Aliyah Ayuub thought about the phone call she had received the night before. She knew this meant trouble. She tried her best to block the unsettling train of thoughts, but she couldn't. She wondered what he wanted, instantly losing herself in her daunting past. She clenched tightly on the kitchen sink, gently closing her eyes, once again forcing herself to get him out of her mind.
Since the last hour, the rain showered the roof, marking the beginning of April. Aliyah gazed at the drops sliding down the kitchen window, her mind momentarily at peace.
Convincing herself that there was nothing to worry about, she resumed back to preparing breakfast for her family. She pulled up her long wide-sleeved multicoloured baati and strolled over to the cooker. Her shoulder-length curly brown hair was tied in a top knot, showing off her long gold earrings.
Perhaps it was too early to be in the kitchen on a Sunday morning, but she figured it would help her keep things off her mind. It hadn't.
Aliyah had long promised herself she wouldn't allow the thoughts of him to frighten her, but all that was in vain. She opened her eyes and slowly breathed out. She was tired of living like this. She couldn't figure out why Yusuf Abdullahi was suddenly back. What changed?
Unable to stop thinking about him, she began reciting the fifth Surah, Al Māʼidah from the Qur'an. Doing this always helped her gain tranquillity and peace. Aliyah was glad she had studied the meaning of the Qur'an while she was memorising it. She would find herself lost in the Speech of her Creator, bringing her closer to him.
She paused her soft recitation when she heard someone's footsteps. She turned her head to the door to see her father walking in, miswak tucked behind his ear. He greeted her with the greeting of Islam, "As-salaamu Alaykum."
"Wa'alaykum Salaam, Aabe," she replied.
Mahamed walked to his daughter, the scent of delicious sabaayad and suqaar hitting his nostrils, his favourite Somali breakfast. He settled his hand on her, gently squeezing her shoulder.
"Did you sleep well?" he asked in his Benadir dialect. Mahamed's concerns for his daughter were never-ending.
Aliyah nodded with a tiny smile, unwillingly lying to her father. She couldn't sleep the night before, and she despised whenever that happened. It wasn't the first time it occurred, and there was only one person who was responsible for her sleepless nights.
He is now out of my life; she thought to herself, I should no longer feel threatened by him.
Mahamed smiled back at her, choosing to believe her words. He wanted nothing but his daughter's wellbeing.
"How are you feeling?" He asked, withdrawing his hand from her shoulder. He walked to the dining table and sat down.
Aliyah waited for a moment. "Alhamdulillah, never been better."
It was apparent she wasn't. She was far from it. She was unable to recover from what happened; her world turned upside down.
Aliyah reached for the kettle to switch it on. She grabbed the cream canisters set of coffee and sugar. She began making him qahwa with ginger. Carrying on from where she was, she began reciting the Qur'an.
Mahamed wondered how she was coping with everything. No matter how many times his daughter had convinced him that she was now better, he knew she was still deeply hurt. And he had played a big part in causing her pain.
Once Aliyah made the qahwa for him, he took it from her and thanked her. Stealing one last glance at her, he left for his room. His eldest daughter's calm voice filled the house, making him proud he had personally taught her the Qur'an at a young age at home, establishing a dugsi. He thought back one of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) he had recently heard during a sermon on a Friday.
"Whoever recited the Qur'an, studied it, and acted according to what it contains; on the Day of Judgment, his parents will be dressed with a crown of light. Its brightness is like that of the sun. And his parents will be adorned with two bracelets, of which the whole world is not equivalent to them in worth. So they will say, 'Why are we being adorned with these?' It will be said, 'This is because of your child taking [the recitation, teaching and acting upon] the Qur'an."
The warm qahwa mug still in his hand, Mahamed grabbed his personal Mus'haf from the shelf and started reciting at his own pace. Memorising the Qur'an might be easy for some people, but the real struggle was reciting the Qur'an daily. Mahamed tried his best to make time for his Creator. Many Muslims had learned the Qur'an at a young age, but only a handful of them had a close relationship with the Qur'an, others had completely abandoned it, forgetting that the Qur'an will intercede for its companions on the Day of Resurrection.
The rain had now stopped and the clouds dispersed, promising a brighter morning. Aliyah quickly tidied up the kitchen before she put the kettle on. She made a cup of sweet, milky shaah with cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. She sat down at the oak dining table in the corner of the kitchen, drinking her tea.
Aliyah lived in a four-bedroom single-story house with her family; her bedroom was the furthest one down the hall. She entered her room and walked to her bed. She wanted to get some sleep, let her mind rest for a while. She flipped the blue-red floral heavy soft blanket up and slipped in, dropping her head on the pillow.
Lately, Aliyah toyed with the idea of moving to a different city. Far away from him. She grew up in Bristol and had never imagined living somewhere else. Aliyah first came to live in the UK at the age of two with her mother and younger brother. She has lived in Bristol ever since then. Furthermore, she cherished her neighbourhood in Bedminster, it was a quiet residential area, but things have changed now. It was because of him she was considering this absurd idea.