus. The girl had her arms wrapped in Sakeenah’s neck until half of her hijab nearly pulled to the back. She carried the tiny girl in her arms as she kissed her on her cheeks.

“The entire world has been anticipating for you!”

“Better not be, I’m great in disappointing people dear.  I came guarded with my two charming guards back here. This is Yusuf, and Tawfiq, my brothers. Tawfiq 10 and Yusuf 6. Your ‘abang’s Yusra.”

Yusra held on to Sakeenah’s hands more firmly and looked at the two boys shyly. She gave a swift wave and gave her focus back on Sakeenah.

“And this, this trendy hijab of yours, did you get it from those metropolitan cities? Or did you get them from the branded places? And yes, Ummi will never let me wear any hijabs yet because.. because she say I never took care of my own belongings. Like.. as if.. I could lose my head the hijab will be lost too right, like… you get me Kak Kinah?”

Sakeenah smiled as Yusra pulled her towards the door of the house she has last been a year ago.

As she entered the door and gave her salams, Yusra ran into one of the rooms. She stopped as a distinct scent filled her nostrils. Tawfiq dropped his baggage and felt nauseous. He ran out of the house as Yusuf followed him. Sakeenah knocked on the closest room’s door which Yusra was in. The smell got stronger as she stepped in. Sitting on a chair, as still as a stone was a white haired man eyes locked onto the out of the window. His frail and cachectic body frame made Sakeenah felt an indescribable feeling deep inside. Yusra was facing him and keep chatting away about the guests coming to the house, yet he sat still without a twitch of a muscle. Sakeenah slowly walked towards him who was sitting still on the wheelchair. His glistening grey eyes started to widen as they met with Sakeenah’s eyes.

“Assalamualaykum Tok Pi.” He replied with a slight nod of his head and turned his head to out of the window again.

“It seems that he has soiled himself again. Mak Jah is still in the paddy fields with the other grandmothers. So, she didn’t have the time to clean him this time.”

Sakeenah patted on Yusra’s head and gently told her to help her take off the blankets. Despite coming from a quite tragic family, Yusra grew up into a beautiful young orphan from the age of 2 years old. She now is adopted by a young couple who lived near the paddy fields, but she was too used to Mak Jah, that she ‘lived’ with Mak Jah and Tok Pi since she was 3. They were fond of her most particularly with her liveliness which lit up the gloomy days of their lives.

As she folded the blankets and cleaned the linens, her eyes steal glances of Tok Pi who kept silent. It was Allah’s Will and Plans that he was not able to move much since 5 months ago. When he was attacked by an embolic stroke whilst helping out in the fields. He fell and became partially physical paralysed, but his heart and mind never changed. He was able to comprehend what happened in the outside world but he could not respond appropriately to them. He felt so frustrated yet there was nothing much he could do.

“Do not worry, even a bit. This world was created for us like an exam hall. Every exam that comes, we must give our best and only our best. True, it is stressful at times, but those who shine in the hardest of exams are always the real stars. We are living not because of other  people so and so… but we are living only for Allah awj’s Sake, and only Him. So don’t give up  just yet. The path has just begun.” Sakinah smiled as she bathed Tok Pi and Yusra gleaming joyfully by her side. Yusuf and Tawfiq were playing with the traditional games located in one of the rooms whilst chatting away within themselves. About the difference of lives in the village compared to the hustle and bustle of the city. Sakinah listened attentively to their chats as she tried to pay attention to Yusra’s rants as well. She smiled. Alhamdulillah, it has been ages since she stepped into this house, and alhamdulillah she was able to bring the boys with him. There’s more to learn than just the calmness of the village.

“And and and he was so upset, he nearly did not eat like since two days ago.” Yusra continued as she folded some of the laundry in front of them.

“Huh? Sorry? Who has not eat for like two days?” Sakinah stopped her.

“Tok Pi. Mak Jah mentioned something which disappoint him. And I never saw anymore disappointing for him. Yusra whispered as Tok Pi was seated near them facing the paddy fields. His fingers rummaging the old tasbeeh Hafeez once got for him a year ago.

Sakinah pulled Yusra into the kitchen and kneeled in front of her.

“What happened?”

“Basically, Mak Jah wanted to move out from this house, to the city near Khaleel. And she was trying to explain it to Tok Pi. It’s easier to get someone to take care of him, in his condition, and easier for you to come visit. Tok Pi was enraged. He was struggling to move, but he moved. He refused to eat since then. And Mak Jah never had proper food since then too. Upset about upsetting her husband. And the person who has the most proper meals is here, standing and talking to you! As strong as a horse!” Yusra chuckled whilst holding on her stomach.

“Healthy and strong indeed!”

Sakinah brought the bowl of mixed vegetables soup into the room. She sat in front of Tok Pi, who looked into her eyes, trying to understand her. as seconds passed, tears started streaming on her cheeks. Tok Pi started patting on her hands and tears start streaming too. They understood one another even in silence. Tok Pi’s hands reached her face, trying to wipe the tears. Sakinah smiled, looking at him.

“Alhamdulillah life has taught us so much, I feel that it is created so temporary. The days and nights which men try to conquer so much sometimes forget the fact that they don’t own them at all. It’s just some passing moments which Allah awj Gives us chances to give our best in preparation to meeting Him awj. People come and go, and that is dunya. People make us laugh and cry, that is dunya, Tok Pi. And our strength turns into weaknesses, and health turns into sickness, that is dunya. And the heart years so much to be always happy, laugh, strong and healthy and that is why Jannah was created, for Allah awj Knows that our hearts yearns for  permanence, and that surely comes with huge sacrifice and hard work. He has earned his place inshaaAllah, it’s just us to give our best.” Sakinah smiled as she feed Tok Pi, who was nodding slowly to her mumbles and whispers. The boys have been in their naps in a while while Yusra was busy completing her homework.

“Don’t give up too easily, Tok Pi for alhamdulillah Allah Has Given us so much since we were born. It’s hard, I understand but try look this as a positive way, a path that Allah awj Will cleanse our sins and giving us new opportunities to depend on Him awj more than we ever before.”

“Assalamualaykum!” Mak Jah’s voice was heard on the door and Yusra’s gleeful running could be heard welcoming her back home. Sakinah smiled, her mother has returned.


“Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living (al-Ḥayy), the Sustainer of [all] existence (Al-Qayyūm). Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His kursi [throne] extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.”

(Al Quran , Surah Al Baqarah : 255)



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