-By Nadia Cassim

It was a warm spring day and the grass outside glistened in the sun from the light rainfall that had passed. Droplets of water ran down the bedroom window, like tears falling down a spectres face, pooling at the base of the windowsill. Yasmeen’s gaze shifted from the mountainous view in the distance to the peaceful, content, sleeping face of her week old baby girl Leila. Just a week old Yasmeen reminded herself, yet it seemed as if a month had gone by already. The tidal wave of emotions and physical strain that she had endured in the past seven days alone was life-altering.

She recalled the night she was admitted into hospital. The dull throbbing of passing contractions had alerted her that Leila was getting ready to enter this world. She had a flashback of the hospital room she had spent the night in before they induced her labour the next day- crumpled linen, sterile floors and whitewashed walls haunted her. The pain had steadily intensified, but it was the last forty-five minutes that she would never cease to forget.

Soon after her waters broke she felt a gut-wrenching pain seep into her lower body as the contractions became longer and frequenter. She was driven to the edge of a steel hospital bed by the pain, so deep that she felt sure she was at death’s door. Soon, she was screaming at the top of her lungs, her own voice unrecognisable to her ears. Screaming was not in her nature, yet at that moment something else, nay, someone else had possessed her.

Yasmeen recalled the Doctor’s voice urging her to push. She did, so forcefully that the environment around her melted into nothingness. The pain had seeped into her skull, muffling the voices of the doctor, nurses and her supporting mother. When Leila finally made her appearance, leaving the womb crying and kicking, Yasmeen knew the full meaning of the phrase: ‘One of the Almighty’s miracles’.

In just a few minutes the past nine months became a distant memory. Instead, the expectant years ahead became a reality. Yasmeen was alone. Her husband had abandoned her when she discovered that she was pregnant. She carried herself through the pregnancy and the birth of Leila without the emotional, physical and financial support of the man she thought loved her. Now she faced an uncertain future on her own too.

She blinked-back in the present- and gazed upon the angelic and innocent face of her daughter with love and new-found hope. It was not in her nature to dwell on the past and question the will of Allah. She knew that He was there for her and that all would play out according to his divine plan. Leila was a blessing- A child that filled her heart with love and joy- a symbol of hope for a better future.

Yasmeen knew that the battle was still not over though. There were many ‘issues’ that required her attention such as a pending divorce case, child maintenance that she would need to apply for in the High Court and last, but not least, dealing with a judgemental and insensitive community. There would be stares that needed ignoring, words that would require the turn of a deaf ear and questions that would need no answer. She lifted Leila into her arms and planted a kiss on her forehead. She only answered to one- Almighty, beneficent Allah.