“So here’s what we’re going to do, you sit there while I see to my patients,in that way you will be able to see everything I’m doing” Arshad said as he passed me a chair. This felt like I was in detention! “So I’m just going to sit here from now till you close and observe?” I asked very sarcastically.
Arshad: what do you want to do?
That tone,that tone grrrrrr
Zainab: something other than sitting preferably
Arshad: well Nancy does all the paperwork, I handle the patients. Unless you want to sweep my office because Anna hasn’t come in yet?
Hah he didn’t see that one coming! I dutifully asked Nancy where the broom was and started cleaning Arshad’s consulting room. He had this stupified look on his face that had “unbelievable” written all over it. I didn’t mind though, I was a neat freak and sweeping my friends workspace wasn’t beneath me.
“Move” I said as I shoved the broom under his desk. And I made sure I banged his desk a few times from underneath. Not long after the sweeping was done and I started wiping all his frames and started to neaten his desk when Anna walked in horrified! ” Doctor wena tolile lo mooye ga enza lom sebenz ga meena” ( doctor have you found someone else to do my work) Arshad laughed and explained that I was his friend who was here to spend the day with him and that he couldn’t possibly replace her with anyone. Anna gave me a somewhat victorious look, took away the duster that I was using and began to do her work. That just about left me with nothing to do once again.*sigh*
It was now 2 hours and Arshad hadn’t had a single patient. He was reading a book! And I just sat there staring at the ceiling.
“Is it always this quiet?” I asked hesitatingly
He put down his book, took off his spectacles and looked at me.
Me: well how often do you get patients?
Arshad: everyday Zainab. I actually didn’t take any appointments this morning because I was supposed to meet someone but I had to cancel because of Riza’s little note.
I felt guilty. He cancelled because of me. Well he could have said so, we could have done this another day.
Me: we can do this another day Arshad, you should go and meet your someone
Arshad: its not necessary. I’ve rescheduled and besides I gave Riza my word
Me: ok ( really I didn’t have anything else to say, if I said I were bored I would never have heard the end of it)
Arshad: can I ask you a question? And please I have no intention of making you feel bad so if you feel I’m crossing the line you can tell me I will understand
Me: ofcourse you can. Even if I feel bad its not going to stop you so shoot away
Did I just say that? I felt as though a lecture was about to come on…
Me: ask me
Arshad: I’ve been meaning to ask you this ever since I saw that video clip at Riza’s. Is there something holding you back from doing what you want to do?
I got off my chair, walked across the room and closed the door. “I don’t need to ask you if I can trust you because I do” I said and I pulled my chair to face him across his desk.
Me: the person you saw in that video is who I was once, a part of me will always be her. Back then I knew what I wanted to do. it was so easy and so simple but at the same time I was on campus. Looking around at everyone else I felt so odd. Every girl had a boyfriend, if not a boyfriend there was atleast someone they had a crush on. So did I…one of the cutest guys on campus and I did everything to get his attention. When I say everything, I mean I used to walk past him a million times a day, sit across him at the library, I even psyched myself up to go out on saturday nights at Melrose Arch to be seen or so that I could say I was also there if anyone asked. Slowly, it became somewhat of an obsession if I may say so and one day what I dreamt of came true. This guy came up to me and asked me if I would join their study group. As you can imagine I was on cloud 9. So here I was, in a study group full of male and female bimbos . You do get male bimbos by the way.
I didn’t realise it then but I was just being used. This guy, Faheem used to sweet talk me into doing his assignments , copying his notes, eventually pick up his laundry and even go to the cafeteria for him. If ever it looked as though I was getting irritated, he would tell me something like” if only the other girls were like you” or “zainab you’re adorable” and as expected I would be so happy I would forget everything and follow his commands.
One day before our study group session I decided that I was going to ask him what he thought of me and indirectly ask if we had a future together. As I approached the room I could hear two people talking so I stopped to listen in.
Faheem: come on babe I’m sorry
Maahera(the girl he was talking to): you don’t spend much time with me. But you’ve got time for that mousy stupid Zainab
I have to admit hearing the first half of her sentence made me feel good. And then came the bomb
Faheem: o please man. I just use her to do my work. She means nothing to me. And the only “time” I give her is when I tell her what to do
Maahera: aren’t you sneaky (and she put her arms around his neck)
Faheem: well doll, all of you are benefiting from my sneakiness. Without her help most of us would have failed by now and babe please I have some standards look at you and look at her do you really think I’d fall for someone like her? She’s like another version of Ugly Betty
I dropped the books I was holding and they turned around in shock
Faheem: zainab please its not what you think
Maahera: stop it Faheem she’s not deaf and yes Zainab it is what you think. Wipe that smitten look off your face he DOESN’T like you. You’re never going to “end up” with him. He used you and you should get used to it because if you’re going to be like this all your life that’s what’s going to happen!
Needless to say, I was heartbroken. I picked up my books and walked away. Tears rolled down my cheeks all the way to the washroom. Laeeka was in there and I told her everything. She didn’t say a word, she just hugged me. The next day I heard that Maariah and Aara had given Faheem a mouthful but I was just tired Arshad. All my life this is who I was and in a moment it all just came crashing down. I dropped out of campus and left home to live with an aunt of mine in Middleburg. My aunt had a salon and boutique thing in one so most of my days were spent there. Slowly I started experimenting and the product of change is what you see infront of you. I did go back to campus but adjusting after 8 months and now my friends were all in their final year. I realised that I had lost something I probably wouldn’t get back. Faheem actually came up to me and asked if he knew me and I said no, he then asked if I’d like to join him for coffee and I said no! That was liberating and I was on a new high. But life had already changed. I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore. The old Zainab wanted to become an accountant but the new Zainab didn’t want to anymore. I was enjoying the attention and the freedom I had being the new me. But appearance doesn’t change ones character and soon enough even the happiness that came with it went away. I don’t know what I want to do
Arshad listened intently, without saying a word. He just stared while I had my head down. I didn’t cry.
Arshad: I’m sorry Zai I admit I always looked down on you because you wasted your days away. I didn’t know you had to go through so much
Me: (with a smile) never judge a book by its pretty cover
Arshad: I guess
Me: now you know…so that’s it. Now I feel as though I’m stuck. I don’t know which way to go, its not as though I haven’t tried but nothing seems to click if you know what I mean
And before Arshad could answer, the door opened and in walked a pretty girl with a green scarf and a packet in her hand. Hmm it looked like it might have been take out..
“Oops I didn’t know you had company” she said, with a half shocked expression.
“No its ok Faseeha come in, this is my friend Zainab, Zainab this is Faseeha” we shook hands and then it became awkward.
“This is Faseeha, his prospective bride” she said with half a laugh. Half a laugh? Nevermind.
I looked at Arshad in surprise, his face had turned beet red.
“Well now Faseeha don’t send Zainab into shock, Zai I would have told you guys I just didn’t get a chance. Nothings confirmed, we are just getting to know each other” Arshad explained.
“Okay cool, I’m going to leave you two to get know each other. Don’t want to be a third wheel”, I winked at them as I got my bag off the chair.
“Where are you going?” Arshad asked quickly
“Home” , I replied softly
“Take my car” and he passed his keys to me.
I couldn’t help but look at Faseeha and she had this “don’t you dare” look on her face.
“Its fine Arshad, cya” and I walked out before he could say anything else.
My house was a distance away from Arshad’s surgery and at that time all I could think about was” walk zainab walk as fast as you can.” Tears fell from my eyes uncontrollably. I don’t know for how long I had been walking but soon enough a car pulled up beside me and hooted.
“Zai get in the car”. It was Arshad.
I carried on walking. “Zai get in the car please” he begged
Who was I kidding? I’d end up with holes in my shoes by the time I reached home, so I jumped in…the back seat. Arshad didn’t say anything. I didn’t really know why I was crying but I couldn’t stop.
When we reached my house, I got off and without saying a word I walked straight to my room and cried into my pillow for hours…