Aunty Zameera: I was going to phone you but just as well that I spotted you here
Me: (getting impatient) okay…
Aunty Zameera: look Aara you know that Naeem hardly comes home and we don’t have much of a relationship with him. He doesn’t bother returning our calls either
Me: when was the last time you phoned him?
She went quiet.
Aunty Zameera: I honestly can’t remember right now but the thing is, I did call him.
Ammarah is getting engaged in two weeks time, that’s what I wanted to tell Naeem. He needs to attend, I don’t know if he will, but I would like him to. Everyone knows we have two sons, it would be very awkward for all of us if he didn’t come. And if he does come, he will need to you know…behave… Agh, its so much to take in at once I know and I’m sorry to have to burden you with all this…I just wish Naeem would come around
Me: Naeem is never a burden for me…
She kept quiet.
Aunty Zameera: no love I didn’t mean it like that..its just when you put all my children together and you look at them, Naeem is the only one who doesn’t fit in. He doesn’t make any effort to try. And Ammarah is getting engaged into a very affluent family, I don’t want anything to go wrong. I want my daughter to go with respect and love
Me: what do you want me to do?
Aunty Zameera: talk to him please, convince him to come. He listens to you
A tear fell from my eye…
Me: I will talk to him, but Aunty Zameera, please don’t take this the wrong way but if you put all your children together, you will see how Naeem is so much better than them…
She was quiet again. I woke up to leave
Me: I’ll be in touch…( And I walked away)
My legs felt heavy as I walked away from Aunty Zameera. I thought of my mum-and then I thought of her. Another tear fell from my eye. They wanted him, their child, to come to his sisters engagement just to show the world that their family was complete.
If Nemo doesn’t make an effort neither do they…
I walked towards Zoheb but right now I didn’t feel like doing anything.
Zoheb: (looking at me) you okay?
Me: yeah (not looking directly at him)
Zoheb: that lady said something to you didn’t she…
Me: she’s Nemo’s mother Zoheb
Zoheb: okay, not going to push you…
Me: so, what movie did you pick?
Zoheb: (looking at me for a few seconds trying to figure out what’s wrong probably) well I took two of whatever looked nice
Me: you what?
Zoheb: well, the lines were so long and I couldn’t really decide, so I took two tickets for action, two for romance, two for comedy, two for drama, and two for a golden oldie
Me: (staring at him in disbelief) you bought ten movie tickets and we’re only going to use two? Are you mad?
Zoheb: a little..
Me: (I couldn’t help but smile a bit) let’s see..how about the golden oldie..any idea what it is?
Zoheb: nope, its a surprise movie
Me: golden oldie it is then
Zoheb: starts in ten minutes let’s get some popcorn n juice or coke?
Me: only if I’m buying
Zoheb: then I don’t want anything
Me: why? My money is no good for you hey
Zoheb: ey man its not like that
Me: so I’m buying then end of discussion (and we walked over to the food place or whatever you call it)
I tried to put on the “happy face” and just try to look like I’m enjoying myself but all I wanted to do was to be alone. That’s why I really welcomed watching a movie because I would be in the dark and wouldn’t have to talk for atleast two hours. The cinema wasn’t so full either and we settled ourselves when the movie started. It had to be Titanic! Romantic sacrificial bloody movie..but hey atleast I could cry and it would look like I’m crying because of the movie.
And I did just that! I bawled my eyes out, probably shocking Zoheb beyond belief! I was staring at the screen infront of me but all I could think of was Nemo’s mothers words. How was I going to tell him what she had said?
Nemo always craved for some kind of attention from his family. I had seen him break down on numerous occasions, ever since we were little and in the beginning I was too young to understand why I would see him crying by my mother but as I grew older, the more I saw him cry , it hurt me even deeper than the time before that.
The last time he had seen his parents was 3 months ago. They had come to Jhb but didn’t even tell him they were there, he bumped into them at a mall! Now they want him to come and act like family amidst strangers, the biggest strangers of whom were his own parents and siblings!
I used to get really jealous when I was little to see my mum showering Nemo with the attention that should have been mine but my kind-hearted mother explained to me that no one could ever take my place and that Nemo wasn’t her son, he was a special little angel that was sent into our lives by the Almighty.
Why did life have to be so messed up?
Zoheb: you’re always so emotional when you watch soppy movies? ( As we walked towards the car..Sahal was still with his friends )
Zoheb: some how I don’t buy that….
Zoheb: because you were crying even at the funny parts!
Me: I didn’t know you were watching me and not the movie
Zoheb: (small smile) when I said I wanted to get to know you better…I didn’t only mean all the good things…what’s wrong?
Me: you really want to listen?
Zoheb: yes please…
Me: let’s go someplace else…
We had parked at the beach, Zoheb sat on the bonnet of his car and I stood infront of him. I needed to talk to someone and for some reason, I trusted Zoheb. He had those eyes that never lied…you know.
Me: so that’s what happened…
Zoheb: why don’t Nemo’s parents have any time for him?
Me: apart from the childhood days, two years ago we had a lot of drama and it ended up turning very ugly and his parents also got involved, or well I had forced them to and ever since then they have been much worse in their behaviour towards him…
Zoheb: what about his sisters and his brother?
Me: they seemed to have adjusted very well into the whole” my parents don’t care about me” thing, but the three of them are quite close. None of them keep in touch with Nemo though
Zoheb: (arms folded and head down) and now they’re expecting him to play happy family with them
Me: that’s what’s upsetting me…none of them so much as pick up the phone and speak to him. Nemo can be so sick even then too they wouldn’t bother. I’ve seen the look in his eyes when he sees any of us with our parents, and that’s why I don’t come in between him and my parents… Asking him to go there would be like throwing him into the lions den!
Zoheb: but Nemo is so confident he should be able to hold his own don’t you think?
Me: not with them…I know him…its going to be a nightmare
Zoheb: maybe its not my place to say this but maybe you need to not be his safety net..perhaps he needs to face his demons without you shielding him. I understand how you feel and am not for a second implying that you should ditch your friend but maybe he just needs to learn on his own
Me: its easier said than done…
Zoheb: every person goes through things in life very differently, and every person has a story to tell. I’m not saying its not your problem, all I’m saying is you can’t carry everyones problems on your shoulders
Tears rolled down my cheeks involuntarily…
Me: Nemo will always be a part of my life no matter what…
Zoheb: heyy (standing up) I know that..and that’s the way it should be. Don’t think about it more now…sleep on it and we’ll think of something tomorrow…you already cried enough..look at your eyes how puffy they are ( and her gave me his handkerchief )
Me: (ℓ☺ℓ through my tears) I didn’t think handkerchiefs still existed
Zoheb just smiled…
I was excited about seeing Aara again and having lunch with her family..but I was a little disappointed when I got there and she wasn’t there. I guess that’s what those butterflies do to you! And when we had gotten back from the masjid and I saw her coming down the stairs…what a sight. And Sahal and her together made me think about my sister and made we wish we had the same relationship they had. I tried to look at Aara’s answer to my question from the best possible angles and decided not to look too much into it but rather take every moment as it comes. And the moments were overwhelming…
I loved the way she tried to hide her smile and the way she tried to avoid me when he face was as red as a strawberry..
I loved the way she pulled her nose at me and when she rolled her eyes at me..
I loved the way she spoke so fast when she was nervous…
And the first movie we watched together had to be Titanic..(*sigh my heart will go on*) but something was wrong and she cried a little too much throughout the entire movie. She never turned to look at me once. I knew it had something to do with what Nemo’s mother told her…
And I have to admit that even when I asked her to tell me what was wrong…I didn’t expect her to tell me. Here I was sitting on the bonnet of my car looking at this beautiful girl who spoke with her hands, she had a frustrated and desperate look in her eyes as she spoke about Nemo’s family and her voice had softened when she spoke about Nemo.
It was just us and the words from Aara’s heart…words she chose to share with me. I was seeing a different side of Aara and it was just the same as her happy shades…it made me adore her even more..
I stood infront of her and whispered into her ear…”Stand on my shoes please…”
Me: just do…
Aara looked at me weirdly, kicked off her sandals and balanced herself on my shoes. I held her hands quickly so she wouldn’t fall.
And I moved with her slowly, with the ocean and the night sky as witnesses to this spectacular moment.
Me: now for my philosophy….even the calmest skies bring the most terrible storms…even the most serene and peaceful oceans bring forth the largest tempests…life might not be the party we hoped for…but while we’re here…we might as well dance *wink*
Aara actually laughed a little
Me: and the secret to overcoming it…even if you can’t hold on and feel yourself letting go…..I’ll be your safety net Aara….
And she looked at me slightly shocked. And even with her puffy red eyes and now stuffy nose I still wanted to get to know her better…
There were some things that no matter how much we try to grasp it or how hard we try to find it..we will never succeed..because we aren’t meant to find it…it finds you…