As narrated by Immy:
We were summoned by Nemo to Arshad’s house very excitedly. I wonder what was up. Maariah and I had gone to see Zainab yesterday and everything was still unchanged…so why Nemo was excited, was beyond me right now.
Aara got off Nemo’s car and rolled her eyes at Maariah to obviously indicate that Nemo was probably upto something ridiculous. But I liked ridiculous, in fact I think we needed ridiculous at this point in our lives because there seemed to be a permanent grey cloud looming above us these days!
“I saw that” , Nemo said to Aara
“So? “, she muttered
And they continued bickering a little as we entered Arshad’s house and to be honest, it was quite refreshing!
Riza and Laeeka were already there and Aunty Sawleha was busy putting up one of her fabulous spreads on the dining room table.
” My sweetheart “, Nemo said putting his arm around her , ” how did you know that I was hungry? ”
It wasn’t just Aunty Sawleha who smiled but all of us too!
I didn’t know that Zainab’s parents were also invited but I was more than pleasantly surprised to see that they were happy to be a part of whatever it was that Nemo had up his sleeve.
“I can’t believe that I am saying this” , Riza said finally, “but I am actually dying to know what’s going on in that head of yours”
I think we all were!
Nemo downed another dhaiwara and slurped on his tea to get everyone’s attention “Okay so before you jump down my throat hear me out”
He looked at all of us seated around at this large table..one by one…
“You see I was watching a serial with Maa about a daughter in law not being able to take a divorce without staying with her husband for six months right… ”
A few of them looked at each other but said nothing…but my beloved wife burst out laughing! I didn’t watch Indian serials but hey I wanted to know more!
“Maariah… shhh.. anyway so I thought that we could implement the same thing with Zainab and Arshad because I think they just need to spend some time together”
Everyone just stopped. Pies and samoosas half way to their mouths, and stared at him in shock!
“Are you really A. K Moolla’s son? ” , Zainab’s father asked Nemo wide eyed
Arshad had his head down, Aara, Riza and Laeeka had the widest grins plastered across their faces, Maariah was STILL laughing and I was so confused!
“Nemo this isn’t a tv serial! And its so filmy even if you con it! “, Maariah laughed
“When our near and dear ones defy all logic and refuse to listen to us,we sometimes have to resort to the most ridiculous means to get them back on track.. that is unless any of you have any better ideas? ”
He did have a point. Zainab was after all, a hard nut and she wouldn’t really listen to anyone unless she was completely forced to by law…
“Nemo you’re right”, Riza grinned, ” this is bloody ridiculous… I’m in! ”
“Me too” , I said honestly
“Do whatever you have to but bring Zainab back… this house is empty without her”, Aunty Sawleha pleaded
Zainab’s father looked deep in thought while he discussed something with Uncle Irshaad.
” But then this is not India, their laws pertaining to divorce and ours are very different ” , Uncle Irshaad said
“Don’t worry I’ve got that covered” , Nemo assured
And then finally he too relented!
” Okay what do we need to do? ”
“Right, tomorrow I will draft a legal document for you Arshad, I will officially be your lawyer and Uncle Yunus I’m sure that your relationship with your family lawyer is good right? ”
Zainab’s father nodded in acknowledgement.
“Then I need you to fill him in on this and I will also need to meet him. Right that’s one, secondly Zainab and Arshad will have to live alone for these 6 months”
Arshad looked up at Nemo in confusion..but before he could say anything…
“That too is sorted”, Nemo smiled.. ” you guys can stay in my apartment and we’ll make it toddler friendly or whatever you call it ”
Aara raised her eyebrow and then even I wanted to laugh!
“And where will you live??? ” , she asked
“I’ll stay here with Aunty Sawleha and Uncle Irshaad if they don’t mind”
“Ofcourse we don’t mind”, Uncle Irshaad smiled
Maariah was so right. Everyone’s parents had a soft spot for Nemo, and he loved them in return. Lol..and it didn’t worry him to just move in with any one of them whenever he wanted to:-p
” So it’s settled then. And guys we’re all in this together from activities to workshops.. Whatever it takes to get these two together okay ”
There was no doubt about it. All of us were definitely in, although just a bit eager to see how this whole thing was going to unravel…
Five years without Nemo and he comes back like a hurricane on a mission!
It was a bittersweet feeling, as memories of our old times flashed across our minds…
“I love you ” , I whispered into Maariah’s ear and she squeezed my hand in return.
And I was so grateful that we were still together and still going strong. I was so grateful that she was kind and understanding and that she was still so madly in love with me. Arshad and Zainab’s current situation scared me..because they were so happy too and now look at them…
As narrated by Nemo:
I looked at Aara from the corner of my eye while I waited for the robot to change. She was a little like her old self at Arshad’s but now it was like she was in a whole different avatar…
Tapping my steering wheel to the beats of the deafening silence that invaded my car , trying to gauge what was going on in her mind…
“Can I ask you something? “, I said after debating within myself on whether I should or not
” If I say no , you’ll still ask so what is it? “, she asked abruptly
Okay I wasn’t really going to ask her that, I was going to ask her why her demeanor changes so suddenly but her horrible reply prompted me to ask her otherwise..not that I didn’t want to know this but did I want to know it just yet..THAT was the question.
“That what? ”
“That… why do you do that.. you don’t do it to any of the others, it’s almost as though you reserve it for me”
“I thought you’d never ask” , she replied, her voice thick with sarcasm
I held onto to the steering wheel a little tighter…
A few more moments of silence passed, it was my turn to go and I carried on driving.
“So answer it then”, I prodded on
“Because I want you to go, there I said it” , she said without an ounce of emotion
“Go where Aara? “, I prodded further
“Wherever… but I want you to go”
I exhaled slowly…this was it…
“What if I don’t want to go? ”
She turned and looked at me in disbelief. Yes, I could take much more rudeness than that.
“Then stop being in my face every damn day she is not your.. ”
“She is not my daughter, that’s what you want to say right? ” , I said as calmly as I could
“YES! “, she shouted
“Aara we were best friends, we grew up together we’ve been through such hell and back… ”
“Yes and I got married, you moved away, my husband died, I am a widow, things change!!! ”
Ouch. Her rage was so strong it was as though it were an actual third person between us…
“I’m still your friend Aara… why won’t you let me be there for you? ” , I said without thinking
Aara was close to tears but she held them back…
“Because I don’t need you in my life”
I brought the car to a screeching halt in shock and anger. I wanted her to let it out but I didn’t think that she would do it in a way that showed total disregard for whatever she believed in!
A whirlwind of emotions rushed through my brain and heart all at once. I knew that I was the problem, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad.
“What the f****** hell is your problem! Do you think that the whole world revolves around you and your loss”
She looked out the window as though I didn’t exist in the car and that made me even more mad.
“I am talking to you Aara! You said alot of hurtful things just let it all out dammit! ”
She looked at me and I could see the torrents of anger swirling in her eyes…
“What do you want to hear? What what what??? You think you can just waltz back into our lives with your over acting and happy go lucky ways? When the going gets tough you just pack your bags and leave and when the obstacle is out of the way you think you can come in and fill the gap??? Do you think that I am blind? Do you think that I can’t see what you’re doing? You can NEVER take his place Naeem ever! Not in my life, not in Hana’s life! ”
That stung badly. This was never my intention. She had it all wrong.
“Truth hurts doesn’t it? ”
Yes it does. And I am sorry, but you need to hear it…
“This is far from the truth Aara but you can’t see beyond yourself so how will you see it? You sit around quietly everyday while your daughter is growing up, you hardly play with her, you barely talk to your parents who have put their lives on hold to be there for you, you shut your friends out , you push me away, you lock yourself in a shell that only you have access to, so shoot me for caring but Zoheb was my friend too! “, I said firmly
She never said a word.
“I’m not trying to take his place, I can never do that. Yes I ran away, yes I distanced myself and it was anything but easy”
She continued staring out of the window, tears streaming down her face but didn’t say anything.
None of us would truly know the extent of her loss. While everyone played happy couple, minus me, she was alone. And I am sure that every time she saw Riza smile at Laeeka or Immy nudge Maariah.. her heart must have sunk back into its own memories.
The truth is, we tug around a ship of memories, we hold onto it as though our life depended on it.. The idea is to balance it to stay afloat, but the second that you let it consume you…you will sink. I should know.
“Aara… I just want to be there for you… I don’t care how many times you tell me to get out I’m not going anywhere, you can tell me whatever you want to, I’m still the same Nemo”, I whispered gently
And she finally looked at me, and allowed her tears to flow…
“I miss him so much Nemo” , she cried.. “Five years… five years was a lifetime.. I wake up every day to the reality that he’s not coming back.. to an empty bed , and empty seat at the table, and empty life. But I go on with my day silently.. And when I lie in bed every night struggling to fall asleep… It’s his mayyit in front of me all over again. ”
I swallowed hard…
“And I know , I know that this is life and I know that I have to accept it and I have… It’s just very, very difficult.. some days are easier than others but the reality is never going to change… ”
I didn’t know what to say to her. I tried so hard to put up this front that I was strong and cool and calm but I also lay in bed in tears every night struggling to fall asleep… knowing that I didn’t really know how to help her, knowing that she was heartbroken and it killed me. Yet everyday when I paid Hana a visit, I would put on my biggest smile and brush away the lost look in Aara’s eyes. The same look that would haunt me for hours when I was alone.
“I don’t want you to waste your days with us.. one of the reasons why you came back was to get married and I can see that you’re putting your life on hold because of me and Hana.. I’m sorry Nemo but I don’t want her to get too attached to you because it wont always be this way and my child won’t understand”, she sobbed
“I know that she loves you , I’ve seen the way that her eyes light up the minute you enter the room… She’s already lost her father Nemo I can’t put her through that again”
Now I was crying. I didn’t look at it in that way. I didn’t think beyond making Hana smile..
“How can I move on and start a new life when I know that you are in so much of pain? I don’t want to go anywhere I want to be there until I know that you’re okay”
I could see myself at an intersection within my soul..
“You’re 31 Nemo and I doubt that I’ll ever truly be okay… how long are you going to wait? ”
For as long as it takes.
“I know.. But I can’t”
“If I start you know.. going to see girls, will you allow me to help you heal? ”
Aara looked at me confused…
“I can’t do it. I can’t up and leave. I can’t do it again. Please… I’m doing this for myself”, I begged
She wiped her tears and stared out of the window again.
“Promise me that you will look for someone to get married to?”, she asked
“I promise… only if you promise to listen to me”
She laughed through her tears..
“I’ve never listened to you Nemo and I’m not about to start now”
“That’s a start” , I smiled, wiping away a stray tear
“Thank you… ”
“For what.. ”
“For pretending to be mature and grown up and for sticking around”
I shook my head and started my car again.
“You see this road… this is the new beginning of the end.. it will all be okay from here on.. ”
Aara was quiet for the rest of the journey back to her house and so was I. People often say that life’s highlights comes in moments, a sudden strong decision, a swift move of impulse. I wasn’t sure if this was it, but with a little bit of hope and a little bit of faith…it just could be.
Nice long post! Sorry, this post was ready yesterday but I was so tired that I fell asleep earlier than usual…