As narrated by Arshad:
Every time that I would come to drop Adnaan at playschool, the playground would tempt me! These kids were so damn lucky! I don’t remember my playschool being this exciting but then again , I doubt that my parents paid an arm and a leg as fees! I literally imagined giving the principal my limbs at the end of each month because yoh the fees were crazy!
As parents I guess we just wanted to give our kids the best of everything no matter what difficulty it put us in. I looked up at Riza, who had just arrived with his boys and couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.. Lol.. One child is enough thank you.
Leaning against one of our cars, parked under the large, bare oak tree, watching our four hop along with each other into their school, was a morning routine. It lasted around 10 minutes, but we looked forward to it.
“Pull in later you two”, Riza chirped, “I’m dying to finish that game”
“No, you’re dying to get beaten by Immy again”, I grinned
Immy was a boss when it came to Fifa especially and Riza could never win against him…ever!
“Bleh..I’m sort of grounded”, Immy laughed
“Oh don’t tell me”, I laughed, lifting my hand to my head, “Maariah actually grounded YOU!”
“Mr.Tough Guy only outside the house are we Immy”, Riza winked
“Guilty as charged…apparently we are addicted and don’t know when to stop and yeah well you know the drill”
It was addictive there was no doubt about that but it was so much fun too.
“I wonder if they will be like us”, Riza said very emotionally, motioning towards Adnaan, Yahya, Isa and Uthmaan as they waved to us from their classroom, “I wonder if they will be best friends too”
Solemn moment. Riza was seriously showing quite a lot of pregnancy symptoms and emotions, and I had read somewhere that it was not uncommon, just very rare. Well we have a one in a million amongst us then didn’t we.
“Awwww my batchu”, I teased, throwing my left arm around Riza’s shoulder and playfully shaking him, “you want a tissue?”
Riza being Riza, put his head on my shoulder and threw his free hand across my shoulder!
“Arshoo, you’re so peppy and happy this morning that you’re making me wanna cry for you”, he sniffed playfully
Well ofcourse I was happy! My wife emailed me after three months with a few answers and a new hope…so yep, to say that I was on cloud 9 would be an exaggeration, cloud maybe…3 or 4 was good enough for now.
If I ever had a doubt that the universe was conspiring against me..it was now confirmed.Beyond a doubt! For right in front of us, stood a very dumbfounded Faseeha! Yes, THAT Faseeha. Joburg is quite small apparently and well her kid goes to my kids school as well.
While Riza clutched at my shirt, his eyes shut and still behaving as though he was crying, Immy smiled a fake smile to himself, with his eyes to the ground.
I tried to shrug Riza off as he moaned about how he was craving for a tomato sandwich…ewww..but he wouldn’t relent and Faseeha’s eyes widened to the point of almost popping out of her head!
“Arshad”, she smiled (and it was a forced smile)
“Faseeha”, I nodded, trying not to laugh
By now Riza’s ears had perked up, and he straightened himself quickly.
“How are you Riza?”, she asked
“I am well..except for all these pregnancy cravings gosh it’s hectic man”, Riza said dramatically
That was enough to make her do a 180 degree turn, mumble what sounded like a goodbye and was hot on her heels – AWAY from us! Man, was I glad that I didn’t marry her! How silly of her…she knew Laeeka because of the kids and she knew that Laeeka was pregnant so now what was she thinking….
“What are the chances?”, I laughed
“Quite strong it seems”, Immy grinned as he got his car keys out of his pocket, ”what on earth is a tomato sandwich Reez?”
“A tomato sandwich is thick slices of tomato drizzled with Tabasco sauce, black pepper,pink himalayan salt and a dash of vinegar”, Riza scowled, irritated that Immy had to ask and well, by him explaining it, it made his craving “increase”.
Although, when Riza described this awful sandwich, the look on Immy’s face was priceless!
It was a mission itself to explain to Riza why I couldn’t come with him for breakfast and when I finally got a chance- I escaped!
All was well in our side of the world and it felt good..I wonder what was going on in Durban though…
As narrated by Nemo:
I tapped my fingers on the table continuously. I was SO irritated, and my mother was so stalling this talk that she agreed to have with me. Being at home actually felt nice this time around and I hadn’t been here for ages.
Just when I had thought that this was going to be a good day, elachi arrived. You know, just like how when you’re enjoying your biryani and you suddenly hit a “speedbump” in the form of that damn elachi? Yup, we had a walking, walking one right here in our family! And this name was courtesy of Laeeka by the way.
“Naeem”, he nodded, with both his hands in his pocket
“Elach…umm Nuzayh”, I said with a half hearted smile
Nuzayh raised his eyebrow at me and my slip of the tongue moment, and proceeded to pour himself a glass of orange juice..”You want some?”
“No thanks I’m good”, I said as I browsed through my Instagram
“Mummy tells me that you’re here to go on a few samoosa runs?”
Is he trying to make conversation with me???
“Are you serious about this?”
I didn’t take my eyes off my phone, I just nodded.
Nuzayh took more than a few moments to process everything before he finally spoke again.
“I never thought I’d say this but…”
I looked up,and my entire demeanor stiffened. This was like my body’s natural reaction to him every time that he spoke to me…but this time , he noticed it.
“You’re doing okay for yourself..”, he continued, “I didn’t know that you had it in you”
I was quite stunned, as anyone would expect. I mean all my life, all he’s ever done is look for every single opportunity to put me down but today…today he was being nice.
“Sorry Naeem, your Aunty Fazila phoned and you know how she never puts the phone down quickly”, my mother laughed as she strolled into the kitchen. Nuzayh chuckled too and now even mummy looked surprised. We had never played happy family before so today was just either one big hallucination or someone was really going crazy!
“She’s the one I try to avoid the most at ALL family functions”, Nuzayh laughed and then made himself comfortable on the bar stool across me
And then there was silence. Awkward, but not uncomfortable. As if the three of us were trying to find something to say in this sudden family bonding session. It felt strange, but nice too, as though in the silence there was some kind of serenity. A feeling that a part of me craved so badly..
“You wanted to talk about something?”, my mother said, breaking the silence and looking between Nuzayh and me
Under normal circumstances, he would have excused himself, but under normal circumstances we wouldn’t be sitting here like this.
“Oh I’m sorry”, he mumbled, finally realizing that he had made himself comfortable where he wasn’t really wanted, ”I didn’t realise…you guys carry on”
“It’s chilled bru, you can stay “, I smiled
My mother looked a little overwhelmed and I wasn’t sure if those were tears that she was trying to fight off…
“So…?”, Nuzayh asked
Man, this brother of mine was inquisitive!
“Mummy please can you do your homework with all these girls that you’re taking me to see”
“What do you mean…”, my mother asked almost defensively
“The girl that we saw yesterday was so childish mummy, every time that I spoke she just laughed, every question that I asked, she laughed..it’s just..”
My mother looked offended and Nuzayh burst out laughing!
“But I liked her”, she whispered
“Yeah but ma..he has to marry her not you”, Nuzayh laughed again
“Thank you”, I laughed ,looking at him appreciatively , ” and the one before that was so nervous that she confessed that her mother lied about making the samoosas, they actually bought it!”
We impulsively high fived each other as our mother looked on bewildered!
“The samoosas were good though”, I admitted with a grin
”Boss I went through the same thing and I just gave up”, Nuzayh said almost breathlessly. His face had turned pink! I had never seen this side of him…
“But I thought that you and Ridwana weren’t arranged…”
“Not exactly, we weren’t, but mummy had me on the samoosa run for a while…I let it go for a year and then when I least expected it, the families introduced us and well, the rest is history”, he smiled
“I didn’t know that it would be this difficult..”, I said, looking down
“Tell me what you’re looking for in a girl and I’ll look for her for you”, Mummy said softly
“Ma I feel like I’m being paraded and like the girls are being paraded..I feel like I’m shopping and for all the wrong reasons..maybe I’m not ready…I’m not looking for a pretty face or a new recipe book..I..”
And my heart stopped for a second. I thought of her and sighed heavily.
“Take a break Naeem, come to the office with me for a few days…get your head around things and then you can decide what you want to do there’s no need to rush”
My mother and I looked at Nuzayh in shock! Since when was he this…generous?
“What?”, he asked confused
A part of me didn’t want to trust him. A part of me wanted to go with him, feel what it was like to be with my brother, be at his side. I wanted to live that dream that I had locked away in the furthermost corner of my mind, even if it were just for a few seconds. That I had a brother, my family loved me.
“I think I’ll do that”, I answered with a small side smile….
As narrated by Aara:
Landing in Auckland Airport unlocked a new cage of nervousness.This was it! So many questions and so much to do. I just hoped that everything went as well as I hoped it would, I was here to fulfill a few dreams, mend a few bridges and create a bond with a family that never accepted me. And I would try, the best that I could.
After all, Islam has placed tremendous emphasis on the establishment, maintenance and preservation of family kinship. This was one of the first things that I had learned in taleem and if I didn’t act upon it, what good would it do?
No matter how hard the Patel’s were, I was certain that inside their rock hard shell of stubbornness, there had to be a heart. After all, Zoheb came from the same family…
All our eyes scanned the many placards for one bearing our name, without any luck. But before I could even wonder if Maaherah had forgotten to receive us, a fully covered woman in black made salaam.
My chin hit the floor in disbelief!
“Maaherah?”, I asked wide eyed
“How are you Aara?”, she smiled..I knew she was smiling by the way that her eyes lit up. I couldn’t believe that she had gone into pardah!
“I am..I am…”, I mumbled
“Shocked?”, she laughed,hugging me (and further shocking me!)
“Utterly”, I smiled, “but in a good way”
“Embrace change with both hands”, she smiled, and took Hana into her arms while greeting Sahal and Kauthar
And as she talked non stop while ushering us to her car, a wave of positive energy washed over me. “Alhamdulillah Allahuakbar”, I whispered gratefully to my Lord…
In front of me, a woman who for the greater part of the years that I had known her, had been so mean and vile. A sister who never bothered about her brother. A woman who I couldn’t relate to, ever. Over the past few months we’ve corresponded via email and over the phone, initially establishing a cordial relationship to becoming somewhat friends. She was elated when I told her that I intended to come to New Zealand for a while and insisted on being with me for the entire stay. I often wondered how she had “changed”, little did I know the extent of her change, I didn’t know what a strong bond she had now shared with Allah, I didn’t know how much she repented and how much she had longed for forgiveness from all those she had hurt over the years.
But that’s the thing – we don’t know, do we? We judge a person from the outside, from the clothes that they wear, to the way in which they speak. But we never truly know the bond that they have with Allah. And once a person comes so close to Him, the world falls away, and you automatically and naturally want to do things that please Him only.
We long to please the world and its unseen obligations, wanting to fit in, molding ourselves just to fit in, forgetting what we are here for, becoming what we are not. We forget our purpose, we forget who we are, we forget that we are a part of an Ummah of the greatest man to walk this earth, we forget everything, we forget ourselves. We ignore our true calling, becoming different people. When will we realise that we are living dual lives???
And the words that I had told a confused Zainab a few days before she had left, played back in my mind…
“Find Allah…and you will find your way to your true self”
It snowed! It was utterly and totally gorgeous MashaAllah..I remember looking into the sky while it snowed and while my little boy nudged me to tell me that it felt as though he was flying…all I could think of was LOOK AT THE KUDRATH OF ALLAH! I have never been this spellbound by nature in my life, it was an overwhelming feeling that I will never forget Insha Allah..
Had to share that:)
Well, as you may have noticed, loose ends are being tied up, we are slowly (due to my lack of posts) reaching the end.
Hope you’re all warm!
Big shout out to my lovely sister Shaista…thank you for everything:) Love you to the moon and back! May Allah Ta’ala grant you every happiness and the very best of both worlds…Ameen