Archive for May, 2014

CHAPTER 11

Posted: May 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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 When all you have is a hammer , everything looks like a nail. – Bernard Berrach

“Dishad!”, I screamed through my open office door. A few second later Dilshad stood at the entrance of my office. As she stood in profile the small bump of her growing tummy was noticeable under her abhaya. “Where are the documents from Zaheera?” I blurted accusingly. “I asked you to follow up yesterday” I scolded.

“I called her yesterday and she told me that she was going to bring it before we closed up yesterday”.

“So….” I asked accusingly.

“I don’t know what happened. I tried calling her today but her cell is off”.

“jeez”, I snapped “Why didn’t you just pick it up from her, yesterday? You knew it was urgent”.

“Sorry Farnaz,” she apologized. “I offered to pick it up yesterday but she was preparing for her trip and running errands and she had the documents with her”.

“I can’t deal with this!” I screamed. “Try calling her again. I don’t want excuses, I want action. I don’t care what you do, just fix this. I need those documents NOW! I am meeting with Mr. Ebrahim in a few hours”

She nodded and left.

A few minutes after she had left my office, I realized I had been too hard on her. It wasn’t her fault of course. I had been in a bad mood for a couple of days now. It was what happened after the party on Sunday that has my emotions all working overtime.

When we got back from the party, I was so hopeful. I was determined to speak to Hussain and try to resolve this huge boulder in our lives. When I saw him cry, it made my heart ache. I had never seen him show any emotion. Anger is usually his response for everything. He directs his anger at everything and everyone when he is unable to deal with a real emotion. THAT, I am used to. That night when I stood outside the window and saw him cry, I was blindsided. He was bent over his plane and there was no mistaking his tears. I watched as his tears fell soundlessly as he tried ignoring the pain that was flowing out of his eyes. His fingers still worked deftly on the plane as if his body was unaware of his leaking emotion. Then my heartache turned into heart break. Why won’t he speak to me? Why won’t he share his pain with me? Why does he push me away?

I hated that I felt out of place standing there watching him. I hated that I had to resist my urge to go in and comfort him. I hated that I had to walk away and forget what I saw. I hated that I began wondering if not talking about his feelings was a way to shut me out forever.

The anger and frustration of that night kept building up inside me. I began feeling helpless. How long can we continue just politely commenting on events, making small talk and talking about the weather. Sitting together with him at the Vally’s party felt so right. It made me feel like there was hope. He bonded so well with the baby. I can’t remember when I last saw him smile like that. But he didn’t SAY ANYTHING. It is like he just doesn’t care enough to. I read somewhere that the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. He just doesn’t care anymore. The though made my cheeks burn red. Does he not care? Is it really all over? Aaaargh! How did I get into this mess?

I looked up to see Dilshad at my door. She stood there timidly. “Zaheera is here” she said apprehensively trying to gauge my mood. “Does she have the documents?” I asked keeping my tone at conversational level and feigning nonchalance. “Yes” she responded, “but she wants to see you”.

I rolled my eyes at the thought of having to endure her tedious conversation. Not now, I thought. “ok send her in” I said regretfully.

Zaheera strolled in, nose in the air and an extra spring in her step.“Farnaz, doll!” she said pacing her words with her strides. “So sorry about yesterday, it’s all my fault. The documents were ready, but I had to run and do my forex and then the bank needed my visa so I had to go back to the travel agent, then back to the bank. By the time I was done at the bank, I was carrying around thousands of Euros…” she paused to emphasize this , then she flashed me a smile, “So I just decided to go home first, by then it was too late”. She put the manila envelope on my desk. “I am leaving tomorrow for London”, she continued without me asking. I nodded. “Have a good trip” I said walking around my desk to indicate I was going to walk her out. Thankfully she took the hint and stood up. However much to my disappointment she did not stop talking, “I’m sure it will be. We flying turkish airlines so we just had to stop for a short stay in Turkey”…..blah blah blah and something about a balloon safari and a cruise. That woman can brag. Does she really think I care about her holiday? “Thanks for dropping the documents off”, I cut her off sharply. “Just give Dilshad a shout when you are back”, I finished and  ushered her out of my office. “Assa almu Alaikum” I said as I turned and returned to my office. I could hear Zaheera still talking about her plans. Dilshad’s oohing and aahing filtered through to my office. I tore open the envelope and pulled out the documents. I tried to filter out the cheerful voices outside as I carefully began to go through each clause of the lease document.

*****

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CHAPTER 10 (continued)

Posted: May 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

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It was only after my final matric exams that I saw him again. He looked different. He was matured and energetic.

“did you miss me” he asked cheekily as he stood at the door, flashing that smile.

He came to take my mother and me out to celebrate. She couldn’t come but surprisingly urged us to go. That day, he proposed to me. He was clean and drug free and that I was the reason he decided to change. “I’ll never touch drugs again Hasina. I promise, that’s all over” ‘ he said. “I know what I want now. I want to marry you and have a life with you. You are the most important person in my life”. I was stunned. Apparently he had already spoken to my mother and Waseem. This guy was impressive. He leaned over and pulled out a ring with a diamond to die for. I had fallen for him, and he knew it.

We were married a year later and it was a blissful marriage. It was only until two years into my marriage that his bad habit rose its ugly head again. I had just found out I was pregnant. It was suppose to be a happy time and I played out the whole conversation in my head. It didn’t work out that way. As soon as I told him, he was dumbfounded. His face drained of blood. When I asked him what’s wrong and if he wasn’t happy about the pregnancy, he confessed everything. He had begun using drugs again. He said it was only occasionally. He had met up with some of his old friends and it “just happened” he said. He said he was happy about the baby and so determined to start over. I was furious. He not only lied to me, but he betrayed my trust. I wasn’t going to let him get away with it.

“How could you Yusuf?” I was furious. “It’s not just you and me now, I have another person to think about. You need to be responsible and tell me right now if you can do that”

He looked at me defeated. “im sorry Hasina, I was stupid. I will never do anything to hurt you or the baby, I promise. Its all over it. I will never do that any drugs again”

“you said that to me once before, how can I trust you now? I said, my tears threatening. “if you can’t be responsible, then don’t drag us into it” I put my palm on my stomach. “I can do this on my own, I don’t need you” I said, now really crying.

“No you cant leave me, Hasina” he pleaded. “I love you, Im so sorry, please give me a chance to me a good father. I will never let you down again. you are my world, please , I need you” he said clearly pained.

He kept to his word, and never even saw those friends of his again. The years passed by so quickly and so happily. I never doubted him all those years of marriage. Never… until now

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 10 (continued)

Posted: May 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

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The past remains where it is …in the past.

It was three months later when I got a Facebook invite from a – Yusuf Vally. Remembering the incident that night I ignored it. A few weeks later, I received a call from an unknown number while I was writing study notes on my bedroom floor. When I answered it turned out to be him. He was so apologetic for his friend and told me he had my sketch. He thought my sketch was really good and wanted to know what I thought of Paris. I laughed unguarded for a moment “ I have never been to Paris”.

He seemed surprised, “Wow! but your sketch, Its so real and accurate. How did you do sketch like that if you have never been there?”

“Well I heard you talking about it at the party and I just started drawing” I said, forgetting that he is a spoilt-rich-kid-drug addict.

“Will you sign it for me”, he asked a smile in his voice.  SHIT This guy was smooth , I had to admit.

I laughed. “It’s not finished” I said abruptly.

“OK. Then ill bring it back to you and you’ll finish it for me, tomorrow “

“huh?” what did he just say?

“No” I said. “you stole it from me”

“It wasn’t me, it was Rameez.  I said I’m sorry” he pleaded.

I didn’t say anything.

“listen”, he said now a bit unsteadily. “Can we be friends”

I nearly fell of the floor I was sitting on.

“I don’t think so” I said. “please don’t call me again” . Without waiting for a response I ended the call and turned off my cellphone, not wanting to know if he would try to call me back or not.

I came from a very different family from his. My mother worked long and hard to give us the basics and teach us to make the right decision. Being friends with a spoilt-rich-kid-drug addict was a bad idea.

Despite my request for him not to call me again, like a crazy teenage girl, I waited for his next call. He was rich and gorgeous after all. I was sensible, I wasn’t stupid. He didn’t call – he came to my house!

One Saturday morning I opened the door only to find Yusuf Vally standing there all suave. “assalamu Alaikum, Hasina” he said very calmly. I didn’t say anything. I was in shock.   “What the hell are you doing here?” I asked rudely.

“I came to pick up an order from Aunty Mariam” he said a little winded, his confidence slightly deflated. Was he expecting fluttering lashes and flicking hair?

“ok” I said as I went to fetch my mother.

My mother was busy with another order and asked me to give him the order that was already packaged in the dining room. Aah Great , I thought.

I handed it over to him.

“Hasina” he said , my name rolling smoothly off his tongue. “I would like to spend some time with you. Can I come back and visit you another day at home?” he asked.

I wasn’t expecting that. That was, well – almost decent of him. He looked at me expectantly. “I need to ask my mother”, I answered.

That brought a smile to his face, “SO that’s not a hell-no, then?” he said relieved as he walked away to his car.

My mother didn’t mind, as I knew she wouldn’t. She always said she would rather have her children bring boys and girls home instead of walking the streets together.

Yusuf was at my house nearly every weekend after that. He seemed to really like me, or maybe it was my mother he liked, because he sometimes sat with my mother for hours chatting and having tea, sampling her new treats, while I was studying.

About six months after we became friends, he began to tell me the whole story about how he got involved with drugs. He said he had started earning money at a really young age. His own money! But without much to spend it on and most of his needs taken care of by his parents he began doing drugs purely recreationally. He began getting in with the wrong crowd and soon he was buying drugs for them as well. “I want to tell you everything Hasina” he had said when he started. He told me about the parties he would have when he parents went away. He told me about the girls, a new one each weekend. He wasn’t proud of what he got up to but he said he was ready to change. He said he started to change a few months ago. He mentioned the drugs that he had taken, Marijuana, ecstacy, meth and tik. He said he had never tried the hard stuff like snow (cocaine) and never injected himself.

“Do you like it?” I asked curiously.

“I used to like it.” He said a bit confused “But the more I do it the harder coming down is. I sometimes get headaches and nausea after”

I shake my head, “But surely you know its haraam, Yusuf”, I say . “you are a hafiz, you have the whole quraan in your head. Why would you jeopardize that?. Drugs can damage your brain”

“I know. I was stupid, and when I started I wasn’t thinking about the consequences”

“SO why don’t you stop, Just quit?” I asked

“I never had a reason until now” he said looking straight at me. The blood rushed to my cheeks.

He continued, “I told my parents about the drugs” he said. “At first they didn’t believe me, then when I showed them my stash in my room ….” His voices faded away. “Anyways, I’m starting rehab next week” he said shakily.

So this is what that was all about. He is going in to rehab.

“good for you!” I said resisting the urge to hug him.

“I will be away for three months, Hasina” he says. “Im really going to miss you” he said.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 10 (continued)

Posted: May 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

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CHAPTER 10 (cont)

An hour later with my feet aching the hostess gave a speech about her “darling son”. When the applause came and he was called from outside to “say a few words”, I immediately recognized his voice as the voice that had been my muse all evening. I couldn’t believe he was the “Yusuf” I had heard so much about. That aside, I bent down to pick my jaw up off the ground. This guy was flippin gorgeous.

After the speeches, the night began to wind down quickly and we were left with the task of clearing up. There seemed to be so much to do and my mother seemed to be demanding the moon and stars from us. As soon as the guests were gone it was clear Mrs. Vally wanted us out of the house immediately.

We had just finished packing the van with all the catering equipment when I realized I didn’t have my note book. “I have to get it” I pleaded with my mother. She agreed to wait a few minutes while I ran back into the kitchen through the back doors we had been loading from. I searched the kitchen frantically but found nothing. Disappointed and upset I headed back to the van. On my way through the back I heard snickering and laughing close to the bushes. Thinking it was one of my mother’s waiters I quickly went over to tell them we are going. It was Yusuf and friends sitting on the ground , hidden by the bushes.

“Erm. Sorry” I said when I realized who it was. They were smoking something, through a glass pipe, a lighter held at the bulb below. Rich kids and drugs, I thought – how cliché. I coughed loudly as one of the friends exhaled through his mouth at me. I was about to walk away disgusted when I spied my notebook on the ground. Torn pages lay next to it as one was being rolled into a joint. “That’s MY book you idiot!” I screamed. Yusuf seemed to notice me for the first time. His eyes seemed asleep even though they were open. “So what?” asked one of his cronies. “I want it back” I said forcefully, wondering if I should just grab it and run. “What do I get in return” he asked in a tone that made me nervous. “I never had a girl with green eyes” he said as he snickered to his friends. I lunged for my book and he caught my hand. Yusuf pulled his hand away. “leave her!” he said forcefully to his friend who cowered in response. I grabbed my book and ran.

I was too shocked to even think about what had happened until I was in bed with my notebook by my side. I paged through my note book and found all my doodles and silly patterns. The sketch of the Paris river was gone. Stupid Rich Kids, I thought.

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CHAPTER 10 (continued)

Posted: May 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

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CHAPTER 10 (cont)

On my third round, serving a tray of bite size mini quiche I was stopped by a hefty lady in a red garara with a red chand dotting her forehead. There were a handful of Hindu ladies here all wrapped up in India’s finest silk and sporting bangles from wrist to elbow. “Is this veggie” she asked me expectantly. “Erm.. Im not sure” I replied embarrassed , I hadn’t paid attention to what my mother told me. “I know we catered for vegetarian” I remembered, “Let me go back to the kitchen and get a plate of some veggie snacks for you” I offered. “Oh that will be great dear, please can you bring two plates. I’m going to sit over there with my friend who is also vegetarian” she pointed to a space just inside the french double doors that open to the garden. I nodded and returned to the kitchen.

When I returned I was holding two plates stacked up high with bhajia, pakoras, potato samoosas, Puri patta, and stuffed mushrooms. I looked to where the lady said she and her friend would be. The Hindu lady spied the full plates in my hands and waved frantically for me as I walked towards her, dodging the few groups in between. She had chosen a particularly crowded spot and I noticed a crowd of young men had gathered just outside the French doors while I was in the kitchen. “Hmm thank you so much” she said sincerely when I handed her the plates. “I’m so sorry for the trouble” she continued. I could barely hear her from the loud conversation all around. The young men outside seemed to be particularly roudy. They were all facing towards the garden but the sound of their conversation carried right into the large room. “It’s no problem” I said. “if you need anything else, please just call me, my name is Hasina” I offered as I began to walk away.

“…the cruise on the Seine river was the best” came a voice from outside. One of the young men was talking excitedly, and the tone and emotion in his voice carried into the room and I found myself straining my ears to hear more, “from the one side of the river you can see the Eiffel tower and the other side, the busy streets of Paris.” He pauses , “Rameez here was chasing a hot Femme Fatale all around Paris and now can’t even remember what the Eiffel tower looked like” a loud laugh erupted as I walked away.

A few minutes later the Hindu lady called me again. As I walked towards her I lingered slowly at the doors listening to any additions of the conversation I heard earlier. The voice of a young man was talking about the Louvre museum “I dragged these dirtbags to the Museum”, came that same voice. He hadn’t lost his captivating tone. “When Rameez saw the Mona Lisa he did a Mr. Bean impression so good we nearly got thrown out.” Another voice said “And remember the naked women with no hands and droopy titties..” he laughed. “It was a sculpture” said the first voice, “..the Venus de Milo” the he continued – with a touch of irritation at the other persons comment. “She is suppose to be Aphrodite- The Greek goddess of love”. “Geez” said the other voice, I thought Geek chicks were hot”. My eave dropping was disturbed by the Aunty say , “Sorry dear, We are not sure which cakes are eggless. Please can you bring us some”. I took their empty plates away for a sweet refill. Wondering how they managed to eat all of it. I returned to the kitchen hurriedly hoping to catch more of the conversation when I got back. With another two plates full of fresh cream doughnuts, pastries and cakes I handed it over to the Aunty. Just as I was about to resume my slow walk back in the direction of the French doors, she asked for diet coke. After two full plates of food, the irony of the diet coke wasn’t lost on me. However, my desire to continue eavesdropping on the conversation outside, outweighed by initial need to laugh at her request. I obliged eagerly as it made me get close enough to hear some more detailed stories of Paris. I made excuses to go back and ask how they were just so I could hear more about the city. I didn’t see the person who was talking, but it was clear he knew how to command a conversation. He had me and everyone around him spell bound. His descriptions of the Versailles Palace and the sights, sounds, and smells of the bustling inner city, galleries and passages was vivid enough to make you think you had been there. The voice was talking about Euro Disney when my mother called me back to the kitchen.

Inspired, I began to sketch frantically in my little note pad. The crude amateur drawing of a vast river with a small cruise boat heading under a bridge with the Eiffel tower in the distance took hardly any time. I added details like railings along the river and buildings in the background. A few waves on the river and the drawing seemed to come to life. I put it aside hoping to finish it at home.

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