As narrated by Zoheb :
From the second that we had landed in Durban, my heart flew away! It really did…I know that it sounds cheesy but it’s true.
It felt as though everyone knew it too. People just seemed to be smiling at me ! And just like in those bollywood movies, I thought that I too would break out into a song and dance sequence because I could see Aara everywhere!
She was the smiling air hostess, the frowning usher, the bossy driver, the lady running in high heels, she was the face of the lady at the parking meter. She raised her eyebrows at me when I bought my to-go cup of coffee from her….I tapped my head and grinned to myself sheepishly.
Never in a million years did I think that I would be THIS happy! I had a bounce in my step and it was exhilarating! I was getting married!
“I’m getting married! ” ,I said to an old man who was standing in front of me…and then to a random lady, and another man and another and another…I was on a roll!
“He’s embarrassing me in public! ” , I heard Zaeem say as he deliberately fell behind me and walked with the others, but I hopped on…tiptoeing with my trolley like a man on a mission!
I was in the same city as her again…perhaps the same gust of wind that touched my face in that split second, had touched hers too…maybe she too was looking up at the sky just the way that I was, just for a second. My heart was reaching out to hers across the elements of nature and I couldn’t wait to be with her…
We were greeted by a very happy looking Uzair and Sahal, followed by my father in law and one of his brothers. We were a huge group, as it wasn’t just my nani, aunts, cousins and all our friends, but Riza’s , Laeeka’s , Zainab’s, Arshad’s and Maariah’s parents and siblings too.
After we checked into our hotel, we were whisked away to the Ismail residence for lunch. And that meant that I would be able to see my beautiful.
“Welcome to the family ” , Sahal chuckled as I stood in front of a sea of people waiting to greet us!
“Woah they don’t do weddings small in S.A do they? ”
“Well you two are having a small wedding so my mother invited the whole dunya for today’s lunch and dinner ”
And before I could say anything else, I was engulfed into the arms of total strangers, and plastered with tons of sloppy kisses. The others weren’t spared either and they too had to follow suit obediently!
An eternity seemed to have passed, but still no sign of Aara.
Lunch was served amidst friendly banter and welcoming marital advice. Aunty Salma had included some of my favorites in the large menu and I knew that Aara had a hand in that somewhere.
I was about to break her rule of no calls until the wedding, when Maariah whispered to me that Aara wanted to meet me upstairs. I’m sure that my face had turned a few shades of red upon hearing that and I discreetly made my way up…only to see Riza, Arshad, Zaeem, Immy, Yazeed and Uzair sitting at the top of the staircase with cheesy smiles on their faces.
“What…are you guys doing here? ”
“We also want to see Aaroo how ” ,Riza laughed, “but only after you see her of course ”
Something was definitely up!
As soon as I put my hand on the door handle, it opened. And out stepped Laeeka and Zainab looking extremely flustered.
“Is everything okay? ” ,I asked worriedly
“Zoheb ” ,Zainab said, taking me aside, “Aara has had a bad reaction to her makeover…that’s why she didn’t come out and she’s crying non stop…don’t go in there ”
I didn’t listen of course, and hurriedly went into the room and there she was. Sitting on the bed with a big dupatta covering her head and face….and she was crying.
“Aara…”, I said softly, sitting next to her
“Go away…I look terrible ” , she sobbed
“You can never look terrible Applepie…whatever it is its fine really…”
“It’s bad Zoheb! ”
“I love you. ..and it doesn’t make a difference to me”, I said reassuringly
“Will you love me with a missing eyebrow, and a red face? ?”
“Of course I will ” , I said honestly
“Will you take wedding pics with me even though I look like a troll? ?”
“Yesss I will and no you don’t look like a troll! ” , I laughed
“You’re laughing at me ” , she cried
“Noooo I didn’t mean to laugh and I’m not laughing at you baby come on…let me see ”
After more hesitation, she slowly lifted her dupatta. Oh my word! !!
She didn’t even look like Aara from any angle, and the makeup as I noticed, was so heavily plastered… but her voice…I had heard her voice…
And without invitation, the door burst open and all of them climbed onto the bed…and within seconds, all of them were screaming!
“You look like Fiona !”
“Leave Fiona, you look like Shrek! ”
“Zoo you have guts boss!”
“Aara ” smiled at everyone without any tears. ” I was just testing him…I’m so happy baby that you still accepted me like this, because this is a permanent makeover ”
I grinned to myself and came towards her, startling her as I put both my hands on either side of her…and I tickled “her “. And within seconds, Nemo’s phone slipped out from under the dupatta, the call still active and everything started falling out one by one! The false teeth was first!
“Stop Zoheb stop “, Nemo begged, “I can’t handle anyone tickling me”
Everyone, even though I’m sure that they too were in on it, started tickling him as well! And then it was selfies galore…trashing Aara’s bed and rugs!
“You do drag very well bru” , Immy laughed
Nemo pulled out the wig and the girls helped him get the make up and jewellery off.
“It still don’t see her…where is she? “, I asked, looking around
“You have to find her ” , Nemo winked, “and here is your first clue ”
And he handed me a yellow daffodil. I looked at it, a little perplexed, until it struck me…and I rushed out onto her balcony and looked towards the garden bridge lined with yellow daffodils. And there she was. Her back turned towards me. But it was her alright.
I literally flew down the stairs and thankfully, almost everyone was already in the tent having tea…
But when I got to the bridge, she was gone…
And she had left another clue behind…a miniature swing.
I smiled to myself knowing exactly what that meant and I hurried off towards the garden swing , where I had once opened my heart to her…only to find another clue. A picture of a glasshouse.
The glass veranda at the back! I was out of breath and going crazy trying to find her. I hadn’t seen her the entire week and I was on the edge of desperation….
And there she was…standing inside the glass veranda, in a beautiful lehenga. The dupatta was over her face and she stood as still as a statue. I rushed over and tried to open the door. But it was locked from the inside. ” I’m dying without you…” , I pleaded, placing both my hands against the glass
Her dupatta was heavily beaded but the fabric wasn’t very thick and I could see her eyes and the outline of her cheeks and lips…
She walked towards me and placed both her hands on mine, with just the glass separating us. I smiled as she moved her finger with mine, I smiled as I watched her smile through her thin veil. I so much wanted to hold her…just for a second.
And she slowly stepped backwards, smiled…as my desperation grew stronger…and disappeared into the house.
I looked around for another clue…but there was none.
When I got back into the house, all the ladies were already seated in the lounge ready to put mehndi and no men were allowed in. The girls gloated about how they knew our tricks and how they wouldn’t let us in so it ruined any chances for me.
I could hear people say Aara this and Aara that but I couldn’t see her…
Even buttering Shaakirah didn’t help.
And then very halfheartedly, and much to the chagrin of Riza and Arshad, I resigned myself to the men’s section.
As narrated by Aara :
This morning, I sat outside in the balcony for a little longer than usual. Zoheb would be landing later on and our wedding celebrations would begin…and so would the rest of my life.
As my fingers traced the top of my coffee mug, a small smile crept upon my face. I was getting married.
To a guy who I had known for just a year, a once stuck up, arrogant, rude creep I couldn’t stand…now held my heart in his dimpled smile. Yes, physical attraction is one thing, but I had fallen in love with his soul. Completely.
Nemo’s words to me on our way back home yesterday, made more sense today than it did then. We don’t know what the future holds, but today is what we have and today is good enough. Life is too short and things will change, but what guarantee do we have that we will see tomorrow? Live today, the way that it should be, grab today by its horns and let it be the best day of your life. We are bound to make mistakes but that’s what makes us human. We shouldn’t stop living because of it…We should learn from it and pray for the opportunity to experience tomorrow.
My smile grew broader. Nemo giving me advice was a first. And when he did, it hit home hard.
As the day progressed ,Sahal had sent me pictures of Team Groom’s arrival at the airport and Uzair enlightened me about Zoheb’s very contagious excitement. And eventually, all the noise downstairs, alerted us of their arrival . Aisha added the final touches to my make up and checked my lehenga for the umpteenth time. It was a mughal inspired creation and I’ve always wanted to wear something like this. I twirled around yet again to take in the sight of it…that’s how much I loved it.
And then it was time to get Nemo sorted, as a part of his idea to play a prank on Zoheb.
I was on the line with Nemo and the phone was on speaker, so every time Zoheb said something, I answered so that he wouldn’t doubt anything…but I really really wish I could have seen their reactions!
Watching Zoheb run to the garden bridge, touching the yellow daffodils with a sense of familiarity brought back one of our sweetest memories. And as he held the swing, my heart, just like his…wandered straight back to the night that both of us sat there under the stars.
The glass veranda, the only place where he could “see ” me and not be able to touch me…and allow me to enjoy that look of desperation on his face! Zoheb must have thought that I was joking when I said that he would only properly see my face now after our nikah. He didn’t understand it and I just did it to tease him, because I too was just as restless as him…only I could hide it better.
With the help of the girls, I got into the lounge without a hassle and our little mehndi session began.
I didn’t want the mehndi artist to do mine..nope…my mehndi would be done by my mum, Zainab, Laeeka and Maariah. Four strong ladies who have impacted my lives so greatly and it didn’t matter if the designs didn’t match or looked a bit oblong…what mattered was that along with their mehndi, was their duas. And with every drop of mehndi that they so lovingly applied , they poured a little bit of their own hearts into my hands. Emotions ran high, and I found myself crying more than any of them had during their weddings! And that was weird because I was unfortunately, one of those who would roll their eyes when brides cried..and now I was doing just the same.
During supper, Zainab stayed with me while everyone else went to eat.To see Zai this happy was absolutely awesome! She was thoroughly enjoying married life and had already made herself at home with her inlaws. Aunty Sawleha was such a gem anyway and Zainab was just damn lucky!
After a good laugh, Zainab’s phone rang and after a few “ahaas ” she excused herself and said she’d be back in a few.
I so much wanted to be outside but a few old aunties had given me undeniably ridiculous reasons for staying inside and I had to agree to “keep the peace “.
“I hope you don’t mind Aara but he was begging me so much I just had to “, Zainab said with a guilty smile, as She moved a little to reveal a blindfolded Zoheb holding a plate of food.
And my heart kinda melted again….
Zainab guided him to sit right in front of me and I held back the urge to laugh!
“How are you going to feed me when you can’t see me?”
”You don’t want me to see you…and you’re enjoying it also”, Zoheb said as he tried to guide the first piece of chicken to my mouth
I was starving so I greedily welcomed it and said nothing.
“Aara…” , he said softly
“Hmmm”…I replied in a tune I hadn’t heard before
“Can you believe that we are getting married tomorrow?”
“I can…and I can’t wait”, I whispered shyly
Zoheb’s deep dimples adorned his face and marked it’s place once more in my heart…
“I never thought when we first met that one day we would be sitting here like this”, he whispered
“You used to hate me!”, I laughed
“You didn’t like me much either”, he said, pinching my cheek
“And now I don’t know what I would do without you”, I said as a tear involuntarily fell from my eye
“I will always be with you…always”, he said, wiping my tear away
“How did you know?”, I asked stunned…
“I’ve left everything to be with you Aara…you are priceless to me…I can feel anything that happens to you”
“You can remove the blindfold…”, I said, overwhelmed with emotion
“No…”, he said, stroking my cheek..”I will see you now as my wife..”
He kissed my forehead, and called out to Zainab, who was waiting patiently outside…and left.
Tears of happiness fell from my eyes and I silently thanked my Creator for blessing me with him, and prayed that ours would be a long and happy story…
Salaams and a HUGE HELLO
I have very good reasons for my disappearing act last week..uhmmmm..
I was really busy AND I didn’t want to post and then post again after a week or so, soooo I’ve compiled some back to back posts to make it a treat and fulfill my I owe you’s :-p
From Today until this Sunday, there will Insha Allah be around 6 posts or so..bringing us with no long waiting to an overdue season finale:)
This entire SEASON 5 is dedicated to the residents of Loonyville…luv u guys mwwwah!
A special shout out to Fati and Rums for your assistance through all the weddings and a huge THANK YOU to every single reader of LLD…U truly bring out the best in me when it comes to my writing:)
Have a blessed Jummah!
Lots of Lov