As narrated by Maariah:
The braai at Nemo’s house was actually quite nice…everyone was very relaxed and seemed to be enjoying themselves….everyone except Immy! What was up with him anyway?
And as if things couldn’t get any weirder…Nemo sent me inside to get something as we were about to leave and when I came back outside everyone was gone!! How rude!!
Well everyone except Ebie and Sahal and strangely and suddenly, Ebie needed to open the bonnet of his car and “check” something…and that something lasted atleast 45minutes!Something was definitely amiss here!
We arrived back at Aara’s…Aara…I really missed talking to her the way we used to. She was civil towards me and spoke no more than was necessary. It was eating me up from the inside, I just never showed it. I don’t think that she had forgiven me yet…I haven’t forgiven myself yet either.
Sahal told me that everyone was at the back so we should just go straight there. It was such a beautiful night…but that’s the thing about Durban weather. I won’t lie…I was really very tired and it was already almost 11pm so I didn’t plan on sitting and chatting for too long.
If everyone was together…why was it so silent? I turned around to ask Sahal but…he was nowhere to be seen! Strange…
As I walked closer to the huge backyard…I heard the sound of a piano playing one of my favourite songs…and my next step forward almost had me falling over! Infront of me lay a gift box…I bent down and picked it up…my heart skipped a beat. This was something out of one of my daydreams…
Holding these roses in my hand gave me goosebumps!
I walked forward and the sound of the piano playing became louder and clearer…
Another gift box…and inside it was the cutest little teddy bear with the words ” I am…because you are…” Written across the gold ribbon tied around the bears leg.
Okay by now…my head was really spinning!
A few more steps…and another gift box…inside which there were my favourite chocolates…or chocolate papers rather! I laughed as I read the note that seemed to be thrown into the box ” Sorry we couldn’t resist :-p ” – Riza and Nemo
But the gold ribbon was there too..” We search and search..but the truth be told…we are in each other all along”
Me: (calling out to them) guys this is really cute but could you please tell me what’s going on??
No one answered.
I walked ahead…and noticed that the grass seemed to be…almost glittering
Aara’s mother loved her garden and the backyard was straight out of one of those House and Garden magazines…with the lush green lawns, cobble pathways, water features, a little bridge and the works! Not that the front yard was any less stunning!
Another gift box…revealing a silver blindfold…and the gold ribbon read ” because sometimes we need to see with our eyes closed”
I played along and blindfolded myself. I figured that I was now expected to just stand there because not only could I not see where I was going, I also wouldn’t know which way to go!
Silence. Dead silence. When I felt someone take my hand in theirs…
Ziyaad: (walking with me) why do girls always think up the most imaginative and silliest things?
Me: errmmm how do you mean?
Ziyaad: (making me walk with him) flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, a piano playing etc etc…I mean us guys we never think of things like this!
Me: because guys are cold blooded and emotionless :-p
Ziyaad: (laughing) cold blooded and emotionless??? We are simple and straight forward you people complicate our lives!
Me: yeah yeah…would you mind telling me what’s going on here?
Ziyaad: I’m just following orders madam…my job is to escort you to destination number 1 and we are almost there
Me: destination number 1 ?? What is that?
Ziyaad: Mari you are a little slow on the uptake neh :-p a destination is where we are headed, number one is the sub destination
Me: oh forget it you’re too clever for your own good
Me: yeah like a monkey!
Ziyaad: I’m a monkey???
Zainab: well your ears are a little too big for your head Zee
Zee: haha says the girl who’s marrying Arshad!
I was so ripped listening to these two bicker and I desperately wanted to take off my blindfold to actually watch them argue!
Zainab: Maariah…remember what you told Aara,Laeeka and I on the day that we went to Monte Casino?
Me: errr no
Zainab: think Maariah…
Me: I don’t know Zai…
Zee: (chuckling) I told you Zai she is a little slow on the uptake
Both of us: shut up Ziyaad!
What was going on here…Zainab held my hand for a few steps when I heard Arshad’s voice
Arshad: (taking my hand in his) Maariah Maariah…(Clearing his throat and then laughing) ey the things we do for you girls!
Arshad: okay okay…you’ve always been like a sister to me Maariah, I hope our next few steps forward will make you remember what we’re trying to make you remember
Me: errr ok
And Arshad had his arm linked in mine and we probably walked maybe around 12 steps when I heard Riza’s voice and Arshad let go off my hand
Riza: (linking his arm in mine and walking) life is too short Maariah…we can’t let the past dictate our future. So, take these steps forward and embrace a new beginning without any hesitation…
And he let go of my hand…
Zoheb: may I?
I started understanding what they were doing…
And Zoheb linked his hand in mine and we continued walking..
Zoheb: I know that I was never intended to be a part of this…and that I came into all of your lives like an outsider. And you and I never really bonded or got along much…and I know why…but know one thing. I wish you the very best that life has to offer, everyone deserves a second chance and I whole heartedly wish that you grab your chance and live your life to the fullest
My heart ached…ever since Zoheb came into the picture, I always treated him differently from the rest of them. I never considered him one of our own. And I felt terrible for doing that. If they were doing what I think they were doing…then I didn’t deserve this happiness..
Zoheb let go of my hand and another hand linked through mine…
Nemo: My sweet Maariah… I just want you to know that I forgive you…and the good that you have done outweighs everything else. You’re one of my closest friends and all I want is to see you happy…and it is my honour and pleasure to be a small part of this new happiness of yours…
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought of Nemo. I could picture him sliding down the balustrades on campus, hooting his trademark hoot in the carpark, telling us all his crazy stories with his hand actions and funny eye movements.
Then I thought of the time when I saw him in Aara’s flat…unkempt, out of control and with an extremely dangerous look in his eyes…
Another image of him flashed before my eyes…Nemo smiling softly as he watched all four of us attempting to bake macarons…
And then again…the look in his eyes when Aara screamed “I love you” to Zoheb on the top of that mountain…
In my desperate attempt to redeem myself and help Nemo…I ended up not only hurting him and Aara, but Zoheb too.
I don’t even know why I was thinking about all of this now…
Nemo let go of my hand and I stood still…waiting for the next move, tears still pouring down my cheeks..
Immy: (wiping the tears off my cheeks) I don’t know if I deserve to be infront of you…I don’t know if I’m worthy of being a part of your future but Maariah…I will die trying.
Immy stood behind me and untied my blindfold. The sight around me literally took my breath away and it all came gushing back…
” When I get married, I want to be walked down the aisle by each of our boys and everything must just be white and sparkling”
And everything was white and sparkling….fairy lights adorned almost every tree in this part of the garden. I was standing on a makeshift platform that was covered in white…the wind gently blew the white chiffon drapes that hung from the top of the structure. White roses, white lilies, white carnations, white daisies…lined up the walkway that I had just walked down..hand in hand with Zee, Arshad,Zoheb, Riza and Nemo. And Immy stood infront of me…with a nervous but soft smile on his face…and he got down on his knee and produced a beautiful diamond ring.
I was utterly and completely speechless!
Immy: I know we aren’t together and don’t have much of a history together either…but I love you…I really truly do and I want to do things the right way…please Maariah…will you marry me?
My heart felt as though it would burst!
I looked at Immy for a few seconds and then at everyone else.
Laeeka and Aara were now also standing with them.
With a heavy heart and a head full of confusion and regret…
I shook my head and repeated my answer while tears flooded my vision and streamed down my cheeks…and I turned around…each step away from Immy breaking my heart into millions of pieces…it felt as though I was walking on broken glass as I walked away from him, back down that walkway…while everyone looked at me in shock and disbelief.