As narrated By Aara
I slept and how too….and the same dream played on in my head over and over again
Uncle A.K: Do you realise what you have done???
Me:(my head down) I didn’t have a choice…
Uncle A.K : Aara…child…I know how much you care about Naeem but he’s NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!!
Me: he is my responsibility Uncle A.K…I should never have sent him away
Aunty Zameera: Aara Naeem is our son!! You had no right whatsoever to barge into our house and take him away!
Me: (crying profusely) what was I supposed to do? How could I not take him knowing that he needs me..
Aunty Zameera: you’re his age Aara!! What makes you think that you can look after him when you yourself are just a child!
Me: what did you do with him???? You kept feeding him drugs??? You promised me you would look after him you promised me….but you locked him up like an animal!!!
Uncle A.K: Naeem is beyond anyones help…please I don’t want to drag this further…he needs to come home
Me: Uncle A.K give me a year…please I’m begging you….give me a year….I can’t leave him like this (and I fell on my knees) I promised him that I would take care of him…
I can’t see him like this….please Uncle A.K I’m begging you if I can’t help him in one year you will never see my face again
Uncle A.K: (kneeling down beside me) Naeem must have done something really good to deserve someone like you…
Aunty Zameera: A.K what are you doing?? It’s not just about Naeem….Aara is also at risk…Naeem is so violent…what if he…
Me: (wiping my tears) he won’t hurt me…and if he does….i am responsible for it
Aunty Zameera: Aara you don’t understand…he’s not the same anymore…he’s become…something else…you just started working you just started your life…please ma…he’s not your Nemo anymore…
Me: it doesn’t matter…maybe he forgot me ..but…I didn’t forget him..i can’t let him ruin his life I will try…I will bring him back…please
Uncle A.K: let her have her one year…she won’t be able to do it Naeem is stubborn and an imbecile…we’ll be back before one year Aara and I won’t ask you anything….
Me: he’s not an imbecile!!! He’s not an imbecile!!!
And I woke up screaming….Zoheb and Riza came rushing into my room…my entire body was wet
Zoheb: (wiping my face and holding me) shhhh it’s going to be okay…shhhh
And I clung to Zoheb as I drifted off again…
The night it ended…the night that Nemo embarrassed me infront of his LLB crew…the night our friendship was kicked into the gutters…the night that I lost him…
One of the most notorious clubs in Jhb…and Nemo was on the top floor surrounded by about 50 people…males and females…I had received another call…I had virtually no energy left in me that night as I left Riza a message and headed off yet again..not knowing in what state I would find him…
I was tired…this was becoming too frequent…
Me: (walking up to him) Nemo what are you doing????
Nemo: (rolling his eyes at me) oh no…not you again!!
Me: (holding his hand) I’m taking you out of here!!
Nemo: (jerking my hand away) go away man Aara!
Me: who are these people?????
Nemo: (screaming at me) THEY ARE MY FRIENDS!!!!
Me: (pleading) these are not friends…Nemo…look at me…I am your friend…come with me…please Nemo come with me
Nemo: (pushing me) Attention everyone!! I’d like you to meet someone
And he held the balcony railing as the music stopped and everyone seemed to be paying attention…
Me: Nemo don’t do this please…
Nemo: shhhh…everyone meet Aara….Aara Ismail…my friend…my best friend…my most f****** boring friend!! But she’s damn hot hey!!
And all these unknown guys were shouting at the top of their voices..
Guy1: she’s smoking hot!! Is she available?
Nemo: (smirking) are you available Aara?
I felt so cheap…
Me:(grabbing his hand) Nemo come
Nemo: (giving me this look)if you want to hold my hand all you have to do is ask (and he came closer to me his face was inches away from mine) all you beautiful girls can’t resist me can you…(And he traced my face with his finger) but you know what….what puts me off about you (frowning) you’re so rigid…as much as you’re cool and popular…you don’t know when to let go! Have some fun!! Your fun is so limited Aara Ismail! Look at you!!! (And he poked my shoulder) Look at her! (and he walked to a thin blonde girl who had hardly any clothes on) look at her baby (and he kissed her on her lips… infront of me)….Aara I’m telling you, you have what it takes just let go a little…yeah?
A tear trickled down my face…
Me:(swallowing hard) ok…can we go now?
Nemo:(staring at me in disbelief) go??? Are you for real?? Here try this…
And he grabbed my hand and pulled me towards a table where everyone was snorting cocaine and he tried to force me to have some…
Me:(trying to free my hand from his grip) I don’t want any!!
Nemo: (pulling me closer to him) come on babe
Me:(pushing him away) I said no Nemo!!
Nemo: (holding me with both hands) just one try Aara you will thank me…give her some I’ll hold her
And this guy walked towards me…
Me: (struggling to free myself and I did…and Nemo stumbled) I SAID NO!!
And Nemo looked at me with a mixture of hate and anger in his eyes…and rubbed his hand across the table filled with lines of cocaine…. and smeared it across my face
Even the most drugged person there stopped what he was doing and stared at me…the entire room fell silent…
Some guy: you should just shove it into her mouth and nose!!
Nemo: (staring at me coldly) The sight of you makes me sick!! You just pretend to be my friend…you pretend to care to show everyone that Nemo is nothing without Aara…I’m crippled without you isn’t Aara? I’m wrong if I don’t do what you say? If I don’t follow your societal norms? Poor Nemo and Great Aara!
I didn’t say anything…
Nemo: no self righteous words? No Nemo let’s go? Where’s that other one…Riza? You came alone tonight? You’re getting braver by the day!
I still didn’t say anything…
Nemo: you were cute when you were little…but they are right…its hurting you that I don’t depend on you anymore that I don’t need you anymore…that’s right…I DON’T need you! And no it isn’t the cocaine talking…I don’t need you…all you ever do is judge me do this do that don’t do this don’t do that…I’m tired….I’m fed up…fed up of you and your whining…fed up of you and your friends…don’t look at me like that…the truth always hurts baby…
Me:(tears falling from my eyes…) Nemo…
Nemo: Nemo??…that’s Naeem Moola to you Miss Ismail…THE Naeem Moola…don’t ever forget that…
Me: you’re the one that’s forgotten Nemo..
Nemo: Naeem Moola! Forgot so quickly? Don’t stand here and lecture me…this is my life (and he turned around and lifted both his hands) my life…my friends…my business and you know what…there’s no place for you in it…ever!
Me: (my heart was breaking…) you can kick me out and throw away 15 years of friendship just like that?
Nemo:(lighting a cigarette….he was indifferent to the hurt that he was inflicting upon me) as with everything sweetheart…this too has an expiry date…
And I couldn’t take it anymore and I slapped Nemo hard across his face!
Nemo: you bloody bi…(And he raised his hand to slap me when Riza held his hand)
Riza: I will break your hand into pieces if you ever even try to lift it on Aara again!
Nemo: (throwing a glass on the floor) then get her out of my face…the next time I see her…you won’t be able to stop me!!
Riza wiped my face and held my hand and pulled me out of there….I was stunned and hurt and shocked…I had just lost Nemo…I just lost my Nemo…
Once we were outside, my legs gave up on me and I fell to the ground…shaking…I was in total shock..my knees trembled but I couldn’t feel the rough stones that tore through my jeans when I fell…my heart was broken…Nemo was a part of my life ever since…we were kids…it felt as though my life was being sucked out of me….Riza knelt down next to me…
Riza:(stroking my head) it’s time to make the call that we spoke about…
I nodded silently. He was right. This was now out of our hands…
I woke up with a shock again…what time was it? My flat was silent…I tiptoed into the lounge…Riza and Zoheb were fast asleep on the sofa.
I went back to my room, got out two blankets and covered them. I went straight into the shower….and just stood there…Maariah’s words echoed in my head. Riza and I knew that she had a thing for Nemo on campus and we knew that she was a part of their “group” but Mari changed…she wasn’t snooty anymore, she was down to earth…she was like us.. she was genuine…or was it a facade? Aadil was her friend? She set me up? She was jealous of me? ME?
All the times that I had picked Nemo up from those horrible places…flashed before my eyes…I could almost see him infront of me…in that room…frightened…weak…he clung onto me so hard that my body hurt…I remembered the times he threw tantrums in my flat…his relapses…the time that he ran away…and then I remembered him getting better…smiling again….jogging with me….holding his hand as we walked into his new support group…Nemo gifting me a new Qur’aan…his words….”You are my only dua”….Uncle A.K’s face the day he saw Nemo again…I won…I defeated their negative thinking…my Nemo was healthy again….even though it killed me at every second and every step forward towards helping him meant that Aara had to die everyday…
After crying my heart out at fajr…I sat quietly in my balcony and stared at the sky…my fingers tracing the little silver pendant that dangled from my neck
Everything happens for a reason….if Allah gives us hardship then he gives us the strength to overcome it too….I surely have been through worse
Why did it feel as though the past was coming back?
Why did it feel as though what we triumphed over…was being dragged infront of us again?
Why did it feel as though it was going to hurt us all over again?
The sliding door opened and he sat down next to me and said something that I once said to him…
Jab jab dard ka baadal Chaya (Whenever the clouds of pain loomed)
Jab ghum ka saya lehraya (When the shadow of sadness fell over us)
Jab aansoo palkon tak aya (When tears came up until our eyelashes)
Jab yeh tanha dil ghabraya (When this lonely heart got scared)
Humne dil ko yeh samjhaya (I consoled my heart to understand…)
Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai (That why are you crying?)
Duniya mein yunhi hota hai (This is what happens in this world)
Yeh jo gehre sannate hain ( This deep silence…)
Waqt ne sabko hi baante hain (Has been distributed by time to everyone…)
Thoda ghum hai sabka qissa (Every one has their share of sadness)
Thodi dhoop hai sabka hissa (Everyone has their share of sunshine)
Aankh teri bekaar hi nam hai( Your eyes are wet without reason…)
Har pal ek naya mausam hai (Because every moment is a new season…)
Kyun tu aise pal khota hai ( Why do you want to let go of such priceless moments?)
Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai( My heart…why do you cry?)
Tears fell from both our eyes…as we were swept into memories of what we had faced together…no blood relation….no family…but bound together by life…love…and destiny…a brother who would never leave me…a friend who always stood by me even when his own world was crumbling….some relationships have no single name…a name would not do justice…some people are just there to be your strength, to be the angel that you need by your side in your life’s darkest night…strangers who mark their places in your hearts….
Riza kissed me on my forehead and made himself comfortable on the bench and stared ahead with me…in silence
I knew what I had to do…
*Poem by Javed Akhtar Sahab*