Once upon a time there was a little boy named Naeem and a little girl called Aara.
Naeem: will you be my friend? (Wiping his nose with his hand)
Aara: Never! (Horrified look on her face)
Aara’s mum: now now Aara you shouldn’t be rude, he’s so sweet and he wants to be your friend
Aara: mum look at his nose!
Aara’s mum never did forget that day. The first day of the new school year. Aara would be in grade 1. All the kids parents were present, except for this little boys parents.
“Where’s your mummy sweetie?”, Aara’s mum had asked little Naeem.
“She didn’t come”, he said as he shrugged his shoulders.
He looked lost and alone and she had felt a pang in her heart.
“Baby, mummy wants you to be this sweet little boys friend”,she said as she wiped his nose with a tissue from her purse.
Aara could never refuse her mother and hesitatingly shook Naeem’s hand.
“I’m Aara” she said.
“My name is Naeem” he replied softly
And so began a lifetime of friendship. As much as Aara teased Naeem and tried to avoid him during the breaks (because mummy wasn’t there to tell her what to do),Naeem always followed her everywhere she went. He even sat next to her in class.
And slowly Aara began to enjoy his company, she was too young to realise this little boys life was not like hers. Everyday after school while Aara’s mummy was there to fetch her, Naeem was picked up in a long black car and the driver never got out.
Aara’s mum took Naeem’s mum’s number from his teacher so she could invite him home during the holidays.
And during the holidays, the same black car would drop and fetch Naeem from Aara’s home almost every day. Aara’s parents decided to go and meet Naeems parents.
It was awkward. Naeem’s father wasn’t there, and even though Aara’s mum called and made arrangements, Naeem’s mum was also on her way out. ” I’m so sorry, my husband needs me to meet with some of his clients for lunch, so last-minute” she said out on the driveway, ” thanks for dropping Naeem though” and with that she drove out.
“Honey, who’s going to be at home with you?” Aara’s mum asked. “My sisters and my brother are with my Nani in Jo’burg, it’l be me and Aunty Dora” he replied.
Aara’s dad advised Aara’s mum to let it go. They had no right to question Naeem’s parents on their apparent lack of interest in their child’s life. But they would care for Naeem the way they cared for Aara whenever he came home.
Naeem had grown so fond of Aara’s parents and their home had become his home.
And so the years passed. Aara and Naeem became the best of friends, through pimples,braces,pigtails,volleyball,parties,study groups,laughter and tears Naeem and Aara became inseparable. Right through high school and even on campus. Aara’s parents allowed her to study in Jhb simply because Naeem would be there to protect her. “Ya right”, Aara laughed when Naeem had told her that” your parents are probably sending you because they know I”ll be there to watch over YOU!”
Naeem was intelligent and quiet. Aara was intelligent and mischievous and Naeem always ended up saving her when she got up to her pranks.
Then came campus. Naeem had evolved!She even gave him his nickname! Nemo! She said he had reminded her of the little fish Nemo, always inquisitive and getting himself into trouble and because he was fast becoming a ‘slippery ‘character,because It was suddenly girl after girl for Naeem. Aara had given him a make over when they had started campus and the make over sparked something none of them had anticipated! Naeem became a babe magnet. He had always been very handsome but now with finesse and style, even the female professors were shy to reprimand him. Aara’s best friend was suddenly xyz’s boyfriend. Not that she minded, she had a bunch of friends, some old and some new.
Naeem’s parents lavished their money upon the son they never cared for, he had gotten everything. A stunning flat, a fast car,an unlimited credit card.
They would still do things together but each was happy in their own space. Aara knew what she wanted and Naeem suddenly had no idea what he wanted. He was free for the first time in years!
Some of the best years of their lives by far. Then came graduation and work. Well work for some. Naeem had qualified in law, and was now set to do his articles. But what was he doing? Anything but work! Everyday it seemed was a party, every minute a minute to enjoy. While Aara on the other hand dedicated her time to her job. She had gotten herself a job at a leading Lifestyle magazine as assistant editor and she was allowed to freelance as a journalist when she had the time, all she wanted to do was work her way up. And so she is.
While they are still the best of friends,Naeem is realising something and he isn’t liking it at all. All he can see in front of him is the little girl who held his hand when no one else did, the pretty teenager who chose to be his partner at the Prom when all the other girls wouldn’t, the effervescent young girl who impulsively jumped onto the stage at a stupid campus concert to back him up when he was let down, the friend who would pick him up when he ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere, the shoulder he cried on after his many break ups, the beautiful and strong young woman she had become. She was the one he had always wanted…
Someone else had come in between. Someone else seemed to be destined to be Aara’s prince charming..
And no, it wasn’t the guy Aara had been secretly hung up on throughout campus. It could never be because Aara seemed to have forgotten him.
There was a new entry…courtesy of Riza.
And Naeem really hated the sight of his handsome face!
What Naeem didn’t know though was that this, was just the beginning…