As I sat at the laptop screen, I could feel my insides burning rapidly, rupturing all emotional stability that I had formed over the years. I could not believe how she could surpass my career success and become the person I have been striving to be since my academic years. I thought it was only me who deserved the position and the stature, as I am by far greater than her! Why?

Maryam obtained the promotion which I had worked so hard to obtain. What did I do to deserve this humiliation? Everyone in the office knew it was me who deserved this position.

After a few minutes of contemplation over the past, I finally decided to turn off the laptop and do my remaining tasks. In a subdued manner, I cooked the meal, spilling the contents from utensils and cutting my finger twice. Why her? This was supposed to be my place.

My constant thinking and lack of food intake led me to a severe migraine that night. I kept tossing and turning in my bed. The next morning, I decided to visit the psychiatrist which my mother had been insisting upon since long. I have been suffering from over-thinking and remain extremely perplexed about ordinary matters of life. Most importantly, it was a chance to escape, as I would not be able to act normally with people around me and remain ill-tempered. I did not tell my family or friends about this visit, as I feared they would laugh at me for visiting a shrink!

The next few days, till my day of appointment arrived, were insufferable. I kept on checking her last seen on Whatsapp. I stalked her on Facebook and followed her every post on Twitter. I was losing interest in my own studies. In office, I befriended her more than usual and stayed alert when she passed through. I became unconsciously anxious when she was absent and thought of what she would be doing at her home. Thoughts kept pervading my mind and my focus was shattered into pieces.

Fortunately, the day of my appointment arrived soon. I told the psychologist about my extreme obsession with Maryam. I confessed that I hated her and would be really happy if she would face an unbearable loss. My burning insides were unravelled, and I blurted out how abhorrent I felt. I never knew I possessed such ill-feelings for her, until I expressed them verbally. Hearing those words made me feel guilty. I told him how these feeling consumed me and made me unable to handle my responsibilities.

After listening to my issue, he gave me a smiling nod and asked me what I am most passionate about.

“My studies,” I replied in a low tone.

“Make a decision,” he said in a firm tone.

Puzzled, I looked at him.

“Do what you love the most and let the things be. You cannot change what happens with all the people in this universe. God never gave you the right to have things your way.

The life of this world is short; you don’t know what happens to you the next moment. There may be an aneurysm ready to pop in your brain; it would lead you to the hospital emergency system and to disability in no time. Or, there may be some complicated physics and chemistry going on in your car engine which would make it blow up the moment you accelerate.

Then why don’t you make the most of what you have?”

I was silent, until he began again. “You are jealous,” he said firmly.

I am jealous? I always thought “depressed” was the more applicable term. Reading my mind, he explained further. “Jealousy is when a person feels insecure and is having extreme levels of low self-esteem; the one afflicted is anxious to inquire about the offending party; he or she encompasses feelings of fear or humiliation.

Try to analyze your own being and then list the qualities that you possess. Each person has been bestowed with multiple talents and the present state of defeat does not mean that you would be going on the same pace in your upcoming life. Maryam is not a person you compare yourself to. Instead, evaluate how you pertain to the Divine Laws. The success and failure of this world is short lived – you will not take it along with you to your grave.”

He then skipped to the discussion about how uncertain life is. He told me about a person who died right in front of him, while he was addressing his emotional issues. Technically, it was his heart that failed but when viewed from the other lens, what is the meaning of this life? It is so uncertain that you park your car and enter a building without any surety whether you would still be alive to exit and drive away!

“Be what you want to be right here, right now. And since you only live once, collect all the goodness you can, so to be in the blessed gardens on that Day.”

He asked me to analyze myself and try to transform by cleansing my heart rather than being more concerned about others’ lives.

I left his office with a heavy heart and sat numb all the way home.

Was I jealous? Does this filthy word define my state? Am I such a shallow human being? Feeling guilty at my state, I went up to my apartment, the words of the therapist still ringing in my head. In the Halaqah I attended, they repeatedly emphasized the diseases of the human heart, which can lead it to darkness. Was I dwelling in darkness all along? Did I tie bonds with Satan?

The answers to all these questions appeared to be “yes”.

Confused and disturbed by my situation, I cried out loud in my empty apartment.

My wails could be heard by no one but my Lord (swt), so I called out unto Him. I proclaimed Him by His Divine Names, all that I could think of.

Beseeched.

Sobbed.

I have to ask for forgiveness, my conscience told me. Ya Ghafoor! Please forgive me! I was wrong all along.

I had no strength to pull myself up from the prayer mat. I was a person with no dignity in the eyes of my Allah (swt). He lives near my jugular vein; for sure, he was aware of my wicked desires. I should ask Him to purify my heart – so I pleaded. I cried to Him to make me get over my boastfulness. All knowledge and power belongs to Him.

O Allah! Please cleanse my heart of all the filth. I am a person with no knowledge, intelligence, or power. Why did I ever fall into hating someone? He created me for purposes higher rather than dwelling over how someone beat me in career or academics!

That was the moment I redefined my life goals. I pleaded for steadfastness, as I had many rectifications to make. The war with the Devil begins now!