We know what anorexia does to someone like a time bomb left to tick as the time passes. It is specifically common among children or adolescence who are at their heights of their feeling, a time they always tend to feel loved, hated, warned and cheated.
Most parents at this stage in their children’s life tend to take steps, make mistakes and leave them unchecked or corrected. Then there is a plan to make them pay for what they’ve done and then, eating disorders – anorexia. This evil then tends to engulf and possess the lives of its prey like a carnivore does to its prey and a victor to its victim.
Thanks to Allah who would always find a way at the climax to save his faithfuls.
In this auspicious month of Ramadan, I want to share a courageous story of forgiveness with you. This year fathers day has fallen in Ramadan (once again), this is our time to reflect on our relationship with our fathers and make amends. After all Ramadan is the time when we like make the strongest communication to Allah and make restitution for our sins.
I want to thank everyone from Nigeria to Izmir for helping me to put this post together in English. I’m forever grateful.
Here’s Agyul’s Story…
It’s Ramadan here in Turkey. Everyone has made their way to the mosque for night prayers. So hard to imagine or even think about the number that has turned towards praying and fasting in a country that was a center of secularism.
And I am lost in thoughts, one man is on mind, I didn’t want to forgive this man.
My husband told took a notice of that and said to me. ‘’Augul, you need to forgive him’’.
I looked at him in bewilderment and replied; ‘‘have you so soon forgotten what he did to you? Have you forgotten your time in….’’
I watched his eyes change colour, his countenance gave in. He remembered too well. He paid the price of my father’s power. As if that wasn’t enough reason to be angry, he simply said; ‘’ll say, you need to forgive him. He’ your father’’.
He left me and went to the mosque. I stood there looking into night sky till my husband came home from his duty at the mosque.
“Go to sleep Aygul, you need your rest”, he told me worryingly. And that was when I cried bitterly. I couldn’t erase the past from my mind- one forgives but cannot forget.
I come from a very secular background and a very prominent one. My family lives in one of the exclusive areas of Bosporus Sea surrounded by high walls acres of land, numbers of household staff and many cars like fleet on the ocean.
I was only twelve years old, when I became a victim to a man who was my daddy’s very intimate and influential friend was. I did everything too early in my life, as my mother would say. I arrived early, and I matured early. At the age of 12 I looked like a 15 year old.
It was a party at our home, the family from Tarab and Yeniköy were invited. We had new outfits. New swim suits and we were instructed to be presentable, jovial and sociable.
And it was at the pool party, where dad’s friend did something no man in his sane mind would have ever done.
I had gone to the garden shed to eat my box of candies, this was my secret hiding place. He followed me and after 5 minutes of sweet talk – sweet nonsense, he turned my life the other way. When my aunt found me several hours later, I was in a battered state in there.
It was my aunt who hugged me and as I wept bitterly at such injustice. I told her the man’s name. Suddenly, I was in my bedroom. My mother was there, a female doctor too.
After two full days of lots of sleep, I woke up with swollen eyes. As I persistently mentioned my father’s friend’s name, I wasn’t listened to instead, what went banging at my eardrum was;
“I don’t ever want you to say his name again, do you understand? It’s in your head.”
You’re alright now, you just had a nasty accident.”
Shocked I negated the words that protruded right from the mouth of my dad.
To make him understand, to make him believe me, I screamed; “It was him, it was him Daddy. Look Daddy; ‘look what he did to your Aygul, to your moon rose.” Aygul in Turkish means ‘moon rose’.
My yelling in protest was ignored. I can’t forget how he turned away and left me there in my bedroom by myself.
And from that day, silence was maintained. I felt the pain like I had no one on my side and now on my own. No defender at a time like that.
After several weeks, my mother journeyed to the States with me, we maintained silence about the matter. I stopped eating and started to hate my grown up body with sheer vengeance. Within months, the girl who looked 15 now looked 9.
They didn’t know what to do with me. I would cover myself in long black dresses with long sleeves. I refused to wear anything else. No one objected and no one relented. We all kept our mute about the matter. But it was kept alive right inside of me.
At 16, my life took the wayward turn. No one could guide me in the wayward feet to stay, I became a drunk and an addict and completely went out of my mind.
The Night my Life Changed
That night, I was doing Tango outside Reina club, the security had thrown me out for my violent outburst. Unsteady on my feet, I tried to make my way back home, I was struggling to drive and ended up hitting someone. Coming out of the car, I had no idea where exactly I was in Istanbul. All I could see was a man was lying on the street with his stick on one side and prayer beads dangling from one hand.
I called my family. They were angry. The elderly man was taken to hospital and I was spared the grief of being questioned by the police due to my father’s influence.
The guilt was there. Next day I went to hospital to visit the man and my life changed. The man I had so violently hit with my car helped me retrace my steps. He would always say;
‘’Aygul wanted to change. Aygul realised there was more to life than what her mind could possibly will comprehend.”
From there on, I spent my life under his guidance, as his anorexic student.
And one day he told me if I wanted a true escape from prison I had to let go off Ana.
Anorexia was a barrier between me and my learning. I wasn’t eating enough. In reality I was petrified of growing up.
He wanted me to start eating with other students. Soon the desire to be among his best students won.
I started to eat with others. And as I slowly started to break away from looking half dead. My mother and aunts became relieved.
Ramadan Healing- Breaking the Loop
Despite this change, I was still struggling hard to be normal. There were days I would eat and then there were days I was in deep depression. And that’s when my teacher used Ramadan as an emotional card to get me to break free from the prison of hatred, self-loathing, anorexia and pain.
Fasting is giving up seeing an existence other than Allah, seeing no other authority than Allah, by means of comprehending Haqq the absolute authority on existence.
Ramadan 2011 Forgiving thy Mother
This Ramadan I want you to forgive your mother, my teacher my mentor told me.
“No Way! I can never forgive her”, I told him. You need to break free from the prison. Forgive her and the door to freedom will open.
He was right and that evening I made the long emotional journey to my parents house.All lights were on- another party in full swing. I took off my head scarf and adjusted the wig on my head. My mother was in the upstairs quarter, in her dressing room.
I saw her sitting in front of overly large vanity mirror with hundreds of bright lights and I saw her face layered in layers of make-up. She looked at me, and looked away. We made such a picture. A resemblance.
I was covered from the head to the feet in white dress and red shawl.
And she dressed in a very daring little black outfit. She looked tired.
And something changed in my heart. I knelt on the floor and touched her knee. It was cold. She looked at me and I delivered the words’
“I’m sorry mama for all the pain, it’s Ramadan. I forgive you for the sake of Allah. I forgive you because the path I’ve chosen requires me to forgive. You object to this path but it’s the only way I can stop the nightmares, the pain.”
And she wept. We both cried. And I walked out two hours later into beautiful Bosphorus scented night, my heart and soul light as a feather.
2012 Ramadan- Forgiving the Monster
I looked into walls of Bosporus another long evening another sleepless night- “You need to go and see him.” A man I detested bitterly told me.
“No way”! I screamed and threw everything I was carrying on the floor.
“Please Aygul”– my father pleaded.
“No no”. I retorted and walked out.
To seek solace, I went to see my teacher and the man who I nearly killed told me; ‘you have to forgive him, go and see him and see what your heart tells you’.
He was getting old by the time, but it was the twinkle in his eyes the light on his face that was just so young and defied his age.
Next day, my father walked me into a very exclusive wing of hospital. Reserved for very exclusive people.
We saw him and I saw a man, a monster perhaps reaching his end. He opened his eyes and I saw something I wish I hadn’t seen. Regret! And with a torn soul, I delivered the words, “I forgive you”.
Ramadan 2013- Reaching new dimensions
“You’re ready for your next lesson” my teacher told me. I had waited for this for so long- how long had I been with him? I was 16 when he found me. Years had flown by. And we continued and I truly felt the Ramadan 2013- the door had become wide open. Ana was gone. Depression was no longer there just a pricking needle in the back. The life had become so simple. I enjoyed the colours and everything that was around me.
Ramadan 2014- I Become Two
There was a proposal for me. One of his finest students to date was asking for my hand in marriage.
“I think you’ll be happy with him”- my teacher told me.
“He’s good and is one of the finest men I know. He’s a seeker of knowledge.
He’ll never cause you any harm.
He’s Abdullah, Servant of God.”
And I married a man in a very simple ceremony with my mother, aunts present. My father, brothers and uncles stayed away.
Ramadan 2015- Forgiving thy Father
And the most ruthless lesson in forgiveness in ego came in 2015- “You need to forgive your father”, my teacher told me. He was ill and remained very secluded. I bit my lower lip till I tasted blood.
He saw this and said; “No my child, no! Come here.” He told me.
“You need to truly forgive my child, truly let go off the hurt”.
I was angry.
“Your years with me have been special”, he told me.
He closed his eyes. “Now decision is yours. Your husband also agrees, we know this will set you truly free”.
I woke up it was nearly mid-day. My husband was asleep. He’ll be up in one hour and he will make his way back to the mosque. It was a long tiring night.
Yes, the decision was mine to make. I had a choice to forgive or not to forgive. I got into car and drove to our parents house. It was a long journey.
The security let me in. I wanted to turn back, but I had to do this, I had to do this for my own sanity for the child I was carrying.
I had to fully break from the prison.
I walked right to the man I detested bitterly.
I wasn’t expecting him to stand up to greet me but he did. Something twisted in my heart. “Sit.” He told me. He tried to put the whisky tumbler away and stumbled.
I felt sick, nausea built up.
“Daddy, it’s Ramadan, my teacher’s last wish was for me to break free from the prison. Daddy he told me to set you and myself and this family free”.
I closed my eyes and tears rolled down freely.
“I don’t want to but by Allah who is Raheem I don’t want to forgive you. But I need to break free.
I forgive you.”
“Had We revealed this Qur’an (this truth) upon a mountain (the ego) you would have seen it humbled and shattered to pieces in awe of Allah (the realization of the nothingness of his ego or seeming ‘self’ in respect to the One denoted by the name Allah). And these examples (symbolic language) we present to mankind so that they will contemplate.”
Ramadan 2016- We all are Free
“Are you OK!” I looked at my husband, smiled and answered him immediately.
“Yes I am fine”.
I looked at my young son. I couldn’t believe how heavy he’s getting. I smiled in awe. His food comes from me. He has a healthy mother I wondered. How lucky.
And I looked at his grandfather, my father- the man I bitterly hated and smiled in affection he was playing with his youngest grandson in my little simple house, built near the beautiful compounds of mosque.
He was happy- I saw the colour in his face- he’s been drinking less and his strength reflected in his steps.
I’ve never seen him like that.
Message from Aygul
This Ramadan Forgiveness is the Key
“You can’t reach God with Anorexia and addictions and egoistic desires” my sheikh, my guide told me. He said my mind was too stuck on one point and I agreed.
The root cause of my illness my anorexia were many. Only I has the power to deal with it.
I suffered the rest suffered.
My body suffered and my soul suffered.
When I became a student to this man, everyone seemed to be living a great life, except me.
No education- a drop out, a rebellious teenager in Goth outfits that’s how I was.
As I went through with seriousness reading one page after the other in the Qur’an; as I awakened one after the other the sections of my heart, I dived deeper into ocean of love, something still held me back. And then I was told I had to let go off the pain and forgiveness was the key.
So yes Ramadan 2016- I’m in peace.
And I see the peace around me and round my family. I asked my father what he would like for father’s day. He looked at me and said:
‘’You gave me the best present of my life last year- you forgave me.’’
Forgiveness was the best present ever.