As narrated by Zainab:
I walked aimlessly through the mall. I had come here to do some shopping but my mind was elsewhere. ..
“Hey pretty lady, I won’t ask what you’re doing here because we all know that this is your second home, but since you don’t have any shopping bags can you help me please”, Nemo asked, flashing me his broadest smile
I raised my eyebrow at him ” Which girlfriend is this for? ”
“Have some faith Zai…it’s for Aara, I want to get her something that she will love and that will cheer her up”
“Aah shopping for a bestie that sounds much better”
After browsing and browsing, Nemo settled on a R8000 heart shaped diamond encrusted pendant with a beautiful chain.
“I don’t see how this is going to cheer her up”, I said questioningly
“Diamonds are a girls best friend remember”
“Yes but this is Aara genius. ..she would be happy with a funky t shirt or a gummy bear or a cute mug…diamonds for a friend doesn’t exactly say ‘friend’ you know what I mean? ”
“T shirt, gummy bear and a mug we can get that too”, he said as he avoided answering the last part of my question
” You really don’t know what she would like do you? ”
“Zainab if I knew then I wouldn’t have needed help ok. ..I’m trying just give me a break already”
” I’m just saying. ..”
“She’s feeling very down and I really just want to cheer her up ”
” Or maybe you’re just trying to take Zoheb’s place”…and I finally mustered up the courage to say it aloud
I expected Nemo to get mad at me and walk away, instead he sat down on a bench nearby.
“I do love her Zainab. ..I’m terrified of telling her that. ..but…ugh I don’t know”,he said as he held his head
“After we moved to Joburg I never really paid attention to what Aara likes and doesn’t like and after my rehabilitation, she was far gone from being what she was…and I am responsible for that”
“No it’s the truth. ..and this is my last chance Zai I will never get this back but I will never hurt her even if her answer is no”
We sat in silence for a while longer before he got that funky tshirt, a gummy bear and a cute mug for Aara, and after thanking me profusely. ..he left.
What do you tell someone who is in an emotional confusion. ..I didn’t know if Nemo really loved Aara or whether he loved her because she loved Zoheb.
But they were adults. ..I had my own drama to deal with. .
As narrated by Nemo :
At 8pm sharp, I was ready and waiting. I had asked her to dress casually. ..think campus style and be free and so she did.
Her eyes lit up the minute she saw the car…
“Hey where did you get this old thing from? “,she said as she tapped the bonnet in excitement. .”wasn’t this car parked in Durban? ”
“Ziyaad drove it up for me this morning”, I said with a huge smile
Aara was genuinely happy. ..even if just temporarily, but I had gotten a glimpse of the old Aara for a few seconds and it felt awesome!
“Where is he anyway? ”
“Oh don’t worry you will see him later”
And she laughed
“Dressed like this, sitting in this old red golf…I think that I can forget that I am a working woman with financial obligations and a boss to answer to”
“That’s the plan”,I winked
We drove slowly and sang along to some golden oldies. There was no particular point to this evening. ..I just wanted her to remember and relive a few moments from our past…before the drama, before the heart ache.
“I’m starving! !”
“That’s nothing new”,I grinned “There’s a basket in the back. .help yourself”
” My word Nemo did you make these?”, she said with her mouth full “It’s been ages since I’ve eaten peanut butter and cheese together”
“There’s custard and jelly too but I bought that”
We had stopped at Zoo Lake, put our picnic basket on the bonnet and ate away. This may not have been the best choice of food for most but for us, there were many memories attached to it.
“This reminds me of our Durban days and when we first came here”, she said as she took another slice
“If we could turn back the clock to back then. ..what would you do differently? ”
After a brief silence. ..she answered
“Sometimes I wish that we had never moved here but then we would never have met our friends. ..I don’t know it’s a tough question…what about you? ”
“Why would you wish that we had never moved here? ”
“Answer the question Nemo don’t question my answer”
“I will, but out of curiosity just tell me please”
“We went through crap right. ..if we never came here we wouldn’t have gone through all of that. ..we wouldn’t have lost so much of time”, she said with her head down
“Do you really think that things could have been different?”
” Perhaps ”
“Then let’s go back. ..leave all this behind and start over. ..we will always keep in touch with our friends”
“Are you serious? “, she laughed ” No Nemo I’m quite used to it now…now answer my question ”
” I guess I would have listened to you the first time around. ..then I would never have lost you”
Silence. Dead, deafening silence as I looked at her and as she looked at me…
“Would have, could have, should have but didn’t. ..every single person has some regret or the other. .we live, we love, we learn that’s what life is about isn’t it”, she said as she smiled softly
I looked at her for a few seconds longer and then smiled to myself.
“Here, this is for you”, I said as I handed her the gummy bear
“Now this is what you call a gift!”,she said as she hugged it
” You are one strange creature Aara Ismail ”
” How can you call me a creature? “, she asked me wide eyed
“The same way that you call me a “thing “, I said as I laughed
And that’s pretty much how we spent the weekend. Talking, laughing, cheering on learner drivers who were nervously driving with their driving instructors, sliding down balustrades, meeting up with Ziyaad, doing random crazy stuff that we used to do back then. And every day, she laughed and she smiled and I could do this over and over again just for that.
We even watched one of her favourite movies, ironically one that proclaimed that love didn’t have to be spoken to be felt, it’s an undeniable feeling of happiness that has no verbal language, because our hearts speak to each other and our minds understand. Through actions and emotions, love is conveyed- even if it’s left unspoken. We ended up laughing and tearing together and whenever I could see that she was slipping again. ..I would whistle or hum the lyrics for her and even sang it aloud for her while we were walking around at the flea market. Needless to say, Aara covered the side of her face with her hand and pretended not to know me:-D
Honestly, as much as I felt guilty about Zoheb, I was also glad to have my best friend back-just the way that it once used to be. Just me and her and nobody else. In these few days, I got to see my Aara, my carefree and happy Aara but I didn’t know that even though she was happy with me, an inferno raged on in her heart.
“I’m really getting edgy not hearing from Aadil”, she said as she sat down next to me
” Maybe he died”, I said hopefully
“Or maybe he’s planning something big”, she said raising her eyebrow at me
I squeezed her hand tightly. ..
” If he doesn’t contact us by tomorrow, you do know that Plan B comes into play”, she said worriedly
Plan B. AB Vawda’s “ingenious” Plan B.
If Plan B comes into play tomorrow, then it will open up a can of worms and it will lessen the time that I have left with Aara. ..because Zoheb would be coming back in 7 days time.
“Tick tock tick tock. ..your time starts now Nemo. ..”, destiny’s clock mocked at me, knowing full well that I stood to either gain everything or lose everything and this time it may just be for good…