As narrated by Laeeka :
It was a normal day like any other, in our home. Riza was busy doing something in the room, Yahya was playing in the garden and Isa was keeping me company in the kitchen,humming along to his nursery rhymes while I prepared breakfast. The weather was beautiful and silently offered to brighten up our dampened spirits. We hid it well, not wanting the children to catch on that inside we were still reeling from the shock of losing one of our closest friends and watching the other dwindle away in sorrow and misery.
But such is the life of a parent, and it made it easier stepping into Yahya and Isa’s world and be lost momentarily in their innocent conversations and bursts of tiny giggles. Yet even then, just the sight of them pulled my mind in the direction of Hana. And it would all play out over and over again, as though it was the first time that it was happening.
I was once again snapped out of my chain of thought by Isa who tugged on my shirt to point out what his “always-up-to-no-good” brother was doing…
And I immediately and impulsively caught my breath…
“Yahya do not put that in your mouth! ” , I said loudly, catching sight of him through the kitchen window as panic began filling my body ever so swiftly
Lunging over the steaming hot breakfast, I darted through the back door to try and reach Yahya before he put yet another frog into his mouth.
“Yahya you can’t put frogs into your mouth my darling how many times must I tell you that ” , I said, breathing a sigh of relief at stopping him in the nick of time
Yahya was a sight for sore eyes. Both of them were, and as they grew they had grown so much alike in physical appearance. Light brown hair, except Yahya’s was straight and Isa’s was curly. Both of them shared the same shade of blue-green eyes, the same small noses…but their personalities were poles apart. Isa was quiet, content and so well behaved while Yahya was loud, noisy and loved having his own way!
Tilting his head to one side, and seemingly studying my face while I crouched down beside him, Yahya placed both his little arms on my shoulders and spoke in a tone that reminded me of Nemo!
“Mummy…the frogzies are tasty we must eat them!”
I looked at him, highly amused and burst out laughing!
“It’s FROG…and we don’t eat frogs..Dada said we must eat food!”, Isa chipped in, now with both his little arms around my neck
I was happily sandwiched and rolling with laughter, as the hugs turned into a mini tackle of sorts. My heart was immediately filled with delight, pride, joy all at once…Allah had given me not one but two of his angels and I couldn’t possibly ever imagine my life without them.
All this while, Riza was watching us, leaning against the door with a goofy grin on his face and as I finally caught sight of him smiling at us, a sense of calm and appreciation swept over me. I didn’t want to lose my family…I wanted to watch my children grow..I wanted to be there for everything…
“Again? ” , Riza asked me with the broadest smile on his face
“Almost ” , I grinned back
“Frogzies are tasty ” , Yahya laughed mischievously
Riza lovingly scooped both of them into his arms and came closer to me…”I’m sure they are”, he winked…and planted a kiss on my cheek….and as always, both the boys looked at each other and giggled and I knew that my inlaws would get the ultra dramatized version of it from Yahya:-p
“Knock knock…dadi’s here for breakfast! ”
Yep. We had bought a house right next to my inlaws a year ago. When I had gotten married I never would have thought that I would want to live this close to her but now I can’t imagine my life without her! She has been nothing but good to me over these years, making conscious efforts to nurture the relationship between us and them. I met her halfway too and I am so glad that it is this way.
She is so amazing with the boys and they are just damn lucky to have her in their lives. And I’ve grown to love her too…even though the clanking of her heels on my tiles drove me nuts, and even though she was a little obsessed with keeping my house ultra clean…it didn’t come anywhere close to the delicious home cooked meals that she prepares without me asking when I get busy with Isa whenever he falls ill, it didn’t come anywhere close to the love that she showers on my children, it didn’t come anywhere close when she defends them against primitive idiots who scoff at us because my children are adopted, it didn’t come anywhere close to the time that she willingly spends with us, wanting to be a part of our lives within reason…it didn’t come anywhere close to the warm conversations that we had, with her sharing her parenting skills. I mean she did raise Riza after all and he is such a gem. Nothing comes close to her by a long shot and I am saying this in my full senses.
Laughter ensued at the breakfast table…picture perfect if you must. I’ve always appreciated these moments, but ever since Zoheb passed away, I’ve learned to live them, treasure them..fully enjoy them because they may just be my last.
While my father in law eventually settled down with the boys in the lounge , my mother in law ushered us into the kitchen.
“I just got a call now ” , she said almost breathlessly
“Woah mummy breathe”
“They have landed in Jhb and they wanted to know Aara’s address “, she said, looking between me and Riza
“Who mummy???” , I asked worriedly. My heart skipped a beat…who wants to meet Aara so urgently…my mother in law is normally so calm and collected…who is making her this nervous???
“Zoheb’s parents! ”
“What are they doing…” , I said as Riza looked at me…and as realization dawned upon us,”The hearing of the will!”, both of us said together…
Wait, there was no response from them right? As far as I know, we thought that they weren’t coming…
“But that’s only in the afternoon, why do they want her address now? “, I said without thinking
” I don’t know…Both of you go..don’t worry about the boys I’ll sort them out ”
I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe they just wanted to visit Aara and Hana. Maybe they wanted to apologize and sympathize. Maybe they wanted to spend some time with them. But after so long? They hadn’t even phoned Aara after Zoheb passed away…all I knew was that they had phoned my inlaws and that was it.
I tried to get dressed as fast as I could. All of us had been requested to be there at Aara’s house,by Zoheb’s attorney who fortunately for us was a friend of ours, so while I tried to sort myself out, Riza was already on the phone with him.
“Brought forward… Why?… That’s strange….Okay….”
Riza’s “hmmms” and “ahas” were slowly driving me a little insane, as the conversation continued from our bedroom, right through to us exiting our home and in the car as well.
And when he finally ended the call, he seemed so lost in thought that he had forgotten to tell me what the attorney had said!
“And??”, I asked impatiently
“Sorry love…Akbar said that it was a last minute change, they insisted on it and he obliged out of respect to Zoheb…he was about to call me when I called him”
And those two lines took him so long to discuss over the phone…??
“Are you sure that’s it?”
Riza was quiet…and hesitated before continuing….
“I already know what’s in Zoheb’s will…he told me about it some time back..I just hope that it’s not necessary and doesn’t come to that”
“What do you mean?”…I asked softly, not sure whether Riza knowing was a good thing or a bad thing
But before he could answer me, his phone rang. Arshad. And by Riza’s choice of words, Arshad and Immy knew too.
Well then, if they knew then I’m sure it couldn’t be anything bad….
I looked out of the window at nothing in particular…I just hoped that whoever was here from Zoheb’s family had come with atleast an ounce of decency and compassion. I hoped that today could be over quickly and painlessly. Not for us…but for her.
Because whether anyone saw it or not…whether anyone realised it or not…whether anyone felt it or not. I didn’t know.
What I did know was that, in her silence, in her anguish…something was brewing. I had seen a flicker of it in her eyes as realization hit her whenever people would come to offer their condolences. I had seen it in the way that she unconsciously ran her finger over Zoheb’s wedding band that hung on a simple chain around her neck. I had caught a fleeting glimpse of it when she walked into the lounge and saw Nemo rocking Hana to sleep. The same Nemo who couldn’t stand kids was forming a bond with her child…
And it scared me.
Because it wasn’t a flicker of hope, nor was it a fleeting glimpse of adoration…it was a disturbing mix of anger and resentment. A disturbing mix of disappointment and shock…a disturbing mix of hurt and denial. For she had never cried in front of any of us, and I don’t even know if she knew what a brave front she was putting on…
Aara was a ticking time bomb…and I hoped upon hope…that she wouldn’t explode today.