In my five years as Lazeeza’s Head Baker, I don’t think any previous Ramadhaan can quite compare to the insanity that was this year’s. Except perhaps the very first year when I was still finding my feet. 2013 - the year we introduced savoury foods. The year we brought out subs and pizzas, most of which I made myself. As a result there were many days when I literally collapsed as soon as my taraweeh (or on a really bad day, esha) was performed.
In the midst of all this chaos, I try still, to ensure the kids have a normal-ish childhood, so when they express a wish to host their school friends for iftaar, I oblige, squeezing the effort of preparing a meal for up to 20 people into an already overfull day. And that was the day you, Shaazia, chose to enter my home, making all your claims and all your promises, pretending to be a Clover employee, promising me a delivery of butter and ghee once I paid in what you’d have to pay at the office. I didn't really look at you, as you stood in my teeming kitchen, asking about, not one, but THREE rather large red velvet cakes ‘for your daughter’s school’. Didn't think it odd when your phone rang (on silent, as you told the non-existent person on the other end), and held an animated conversation with no one, promising them, just as you were promising me, their delivery of butter and ghee.
I was too busy to question your actions. Besides, my default position is ‘Trust’ in spite of the fact that this last year has shown me that that way, profound pain and dreadful disappointment sometimes lies. I swallowed your lies, patiently bore your badgering, this is after all, a month of patience. Handed over R8000, earned through hard work. On Sunday night when the chaos quietened, I sat down and thought of you. For the first time the gaping inconsistencies in your charade dawned on me. I was swallowed by anxiety. Suddenly I couldn't finish my meal. I tried calling you. You were as slippery as our own President. Layering lie upon lie.
Eventually I texted you. Said quite simply that while I’d love to know why you chose to dupe me this way, I would trust in a Lord who is just and kind, bear the lost with patience and hope for recompense from Him.
I remembered, to Allah belongs what He gives, to Him belongs what He takes and all things with him, have an appointed time. I was sad. Felt betrayed. But mostly I grieved my loss of Faith. I wept for the Faith in humanity that I had always professed, attested to by a line I added to my recent column for The Review, where I said that ‘man is inherently good’, the faith that you took full advantage of, then tossed to the ground, before trampling it, annihilating it.
I threw myself into Eid biscuit baking with a vengeance. Started working at 6 each morning and kept myself so busy that I hadn’t a moment to think. I exulted in the aroma of the shortbread as I removed them from the oven, knew that they’d turned out perfectly. Channelled all my energy into creating a thing of beauty, that would leave me with a deep sense of satisfaction borne of a job well done.
Last night, excited by the prettiness of the sugar cookies that I had created especially for Eid and worried about the clothes I still needed to get for my kids, I worked until nearly midnight. My 11 year old helped me, flooding cookie after cookie, until both our hands cramped. My 8 year old had long since given up and had curled herself up on a blanket laid out in the lounge. When I finally decided to call it quits, 11 year old went to wake her sister. She did it with such great love, such patience, leading a sleepy little sister who also happens to be both taller and bigger than she is, to a bed that she had made right for them both that I felt my heart swell. I thought back on the month and the many moments that had rendered it memorable.
The night we all sat in my bed while the men were at the masjid, me, telling them the story of Yusuf (PBUH). The way 6 year old, Hamza was enamoured of Yusuf and demanded I retell the story every chance he got after that day.
The night the entire family read taraweeh in the lounge, my husband and son taking turns to lead the prayer and how complete my joy was in that moment.
The night my three youngest got me to read the entire Revolting Rhymes from Roald Dahl to them. The way we giggled as mental images of Red Riding Hood whipping a pistol out of her knickers tormented us.
The way all the kids suddenly decided to join their dad in farting competitions that started at suhoor.
And in that moment I knew that yes, you’d stolen from me, but Allah has a reason and whatever the reason for my loss is, I submit. I knew too that all you’d taken was money and in the process you’d also given me something. You've taught me a valuable lesson in business. But you haven’t destroyed my faith and ability to trust completely. I can still see myself trusting Lazeeza’s patrons with my money when a swipe doesn't go through. After all, no one stops loving after their first big heartbreak.
trust life, even if you cannot trust people ¬ Swami Kriyananda