As narrated by Laeeka:
‘’Bhool karke agar humse koi bhool hui ho, toh bhool samajhkar bhula dena … lekin bhulana sirf bhool ko, galati se bhi hum mein na bhula dena…’’
Riza’s words played over and over in my head. I was angry. ..very, very angry. Angry because he hid it from me,angry because he told me and angry because he didn’t think that I was strong enough to handle it. I probably sounded like an insensitive brat who didn’t know what she wanted! He said that if Allah wills we would have a child and if that wasn’t meant to be, we would adopt. But he’s saying that now, what happens ten years from now? What if he ever regrets marrying me? Which man ultimately wouldn’t want a child of his own?
“Laeeka think about it again my child. ..please”,my mother pleaded as Riza’s car came up our driveway
I didn’t answer. Everyone thinks that I am not strong enough, I was too weak to know about Nemo and too weak to know that I would never be a mother. And to think about all the times I would randomly tell Riza about what I wanted our children’s names to be. ..
A tense round of greetings were exchanged at this impromptu and urgent meeting. Riza looked down and his parents were visibly worried.
“Is something. ..wrong?”,his father asked
” Mr . Ahmed…”,my father said,his voice filled with hesitation
“Yes”, I said as all eyes fell on me “I don’t know how to say this. ..I found out only two days ago that. …that I will never be able to have a child”
And an invisible weight was lifted off my chest. ..
I could hear my mother’s soft tears as everyone looked on in shock
“Not never Laeeka”,Riza retorted ” there’s a chance”
“I spoke to my doctor Riza. ..there’s no need to lie any more”
“Riza you knew about this? “, his mother asked
“Jee”, he whispered
” And you didn’t see it necessary to tell us? ???”
“No”, he replied blankly
“Mum please, it doesn’t change anything ”
” It changes everything my boy!”,she said angrily ” and did everyone else know too?”,she said sarcastically as she looked at my parents
“No one knew. ..I knew and I asked the doctor to leave it at that”,Riza said
“There’s so many kinds of treatment available these days”,my father said trying to salvage the situation
“My son will not marry this girl!”,Riza’s mother said as she waved her finger in my face
” That is why I didn’t want to tell you! !”,Riza shouted
“I will have no grandchildren. ..my only son will have no children”,she cried
Tears rolled down my cheeks. ..this was exactly what I was afraid of.
“And what if your son was the one with the problem? Or what if Rumaana can’t have kids? “,Riza’s dad said as he gritted his teeth at her
” Mum life is greater than that. ..look at the bigger picture”, Riza said as he held her hand
” I’ve never liked her. ..you all know that but I accepted her because of Riza but now…now no…”
” I’m calling off our engagement”,I said as I swallowed hard
I didn’t look at Riza but I could feel his eyes on me. ..
“Laeeka. ..all these years and it’s so easy for you to leave me? “,he asked me as he tried to hold back his tears
My father consoled my mother who seemed to be on the verge of passing out. ..
“That’s the best decision for everyone”,Riza’s mother said as she stood up
” Laeeka, my child, we will not accept your breaking of yours and Riza’s engagement. ..I suggest that you take a few days out alone and re-evaluate everything. ..my son loves you and you both complete each other with or without a child. ..it doesn’t make a difference to us…we can’t be selfish not to accept the will of Allah. ..you will be fine these are small hurdles”,Riza’s father said as he patted me on the head
“What are you saying?Don’t tell me that you still want this wedding to happen? “,his mother asked in disbelief
” This is a family matter. .and if you have nothing beneficial to say then please go and sit in the car! ”
Riza’s mother stormed off in a huff. My heart pounded in my chest as Riza broke down in front of us. .. this was spiralling out of control
His father consoled my parents before he came up to me.
“I can’t imagine what you must be going through but know that it makes no difference to us. ..my wife will come around soon, for how long can she be blind to your goodness?”
I ran up to my room overcome with emotions. The image of Riza’s face never left me. ..I just wanted his family to know, they had a right to know. ..but in the process. …I tramped on the heart of the one who has given me nothing but happiness. ..
As narrated by Riza:
“After fajr but before sunrise…Nemo’s spot, Aara bring that ice cream”
And I sent it to Arshoo, Aara and Nemo. For whatever reason, today I felt a great need to rewind a couple of years. Today I felt a great need to be carefree and worry free…I was tired of beating myself up in my head and I was tired of crying. And that Melville sunrise was all that I could think about.
“I wish I could go to work in casuals too, I had to carry my suit in my car”,Nemo said as he took the cooler bag out of Aara’s boot.
“I have field work today Nemo”,she yawned
“I also carried my clothes in my car”,Arshoo said as he joined us “going home will only mean getting stuck in traffic”
The last time that we were here we were in our pyjamas and slippers with unwashed faces,unkempt hair and unbrushed teeth! And not to be funny but…errr…we were. ..finding nemo:-D
Nemo had run away from Aara’s flat and we had followed him to this spot. Tumbling over these bushes, sliding down these slopes trying to grab him as he threw sticks and leaves at us! And when we surrounded him, he started singing and dancing and acting like he was mad! I still remember the look on Arshoo and Aara’s faces as their mouths hung open in shock. Lol!
I didn’t realise that I was laughing out loud just thinking about it and the three of them were staring at me like I was mad!
“No guesses for what you’re thinking about”,Aara grinned as she motioned for us to start climbing the little hill
This was going to be a morning of no problems or discussing. ..just a little time out and a short stroll down memory lane.
We sat in silence as we watched the sun rise…the entire Jhb skyline turning from a deep black to an overwhelming crimson. Being an artist, for me it seemed as though the sun had just awoken and was stretching his long arms across the horizon creating a hundred hues of orange. Watching a sunrise meant that I had been given another day. ..
I have always dug deeper, always finding depth in everything. Be it a cup or a teaspoon, a mountain or a molehill, there was always something deeper if only we would see.
We tucked into the delicious home made ice cream that Aara buys from a colleagues mum and relished each spoonful in sheer ignorance of the fact that each of us were sitting with a litre each!
We sat for a full hour and a half like that, in silence, each of us pondering over their own problems. Nemo and Arshoo went down to their cars to get dressed while Aara and I remained behind
“Thanks for listening to my ranting and raving last night”
” Please Reez don’t insult me dude it’s the least that I could do. …so what now? ”
“Now we wait and see”,I said as I shrugged my shoulders
“Hmmm that’s what most of us seem to be doing these days ”
” Weird isn’t it, that everyone seems to have problems together. ..it’s like all our lives are reaching a turning point and we are going to be faced with life changing decisions”
“Looks that way. ..it’s easier to live in illusion sometimes because reality is a nightmare”
“So this whole Amreen Vawda thing is almost done and dusted? ” I said as we made our way back to our vehicles
“Not quite Reez I have a feeling that I am missing something…it was too easy something isn’t as it seems”
” You will figure it out soon enough. ..and if you need any help then I’m here ok”
She just smiled and got into her car.
I was on my way to an art exhibition when I received a text message from Laeeka.
“I’m going to Pietermaritzburg for a week or so. ..to get my head around things..”
My heart sunk further. ..was this a solution or the beginning of the end?