As narrated by Aara :
I held my hand out and watched the snowflakes fall onto my skin. Pulling my gloves off was such a good idea! I smiled to myself…I loved snow. Yes the after effects were messy and what not, but for now, in this moment, it was just sheer bliss. I looked up into the sky and sighed.
Where had I not been in this big wide world in these past three years…and with the best company I could have asked for . I had experienced many things to my hearts content. Making tawaaf of the Kaaba with him, paragliding in Argentina, strolling through the gardens of Kashmir, dipping my feet in all of the world’s oceans, trekking in Nepal, and I even held Paddington bear in my arms. But through all of it, a piece of my heart ached for Nemo. To see him settled, to see him happy, to see him loved…but today, I realised that my restlessness about him was true. He wasn’t happy, he wasn’t settled, he was just living…from one day to the next.
And I wrote into my imaginary diary. Another page that had no physical appearance…A page that would mark itself amongst my many pages of happy memories. A page that would stand out because it wasn’t “feel good ” like the rest of them.
“Today I met Nemo again…only it wasn’t him. It was Naeem”
“Today, I met my childhood again, only it was just a word, and something was missing”
” I hoped that 3 years would have been enough time for him to heal, but I was so wrong. Who am I to decide how much time would be enough for him to heal anyway? ”
“I could see that much had changed, and much had remained the same”
” And it really hurt. It hurt so much because I was happy, it hurt so much because I felt guilty that I was happy and he wasn’t.”
“Today I found my best friend again…only he didn’t look like my friend…He looked like a stranger ”
“I’m sure that he will warm up and come around ” , Zoheb said as he wrapped his arms around my waist…or my many layers of clothing rather
“Three years is a long time…” , I said softly
Zoheb pressed his lips against my headscarf and hugged me a little tighter…”Nemo is stronger than we know love and I know in my heart that one day he will rise above all of us ”
” I’d like that ” , I smiled
“So would I ” , he whispered
Zoheb. The beat to my heart. In these three years he has done everything to make me happy, to make me laugh, to make me live. He laughed with me when I would have my many mad moments, he comforted me when I would cry…He gave me words of hope whenever I would pour my heart out to him about Nemo. And he tried, he tried so many times to “patch up” our fading friendship.
Forsaking the world for his love for me, he hid his own sadness deep within his heart. A sadness that I knew, and couldn’t fix no matter how hard I tried.
“Is everyone ready? ” , I asked as I turned around to face him
“Riza and Nemo are in the lobby and Laeeka is still upstairs “he grinned mischievously
“Public place ” , I said, rolling my eyes at him and trying not to laugh
“Deserted public place ” , he whispered, kissing my cheek
And the butterflies were released once again….
“I’m flip flopping. ..” I whispered back
“I know ” he smiled
And I lost myself for a few seconds yet again. As I often did in these past few years with him. Zoheb had this magical way of putting my heart at ease every time…even though his own heart was in pain.
“Zohhhheeebbbb I know what I want to see next” , I said eagerly
“Hmmmm….The Great Wall of China…The Grand Canyon…Mount Everest…” he laughed, as he spoke of the places that was still on my bucket list
“The northern lights ” I whispered
Zoheb frowned in surprise. He didn’t know that I had overheard him telling Riza that as soon as he completes my bucket list, there was just one place that he really wants to see…
“Really” , I grinned as I threw my arms around his neck
“Public place ” , he teased
“Deserted public place ” , I chuckled
And I hugged him tightly and made a silent dua for his heartache to lessen. For his pain to go away, for him to finally be accepted…
As narrated by Laeeka :
When you hear the phrase, “everyday should be a celebration ” , you don’t really pay heed to it until you actually live it. And today was one of those days. We finally got to see Nemo again!
From what Aara had told me about their meeting, it sounded awkward. But I understood exactly how awkward it was during breakfast. And worry had started filling my heart when I watched Nemo chain smoking on the balcony of his room.
It was all put to rest though, when we headed out for lunch and Nemo fell in love with traditional Turkish Pide! It seemed to have broken the ice and Zoheb, Riza and I smiled as we watched Nemo and Aara compete with each other on who could finish theirs faster. The thing about old friends, true friends, is that…no matter how many years would pass us by without seeing one another, that old underlying feeling would always resurface and things would be right in the world again. And it was okay, even if it was just temporary.
It wasn’t easy to move around in this snow, but where there was a will there was a way and we had ventured around in Ortakoy, indulging in shopping and lots and lots of food. Standing in front of the icy waters of the Bosphorus, Aara, Nemo and I engaged in deep conversation after a long and tiring day…
“So you mean that they still don’t talk to him ?” , Nemo asked wide eyed
“Nope…” , Aara sighed…”remember I told you about when we went there after the wedding, and they were so rude to us…well, I still tried..I called, sent emails etc etc but nope…They still don’t talk to him”
Nemo looked down while Aara spoke. And I had a pretty good feeling about what he was thinking.
Yes, she travelled a lot. Yes she was happy. But it isn’t all hunky dory. Sometimes what we see isn’t what it really is.
“I would have thought that by now things would be different ” , he said softly
“What makes it harder, is ,as much as she’s annoying…Maaherah is getting married and forget me, they haven’t even invited him”
“The cow is getting married?? TO WHAT? ” Nemo grinned
I laughed with Aara, and I know that she too, for a second, had caught a glimpse of the Nemo we knew.
“To something that has courage that’s for sure ” Aara laughed
“I would never have guessed ” , Nemo said, as he turned to look at Zoheb, ” you can never tell with him…because he always looks so happy ”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover I guess ” , Aara shrugged
“I hope things work out Aara, I really do”
Aara blinked both her eyes at Nemo and he smiled. One of those smiles that were born directly from his heart.
“And when do we get to meet your twins?” , he asked, turning to me
“Tomorrow ” , I smiled, barely able to contain my excitement, “I’m going to be a mummy! ”
I couldn’t wait to see their adorable innocent faces again. Just a few formalities and they would be mine. When Riza and I decided to adopt, we chose to adopt a Syrian orphan. And while we had the image of one child in our minds, Allah blessed us with two.
I explained to Nemo about how we had received the call last week and our shock and elation on hearing that we would be receiving not one, but two little angels. My heart broke when Saeeda, the lady from the adoption agency told us about their short history. Isa and Yahya were both three months old when they had lost their parents, and their maternal grandmother fought against all odds to flee with them to Turkey. Fate however, was unkind to the old woman, who breathed her last a month ago, leaving behind five month old Isa and Yahya without any known living relative.
But Saeeda had known her personally, and she had taken a promise from her to not let the twins be separated. In these times, promises don’t mean much to anyone, especially a stranger, but Saeeda had taken it upon herself to honour the old lady’s last wish. As Isa was much weaker than his brother and was born with a rare illness, Saeeda kept walking into stone walls with their adoption. But she persevered, with the strong faith that Allah had a good home in store for these boys.
It touched me so deeply when I heard their story, and when I finally met them…when I took their small hands in mine, I knew that I had finally come home. These were my sons…They always were and they always would be. They weren’t the ones searching for me…it was me who was searching for them. It was me who needed them more than they needed me…
We weren’t allowed to meet them today because of some compulsory testing and paperwork but tomorrow we could, and the day after tomorrow..We could take them home.
Nemo looked at me with glistening eyes and Aara teared yet again. I would never tire of telling the story of my two little boys…and I was going to do everything that I could to make the rest of their story, one that is filled with happiness beyond measure.