CHAPTER 8

Posted: May 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

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CHAPTER 8

Houses are like people – some you like and some you don’t like , and once in a while there is one you love. – L. M. Montgomery

When we get to the party I feel a little overwhelmed. There are so many people here. Hussain is being nice to me, another unnerving reason to feel anxious. He has a friend here already and I left him outside with the men. I’m walking aimlessly through the house. The Vally’s did say that we should feel free to tour the house, but I still feel like a spy. I came in here to look for Mr. or Mrs. Vally, but I can’t find either of them. Walking through the house again is vaguely familiar.

I find myself entering the large living room curiously wondering how the room has come alive since the last time I was here. I am greeted by plain white walls but as I walk further into it my eyes are drawn to a bold black wall, with picture frames hanging on it, three quarter ways towards the back of the room. It seems to function as a semi partition to create a smaller space beyond it. The three meter wide wall is centered to create two passageways on either side from which to enter into the smaller space behind it. I have seen red walls and bricked walls indoors. A black wall like this one is unusual. I eye it for a few minutes before I start to take the rest of the room in. There is a large red shaggy rug on the floor splashing colour in an otherwise black and white room. Couches are arranged around it, black and suede and inviting. The plush suede cushions of the couch look like it was designed for you to collapse into and forget all your troubles. There is a three-layered perspex table pulling the eye to the centre. Magazines fill the last layer, while a shallow wide rimmed pewter bowl filled with red glass bubbles is in the middle layer. The top of the table is bare. There is a large window bringing in the bright afternoon light and a view of the garden. A miniature indoor tree in a chrome pot softens the atmosphere in the corner of the room. The room is superbly put together, no doubt the work of an overpaid interior designer. The black magnetic wall pulls my gaze towards it again. I walk closer to investigate. The wall is not painted but covered in an embossed textured wallpaper that urges me to touch it. Its roughness and colour is contrasted dramatically with the rest of the smooth white walls in the room. The picture frames hanging off it, are a mixture of black and white stills and black sketches on a white background. Each piece is a different size and they are all framed individually. They have been expertly put together like a jigsaw puzzle forming a complete square on the wall. I look at the frames individually and collectively. The sketches intrigue me the most. They are simple sketches of only everyday objects, yet they tell a story. There is a sketch of a couch with a book on it, the pages being blown by the wind and another of a tree with a swing hanging off a branch. There are several others but the most intriguing one is a sketch of a wooden rocking chair, tilt back in mid-rock, a blanket embroidered in stars and hearts is swung over the backrest. I stare at it for a long time until the picture becomes just blurry charcoal strokes in different directions. I decide that I like them. There is no name signed at the bottom and I assume that it has to be framed printed pictures.

I walk around the wall and enter a new space. The wall is covered in all the way around in the black wallpaper, but here behind there are rows of floating shelves mounted on it. The shelves are thick and white and hold books. There are a lot of books here. this seems to be a library of sorts. All shelves from top to bottom are packed with books. Children’s books fill the bottom shelves, for easy access. I scan the books. The entire top three rows are Islamic books. There are several different Quraans with different sized print as well as an English translation of the Quraan. I see books on Islamic History – early history, Khalifat history and Otoman history. I recognize The Sealed Nectar and other books on the Prophet (pbuh). There are books on Tafseer and life stories of the Sahaba (companions of the prophet). The remaining shelves are filled with general non fiction. The Bronte sisters, Stephen King, Robbins, Coehl and many others fill the shelves. Scattered in between are tourist books on several countries  Egypt, Turkey, Dubai, Greece, and Spain. South African books on Politics and apartheid are also among them. It’s a good mix. I wonder whose books they are. I doubt very much that Hasina reads anything more than fashion magazines and gossip columns. Maybe its Yusuf’s I think, or maybe like the sketches on the other side of the wall, and so many other things, it’s look appeals more than its function.

Opposite the bookshelf is a white pod chair with red upholstery in keeping with the living room colour scheme. A free standing chrome umbrella lamp hovers over the pod chair. Small colourful beanbags dot the floor with a white triangle board pinned into the corners of the room to form little kids tables. The use of space is impressive. The uniqueness of the focal wall used to create a private space behind it, while still being able to filter the light from the main room, is a design success. I wonder which architect they consulted for these alterations. I am still pondering the wall when I hear the voice of a man and a woman. I don’t make out what they are saying. They also appear to be doing a self tour. Then the voices become clearer, I think they are in the living room.

“Oooh, That couch must be from Cherry!” the female voice sounds impressed. There’s a thud, the sound of a person collapsing into the couch. “I just love Cherry furniture, it’s so now”

“Come here Suhail, try this couch, it’s so comfy” I hear her tap the couch next to her. Her words are followed by footsteps.

I leisurely make my way around the wall again smiling at the other ‘tourists’ and turn to face the pictures, with my back to them. The female voice I heard came from a body of a teenager. The man, who looks considerably older and somewhat familiar, took her advice but sat down on the single couch and left the young lady on the double by herself. His attention seemed to be devoted to his cellphone in his hand.

“This rug is to die for” I hear her continue. “I hope it isn’t the cheap china mall stuff” she adds.

“Ilhaam” the male voice sounds reprimanding. I turn around. The young lady has taken off her shoe and is rubbing her foot on the rug.

“Hmm the good stuff” she says relieved. I turn around and smile at them. The man looks embarrassed, but then hides his eyes back on his phone. His thumbs are working to a click, click symphony. I decide to leave the room. As I begin to walk the young lady looks at me and asks “Do you like the pictures?” I stop short. Turning towards her I nod and say yes. “I prefer colour myself” she says with a flip of her hand and an arrogant hand gesture. Turning to the man she asks “What about you Suhail?”  He seems to be caught off guard as I was, “its ok” he replies. Catching my eye, he introduces himself “Im Suhail, Hasina’s brother” he says warmly. Then I realize the familiarity. They share the same chin and some facial features. “Im Farnaz, I sold the house to ..” I hesitate..“Yusuf and Hasina”. It seems odd for me to refer to clients by their first names. “This is Ilhaam” he continues gesturing toward the double couch. She gets up and sits on the arm of his chair. Her body language tells me she is in defensive mode. One inch closer and she’ll be in his lap. She takes the opportunity to look me up and down. “Nice to meet you both” I say. I start to feel uncomfortable under the microscopic eye of Ilhaam. She gives me the if-you-look-at-my-man-ill-kill-you look. Her initial la-di-dah airs are gone out of the window. She’s rough under all that make-up, I think. I decide it best just to leave. “If you will excuse me” I began to make my exit again, “I have to find my husband” I add for good measure. Ilhaam seems to retract her claws and even manages a smile. As I turned to walk away, I could feel her eyes burning a hole in my back. How I walked out of the room without bursting into a sprint, I don’t know.

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