Everything is broken.
We were both so afraid. It had felt as if the Day of Judgment was upon us.
I awoke to the sounds of heavy boots charging up the stairs and of glass shattering. They had broken the door down and barged into our home while we were asleep. The noise was deafening. At my age, I was terrified that we were being burgled. I rushed out of my room and searched for my sons but they were nowhere to be seen. One of the police officers grabbed me while another held my husband: we too, like our sons, were both under arrest.
We were both so afraid. It had felt as if the Day of Judgment was upon us.
I was stunned when the police arrived at my in-laws home to arrest me, forcing them to leave the home and me to leave my baby behind. At the police station, they mentioned my brothers. ,. Confused, I asked if they had been arrested and whether my parents were okay. They looked at me strangely and said they didn’t know. Eventually I discovered my entire family was being detained in separate cells at the same station.
Overwhelmed with anxiety, I tried desperately to compose myself, fearing that my family might be on the other side of the wall, distressed by the sound of my tears. Then overcome with shock, I felt numb. I just kept thinking, we hadn’t done anything wrong so why was this happening?
I had never in a million years thought that my elderly parents would be confined in the four walls of a cell, alone, like criminals. My body shakes when I recall it. We are all still traumatised from that day.
A week past and I remained in the police station, separated from my six month old son who was still being nursed. My husband later told me that he would cry constantly and refuse to settle with anyone, which was extremely distressing for me. I would be awake but imagining holding my baby’s spoon in my hand, feeding him. Overwhelmed with guilt, I wanted to cry out but again I held back, worried my family would hear me.
When my parents and I returned home, we were met with an eerie silence. Empty. My brothers were gone. We saw people we knew on the streets, but now they turned away. Doors closed as we walked past. Eventually I learnt that all of our neighbours had been visited and urged not to speak to us or visit. Everyone was afraid so they stayed away. We were so very isolated.
After the raid on of our shop, our family business, dragged on for days in broad daylight our customers were left in dismay.. When we re-opened, everything went down-hill. People didn’t want to be associated with us, others thought that the police had fitted a camera in the shop so they didn’t come out of fear. Either way, the business was suffering. We had to use our savings to keep it going. I kept fighting until eventually, with debt looming over my shoulders, I sold the business and made a loss.
Losing the business was hard for me, but I knew I had to find a job in order to provide for my family and try to clear our debts, but I was constantly turned away. No one wanted to employ me. I wasn’t eligible for benefits and the bank shut my account. I couldn’t afford to pay the bills or even to buy food. We didn’t have enough money even for bread. Every day I was living in fear, thinking we’d have to leave our home.
After the long stressful days of trying to find work, I would return home at night to an empty home. Before, when I came home, my sons would make me tea. The house would reverberate with their voices, “Has dad come home?” and I’d say “yes, I’ve come home, my darlings”. Now there’s silence. There’s no one to greet me. Sometimes I’d ask my wife how her day was and she would say, she spent it “just sitting, remembering the boys”. Some days she’d be pouring over old photographs,crying. It’s like it’s going to be dark forever, without any bloom.
Everything is broken. My mum’s always saying: our lives, everything is broken.
We constantly wonder, is this the end? Are they going to come back because they found something? The media made things so much worse with the lies they spread about our family. They were outside my parents’ house every day from 10am in the morning to 10pm at night, tapping on their windows and pressuring them for an interview.
We used to be a very close knit family. We would come together over tea and speaking and laughing about our day. Our home was like the community centre – we’d always have our friends ‘round. It was lively every day and night. To go from that to complete silence was a sudden shock to us. Now no one came ‘round. The sound of laughter disappeared from our home.
We are always on edge now. Constantly worried that they might come back and our lives will be turned upside down again. Whenever I try to think that I’m going to get a job, that I’m going to climb the ladder and make myself successful, at the back of my mind, a powerful voice shuts those hopes down, telling me that something bad will happen again, to prevent us moving forward.
We don’t have anyone to speak to. We can’t talk to each other because we don’t want to upset one another and we’re scared to speak to outsiders incase they have a hidden agenda or try to exploit our feelings. When we are together, there is so much emotion that we are trying to control and at the same time, trying to be ourselves, knowing that we can’t really, due tothis sea of emotion we are reigning in. Our hearts are heavy. I don’t know how to describe it to you because I’ve held it in so much that I don’t know how to start.
Everytime I see the police, I shiver. At night, when I put my kids to sleep, and there’s suddenly a flashing blue light, I think, ‘O my God, are we here again? What’s happened?’ It’s the same for my parents. Every time they see a van coming, even if it’s just passing our road, they’re left terrified.
Warm Hearts to Hold Us
When HHUGS heard about our situation, they kept offering to help financially, but we kept refusing, insisting we didn’t need it. We were very embarrassed. We thought there were other people who were more in need, who deserved it more than us. One time,, when the sister from HHUGS called to offer help once again, I became angry. Despite that, she didn’t get mad, she kept calling me still. They are such kind people at HHUGS. I thought they would drop me after that day but she still called. Her heart is warm… she makes me feel at peace.
It came to the point that we were struggling to find food to eat, that’s when we realised we could no longer survive alone. My daughter urged me to ask. She said, ‘God is giving you a gift, please take it, how else are you going to eat?’ So next time the sister from HHUGS called, she said “Aunty, please tell us. Don’t be embarrassed.” Finally, I gave in.
From that day, HHUGS helped us with food vouchers, paying our gas, electricity and water bills and clearing the debts that had accummulated. Even our prescriptions, they helped with. When we could no longer afford to keep the car, they helped with that too.
Mum kept on insisting that others needed the money more, but the point came when we literally had no choice. We were so stressed out. Then we thought, ‘you know what? We need this, we really need this.’ I am so grateful HHUGS came. At the time, you’re so sad and down, you don’t know what’s what, so when they came and helped with food and bills and things like that, it lifted a huge burden. I am so grateful to God because without HHUGS, I have no idea what would have happened to my parents.
Mum would be really surprised when she would receive boxes of Qurbani meat at Eid time. That made her really emotional – obviously we didn’t have money to buy meat, although it’s something we used to have in the house. Before we e had abundant food, all the time, and then suddenly we had nothing, which was heartbreaking for her. So when HHUGS sent meat or gifts – you know, someone sent hijabs for her and it was really overwhelming. She was really grateful that they did that. She didn’t have to ask for it. It was very, very touching. You feel embarrassed to say we don’t have any meat, but the fact that they considered that and gave it of their own accord, it was just beautiful.
It it wasn’t for HHUGS, I have no idea if we would even have this house, or have kept the electricity running. We were getting red letters, so I have no idea what life would have been like.
My advice would be just to continue, with your warm hearts, to support people. Not just financially, but emotionally as well, because that is hugely, important when everybody turns their back on people like us. And then, after you’ve been through that, to have HHUGS constantly knocking on our doors and gifting us,with amazing things, subhan’Allah, it’s just amazing.
They are like a friend during hard times. Like my family. That’s how close we are. We will never forget them. It hasn’t even been a year but they are like my children.
Sometimes, when we think of HHUGS, we start to cry, because they have helped us so much. We cry, recalling how God sent them to us.
Those that help you during your hardship, you are not able to forget them. . Before this, I didn’t understand how poor people live..
There are no words to express how grateful we are, I cannot express this. The fact that somebody stood up, HHUGS stood up for us
Even if life returns to normal one day, and we are in a good place again, we will never forget HHUGS.