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November 16, 2004
The Farewell Mile

by Talal Sarwani

Haifa was beaming as she sat on the stage. She was surrounded by her loved ones. Her Ammi, aunties, sisters, cousins, and friends were all filling the hall with love and happiness directed toward her. Her heart both jumped and dropped when her Ammi whispered that it was time. In front of the stage, across an aisle draped with a red carpet, two massive doors opened to let in a flood of artificial light from outside. Suddenly, all the abayas, hijabs, and niqabs were back on. Haifa tried to hide the deep breaths she had to take to keep herself from passing out.

The first silhouette she recognized immediately; it was Samer, her little brother. He walked up the red carpet, and onto the stage. Samer was oblivious to the womenfolk around him. The only thing on his mind was Haifa, and what was about to happen. The ladies made way for him as he got up on the stage, and faked busyness so that brother and sister could have their moment. He knelt down in font of her, and held her hands.
“You ready?”, he asked.
She nodded yes, with eyes that nearly made him break his promise to her.
“Don’t”, she reminded him, “you promised”.
He nodded his head and quietly sighed, “I won’t”.
It was a mutual agreement, binding to both, because each knew that if the other broke it, they would inevitably fail to keep up their own end of the bargain.

Samer stood up and nodded into the distance, towards the light shining in. Then Ali, the one who Haifa had accepted, the one who was to take her away this night, finally appeared, walking towards the stage. Samer helped his sister up, and smiled at her, nodding in Ali’s direction.
“Your man is lookin’ good”, he winked at her.
It was the easiest laugh she let out all evening.

Finally, the couple was together on stage. “MashaAllah”, was on the minds and tongues of everyone gathered. Samer took a couple of steps back, as Ali took Haifa down the stage to begin the walk out. The crowd gathered in front of them, and the flashes started going off. Haifa took slow and relaxed steps, almost gliding towards the outdoors. Ammi walked along with her, so proud of her only daughter. Haifa could feel Samer walking right behind her, struggling to stop himself from pulling her back.

As they entered the night outside, the fresh air hit Haifa so hard that it was almost enough to break her. She was a torrent of emotions, working oh so hard to not let go, for the sake of her parents and brother. The crowd formed into a line, for the time of farewell had come. One by one came the aunties, the uncles, the cousins, and the friends. Friends whispering little memories to her, bringing much needed solace to her.
“Remember that time in Cafe Zook?”
“Remember the slide?”
“...winning the MSA prank of the semester...”
“...the daal incident...”
She was so grateful that nobody gave her any reason to shed a tear. She had kept her eyes looking down, not wanting to lock eyes with people. She sensed the crowd parting to make way for someone. Suddenly he was there. There was only one man of such stature in her life. MashaAllah, she had inherited his height, but she still saw him as towering above her. He raised his hands to hold her as he kissed her head. That’s all it took for Haifa’s tears to flow, as she raised her own hands to hold on to his embrace.
“Shhhhhhh....”, echoed his ever-soothing voice.
“Abu....”, cracked Haifa’s voice.
“This isn’t the time to shed tears”, he held on to her, “you know I’m always with you, right?”.
Haifa closed her eyes and nodded. She would make her father proud.
“Chalo”, he ushered her on, “your Ammi is waiting”.

Ammi was a force of strength at the time. She held every tear back. Haifa had no doubt of her mother’s happiness, nor would Ammi allow her to have any doubts. Ammi was always the pillar of the family. If she broke, they would all break, and so her strength shone on that night. Haifa and Ammi walked slowly to each other. They were only a few steps apart, yet it was a journey for the both of them. It was a quiet embrace. An embrace that represented twenty-two years of chasing around the trouble-maker of the neighborhood. Twenty-two years spent teaching and training a little girl to become the woman that now stood before her, ready to begin her own life with her husband. Twenty-two years knowing that this day was an eventuality. Twenty-two years...

Haifa looked in front of her, only to see the open door of the car left. She searched the crowd, then worriedly asked her mother, “Where is he?”.
Ammi didn’t need to answer. “Please tell him to come”, Haifa asked of her mother. “Tell him I need to see him”. Ammi told the cousins to find him and get him here.
“You get in the car, I’ll make sure you see him”.
Haifa reluctantly entered the car, Ali at her side, both sitting silently.
Samer somehow found himself at the door of Haifa’s car.
“You rang?”, he smiled at her.
She gestured for him to kneel down so she could see him.
Holding his hand, she said “I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss you the most”.
Samer stood and leaned on the car, kissing the side of her head. “Don’t do this baji... you call and I’m there”.
He leaned to shake Ali’s hand. “Take care of her, yeah.”
Ali held onto Samer’s hand, “That is one thing I don’t want you to worry about”.
They both nodded in mutual understanding.
As he returned to the sidewalk, he took one last look at his sister, winking and smiling.
The doors of the car were closed.
The engine was revved.
Samer softly placed his hand on the trunk of the car, praying that it wouldn’t go.
The car was off into the darkness.
Samer’s tears broke through.
No one would know how Haifa fought to keep control of her outburst.
She had done her father proud.

SubhaanAllah, how one night can be the source of such sorrow and happiness, all at the same time.

Dedicated to the one who I never called ‘baji’. Sorry ;)... but I think this makes up for it, 'inni'?



of and relating to...
Rami said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabaraktu,

This article is a source of warmness in a world of hostility. Jazakum Allah kul khairun Talal.

Wasalaam Warahmatullah Wabarakatu

on November 16, 2004 1:18 AM
gillette said

i just wanted to point out that i almost cried when i first read this, mashallah.

(and to think i don't cry when i recite the qur'an. mashallah)

on November 16, 2004 1:35 AM
Ibrahim said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabaraktu,

I usually don't comment on what I read on this site, but this was nice. Especially from a brother!

on November 16, 2004 5:52 AM
Justoju said

I KNEW IT!!! I KNEW BY THE END OF THE SECOND PARAGRAPH THAT THIS WAS FOR YOUR SISTER!

I feel so proud of myself.

MashaAllah, only a brother who has shed tears on the 'farewell mile' could have written that.

May Allah, Glorious and Exalted, bless you and your sister with each other's happiness, comfort and strength, and may you be blessed to always be in close proximity of each other's smiles and duas. InshaAllah and Amin.

on November 16, 2004 7:17 AM
gillette said

i just read it again.

someone please tell talal to submit this to nasihah for their da'wah issue.

on November 16, 2004 1:05 PM
Talal said

Not to diffuse anyone's ALL CAPS pride or anything... but the author has yet to take part in said "farewell mile".
Very soon, inshaAllah, but not quite yet.

Jazaakillah khair for the du'a though... May Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) grant us all the same, siblings or not, for our entire families.

on November 16, 2004 2:25 PM
Justoju said

Pride deflated.
Its ok, pride isnt good anyway.

Amin to your dua.

on November 16, 2004 3:52 PM
Humayun said

Asalamalikom,

Reviews for the Farewell Mile:

The New Muslim times called it "The heart softener of the year"

The MSA chronicles labeled it "A touch of excellence"

Pakistani Post said "Va baih Vahhhhhh"

Okay I know Im corny, but mashallah man this really softened the hard heart and may Allah (swt) give all of us Imaan and may He grant all of us a suitable marriage partner. Ameen.

on November 16, 2004 9:24 PM
Saima said

scenes from my wedding movie repeating over and over again...

and on top of that... that song "babul ki duaain lehti jaah"...

Masha'Allah, very well written. touched every emotion felt at the time of departing from one's family to go with one's "new" family.

on November 16, 2004 9:52 PM
Mohammed Irfan Shariff said

Do i need to buy it or can i borrow ur box of kleenex

Thanx Talal, cuz i kinda had a ruff today but you made me smile

on November 16, 2004 11:39 PM
Amani said

Masha'Allah, excellent!

You've accurately described what I've always believed - weddings are a both joyous and morose occasion. It's a bittersweet moment when someone so dear to you gets married, and the closer you are to the person, the sadder it is.

on November 16, 2004 11:42 PM
Justoju said

Its kind of making me feel sad that I dont have any brothers to share this with or who can cry with me on the 'farewell mile'...

on November 17, 2004 1:18 AM
Nadia said

Assalam u alaikum,
Mashallah, very beautifully written. I don't know about Haifa but it sure did bring tears to all of the sister's eyes here. And Justoju, don't be sad, you have loads of sisters to bid you farwell so it should be more than enough to make up for it ;)

on November 17, 2004 7:07 AM
Bint Abdul Khaliq said

As Salaamu Alaikum

MashALLAH.Touched my heart.May ALLAH grant true love amongst all our family members.Ameen.

Was Salaam.

on November 17, 2004 3:21 PM
Asher said

Assalamu Alaikum

This is my first comment on this site, and Masha Allah, I think we can all agree, that Talal knows how to evoke the right emotions in people.

You are very dangerous brother.

Masha allah though, this article really hits home especially for older brothers with younger sisters.

“Abu....”, cracked Haifa’s voice.
This line, oh god, that is THE LINE
Had to be the emotional peak of this article.

Assalamu Alaikum

on November 18, 2004 1:09 AM
Sadia said

Masha Allah. Just came on the site because I was missin' my sister. I read this article. Masha Allah its amazing!!I cried for an hour because the scene was soo similiar to my own sister's wedding.lol@oh god, That is THE LINE.Definetely touched all the hearts. Keep up the good work insha Allah.

on November 19, 2004 3:36 PM
Jannah said


The Abu line is definitely it.

I think only indo-pak culture makes weddings so overly dramatic. Leaving is such a long, drawn out process- not fair to the bride !

It's a beautifully written peice but generally I think women should opt out of walking that last mile.

on November 19, 2004 4:22 PM
Justoju the Drama Queen said

Am I the only one who was touched by this but didnt cry? Is there something wrong with me? (dont answer that)

I agree its a big drama trip, but opt out of walking that last mile? What are the other options? Isnt it an inevitable necessity when trying to get out of the wedding place? Maybe we could have a poof of smoke and then the bride and groom could magically disappear? (not a bad idea)

Personally, I look forward to creating drama and ending the night with a dramatic soliloquy and a performance art piece. And I need trapdoors. A couple of them.

WasalaamuAlaikum,
DQ

on November 19, 2004 5:02 PM
Amani said

Desi weddings have a big dramatic departure, but at Arab weddings - it's all about making an entrance. ;) (The beginning procession can be an hour...or more...long!)

on November 19, 2004 6:10 PM
Justoju said

I'll marry an arab so that between the arab beginning procession and the big desi dramatic departure there is virtually no time left for anything else. We can walk in slowly, be handed lunch bags with food, and then walk out slowly.

on November 19, 2004 6:39 PM
Amani said

LOL! God help you if you're wearing those Desi shoes (whose name I always forget). :)

on November 19, 2004 7:07 PM
Abdullaah said

Masha'Allaah a very nice piece. I enjoyed reading it. It was funny, my mom never believed in crying at weddings and she went to one where she made dua' for the bride and she could not imagine why women were crying, she kept saying, you should be happy and not cry. I thought I would cry at my wedding but it turned out, that I did not cry at all, my mom was the one crying, she cried twice:when I was signing the contract and when I was leaving in the car.

on November 23, 2004 11:40 PM
Ninja said

asalamu alikum
subhanAllah this is so beautiful bought tears to my eyes and its so true.
may allah make it easier for the sisters who have to go through that, also the family they leave behind. may Allah make the family she is goin into as lovin as the 1 she has left behind. Ameen

on November 28, 2004 7:23 PM
asif said

I am sorry (and a bit perplexed) to say that this article did not evoke the same amount of emotions in me as it did for others. Actually, I lost interest even before the "Abu" part...maybe, I was not in the mood to get misty when I was reading it.
But that doesn't take anything away from the article, its a good narration. It just didn't do it for me.

on November 28, 2004 8:58 PM
gillette said

this one deserved to be back in the "noisemakers" section.

on December 25, 2004 2:11 PM
Muslimah4ever said

Assalaamualaikum

Masha Allah i have to agree with everyone (just about) that this was truly a very touching story. tear drop! reminded me of my sisters wedding, especially how the brother breaks down into tears after the sister leaves, that was definitely me at my sisters wedding.... because she Just wouldn't cry and i would look stupid cryIng so i held back my tears, and then (and i have to share this because its the worst feeling).... u know that feeling at the back of your throat, that dry screeching feeling when u try to hold back ur tears , yeh well thats what i felt.

But yeh im going to stop going on about this , the point is it was very well written. I hope my bros cry for me too... haha

Wasalaamualaikum

on December 28, 2004 6:01 PM
sasjamal said

i cringe at the thought of ali's wife walking down a n aisle from a stage. yuck.

marriage is suppose to be sacred, not some fruity walk down with flashes going off.

on January 30, 2005 6:27 AM
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