CHAPTER 2

Posted: April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
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CHAPTER  2

transformation definition

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. – Maria Robinson

I lay awake very aware of the missing warm body of my husband. Leaving my eyes closed but regaining all my other senses, I hear the shower running and then I know he is up. I roll onto his pillow taking in the scent of him still lingering there – a smell that can only be described as pure happiness. I open my eyes now finally, not anticipating the flood of light that arrests my vision for a moment. As I return to reality I am aware of what day it is and I look through the small gap between the curtains . It must be a bright and gorgeous spring day outside – just as it was exactly a year ago. I feel my heart ache as I remember the funeral I had to endure one year ago. I quickly push the thought out of my mind. I have mourned the death of my mother for a long time, and I have made up my mind to celebrate her life . A life unlike any other. I think fondly how as a child I would wake up each morning with a new and inviting smell luring me into the kitchen. The thought brings a warm glow to my heart as I think of my own two children.   I lie awake for a few minutes , knowing full well that any moment one or both of my children will burst into my room for a snuggle with mummy, before we get up and get on with our day. I close my eyes once more for what seems like just few seconds when I hear the patter if little feet outside my bedroom door. A smile creeps along my lips as I get into position , way down under the covers.

Its Bilal first , my imaginative and sensitive 4 year old son, he runs screaming into the room , like a soldier into battle. His small body quickly climbs up onto the bed. His excitement is tangible from the emotion in his voice. His small yet very agile body climbs quickly onto the bed while shrieks of laughter can be heard. His volume has decreased to just below painful now, as he pulls frantically at my bed sheets and blankets , trying to reveal me. “Mummy, mummy I found you” , he says excitedly , but I am not giving up so easily today and pretend to be fast asleep, stuck under the covers , despite his performance. Oh, and what a performance , it really could have woken up the dead. Eyes still closed in pretense I hear the slow barefoot footsteps of my elder and more courageous daughter approaching the bed. In her six years she has demonstrated intelligence and resourcefulness beyond her years. “Jameela, I found her”, my son screams out of sheer excitement to see his sister awake and ready for the morning ritual. His enthusiasm is toned down by a silent and nearly inaudible “ssshhhh” and indication from his sister that she has a plan. Then there’s nothing, no sounds at all , and even Bilal is quiet . I almost want to give myself up. I decide to get a sneak peek to see just what my ingenious daughter is up to. Where it is clear to see that my son got his fathers looks, I have no doubt that it was Jameela that inherited his cunning , intelligence and confidence. When I attempt a small peep at my attackers, I see only my son waiting with anticipation , as I am.

I close my eyes again and concentrate, still no sound besides the shower in the background , and I absentmindedly wonder how long my husband has actually been in there. Suddenly, I feel the bed shift slightly, hinting her approach, then she pounces , and attacks me with tickles all over. My son joins her and I shriek with every touch, and scream for them to stop. They know all too well my reaction to being tickled, and they keep at it even more. I burst with painful laughter at the sensation of little hands manipulating me with keyboard precision. My screams are loud but playful and try my best to counter attack, but little hands and feet come out of nowhere. I am in sheer agony, squirming like a child and laughing till my sides hurt. Then they stop, but just for a second, then start again worse then before. Then its laughter and kisses and more tickling and I get the strength to pull myself up and cast my own attack at the both of them. We laughing and shrieking excitedly, when Jameela picks up a pillow and playfully attacks Bilal and I. I’m laughing, breathing heavily from the attack of tickles and give one last burst of energy to grab their little menacing hands. I just manage to subdued both my children when I take a minute to catch my breath and I relish in the return of calm with my eyes closed. It’s a short lived victory of barely a minute when I feel the familiar, strong but tender, hands of my husband on my shoulder, and only then am I vaguely aware that I don’t hear the shower anymore. “Yusuf, NO!” I scream anticipating his eagerness to claim victory for his children. I try to turn my head without losing grip on my prisoners when suddenly his hands disappear from my shoulders and find themselves at my sides tickling the spots only he knows how. I shriek again letting go of my prisoners and burst out in mad laughter by the new attack . I lay breathless on the edge of the bed now as Jameela gets up to high five her father. Spinning around dizzily, I am met by the sight of my gorgeous ,just showered husband , standing in a towel with his hands now up in surrender.

“Sorry darling , I couldn’t resist” he sweetly says guessing my need for revenge. If it wasn’t for that glint in his eye that makes me melt every time ,I would have been mad. I smiled back, “I’ll get you another day” I say as I step back to sit on the bed and fish for my slippers that have been scattered in the chaos.

“That was a good one Daddy” cheered Jameela . “I had her laughing so loud did u hear”.

He nods in response “I think the neighbours heard too” he said laughing. He takes a step towards me and kisses me on my forehead “Assalamu Alaikum darlings” he says and he grabs the kids and plant kisses on both of their cheeks.

“Jameela and Bilaal “ I say now with authority, “Lets go to the kitchen and leave Daddy to get dressed”. They both jump off the bed excited to take their energy somewhere else. I follow them out of the room grabbing my satin dressing gown.

It is In the kitchen where I am the most content. The children are now seated at the tables for breakfast and they are still excited about their morning victory over mummy. I spot a used tea cup in the sink, a hint to my husbands’ goings – on at night. It is not unusual for him to get up in the middle of the night and have some tea and surf the internet. His job as the national security manager at a department store with hundreds of stores in the country, is very demanding. His leadership and perfectionism would demand that he was always on top of all the issues even if it meant surfing the internet for viable solutions at two o’clock in the morning. I felt a tinge of disappointment that he didn’t wake me last night, when he got up. He never does, although I always ask him to. The nights that I do wake up to find myself alone in bed, I immediately seek him out. I love sitting up with him and chatting about his work and trying to find solutions together. I may not be qualified to make any great security break through, but I love the fact that he bounces ideas off of me and really listens to my input. Sometimes the conversation becomes more general and philosophical. We have debating the meaning of life and discussed all sorts of topics. Some of our best bonding has been in the middle of the night, staying awake for hours taking . If there wasn’t much to talk about there was still plenty to do, well at least one particular adult activity. Having the kids around all the time puts a real damper on your libido, but at 2am and no chance of them waking up, just the look of him in his sleeping shorts can spike my libido. I am fully aware of my husbands sex appeal, as I’m sure every woman who sees him is. I may not be the most confident person in many things , but when it comes to my husbands affections for me , I see, I know and I feel his sincere devotion and attraction to me.

My two hungry children disturb my reverie with their breakfast order. “Mummy I want some scrambled eggs with toast and milo please “ says Jameela like she’s making an order at a restaurant. “Yes Madam “ I say playing along , “And what about you young man” , now addressing my son, “Sunny side or omlette?” . He looks at me a little confused not quite getting my restaurant game, and says “I want what Jameela is having”.

My two angels get their breakfast and I just finish with a fresh cup of tea and some cereal for Yusuf when he joins us in the kitchen. He is looking all business with his immaculate dark blue chinos and pin stripe white shirt and tie. Oh and THOSE shoes. The ones I hate so vehemently but he insists on wearing them, those Crocket and Jones URGH !

He sees me eyeing his shoes and he responds with shrugged shoulders. “Daddy Apa Tasneem is bringing her bunnies to school today” Jameela exclaims excitedly. “I remember you told me about it, you be gentle with the bunnies hey , just pat them slowly now” he admonishes , well aware of her need to experiment with all things. “I wonder if she will bring a white one, I love the white bunnies at the pet store”, Jameela is dreamily wondering. “Maybe she will bring a blue one” suggests Bilal matter-of-factly as if he has seen thousands of blue bunnies in his life. After many family trips to the zoo and farms, it’s my little Bilal who has been fascinated by why animals don’t have brighter colours. He has a great eye for details and colour and is constantly pointing out bright and bold plants, patterns and colours.

As I clear the plates for breakfast and pack the lunches, I hear the chatter at the breakfast table behind me. Yusuf is telling them about a turtle he had as a child. I don’t hear the details of the conversation, just the gasps an laughter in-between the clattering of the dishes into the sink, as I stack it up for Elizabeth to do when she gets here. I idly wondering when she will get here when I hear the door bell ring. Knowing full well that Elizabeth always arrives just after breakfast, there’s no chance that I have suddenly turned telepathic. Telepathic is the last thing I will ever be, even the timing of my monthly period can sometimes get me by surprise.

Yusuf still has the kids mesmerized by his story and I glance Bilal on his lap and Jameela practically climbing on the table eating up every word. This is his magic spell, the ability to engage you with his words to a point where there’s nothing else but the sound of his voice.

I let Elizabeth in, and we both enter the kitchen amidst a roar of laughter from all three of them. “Sameera fooi must have been so cross daddy”, Jameela says in between fits of laughter. Yusuf catches my eye and gives me a knowing wink. Although I hadn’t heard the story I can guess what he has been telling them. Stories of a young naughty Yusuf who would play hilarious practical jokes on his older sister, and from what I have been told by my sister in law, many of them involved his turtle tangled in her hair or swimming in the bathtub. I don’t respond, I think back to my younger days, and the image of my mother comes back to my mind. I really don’t want to breakdown into tears in the middle of my kitchen, but the intense sadness I feel inside is unshakable.

“Aunty Elizabeth!” screams Bilal as he jumps of his chair to hug her. He has been very close with her as she has been around since he was born.

“OK guys “ I announce , “time for your bath , or else you both will be late for school”. “Mummy can Aunty Elizabeth bath me , pleeeeease” pleads Bilal . I Readily agree, hoping they don’t notice my somber mood. “Elizabeth, help Jameela with the shower and run my bath for Bilal, I have put their clothes out last night already” I instruct Elizabeth.

The kids run upstairs with Elizabeth and for a moment I wonder how Elizabeth, this fifty year old hefty woman can make it up the stairs with such speed.

Its 07.30am and Yusuf has to leave so that he can spend at least an hour in traffic before getting to work. “I have a meeting with Clinton today at nine o’clock to discuss the internal security issues at the Head office” he says as he packs his suitcase and lunch bag. “So that’s why u were up this morning, were u planning for the meeting? I saw your tea cup in the sink” I say as I walk him out of the kitchen to the door that joins the garage to the house from inside. “Not really, this is just a routine meeting. I planned for it yesterday. I heard the cats crying at the window again” he says annoyed “…And then I couldn’t get back to sleep”. There has been many stray cats recently in the neighbourhood, and they seem to all gathered outside my bedroom window at least twice a week practicing their opera voices. I, myself had been awoken many times to that annoyance.

He opens the door and we step into the garage. I feel sadder and sadder at the thought of him leaving me, especially today. Its irrational I tell myself and I try to shake the feeling. He walks around to the Red BMW 5 series. He prefers to drive the coupe’ to work and leaves the X5 for me.

“So it’s the eighteenth of September today remember, we have the house to see” he says nonchalantly fishing his car keys out of his pocket. “I will be back by two to pick you and the kids up” . For a split second I don’t understand, hearing the date spoken out loud is my undoing as I feel all the emotion that I was trying to sweep aside, explode through me. The memory of my mothers body lying shrouded in my childhood home just one year ago pricks my eyes with tears.

As if he has seen my thoughts through my eyes , his own expression changes and he drops his briefcase on the floor. “Oh my God, Hasina, I didn’t realize” he says barely above a whisper and its his gentle tone in his voice loaded with sympathy, that is the last straw. Warm salty tears flow down my face and I’m sobbing uncontrollably into his shirt. He holds me for what seems like forever, and I feel him stoking my hair from the crown down to my shoulder. I hear him whisper into my ear “inna lillahi wa innna ilayhi rajioon” – to God do we Belong and to him is our return. I wipe my tears and steady myself on my feet. When I look up at him I realize I’ve nearly ruined his shirt. Reading my mind he says, “it will dry up , and I have a jacket” he smiles encouragingly. “Hasina do you want me to cancel the appointment to see the house, we don’t have to go today, if you don’t want to” he says. I reply almost immediately , “No don’t” I say. “It will give me something to look forward to”.

hiding bed

Hiding under the covers

crying wife

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