On the balcony she stood, her arms resting on the railing. She could get a good view of what was happening on the street right across her house. There was no power supply. It was normal for the power to be erratic. She had stepped out into the balcony earlier to cool off. The solar street lights made her vision clearer. The street was a bit rowdy as people passed by in pairs, a man and a woman, a boy and a girl. Some held hands, while some had their arms around each other. It was the evening of February 14, the popularly acclaimed Valentine ’s Day. She knew that in Saudi Arabia what she saw right in her front was not possible. Public display of affection was verboten, but she was not sure whether it was a cultural thing or an Islamic thing, but in her thoughts she knew there should be a limit to what displays of affection couples could express in public. A’isha knew the celebration of Valentine’s day was forbidden in Islam, she didn’t celebrate it even though she had been married for about two years now. It was an innovation and she knew quite well that innovations were bad in her religion and that there was nothing like good innovation or bad innovation, it all lead to misguidance. A’isha stood upright and sighed. She looked at the sky and gazed at the stars. She flashed back to when she was little and all she ever wanted to be was an astronaut, she envisaged it was a whole new world out there but now she was all grown up and she was far away from her childhood’s dream. She was a teacher in a school nearby but she had found fulfillment in her new career. She loved children and they loved her too. The popular nursery rhyme was true, the stars were like diamonds in the sky. She recalled how she had imagined when she was little that she would catch a star when she became an astronaut and make a beautiful necklace with it but now she knew that was a fantasy though she really would not mind having a necklace even if it did not have a diamond in it. She recalled the words of her Lord in Suratul Mulk:
‘And indeed We have adorned the nearest heaven with lamps…’
An odd feeling overwhelmed A’isha as she stared into the starry night, she felt envious. It was not the feeling of being envious that baffled her but the very thought of why she was envious. She was envious of what she had seen some moments earlier, the couples she had seen across the street. No doubt she wished her husband was here with her but he was not back from work yet. She decided to return inside. Her laptop was on the center table. She carried it and placed it on her laps as she sat on the sofa. She moved her hand over the touch pad to make remove it from sleep mode. She was browsing on the internet earlier. Her eyes met with a comment someone had made on a blog. It read:
‘for all us Muslims who cringe towards the ideas of all innovations such as mother’s day, birthdays, Valentine’s day etc, how many of us actually make an attempt to care for the person in question in a way to make them feel just as loved without these days? There has to be a balance…’
‘Yes!’ A’isha, muttered. The comment reflected how she truly felt. She made du’a for the person who had reverberated her thought. That was all she wanted, that was all she needed, to feel loved even without these days. The thought that there could be a balance comforted her. She placed her laptop on the table and heaved a sigh of relief but for her today was just another day.
A’isha turned in her bed as she pressed the snooze button on her phone. It was almost time for fajr. She laid on her back and thought of last night. She felt tingly at the back of her neck, suddenly she realized her neck was a little heavy, right there on her neck was a beautiful necklace even though there was no diamond in it, she loved it. She turned to her side and looked at her husband. She could see his back. Her eyes lit up as shesmiled and put her arm around him. He was awake he raised her hand gently and turned to face her placing it back on his waist. He had not seen her smile like that in a long time, even when she learnt she was pregnant some weeks ago. Despite the fact that they had been trying to have a baby for sometime now.
‘Shukran, Habeeb’, A’isha said as her husband planted a kiss on her forehead. Today was not her birthday or any special occasion. It was just another day but a special one to remember.