I didn’t have the courage to look up at Zoheb, but I could feel his eyes still on me…and thankfully Sahal had come back to us in the nick of time so I was saved…whew
Sahal: sister we need to start moving..I have to help dad for tonight
Me: wow no laziness…I’m surprised!
Sahal: yeah yeah….Zoheb it was a pleasure meeting you…when are you going back to Jhb?
Zoheb: saturday night or sunday…I haven’t decided as yet
Sahal: ok I’ll get your number from Aara and I’ll give you a call. We must meet up before you go back
Zoheb: no probs bro
And we woke up to leave. Sahal and Zoheb walked ahead of me, talking again, while I trailed behind slowly…
I kept looking at her but she had her head down and her cheeks had turned a shade of cerise…I could have sat there and stared at her for hours…I had finally plucked up the courage to tell her what I had told her! Call it an impulsive move but this girl had been on my mind ever since I met her…and even though I tried to stay away there was just something about her that kept drawing me to her. She was a bundle of energy, gorgeousness, intelligence, naughtiness, simplicity and so much more all rolled into one. She was unlike anyone I had ever met in my entire life. I felt myself drawn to her like a moth to a flame…when we were leaving the beach, Aara walked alone behind us and when I turned to look, she was doing her own version of hopscotch..hopping over seashells and childrens sandcastles..and the kids found it so amusing…the wind blowing her open hair…her laughter…I didn’t want to see her go, I really wanted to ask her to go out with me that night or tomorrow…here it would be just us..in jhb there’s so much more to contend with. But I didn’t get a chance to and we said our goodbyes and I headed off to my hotel.
Less than an hour later my phone rang…it was Aara!
Me: hi ( I was so tempted to say “missing me already?”)
Aara: hi…do you have plans for later?
Me: (big smile) nope why?
Aara: because my mum is giving me the third degree here after Sahal told her that one of my friends from Jhb is here alone and my mums words and I quote ” and my dimwitted son and daughter don’t have enough braincells to rub together and think to call this child for a meal!!” So…what I’m saying is..please will you join us for supper tonight?
Me: Aara ..breathe..
Aara: I can’t…my mum is standing right infront of me! ℓ☺ℓ . You have to say yes because if you don’t she will probably come and pick you up, you don’t know this woman she’s a little psycho…(Ouch maaaa) (laughing)
Me: (ℓ☺ℓ ) tell your mum she doesn’t have to worry about me, really I’m fine. Thanks for the invite but she shouldn’t stress man ( who was I kidding- I really did want to go)
Aara: you did NOT just say that! Maa he doesn’t want to come
Me: Aara Aara…okay I’ll come
Aara: (ℓ☺ℓ ) thank you…I’ll send you my address just punch it into your gps
Me: okay..and what can I bring?
Aara: just bring yourself
Me: I can’t come empty handed
Aara: ofcourse you can
Me: please help me
Aara: hmmmm…cake? Biscuits? Chocolates? Although you don’t need to worry mums taken care of everything
Me: errr and dress code?
Aara: (laughing) wear a suit that should be fine..
Me: Aara come on!
Aara: casual man we’re having a braai..shorts and tshirt or jeans..just be comfortable..and its not going to be another aunty rukaya and family scene so be calm
Me: is it going to be like a big family thing?
Aara: somewhat…but you”ll enjoy it. Sahal is there and…
Aara:.. so am i
Me: ( blowing imaginary kisses into the phone)
Aara: what was that sound?
Me: what sound?
Aara: ok nevermind…I have to go..please try and be here by 6:30?
Me: ok 🙂
So there I was, outside Aara’s parents house…still in my car..just going through everything in my head. I was armed with two Death By Chocolate cakes and a bunch of flowers for Aara’s mum. I checked my teeth in the mirror again and my hair just in case. I had decided to go casual in blue jeans and a slim fit black v neck. “You can do this” I told myself as I dialed Aara and told her that I was outside. The large black gates opened and I drove into this massive yard and there were so many cars parked there! This was a rather large braai! Aara was already outside.
Me: hey…there’s so many cars here…you sure its a braai not a wedding?
Aara: ℓ☺ℓ I have a rather large extended family and everytime I come to Durban my parents have everyone over because I don’t get to see them often enough
Me: (taking out the cakes and flowers from the back seat) oh ok that’s nice
Me: don’t get happy they aren’t for you (with a smirk)
Aara: (with a raised eyebrow)
Me: they’re for your mum
Aara: how thoughtful!
I suppressed the urge to smile. Ofcourse I had bought her something too but I wasn’t going to give it to her right now.
Aara’s parents house was huge, I was really nervous when I entered the lounge full of ladies and made a soft salaam. They just stared at me for a few seconds before they greeted back. “Don’t go cutting your fingers now, he’s not Yusuf (A.S)” Aara chuckled. “I’ll take that as a compliment anyway”,I whispered to her.
A pretty lady approached me and said ” welcome to our home Zoheb, I’m Salma,Aara’s mummy”
I greeted her back and said ” now I know where Aara gets her good looks from”
Aunty Salma laughed and said “quite the charmer are we, and why did you bring all these things?”(Looking at the cakes)
Me: this is for you Aunty Salma(handing her the flowers), thanks for inviting me
Aunty Salma: its a pleasure son. Please make yourself at home..Aara take him in the back by everyone else
Aara: yes mom (rolling her eyes)
We walked through this huge dining room and then through an even bigger kitchen and finally out the back door. By the looks of it, this was one family who loved entertaining. The back yard was buzzing. Aara introduced me to her dad, he seemed like a nice guy and then to all her uncles and finally to a large group of youngsters sitting alongside the pool.
Aara: guys and girls this is my friend Zoheb, Zoheb this is everyone!
And all the guys stood up and shook my hand. Sahal bolted over and shouted to a guy by the name of Zubair ” this is the ou I was telling you about, come Zoheb” and with that I was whisked off to sit in the company of die hard car fanatics.
The company was great actually, the guys were fun but Aara was in her own group chatting away. I suppose I couldn’t expect her to babysit me! She was a sight to behold though…long blue denim dress, capped sleeves, pretty denim sandals, no jewellery except for a tiny pair of diamond earings and a bracelet on her right wrist. Her hair gripped in the centre and the rest of it opened. Finally she came up to us…
Aara: guys let’s eat and I’m taking Zoheb with me
Zubair: oo only Zoheb must come with you and what about us your lifelong cousins?
Zoheb: I’m fine Aara you go ahead I’ll come with them
Sahal: yeah its cool sis we’ll come just now
Aara: you guys can come just now but YOU come with me
And she held my hand and literally pulled me away
Me: what was that all about?
Aara: I know my brother and my cousins, they will only wake up from there after my mother starts screaming at them to move. And you with them, will eat like a little bird. You’re sitting with me
Me: ( I couldn’t help but smile) yes mam!
I was only too happy to be with her and was true to her word, she sat next to me at this huge table set up in this massive glass veranda and everyone sat together. And she was right because soon enough I could hear Aunty Salma shouting for Sahal to “get a move on” and come and eat. I didn’t touch anything, that would make me look forward but damn was my mouth watering…the food was awesome…chicken, wors, chops, steak,sosatis, sausages and probably about 20 different types of salads,pastas and other braai “extras” as they called it.
Me: I will
Me: (ℓ☺ℓ ) I will I will…relax
But Aara was Aara and she started to dish out for me
Me: stop stop…what are you doing?
She laughed and put a bottle of 2lt coke infront of me to block my plate
Aunty Salma: Zoheb are you ok? Aara please make sure he eats properly
Me: I’m fine aunty Salma thanks
Aara: you’re such a throw up
Me: in what way?
Aara: flowers, cakes, flattering my mother…
Aara: so what?
Me: that’s what I’m asking you? (Smile)
Aara: *sigh* nothing
Me: not so much a tigress here as you are in jhb are you (smirking)
Aunty 1: what are you two whispering about? Tell us too
Aara: (whispering) I’ll show you tigress…wait and watch
Aara: Aunty Ayesha, Zoheb was just telling me how tasty everything is. But I’m telling him to eat and he just won’t listen!
Aunty Ayesha: nonsense! Akbar, Aara’s friend is shy to eat -you know what to do *winking at Aara*
Zoheb: (whispering) what are you doing????
And very soon one of the more talkative men came up to me and piled up my plate with a little of everything!!
Uncle Akbar: you musnt feel shy son, we are all family. Eat and enjoy yourself!
Me: (whispering ) I’m gonna get you!
Aara: in your dreams…
Me: well that’s where it begins doesn’t it (smirk)
Aara turned pink! I was enjoying this! She was now at a loss for words!
Me: what happened? Cat got your tongue?
Aunty Ayesha: what happened now? Again whispering
Aara: (pinching me) he says you talk too much Aunty Ayesha
Me: I did not…Aunty Ayesha she’s lying!…(Whispering to Aara okay okay I’m sorry stop it now)
Aunty Salma: Aara will never stop her nonsense…he’s your friend why are you troubling him?
Aunty Salma: what maaa? Zoheb this one will never grow up
Zoheb: (laughing) Aunty Salma I’m not going to comment on that…you have a very dangerous daughter!
And everyone laughed. The youngsters said that this was Aara in her element. This wasn’t Aara in her true element though…she was more well behaved here ℓ☺ℓ !
After the braai and the desserts and I was so stuffed, and most of the guests had left and it was just Aara, her parents,Sahal and few of her cousins…and we were sitting in the dining room and talking. Aunty Salma had lots of questions for me about New Zealand and my family. It turned out to be such a lovely night, her family was amazing, nothing at all like mine, and her parents especially were so warm and friendly, I could see where Aara and Sahal got their vibrant personalities from.
Aunty Salma and Uncle Hussain (Aara’s dad) left us youngsters alone to chat and even then the boys decided to go outside by the pool, leaving just us.
Aara: let’s go for a walk (grabbing a scarf)
Zoheb: now??? Where???
Aara: in the garden man
This garden was magnificent, beautifully landscaped with several water features all around. We sat on a big wooden swing and Aara made me kick off my shoes as she took off her sandals.
It was beautiful. The sky was clear, the moon shining so brilliantly…like something out of a novel or a movie.
Aara: what are you thinking?
Me: everything is so perfect…you’re so lucky you know that…you have wonderful parents, a brother who cares, a huge hillarious extended family…thanks for inviting me I really had a good time…its the first time I’ve experienced something like this
Aara: you’re welcome…life hey…I take all of this for granted because this is the way I grew up
Me: I know my parents probably cared at some point in my life but that was so long ago that I don’t even remember
Aara: have you tried talking to them?
Me: in my own way, yes and no..its a long story…and then I “escaped” to london
Aara: and that’s where you met her?
I kept quiet.
Aara: I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.it just came out…you don’t have to answer it
Me: its okay…its not something worth hiding…yeah I met her in london, I ….I thought I was in love. I mean here I am, a boy nobody cared about, I had just one friend and he came to London with me. And then suddenly there’s this beautiful girl who’s so interested in me and I gave in. I was happy. She told me what I wanted to hear I guess. I was with her for just over a year when I found her with my best friend..together…and I realised then that I was just being used. For months, she tried to get back with me, but the sight of them together played back over and over in my head. This was the girl I thought I would marry. She was the only happiness I knew and it was all a lie…..eventually London became too small for me, I used to feel suffocated and alone. That’s when I met Riza one day…after years. That’s how I got the idea of coming back to south africa…best decision of my life….so that’s my story Aara
Aara didn’t say a word.
Me: I’m sorry I know its a bit too much to take in
Aara: no its not that, I’m sorry…I trouble you so much and I irritate you so much…and you’ve already been through so much
Me: (small laugh) don’t ever stop troubling me!
Aara smiled. ” I’m sorry about whatever happened in London…sometimes things happen to make us appreciate the better things when they come along”
Me: that’s so true
Aara: I think we should head back now, its getting late and mum will have a fit
Me: are you politely telling me to get out?
Aara: (laugh) no man…oh just by the way, mum said you have to join us for Jummah lunch tomorrow. Work around your meetings and be here by 12 and go for namaaz with dad and Sahal
Me: that would totally be imposing, I can’t accept
Aara: you don’t have a choice *smirk*
We walked back to the house and I said goodbye to Aara’s parents.
Aunty Salma: no excuses about tomorrow. You have to be here
Me: jee I will
Aara walked me out and as I was about to jump into my car I realised I had forgotten to give her her gift.
Me: this is for you (smiling sweetly)
Aara: you can’t keep giving me things!
Me: why not?
Aara: food…cheesecake..chocolates..roses now this…
Me: you shouldn’t count when someone gives you something…just accept it
Aara: can I open it?
Me: ofcourse you can..its yours
And she excitedly opened the little gift box.
Aara: ( with much excitement) beach in a bottle!!!
Me: now you can take your durban beach wherever you go
Aara: thank you so much!! This is so sweet and I love it!
Me: you’re welcome….(walking closer to her)I meant what I said earlier..
Me: I would really like to get to know you better…
She blushed, smiled and looked down
Me: can I take that as a yes?…