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Short Story | Ana Asif

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His left arm was long, much longer than other men’s arms, because he was much taller than other men. It was also well shaped, the forearm handsomely thickened from years of sports. It was the arm of a young man. It was on the carpet near an empty pack of cigarettes and a broken bottle.

***

The living room was dark except for a thin shaft of light that shone underneath the front door. A clock chimed, once, twice, thrice. The curtains on the window were drawn, and only the faintest glow from the outside world passed through them. In that darkness the father shifted his weight on the sofa.

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Jingling, a sudden soft jingling of keys on the other side of the door, caused the father to sit up. The door opened. A man’s silhouette removed the keys from the door carefully and laid them on a coffee table. He stepped soundlessly upon the carpet and guided the door closed. The father spoke.

“Where have you been Asif?”

“Assalamu Alaikum Abbu, I didn’t know you were still up.”

“I’m up because I’ve been waiting for you to come home since eleven o’clock. Where have you been.”

“Me and Masood were just hanging out.” The young man stood with his shoulders dropped and his hands in his pockets.

“Hanging out. Since seven o’clock, for eight hours.” The father’s fists clenched.

“Yeah, just hanging out. You don’t need to get all worried, we-“

“Of course I need to be worried!” The father’s scream reverberated in the hallway. A light in the sister’s bedroom turned on.

“Dad, you don’t need to…”

“I’m the sort of stupid person, apparently, who cares about their children, and worries when they are gone all night. How do I know if you’re not dead? How do I know you’re not lying dead in the street somewhere while I stay home worrying myself out of my damned mind? Where have you been?!”

“I told you,” Asif said more firmly, “I was just hanging out with Masood.”

The father’s voice became dangerously soft. “Then why did Masood call and ask me where you were?”

***

The right arm was no less lean, and both arms connected to a set of wide shoulders. They were bare, as was his chest. Beneath his left breast was a scar from where he had once flipped over the handlebars of his bicycle. A little metal bell had been joined to the handlebars by little metal screws. One of them had been poking out just enough to tear a gash in a seven year old boy’s chest.

***

“Where is he now?” the sister asked.

The father exhaled loudly in frustration. “Asleep. He’s been asleep all day, and he’s naked, totally naked…”

“He’s what?” the mother asked incredulously.

“I went in this morning,” the father said with humiliation on his face, “To wake him and God Almighty, he was naked. Nothing on his body. I put a blanket on him and told him to get up and put some pants on, but I couldn’t get him up. I closed the door, don’t go in his room.”

***

His hips were clad very loosely in a pair of sweatpants that might have fit at one point in time. At the moment they barely clung to his pelvic bones. Had he been standing, he would’ve had to hold them with that attractive left hand. He had such nice, long hand-, big but by no means clumsy. The nail from the right middle finger was missing though. It had come off during an accident. He had no memory of seeing the jeep, and when he came to a stop ten feet from his motorcycle, he lay there and laughed.

***

“I don’t know what to say,” the mother said quietly, “His clothes are full of little holes.”

“They’re torn?” the father asked.

“No,” the mother said, holding a pair of pants. “They’re burnt.”

“Burnt? I don’t understand. What does burnt mean?”

***

His legs lay unmoving in the overly loose folds of his pants. Compared to his height and his broad bone structure they seemed diminished, too thin and spindly to belong on a body with such great shoulders, such long arms.

***

“Let’s get high, hiiiigh, let’s get high, hiiigh-“

“Asif…”

“Yeah, I just took some Ecstasy, Ain’t no tellin what the side effects could be..”

“Asif!”

“Come on, let’s get hiiiigh!” Asif laughed and reached for one of his sister’s arms.

“Don’t touch me!” she burst, backing abruptly out of his reach. “You’re singing crap and you’re glorifying something that you know is haram. You know, you absolutely know that’s haram, and I don’t want to hear it!”

She turned away from him and put her face in her hands. Asif put one of his hands on her shoulder and turned her around.

“What’s the matter with you?” he teased.

The sister removed her hands and looked Asif in the face. She was crying.

“Oh uh,” Asif mocked, pulling his hand of off her shoulder and stepping away. “Why are your eyes red hunh? Don’t tell me you’re on drugs, I’m gonna tell Abbu on you!”

The sister pushed past Asif and ran to her room, slamming the door behind her.

Asif sang on his way to the front door. “Let’s get high, hiiiigh!”

***

The feet were uncovered, some of the nails broken short and some grown long. The skin was dry and papery, and the gray roughness on the soles of his feet was an effect of long-term neglect. Also, the heels were cracked.

***

The elder brother came for a visit. He sat with Asif in the car.

“I know what you’re doing because I’ve done it before.”

“What?” Asif demanded belligerently, “What do you think I’m doing? And what have you been up to, hunh?”

“I’m going to tell Abbu and he’s going to break your legs.”

“Yeah, and what if I tell Abbu what you were up to?”

“Abbu knows what I did, and Abbu knows that I quit years ago. You, on the other hand, appear to have fallen into the s*** face first.”

***

He had, at one point, been a warm, healthy Pakistan brown. That was before the skin, the fingertips, and even his eyes turned yellow. The whites of his eyes had turned a dull, sticky-looking yellow, and they were no longer handsome, no matter how green.

***

Asif lay on the floor. He had just fallen out of his chair at the dining table, and the plate of rice he had been eating fell down with him. He was grinning.

Then he was chuckling.

Then he was roaring with laughter.

The roaring turned to howls, and then the laughter turned into wailing.

Then he was crying.

The mother put her hand to her heart. The sister looked to her desperately. The father was at work. That was the night that Asif told them everything.

The next morning he forgot, and had no idea why he had been locked in his bedroom.

He banged on the door for three hours. No one opened it. There was a pain in his head and a frantic craving. He kicked at the door furiously.

Downstairs the mother cried.

Asif jumped off of his second-floor balcony and landed in front of the house. He limped away.

***

The face, the drawn, yellowed, taut face, had once been handsome. The black hair had once fallen sleeky in place when he ran his fingers through it. The father had looked at him with pride, the sister had guarded him jealously. His friends had called him a ‘pretty bastard’ and teased him until he lovingly beat them up.

***

“If you fail the drug test, I kick you out. If you come home high, I kick you out. You understand?”

Asif ignored the elder brother and walked into the room that was to be his. As he set his bags down the doorbell rang.

The door opened and the nephew ran excitedly in calling, “Asif Chachu! Asif Chachu!” He was two years old and hyperactive and happy.

“Tahir! Come here you,” Asif picked Tahir up with one hand and slung him over his shoulder. Tahir giggled and screamed with joy. Asif took Tahir to the park.

***

There are certain things that drugs will do a man’s body. His eyes become small. He sweats a lot. He is irrational and aggressive.

***

Asif was kicked out of the elder brother’s house and lived in his car. After two weeks, out of pity, out of pain, out of futility and love and worry, he had been allowed to move in with the family again. But he refused to quit.

“Don’t you understand?” the father screamed, “You are hurting the family, you are hurting yourself! They are illegal, they are haram!”

“You want kick me out again, you can kick me out, and I’ll still be doing drugs. You wanna keep me here, then keep me, here, but I’ll still be doing drugs. You can’t tell me I’m getting high because you don’t know what it feels like, ask anybody who-“

“Ask who?” the sister spat, “Other drug addicts? Have you ever thought about opening the Qur’an and checking?”

Asif pointed a finger in his sister’s face. “The Qur’an only mentions alcohol!”

The sister slapped him and left the room.

***

The chemicals in drugs are harmful not only to humans. If you try to smoke heroine on the dining table, it might eat a hole through the finish.

***

They came home and found Asif on the floor, unconscious, unresponsive. The house was a wreck. There was a hole in the dining table.

Asif awoke in a hospital bed and pulled out his IV. He walked out of the room and bumped into an orderly who tried to guide him back. There was a fistfight. The orderly, as well a doctor who tried to help, were badly beaten. Asif left.

Back home, the father was stricken with a severe headache. A few minutes later his nose began to bleed. The mother tried to convince him to see a doctor. He sniffed, refused, and picked the car keys up. Where his fingers touched the table he left a drop of blood.

Asif made it home before the father returned and went directly to his room. The mother and the sister followed behind him, pleading. They refused to let him go, they refused to leave his room. He put on a pair of sweatpants and threw his hospital gown off. He pushed past them and began walking downstairs.

The sister rushed down the stairs and made it to the front door before he could. She stood in front of it with a knife in her hand.

“You can’t leave,” she cried, “I won’t let you go and kill yourself.”

Her eyes were red, her hands shook. She brandished the knife only feebly.

“Quit faking,” Asif said, moving suddenly towards her. He took the knife from her hand and flung it across the room. She rushed forward and wrapped Asif in a tight embrace, burying her face in his chest.

“Please,” she groaned, “Please…”

Asif thrust her away with such force that she hit the wall. He walked out the door.

***

The body, Asif’s body, lies half naked on the floor.

***

The elder brother came home after the funeral prayer and sat wearily down. Quick, light footsteps approached him from the kitchen and Tahir climbed into his father’s lap.

“Hi Baba,” Tahir said.

The remaining brother drew Tahir to himself and held him tightly. Innocently, Tahir pushed away. He then held his hands out, palms up, and shrugged, “Where Asif Chachu?”

“Asif Chachu isn’t here any more, Tahir,” the remaining brother clenched his jaw to stop his mouth from quivering.

“Asif Chachu gone?”

“Yes, Asif Chachu gone.”

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Zeba Khan is the Director of Development for MuslimMatters.org and the producer of the newly launched Muslimmatters Podcast, as well as a writer, speaker, and disability awareness advocate. In addition to having a child with autism, she herself lives with Ehlers-Danlos Sydrome, Dysautonomia, Mast-Cell Activation Disorder, and a random assortment of acronyms that collectively translate to chronic illness and progressive disability.

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Halima

    July 6, 2011 at 1:13 AM

    Woooooooah! THAT was good! I was hooked to it but the little breaks in between were confusing! I kept re-reading them to add the pieces together. Awesome story though..probably true for a lot of young people these days…

  2. Addicted

    July 6, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    Nice story. But there are things no one discusses. That is porn and masturbation addiction. Do u know how difficult it is for a college going young man, who does not earn, to cope with it. I cant go to anyone bcoz everyone things its a taboo. I cant get online help bcoz none of them are free.

    • Abez

      July 6, 2011 at 3:19 AM

      AssalamuAlaikum Brother- Perhaps this link may be of help? May Allah make the straight path easy for you and protect you against Shaitaan.

      http://muslimmatters.org/2007/08/19/pornogrpahy-addiction-among-muslims-stories-tips/

      7. Advice from Shaykh Yasir Qadhi from this same link:

      To the husband, Qwerty:

      1) Regarding Qwerty’s situation, it reminded me of a fatwa I read from a great modern alim – someone whom I know personally very well and greatly admire. He was asked about a similar situation (person addicted to porn and masturbation). His response – I only wish I could find the original Arabic – almost moved me to tears. He started off with the basic advice of informing him that this was a sin and he should desist from it, and continually repent to Allah. So far it was standard. But then he continued on. He said that this sin, despite its evil nature, is not a major sin in and of itself (for example like actual zina), and as long as one repented and felt guilty it would not come under the rule ‘a habitual minor sin becomes a major sin’. Then he said – and this was the most beautiful point –

      ‘And make sure that Shaytan does not use this sin to prevent you from being of benefit to the Ummah in other ways, for this would be a greater victory for Shaytan than the actual sin you are committing’.

      Meaning that the sin is a problem, but then sitting down in your house, despairing, and becoming totally useless to the Ummah is an even greater problem! So feel guilty for your sin, but use that guilt to make sure you generate more good deeds in order to make it up. Which leads me to my second point.

      2) Qwerty, and those in your boat, make sure you have more than the ‘average’ good deeds to show. Pray some extra nafls regularly, read Quran (and memorize, as you were doing), do dhikr… when in sajdah prolong it for that short extra time, realizing you need those blessings. During wudhu, perfect it and realize that for every drop of water that falls down a sin is removed. Saying isighfar, and especially the ’sayyid al-istighfar’ regularly, meaning what you say.

      And indeed it is possible, if you do all this and more, that you will rise higher *because* of your sin, since it led you to higher heights. Again this is not a justification of the sin, but rather a ray of hope for the sinner that not all is lost. No human is sinless, and what you are doing is a (minor) sin, hence use it to be a better Muslim, and make du’aa to al-Rahman that He forgives you, and to al-Sitteer that He covers up and conceals it from others.

      3) MW, your last comment – I swear by Allah – made my heart tremble and hair stand on end. Do you realize what you have just said? By Allah this one statement of yours is worse than any sin you could have done, so repent for it. Do you think that you, and you alone, can be so sinful that Allah’s mercy cannot encompass you? That you have so much ‘power’ to commit sins that the infinite mercy of Allah is powerless when faced with it?!

      Understand the implications of what you say and repent for this one statement, before you repent from the lesser sins that you say you have done. For indeed a hadeeth tells us that ‘The greatest of all major sins is shirk with Allah, and despairing of the mercy of Allah, and losing hope of the help of Allah.’ See how the Rasool (saw) equated giving up hope in Allah and His Mercy with shirk.Indeed, Allah forgives all sins….for He is al-Ghafoor, al-Ghafaar, al-Raheem, al-Rahman, al-Tawwaab, al-Haleem, and al-Afuw. He is forgiving and loves to forgive.O Allah, forgive us all for our shortcomings, and conceal our faults from others, and cover us up with your mercy, Ameen!

      • Addicted

        July 7, 2011 at 2:19 AM

        Thanks so much sister. I feel like Allaah loves me.
        May Allaah grant you Jannah and super great life in this world too.
        Please pray for me. I have been trying and trying. But this time I will try to make it work Insha-Allaah.

        • Sister

          July 10, 2011 at 10:55 AM

          Allah does love you.
          ammeen

        • A Brother

          July 13, 2011 at 2:42 AM

          Assalaamu alaikum Addicted,

          You’ve called out genuinely for help: may Allah(swt) Bless you immensely for that. Insha-Allah you and other such people (who are undergoing difficulties like these but are too anxious or embarrassed to openly seek out help) will be in my duas for the next while. Be well and don’t give up till the habit is gone! :)

  3. Amna

    July 6, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    This is just too sad. May Allah cure our Ummah from the evils of drug addiction. Ameen.

  4. private

    July 6, 2011 at 3:17 AM

    This is sad to read cause I know so many muslims that are dealing with these types of problems.

  5. F

    July 6, 2011 at 7:37 AM

    Subhan Allah….
    What can parents or anyone do in such situations? The helplessness is the worst part.

    • Your muslim sister

      July 9, 2011 at 1:51 PM

      Asalamualikum
      the parents can make dua…
      lots of dua and dawwah.
      inshaAllah none of us are put in a situation like this.

  6. Mohammed

    July 6, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    I’m sorry I’m a bit lost regarding the story particularly what happens after the 2nd last paragraph? Does he kill himself? or does he die of overdose…I know the point is that he died…but filling in the gaps would help….JazakAllahu Khairan

    • Abez

      July 8, 2011 at 6:47 AM

      He dies of an overdose.

  7. BintKhalil

    July 6, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    From Al Jazeera English, the heroin addiction plaguing East Jerusalem.

    May Allah protect us.

  8. Another sister

    July 6, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Amazing story. Thank you for writing this. And also, can you clarify what happened to the father when his nose was bleeding? (I keep thinking either he had a brain hemorrhage or else he accidentally ended up snorting the drugs.)

    • Abez

      July 8, 2011 at 6:49 AM

      He gets a nosebleed from his blood pressure being so high due to stress.

  9. Farhan

    July 7, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    That was moving. The author is quite a good writer.
    btw, please make a note that Chachu = lttle kid version of Urdu word for Uncle (Chacha)

  10. Sarah

    July 8, 2011 at 2:32 AM

    This was so intense! I couldnt stop reading. I was addicted lol pun! Jk addiction is scary. But this narrative is the real life story of so many muslims. May Allah ta’la protect us all from all the vices in this world.

  11. Saad

    July 9, 2011 at 7:01 AM

    Good going, Mashallah. Couldn’t help but read it all in one go. Looking forward to more like these, inshallah :)

  12. Asim

    July 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    quite sadistic..
    hope Allah shows all of us the right path..ameen

  13. Your muslim Sister

    July 9, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Asalamualaikum sister,
    MashaAllah! i really like the story…may Allah save us all from this.
    from the temptations of shaitan…and the path of the astray..AllahuAmeen.

    the worst part about being addicted is the emotional part. the part of feeling alone…
    Allah is with us all.

    are you going to post more storys inshaAllah?

  14. Basmah

    July 10, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    Write on.

  15. kishwar

    July 11, 2011 at 4:16 AM

    who died in the end , the father or asif?
    this is soooooo sad. and there are thousands and thousands of ppl suffering with this …
    May Allah keep everyone safe and sound and away from all such evils

    • A Sister

      July 11, 2011 at 9:52 AM

      AllahuAmeen.
      Asif died in the end…
      but what hapened to the dad..

  16. AnonyMouse

    July 11, 2011 at 4:22 AM

    Brilliant, powerful story masha’Allah! I wish more young Muslims were aware of the dangers of drugs, what it can do to you, your family, and your entire life…

  17. Jamilah Iman

    July 16, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    Absolutely powerful… thank you!
    May ALLAH (SWT) protect us all from such a sad fate.

  18. Sara

    July 22, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    ehh..good moral to the story, but very poorly written.

    I also felt the story was a bit fake. especially the style of conversations.

    I hope there will be a piece on overcoming these addictions by someone who is qualified to speak on such topics. This would be more beneficial.

    • Abez

      July 22, 2011 at 5:19 PM

      JazakAllahukheiran for the feedback Sister. I can’t make any excuses for the writing, but I will say that unfortunately 80% of this story is truth, even the dialogues. The only thing Asif didn’t do in real life was die. Alhamdulillah :)

      I agree that it would be great to read some helpful advice on how to overcome addiction, maybe sister Haleh can help?

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