for my new readers

Posted: March 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

I am humbled that so many are still reading this blog. Thank you. It is so long ago that I blogged this book and I appreciate all the feedback I have been given. If you are new to this blog you can click on this link to take you to the first chapter.

I have also written and blogged a collection of short stories. click here to go to the short story blog.




transformation definition


The pain is excrutiating. You expect this kind of pain for your first child but I have been through that already. Once you have experienced child birth, you expect subsequent labours to be easier. This is worse than I remember. Sharp stabbing pains shoots assaultingly up my spine, then down again. My entire abdomen goes hard and I hold my breath in instinct only to be scolded by the nurse. “You have to breathe the pain out” she says to me, and I shoot her a murderous look, as a string of profanities come to mind but I am in too much pain to find my voice.
This time my labour is so different. This is not what I remember. The last time I was in the labour ward it felt like a five star holiday. “I want an epidural!” I scream, “Call my doctor” I plead to the back of the nurse as she walks out.
My husband finally makes himself useful and brings me some ice cubes and juice.
“The nurse says that you are five centimeters dilated, it will still be a while”, he says as helpfully as he can. He must feel so useless, I think. He has been hanging around aimlessly and timing my contractions. I think he is in shock. “Maybe you should get some rest” he suggests. I nod. “I will stay here” is his promise as I slip under the covers. He says something else, but I don’t hear him. My body craves sleep and it consumes me immediately.
I am awoken with another sharp pain, and I sit up immediately. The contraction monitor is going crazy, the constant periodic beep is more rapid and louder than I remember. That pain comes back again with avengence, and I freeze unable to move a muscle. The pain feels different, something is wrong. Suddenly the machine sounds an alarm. Before I register what is happening I am surrounded by nurses, frantically checking the machine and then me. There are about five of them now, “what’s wrong?” I ask but I don’t get a reply, “What’s wrong with my baby?” I scream, now frantic, completely forgetting about the pain that paralysed me a minute ago.
“Call the doctor” one of them instructs and shouts out commands to the rest of them, I scream for my husband, and I try to look through the barrage of nurses in front of me.
Suddenly, he is by my side. He has the quraan in his hand.
“hey” he says, stroking my forehead that is wet with perspiration. “The baby’s heartbeat is irregular. They were monitoring it while you were asleep. The nurses were hoping you would dilate quicker” he says. I look at him in disbelief. “They have to do a c-section” he announces. Then before I can say anything, the head nurse shouts for an IV. Then she looks at me, “We need to get you on the gurney, do you need help?”
I shake my head in response and try to move off the bed. Another shooting pain runs through my body and this time I cry. I can’t believe I am crying. The pain is immense but the fear of what could happen is even worse. The bottom half of me feels like it belongs to someone else. The nurses roll me onto the gurney and they rush me out, not before I catch sight of the bed I was sleeping on, stained red with blood.
I feel like I have been cut in half and then stitched back together. I would crawl under a rock and disappear if it wasn’t for the little miracle that is swaddled in the crib next to me. I look over at her. She looks different now then she did a few hours ago. Her long fingers are splayed over face so beautifully you would think she was modeling for vogue.
“mummy!” comes a scream from the door. I look up to see miracle number one and Hussain not far behind. Muhammed jumps on to the bed next to me. “Baby out” he says, as he looks at his little sister in wonder. I open my arms and he comes in for a big hug. Hussain goes straight to his daughter and picks her up.
I remember 18 months ago when Hussain held Muhammed for the first time. It was our big moment. Muhammed was the baby we were waiting for, for ten years. The baby that sealed our marriage. Muhammed was the baby that we worked so hard to have. The baby that I endured, invasive scrapings and oestrogen suppliments for. I never thought I would see Hussain as happy as he was that day, until now.
“She has your nose” Hussain says, not looking up. “and your moods” I add sarcastically. “She screamed like crazy when I tried to feed her earlier” I say. He smiles, he seems proud of that.
I couldn’t believe when the doctor told me I was pregnant and not in early menopause, as I suspected. OK I was only 35 but – I heard it happens. After everything I went through to conceive the first time, Getting pregnant by accident was the last thing I thought would happen.
“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you…” I hear some singing in the corridor and I immediately recognize the voices. I smile. I know who that is.
“Don’t look at us like that?” Hasina says accusingly as she walks in. Then quickly adds – “it was her idea” and points to Jameela next to her. The both come over for hugs and kisses.
“I told mummy that we have to sing for the baby, because it is her birthday” she says seriously. Ahh this girl. She pulls muhammed off me and carries him away. I can’t believe how she has grown.
“How are you feeling?” Hasina asks me now as she sits next to me on the bed. I shake my head. “Im just glad it’s over” I say the memories flooding back. She takes my hand.
“Hussain told me how brave you were” she says. She looks at Hussain and he comes over and presents the new little baby as if it were a first prize trophy. She reaches out and Hussain reluctantly hands the bundle over to her. “Did you ask her?” Hasina asks Hussain as they exchange glances and the baby. He shakes his head. I have no idea what they are talking about.
“Ask me what?” I ask. Hasina takes her time to respond. She fixes the baby’s blanket and shifts her position.
“I told him to ask you about your confinement” – she holds up her hand as I am about to speak – “just wait till I am finished” she says. We have had this discussion before. She began insisting I stay with her after the baby is born months ago. She was over everyday back when Muhammed was born and I thank goodness for that.
“You need to look after yourself now Farnaz, especially now after the C-section.” Hasina begins to reason. “How are you going to do that with Muhammed to see to and a new baby?” I have asked myself that same question earlier. I can hardly bend over now but I am sure I will be ok.
“It will be difficult at first but I will manage” I say. How can I possibly impose on her and her family. The confinement is a big deal in most indian homes where all the women in the family pitch in to help with the new baby and make sure the mother recovers well.
She gives me that look. The baby starts to squirm and she stands up to rock her. “I spoke to Sameera, she is coming this weekend, and Reza and them are trying to get flights.” she says. I smile inwardly at this. My sister and brother seem to have accepted her as part of my life.In fact the last time we were all together you would think Hasina was part of the family. For this I am thankful.
The baby starts to cry. It’s feeding time, I think. Hasina hands her to me. “think about it” she says. I nod, I know her offer is sincere and I know I need her now more than ever.
My bags line the wall all the way to the door. I can’t remember having so much stuff for Muhammed. In just four weeks I have managed to collect six bags full of clothes, toys and the essentials.
“Hey”, comes a voice from the door. Hasina walks in with a tray.
“I was going to come down” I say to her embarrassed. I hate her treating me like a guest. “I was just dressing Laikah” I say. My daughter’s name is starting to become part of my vocabulary and is not sounding as strange on my tongue as before.
Hasina puts the tray down. “It’s the last time I can serve you breakfast” she says. As she motions to hand over the baby.
She talks to Laikah, “Aunty Hasina is going to miss you so much my poppy”.
“Is aunty Hasina not going to visit us?” I pretend to ask Laikah myself.
“Of course I will visit” Hasina says, “But it won’t be the same.”
I know what she means. The middle of the night talks while I sit up breast feeding, the extra pair of hands to rock and shake when I just cant do it anymore and the emotional support when I need it.
Theres a knock on the door , “Hasina…” it is Yusuf’s voice. She looks at me and I nod. “Come in” she says. Yusuf walks in takes one look at the bags and laughs.
“Hussain is on the way” he says to me, “ Must I call him and tell him to bring a truck rather” we all laugh. “This” I say, and motion to all the bags, “is your shopoholic wife’s fault”.
“hey!” Hasina defends, “I can’t help it if there is so much of cute girls stuff out there”.
Before I can retort, she instructs Yusuf, “Darling, Start taking the bags down so it’s easy when Hussain gets here”. Yusuf obliges immediately.
“Thank you so much for everything” I say to her when Yusuf leaves. “What?” she asks now pretending to be confused, “wouldn’t you do the same for me?” she asks playfully. “In a heartbeat”, I answer.
“Did you bring the salad?” I ask Farnaz. “Of course”, she answers , “That is all I have been eating for the past six months”. I laugh. “I can’t get this baby weight off” she says, as she pops a koeksister in her mouth. She looks at me and we both burst out laughing.
The children are playing on the jungle gym and the men are all braaing the meat on the fire. The Zoo lake is packed today.
“Where is the birthday boy?” Sawliha asks. “Zunaid is buying him ice cream” Farnaz’s mother in law responds. Farnaz rolls her eyes. “Sawls, I feel you sorry when you have kids…” she says. “The way Zunaid spoils Muhammed. He doesn’t want to know me when Zunaid is around”.
Everyone is here today for Muhammed’s birthday – a family fusion at the Zoo lake. Suhail and the very pregnant Rahima, Waseem and his family, Farnaz’s sister in law and mother in law, and Farnaz’s niece.
“How is your paintings, bachoo?” Farnaz’s mother in law asks me. This woman is the reason I look forward to having a daughter in law of my own one day. “Alhamdulillah, Ma” , my kids both call her ma, and so do I.
“Ghorima’s daughter in law said you did one for her entrance hall, and she just loves it.” she looks at her daughter in law, now and says, “It has the ninety nine names of Allah – So Masha Allah”.
I smile gratefully.
“How far are you now?”, Fehmeda asks Rahima. “Six months now” she says glowing. Suhail has been a different person ever since he got married and they both have been on cloud nine since they announced that they were expecting.
My inner Chachima makes a rare appearance. These days she has been busy having a fulfilled life. She looks around satisfied. Bilal chases his cousins up the jungle gym while Muhammed tried to keep up, Jameela is walking around proudly playing mummy to Laikah and showing her off to the other girls in the family.Yusuf ,Suhail, Hussain, and Waseem are huddled around the braai probably trying to remember if they turned the meat already or not. I chuckle at my prediction.
I sit with the rest of the women on a mat on the ground. Converstaion is flowing over each other and the feeling of contentment settles through me. I catch Farnaz’s eye and she winks at me. We are bonded forever, not through blood but through the many little memories like this we will share together. Now. And always.


Posted: August 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

WOW…it is done.

Written – Edited – and even blogged.

I want to just take this opportunity to thank Allah for giving me the ability to actually start and complete this book. It has been a therapeutic experience and has taught me so much about myself.

At the risk of the rest of this sounding like a bad speech at the Oscars – please bare with me 🙂

Thanks to my amazing husband who believes in every silly idea I have and who makes me believe that I am capable of doing anything. My rock through the hard times and my best friend.

Thank you to my sisters who supported me through the process of writing and read every horrible – unedited version I send – That’s you Mohsina!

And thank you to the readers who stretched all around the world. Who allowed me to share my story – while fiction – it was a little bit of me in every word.

Thank you all so much for reading and taking the time to comment.
To all those who requested an epilogue to the book 🙂 check out the next post.

Please do continue to visit the blog for new stories and updates.



transformation definition

 Everything happens for a reason , and there is reason in everything that happens

“Aunty Nazi! Aunty Nazi!”, I hear the familiar call from Jameela and she runs to me pulling her brother behind. I bend down to kiss them both on their cheeks. Come see my drawing she says and we move towards the little kids table decked out with crayons, pastels and paper. Wow, I think. Hasina is such a good mummy.

“Ladies and gentleman…” the curator announces and I look up to find a short fattish man on a small poduim. People begin to gather around the podium. “thank you all for coming tonight. As you all may know tonight is special because we are showcasing the work of a new talented artist”. He continues into some history about Hasina and talks about her influences. I catch her eye and she winks at me. I am idly aware of my sore feet and I discreetly take my shoes of and lean against the wall.

Ahhh, that feels great. Realising that Jameela called me to the table, I sit down on the kiddies chair , slowly and carefully grabbing the chair behind me, my tummy pointing straight up at the ceiling. I laugh to myself at the thought of what I must look like, and I am thankful that everyone is listening to the speech, so no one notices. I ask Jameela about her picture quietly, she is only too happy to oblige. I listen as she talks about her drawing. She really has a way with words. As I listen to her I wonder what my child will be like.

Suddenly everyone begins to rush towards an open door. I am enjoying my moment so I stand back and let them pass. They must have opened the kitchen I think. “your tummy is so big, Aunty Nazi. Mummy says the baby is coming soon”, she says. “Yes,” I respond, remembering what an impression this little girl made on me the first time I met her. I enjoy being seated and I watch the scene of the gallery from my low point on the kiddis chair.

I look around an dthe large bold metal letters catch my eye. What an apt name , I think. This really has been a transformation.But is has been my transformation as well. I think about how Allah has put us in each others lives and then see the wisdom of everything. I think of what may be in store for me in the future and I picture my child playing in the park and hasina is there too. I see myself driving them to school and karate, doing homework and picnicking with Hussain. I am thankful, I think. I am thankful for everything I have and even for what I don’t know I have.

The stream of people have died down and I decide to go through the door and get something to eat, knowing full well that it was just a few hours ago that I had a wedding meal. Agh, I think. I am eating for two now. Walking through the door the room is empty. It is not the kitchen. There is an additional piece of work hanging on the wall. Above it is written in metal letters like the ones outside, but smaller, “TRANSFORMATION : def – the process by which someone or something is changed or altered forever sometimes caused by an event or action. Also see modify.”

I stare at it for a while and think about what Hasina told me earlier, “Every painting has me in it”. What does this one mean. Why is it here.

I look at it and the answer stares me in the face. It’s beautiful and the story speaks to me more than the colours or texture or composition. There is a large tree with strong branches and roots. The tree is bare, Below it is a grave stone. There are flowers on the grave and it is well kept. Further away, there is a woman. She is facing away but her profile can be seen. She waters a young seedling. It is small but full of leaves. The tears begin to flow as I piece together the story. It is Hasina’s basis for transformation and that is why it is here and not with the others. The grave is that of her mothers who had a stong influence on her and who continues to stand tall despite the loss of its leaves, the loss of its life. The other woman is Hasina, beginning her like a new apart from her mother. She is bringing new life and will soon transform with her children. I guess that is why the curator made that whole speech I think. To appreciate the picture you have to know the artist.

“I wanted to be here when you saw it” Hasina said coming towards me. “Its so sad”i say making no move to wipe my tears away, “… yet so happy” I continue. She doesn’t say anything. She gives me that look, she wants more detail. I begin to tell her my interpretation and then, she stops me.

“You think that is me?” she asks for clarification. I nod. She shakes her head. “This” she says pointing to the woman in the distance,  “This my dear Farnaz, is you”. I look at her bewildered as she begins to explain. “Yes this is how I see my transformation. The tree is strong and big – YES, but the life is gone. You managed to bring the life back. Don’t you see?”. I nod without voice. the lump in my throat is about the size of china now and If I try to speak I might lose my composure. My emotion is tangible within me and I feel my eyes sting with fresh tears. I have never been told anything like that before.

“You remind me so much of her Farnaz, I never told you but you do”. Having heard story upon story about her mother, there is no doubt that is a compliment. “You finished what my mother started by believing in me , in my work” she turns to me. Thank you so much” she says her voice calm and sirene. SHe has obviously reheared this speech and  is perfectly eloquent. Me on the other hand – not so much. I am a mess of emotion.

She continues, “if it wasn’t for your encouragement, I don’t think I would ever have come so far”. I smile at her. An awkward laugh escapes me, “You have been my transformation”, I say thankful that my words have finally emerged. I think about everything I want to say to her and wonder if I will be able to really convey what I am feeling. “you filled the void that was missing for so long, and you taught me that strength lies in Allah”. “I was wrong about so many things” I say in between sobs and she takes my hands in hers for support as I speak. I laugh and she laughs and everything I want to say is said. In that gesture – in that moment.

We turn to look at the painting again, together. We stand there for a long time absorbing the silence between us. there will be many more conversations, many more memories and many more gestures in the future.

Right now there were no other words needed – Not between friends like us.


hadeethChangefriendfriends 2

CHAPTER 23 (continued)

Posted: August 18, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

transformation definition

“This one is my favourite”, Rahima says to me pointing to the painting next to me and I become aware that I haven’t even looked at the works yet. I angle myself to face it. “There you are”, Suhail comes over. “You are here again” he says to Rahima pointing at the piece of canvas hanging on the wall. “Are you going to make me buy this one?”, he asks her and then looks at it. He cocks his head and says, “Hey I like it”, come lets find that curator. H he pulls her away. Finally looking at the painting, I can see why they like it. It is peaceful yet restless. It is nothing like her sketches that were formed around an object. This is more abstract. I have been told that abstract it difficult to master but she seemed to have done a good job. There are blue strokes from the top looking like a sky. The brush strokes are meant to be distinct and it give the sky an edgy feel. The bottom is textured and green. The pieces raise up out of the canvas. In between them are thick vertical strokes creating a link between the red and green with short and long lines in whites and black causing the background colours to lighten and darken. Looking closer now it looks like the middle is waves crashing with white foam on top and dark waters below. I am actually surprised at how much I can read into it.

Moving from piece to piece I can see that she has really been experimenting. They are all beautiful and definitely gallery worthy. I just decide on my favourite when I spot her across the room. She sees me immediately and comes over. “Oh my goodness!” I say without even a salaam. “they are great, beyond great”, I say. She hugs me tightly. “Thanks for coming. I thought you wouldn’t make it” I looked at her crazily. “Don’t be stupid!!”. I said. “Amina and Mumtaz were here earlier, and I just spoke to er, Faheems sister,, er …Bushra. You know her right?” I shake my head. “Devika and Ramesh, Jamela’s friends parents are also here” she says excitedly.

“This one is my favourite”, I say pointing to a piece that is a fusion of sketching and paints. There are loud charcoal strokes in the shape of a young child jumping to catch a bunch of balloons floating away. Then the wild paint and brush strokes bring the painting alive adding energy and texture. But the best thing about it – the reason I love it – is that all the painting and drawing, lines, outlines and fill has a pallete of blacks and whites and greys, and just the balloons that the child just manages to reach that are painted in the brightest reds and yellows and blues. “every painting here has some of me in it” she says. I nod wildly, because I see it. the raging inside under the serene colours. The burst of energy in an understated painting, soft strokes mixed with hard strokes. I see it, and I understand it. Looking at the art is like looking at her. “I know” I say. “I see it”. she smiles at me.

“Hows baba?” she asks now changing the subject. “all good” I say happily. “And what about mummy” she asks. I love hearing that, when hussain called me mummy and now Hasina. I smile a content smile and that is enough for her.

Remember , I have to show you something, she says as someone comes to talk to her.

“I’m sure I did some of this in preschool” says Hussain as he joins me. “Ya , im sure” I say jokingly back to him. “That guy Aasif, is flippen talented” he says admiringly. “He said he did something for the mercedes showroom in Sandton and they paid him more than my 6 month salary”, clearly shocked and impressed at the same time. “And what do you think of the art?” I ask him. He looks at my favourite that is in front of us, he begins to play with his long beard then says, “its nice”. I roll my eyes at him. “what? He asks, I’m more of a nuts and bolts guy, you know that”.