CHAPTER 5 (continued)

Posted: May 11, 2014 in Uncategorized
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transformation definition

I have everything I thought was important and nothing that really is.
-Lily Francone


Later that evening, after supper and salaah I decided to tell Hussain about the call I received this afternoon. Hussain usually relaxes in front of the TV after supper or gets working on his model airplanes. From the absence of any sound filtering through the passage to my room, I guessed that he was probably in the outside shed where he usually does all his models. His model planes hobby began almost two years ago, just after my miscarriage. That was no coincidence. Hussain is a man of action and not words, doing and not talking, but despite his tough guy outer shell, it was plainly obvious that the miscarriage had been hard on him. Thinking back now, you’d think it wasa HIM who had his insides poked and prodden.

We discussed the miscarriage at the time – biologically only. He was comfortable talking about an incompetent cervix, cervical scarring, uterine detachment and all the details of the miscarriage. The conversations he avoided was the ones I so needed. What do we do now? When can we try again? Tell me how you are feeling.

He was supportive during my stay at the hospital following the miscarriage. It was not until a few days after I got back home from the hospital that I could feel a subtle change. It was nothing overt. Not immediate, but it was as though the house itself sighed with grief as I entered. The home that just a few weeks ago was buzzing with anticipation and the prospects of the future, seemed now emptier than ever before. The knowing smiles we shared in the corridor turned into avoiding glances. The playful banter turned into stressful conversation. My loving husband became a roommate.

He preferred to be by himself and brushed me off when I wanted to talk about trying to get pregnant again. I consoled myself by thinking that it was just his way of dealing with it. After all he was a man who weighed the logic of a situation and not necessarily the emotion. He began to spend more and more time in the shed. At first I did not know what he was doing there and decided to give him his time alone although I really wished that we could talk about our feelings about losing our baby. It was then more than ever that I needed his support and comfort. My heart was breaking for the child that never was, and then what little pieces if it remained, was ground to dust by a husband who seemed to have emotionally abandoned me. The few weeks after the miscarriage were the hardest. Hussain would sometimes come home late from work, and if I had an early meeting, there would be days where we would miss each other completely. He avoided deep conversation and our verbal correspondence was limited to a sterile report of our daily work activities. My husband was distancing himself from me. He was still there physically, but the closeness we shared a few months before was gone with our unborn child. I felt like I was being punished. But why? Was it my fault? Did he blame me for putting my career before a child? Would my body have been stronger two years ago? why did I have to wait?

My doctor’s explanation was that the condition of an incompetent cervix is rare and the cause in my case is unknown.   As we sat in the doctor’s office a month later for a follow up appointment, I remember how helpless I felt. I felt like a knife that could not cut, a pen that could not write or a candle that could not burn. I was a woman who could not bare children.  I looked at the doctor and saw the concern on her face, her lips were moving but the sound of her voice was drowned out by my thoughts which were racing loud and fast. I kept thinking, What use is a woman who cannot bare children? Is that not what women are made for? I am intelligent –yes, I am beautiful- yes. I am funny and hopeful and kind and generous – yes, yes, yes. But what use is all of those qualities if you cannot pass it onto someone else. I am a woman, I can do anything I want and that included having a baby. I had looked at Hussain sitting beside me and to this day I wish I hadn’t. I could have avoided what came later. If my eyes wasn’t already burning with the tears that I kept trying to blink back, the injured look on his face would have been enough. He looked like a man defeated. He was listening to the doctor but his body was resigned. His eyes were shining with moisture. He nodded to the doctor and I tried to bring myself to listen. The doctor was explaining something. She was talking about the next time. My ears pricked up.

“You need to be careful about contraception for at least the next six months”, she said. Adressing Hussain she continued, “The cervix needs some time to rest and get stronger, After six months you need to come back and we can run some tests and decide if it is okay to try to conceive again”, she instructed with authority. She was still looking at Hussain as if it was HIS damaged cervix in question. Hussain seemed dazed, perhaps he thought it was.  He nodded absentmindedly and I wondered if he had even heard what she had said. She may have wondered the same thing so her next statement was more forceful. “There is a good chance Farnaz could miscarry again, and a second miscarriage could put Farnaz at great risk”. She looked at me this time for a reaction. I had none. She continued. “So the next time we will have to be on high alert”. Husain was motionless. He seemed deep in thought but he said nothing. He seemed to have shrunk in stature in this 30 minute appointment, his confident attitude also dissolved. I couldn’t help but feel responsible for his pain, yet I felt totally useless to do anything about it. As we got up to leave, without a thought I stretched out my hand to hold his.  From the time I had looked at him and saw the pain in his eyes I wanted to reach out to him. I needed to feel him next to me, we needed to be there for each other. I wanted to comfort him – I wanted him to feel me saying, its going to be OK. My hand reached out and just touched his as he pulled his hand away. It was a split second moment and to an onlooker it may have looked like a co-incidence but I knew better. He didn’t want my support. When I looked back at him for explanation, I saw anger and blame on his face. ‘He blamed me’, I thought, ‘He is angry with me!’ The realization of all the weeks before, the avoidance and the isolation, shot threw me like an arrow.  He couldn’t have hurt me more at that moment than if he had run me over with a truck. My tears flowed silently and secretly as we left the doctors office and I wondered if I had lost my husband too, with my unborn child.

The few months after the doctor’s appointment were the hardest. We never spoke about what happened and it was just understood that we will go back six months later. Everytime I looked at him I could see the blame on his face, although he never once said it. We argued over trivial things: the empty milk carton, his missing socks, and toothpaste in the basin. We were obviously skirting over the real issues. Our marriage became effortful and just being in the same room was a difficult task.

It was probably Hussains new hobby of model planes that helped us through the worst part of our miscarriage. In the shed, it was his own space that he escaped to every evening, making sure that we did not spend more time that was necessary together. Spending time together caused arguments, yelling and door banging. I never bothered about what he was doing there, but I would see him take packages out to the shed. One evening after a particularly tensed supper I eventually stumbled across it in a rage about the empty water jug in the fridge. I probably was not expecting to be amazed at the sight I met. I threw open the door, fuming, and found him leaning over a spectacular red and black plane with a wingspan of almost a meter and I was impressed. Actually… I was beyond impressed. First at the plane- it was huge even though it was only partly assembled – and then and more surprisingly at this man. His face looked like a little boy unwrapping a new present and my heart melted at the sight of the man I married. He looked up at me, smiled, and continued. My feet felt like lead and I couldn’t move for fear that the moment would dissolve and there would be no way to get it back. So I just stood there. He continued for a long time and I watched him. His careful hands tightening the screws, testing the rotors and oiling them, checking each part meticulously until it was perfect. Yes, I thought, thinking about his clothes thrown on the floor and the dishes waiting to be packed, his hands DO work. Then he said without looking up, “come check this out Farnaz”. He said this so coolly and calmly in a tone that had become almost unfamiliar to me. For a moment I wondered who he was talking to. I walked over to him as he began to explain. He spoke about the plane and the engine, the cockpit and the wingspan. He spoke about the engine and its silencers and cooling system. He spoke and spoke and spoke. It was as though everything he failed to say he was saying now, in the safety of the shed, in his element. The conversation was full of nuts and bolts but the parallel conversation – the one where he looked at me with excitement, and where I laughed at his jokes, where he actually tried to be funny and where we shared smiles and stares – was a glimmer of hope for our marriage.

That particular day had eased some of the tension that had been gripping our marriage. I realised that we weren’t railed off the marriage tracks. Although the arguments had stopped after that day and we got along most of the time, the issue of children was still a sensitive one. Staying with the train analogy, we began moving forward together although our coaches were not attached.

Making my way outside now, on a mission to discuss the call this morning, I walk into the shed and find Hussain hard at work on his new project. The red and black spitfire finished months ago, is suspended from the ceiling to make it look like it’s in mid flight. The shed is the size of a small bedroom big enough for a double bed and walking space. Hussain has all his spares and small tools in steel drawers lining the far wall, and a large wooden table is set in the middle where the new project takes pride of place. The wall on the far right has cottage windows that bring in the morning light. On the opposite wall hangs medium and large power tools in an impressive lockable cage made and designed by Hussain.

I walk up to him. “You’ve assembled the engine already”, I say with an impressive tone. “That was quick”, I add. He nods and says, “This one is smaller and simpler than the spitfire”, he explains without looking up. I nod, but he can’t see me. I feel a little strange. I don’t usually go down to the shed to talk to him so this scenario seems forced. The call this afternoon was for him too, so I have to tell him. It makes me feel uneasy. I try to think of something. “Im going to make some tea, are you going to take a break soon?” I ask trying to sound like I ask him this all the time. By his look, I can see I wasn’t successful. He frowns a little then says, “Twenty minutes” and carries on without another word. I leave and wait in the kitchen.

When he walks in, he still has his work gloves on and I he brings with him a musty oily smell into the kitchen. It’s a manly smell that almost screams a tarzan type dialoque – “I’m man. Work hard” while pounding his chest. The thought makes me smile and Hussain watching me, returns it. He sits down and removes his gloves. His hands are soft, deceptive for a man who works with his hands. “Thought I was getting tea” he says. I get up to pour his cup and sit back down next to him. I allow him to take a sip and then begin.

“I sold a house today, the one I told you about the other day” I begin.

“Hmmm” he responds taking another sip.

I lean over the counter and pull the biscuit jar to him and open it. He takes one and dips it. I hate that, I cringe. He knows this. He looks at me and shakes his head in amusement.

“The Vally’s, remember”, I continue. “They decided to buy it.”

“Oopling”, he says. Referring to the trend of Indian businessman doing deals under the table without paying tax. I shrug my shoulders.

“They are having a house warming and birthday party for their daughter next month, and the owner called to invite us”. I stressed on US. Hussain and I have not been out together socially for a long time, well since the marriage got shaky. I can see him thinking about it, maybe wondering when the last time was that we went out together. Visits to his family and grocery shopping does not count I say to him in my head.

“hhmm” he says still pondering. After about a minute’s pause of more tea sipping and biscuit dipping he nods his head and asks, “when?” I hand over the scribbled notes I made this afternoon with all the details. He looks at it and asks, “Don’t you usually go to these things by yourself?” I nod and respond “Yes, but when Mr. Vally called this afternoon to invite us…” I stressed on the us again, “He insisted we come as guests and not as his agent”. He took a few moments to think, picking up the paper and turning it around. I wondered if he was trying to think of an excuse. Then putting his tea cup down he got up and said, “okay” and began walking out of the kitchen. The tarzan smell following him faithfully as his unfinished cup of tea, still sat on the counter.

I didn’t expect that. I thought he would make up an excuse or just tell me to go by myself. I really didn’t want to go alone so I am glad that he has agreed to come. It will probably be weird though, going out with him after so long. Or maybe it will be nice, I think. With a feeling of relief and motivation. I grab the phone and dial Mumtaz from Taalim. She answers on the first ring.

When I end the call I am smiling. I will be attending house warming in a month and a coffee date a week after that. Two social activities within a week of each other, I laugh to myself, Husna will be so proud. I am on a roll – I think. I call Husna with the good news.



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