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Hassan’s Tale, Part 11 – A Tragic Flaw

I was utterly happy. Lena did not become Muslim, but I kept believing that it would happen in time. And I ignored the signs that something was wrong.

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See the Story Index for a chronological guide to all the stories.

I returned to The Western Door in a daze. I felt as if my heart had been crushed in a giant fist. All this time I’d been getting by with fantasies of what my life would be like once Lena and I were united. Now I’d found her and she was nothing like I remembered. Were my memories false? Was it a daydream I’d concocted and convinced myself was real?

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I couldn’t work. A customer ordered lamb with apricots – one of our specialties – and I brought her jam and toast instead. I moved slowly, as if I were underwater. Mehmet thought I was sick and told me to take the day off.

I went to Beyazit Mosque and prayed, then sat on the plush red carpet with my back to a massive stone pillar. Even though I’d been there many times, I was still struck by Beyazit’s interior beauty, with its soaring ceilings, vast circular chandeliers, stained glass windows and painted ceilings.

A group of Tablighi Jamaat brothers sat in one corner of the masjid, visiting from India or South Africa, probably. I’d seen such groups in the masjid before and once I’d even gone with them on what they call ziyarah, where you knock on doors and give people bayan – kind of a short talk about Allah, the aakhirah, imaan, the Prophet or the Sahabah. I know some people criticize the Jamaat, but when I’m around them it changes my heart.

So when I saw them in the masjid I went and sat with them. A short brother with a white beard stood in front of the others and spoke quietly but earnestly. He said that imaan – faith – has to be acquired. You have to work for it, sacrifice, even suffer for it. You can never take it for granted. And he said that we should never think that the trials of this life are a punishment. Rather, they are a gift. They are Allah’s way of purifying us from sin and raising our imaan. The stronger we become in faith, the more Allah tests us, just like a weightlifter who must lift heavier and heavier weights as his muscles grow. The fact that we are challenged is a sign that Allah loves us. Indeed, no one was challenged more than the Prophets.

This was like a light bulb turning on in my head. I began to wonder:  was Allah challenging me with Lena to see how I would respond? I decided that I would not give up on her. I would go back out and find her. I would take her away from that sleazy boyfriend one way or another. I would meet this challenge and save her. She had believed in me and loved me when I was nothing but a teenaged soldier, lost in confusion and darkness. Now I would believe in her, love her, and bring her to Islam.

I doubt this was what the Tablighi brother had in mind. But it was what occurred to me, right or wrong. I left the masjid filled with a new determination and sense of purpose.

The truth, of course, is that no one can “bring” anyone to Islam. Even the Messenger of Allah, sal-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, could not convince his uncle Abu Talib to utter the shahadah. Only Allah can change the heart. But that’s the folly of youth, thinking that we’re always right, and that the world will change to conform to our reality.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to look for Lena. I went to the cafe early the next morning, intending to work hard to make up for the previous day, then look for Lena after my shift. When I arrived, Lena was already there waiting, sitting at an indoor table in the rear corner. She stood to throw herself into my arms again, but I stopped her.

“Please sit,” I said.

“Simon, I’m so sorry about yesterday – “ she started to say, but I cut her off.

“First of all, my name is Hassan now. Hassan Sulayman. So forget that other name. Secondly, I am Muslim. Lena, I love you. I’ve waited for you and searched for you. But now you’re with this other guy.”

“He’s not my boyfriend, Sim – I mean, Hassan. He’s not my boyfriend. He’s a friend. He helped me out when I first arrived, that’s all. I didn’t know what happened to you, Hassan. I didn’t know if you were dead or alive.”

“Your father never told you?”

“Told me what?”

Should I tell her that her father had betrayed me and set me up to be killed? Her eyes were red, and the bruise on her cheek still showed. Life had not been kind to her since our separation.

“Nothing,” I said. “I went to Homs like you told me to,” I said. “I worked for your uncle. Why didn’t you come, Lena? I waited for you.”

“I didn’t know, Simon.”

“Hassan.”

“Sorry. Like I said, I didn’t know. My father had a stroke a month after you disappeared. I didn’t know where you had gone. There were rumors that you’d been killed in Tel-Az-Zaytoon. I had to drop out of school to care for my dad. He lost all function on the left side of his body. I mourned for you, I thought about you, I dreamed about you. I didn’t know.”

A stroke. That explained a lot. But not all of it.

“How is he?”

“He died last year. He left me the house and a little cash. I bought a car and came here.”

Where are you staying?

Lena looked away. “I… I sleep in the park. Anton and I have a tent…”

“Where’s the car?”

“It was stolen. Listen, Simon. Hassan. None of that matters now. I’m done with Anton. I came here today because I want to be with you.”

I sat back in my seat and looked at Lena. I didn’t know what to think. She and Anton were friends but they shared a tent? And what had happened to her dream of studying at the University of Istanbul? Why was she drawing caricatures for tourists?

In my naivete and in my love for her, I pushed those concerns aside.

“We’ll have to be married,” I said. “I’m a Muslim now. I can’t be your boyfriend. It’s not allowed. Also, I want you to join me in Islam.”

Her face lit up with joy. She almost looked like the Lena I remembered. “Yes!” she said. “We’ll be married. That’s all I ever wanted. But give me time on the Islamic thing. I have to think about that.”

***

Muhammad raised his hand like a schoolboy trying to get the teacher’s attention. “Can I ask you a question about Lena?”

Hassan smiled. “What is it, bro?”

“You fell in love with Lena and waited years, even when you didn’t know if she was dead or alive. Then you took her back her without reservation. I’m just wondering why? I mean, I practically fall in love with every pretty girl I see. Maybe I’ve never experienced love at all. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.”

“I read an article in a science magazine,” Hassan replied, “where the author claimed that love is psycho-sexual. Something about a woman – the width of her hips, the turn of her nose, or some mannerism, triggers a subconscious sexual attraction. We feel that and call it ‘love at first sight’. That’s what happens when you see a pretty girl, bro. It’s not love. It’s desire.

“As for Lena…” Hassan sat back and stroked his beard on the uninjured side of his face. “I’ve spent a thousand sleepless nights spinning my mental gears on the whys and hows. I was lost, but she saw something special in me. She believed in me and loved me. How could I not do the same for her?

“There was a time when I almost gave up on her. Mehmet had a niece who he thought would be good for me. I believed that if I could forget Lena then maybe I could love someone else. So I tried. Every time I thought about her I’d push the thought out of my mind. But I began dreaming about her. She was a mountain in my mind. No matter which way I turned she was there, dominating my inner horizon.

“One day I was sitting in Masjid Beyazit reading Al-Bukhari. I came across a hadith where the Messenger of Allah, sal-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam, said, and I’m paraphrasing here, that souls are like troops joined together, and that those souls who knew one another in the world from which they came, would be attracted to each other in this world. There was a commentary by ibn Hajar in which he said that maybe souls were created before bodies, and that they used to mingle together in that unseen world and discuss their future in this world. So when they see each other in this physical world, they remember and feel a bond.

“That was like a starburst in my head.  I had a soul connection with Lena. No wonder I couldn’t break it. I had known her across lifetimes, from one world to the next. If that were true, if Allah had brought us together again and again, it must be for a reason. I told Mehmet that I could not marry his niece. And I waited.

“Some people say that true love is a Hollywood construct. I agree that people have unhealthy attractions and call it love. Stalkers, women who stay with abusers, relationships that go nowhere, that kind of thing.

“But as far as real love, yeah brother, yeah. I do believe in monumental, transcendent love. The Khadijah and Muhammad kind of soul connection, sal-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam. Not everyone gets it, but it’s out there. Ask Allah, that’s all I can say, and look for that soul connection.

“I had it once. But that was a long time ago… Now…” Hassan stared at the Persian rug in the center of the gleaming floor, avoiding everyone’s eyes. “Well.. my heart is free now, and ready to love. Insha’Allah I’ll have that soul connection again before I die. And so will you, Muhammad.”

For one fleeting moment Hassan looked up and met Jamilah’s gaze, and she read more in his eyes in that second than in all the time she’d known him, as if he had deliberately let down the drawbridge and thrown the gate open for one moment. She saw weariness, fear – she never thought she’d see that in Hassan – hope, and love like thunder. It was there. She wasn’t imagining it.

Jamilah’s face flushed. Then Hassan looked away and resumed his tale, and the moment was gone.

***

We were married at The Western Door, and Mehmet provided the food free of charge. Only a handful of people attended. Mehmet was there of course, plus my Jujitsu sensei and another friend from the dojo, Jihad from the hostel – that’s the middle-aged Kurdish brother who embraced me when I was crying that day – and the Imam from Beyazit Mosque.

All these people were either acquaintances or colleagues. I had no close friends. I had not been able to make a true friend since I left Lebanon. I didn’t know how to talk to people. When you start a conversation with the death of your parents and a civil war, it tends to shut things down. And since I never talk about that those things – until now – I developed no deep friendships. I was secretive with everyone, and paranoid. At times I’d see a black-suited figure on the street, and feel the hair stand up on my arms as my imagination conjured Mr. Black’s snakelike visage, complete with purple scar across the throat. There was hardly a day when I didn’t – for a split second – think I saw Sarkis hiding behind a corner. And I wasn’t prepared to lose another loved one. I wasn’t ready for another Gala, Charlie or Daniel.

The only person in Turkey who knew a little of my past – though not all – was Jihad. He was actually an Iraqi Kurd, not Turkish. He’d been an officer in the Peshmerga, fighting for Kurdish autonomy, until Saddam Hussein wiped out most of his village, killing his wife and three children in the process. He’d given up the fight and come to Turkey, where he lived a haunted existence, employed as an outreach worker for a government clinic, and looking over his shoulder every day. I could relate to him.

I say that I kept people at a distance, but I loved Lena without reservation, maybe because the thought of losing her did not bear contemplation. I felt bad that she had no family or friends of her own at our wedding. Still, she seemed happy.

I’d been frugal over the years and saved a tidy sum. I rented a studio apartment in Fatih, not far from the cafe. I hoped that being near to the university would inspire Lena to return. I say “return”, because she told me that she had enrolled when she first arrived in Turkey, but had to leave when she became ill with dengue fever.

I was utterly happy. I continued to work and study. Lena did not become Muslim, but I kept believing that it would happen in time. She also did not return to the university, saying she wasn’t ready. I bought her an easel and paints and she began to produce stunning canvases that depicted almost-idyllic scenes, but always with a tragic flaw. A lovely farmhouse with a huge storm bearing down in the distance. A modern cityscape with empty streets and heavy smoke rising from behind a building. Her work was good, and she managed to get a show in a local gallery. I wasn’t surprised when one of her paintings sold for a considerable sum.

This was what I had wished for. My sweetest dream had come true. When Lena was healthy and happy – when she was her old self, as I thought of it – life was perfect. I’d practice martial arts on the rug in our little apartment while Lena painted, sometimes singing as she worked. We had a view of Beyazit Square from the window. In the mornings a pair of parrots sometimes perched on our windowsill, feasting on the carrots and walnuts that we left. Sometimes in the afternoons we’d walk through the city, exploring, Lena always with her sketchbook in hand. She bought a camera and she’d take pictures of me in front of various Istanbul attractions. She said she liked photographing me because I was the most handsome man in the world.

I took this picture with her camera around that time.”

***

Jamilah watched with intense curiosity as Hassan withdrew a photo from his wallet and handed it to Layth, who studied it then passed it to Kadijah, then Muhammad, and finally to Jamilah herself.

The edges of the square, black and white photo were slightly worn, and a crease separated the left third from the rest. A beautiful young woman stood in front of an easel, pointing a paintbrush at the camera. She was nothing like Jamilah herself. The woman in the photo had long, straight, blonde hair and could have passed for a European. She was lithe and slender as a reed. Judging from Hassan’s story, Lena would have been the same age as Jamilah when this photo was taken. She did indeed look physically young, but there was a sadness in her eyes. You could transplant those eyes into the face of an old woman and they would not look out of place. Jamilah had never seen eyes like that, except… Except Hassan’s own eyes. They were eyes that had seen too much.

If this was Hassan’s type of woman, then where did that leave Jamilah, with her kinky black mane of hair, olive skin, and short, compact body?

“This is what you were looking at in the park that day,” Jamilah said. “You put it away when I rode up.”

“Mm-hm.” Hassan gave a tiny nod.

“Why did you hide it?”

“I don’t know.” Hassan looked at the floor, avoiding Jamilah’s gaze.

She handed the photo  back to him and he tucked it into his jacket pocket and resumed his story.

***

“I tried to ignore the signs of trouble,” Hassan said. “Whenever Lena sold a painting she’d go into a funk, depressed and sleeping too much, as if she didn’t deserve success. And there never seemed to be any sign of the money she earned. She’d claim that she’d sent it to a relative in Lebanon, or to the caretaker of her house to pay for maintenance and upkeep. She was too thin, and I could hardly get her to eat. When we made love she always insisted on turning off all the lights, as if she were ashamed of her body. If I questioned her she’d become furious and accuse me of abandoning her in Lebanon. Her words cut deeply, and I could make no response.

A year and a half went by like that, alternating between joyful times and dark, confusing periods.

One day I came home from work a little early and saw a thin figure walking quickly down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. I recognized the boots and the jittering gait. Anton. I entered the apartment in a smoldering rage, not knowing what I would find, and not wanting to think the worst. What I found surprised me. Lena was asleep on the sofa. I tried to rouse her but got nothing more out of her than half-lidded eyes and a moan. I slapped her lightly, with no better result. He skin was hot and clammy. Frantic, I called an ambulance.

In the hospital waiting room I recited Ayat al-Kursi again and again, and made dua’ to Allah to care for Lena and save her. When the doctor came out to see me – a tall, thin woman wearing wooden clogs – I held my breath.

“She’ll be alright,” the doctor said. “But it was close. Next time she might not be so lucky. I can recommend a good program.”

“What do you mean? Program for what?”

The doctor raised her eyebrows. “Your wife is a heroin addict,” she said. “She almost died of an overdose. I’d say she’s been at it quite a while, judging from the track marks. She’s got a few blown veins on her legs. How could you not know?”

Heroin. I was stunned. I thought back to when I’d first seen her in Galatasaray Square, looking thin and bruised. She’d been addicted even then. How blind I had been. Lena’s stupors, the disappearing cash, her unrelenting illness… How stupid I had been.

“She always covers up,” I murmured. “Never lets me see her body.”

“There’s something else,” the doctor said. “Your wife is pregnant. About a month. It’s vital that she stop using the heroin, otherwise the fetus is at high risk of poor fetal growth, premature delivery and stillbirth. Even if it survives, it would be addicted. In addition, heroin users risk contracting diseases like syphilis, hepatitis and HIV that can be transmitted to the fetus.”

Pregnant. Lena was pregnant. A sudden thought came to me, unbidden:  Anton, walking hurriedly away from my building. How many other times had he visited while I was at work? I didn’t want to think these thoughts, but I couldn’t help it.

“Can I see her?”

“Yes. She’s awake.”

The doctor led me to Lena’s room in the emergency department. An IV tube ran into Lena’s arm, while other machines monitored her pulse and respiration. When she saw me she turned her head to the side and curled up. “Don’t look at me,” she said, and she began to cry. “I don’t want you to see me.”

I wanted to embrace her and tell her it would be alright. But there was a bitterness in my mouth that rooted me to the spot.

“Is the child mine?” I demanded.

Lena looked at me then, wiping the tears from her eyes with closed fists. “What are you saying?” she pleaded.

“The doctor says you’re pregnant. Whose child is it? Don’t lie to me.”

“Habibi, please, I have never been unfaithful! Why are you saying these things?”

“I saw Anton leaving the building. I saw him!” I had begun to raise my voice and I saw the doctor step forward, reaching for my sleeve to usher me out of the room.

“Tell me the truth!” As much as I loved Lena, I felt that I would shatter into pieces from the pressure inside me.

“He’s my dealer!” Lena shouted, glaring at me. “Yes, I was with him when I met you, but not since that day that I saw you in the square. Not since that day. He’s just my dealer, ya habibi.” She turned away from me again, but that was alright. I’d seen the truth in her eyes.

“I’ll be back,” I said. “I love you.” I walked out, the doctor’s hand on my arm ensuring that I did not change my mind.

I went to the hostel where I used to live and found Jihad. As an outreach worker he would be familiar with the Istanbul drug scene.

We embraced, then he studied my face and said, “What has happened, my friend?”

“I need to know where the heroin dealers congregate.”

He laughed. “This is Istanbul. Where do they not?”

“This guy, his name is Anton, I think he might be Greek.”

“Hmm.” He smoothed his mustache with his fingers. “Maybe Tarlabaşı Bulvarı off Teksim Square. Lots of Greeks there. Bad neighborhood at night. Prostitutes, trannies, pickpockets, gypsies, muggers. You should be careful.”

I thanked Jihad and left. I knew Teksim Square. I’d been there once, passing out flyers. Like Fatih, it was on the European side, not too far away. The bus would get me there in twenty minutes.

I found Anton with three other young men, sitting on a picnic table in a small park. They all wore heavy boots and baggy t-shirts, and I saw that a few had switchblade handles sticking out of their pockets. This was a decent area during the day, but at night it apparently belonged to the drug dealers and the hoodlums.

I strode toward Anton, pointed and shouted, “You!” I don’t know if he recognized me or not, but he drew a long switchblade immediately. The blade shot out of the handle with a snick. One of the other gangsters took a set of brass knuckles from his pocket, slipped it onto his hand, said something in Greek and laughed.

I was angrier than I’d ever been in my life. This piece of trash had corrupted Lena, gotten her addicted, used her and almost gotten her killed. I had no thought of visualization, or controlling my rage. I went straight for Anton. He stood up and thrust at my face with the knife. I sidestepped, seized his arm, and directed his blade into the meat of his own thigh. The knife buried itself in his right leg almost to the hilt, and he screamed.

The last two were drawing their knives, but I went for the one with the brass knuckles. The one who’d laughed. I leaped onto the bench and from there to the top of the table. Without pausing I flew at him, meeting his face with my knee. I heard a snapping sound as his nose broke. He tumbled off the table with a cry.

I landed on the far side of the table and rolled to my feet. Mr. Brass Knuckles was trying to rise. I twisted his head violently, then seized his arm and snapped his elbow on my shin. The bones of his forearm protruded through the skin below his elbow and he let out a long, high-pitched wail.

Anton was screaming, “My leg! My leg!” The two remaining toughs gaped at me with pale faces and I wondered for an instant whether they had ever witnessed this sort of unrestrained violence.

I pointed at Anton. “It’s him I want,” I said. “You two can run, or you can stay and end up like Brass Knuckles here.”

They ran.

I fell upon Anton like a hungry wolf. I knew I was out of control but I couldn’t stop myself. I kept imagining Lena and my unborn child dead. This waste of a life was responsible. I pulled the knife from his thigh, then plunged it into his right hamstring muscle and ripped it out, tearing the muscle. He fell to the ground, moaning and begging. I kneeled, seized his leg and sliced his right achilles tendon. I knew that he would never walk normally again. Gripping his throat, I stared into his eyes as he sobbed and drooled. I slipped the knife between his legs and pressed the blade against his privates.

“Do you feel that?” I said. “Don’t ever talk to Lena again. Don’t call her, don’t even be in the same neighborhood as her, or I will come back and finish this. Tell me that you hear me.”

“No Lena,” he said between sobs, looking away from me in fear. “Never. I promise.”

I wiped my fingerprints from the knife, dropped it in the grass and walked away.

I’m not proud of what I did. It was the first time after my shahadah that I’d hurt another human being, and I know it’s on my record with Allah. Anton deserved some pain, but not the torture I gave him. I’ve asked Allah’s forgiveness many times.

Jihad gave us a referral to a good drug rehab program, and Lena completed it. She began attending Narcotics Anonymous. I went with her once but she said it made her uncomfortable to have me there, so I’d wait outside. I wouldn’t let her go alone.

I hoped that life would get back to normal, but our marriage was not the same. I watched Lena carefully, and sometimes questioned her about her activities, where she’d gone, and who she’d been with. She’d get angry and accuse me of trying to control her, and not trusting her.

Two months after Lena’s overdose, The Western Door burned down. It happened at night, so no one was hurt, thank God. The investigators were unable to determine the cause. Mehmet promised me that he would rebuild the place with the insurance money, but in the meantime I was out of a job.

I had enough money saved to get us through the next three months. I went to everyone I knew, looking for work. I tried Jihad’s clinic, the hostel, the university and even the masjid. I had to drop out of school at the end of the semester because I couldn’t pay the fees. Lena’s pregnancy wasn’t showing yet, but my stress level climbed higher every day. How would I support Lena and the baby?

Lena sold a painting, and that helped, giving us perhaps another month. But it wasn’t enough.

***

One afternoon Lena sat me down on our little loveseat. She took my hand in hers and said, “There’s something we could do. It’s a bit extreme, but it could bring us a better life.”

“What?” I asked warily.

“I know a guy who knows a guy who exports heroin. He’ll pay – “

As soon as I heard the word heroin, I stood up and stared at Lena in outrage.

“Just listen!” she said. “He’ll pay us ten thousand American dollars each to swallow some balloons and fly to the USA. He’ll get visas for us and everything. We can start fresh in America.”

“How do you know this person?” I demanded. “Are you using again? Have you seen Anton?”

“No,” she said vehemently. “I’m clean. And I heard about what you did to Anton, by the way. That was cruel. No, this is someone I heard about at NA. I’ve never met him.”

“Those people are supposed to be helping you, not hooking you up with dealers!”

We continued arguing like that until I stormed out of the apartment.

That moment represents the greatest regret of my life. You know how people say, if you could go back and change some part of your life, would you? For me that question is a joke. What wouldn’t I change? There’s so much I would do differently. I wouldn’t let Charlie out of my sight. I wouldn’t take Daniel into Tel-Az-Zaytoon. And I wouldn’t argue with Lena and walk out. Because that was the last time I ever saw her alive.

Next:  Hassan’s Tale, Part 12 – It’s Not What You Say

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Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Amazon.com: Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including, Zawaj.com, IslamicAnswers.com and IslamicSunrays.com. He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at WaelAbdelgawad.com. For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Safa

    August 6, 2014 at 1:00 AM

    Jazakumuallahu khayran. A great piece after a long hiatus … with Hassan’s story returning to its tragic weave (sigh)

  2. umm habiba

    August 6, 2014 at 3:22 AM

    Good read! Yes it takes the tragic weave yet again

  3. Waleed Safi

    August 6, 2014 at 4:15 AM

    im guessing it was a set up…. I The Phrase “I know a guy who knows a guy” is AKA “set up” from what I know,seen and experienced. guess we will wait till next week to find out.

  4. Abdullah

    August 6, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    Thanx for updating

  5. SC

    August 7, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    so beautiful. Allah bless you Akhi.
    may He bring much good from your writing, a gift from Him, and use it to bring others to guidance.
    thank you.
    pray for us.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      August 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      Ameen to your dua’, SC, and may Allah make it easy for you today (since you were up all night reading).

      • SC

        August 7, 2014 at 6:51 PM

        thank you Brother!
        i’ve been thinking about your story all day long. I feel like Jamilah is not that sympathetic a character….yet. and i understand…she is on a journey. she only just became Muslim and like Hassan’s comment to Layth: she needs some time before she’s actually ready for marriage. I love how Kadija is playing that older sister/Mother/mentor role. I hope Kadija will give some advice to Jamilah about being less involved in her own self. You’ve done a great job of showing how self-absorbed she is. even when Hassan is telling the most moving of tales, she is only thinking about herself, her family, her feelings; even her marriage ‘test’ is so silly – not about love, sharing, patience…and that’s fine. she is 22 after all. but does she have no ability to see that Hassan, while in part a perpetrator of crimes, is an orphan and major victim? I hope too that part of her transformation will be to see that even the enemy can be a victim.
        re: being deserving of Hassan, I’m hoping there’ll be some hints given to her by Kadija, and in the process, that you’ll show us what sisterhood mentorship can look like between Kadija and Jamilah and that Jamilah will show gratitude for Kadija. Kadija was so key for Layth – she must have a lot of wisdom to share on how to help a suffering man…Right now, in my mind, Lena stands out as the better woman – outshining Jamilah, and it’s not because she has long blond hair and a slender build!

      • Wael Abdelgawad

        August 7, 2014 at 7:07 PM

        SC, what a great comment. You’re giving me ideas here, ha ha. I agree with everything you say. It remains to be seen whether Jamilah can get past her judgments and self-interest and see how much Hassan has been through and how far he has come to get where he is.

  6. SC

    August 7, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    i mean only just started practicing…

  7. M

    August 9, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    JazakAllah Kahir for another amazing read brother! We need more authors like you!

    Here’s a suggestion. the part ““My mom was blown up, my dad was shot, and I was a child soldier,” it tends to shut things down. I’m being sarcastic, of course. In reality I was secretive with everyone, and paranoid.” is way too long. the idea is very obvious, you don’t need a whole paragraph for it. it can be integrated with in another paragraph. You can make the part shorter with something along the line of…

    I had never really opened up to anyone since I left Lebanon. You can’t really walk up to someone and tell them that you mom was blown apart and your dad was shot. Plus all those things that happened back there left me paranoid. To be honest I have never been really close to anyone until, I guess, now”, He said as he looked from the others to Jamilah.

    The part about love also seemed very long, maybe you can make it a bit shorter.

  8. M

    August 10, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    I’ve been trying to post a comment on this article but it doesn’t show up. Am I on moderation? I don’t remember writing anything rude or using bad language, just some valuable feedback for the author. Did I do something wrong? :S

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      August 10, 2014 at 11:25 PM

      I wouldn’t know if you were on moderation, but I do see your comment, so what’s your question?

      • M

        August 12, 2014 at 12:20 AM

        Ok, never mind, I can see my comment too now. But I am sure it wasn’t there yesterday, maybe some glitch at my side.

    • Aly Balagamwala

      August 12, 2014 at 2:37 AM

      Dear M

      You are not on moderation nor is there any comment by you flagged by our system. This one got through just fine.

      Best Regards
      Aly

  9. Salma

    August 11, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Glad to see you are back with the story. Really enjoying reading it. I feel like I know these characters personally.
    It’s odd how Hassan is so cruel and evil too to Anton and has done so many things in the past but you have written his story in such a manner that you can’t hep but feel for him and want the best for him.

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