As narrated by Zainab:
I was so excited! Even though we had left Ushaka, that feeling didn’t leave me at all. We actually swam with dolphins! I was over the moon! I could kiss Aara and Nemo right now!
Next week this time I’ll probably be getting dressed for my engagement…and that’s when it hit me!
Me: my mother is going to have a hernia!
Laeeka: (raising her eyebrow at me) why?
Me: I’m so tanned Laeeks! Next week is my engagement!
Laeeka: err so?
Me: (looking at my face in the mirror) so??? It’s MY engagement hello?
Arshad: (taking the mirror compact from my hand) I still love you and we are still getting engaged to each other so why are you panicking? I’d still love you even if your face turned purple baby (squishing me)
Me: awww really?
Arshad: really really
Me: (smiling at Arshad) what did I do to deserve you?
Arshad: (kissing me on my forehead) what did I do to deserve you?
Zee: (rolling his eyes) I am seriously going to gag here! Stop it already man!
Me: (laughing) how come you don’t have a girlfriend Ziyaad?
Zee: (smirking) just because I didn’t introduce you doesn’t mean that I don’t have one 😉
Arshad: aah so the plot thickens!
Zee: you know me bro;)
Arshad: well we are going to miss you Zee boy it was good spending time with you after so long
Zee: same here Arshoo…but I’ll come for all you guys functions for sure
Laeeka: that goes without saying Ziyaad…we could always use an extra waiter you know 😉
As narrated by Aara:
We reached home, I showered quickly and cooked up a lame excuse to leave the house with Zoheb. I didn’t want to be late for my meeting with Uncle A.K. Riza advised Immy to sit this one out, Nuzayh didn’t need to know that he had given me Nemo’s file, and if Nuzayh trusted Immy and ever had anything else up his sleeve…Immy could always tell us..
Zoheb drove silently. I looked at him a few times and he just smiled back a little. But it wasn’t his full dimpled smile 😦 What’s wrong Zoheb???
Me: are you mad at me?
Me: you’re so quiet!
Zoheb: I’m just tired…
I slumped back into my seat until I had a lightbulb moment!
Me: (grinning to myself) my applepie…
Zoheb: (raising his eyebrow at me) applepie?
Me: my mischievous, handsome,angel,applepie,chocolate milkshake Zoheb?
Zoheb: (trying to suppress his smile but playing along) I look like an applepie?
Me: (biting my lip) noooo
Zoheb: (knowing very well what I was doing) I look like a chocolate milkshake?
Me: (tickling his face) ummmm no
Zoheb looked straight ahead and tried to hold back his laughter
So I poked him in his side and he jumped!
Zoheb: I’m driving!
Me: you’re frowning!
Zoheb: you….are making me frown!
Me: you know you want to…
Zoheb: uh uh
Me: you know you do…
Zoheb: uh uh uh uh
Me: (batting my eyelashes) pleeeeeeeaaaase
Zoheb: (still trying not to smile) no!
Me: but I miss you…
Zoheb kept mum…but his face said it all…what I was doing was definitely working!
Me: but I love you….
He bit his lip trying not to laugh but very, very unsuccessfully..and in no time at all Zoheb was laughing and his dimples were showing and my heart was beating again
Me: you look much more handsome when you smile;)
And I knew that the way in which he looked at me for those few seconds would remain etched into the deepest corners of my heart until my lifes last breath…
Life brings a person to many crossroads at different times and stages. And it isn’t always by choice. And sometimes we aren’t as strong as we think we are to face those crossroads. We back up and walk away, we walk forward not looking left or right in fear of what might be lurking in the shadows and more than once, we choose the easiest route.
When my life came to a crossroads in the form of my son Naeem’s turbulent behavior, I regretfully chose the easiest route, even though I knew that I never gave him the time that I should have when he was younger, even though I could see it in his eyes that he was pleading for my help, even though I knew that I could do much more for him. I chose the easiest way out, shutting him off from the world. He would become alright. But he didn’t, he worsened with every passing day. I would lie in my bed at night, trying to ignore his cries….his cries that pierced through my very soul. Even though my son was with me, I had abandoned him. I did what no father would do, I arranged for him to have a ‘fix’ daily just to keep him quiet.
I hung my head in shame several times infront of my Creator…as I saw my one son destroying his own life while my other son flourished.
But Naeem’s cries didn’t go unheard. Because she came back. She came back and took him away. A girl his age, defied everyone and nursed him back to life. Like a single star on the darkest night…Aara was his hearts dua answered, there was no other way to put it.
I know that he had given her a hard time, I know that he did it because somewhere inside he wanted his family to help him…but with time, with her patience, with her perseverence he realized that sometimes in life, the best relationships are not the ones made by blood but rather, the heart.
When I had gone back to Jhb, hoping to prove Aara wrong, hoping to see her fail in her attempt to help him, hoping to be able to tell her ‘ I told you so’, I was stunned into silence.
My son was healthy, he was groomed and smiling. He was almost perfect. It was on that day that I had made a promise to myself that in life, if ever there was anything that I had to do for them and especially her, I would do it with my eyes closed.
And Today was that day…
Nuzayh was already waiting impatiently…and cast me a questioning glance as Aara entered the office.
Me: (throwing the file on the table) Nuzayh my boy you have some explaining to do
Nuzayh: (looking at the file…) Where did you get this from dad?
Me: you tell me
Nuzayh: I wouldn’t know…
Me: (raising my voice) don’t you sit here and lie to me! You know very well where this came from! I want every single copy of this!
Nuzayh: (getting angrier) why? So Naeem can stuff up again at his liberty?
Me: he is your brother!
Nuzayh: (his voice filled with sarcasm) yes unfortunately
Nuzayh’s face turned red. I could see that he was very angry and embarrassed. It’s strange how I knew him so well, yet with Naeem it was the complete opposite.
Nuzayh: it’s not like I was going to use it! And besides you taught me about protecting our interests
Me: (shaking my head) not against your own brother..not against your family
Aara: (chipping in)but you already used it didn’t you Nuzayh?
Nuzayh: who’s talking to you?
Me: I called her here and she has every right to speak! Aara gave me this file
Nuzayh: oh so now Aara is on my level of importance???
Aara: (smirking) get off your high horse will you Nuzayh!
Nuzayh: you know…(His tone becoming more menacing as he looked at Aara) it all makes sense now. How did you get this?
Aara: it doesn’t matter…what matters is that you need to stop. (Looking at me) Uncle A.K now that we are having this conversation I’d like to tell you something else
I nodded for her to go ahead.
Aara: I need you to know that I don’t want to be here again, I don’t have any intention to break your family, I need to move on with my life and the only way that I can do that is to do whatever I can to ensure that Nemo’s past doesn’t come back to haunt him in any way. And right now, his biggest threat, his only threat is his own brother
Nuzayh: (shouting) You have no right, no right to talk about me like this! Who the hell do you think you are?
Aara: (ignoring Nuzayh’s outburst) at Ammarah’s engagement Nuzayh and Ridhwana threatened to expose Nemo’s past infront of the world if Nemo didn’t forfeit his right to his share of your business and property
Nuzayh: (vehemently shaking his head) that’s not true! that’s not true Dad shes lying!
Aara looked at me for a few seconds and then took her phone out of her pocket and played a voice recording. I watched Nuzayh as his face fell…..and i couldn’t help but wonder…did I play the biggest part in my two sons hating each other??
Aara: I’m a journalist remember
Nuzayh: (his eyes widening at his truth being revealed) that’s….that’s….that’s wrong!! You can’t just go around doing as you please!
Aara: what you’re doing is wrong too
Me: (shaking my head with disappointment) you actually wanted to use Aara to get Naeem out of your way? After everything Nuzayh?
Nuzayh: (looking very desperate) Dad he doesn’t deserve it..I work so hard for you, he doesn’t deserve half!
Me: your half is already so much and you still want more?
Aara: (standing up) Uncle A.K I think I’m going to leave now…I said what I had to and I’m very thankful to you for giving me a chance to talk today. I know that you understand and I hope that one day Nuzayh understands too that Nemo is not a threat to anyone and deserves a chance to feel like a part of his family…he deserves to be loved, he deserves to live his life without a sword hanging over his head
Me: Aara wait
Me: (looking at Nuzayh) Naeem is as much my son as you are…his right is his right and not you or anyone else can snatch it from him. You and Naeem are as different as day and night and maybe I have never been the father that Naeem wanted me to be but…I am still his father
I turned around and took out a file from my drawer.
Me : my final will
Nuzayh: (sitting up and grabbing the file) dad why…(Reading) how can you????
Nuzayh looked at me in total disbelief, stood up and threw the file on the desk.
Nuzayh: this isn’t right Dad and I’m sorry but this is one decision you will live to regret!
Nuzayh: (looking at Aara) you and me….we aren’t done yet!
And he stormed out of the office.
Aara: Uncle A.K I’m sorry…please don’t think that I’m trying to break your family it’s just..
Me: I know….thank you Aara, for everything
She smiled and turned around to leave
Me: I will courier a copy of these papers to you
Aara stopped and turned around.
Aara: why to me?