As narrated by Naasir Patel:
“Dadoo”, Hana asked so cutely as she let go of my hand and ran behind the pigeons that we were feeding…”Mummy said that you loved my daddy tooooo much”
My heart stopped for a second as my brain processed what my granddaughter had just said.
“Your mummy is right”, I smiled, overwhelmed that Aara had kept my sons memory alive in Hana’s heart and told her only good things about us and him
“Dadoo…”, she proceeded and I couldn’t help but smile..”Pappa said that my daddy looooved ice cream more than me!”
And I was instantly reminded of Zoheb’s childhood…the little that I knew, and a wave of regret washed over me. I wished that I had gotten to properly know my son. I had actually only really got to know him from his wife and his friends, from what they would speak about him. And whenever they did, I felt so proud that my son was such, that even years after his death, he was remembered so fondly. I wished that I had gotten to know this man whose character was far greater than mine, who was loved so much. One of the biggest regrets of my life was that I didn’t know my son at all.
This is why I was so grateful to Aara for making us play an active part in Hana’s life. From phone calls to visits , skype sessions and short family getaways, she never restricted us from spending time with Hana. And this was the same girl who I had refused to accept into our family when Zoheb married her.
I was ever so grateful to my Creator for giving them the time that they had together. It was a reassurance that the last few years of my son’s life was spent happily.
We were quite stunned when Aara informed us of her intention to turn their house into a shelter for abandoned children, as the house was quite a magnificent one and it was specifically designed and made according to all Aara’s preferences… I never thought that she’d part with it. We were even more stunned when she asked us to be there and be a part of the trust fund for the house. I knew then that our relationship with Aara and Hana was for keeps. She wanted us in their lives, and we were only too happy to oblige.
Even now, four months later, as we took a break with them in Durban, her parents wouldn’t hear of us staying at a hotel and insisted that all of us stayed with them. They were arranging for a big get together with all their close friends and families and this would be a first for us!
As narrated by Aara:
Spring in Durban was my favorite! The weather was perfect and meant that my mom’s garden was a mini paradise. FOUR whole months had flown by since I had left Jhb and being here at home, with my parents was just what I had needed. Being here made me feel as though I had returned from a long, long journey. I felt calm and happy and ever so energized and renewed! Being at your parent’s home always had the ability to make you feel like a million bucks!
Hana was out with her Dadoo and Dadee, and I was almost done with wrapping up the last few gifts because……. in a few minutes, I’d be seeing everyone!!!!! I had missed them so so so much and I didn’t want the next 4 days to end anytime soon. Life just wasn’t the same without them and seeing them every few days. I missed my long conversations with Laeeka and Zainab, I missed Riza’s motivational lectures,lol..I missed how Arshad would fall asleep half way through it! I missed all the children and their inquisitiveness. I missed Nemo and the way in which he constantly nagged and babied me , I missed the feeling of those yellow daffodils under my fingertips, I missed all of it.
The medley of different hooters outside our front gate had finally signaled their arrival and I turned around in excitement. As I ran through the corridor,I caught sight of myself in the large mirror before the staircase. I had run down these stairs a million times before as a little girl, as an awkward teenager, I had walked down as a new bride , I had sought solace on them through many dark nights when everyone was asleep. I had walked my daughter up and down these stairs numerous times a day for the past four months and each time that I did,an old memory would pop up in my head. Sometimes I would see Sahal and I fighting over something or the other, sometimes I would see my father and I sharing a joke, sometimes I would see my mummy and I quietly eating cupcakes together, sometimes I would see Nemo and I doing our homework , sometimes I would see Zoheb holding my hand..And now I was rooted to the top most stair ,lost in a daydream.
“Waiting for a red carpet?”, he asked from the bottom of the staircase
I snapped out of it and a broad smile replaced my look of “deurmekaarness”…
“Nemo!” , I said excitedly
“So happy to see me? That’s a first”, he replied ,with his hands behind his back
“Oh please man…You okay?”, I asked,as I ran down the stairs and tried to see what he was hiding ,”stop moving!”
“You stand still first! Aara this habit of yours will never go”, he chided even though I could see right through the whole “irritated “act
“Fine fine I’ll stand still”, I agreed after a few seconds, with both my hands up in the air
And when he finally revealed the big secret, I screamed out in sheer joy!!!
“From your garden” , he smiled, as he handed me a bunch of yellow daffodils
“Nemo this is the best gift ever!!!” , I said honestly
I inhaled the beautiful scent of these special daffodils. Because these were the best daffodils in the world and every time that I looked at them I was reminded of Zoheb.
“Thank you so much”
” What thank you man “, he laughed,” come, there’s literally a bigger surprise for you in the lounge”
Literally?? What could it be….
” Oh my God!!!!”, I said in complete shock” Maariah!!!… Again!”
And I could hear Nemo laughing behind me ..”we were just as stunned!”
“Last one Aara” , Maariah blushed as she hugged me
“This is our middle child”, Immy winked , tapping her protruding belly and Maariah promptly gave him a light shot on his back
“Congratulations you two! Immy you’re dead set on having your cricket team hey”
“And I’m just a part of the furniture here ” , Laeeka moaned
“Awwww come here” , I laughed and hugged Laeeka and Zainab
Riza tapped the back of my head to acknowledge him and Arshad tried to say something funny but failed miserably…Again! These guys!!!
“Aarala!!” ,All the kids said in excitement and I knelt down for all of them to hug me. They had played such a huge part in healing my heart. Their innocence, their humbleness, the purity of their hearts…and what made it more special was that each of them was a mixture of two of my best friends, making them, the best of both.
Later on that afternoon,everyone relaxed beside the pool and the kids splashed about. Catching up was always the best because there wasn’t space for a moment’s silence! I’m sure that my in-laws were more than a little overwhelmed with the noise and the crowd but they were excited at the same time.
I walked out into the garden on my own and sat on the garden swing. I closed my eyes and remembered some of my life’s sweetest moments. Looking back at the house in which I grew up made my heart swell with emotions. A house that was full of not just memories but with all the people in my life who I loved the most, the people who were always there for me and who never ever shut me out.
It was overwhelming to know that I had known them before I had come into this world ,that I had known them in a realm before this world,that I didn’t just have one soulmate but many, all of us did. We were all a part of each other,linked in some small way, like branches on the tree of life,we may all go on our own way but we will still remain grounded through the same roots.
“Reminiscing?”, A familiar voice asked
I looked up and smiled.
“Something like that”
“I read the whole thing by the way… Very nicely done..Feels like you’re really in there when you read it”
“It’s not fully done though…There’s just one more page and it isn’t mine”
“It wasn’t the end? “, Riza asked , raising his eyebrow at me
“What is the end Reez?”, I sighed, ” if not a new beginning”
Riza smiled knowingly ,”the life of us artists”
“Which is why pessimism is the way to go.. Always!”, Arshad said, as he sat down beside me, “guaranteed no let downs”
“Ahaha Arshoo you had rather just not say anything at all” ,Riza laughed
“You just can’t handle the heat”, Arshad said dramatically, leaving Riza momentarily speechless,” who’s writing this last page now?”
“Nemo” , I answered, dangling my feet
“I have to write again?”, Nemo asked from behind me “but I already wrote Aara”
“Which I haven’t read yet because the book has been by Riza but yeah…”
And Riza pulled out the book from inside his jacket and handed it to me.
“It would have been over but I just feel that because there’s one thing left and it relates to you, so you write the last bit”, I said as I ran my fingers across this book of memories
“What’s this last thing relating to me?”, Nemo asked as he sat down on the grass infront of us
Did he have to ask now!
“We found you a girl!”, Riza, Arshad and I said together and then looked at each other and back at a dumdfounded Nemo
Because that was what was missing, his happy ending,his new beginning. And even though we knew that life wasn’t about happy endings and it was the story that mattered more, it just made you feel good. It added that little bit of hope, it was that small ray of sunshine on a dull day, it was the single cherry at the top of that towering cake.
And that is why, I stop here. I have grown from a mischievous little girl to an awkward teenager who fell in love with her best friend, I had smash hit the many curve balls that life had thrown at me , I became the young woman whose strength was pulled to the last tether shielding the same best friend. I was an independent woman who loved again when love came in the form of a handsome stranger who made my every day with him beautiful, who filled all those empty jars in my soul with love,hope, faith. I had lived my dreams with my eyes wide open, and while flying high I came tumbling back to the ground, shaken by the reality of…reality.
I was a broken woman, a mother, a widow who braved the storm only with Allah’s help, who with every trial, made me stronger…. and found my way back home.
Maybe I had been through too much, maybe I had cried too much, maybe my life had been harder but this world was never meant to be a paradise. How we treat each other,how we live, how we tackle our problems, the kind of Muslims we are, how we fulfill the relationships that we keep between the people in our lives, that’s what life is about.
I know that whatever happens, I know that if I follow His way and His commands I will be okay. I know that He will give me what is best for me, I know that when that day comes he will do justice with me and until then, until I have a single breath left in me ,I have to earn it. For Allah has never forsaken me, for every tribulation he has given me so many joys, for every heartache he has given me so many beautiful moments and even now in this last chapter I have full faith that he will help me get through it happily and that this last step would be the first step towards a new start.
When I look back at all of us , I am overwhelmed at how far we’ve come together and individually. Some people are alone all their lives, we were lucky that we had each other. Such people leave huge impacts on our lives, so much so that you see a little bit of them in every thing that is beautiful.
This was our story, this is who we are. We don’t know how long our lives will be but every day brings a new challenge, a new opportunity .Life is ever changing, as we learn every single day…
There will be many speed bumps, there will be many hurdles, there will be many crossroads…
But as a wise person once said, ” and just when the Caterpillar thought that the world was over, it became a beautiful butterfly..”
Over and out.
Lol…Sorry, I couldn’t resist!