The Deserving

He had a natural green thumb, and then worked hard to enrich his knowledge. He’s the one who was the first to learn that I thought Mr. Peanut made peanuts in a factory like how the chips are made. I didn’t know that peanuts were on a plant (I am the smartest dumb person you will ever meet!!). He laughed and was in shock, but he didn’t make fun of me. Believe it or not, he also taught me how to do laundry.

Within the first three weeks, he had reached out to my father without my knowledge and asked for my hand. Ultimately, we blew apart because we weren’t one another’s love story. But we did love one another. And it was to him, the last time I showed the worst part of myself – the part I have talked about before, the one who has an ability to be devastatingly cruel. It happened after we ended.

I can try to explain why I did it, but that is unfair, because that would be irresponsible. There is no explanation enough; I was out of line. My heart split apart by hurt, and did the only thing I knew to protect myself. I pointed out all of his traumas, took a surgical knife, and went to work. Calculated, blind with rage, and then I hit Send. Instantly, I regretted it because though I had wanted to inflict pain, and though it was precisely what I did, I hadn’t stopped to ask myself Why I was doing it. It was my nafs. My base self. And it was the last time I let myself access this ugly and cruel part of myself.

Because he was gentle. Always gentle. And I really really really had no right.

I wrote him an apology letter.

He said “I still think of you at the beginning of Ramadan,” and this is how I knew he forgave me, even though I have never forgiven myself for the pain I caused.

That was nearly 17 years ago.

We didn’t need to speak again.

Last night, after a long conversation with friends about exes whom we hope are safe and sound and loved, I decided to Google him.

He found his love story. He found the gentleness he deserved. He built a beautiful home for his family; a dream he had when I knew him. He even had a little boy. All of it, he deserved.

And then I found his obituary. 2020. He’s been gone since January of 2020. He would not yet have turned 50.

I stared at his photo for a good half an hour. I had to keep looking at it because I thought It’s not you. This can’t be you. You can’t be gone.

I checked again this morning.

The obituary is still there. With his name, and his gentle eyes.

May you be surrounded by the rivers of Al-Fardous, and blossoms the size of your deserving heart.


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