Yusuff was fixing Umar’s toy when he heard a knock at the door. It was Ashraff. He arrived an hour before iftar. Yusuff invited him in. They talked about Ashraff’s visit to the town. Suddenly Umar tugged at Ashraff’s pants. The little boy wanted to show him his fire truck. Ashraff gave his attention to the boy and played along. Yusuff watched them with a smile. Later, they broke the fast with some dates and drinks. Before eating the main food, Yusuff led Maghrib prayer in congregation.
Ashraff studied the food in front of him. “I ate Malaysian food once…a couple of years ago in Kuala Lumpur. Kind of spicy I think, but delicious! Masha Allah!”
“You are welcome to try every one of these. The ladies specially prepared them for you…the guest!” Yusuff smiled. Ashraff returned the smile and glanced at the women happily.
“He’s right brother Ashraff, help yourself, please,” Fatima added.
They talked about Malaysia and places Ashraff had been to for his assignments as a journalist. He was in Malaysia for two days in 1985 after covering a story in Singapore. Yusuff mentioned that Shafikah was graduating in Journalism that spring. Ashraff was surprised she had not mentioned it when they met at the library of the Islamic Center’s. He had told her he was a journalist when he introduced himself.
“Congratulations, Sister Shafikah!”
“Thank you, insha Allah, if everything goes well.”
“So, what’s your big plan after graduation? Leaving for home to be a reporter or a writer, perhaps?”
Yusuff and Fatima looked at Shafikah with a smile. They knew this was a decision she had been trying to make since finishing her internship in the fall.
“I still have this semester to complete, but yes, I have that in my plan, insha Allah.”
“You could stay here for a while and seek for a part time job at the local paper to get more hands-on experience. It would be good for your reśumé later, insha Allah,” Ashraff suggested.
Shafikah turned to look at her brother who then raised his eyebrows as if waiting for Shafikah’s response to the suggestion.
She turned to face Ashraff. “I’ve also thought about that, Brother Ashraff, but really I haven’t made my final decision.”
“I know someone at the local paper here. If you decided to stay and work here for a while, I could help. Just don’t hesitate to ask.” Ashraff explained that his old friend worked as an editor at the Bloomingdale Chronicle.
“Thank you, jazak Allahu khairan.”
“Wa anti kathaalik.” He gave her a friendly smile.
After dinner, the women left Yusuff and Ashraff alone. They were discussing the lecture tapes he was looking for at the Islamic Center. Later, they all left for tarawih prayer.
After the tarawih prayer, Yusuff invited Ashraff for another iftar since the next day would be his last day in Bloomingdale to finish his work. However, he had already accepted the Imam’s invitation. He told Yusuff that they might meet again at the Islamic Center tomorrow night. He planned to leave for Indianapolis after tarawih prayer.
Ashraff walked Yusuff to the car to say goodbye. The ladies were already waiting at the car.
“I guess this is goodbye, then… just in case I don’t get to see all of you here tomorrow night. Thank you for everything, alhamdulillah. I really had a great time at your home tonight. It’s a pleasure meeting your lovely family, Brother Yusuff. I won’t forget this.”
“We’ll keep in touch, insha Allah.”
“That would be great, insha Allah.”
Fatima was already at the back seat of the car holding the sleeping Umar.
Shafikah opened the car door to the front seat. “Take care of your iman, Brother Ashraff.”
“Insha Allah. Make du’as for me too Sister Shafikah…we’re in a great month right now.” He smiled at her.
“Insha Allah, I will. As salam alaikum.”
Yusuff met Ashraff after his last tarawih prayer at the mosque. He sent his salams to Fatima and Shafikah. He reminded Yusuff to tell Shafikah again about his offer to help her.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012