CHAPTER 7 (continued)

Posted: May 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

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In the end I will regret all the chances I didn’t take. I will regret all the moments that I let slip by. I’ll regret all the feelings that I hid from you. And in the end my biggest regret will be losing you. – Mahmoud El Hallab

I decide to get something to eat and head to the table. I passed up chocolate cake for this, this morning. At the table I discreetly fill it with two samoosas and red velvet cake and pour a glass of juice. Back at my chair, it’s a balancing act with my plate and juice. I finally set my juice down on the chair next to me and attack the samoosas.

When I’m done and I reach over for my juice and I notice a spot of red sauce on my blue T-shirt. Just great, I think to myself. I wipe it off with a serviette which just manages to spread the spot into a large purple tear drop. I get up and head into the house in search of a bathroom.

I re-immerge outside sometime later, somewhat successful. The only evidence of my messy eating is a slightly darker spot of blue that’s fading into the background as it dries. I find my chair and get comfortable again. There’s a fuss and I hear something about cake, when I look up Yusuf’s wife is rushing towards the house. Some way behind her, in no hurry at all, I see Farnaz. She is holding a small baby on her hip. She’s a natural I think. I haven’t met a child that didn’t love Farnaz. Every one is moving towards the table with the promise of cake. She looks up and our eyes meet. I gesture her to the empty chair next to me.

When she sits down, it’s the smell of the baby that gets me immediately and I breathe it in.

“She likes you”, I say to her noticing how content the baby is.

“Do you want to hold her?” she asks me. I think about it and then refuse. I’m not as confident as she is. There’s a bussle going on by the table and I hear chairs being pulled towards it, but I don’t look up. My eyes are fixed on the baby. She is unaware of anything but her fingers in her mouth. She catches my eyes and makes an ‘um’ sound. I smile, she reciprocates. Farnaz watches me intently.

“She likes you too” she says. Looking straight at me. “What happened there?” she asks eyeing the nearly invisible spot on my shirt now.

“Samoosa malfunction” I reply cheerily. She raises an eyebrow. Then smiles. I look at her again and she’s the picture of perfection. THIS should be us, I think to myself. I close my eyes for a split second and pretend that we have a perfect marriage and the baby she is holding is ours. It feels so good that when I stop pretending, I feel an unexpected ache in my heart.

“What have you been up to?” she asks me unexpectedly.

I take a moment and then resapond, “Just talking and eating”.

I want to ask her how she has gotten along here. I want to know if she can smell that baby smell. I want to ask her if she wonders what our baby would look like. I want to ask her if she is happy, really happy. I want to know if there is any woman here that she could be friends with. That’s the only real reason I came with her today. I rehearse the sentences in my head. The baby starts blowing spit bubbles and I am distracted. I hear the sound of the birthday song in the background. I ignore it and turn my attention to the baby. Before I realize it I am blowing raspberries and making funny noises for the baby. To my delight, the little bundle is enjoying my attempts at absurdity. She gurgles and coos… and laughs. She squirms on Farnaz’s lap. Farnaz holds her tight. Farnaz is watching me. I attempt another raspberry and I am rewarded with a bubbly laugh. Farnaz laughs too, really laughs. I listen, really listen. She looks at me kindly. I want this for us, I think. I try to communicate my thoughts with my eyes, it doesn’t work and I’m not surprised. ‘Say something you idiot’, I scold myself. I search my brain. I don’t find the words. The baby starts to fuss. I can feel the moment slipping away. Farnaz gets up. She begins to bounce the baby on her hip to soothe her. I wonder how she knows to do that. Is that just instinct? Someone who looks like the domestic comes to help. No go away , go away,  I say to her in my head. Shit, she’s here.

“Sorry Ma-dam” she says apologetically. “I think her napken is wet” she holds her hands open waiting for the baby. Farnaz hands over the baby reluctantly and sits down as we watch the baby be carried away. We sit in silence for a moment. “Do you want birthday cake?” she asks me after some time. “No” I say. I didn’t see her near the food table at all so I ask, “did you have anything to eat” I asked. “I’m not hungry” she says. We continue to sit for a few minutes. “Are you ready to go” I ask. As if she was waiting for that exact question , she says immediately, “Yes, lets go”.

I say my good byes to the men I have been speaking to. I shake Moe’s hand and tell him that it was nice seeing him again. He says if I ever need a better a job I should come see him. “We could use your brains” he says emphatically and then loses his grip on my hands. I say a collective salaam to everyone else as I walk towards the house. Farnaz is talking to the Vallys.

“Thank you so much for coming” Yusuf shakes my hand. “Thank you for the hospitality…” I look around “the house is lovely”, I say.

“Thanks to Farnaz for all her time”, he says sincerely, still holding my gaze.

“As soon as the final documents are ready, I will drop them off” Farnaz says to them both as we all walk towards the door.

“Sure, says Mr. Vally. “Just give Hasina a call when you coming”.

“Thanks again” he says. His wife stands next to him, silently echoing his words with a nod.

Farnaz and I get in the car. It’s a silent short trip home. My lexicon defies me again and my blood boils at my lack of verbal talent. Back home I go straight to the plane. I start to assemble the wings. I begin to wonder what it would be like to just fly away.

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