As narrated by Nemo :
I had never once thought about how I’d look as someone else. Vanity aside, I was quite happy with the face that stared back at me every time I looked into the mirror.
So I guess that my shock was justified when I stared at the image of “me” on this matrimonial site!
“It looks like…” , Zoheb chuckled, scratching his chin…” what’s that lady’s name Babe? ”
Aara looked at me and tried to mask the grin on her face. Oh yes, I knew it all too well.
“Ashwari Rai! ” , Zoheb said happily
“Aishwarya Rai ” , Aara chuckled as she corrected him…”and this is a very interesting mix of her and Nemo’s face ”
Yep. That was correct. apart from the Nemo -Aishwarya face mix…The ad itself was “out of this world “.
Requirements :World’s most eligible bachelor seeks compatible female between the age of 21 -28. Must be slim and intelligent. Colour is not an issue. Race is not an issue. Contact lenses, face creams and makeup will be provided.
About me : Multimillionaire, tall , fair extremely handsome. Built like Michael Jordan, sings like Atif Aslam , looks like Olivier Giroud, speaks like Ryan Reynolds!
What a load of rubbish!!!
What the hell was Riza thinking!
And perfectly on que, Riza came strolling into the pediatric clinic cafeteria.
“What’s up guys? ” ,he grinned…and all three of us were silent.
“Naeembhai Moollawala huh” , I said, walking towards him
Riza’s eyes widened and so did his grin! And he burst out laughing!
Looking at him laughing, Aara started laughing…and I did the unthinkable.
I tackled Reez like a five year old, dropping him to the ground, and tickling him in the process!
“Stop stop Nemo stop ” , he begged, but I wouldn’t relent
And then the friendly tackle became a boyish scuffle, as we got to our feet, threw a few “missed your face” punches into the air, head butted and tripped each other ! It was just us here anyway.
But the second someone entered the cafeteria, shocked at what was happening, Zoheb got up quickly and played referee! He whistled and acted as though it was some kind of practice session going on…and all the while, Madame Aara recorded it.
Out of breath, we retreated to the cold leather clad dining booth and downed Aara and Zoheb’s now ice cold coffee without asking.
“I hope you see the logic behind the joke ” , Riza laughed
“What…and stock up on fairness creams and contact lenses ” , I laughed
“Jokes aside bru…you’re in demand, with or without Aishwarya Rai’s help…One step forward is all it will take ”
I knew that this lecture was coming. ..
While Riza deactivated the ad from Zoheb’s Ipad, he dished out a whole lot of advice. What he said was right, no doubt. But how was I supposed to move on when my heart was still stuck in the past. And when she was right in front of me with her husband.
I was content the way I was, but I nodded nonetheless. He meant well. And in all this, I felt good, it felt nice to reconnect with a part of me that I had thought that I had lost.
Maybe there was hope and maybe it would find me one day.
As the saying goes. .”time flys when you’re having fun ” , I found much truth in it this time around . What had started off as awkward ,developed into a rekindling of hidden memories.
Isa and Yahya had taken to Riza and Laeeka so wonderfully, and it was especially heartwarming to see Laeeks so happy. I knew that she had finally come full circle and it showed.
I had to literally stick my fingers into my ears when Aara started her cooing again and laughed my head off when she entertained them with her terrible singing.
All in all, I realised that this trip was far from what I thought it would be. It rejuvenated my soul right down to its very depths.
While I packed the last few items into my bag, my mind lingered to the time I had spent with Zoheb yesterday. He had accompanied me on a last minute shopping spree, buying gifts for all the kids. Yep, I actually spent my money on gifts for four boys who barely knew me..lol..and well, for all my friends too. Zoheb hadn’t changed a bit, and I knew that he knew what I would never say aloud. And still, there was no indifference.
And today we’d all part ways again. I’d be off to my black and white life again, Riza and their families would be off to South Africa, and Zoheb and Aara would remain for a few days more in Turkey. I didn’t know when we would meet again but I had every intention to not let the impact of this trip go to waste. I shook the snow globe that Aara had gifted me this morning…”Home is where the heart is” was engraved on a tiny little house at the center of it.
I would never truly find home again Aara, because home is you. And it will always be you. I may find happiness and maybe even love…but until then, home will never be mine..
After a while, we indulged once again in some tantalizing Turkish treats and eventually bid our goodbyes to Riza and Laeeka. Riza had held onto me a little longer, becoming slightly emotional and asked me several times to come back to S.A .
I swallowed the lump in my throat. I missed all of them too. I always thought that they would probably have no place for me in their lives, because I was now the odd one out. No wife, no kids. How wrong I was. Yes things were a little different but the foundation of all our relationships was still as strong as it had always been.
As time passed and my flight was announced, a bittersweet feeling consumed everything in me. This was it…until I don’t know when. And when this feeling overtook me, I knew that my decision to move away was always right.
Because that feeling was helplessness, that feeling was pain, that feeling was suffocation…to see her and know that she wasn’t mine. I made zikr frantically and silently. Zoheb was my brother, this was wrong.
“Look after yourself okay ” , Zoheb said as he patted me on my shoulder
“I always do” , I smiled
Aara stood in front of both of us, her eyes red and puffy, and she looked down trying hard not to cry again.
“Madame…your crying is temporary because if I know you at all, after I’m gone all you have to do is eat something and you’ll be fine “, I laughed, trying to hide my own heartache
Even though she laughed a little, it spurred on even more tears and Zoheb had to eventually wrap his arms around her to calm her down.
“Listen now…” , I said, coming closer to both of them trying to lighten things up , “there’s already four boys…We need a little girl now okay ”
A few shots flew my way from Aara while she rested her head on Zoheb’s shoulder!
The final boarding call for my flight was announced and I stepped away from them, hugging Zoheb and blinking both my eyes at Aara…walking backwards, taking in the sight of them together…I turned and took the first steps back to my world.
“Maybe the little girl will be yours! ” , Zoheb shouted cheerfully
I turned around, rolled my eyes at them and playfully lifted my right hand in salute .