Life was simple. Uneventful. Humaira was always content with what she had. She never complained.
She was a pious old woman. Her relentless faith in Allah, whom she believed was the one and only true God was what had kept her going through all that she'd been.
And she had been through a lot. Not only did she lose her husband after only a few years of marriage to tend to her young son on her own, but after her son was up own his own two feet, he left her as well for the life of the hereafter.
Except for the few occasional tears, Humaira still never complained.
If anyone would try to sympathize with her or count out her misfortunes, she'd smile and mutter, "It's all a part of Allah's plan."
Even when her husband passed away, she brushed away her tears and hid down her face. "You know, Allah calls those sooner to him who have the purest of hearts."
No matter how hard things got, Humaira always found a bright side to focus on.
When her son and daughter-in-law were killed in a crash, Humaira was left with her young grandson, Ahmed.
The old woman had her world ripped away from her, yet she didn't break down. Far from it.
She did what most people were unable to do. She stayed strong. Knowing she had a young soul depending upon her, she had to stay strong for her little grandson.
Ahmed grew up to be a good Muslim, as pious as his grandmother. He was a sweet young boy, his little heart basked in innocence.
He prayed five times a day, showed respect to his elders, did everything his "Amma" asked him to do.
Though blessed with a radiant heart, Ahmed was not the strongest kid for his age. He had always been a frail boy.
One day, when Ahmed was about twelve years old, he did not return from his late noon excursions with the village boys.
Humaira was instantly worried, because her grandson being such an obedient child, would never do anything to cause distress to his poor old Amma.
Muttering prayers in Arabic, she ran out, as fast as her withered bones would allow, to look for Ahmed, only to find him collapsed on the threshold of her house. His small body shook with convulsions.
After consulting with the village hakeem, it turned out to be a heart disease.
Left with no choice, Humaira used all her life savings to take Ahmed to the city and get him treated.
Months flew by, and if there was any change in Ahmed's condition, it only took a turn for the worse.
Humaira was forced to sell her house in order to keep Ahmed admitted in the hospital, but there was no point. All the doctors had said the same thing. There was nothing they could do.
None of the cardiologists in the city were confident enough to operate on Ahmed because of his severe condition. They even suggested she should just take him back and spend as much time with him as he had left.
The only alternative for Humaira was to take Ahmed abroad and get him treated by some Dr Jacob Michael, the best cardiologist there was in the field. Yet, even if she wanted, Humaira could not afford the money or the resources to plan an international excursions, let alone book an appointment with the most expensive doctor out there.
When Humaira could no longer keep up with the hospital bills, she took Ahmed back to her village.
They did not even have a house left to come back to, so Humaira used her good name to borrow a small hut from one of her neighbours which lay on the outskirts of the village.
After everything, Humaira was still not deterred. At this point, the world might have give up, but not her.
She often heard her mother say, "the world is just a trial for us human by Allah."
Humaira had always understood the gravity of those words because she had to experience those over and over again. Her entire life had been a series of endless tests and trials, but she had always found a way out. All because there was a bigger force out there in the universe; who looked after her. She had faith in her lord, her Allah to help her.
Bitter tears squeezed out of her eyes when she lay them on the emaciated form of her grandson. His face, which once looked angelic now had ghastly pale skin and sunken eyes. There was nothing more she wanted than to somehow put the colour back to his skin.
No, I can't give up, she decided. She had not tried every weapon in her arsenal yet. The world can't help her, but there was still someone who could. She had her lord. Her Allah.
The sky flashed with lighting. The clouds rumbled as the pitter-patter of rain resounded with the screech of tires on wet pavement.
"It's too dangerous, Sir!" The driver shouted at the top of his lungs, yet his voice was cut short by the crackling thunder. "I'm gonna have to pull over."
The man on the back passenger seat looked up with a frown."But it's the middle of nowhere!"
"I see a hut at the end of the field! We can wait out the storm there!"
It was evident by his clenched jaw that the man in the passenger seat did not appreciate being held up. He wanted to protest, but he understood he had no choice. It would be safest to wait until it stopped pouring.
He gave a reluctant nod to the driver, who screeched the vehicle to a halt. They had indeed parked in the middle of nowhere. With the exception of a small hut nearby, there was nothing to see but an endless field stretching into the horizon in every corner.
The two men jumped out of the car, each holding an umbrella - which rippled with the wild wind, doing an awful job of providing cover from the rain. Floundering through the muddy road, they approached the hut. A small glow of a flickering lamp from the window was proof enough that the hut was not deserted.
The driver knocked incessantly, banging the door as hard as could so that the sound would get drowned by the storm.
More than a couple minutes passed, but there was no answer. The driver could feel his heart sinking. Both men were now fully drenched below their chests. The umbrella could only protect their heads from the slanted droplets.
As they were about to run back to the car dismissively, the door opened. On the other side stood Humaira. Her head was wrapped around in a large scarf. It was obvious from her bloodshot eyes, and her swollen face that she'd been crying.
"Ma'am," the driver began. "My name is Amir, and this is Dr Jacob Michael. We were passing through, but we had to stop because of the storm. If we could just wait it out here..."