Part 23- When happiness knows no bounds..

Sunny Haven Old Age Home…why did orphanges and old age homes have names like that? Is it only sunny here? ℓ☺ℓ sorry its just me being me. I wonder what’s there that Riza wants us to go there. Maybe we were going to do some voluntary work or something. I couldn’t think of any other reason until…until I saw Maariah’s face when she got into my car.
Was it possible that Riza had found him?
Me: Hey sweets
Maariah: hey u
And that was all that I could muster myself to tell her. I didn’t want to raise her hopes, we had been to numerous old age homes, shelters and hospitals searching for him and each time we came back without any luck, each time I had to witness this wonderful girl’s heart break. So we drove in silence. This Sunny Haven was almost two hours away and I looked at Mari a few times as she clutched onto that pamphlet Riza had sent her.
When we finally got there, she got off the car before me and started walking quickly towards the entrance.
“Mari wait”I called out as I ran up behind her and grabbed her by her hand.
She looked at me surprised.
“I don’t want you going in there with any expectation okay, if its nothing, we’re going to walk out like nothing happened. And we’re going to keep searching for him no matter what it takes..I need you to know that ok”
Maariah hugged me . ” You know, you just pretend to be stone cold”
I hugged her back. “Let’s go”I said and we started walking towards the entrance. We had been instructed to meet a Mr.Junaid and when we did he seemed extra pleased to see us. Weird. He handed us an envelope and wished us good luck. Mari read the note aloud “He’s here” and without another word being said she ran off down the corridor, opening the doors that she passed,looked inside and rushed off again. This went on for what seemed like ages, this place was huge! It was corridor upon corridor and then a huge dining room, a huge tv room, a huge gym,I was out of breath by now. “Maariah!”I screamed but she wouldn’t stop. Finally when she had reached the garden, she stopped. She looked around slowly, by then I was standing next to her. She had a frantic look in her eyes and then suddenly…we spotted towards the far left hand side of this huge Zen garden, an old man sitting on a bench in a white kurta, his back towards us. Mari hesitated at first, I held her hand and slowly walked towards him. We stood behind him for a few seconds and I motioned her to go infront..and she did so..slowly. It was as if it were playing out in slow motion…Mari stood infront of this old man and burst out crying as she fell to her knees with her face in her hands. I rushed to her side when I looked up and was stunned to silence for a few seconds. I couldn’t believe it! I could kiss Riza right now! “Mari its your Nana” I shouted in excitement. Mari looked up at the old man,crying and smiling at the same time. ” 2 years Nemo, 2 long years” she said as she reached out to hold his hand. He flinched. She stood up and leaned over to hug him. He quickly stood up and started to walk away from us. “Nana” she cried as she followed him. ” Who are you?”,he asked in shock.

Mari stood numbed to the spot. “Nana its Maariah, your grand daughter” I said
“Oh”,he said with a confused look on his face. He then patted her on her head and walked away.
“He doesn’t remember you” a voice said behind us. It was Mr.Junaid. “He has alzheimers”
“What?”,I said in shock.
“When he was brought to us, he couldn’t tell us his name, address, families names, he used to occasionally say the name Zeenath but that’s all, he came in here 6 months ago, very dishelved and we’ve had to handle him with extra care because of his condition. We only got to know last night that he was Mr. Ebrahim Paruk, I’m sorry my child, your nana doesn’t remember you at all”
Maariah wiped her tears and said with a smile “It’s ok, he doesn’t remember who I am, but I still remember who he is”

Those words echoed in my head non stop, Maariah had called her parents. Her mother was overwhelmed with emotion. Because of Nana’s condition the facility refused to allow them to take him home but encouraged them to come and spend time with him and build a friendship with him so he would learn to trust them. It made sense. I didn’t get a chance to speak to her much not that I minded, she was so excited. It was the first time in a very long time that I had seen Maariah so happy! I made my way out alone and left Mari with her family.

This was it..if I didn’t act now I would also end up old and alone. And it wasn’t just about having someone, it was about loving someone, making a life with that someone…and I made a resolve to tell that to that someone! It was now or never…today I was going to tell Aara exactly how I felt!
Happiness and excitement exploded inside me as I thought of all my moments spent with Aara. I can’t believe how stupid I had been, I’ve known Aara for almost 15 years and its taken me so long to realise what she means to me.
We did everything together as kids, best friends in school, on campus and still together after campus.

Filled with a new hope, a new desire and a new and overwhelming feeling of anticipation…I bought a bunch of roses and drove in the direction of Aara’s flat…

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old

Nabeelah..

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