When I arrived at Fatima’s apartment it was locked. I started banging frantically on the door. I called for Fatima. I could hear her moaning inside. I called her on the phone to ask her if she could try and get to the door.
“I can’t move, Ya Allah help me, I am losing blood,” cried Fatima. The paramedics arrived just in time. I called them on my way to Rosebank. They broke down the door. Fatima was lying in a pool of blood. It felt like déjà vu. This is how it must have looked when I was in the same situation. I was always petrified that the same would happen to Fatima. My worst nightmare came true.
I ran to Fatima. All I could hear her mumbling was “Allah, Allah, Allah.” I started to panic. She was rambling and losing consciousness. Was she dying? I encouraged her to start reading her kalimah.
“Don’t worry Fatima I am here now, InshaAllah all will be fine. Just be strong. Try not to sleep”
The paramedics put Fatima on a stretcher and wheeled her out. Fatima held onto my hand. I went with them into the ambulance to the hospital.
“She may have taken some cocaine or other kind of narcotics.” I warned the paramedics.
“Thank you for letting us know, administering the wrong medication could have been fatal,” said the paramedic.
Fatima was taken to the emergency room, stitched up and stabilised. She was then taken to the ICU ward for recovery. I decided to call the police. This time Aslam was not getting away with attempted murder. I also called Fatima’s parents to tell them what had happened. Fatima’s mum’s screams brought shivers down my spine. She became hysterical.
Fatima was regaining consciousness. I asked her if she needed anything. She was still drowsy from the medication. A few hours later the police arrived. They approached Fatima.
“Are you Fatima, we received a call regarding domestic abuse. Do you want to lay a charge?” Asked the police.
I went closer to Fatima to reassure her that everything will be fine and that she must speak the truth.
“My husband, Aslam hit me and left me for dead and I want to open up a police case and get him jailed,” slurred Fatima.
The police took the full statement and left. Fatima ate something and fell of to sleep. She looked so young and innocent. I hated what Aslam had put this poor girl through. The drugs made her look haggard and sickly thin. Her face was filled with stiches. She had bruises all over her body.
I stayed the rest of the day in the waiting room. In the evening Fatima’s parents rushed into the hospital. They wanted me to take them to Fatima immediately.
Fatima was still sleeping. When Fatima’s mum saw her she started crying uncontrollably I thought she was going to faint. Her father started sobbing as well.
“What has that monster done to our baby?” he said.
Fatima woke up with all the commotion.
“Mummy, Daddy, I am sorry” she said.
After everyone calmed down, I went out to read my salaah and ordered some food that was delivered to the hospital.
When I went into the room Fatima looked extremely restless. It reminded me of the day when I picked her up from the Mandela bridge. She looked like she was craving a fix. She started nagging that she was in pain and needed some medication to calm down. She was shaking uncontrollably and had cold shivers. The nurse came in and sedated Fatima. She soon fell off to sleep.
As we were about to start eating in the waiting room, my phone started ringing.
“Are you the wife of Aslam ..?” asked a stranger
“Yes I am Layha his wife,” I answered.
“This is Inspector Mahlanghu from the Harrismith Police station, I am sorry to inform you that there was an accident at the Van Reneen’s pass. There was a head on collision with what looks like a BMW and a truck. The car is unrecognizable. We would like to know if this car belonged to your husband Aslam?” asked the inspector.
“Yes it is my husband’s car.” I confirmed.
“We are sorry to inform you that your husband was killed in this accident. His body was taken to the mortuary in Harrismith”
Did I hear right. I felt confused, disoriented. I can’t explain the pain. I was in shock. I started to scream. Fatima’s mother ran to me. “What happened Layha, speak to me?”
“Aslam is dead!” that is all I could say. The trauma and shock from news just made me cry from a place I never knew existed. I screamed with agony. I was grief stricken.
“What are we going to tell Fatima?” I asked.
Fatima’s mum gave me a hug. “We will explain everything to Fatima.”
Fatima’s father offered to take me home.
When I reached home, I did not want any company and asked to be left alone for a while so that all this could sink in.
“Call us if you need anything, we will come later,” said Fatima’s father.
I can’t explain to you the despair and turmoil I felt. My life turned upside down instantly. Although Aslam treated me very badly these past few months, I was still his wife. I loved him with all my heart. I was ready to forgive him even though he almost killed me. I really hoped things would have worked out for the better. I sat on the musallah for many nights begging Allah to guide me to make the right choices. Aslam was my first and only love. I know he loved me as well. There were so many loving memories. He was feeling immense remorse for all that he has done lately. He came begging me for forgiveness the other day. It really looked like he was turning a new leaf. I wonder what made him so angry that he almost killed Fatima today. Why was he near Harrismith? I had all these questions that would never be answered now. The Aslam I married was a good guy. I sometimes wonder what made him turn his life upside down with all the booze, drugs and women. I hoped and prayed he would change for the better. I am still his wife. I just started screaming until my helper came into the house to find out what happened. When she heard the news she started shrieking as well. We just tried to comfort each other by this tragedy.
When I calmed down I phoned my brother and informed him what had happened. I could not sleep. I just started pacing. I don’t have a clue what to do for a Muslim funeral.
I was so grateful when my brother arrived a few hours later. He took charge of the situation. Some how he arranged for the body to be flown by helicopter to a hospital in Joburg from Harrismith. I was relieved I did not have to drive so far in all this pain and suffering. A post mortem autopsy had to be performed and was compulsory before body was released or death certificate issued. I would have to go and identify the body with some proof of identification. I could not think of any identification. I finally rummaged through the safe and found Aslam’s passport and our legal marriage certificate from home affairs.
Aslam’s face was unrecognizable. It did not look like my handsome Aslam anymore. I identified him by a few body features that were apparent. I could not bear to see him in such a state. I quickly told them it was Aslam and ran out only recognizing him by the watch he had on and our wedding ring. What I saw haunted me. I did not want to remember him like that.
Aslam’s uncles and brothers were all at the hospital. They insisted he must be buried immediately. The hospital released the body. The hearse took the body to the masjid ghusl room, where the body was washed and the kafn was shrouded. My brother took me home. I broke down.
Aslam’s body was brought to our home. The smell of camphor and the amount of people in the room was overwhelming. Only when I saw Aslam’s body shrouded in the white cloth just lying there, did it finally dawn upon me, I was a widow and so was Fatima.