Part 297- The Epilogue (Part 2)

As narrated by Aara

Happily ever after. And as we have obviously and ultimately come to understand ,that there is no such thing in this temporary world.

But there is happiness, and sometimes intense bouts of it. In the smallest, most simplest of things..Like in Hana’s dimpled smile, a fleeting memory of Zoheb, Laeeka’s peppermint cake, Zainab’s motivating words, Maariah’s half a dozen children, Riza’s slurping at every single meal, Arshad’s not so funny jokes, Immy’s contentment every time he looked at his family and Nemo’s affection towards Hana. And these simple things, gestures, and moments make that feeling of happiness priceless.

Getting married for the second time, especially when it’s not because the first marriage ended in divorce, isn’t as easy as it looks and I didn’t think that I had it in me to actually go through with it. But looking back, it’s the best thing that I could have done. For all of us.

It was hard in the beginning, when you have gone through living with someone else already, when you have already experienced those early morning smiles, a cup of coffee made for you by him, when you have already bumped into someone else in a mad dash to the bathroom that you both share, when there had already been another toothbrush next to yours, when you had already fallen asleep besides someone else before him, when there is no expectation and yet there is. It was no cake walk. We really did struggle and after much contemplation, we decided to take the plunge and that plunge meant that Nemo would have to take up a job offer far away from home.

And it proved to be one of the best decisions of our lives yet!

For amongst the tall, widespread mountains, gusts of pure, fresh air , we found ourselves again, we rediscovered ourselves on a level that was so honest, so pure, our eyes were opened to the beauty of our Creator and of our Deen. We became more and more inclined to what our real purpose was on this earth, we became better Muslims, and under the influence of these beautiful changes, our friendship thrived, our marriage thrived and a new love blossomed. Love truly can happen over and over again, for there are different kinds of love and when we realise and understand that we should love Allah the most and first, loving another ,for his pleasure, becomes so easy and in that love He places so much of goodness, so much of blessings.

My heart broke a million times every day since we had moved back to Durban…for I missed it, I missed home. I felt as though, if I had to forward my hand into the air, I would be able to feel the snowflakes melt on my fingers, as though I’d be able to marvel once again at the hundreds of peach trees in full blossom, as though I’d be able to inhale the soulful aroma of a rain-soaked piece of earth hundreds of meters above sea level, untainted, unpolluted…pristine..

But our parents were aging and longed to have us close to them so here we were, lock stock and barrel. The barrel being my huge tummy ofcourse!

So much had changed over the years but the smallest things remained intact.

I guess that everything and every little step is a learning experience.

“That’s alot of icing…”

I snapped out of my chain of thought and looked up into Zainab’s face and then back at the cupcake that I was icing and oh my gosh….

“It’s enough for an entire cake”, she grinned,’are you okay?”

“I’m fine”, I sighed, “lost in my mountain dreams again”

“I didn’t realize that it was this bad”, she laughed and that caught my attention..

“So he’s been complaining?”

“Not complaining but yeah he’s mentioned it” , she admitted

All our friends were in Durban with their kids and were staying with us for the next few days to welcome our new baby who seemed to be prolonging his or her arrival by a few days already. We…now lived in Nemo’s father’s house. We had our own extended wing and I honestly didn’t want to break Uncle A.K’s heart when he asked us to move there so here we were. Joint family living wasn’t quite my thing, but it’s actually turning out to be quite awesome I have to admit.

“When I had gone off to Madressa all those years ago,it took me a long while to adjust back to normality..”, Zainab said softly, ” so if it’s any consolation I know somewhat how you feel and once again, I’m always here if you ever need to talk”

I put the piping bag down and looked at Zainab. It’s not like I was depressed or stressed or unhappy or anything of the sort, I just couldn’t put my finger on the exact spot of the “disturbance”, if I could call it that. Maybe Nemo was right, I need to accept the move and let it go. It was the phase of our lives that was probably there to heal us and now it was back to the grind and back to the tests.

You see, life was simple on that side. People expected very little of you and in a good way. It was as though you were at peace, you were one with your soul and you were in sync with every beat of your heart. There were so few distractions, no malls, no fast city life, no halaal take aways, no entertainment and in the beginning I almost died of boredom but when my focus shifted , I had virtually no time on my hands, yet everything and more would get done in a day. On this side, it was so different yet this is where we grew up. It was as if you belonged and didn’t belong at the same time. To gain balance seemed impossible and I was stumbling every day.

Zainab listened intently and then smiled her million dollar smile.

“It’s because you’ve changed, your focus has shifted, you’ve grown and become a better version of yourself and that’s nothing to be afraid of”

Did I mention that Zainab had become a life coach? I didn’t. Well, she became a life coach!

“Isn’t this world just a test? And all these tests will come as they are meant to. Do what is right and you will never go wrong”

Haha!

I chuckled and hugged her. “You have no idea how much I needed that..JazakAllah Hu Khairan”

She whispered an Ameen and I could feel her smile while hugging me . I knew where that was coming from. It was the change, the shift in focus, the new closeness that I had felt towards my religion, what I had learnt and brought with me from those snow covered mountains . It was a life cycle, it was a new me.

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As narrated by Riza:

“Arshad your lighty is constantly behind my daughter!”, Nemo moaned for the hundredth time today

” She’s 9 years old Nemo” , I mumbled

“9 is as good as 19!”

I laughed and shook my head. When Hana turns 19, I feel sorry for her. Nemo would probably hire a few female Chinese assassin type bodyguards for her. Heck he’d probably make his son in law stay with them also!

” Look at how he’s throwing the ball to her!”, he moaned again

“That’s because they’re playing you idiot! Gosh you are so mental!”, Arshad laughed

Nemo sniggered irritably and still watched the kids like a hawk. Poor Adnaan, he was such a friendly little boy and surprisingly enough, Nemo’s “mental” behavior as Arshoo put it, didn’t seem to bother him at all.

“Hey hey get back! “, he shouted from the porch

“Sorry, I was just trying to help Hana with her shoelaces”, Adnaan said apologetically

“I’ll tie it” and he was gone in a flash

I burst out laughing and Arshad scoffed under his breath.

“I saw that Arshoo…and I’m really sorry”, Aara said as she entered with a tray full of delicious dessert in her hands, ” he doesn’t mean to hurt you.. I doubt he even knows how bad it is”

Arshad waved it off and urged Aara to sit down.

“It’s me not a stranger Aaroo…I know how he is when it comes to Hana ”

I smiled at Aara as she sat all flushed in this Durban heat.

“Miss the weather too?”, I asked

” Terribly” she sighed

I had been to their place a few times and it was more cold than hot almost always, even the summers were not as bad as Durban so I get why she looked like she was sitting in an oven! That and the fact that she was due any day now but moved around like a Superwoman!

“So..it’s good to see you like this”, I smiled, “Nemo and Aara are expecting a baby”

A small smile crept up on her face and she nodded slowly

“You guys have come a long, long way”

“Yyyep” , she sighed, “and after he or she is fine and well, I need to come to Jhb because I haven’t been there in ages!”

“Your mad husband will keep you under bed rest for a whole year”, Arshoo laughed, while pointing at Nemo lining up all the boys on one side of the yard and making them do garden work instead of playing,” look at him he’s so crazy!”

And then we watched him wipe Hana’s face with his handkerchief and feed her water because her hands were dirty and my heart melted again. He had truly given this precious little girl the love of two fathers and sometimes in his ways and actions, certain mannerisms and words, I saw glimpses of Zoheb. Each person is different, but one thing was certain, he was a much better father than even I was. He would take out the time to teach her new things every day, read to her , do every single thing that he could do for her without letting her become arrogant or proud and I was so proud of him.

When Aara and Nemo got married , Hana was just about 4 years old, and even though Aara and Nemo were friends for so many years, it was awkward for them to redefine themselves in a brand new relationship. I remembered their wedding day very fondly…

They had made nikaah on the very same day that Aara had proposed to him! Returning home from the beach, they broke the news to everyone and needless to say, everyone was ecstatic! They didn’t want to delay saying that everyone who they cared about was there and so that evening,in a simple way, nikaah was done and their relationship changed.

Aara and Hana moved back to Jhb for a few months and before we knew it they were packing their bags again to move very far away from everything and everyone. I had a lump in my throat when I remembered how Nemo cried when he accepted her into his nikaah, it was so evident that he couldn’t believe that the girl who he silently loved for over a decade,was finally his.

That they had crossed so many hurdles to be together, not out of want or need and now five years later, I still can’t find the right word to describe it. It was not a romantic wedding with movie induced frills and decor, there was nothing fancy about it. It was not a typical hold your breath wedding of the year, it was a unique union of two souls who loved each other from the darkest and deepest depths of their own selves, through scars and wounded trails, through hardship and sacrifice, it was the union of two warriors who fought each other for each other’s well being, it was the union of two friends who respected each other and perhaps it would never be a swept-off-your-feet kind of love, but it was still love. And love has more colors than you can count.

“Did you read the documents yet?”, Arshad asked while sipping on his juice

“I browsed through them earlier on but I love it so far”,Aara smiled, still all flushed. I felt so sorry for her because anyone could see that this pregnancy was taking its toll on her ,” I can’t believe how much it’s grown in fact Nuzayh also wants to branch out here in Durban so we can extend the same help here”

Arshad’s eyes lit up along with mine. We also couldn’t believe how much this whole thing had grown. What began as a shelter for abandoned babies and toddlers, from Zoheb and Aara’s home under my and Arshad’s supervision, had extended its wings and also became a shelter for widows and the elderly.

With two sizable buildings in Jhb, a growing branch in the Transkei and now a branch in Cape Town,hence the documents, under Immy and Maariah’s supervision, to yet another one in Durban, meant the world and more to us.

“I never thought that we would have the time or the constant dedication for it “, Arshad said , “but Allah is the most merciful and look it’s already five years”

“It feels like a redemption of sorts, a cleansing, a way of repentance for the wrong that we did” ,I admitted, ” and it leaves me feeling like a million bucks every single time and that in itself is so amazing Alhamdulillah”

“I hope that the most reward goes to him “, Aara said softly, and we knew who she was talking about, “because he really was the game changer in all our lives”

And she was right. Zoheb had left an impression so deep, an imprint so strong, on all our hearts that so many years later, his legacy still lived on.

I sat back in my chair, remembering my friend and watching the spectacle in front of me. Our circle had expanded and was still expanding…it was so amazing listening to the sound of all our kids laughter, having them run around us like the crazy loons that they were! The next generation of us..it felt exhilarating actually, minus the fact that it meant that we were getting older, but we had come this far and despite all the ups and downs, despite all the heartbreak and sadness, despite everything…we have all had nothing short of…a beautiful, beautiful journey

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Okay so that was like two posts in one…very late but better late than never 🙂

Last ever LLD Poll coming up tomorrow InshaAllah..stay tuned…

Much Love,

Shazia

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Part 296- The Epilogue (Part 1)- Five Years Later

On their soft, warm bed ,as she had woken in the same way for the past eight nights, tonight was no different.

Clutching at her tummy, Aara sat up with much difficulty, her forehead lined with beads of perspiration. It was the same dream again… As she heaved in despair, her hand lingered towards the sleeping form next to her and she shook him out of his slumber.

Nemo , being a light sleeper, was up in a few seconds rubbing her back and hugging her reassuringly..

“Was it the same dream again?”, he asked, his voice filled with concern

She nodded slowly and took another sip from the water bottle that he held for her.

Holding her hands, he said the words that she dreaded…”I think it’s time sweetheart”

Bewildered and aghast, her eyes widened as she faced a prospect that she never thought she ever would…

The entire Moolla household was already well acquainted with Aara’s nightmares and to offer their support, Nuzayh and A.K Moolla joined Nemo and Aara as she awaited her fate.

“It will be okay trust me it’s not bad at all”, Uncle A.K said reassuringly while Nuzayh and Nemo glanced at each other. They knew their father way too well! This was like a walk in the park for him!

Aara bit her lip and held Nemo’s hand a little tighter as the smell of it wafted from the kitchen all the way through to the dining room. Zameera Moolla set the bowl in front of her heavily pregnant daughter in law with the warmest smile on her face and her husband’s eyes immediately lit up!

Nemo gulped, looking at the contents of the large bowl in front of all of them and then at his father who hurriedly began dishing it out onto all of their plates.

“Dad” , he said, turning his nose up at him and then forced a smile once Aara looked in his direction. With a queasy shiver, he took a piece in his hand along with his brother and all the while Aara did the same, while being coaxed by his parents.

“It’s heavenly”, A.K. Moolla said to his wife as he took the first bite while the other three stared at him wide eyed. Aara couldn’t understand why her mouth watered and why she craved THIS particular dish so very much that she even dreamed about it…and finally on the count of three along with Nemo and Nuzayh, she took a small bite.

“Ewwwww” , Nuzayh said within seconds of eating it and spat it out into a serviette, “like really you couldn’t dream of lasagne or biryani dude” , he laughed, ” you go and dream of paaya!” Nemo expressed the same sentiments but managed to swallow his mouth full and gulped down almost half a litre of water!

But lo and behold….

“Mmmmm”, Aara moaned” this is so good!”

“See I told you”, Uncle A.K. smiled,” these idiots don’t know what they are missing out on..More for us!’

“I’ve never eaten this in my life Papa and had I known that it was this delicious I would have eaten it sooner”, Aara said while licking her fingers and then proceeded to dish out more onto her plate.

“You have really weird pregnancy cravings A”, Nuzayh laughed, ” oranges dipped in Nutella, chicken subs with chocolate icing, coffee in a bowl with freaking fried jalapenos but this tops the lot”

Aara rolled her eyes at him and savored another bite…

“I’m all for being the supportive brother in law but yoh I may need to go for therapy once my niece or nephew is born”. Nemo laughed aloud at that statement although every word was true. Nuzayh had been with them through every single pregnancy craving and he even fried the jalapenos when Nemo had to fetch Hana from school!

But Aara ignored him and ate to her hearts content! She was almost there… Possibly just a few more days now. She couldn’t handle the Durban heat much ,being habituated to the softer,more gentle climate of the Eastern Cape which had been their home for five short years. And how she missed it.

And she slurped on yet another marrow, a thing she had never done in her life before, much to Nemo’s surprise. Nothing seemed to bother her, not even the gravy trickling down the side of her lip! He hadn’t seen her this content since…last week when she savagely devoured a large Steaknetto pizza all by herself! She was so cute and she was his.

After a fulfilling lunch, Nemo walked her to their wing of his father’s house and settled next to her on the couch.

“I can’t believe that you ate paaya!”

“Nor can I”, she laughed, “but I am having it for supper for sure”

Putting his arm around her ,he began drawing circles on her tummy with his free hand, an act that recently made her fall asleep like a baby.

As she dozed off against him, he held her a little closer and gazed at her face. The one woman who he had always loved, right next to him,in his arms. It wasn’t always like this. In the very beginning of their marriage, it was awkward, as though they were not lifelong friends but as though they had just met. They slept in the same bed but he would only get to secretly hold her hand when she was fast asleep. She was nervous around him and it was hard to digest at first.

It wasn’t easy for her, that he knew and he had big shoes to fill. Riza would always tell him that he shouldn’t raise a comparison because he was his own person and that everyone was unique in their own way, yet still he struggled, unknown to the fact that his very almost perfect behavior was beginning to alienate her from him. And one day, she exploded. Heated words were exchanged, tears were shed and then…and then all resistance crumbled.

In anger and frustration, love and hope, a new love blossomed. Their love ,and it has been so ever since.

Nemo treasured every moment spent with Aara because he knew what it was to lose her and he knew that life was way too short.

And as he dozed off with her, he made a silent Dua to be with her like this for many more years to come…

Meanwhile, a few hundred kilometers away, Laeeka and Zainab, in their respective houses, juggled around their children to check last minute things before they headed off to the airport.

“I’m so glad we aren’t driving”, Laeeka said ,” These boys will drive me nuts!”

Isa and Yayha, along with Adnaan were twelve years old, not exactly kids and not yet teenagers. While Adnaan was soft spoken, quiet and very much like his father, his cousins Isa and Yahya were the complete opposite! Both the boys had definitely taken after Riza! Seven year old AbdurRahman was also a little terror, very much like Zainab’s six year old Abu Bakr!

“It’s okay Nemo will sort them out”, Riza chuckled

“I hope that he’s calmed down since the last time”, Laeeka grinned ,” although I highly doubt it”

“You think so?”

“Well”, Laeeka chuckled as she buttoned AbdurRahman’s jacket ,” Aara said that Hana asked him who Justin Bieber was and Nemo showed her Chuck Norris’s picture so you do the math”…

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Assalaamualaikum!

I can’t believe that it’s been SO long! My fingers were actually shaking when I logged on…#nostalgia
While I am so sorry for going awol on you guys, I can’t help but think that perhaps the timing is actually right. It just feels so weird to write again *hide*

Okay so, Part 1 of I’m thinking maybe 6…I have written 3 parts already and I will Insha Allah edit them as I can, but don’t worry, that should be in a week at most not another 6 months *cringe* A lot has happened, life has changed (but life changes every day right) but it’s been all good shukr to Allah

It’s so amazing to see the hit count increasing on a daily basis! I’ve just checked my stats and WOW! So thanks so much…I hope that the epilogue gives you a decent insight into their lives five years later. I am tampering with my writing style a little so please bare with me:)

I would like to dedicate this post to F.K and K.K, I miss both of you so so so so so much *tight hugs*

Thanks for being so patient with me, it’s truly amazing the way this has all panned out but I owe you a nice long proper author’s note hopefully at the end of it all..

Until next time Insha Allah

Much Love,

Shazia

PS: I don’t eat paaya (trotters) at all :-p