We were seated at this long table in the centre of the tent,reserved for family. So I was seated between Nemo and his sister Aaliya. The formalities went off rather smoothly at this extremely extravagant engagement and Ammarah looked absolutely radiant in a silver and baby pink gown. Nemo was right though, everyone was so happy happy it wasn’t funny! His parents were very warm and friendly-well I guess they couldn’t be their normal sulky selves tonight!
Nemo: (whispering to me) do you think we can go now?
Me: (whispering back) no! It would be rude its only 7:30pm
Nemo: (whispering) I’m tired of sitting here!
Sue: (sitting across us) what are you two whispering about?tell us too?
Me: (ℓ☺ℓ) nothing Sue your cousin is just going a bit mad
Nemo: heyyy I’m not mad ouch!
Sue: you know Aara this boy never keeps in touch with me!
Nemo: you always in my thoughts Sue! (ℓ☺ℓ)
Sue: very funny smartass!
Nemo: first I’m mad now I’m an ass…ladies is it bash Nemo night tonight?
Aaliya: where did you get that horrible nickname from?
Nemo: its not horrible its lovable!
Sue: I think its cute (munching on something and holding her fork in the air) Nemo Nemo like the cute fish Nemo!
Nemo: errr Sue..(ℓ☺ℓ ) control yourself :-p
Aaliya: so what should my kids call you?Nemo Mama???
Nemo: do your kids even know me?
I pinched Nemo under the table..
Nemo: Nemo is for my friends…they can call me what they should call me…
Aaliya: so Aara I heard you’re very busy climbing the ladder of success at work…any plans to settle down anytime soon?
Me: I can’t answer that..Allah knows best
Aaliya: that is true but look at you…you’re a beautiful girl..surely there must be someone?
Nemo: eh, like she’s going to tell you!
Me: (laughing) Nemo!
Nemo: seee I knew it!
Me: oh shut up…no Aaliya I’m just too busy with work
Sue: and monday is back to work already..this weekend will be over in two two’s
Nemo: (laughing hard)Two Two’s?? Sue!! I think we’ll take you back to Jhb with us-you’ll gel well with our group!
Another hour passed and we were all just relaxing in this seperate lounge in the adjacent tent when Nemo was called away by one of his uncles, leaving me with Sue and some of his cousins.
“Aara, how nice to see you again”, someone said behind me
I turned around to face…Nuzayh.
Me: I’m glad it is Nuzayh
Nuzayh: so, how’s your life going? Still having to pick up after Naeem?
Me: and you’re asking me this because…?
Nuzayh: (now taking a seat in the suddenly empty lounge) curiosity I guess..and well I have to know what I’m up against at all times
Me: (sitting down across him) perhaps if you tried a little you wouldn’t feel the need to be so threatened
Nuzayh: threatened! Hah that’s laughable! No my dear, Naeem isn’t a threat…more like…an obstacle
Me: its clearly much more than that, or else why would you leave a party full of opportunistic socialites to have a chat with me…digging for something you can use to assure yourself that your brother is nothing more than an inanimate object to you?
I struck a nerve because Nuzayh shifted uneasily in his seat.
Me: but I’ll tell you something, Nemo isn’t concerned about your fathers money nor is he after it, but maybe if you showed a little concern, leave love because that word doesn’t exist in your vocabulary and even if it did I’m sure you would have sold that too, if you bothered showing a little bit of concern you would find that you have a brother a lot of people would kill to have!
Nuzayh: after the stunt he pulled two years ago….concern for him doesn’t exist in my vocabulary!
Me: so now you’re going to hold it against him for the rest of your life?
Nuzayh: you’re such an emotional fool Aara..don’t you see it? He couldn’t even come here without you! Its like he’s nothing without you! The man has no spine if you ask me
Me: that’s just it- I didn’t ask you!
Nuzayh: no need to get angry but now I can see that Naeem isn’t the obstacle- you are…*sarcastic smile* you have got him where you want him don’t you
Me: Nuzayh you know what, why are you even asking me when you already have your answers according to you and nothing I say will change that and for your information, the only reason I came with Naeem is because he isn’t comfortable here, none of you care about him and yes, if you people think that I pick up after him, I will pick up after him for the rest of my life because he has no one else and if you think that Nemo is nothing without me then you don’t know him at all! Nemo is more of a man than you will ever be because he would never hurt someones feelings the way you and your family do!
“Now Aara there’s no need to get angry…and Nuzayh what you came to do and what you’re doing is two different things altogether”..a voice said behind me.
Nuzayh: (looking at his wife and then looking at me) you’re right. I’m sorry Aara
Me: there’s clearly something more to this, why don’t you both just spill it out
Ridwana (Nuzayh’s wife): (sitting down next to Nuzayh) typical journo Aara…well let’s see…I know you won’t tell Naeem that we said this because you care too much about him but you could pass the message on in a different and more subtle way perhaps?
Me: what message?
Ridwana: Dad is drawing up his will…and he wants to share the business between Naeem and Nuzayh…a business Naeem doesn’t care about and probably never will, and one that Nuzayh has given years of his life to..so what I’m saying is…
Me: (standing up) unbelievable! I’m not going to be a part of this! (Walking away)
Ridwana: Aara wait! Should we tell everyone what went down with Naeem two years ago?
Me: Go to hell !
And I walked away from them out of that tent…I didn’t know in which direction I was going I just kept walking and tried so hard for those tears that welled up in my eyes not to fall…if Nemo saw my face now he would probably go inside and turn everything upside down!
How! how! how!…they’re supposed to be a family…I hated this house and I hated being here….
I realised I had walked into the garden and I turned around to look at this gigantic structure they called a home…and those memories came flooding back….memories of me searching for Nemo from room to room…running up all those stairs and calling out to him….My Nemo sitting in the corner of a room I didn’t even know existed….pale and weak…My Nemo pushing me away when I reached out to him…My Nemo breaking down in my arms begging me to take him away from here….tears now fell from my eyes uncontrollably….I will never forget that day for the rest of my life…I had never seen Nemo like that… ever…it was my fault to bring him back home…
“A penny for your thoughts?”
But he knew what I was thinking about as he stood beside me and looked at his family’s house.
Me: I think we should go now…
Nemo: (small smile) that’s the best thing you’ve said all night!