This is Amina’s story. She leans back on the sofa and wipes her hands over her face after the Asr prayers.
Amina is my cousin’s older step sister, same dad different mums. She was in the neighbourhood and decided to drop by. She has brought her friend Salimah with her.
‘I was new in this country’ she began. ‘I spoke not a word of English because unlike you, l didn’t go to school as a child’.
‘I got a job in a large hotel down town working as a chambermaid. I worked all the hours Allah sent to make ends meet. Alhamdullilah’.
‘It was a physically demanding job and l hated it but it paid the bills’.
‘I swear it was colder back then! she laughed.
‘Life was hard, lonely and l was thankful when l met Soraya at work. She worked at the hotel as a fellow chambermaid. She was also from the motherland (Somalia) and we bonded instantly.’
‘Soon we were hanging out outside work and visiting each other’s homes. We became like sisters. So when Soraya asked to borrow money, l thought nothing of it. It was a large sum of money and l was surprised she needed that much’.
‘Soraya said she was in trouble. She needed the money desperately. she would pay me back.’
‘l knew she would pay me back l was just worried she needed that much as that was all of my savings.
‘ So off l went to the Bank the next day withdraw my life savings for that was what it was and gave the money to Soraya. She promised she would pay in three instalments’.
‘At the end of the first month l asked Soray for my money. She said she couldn’t pay. I told her it was ok l could wait.
‘Three months later l again asked her for my money. This time she became hostile. What money Amina?’
‘The money you borrowed from me.’
‘I didn’t borrow any money from you’.
‘I was was on the verge of tears’ Amina remembers.
‘The money l withdrew from the Bank and gave you!’
‘Where is the proof? ‘Without proof’ she said coldly ‘it’s your word against mine’.
‘But you swore! Amina was hysterical.
‘In the name of Allah! You swore!’
Amina dejected and defeated, her voice quivering looked at Soraya through tears.
‘ I can’t do anything to you Soraya. I don’t have proof. I don’t have any witness. I will leave you to enjoy that money and Allah is my only witness.’
‘ That was the last time I saw Soraya’. she said.
Anyway, many years later Amina caught a glimpse of a vaguely familiar face at the bus stop. she looked closer at the woman, her hair dirty unkempt and exposed. Her shoes torn, her clothes dirty, dishevelled and tattered.
The woman walked towards her. She looked directly at Amina without any recognition whatsoever and carried on walking. She was talking to herself, scratching her head. People moved away from her.
Amina stared in shock. It was Soraya! She had gone mad.
The moral of the story is. Don’t ever borrow money from someone if you have no intention of paying back and whatever you do, don’t ever, ever, swear falsely in the name of Allah.