CHAPTER 3 (continued)

Posted: May 2, 2014 in Uncategorized
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transformation definition

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. – Arther Miller 

So… with his mother’s wise words, he backed off. The issue of children was not off the table it was just shelved for a few years. Oh ,  and what wonderful years they were. Hussain was the perfect man, fun, romantic and caring. We took his mothers advice and since we were both advancing quickly in our respective careers and could afford it, we had some amazing trips. Mostly local , dashing of to Umhlanga in the winter time, or flying to cape town for the weekend. My Mother-in-law, bless her heart,  was right – obviously. We would never be able to do that with a baby, just the thought of all that baby props we would have to lug around, was enough to call off a weekend trip. Whats more I could see that Hussain enjoyed the freedom too. He loved being able take me along at a whims notice when his company needed him to fly down to the Cape Town head office to present their latest prototypes. I, of course was a working independent woman, but having my own business gave me the freedom to work on demand. The weeks, months, and years flew by.

It was on a special trip, I planned a big surprise. Hussain appeared to have forgotten his deep desire for children, but I had been giving it a lot of serious contemplation.  My business had become established and I had even secured some very wealthy businessmen as clients. I had began testing the waters in commercial property and hired an assistant to help with all the paperwork. I was where I wanted to be at the time. It was that trip to Zanzibar that came at the best time in our relationship. “I know it’s a couple of months for our anniversary” Hussain had began “but how about we make this trip an anniversary celebration” he declared. I agreed whole heartedly , knowing my surprise couldn’t be topped.

It was a week away in paradise. I recall now with a little bit of sadness, how happy we were on that trip. We held hands, and took strolls and the beach and just took in the island life. We had agreed to exchange gifts in the fourth day of our Zanzibar holiday, and what a perfect day it was. We planned a tour into Stone town, an idyllic place entwined with history and culture. The intoxicating smells of the spice shops enveloped our senses as we dashed on foot between the corridors of shops and stalls scattered along the stone walled buildings. My memory is vivid of that day as I can almost smell the aroma emanating from the spice stalls. Each building was a different colour or shade, much like the spices that makes the Island so famous. We got back to our hotel giddy from the sensory journey of stone town and our late afternoon cruise, to an indoor picnic orchestrated by the hotel under the instruction from my husband.   Hussain has never been a man of romantic gestures, so the surprise nearly brought me to tears. Confident and proud of his accomplishment we enjoyed a delicious picnic supper, when the playful argument to open gifts began.”Open mine first” I insisted and after some convincing and a well played pout ,  I got my way.

I handed him a small rectangular box. He immediately took it and nearly shook the living daylights out of it. “Whoa, gentle!” , I teased . We both knew there wasn’t anything fragile in there as it been packed in our suitcase and probably thrashed around in the plane, and then again on our trip to the hotel. He tore at the paper now frustratingly slowly, taking each line if tape out perfectly. I sighed out of sheer exasperation and rolled my eyes  at his meticulousness. When he finally unwrapped the box, he took of the lid and unfolded the tissue paper. He picked up the long pen-like item quizzically. He was certainly very confused, until he looked back into the box and spotted the pharmaceutical pamphlet insert under it. I had taped it to the bottom of the box at precisely the point of illustration clearly indicating that one line indicated a negative result, while two lines meant you were pregnant.

His head quickly jerked up “ You not…” his voice trailed away. I smiled , “Not yet , but I think I want to be…soon” I said trying to control my shaky voice as best I could. I wasn’t sure from his reaction, what he was thinking. I held my breath waiting for his response.

His lips parted slowly, and his expression changed . A sly smile swept over his face and his eyes were dancing with, with …. excitement. “Can we start trying now?” he asked as he caught me at the waist and pulled me onto his lap. Just as I opened my mouth to laugh, I felt his lips on mind, his tongue already exploring my mouth. Then just as suddenly he pulled away from me. Thinking about it now , I feel my skin tingle , I will never forget the look in his eyes. His eyes were wide and dancing with intensity. He held my head between his hands. The tips if his fingers in my hair and his thumbs gently rubbing the base of my head. Then he lifted his hands to focus me eyes on his.  “Nazi , are you sure about this?” he asked, his voice thick with concern.“Do you really want to have a baby?”. Our eyes were still locked on each other. “More than any thing”, I responded …adding “I love you.”

It was only the next morning when we awoke, did I realize I never even got to open MY anniversary gift.

I can hardly believe that that was so long ago. Where had the time gone? There was a year of trying to get pregnant, and then when we did, my miscarriage at 5 months. Then a year to fall pregnant again. The second miscarriage was devastating. I was beside myself, ridden with guilt that maybe if I hadn’t waited my body would have been younger or stronger. Then our marriage came under strain, and I couldn’t help but think that Hussain was thinking the same thing. We both poured ourselves back into work. “Don’t stress about it, Dikri”, my mother in law said to me. “We plan and Allah plans, but Allah is the best of planners”, she told me. She meant that whatever happens has been pre ordained and that I should trust Allah since He has wisdom in His plans. I agree in my head, but my heart still ached.  I make dua everyday that Allah can bless us with a child. “You are still young”, she continued, “Do you know?… Ghori Khala only had her first child when she was thirty five”. At the time, that was little comfort.

When the kitchen was cleared, and supper dishes had been washed, I walked towards the lounge to Hussain. I found him laying comfortably across the two seater couch. As I sit down he shuffles to make place for me, his eyes not leaving the TV screen.  I wonder how things would be if there was a child around. I think of the happy laughter, and the sound of little feet dashing around the house. My mind drifts in wonder to what the Vally’s would be doing now. I have thought about them several times today, even during my other shows. Hasina’s disinterest in the house and spoilt rich girl attitude, contrasted with the expression in her face as their car pulled away. I thought about her young daughter. My thoughts search to recall her name. Jameela, yes.  How I wish I could have a daughter like that. It was clear to see she was confident and head strong. Sadly I predict she will be groomed to be a wife of a rich man just as I assume her mother was. What a shame. So many young girls are trained for fashion instead of philosophy, makeup instead of masters and panchaat instead of politics.

Just then I remembered that my sister in law has invited me to taalim tomorrow morning. Taalim usually happened mid morning, after the ladies have done their school rounds and cooking for lunch. One lady hosts at her house and the rest meet there to read and learn about Islam. It could involve anything from the correct way to pray in order to obtain maximum reward in salaah (prayer) to tafseer -reciting and learning the meaning of the Quraan. However, I have heard, not all come to Taalim for that reason.  I remember going to Taalim with my grandmother back in Houghton as a teenager. It was part of her subtle plan to “show” me off to the community.  At eighteen years old, daddi decided it was time to accompany her there, and she introduced me each week to a different ‘aunty’ and somehow she even found a way to be related to all of them. “Farnaz, this is Rookeya Bhen. She is your father’s fooi’s sister- in-law’s cousin”, she would say to me. Followed by something in Gujerati. She may as well be speaking Chinese, I never understood a word of gujerati. I used to get the feeling sometimes that daddi would be talking about me. Well it wasn’t so much a feeling actually, I was pretty sure about it. It was hard to ignore her pointing at me followed by the other old womens’ stares, and the occasional English words thrown in with the Gujerati, like, University, Architecture, and eighteen. What, theres no word for eighteen in Gujerati?  She was most likely asking them if they knew any good boys for me.  I knew the drill as I had witnessed it unfold with my sister Laila. At the time I thought it was hilarious. Laila was mentioned at every family gathering, wedding , and yes, funeral. I remember the look on her face when my daddi would ask her to get tea for everyone at the table. This would happen at every wedding we attended. Laila hated it, and for good reason, since it would mean three maybe four trips to the tea table where mothers could scrutinize and the sons could criticize. I guess the old fashioned way worked out for Laila in the end since she met her husband, when she spilled tea on his mother during one of those tea table trips. I grinned thinking about it, Allah really works in mysterious ways.

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The streets of stone town

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Walking on the beach in Zanzibar

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Wedding tea table

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