Part 295- Finale (Part 2 of 2)-Samoosa Run

As narrated by Nemo:

I looked from Aara to Riza to Arshad in complete disbelief. I must have heard wrong, or so I had hoped.

“You guys are serious?”

Nobody answered but all of them had these unreadable, nervous looks on their faces!

“I told you that I don’t want to go for any more samoosa runs Aara come on, how many times have we been through this??”, I said as anger flared up inside me

“I know but one last one won’t kill you!”, she said quickly

Arshad put his hand to his head and shot her a look, before looking down again.

“Last one? Hah and then after a few weeks there will be more right?”

I pulled the tip of my nose in frustration. All of a sudden where the hell did this samoosa run come from! We were here in Durban for a nice weekend together,did they have to go and spoil it!

“Stop pulling your nose dammit it’s already so big what do you want to do make it the size of a gutter pipe now?”, She asked cheekily and Riza burst out laughing

“Gutter pipe?”, I asked wide eyed

“Stop being so dramatic will you, it’s not a matter of life or death!”, she said, rolling her eyes at me

“Right, I’m going inside”, Riza said as he squeezed my shoulders

I shrugged him off and looked at Arshad, who also, miraculously, had to go inside!

“Cowards!”, I shouted

“Don’t behave like a Banshee man just give it a shot”

“Gutter pipe Banshee?”, I asked, wanting to grab her by her shoulders and shake her

“Best one also” ,Aara winked, “please?”

“No man Aara really..we spoke about this many times before and you were cool with it!”, I pleaded,” I can’t go through with another one”

Aara sighed and threw a pebble into the pond we’d throw coins in as kids.

“You can’t rule out opportunities you know”

“Is this your new mission ever since you’re in Durban? Find Naeem a wife?”, I asked, slightly annoyed. Okay more than slightly, but what the hell man!

“Not really”, she said casually

What does not really mean!

“So this samoosa run is a joke or a random thing for you?”

“Of course not”, she said, looking down

“I don’t want any favors okay. I don’t need any favors. I thought we had crossed this bridge .I thought we had passed this damn pity crap! I’m perfectly fine on my own!”, I snapped

Maybe I was a bit too harsh…. but no, every time that I had gone to see a prospective bride I felt so guilty because I knew that I didn’t even have any excitement or anticipation in me and it was complete injustice to the girl who I would probably never love! Call it extreme if you must but I was okay being alone and in my eyes, it was just wrong to lead someone on.

While smoke emitted from my nose and ears, I failed to notice Aara, who was now also seething!

“You are so freaking annoying!”, she bellowed, “can’t you just listen for once!”

“The answer is going to be no, just so you know ,so you are totally wasting your time”, I shouted back

And with that she pushed me!

What is it with her and pushing me!

“Make an effort don’t you think??”, she said angrily

“I don’t want to!!!”

“Naeem I swear to God that I will never talk to you again!”

“Thank you!”

Aara looked at me for a few seconds, and started walking towards the house..”I don’t know why I even bothered!”

I kicked another stone in frustration…. Why does she do this!!??!???

“Fine I’ll go”, I mumbled

I am so positively sure that she must have had a smug grin on her face hearing that, before she turned around and faced me…”See that wasn’t so hard now was it”

“When and where?”, I asked, ignoring her question

“I’ll message you in the morning”, she smiled…and then proceeded to ignore me during supper

I was honestly so sick and tired of this and I knew that for as long as I was single, I’d be subjected to this every so often. Why do people class you for not being married????

I was not waiting for her morning message, in fact, I had hoped that she’d forget about it, but promptly after fajr lo and behold..the message of Aara

“North beach pier in an hour, join me for a jog”

I wished that I could put my hands through my phone and strangle her! Okay not strangle but you get my drift.

When I reached the pier, she was already there, facing the ocean, all alone. The sound of the waves crashing gently on this shore that we loved so much, the peace and tranquility of the early morning sunrise, the entire ambiance…calmed my heart and soul. I felt so at ease and so much at peace. Sometimes all we need, is to just step back and look around, take that deep breath in, and marvel at the beauty that Allah Ta’ala has placed all around us. We get so awfully engrossed in our lives that we fail to appreciate these bounties that are around us all of our lives…

I didn’t have the heart to disturb her so I stood a few feet behind her and took in my surroundings. And when Madam finally realised that I was running late and tried calling me-and well obviously my phone rang right behind her! Lol! She jumped in shock! Priceless!

“How long have you been standing there?”, she asked, still recovering from her mini shock

“Long enough to enjoy the same thing that you’re enjoying”, I grinned, forgetting for a second that I was actually mad at her

Aara looked down nervously as though she were gathering her thoughts and then just as suddenly, looked up

“Shall we?”

We had often jogged on the Golden Mile, many years ago and even though we were going forward, in my mind, it was as though we were running backwards into those years…

Aara loved running, and I knew why. The gentle thud with each step empowered you..the stretch ahead made you feel alive and free, the wind in your face reminded you that it was just you and no one else…the amazing feeling of being free was unbelievably awesome. These precious moments, away from the reality of our daily routines was simply unmatched.

She was silent for a good fifteen minutes, until she stopped and looked at me. Catching her breath and almost as though she was analyzing me..she then did something that I would never ever forget, although at that moment, it took a good few seconds for it to register…

With no words spoken, she reached into her small backpack and took out a container filled with…samoosas!

Tears filled up in her eyes as she finally looked up at me. Dumb as I was, I still didn’t get it. Surely there had to be a catch somewhere?

“My name is Aara Ismail and I may not have much to offer you…”

My heart literally stopped!

” There are many scars on my heart, and many wounds too…but my friendship and you, have always been there, inside it all”

She wiped away a few tears and took a deep breath in….

“I have grown to understand that there are different kinds of love in life, different stages of love, and while it is true that I did love you a long time ago, the admiration that stems from my heart for you at this moment, outshines even that”

I was completely awestruck and my eyes filled up with tears of joy and shock. I couldn’t believe that this was happening!

“This is not pity or anything of the sort, it’s not for Hana either because I know that you are there for her and you don’t need any relationship to justify your presence in her life….”, and she swallowed hard as more tears fell from her eyes…”this is not even for the who Aara you grew up with, not for our years of friendship, and no, Zoheb hasn’t left me any letter with an elaborate wish for me to settle down with you…this is for me..now…with all my faults, tantrums and breakdowns…this is for the realization that a story remains incomplete, one that began years ago…and it had to go in different directions else the value of it would never be felt”

She was right. Had it all been hunky dory all those years ago, I would never have appreciated her value in my life, and had life not taken her happiness from her, she would never have realised her own value or mine. The truth is, we had learned from each other, through each other – and we didn’t even know it.

I couldn’t help myself and burst out crying as I held on to her words…

” People may not see it, and even if they do, some may see it as convenience…but I don’t care, a part of me will always be incomplete without you…”, Aara cried..”Life has taken much from both of us, but it has taught us a lot too. We were blessed with many wonderful people, the best of whom was Zoheb…destiny’s card…”

Bittersweet are the tears of the heart, when it remembers the one who it loved so dearly….But our Maker has given us more strength than we admit…more resilience than we understand, until the sun shines on it one fine day when we open our always closed eyes. Closed to reality, closed to realization.

“And I have this strong desire in my heart to change my life and I can’t do it alone…There’s so much to do Nemo..There’s a world that we haven’t seen yet , a world that was there from the beginning. Our true calling…to be better muslims, to be better human beings, to do things in the right way… Until yesterday, I wasn’t sure if what I wanted to do was right, but when you handed me that bunch of Zoheb’s daffodils, I knew that I wasn’t wrong. I knew that you would always respect his memory and his place in my heart and he was right, he would always say that our lives were joined, we were connected by fate and that we didn’t understand it then but we would one day…”

And my mind momentarily went back to their wedding day when Aara wrote our names on the sand, with a heart around our three names in particular…

“Life is not a fairytale, and who would know this better than us?”, she said, as she wiped away a tear, “but life is not life without you either…we’ve been together for so many years…Will you spend the rest of my life with me too?”

My bruised heart cried tears of relief..I knew what she was saying, I knew what she meant, because I had felt it too. We had passed the stage of young love, we had understood that love and romance wasn’t everything- we were a part of a greater cause. We had learned that love wasn’t soppy movies and red roses, nor was it fancy weddings and parties. Love was a tree inside our heart, that weathered the roughest of storms. Love was in silent companionship. Love was that gentle wind that swept and picked up pieces of its beloveds broken heart and kept it with it safely. Love was a tender smile that hid deep lines of pain and anguish. Love was being there, unconditionally, without any expectations. Love was Allah, loving was for his sake. To live the life that He had given us, within the boundaries of his commands. And when that bond becomes halaal, the love that is placed in it by Him is one that we would have never felt before. For He knows our pain, He has heard our tears fall, He has tested us, He has rewarded us and He will give us the courage to begin that new chapter.

“So, I’ve taken this chance even though you told me yesterday that your answer would be no…in the hope that you will change your mind. I don’t know if my heart will ever heal Nemo…but atleast it will beat again”

I didn’t care if this was a joke or if this was whatever, nor did I need to hear anything else. Images from our past flashed before my eyes…our school days, our pond moments, our mad moments, our terrifying moments, the way in which she fought for me, the way in which I hurt her…the way in which she lay unconscious struggling for her life, the day that we dashed through the hospital with her on a wheelchair darting through those corridors without a care in the world, her wedding day, Aara in the snow, Aara staring into emptiness…Aara standing in front of her house handing over its keys…Aara in front of me. Aara who I had loved and lost. Aara who I had learned to live without. Aara who began the story of love in my life with her tiny handshake and peanut butter sandwich, Aara who had changed my mindset and made me love my life. Aara, my prayer answered.

What was I if not a wounded man…what was she if not a wounded woman…We understood each others pain, we knew what we had lost. We respected each others sorrows, through the thread of a bond that could never ever be seen or named. But it would have a name now. Even if it was just for the remainder of this worldly life.

“I love the girl”, I said, smiling through my tears, as I picked up a samoosa to solidify it

And with that, Aara cried fresh new tears and so did I…

If those tears could be accumulated, they would have been plentiful raindrops falling from the sky. And in the distance, there would be a rainbow celebrating a story that was ours all along.

I wiped my eyes and smiled at her from the bottom of my heart, and took her hands in mine..”I have no expectations of you sweetheart, whatever it is, however it is, we may not be perfect, but we’ll be together”

And just like that, in the way in which a hand fits perfectly into a glove,in the way in which the four seasons melt into each other,in the way that a story comes full circle eventually, ours did too.

Strange is life, our story spanned over 30 years of twists and turns… Strange is love, which had never died within us….stranger is destiny, which took us to different times, different people , different lives. And here we are today, as better versions of ourselves, wiser, stronger, mature, battered and bruised from life’s challenges..but alive, as we hold each others hands and walk towards a new future, a new beginning. We can never forget our tests, we can never forget our angel, and maybe our time together, is only for this life only, in this world only, for He will ultimately give us what is best for us, on the day when we will all meet again.

This was our story, this was our friendship.

Hardened by the boulders of life.

Softened by the yellow daffodils of love.

Joined altogether, all nine of us, unrelated, different individuals, by the hand of destiny.

—————-The End———————-

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book

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Part 294- Finale (Part 1 of 2)- The Reunion

As narrated by Naasir Patel:

“Dadoo”, Hana asked so cutely as she let go of my hand and ran behind the pigeons that we were feeding…”Mummy said that you loved my daddy tooooo much”

My heart stopped for a second as my brain processed what my granddaughter had just said.

“Your mummy is right”, I smiled, overwhelmed that Aara had kept my sons memory alive in Hana’s heart and told her only good things about us and him

“Dadoo…”, she proceeded and I couldn’t help but smile..”Pappa said that my daddy looooved ice cream more than me!”

And I was instantly reminded of Zoheb’s childhood…the little that I knew, and a wave of regret washed over me. I wished that I had gotten to properly know my son. I had actually only really got to know him from his wife and his friends, from what they would speak about him. And whenever they did, I felt so proud that my son was such, that even years after his death, he was remembered so fondly. I wished that I had gotten to know this man whose character was far greater than mine, who was loved so much. One of the biggest regrets of my life was that I didn’t know my son at all.

This is why I was so grateful to Aara for making us play an active part in Hana’s life. From phone calls to visits , skype sessions and short family getaways, she never restricted us from spending time with Hana. And this was the same girl who I had refused to accept into our family when Zoheb married her.

I was ever so grateful to my Creator for giving them the time that they had together. It was a reassurance that the last few years of my son’s life was spent happily.

We were quite stunned when Aara informed us of her intention to turn their house into a shelter for abandoned children, as the house was quite a magnificent one and it was specifically designed and made according to all Aara’s preferences… I never thought that she’d part with it. We were even more stunned when she asked us to be there and be a part of the trust fund for the house. I knew then that our relationship with Aara and Hana was for keeps. She wanted us in their lives, and we were only too happy to oblige.

Even now, four months later, as we took a break with them in Durban, her parents wouldn’t hear of us staying at a hotel and insisted that all of us stayed with them. They were arranging for a big get together with all their close friends and families and this would be a first for us!

————————————————————————————-

As narrated by Aara:

Spring in Durban was my favorite! The weather was perfect and meant that my mom’s garden was a mini paradise. FOUR whole months had flown by since I had left Jhb and being here at home, with my parents was just what I had needed. Being here made me feel as though I had returned from a long, long journey. I felt calm and happy and ever so energized and renewed! Being at your parent’s home always had the ability to make you feel like a million bucks!

Hana was out with her Dadoo and Dadee, and I was almost done with wrapping up the last few gifts because……. in a few minutes, I’d be seeing everyone!!!!! I had missed them so so so much and I didn’t want the next 4 days to end anytime soon. Life just wasn’t the same without them and seeing them every few days. I missed my long conversations with Laeeka and Zainab, I missed Riza’s motivational lectures,lol..I missed how Arshad would fall asleep half way through it! I missed all the children and their inquisitiveness. I missed Nemo and the way in which he constantly nagged and babied me , I missed the feeling of those yellow daffodils under my fingertips, I missed all of it.

The medley of different hooters outside our front gate had finally signaled their arrival and I turned around in excitement. As I ran through the corridor,I caught sight of myself in the large mirror before the staircase. I had run down these stairs a million times before as a little girl, as an awkward teenager, I had walked down as a new bride , I had sought solace on them through many dark nights when everyone was asleep. I had walked my daughter up and down these stairs numerous times a day for the past four months and each time that I did,an old memory would pop up in my head. Sometimes I would see Sahal and I fighting over something or the other, sometimes I would see my father and I sharing a joke, sometimes I would see my mummy and I quietly eating cupcakes together, sometimes I would see Nemo and I doing our homework , sometimes I would see Zoheb holding my hand..And now I was rooted to the top most stair ,lost in a daydream.

“Waiting for a red carpet?”, he asked from the bottom of the staircase

I snapped out of it and a broad smile replaced my look of “deurmekaarness”…

“Nemo!” , I said excitedly

“So happy to see me? That’s a first”, he replied ,with his hands behind his back

“Oh please man…You okay?”, I asked,as I ran down the stairs and tried to see what he was hiding ,”stop moving!”

“You stand still first! Aara this habit of yours will never go”, he chided even though I could see right through the whole “irritated “act

“Fine fine I’ll stand still”, I agreed after a few seconds, with both my hands up in the air

And when he finally revealed the big secret, I screamed out in sheer joy!!!

“From your garden” , he smiled, as he handed me a bunch of yellow daffodils

“Nemo this is the best gift ever!!!” , I said honestly

I inhaled the beautiful scent of these special daffodils. Because these were the best daffodils in the world and every time that I looked at them I was reminded of Zoheb.

“Thank you so much”

” What thank you man “, he laughed,” come, there’s literally a bigger surprise for you in the lounge”

Literally?? What could it be….

” Oh my God!!!!”, I said in complete shock” Maariah!!!… Again!”

And I could hear Nemo laughing behind me ..”we were just as stunned!”

“Last one Aara” , Maariah blushed as she hugged me

“This is our middle child”, Immy winked , tapping her protruding belly and Maariah promptly gave him a light shot on his back

“Congratulations you two! Immy you’re dead set on having your cricket team hey”

“And I’m just a part of the furniture here ” , Laeeka moaned

“Awwww come here” , I laughed and hugged Laeeka and Zainab

Riza tapped the back of my head to acknowledge him and Arshad tried to say something funny but failed miserably…Again! These guys!!!

“Aarala!!” ,All the kids said in excitement and I knelt down for all of them to hug me. They had played such a huge part in healing my heart. Their innocence, their humbleness, the purity of their hearts…and what made it more special was that each of them was a mixture of two of my best friends, making them, the best of both.

Later on that afternoon,everyone relaxed beside the pool and the kids splashed about. Catching up was always the best because there wasn’t space for a moment’s silence! I’m sure that my in-laws were more than a little overwhelmed with the noise and the crowd but they were excited at the same time.

I walked out into the garden on my own and sat on the garden swing. I closed my eyes and remembered some of my life’s sweetest moments. Looking back at the house in which I grew up made my heart swell with emotions. A house that was full of not just memories but with all the people in my life who I loved the most, the people who were always there for me and who never ever shut me out.

It was overwhelming to know that I had known them before I had come into this world ,that I had known them in a realm before this world,that I didn’t just have one soulmate but many, all of us did. We were all a part of each other,linked in some small way, like branches on the tree of life,we may all go on our own way but we will still remain grounded through the same roots.

“Reminiscing?”, A familiar voice asked

I looked up and smiled.

“Something like that”

“I read the whole thing by the way… Very nicely done..Feels like you’re really in there when you read it”

“It’s not fully done though…There’s just one more page and it isn’t mine”

“It wasn’t the end? “, Riza asked , raising his eyebrow at me

“What is the end Reez?”, I sighed, ” if not a new beginning”

Riza smiled knowingly ,”the life of us artists”

“Which is why pessimism is the way to go.. Always!”, Arshad said, as he sat down beside me, “guaranteed no let downs”

“Ahaha Arshoo you had rather just not say anything at all” ,Riza laughed

“You just can’t handle the heat”, Arshad said dramatically, leaving Riza momentarily speechless,” who’s writing this last page now?”

“Nemo” , I answered, dangling my feet

“I have to write again?”, Nemo asked from behind me “but I already wrote Aara”

“Which I haven’t read yet because the book has been by Riza but yeah…”

And Riza pulled out the book from inside his jacket and handed it to me.

“It would have been over but I just feel that because there’s one thing left and it relates to you, so you write the last bit”, I said as I ran my fingers across this book of memories

“What’s this last thing relating to me?”, Nemo asked as he sat down on the grass infront of us

Did he have to ask now!

“Ummmmm”

“Ummm what?”

“We found you a girl!”, Riza, Arshad and I said together and then looked at each other and back at a dumdfounded Nemo

Because that was what was missing, his happy ending,his new beginning. And even though we knew that life wasn’t about happy endings and it was the story that mattered more, it just made you feel good. It added that little bit of hope, it was that small ray of sunshine on a dull day, it was the single cherry at the top of that towering cake.

And that is why, I stop here. I have grown from a mischievous little girl to an awkward teenager who fell in love with her best friend, I had smash hit the many curve balls that life had thrown at me , I became the young woman whose strength was pulled to the last tether shielding the same best friend. I was an independent woman who loved again when love came in the form of a handsome stranger who made my every day with him beautiful, who filled all those empty jars in my soul with love,hope, faith. I had lived my dreams with my eyes wide open, and while flying high I came tumbling back to the ground, shaken by the reality of…reality.

I was a broken woman, a mother, a widow who braved the storm only with Allah’s help, who with every trial, made me stronger…. and found my way back home.

Maybe I had been through too much, maybe I had cried too much, maybe my life had been harder but this world was never meant to be a paradise. How we treat each other,how we live, how we tackle our problems, the kind of Muslims we are, how we fulfill the relationships that we keep between the people in our lives, that’s what life is about.

I know that whatever happens, I know that if I follow His way and His commands I will be okay. I know that He will give me what is best for me, I know that when that day comes he will do justice with me and until then, until I have a single breath left in me ,I have to earn it. For Allah has never forsaken me, for every tribulation he has given me so many joys, for every heartache he has given me so many beautiful moments and even now in this last chapter I have full faith that he will help me get through it happily and that this last step would be the first step towards a new start.

When I look back at all of us , I am overwhelmed at how far we’ve come together and individually. Some people are alone all their lives, we were lucky that we had each other. Such people leave huge impacts on our lives, so much so that you see a little bit of them in every thing that is beautiful.

This was our story, this is who we are. We don’t know how long our lives will be but every day brings a new challenge, a new opportunity .Life is ever changing, as we learn every single day…

There will be many speed bumps, there will be many hurdles, there will be many crossroads…

But as a wise person once said, ” and just when the Caterpillar thought that the world was over, it became a beautiful butterfly..”

Over and out.

Lol…Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

Much love,

Aara…

Part 293- Amaanat

As narrated by Aara:

A tear falls as I turn over to the next page…I can’t stop laughing when I’m a few more pages down . A huge smile spreads across my face…and anger makes me frown incessantly.

I couldn’t believe, looking back at so many memories- that we’ve done this, we’ve been through this…this was us!

This book had come to an end at the right time. Or almost the end rather. Every time that I had tried to speed it up, something or the other in life, would slow me down. I’d be writing pages upon pages in my mind- but I never had the time and sometimes, the courage to put it down. Perhaps that too had a reason. And as I put it down to take a breather, the reasons stood out before me, as though I’ve missed it all along. A realisation, an understanding. We knew all too well that time waited for no one, that the duration of life was simply unknown to us and we couldn’t change that ever. That whatever happens in life, doesn’t happen without reason, without a purpose. That Allah gives us second, third and fourth chances too. Not only to be happy, because He gives us happiness everyday, even in the smallest of things, but also to rectify, to learn, to challenge, to dream, to grow.

We make mistakes knowingly and unknowingly and we think nothing of it until years later, and as I think about that I am drawn back to something that I had learned at Taleem recently. That regret over past actions is also a form of acceptance from Allah Ta’ala, when we are ashamed of things that we have done, when we can’t find happiness in those memories anymore, when we seek forgiveness just thinking about it. We are not perfect, but if we don’t learn from our mistakes, then we are the biggest fools.

A panic gripped my heart as I understood that I had much to do, too much in fact.

————————————————————————
As narrated by Riza:

“Are you sure about this?”

Aara stared at her house for a few seconds before she answered…”Yeah…I’m sure, it’s time”

And so we moved the last few boxes into the truck and welcomed the new occupants of Aara’s newly renovated house.

“Thank you so much once again”, Mrs. Khan said warmly, ” And for renovating it to make it completely adaptable to our needs”

“It’s only a pleasure”, Aara smiled

Looking up at the house that Zoheb had built for her, I felt a strong sense of pride. She was finally letting go. We all knew that he would always be in her heart, but the way in which she would previously hold onto this house made me wonder if she would ever get out of her inner grief.

And how too.

She had renovated the entire house to suit the needs of its new occupants, whose duas would always be with her and the man who built it for her. As Zoheb always wanted, laughter would resound in it, children would run through its long corridors and out onto the lush green lawns with dancing daffodils awaiting them with open arms. “Amaanat”, the new name of Zoheb and Aara’s home, would now be a sanctuary of hope to abandoned babies and toddlers.

“You have truly done alot for him Aara”, I said reassuringly

“Not even half of what he’s done but it’s not even about that, I do it because it makes me happy”, she smiled

“Hai Aara no crying?? Who is this superhero and where is my friend???”, I teased

Aara rolled her eyes at me and picked Hana off the swing.

This whole renovation idea came out of the blue. It was barely two weeks ago that she had summoned all of us together at her place, including Maariah and Immy on Skype…

“So I am almost done with our book, hence the little get together”, Aara said with a straight face, “but there’s more”

I looked at Laeeka, wondering if she knew what else was coming but she just shrugged her shoulders in response.

“I was just thinking that in like maybe 20 years from now, our kids will go on a road trip too and it probably won’t be Cape Town”, she smiled. But it wasn’t a normal smile, it was an ulterior motive smile….

“Hah never!”, Nemo said without thinking

“I’d never allow my girls to go on a roadtrip alone sorry”, Immy said quickly

“But you proposed to their mother on a roadtrip remember?”, Aara said sarcastically

I bit my nails quietly, knowing where this was headed. It’s not like I didn’t feel guilty about it eventually, I mean I was the darn orchestrator of the first road trip!

There was a round of silence as no one dared to speak.

“You know guys..the other night while I was re-reading the book, it struck me, amongst a few other things, that we were wrong, no matter how much we can try to justify it…the bottom line is we were wrong. We can’t change it but we can atleast ask for forgiveness for it”, she said softly, “I mean the proof is in the pudding…none of us would approve of our children going off on their own…imagine what our parents must have thought?”

Silence again….

“I could be wrong, maybe you already feel bad about it, maybe you’ve already been asking for forgiveness well before I even realised it..but it’s bugging me and I can’t let go of it”, she said with her head down

“I understand what you mean Aara…”, Zainab said, “and there’s no moderation about it. But life was such, we were younger and we didn’t really think much about it..I know that I didn’t, hell I didn’t even know what I wanted from life…I guess when you have kids, your perspective changes, as we get older we realise how stupid we were”

“I have thought about it many times..fair enough we learnt alot but it was still wrong”, Nemo nodded

“But we learn from our mistakes right..we won’t make our kids do the same thing”, Arshad agreed

“And I just feel like shit because it was all my great idea”, I said aloud

After that everyone began consoling me saying that we were adults and no one held a gun to our heads but Aara was right, and I think that deep down everyone had felt the same way at some point during these past few years especially as all of us had turned our lives around to some extent.

As much as I felt bad right now, I also felt good knowing that all of us thought the same. It meant that there was hope for all of us…

“Reez I didn’t mean to hurt you”, Aara said, looking at me, ” we were all in it together”

“It’s cool A I know what you mean”

After a round of dessert, Aara asked for our attention again…

“My inlaws will be here soon”, she said, “I’ve decided to give up the house”

“As in this house?”, Maariah asked

We all knew what this house meant to her, even though it worried us that she lived alone most of the time when her parents weren’t there.

“Yup, this house”, she said, as she looked around, “This beautiful house…and before you ask…I’m going back home”

…….

I would miss them terribly, we all would. But we understood her need to move back home and hoped that perhaps one day she would come back. I didn’t know if she would settle down in Durban permanently or even move to New Zealand because she was so tight lipped about everything these days.

Aara seemed to be on a new road of self discovery, perhaps writing about everything helped her in more ways than we knew…

As Zoheb requested in his will, she had given his manager first preference in purchasing his company and then took all of the money from its sale and built masjids in Zoheb’s name. She didn’t keep a cent from it for herself or Hana.

She had requested that her inlaws be present when she left, and had made her father in law, Maaherah’s husband, Nemo and Sahal, trustees with regard to the legal issues of the house and it’s new purpose.

She seemed to be doing things too quickly though, and I hoped that she wouldn’t get up with a shock one day soon and think that she had made one huge mistake…

————————————————–
As narrated by Aara:

I took a last walk in a house that had been my home for the larger part of the last seven years. Never did I ever imagine giving it up and it took a lot of courage to go through with it.

But the look on Mrs. Khan and all those children’s faces made me realise that I wasn’t wrong in my decision. Homes made in this world are as temporary as our lives are. It made no sense for Hana and I to live in a huge house all alone when there were so many children who had no parents, living cramped up in a small space and charity was the best way that I could preserve Zoheb’s legacy…

As I ran my fingers across the white walls, my heart found a strange contentment. We underestimate ourselves, we underestimate the strength that is given to us.

We grow to understand with time that change is mandatory to our existence, that our existence is a test that we need to pass. That every person in our lives, linked to our lives, had a right over us in some way or the other, be it through an act of kindness or a relationship.

That we must walk ahead, we must soldier on.

That life doesn’t stop.

That it was time for a new chapter.

Part 292- From My Eyes

As narrated by Nemo:

Love. A four letter word with so many meanings, so many different feelings, so many different emotions- all attached to just one word, and all of them linked to your heart. A heart that doesn’t always understand- it just loves unconditionally.

I couldn’t help but think of Aara’s words on that fateful night where we almost lost her…

“When you love someone, un-romantically, more than me…that’s when I will believe that you ever loved me”

Even I didn’t think that it was possible. But the truth was that I did love someone, un-romantically more than her, way more than her. I loved Hana. She wasn’t my biological child, but she was my child, my aspiration, my everything.

And then Zoheb’s words at the airport in Istanbul, came tumbling back…

“Maybe that little girl will be yours!”

I smiled and held my hand to my heart. This heart…and I tapped my chest gently. Love has no colour, knows no creed, no lineage, no blood ties. Love is just love.

I thanked Allah everyday for my life, for Hana and for Aara. My life was filled with so much of energy that the once quiet and sort of depressed Nemo, disappeared. I wouldn’t say that the old me was back, no, that would be wrong, rather, I would say that a new me had grown from the ruins of my once broken heart and torn soul.

Aara kept to her word and didn’t restrict me from spending time with Hana, and I ofcourse, knew where to draw the line. We were never in each other’s face everyday but the contact remained and I was thankful for that. Sometimes, while we were all at the park, I’d be running behind Hana while Aara typed away on her laptop. This book had taken up almost all of her time, but the fact that it was keeping her so occupied was a relief for all of us.

It’s funny how she seemed to be evolving as she wrote it. I’ve known her for so long, it wasn’t hard to see it. She had regained that sparkle in her eyes, she had regained the vivaciousness that used to make her stand out. She was becoming herself again, and yet changing so much. A little stronger, a little wiser.

Aara saw to it that Hana knew who her father was, as she constantly spoke about Zoheb to her, and adorable Hana would listen wide eyed in awe. She was far too young to completely comprehend any of it, but as time went by, she would understand.

Life had surely changed alot in these past few years. Zainab and Arshad had welcomed another little guy into their lives, one year old Abu Bakr was absolutely adorable! I can’t believe that I just said that! And Zainab had changed so much that it was heartwarming to see both her and Arshad together every single time.

Maariah and Immy’s triplets- 2 girls and a boy were missed by all of us. Faatima, Humairah, Yusuf and Uthmaan were on the other side of the country, all the way down in Cape Town, where Immy had taken over a huge security company. Maariah though, was loving the change of scenery and never missed an opportunity to make us jealous with all the CT pics!

I smiled to myself. Maybe some thought that I was a loner and perhaps a few still felt sorry for me, but in my heart, I had never been happier. Yeah I did wish that things could be a little bit different but it was still all good.

Looking at the book infront of me, I was instantly reminded of the reason that I had sat down in solitude in the first place. The reason why I was thinking all these thoughts…

“You need to write something in here”, Aara ordered, as she shoved this book into my hand

“Why what is this?”

“I’m almost done with the book Nemo and I want you to write something in it please”

“Oh gosh like how Frodo gave Sam the book at the end for him to write the last page???”, I said, raising my eyebrow at her

Aara looked at me, slightly bewildered for a few seconds before she broke out into a fit of laughter and I couldn’t help but smile

“Well, the only difference being that Sam was cute”, she retorted, WHILE eating another Lindor

Did I mention that her Shrek kind of appetite was back too?

“Haha…and short!”

“Bleh..just write it please, honestly, truthfully and don’t hold back. I will take it from you after I have edited everything because I need no “influencers” if you know what I mean”

‘I know what you mean”, I said, giving her a thumbs up

That would have been her que to leave but her eyes were still moving around my kitchen as though she were looking for something…

“What do you want??”

“Ermmm”, she said, still looking….”Your mother sent you those coconut things last week did you eat all of it?”

I shook my head, and with the widest grin on my face I walked over to my fridge and pulled out my mom’s “coconut things”.

“Only two left? How could you eat so many so quickly??”, she asked in disbelief

“Ay hello”, I said, tapping her forehead, “you counted 20 of which you ate like 15 and add this two it’s blerry 17!”

“You shouldn’t count when you give people food it’s downright rude”, she said with a straight face

And after a mini lecture about sharing is caring, and how too much coconut is not good for me, while finishing off the remaining two might I add, she left, but called twice thereafter to remind me to write.

And so I began….

My eyes open each day with the hope that I will see you,
My hands reach out for your tiny fingers that heal every wound that I ever had,

Your infectious laugh, the way in which your eyes smile…
It is true when they say, there is no love like that of a child.

I was a broken man who nobody needed,
One who always looked in from the outside,

But you are the only one who has given me a name, a belonging that no one can snatch,
Because of you, my small world glows,
Because of you, I know no sorrow,

I worry for you and for your future,
I pray that your life is filled with every joy, I pray that your every sadness comes to me,

You hold my whole world within your tiny fists,

You are a shining star on the dark night sky.

Because of you, I’ve realised that standing in the rain for too long will do me no good,
You are my home, you are my heart,
My sunshine, my angel.

And when blue rain falls from the skies tonight, it will wash away all that was tainted,
It will nourish the cracks of pain embedded deep in the grounds of my heart,

Because on the rainbows that blue rain brings after it pours, is a new life, a new hope,

Just as flowers bloom after it rains,
Just as birds sing after it rains,
Just as life returns after it rains,
Reminding us that it won’t rain forever, it won’t be all tears forever,
For the sun will shine, with a name…

Zoheb and Aara’s baby…Naeem’s daughter.

Hana.

——————————————————————

angels

Part 291 – An Author’s Note

As narrated by Aara

Life never stops surprising us. No matter how many tests we go through and how hard things may be there’s always something good that comes our way. For every sadness, there’s more than one joy. For every heartache, there’s more than one cure.

How long you allow that wound to be open before those tiny droplets of medicine fall in, is up to you. We drown ourselves in sorrow everyday, wasting the air that we breathe in for free , and take for granted, on unnecessary tears and excessive grief. This is not our purpose in this world, not at all.

We are all a part of the bigger picture, just sometimes we don’t see it that clearly. And that’s okay too. We are human, we fall, we make mistakes and I guess if we didn’t, we wouldn’t know the extent of the faith that we had in the One who controlled us all.

Laeeka and Riza had a baby that doctors told her she’d never have. But she did. Because HE wanted her to. Because Life and Death is in his hands.

Immy’s big family was underway…Maariah knew that she was pregnant but almost fell off the examination table when she went for her ultrasound and the doctor happily announced that she was expecting triplets!

Zainab and Arshad bounced back from an almost broken marriage simply by her acknowledging that she needed to find her way back to her Creator.

Thinking about it, left me awestruck, spellbound, enthralled. Life wasn’t amazing- my Allah is.

Everything was becoming so much clearer, so much more visual. If you stopped to just look, breathe, take it all in…

All of this played a huge part in giving me that much needed push. And I’m so glad for it.

We’ve all played some part in Riza’s scrapbook, so when I borrowed it from him, all he did was give me a big fat knowing grin! I never admitted it but he had been nagging me to write it out for a few years now, I guess there’s a time and place for everything.

Had I written this any time other than now, I would have written it from an entirely different perspective and I probably wouldn’t have valued it as much. Had I not gone through what I did, had I not learned what I learned this would have been a different story entirely.

This task, for me, was the best thing that I could have done for myself and as I flipped through the many colorful pages of this scrapbook, many treasured memories came to life in my mind once again.

I don’t remember ever imagining myself as an author, and even as I begin this “book”, I have this smug thought that I would finish it in no time at all, I mean after all, it’s all of our life stories how hard could it be because I know what had happened to all of us etc etc..

Little did I know what a mammoth task it would turn out to be….

——————————————————————————–
THREE YEARS LATER:

I lifted my head off my keyboard and moved my hand across my face. I had been drooling again. ” How could this take me three years?”, I asked myself again.

I got up and walked to my bed where Hana lay fast asleep. My beautiful little princess was growing up too quickly! She was already four years old, a total charmer and a non stop talker. Which I’m sure she inherited from me:-p
After planting a soft kiss on her cheek, I freshened up and sat at my desk once again.

I had rewritten Riza’s entire scrapbook, from everyone’s point of view, taking into account whatever they had thought mattered. My heart’s tireless pen wrote on and on, I had sat with each of them for many hours on many different days and each time that I had thought that this was the end, I’d be reminded of something else or something new would happen and I would simply have to include it.

Could there be an end since we were still alive?

Okay scrap that.

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on something positive and there he was…

I was back at the beach , dangling my feet in the water alongside Zoheb. The look on his face, the feel of the wind gently caressing my skin, the feel of the cool water against my feet, the big deep blue infront of me…

“I wonder if it ever ends”, I said aloud, knowing full well that the earth is spherical in shape but the endless ocean always swallowed that bit of knowledge

“You can go around and around and you won’t find it”, he smiled, “some things don’t have to have a physical end, they just “are”, some things can’t be explained or understood they just have to be accepted”

“I didn’t quite ask for philosophy”, I moaned

“You are but a ship on the ocean of life Applepie, there will be high and low tides, there will be rip tides, there will be storms, sometimes you will end up shipwrecked..but if you want to go home, you have to fix that ship and head back out onto the ocean”, he said in a serious tone

I splashed him a little extra for that, annoyed that my simple question yielded such a long answer that was forcing me to think when I was tired!

But that was it!

Inspiration, definitely came in doses!

——————————————————————-
A FEW DAYS LATER…

“I’m almost done”,I said happily

“Good for you sweetheart!”, Hana cheered

“Nemo has got to stop doing that”, I said as I shook my head

“Papa said don’t..”

“call him Nemo yes I know”, I grinned, “But papa is a Nemo and papa is an idiot!”

“Mummy bad word!”, she protested

Hana was Nemo’s chamchi (lol….sidekick) and wouldn’t hear anything remotely bad about him. And before she could start..I was saved in the nick of time, as Riza drove into our yard to fetch her.

“Bye baby girl”, I said, as she got into Riza’s car

Hana promptly ignored me and began complaining to Riza about me calling her papa a “bad word”.

It was so cute!

“Why do you do that Aara?”, Riza scowled playfully, “You can’t come to my house if you are going to use bad words”

My rascal smiled triumphantly as Riza continued to “scold” me.

“Papa is going to fetch Hana today, not Mummy!”, Riza said and Hana high fived him happily

I pouted, held my ears and apologized and Hana laughed with Riza.

As soon as they left, I darted back to my desk and began reading right from the beginning….

Part 290- Baby Boom

As narrated by Laeeka

I looked down at AbdurRahman, fast asleep, his tiny little fingers curled around mine. The gratitude that I felt for my Creator could not be measured for blessing me with three beautiful, perfect little soldiers.

A pang of guilt washed over me as I momentarily remembered how I had once wanted to leave Riza because of my condition. I had believed in the world and not my Allah. How could I have forgotten that life and death comes from Him alone? That if he wants a life to be born, it will, come what may. I repented silently and truthfully. A living, breathing miracle was right here in my arms…

My mother in law, as expected was on cloud nine! But what touched my heart was that she didn’t refer to Abdur Rahman as her first grandson. When she took him into her arms for the first time, with tears in her eyes, she proudly welcomed him as her third grandson. I knew then, that she had really truly accepted Yahya and Isa, long ago, as her grandchildren without any reservations at all.

I had given birth two weeks after Aara and Riza had a mini face-off in my kitchen. Aara withdrew herself from our company for a few days, and spent it on herself, and when we did see her, she was a bubbly bundle of energy!

“Atleast the noise is gone”, Riza chuckled, as he entered the room after seeing everyone out

“I’m sure that the hospital staff will be overjoyed after I get discharged tomorrow”, I laughed

The noise was our entire group who had come together to pay me a visit today! The children were obviously not allowed but Maariah, Immy, Zainab, Arshad, Nemo and Aara made more noise than a classroom full of preschoolers!
Lol..and a large part of the noise was celebratory! Maariah had been chosen to contend in Master Chef!

“Immy was so excited you’d think he’s the chef!”, Riza grinned

“Oh shush man he’s happy for his wife”

“We’re all happy for our wives”, Riza winked, as he settled down next to me

“Babe…”

“Hmmm”

“I’m really sorry…”, I said slowly

Riza looked at me questioningly…

“All those years ago, I was ready to give up on us”, I said through my tears and while looking down at our newest addition

“Heyyyy”, Riza said ever so lovingly, “It’s okay..we’re okay”

He was wrong. We were not okay. We were more than okay. We were blessed! We had our own little world inside this huge world, and that was all that mattered…

————————————————————-
As narrated by Immy

” I want a girl”

“We should want healthy normal children don’t you think”, Maariah said cheekily

“I want that too..but I want a girl”, I smiled

“Maybe it will be twins!”, Maariah said enthusiastically

My darling shared the same love that I had for a big family and our dream was coming true! Although all that we had right now was this positive pregnancy test but it was all that I needed to float above the clouds!

“Do you think we”ll be able to love another baby as much as we love Uthmaan?”

“Ofcourse we will”, I laughed, “I want lots of kids!”

Maariah rolled her eyes at me and I rolled mine back in return

“So Masterchef and a baby?”, she said, slightly worried

“You can do it pumpkin and I’m right behind you”, I said reassuringly

Maariah was passionate about her culinary skills and she was just as passionate about her family. I knew she’d be just fine.

“And to think that you thought that I was stalking you all those years ago” I teased, when she curled into my side

She giggled to herself and wrapped her arms around me.

“Well your behavior was such”, she chuckled

It’s weird but in a nice way, how everything plays out. That someone, somewhere really is made for you. Your better half, your soulmate, the one who you were destined to be with. It’s amazing how you’re alone and when that person comes into your life, you become a family. You walk past strangers and you wonder…is he/she the one that I am waiting for?? And then bam! When you least expect it, they’ve made their grand entrance into your life!

It truly is and amazingly, amazing feeling.

Not a day went by that I didn’t offer my thanks to Allah for giving me a wonderful wife and family, wonderful friends and a wonderful world.

It’s amazing how things happen like a chain reaction. How we all become joined like the pieces of a puzzle. How one thing leads to the other. From where to where and then back again…life was simply amazing.

—————————————————————————————
As narrated by Arshad:

“Are you sure about this?Like have you thought it over properly?”

“I’m not going on a rocket to Mars Arshoo”, Aara said, slightly annoyed

“I know that but you know…just asking”

“Forget about me, how are you?, how are things with you and Zai?”

A huge smile crept up onto my face…

“Never been better”, I grinned,”I didn’t even feel this way when I got married!”

“My oh my”, Aara laughed,”well I am very very happy for you because if anyone deserves it, it’s you”

“Sweeeet”, I said dramatically

“I knooooowwww”, Aara played on and our little audience consisting of all the little people stared at us as though there was something stuck in our noses!

We were hanging up cute welcome home decor for the arrival of Riza and Laeeka’s baby, it was going to be a surprise and that’s why we hadn’t even told Riza about it!

“Perfect”, Aara said, as she smiled at the last crystal ball that she hung near the doorway,”for a perfect miracle baby”

“I know right”, Zainab smiled, entering the lounge with two large trays of baking,”she’s going to love it!”

“I love it already”, I winked, and Zainab blushed instantly

“Oh for Pete’s sake get a room already”, Nemo moaned from under the table

“Who’s Pete?”, Adnaan asked

“Ask your father”, Nemo said cheekily

“Daddy…”

Oh Adnaan and his questions!

I was in love with my wife all over again and it felt fantastic! Ever since she had come back, we’ve been awesome and I pray that it always stays this way.

Hopefully we’d have no more drama coming our way for a while, but even if it did…I think that we were pretty strong enough by now to be able to tackle it.

While Nemo and Aara blew balloons with the kids, Zainab gently pulled me into the kitchen. With her arms around my neck, she whispered happily into my ear…

“We’re having a baby” ……

Part 289- It’s Your Road Alone

As narrated by Nemo:

I was up earlier than usual on this gloomy sunday morning, which was uncommon because I loved my sleep! We had finished off so late at Aara’s house, and Sahal still came over for a long chat after that. It felt like old times again, and it felt good. The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves with Hana and were all over Aara because of all the gifts that she had bought them!

I had showered and readied myself and was about to enjoy a nice breakfast that I had prepared for myself when my phone rang…

Aara.

“I’m outside. Lock up and come down”, she said without greeting or giving me a chance to talk

Okay…

I stuffed a biscuit into my mouth, quickly covered my breakfast, locked up and headed downstairs as fast as I could. She sounded edgy…I wondered what this was about.

“Everything okay?”, I asked

“Get in”, she said bluntly, without so much as looking at me

I worriedly obliged, and fastened my seat belt.

“Aara?”

She didn’t answer me, and drove faster than she normally does. The way in which she held the steering wheel, the way in which she looked at the cars infront of her, the way in which her face reddened with every passing second, spoke volumes. I had only witnessed this Aara once before and that seemed like a lifetime ago.

It was pointless talking to her right now so I let it be and looked ahead. I didn’t want to get myself killed by trying to be a co-pilot. Nope that was reserved for parents.

She drove and drove until she reached our infamous hill. The same hill that she ,Riza and Arshad chased me around in circles a long time ago, the same hill that the four of us had an in ice cream breakfast at when all our lives were upside down. This hill was like part of our family!

I accidentally said that aloud and she shot me a killer look. It’s cool I’ll just wait.

I followed her as she walked, still in silence, and when we finally got to a landing, she stopped and turned to face me.

“Why don’t you want to get married?”

“You brought me all the way here, starving mind you, to ask me this??”, I asked, stunned by the nature of her question

“Answer the question Nemo!”, she snapped

“Because I don’t, that’s why”, I said honestly

Aara looked me in the eye and I swallowed hard…

“So if I had to say to you that I wanted to get married to you, you would say no?”

I felt like I had been shot in the dark and words had suddenly failed me…

“Would you say no?”, she repeated angrily

“What are you asking me?”, I said as gently as possible

“A simple question Nemo, would you say no?”

I could see waves of irritation flicker across her face…

“No”, I whispered

And then an expression that I had never seen before on her face, replaced her anger and it shook me…

“No what??”, she said loudly, ” No you won’t marry me or no, you would marry me??”

“Aara calm down…”

“I need an answer dammit!!!”, she shouted

“No! I wouldn’t say no! I would never say no!”, I shouted back

She started at me, as tears pooled in her eyes and just as suddenly she angrily pushed me with both her hands.

“Aara what is going on..”I asked, …my heart pounding in my chest

“I wouldn’t say yes”, she said, her voice filled with anger

I took a deep breath in…”I know”

This was the thing. This thing between us was something that I couldn’t describe. WHY was it so hard to move on from it WHY WHY WHY!!!

Aara was seething!

“Can we just sit down and talk like civilized people?”, I asked and after a few moments of hesitation, she sat down

“Now tell me what’s going on will you… please?”

“Really? You don’t know?”, she asked sarcastically

“Aara I don’t know what this is about okay”

And when she told me…I was blown away. What I had feared, had happened. My closeness with Hana had given our elders the wrong idea somewhere..and somewhere it had shattered a part of the trust that Aara had in me.
After she had gotten married, we naturally and obviously drifted apart. Once Zoheb passed away, it took me months to get through to her and the wall that she had built around her..and now when things were slowly starting to get back to normal..this happens.

I knew what she was going through, because for almost 7 years I am stuck in the same place, she lost Zoheb a little over a year ago..how could they expect her to move on like this and in this way??

“They don’t realise that he is in my soul…I can’t do this”, she whispered as a tear fell from her eye

“I know”, I smiled softly

“I’m really sorry…”she said without looking at me, “this pain is sometimes so unbearable..I don’t know how you…”

Pain. Pain can be decisive and destructive. Which of the two it is…is entirely up to you.

“It gets better Aara..”, I said. But I would never truly know that because our circumstances were different.

“We never really spoke about it…”, she said slowly, and I could see that she was starting to feel guilty for her outburst

“What should I tell you?”, I smiled, “that I am an idiot, that I could never forget you, that I went to Detroit to get away from you…that when I saw you again in the snow in Istanbul my heart leaped with joy…that I was genuinely happy for you, that my happiness was in your happiness…would you believe it because it’s so damn filmy…but movies take ideas from real life and when it really does happen in real life, we rubbish it off as being filmy..but it is what it is, isn’t it?”

She looked at me and then looked down…

We sat in a comfortable silence together for a few minutes, until a chuckle escaped my lips

“What do you want?”, I asked gently

“To be left alone…to live a little..to just have things be normal”, she smiled

I nodded. I perfectly understood what she meant.

“You know, I’ve never told anyone this and just Zoheb, me and our doctor knew this but..when I was expecting Hana, the doctor had picked up a life threatening complication”, she said after a while

“WHAT?”

“shhh..it’s fine now but at the time she had told us that the chances of either me or Hana surviving was very low and that we should prepare ourselves for the worst..we were very shocked and upset but Zoheb would smile and say that whatever Allah wills, will happen and we should accept it, He will suffice us”

My heart was still pounding in my chest despite the fact that Aara and Hana were okay.

“We made so much of dua Nemo…and look at it, both Hana and I were fine. Zoheb was over the moon, I had never seen him as happy as he was the moment that he saw Hana..he would have made a great father”

Tears filed in my eyes as I immediately remembered how Zoheb held Hana the day before he passed away…

“But that is life isn’t it…medically Hana and I were in danger, but we are fine. There was nothing wrong with him, and he passed away”, she said softly…”I know about death and how we are advised to deal with it but it still took me some time to accept it completely and I’m on that road Nemo…I can’t turn back now”

“So don’t”, I said, shrugging my shoulders, “don’t turn back, it’s your road Aara no one calk walk it for you, but someone can walk it with you…”

She looked at me questioningly…

“How long have we known each other..some 25 odd years?”, I asked, “Best friends..friends..a friend is just that Aara..a friend. I don’t want or expect anything else of you. I know the circumstances and the rules but right now all I can see is us all those years ago. For the sake of that friendship Aara please don’t cut me out of your’s and Hana’s lives…I want to be there for you, within reason, without being in your face all the time..”

Because I had learned to live without you, I had learned to be happy without expecting anything in return from you. Knowing that you are happy, knowing that you are okay, was all that I needed…

“Don’t worry about what anyone says I will speak to them. We both know that they mean well and they are just worried about you, and I know that we don’t need to because you are tough on your own, so relax okay”

She never said a word and just looked at the stem of grass so intently that I wondered for a second if she would start writing an essay on it!

“There isn’t a day that goes by without me wondering how things would be if he was still alive, I really miss him”, she whispered

The one who she longed for, she couldn’t see. The one who I longed for, was infront of me. But both of us couldn’t have what we wanted.

Life. Love. Destiny.

“Remember that daffodil of yours?”, I asked, as tears built up in my eyes. But they weren’t tears of sadness or remorse or regret…no..they were tears of pain, they were the tears that fell when you shared your pain with a friend, the tears that fell when you shared the pain of a friend…

“Zaara was it?”, I grinned..”Zoheb and Aara”

She smiled and nodded.

“That daffodil grew from a seed Aara..eventually you transplanted it and what happened?”

“What happened?”, she asked curiously

“It spread…”, I said, rolling my eyes at her

Aara looked up at me as she realised what I was trying to say…

“Look I’m no florist and I don’t know how daffodils grow but your entire front yard is covered in daffodils….from the ONE that you both planted, and from what I can remember from school…the wind carries its seeds as well, so you have no idea how many more daffodils there are in this world…from your one plant”

That was good philosophy alright! I actually shocked myself for a moment there!

“The same with life Aara…one good deed, one smile, good character..it doesn’t die, it’s always remembered”

A fresh lot of tears built up in Aara’s eyes. Eyes that had always seen the toughest of situations, eyes that had always cried more than her fair share of tears…

She cried. And I cried and it reminded me of a time long ago…Where had we come from, how far had we journeyed. Our paths may be different, but they were always side by side.

A relationship that was always hard to define, one that broke many barriers, one that crumbled, one that rejoined.

One that remained.