Archive for June, 2014


Posted: June 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

transformation definitionCHAPTER 16 – Farnaz


I walk nervously into the coffee shop and scan the room. My palms are sweaty and I pat down my pastel pink chenille jacket in an attempt to dry them. i look down at my clothes and fix my frilled collar of my inside satin shirt. I had forgotten that I even had this shirt. My nude pants and strappy sandals are the perfect accompaniment to the outfit. Thank goodness for Husna, if not for her , I probably would have ended up wearing one of my work suits. I nervously run my fingers through my hair. I can’t remember the last time it lay loose at my shoulders instead of being up in a bun or a French twist. “Table for one?” the hostess at the shop appears from nowhere. “No actually I am meeting a group of women” i hesitate, “er, they just got here as well” I can feel my palms clam up again. My eyes dart across the room still trying to find the group of women I am meeting.

“Where you guys?” a voice from behind says loudly. I turn around as if to find the missing auxillary, and see a woman walking decidedly towards us. It is Mumtaz from Taalim, and I breathe a sigh of relief. With her here I know she will find the rest. Mumtaz slows down and gives the hostess a nod and gestures towards me and the back of the coffee shop. The hostess indicates that she has understood and leaves. Looking at me now, still phone to ear, she holds up her hand and concentrates on the voice in the phone. “Ok, we here. See youz now” she says with no regard for grammar and clicks her phone off.

“Farnaz!” Mumtaz says, acknowledging me now and wraps me in a warm hug. “Nadi said they are all here already. Just you and I are missing. Come on, they on the terrace” she says indicating that I should follow her. Mumtaz leads the way towards the end of the large seated area and turns the corner. I have never been to this particular place before. I have had many business meetings around the area of Rosebank, and as a student knew it well. This spot is new though. It is set in a relaxed atmostphere decorated with couches and comfy armchairs.

As we turn the corner I see the terrace. It is a large indoor – outdoor space overlooking a perfectly manicured garden. The atmosphere here can best be described as leisurely-Sunday-afternoon. Large sofa loungers and soft sinkable couches form the border pieces. There are several groups of people here already and at the end towards the balcony I see the ladies from taalim. Mumtaz stops for a moments and looks back at me, “Isn’t this just perfect?” she asks me rhetorically and takes a breath as if she is trying to breathe the ambience into her lungs so that it can flow through her blood. It seems outwardly idiotic, but for a second I wonder if it could be possible. To capture this scene as a feeling tingling through my blood would surely be fantastic. The room is decorated in several shades of green drawing in the trees and nature from the garden below. There are no coffee tables here, just side tables dotted around the room creating the informal feel. We continue to walk in the direction of our party. There is an excited buzz coming from there already as the ladies begin chatting. I rehearse in my head, Faheema – baking, Zaheera – travel agent. Wait isn’t Zaheera the baker? Oh Shit, I think as we reach the ladies.

hijab coffee shop

coffee shop


CHAPTER 15 (Final)

Posted: June 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

transformation definition

Things finally started feeling normal again. The kids got back an hour ago and I was busy getting lunch ready. Yusuf and the children were out in the garden and I could hear happy family sounds coming from outside. I grabbed the platters and headed outside. “LUNCH!” I screamed as Jameela and Bilal came running hungrily.

“Did you have fun at daddi and dada yesterday” I asked Jameela.

“We put Daddas tent up and he wanted to sleep with us..” Jameela began, “But daddi said he will hurt his back”.

“He read us three stories” said Bilal, “ and pretended to be a ghost” bilal laughed. “he scared Daddi and Jameela and ran after them in the house.

We all began to laugh.

“Did you miss me, mummy?” Bilal asked unexexpectedly.

“Of course my dear” I replied. “I missed you both”.

The children ate quickly and asked to play. They clearly missed the big garden.

Yusuf and I sat together and finished lunch.

“It’s been a rough couple of weeks, hasn’t it Hasina. The move and all the other things” Yusuf said vaguely referring to the last few days.

“yes”, I said. “crazy”

“At least you can get out of the house today and relax” he said smiling.

I looked at him confused, “huh? What are you talking about?”

“ Your coffee date remember?” Yusuf said matter of factly.

“ya, no I don’t think I am going” I said. I really wasn’t sure if I could just put everything behind me and go.

“Don’t be silly, you should go, it will do you good”

I thought about it for a moment. Maybe it will do me good to spend some time with some friends. Talking about shopping and clothes actually sounds good after the days I have had.”ok, ill go” I said.

Yusuf smiled. “good”. Have you thought about the e mail Waseem brought?” he asked.

I hadn’t. I shook my head. “I think you should do it” he said. “that’s all im saying” he said as he got up and began to clear the table.

“This kids and I will drop you off in rosebank in an hour” he said as he took the dishes into the kitchen.

CHAPTER 15 (cont)

Posted: June 27, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,


“Change happens a little at a time – Hasina

When I walk into the house. Yusuf is waiting for me in the lounge.

“ok” he says. “my parents are coming in an hour to drop the kids back. That’s just enough time for me to explain” he says cautiously , trying to gauge my reaction. I walk over and sit down next to him. I no longer feel threatened at the thought of this conversation. The last 24 hours have been like no other and I am ready for anything. I look at him confidently, “right I know most of it now, but you have to just fill in the blanks”, I say. I spot a flicker of surprise in his eyes. He isn’t the only one surprised.This is not my usual manner. The confidence is growing like a seed in me and I start to become aware of myself changing, slowing, steadily.

Slowly he began to explain. “At the housewarming party I was speaking to Suhayl, like you asked me to..” he shot a ‘you see’ look at me, “… and I noticed he was very edgy and kept scratching at his arm. He also kept putting eye drops in his eyes and complaining about hayfever-“

“But he doesn’t have hayfever” I snapped , cutting him off. “I know” said Yusuf. “That is when I suspected. So I told him there and then that if I ever found out that he was involved in drugs, I would be very disappointed. I think he was relieved that I suspected and told me that he has done it a few times. I could see that it was hard for him to admit to me, so I didn’t push for any more information even though we both knew that he was lying about just experimenting. The look on his face…” Yusuf stopped and sighed. “I didn’t realize until that moment how ashamed he was, and that look-“ he looked me straight in the eyes with a pained look on his face, “..I saw myself in his eyes Hasina- and that scared me.” I had seen Yusuf this way only once before seven years ago. The emotion was real and thick in the room.

“I told him that if he ever found himself in a situation that he couldn’t handle it anymore – he should call me – no questions asked”. He held up his hand, just as I was about to say something. He knew what I was thinking… “I wanted to tell you,I did, but he made me promise that I wouldn’t say anything to you”, he put his face in his hands, contemplating his decision that day.

I can see why Suhayl would open up to Yusuf and no one else. After all, who would know better what he was going through? If Yusuf had told me then, I probably would have had a meltdown and lashed out at Suhayl, making him feel ashamed about tainting my mother’s memory. That would have only destroyed our family further.

Yusuf continued with new vigour. “He really opened up to me, Hasina. He said that he took me as a brother and had great respect for me. For ME?” his last statement was forcefull. “I did some very stupid things when I was young, and I nearly paid dearly for it,” he said. We both knew what he was referring to. I always wondered if he believed that I would have left him all those years ago.

“Having his respect, inspite of all of that…” his voice trailed off.  “I knew I had to help him. I kept touching on the subject of rehab and finally he broke. He said he knew he needed help and he thought that I was the only one who could understand. Hasina you have to believe that I wanted to tell you then,but I had to get him to trust me. He wanted my help and the only thing I had to do was keep his secret for a while.” Yusuf paused. He looked at me earnestly and said, “I have been there, Hasina. I knew I could help him. I made him promise that he would call me the next time he felt like he needed my help and he did – that night.” The words hung like grey clouds over us in the air, for a moment he said nothing.

“I…I lied to you and I am sorry. I had to go to Westpark that night because he called me. His friends brought him there and he did a few lines but he didn’t know how to stop. When I got there he was ok, but just needed a ride back home. We talked for hours about his life and the drugs. Even about how you would feel if you found out, how your mother would feel. I thought I got through to him.”

“”But he did it again” I said, feeling all the peices of the puzzle fall into place in my head.

“Yes. Yesterday” Yusuf seemed disappointed. I got a text from him and I called him when my parents were here, he seemed so out of it, it scared me. I called Waseem immediately from the study to meet me there, I had a feeling things had gone too far. I was so worried. I left so quickly I forgot my cellphone here as well. Waseem was already there by the time I got to westpark. Suhayl was in bad shape, and well you know the rest”.

I nodded. “Ok”. I looked him straight in the eye. I did trust him and I do believe everything he told me. But, there is just one more thing…

“I believe you Yusuf,” I said, he looked relieved. “But.” I began, “ there is one thing that you haven’t explained,” he looked confused, “The other day before I took the kids to school they came to make salaam. You were still in bed” I looked at him hoping he remembers, “er…ya” he said remembering but uncertain what I was getting at. I continued, “you got up and went to the bathroom after, and I picked up your jacket from the floor and found a plastic bag with ….coke inside” I said my voice rising and forceful.

His expression dropped. Whether it was my forceful demeanour or genuine surprise that I found his secret, I was not sure. There was no denying it. The look on his face was not surprise, it was …guilt. My heart sank losing all hope for his redemption. It confirmed what I was thinking. “You brought that home! into my house! where my children live!” I shouted.

He looked clearly defeated. “I’m sorry Hasina, but I had to buy that when I went to Westpark, they wouldn’t let me in otherwise. I put it in my pocket and er..forgot about it” he tried to explain.

“When I got back that morning I searched the entire house looking for it, like a madwoman” I said hysterically. “Guess what I found?” I asked and by the look on his face I knew he knew what I was going to say. “How could you?! Yusuf. After everything.” He said nothing. The emotion of the entire day before and today boiled up inside me. my eyes burned with the tears that I was fighting back. NO, I said to myself,  I WILL NOT CRY.  Yusuf’s silence confirmed what I was dreading. I looked up at him and he seemed …confused. The look made me angry.

“Are you going to sit there and pretend that you didn’t do it?” I asked. “I found the empty packet in the bathroom, Empty” I repeated between sobs.

He slid of the couch and kneeled in front of me.

“I am not going to say I wasn’t tempted” he began as a whisper. “it would have been so easy” he said now as if talking to himself. “I took it, yes, I had to. But-“ he hesitated,  “I hadn’t forgotten about it, I knew it was there. Like a hot coal burning a hole through my pocket.”

He spoke calmly , as is giving a speech, “I think I will always be a recovering addict The temptation is always there. I do think about it – the high.” I was shocked into silence. Perhaps I never bothered to learn about addiction and just thought it could be removed like a wart or a tumour. He never said anything like this to me before. He looked me I the eye again earnestly,  “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a line. I was tempted to, and that was enough.” He bowed his head and shook it, “When the kids came in that morning, and hugged and kissed me while I was in bed” he closed his eyes as if remembering. “I knew that, that kind of love was the only drug I needed. I took the coke and emptied into the basin before I got in the shower. I never did it. Hasina”

I looked down at him. His eyes were wide and earnest. This was the truth, I knew it. I could feel it.

“Did you get some more yesterday” I asked, just to make sure. I was surprised at the way my brain was thinking.

He nodded, “I emptied it as soon as I got home last night” he said.

 “You believe me right?” he asked.

I looked at him for a long time. I studied his face. The face I have known for years. How could I not believe him? It all does make sense and everything he did for Suhayl. “Yes” I said finally.

He smiled at me and sat back up on the couch. “You are too good for me, Hasina” he said with that smile that I can never resist, and he leaned in and kissed me.

CHAPTER 15 (continued)

Posted: June 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

transformation definition

Sometimes in life the things that you cannot change , end up changing you.

Elizabeth brings my breakfast just as the doorbell rings. She goes back to answer it. A few minutes later I see waseem walk towards the patio. “Twice in two days” I tease him.

“Yes, I can’t stay away from my little sister” he teases back. The atmosphere is really relaxed and he sits next to me at the table. “Salaams” he greets Suhayl, who is the only tensed one here. “Salaams” Suhayl greets back without looking up.

“will you have some tea?” I ask Waseem.

“no thanks” he responds, “Yusuf organized a Muslim rehab centre and told me this morning when I called. Im taking Suhayl there this morning” he said.

My first thought was to offer to join them, but I remembered that I have still have to speak to Yusuf about the powder I found in his jacket pocket that morning.

“Will you be back later?” I ask half knowing the answer. “I don’t think so” Waseem says, “I think Suhayl will stay there for at least a week. That reminds me”, he turns to Suhayl, “We have to pick up your clothes from home” Suhayl nods and gets up. Waseem follows. I get up as well. The three of us walk to the door in silence. Then we stop at the door. “Thank you” Suhayl says to me and hugs me tightly. I have to shut my eyes tightly to stop myself from crying. I want to be strong now. “You’ll be ok” I whisper to him.

Yusuf appears from nowhere, dressed and in charge. He hands Waseem a note. “Here are the directions, Are you sure you don’t want me to come with?” he asks Waseem. Waseem nods and looks at the note. “I know where this is”. “I just called them to confirm, when you get there ask for Moulana Desai, he is the case councelor” yousuf instructs as my brothers begin to walk out the door. I stand in the driveway, watching them get in the car and then watch until the car is just a spot down the road.farewell hud

CHAPTER 15 Continued

Posted: June 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

transformation definition

After a nights sleep, I still couldn’t believe it. I smiled as I pulled the duvet over my shoulders. My mother really was something else. For a strange reason i felt comforted by that e mail. It was like getting a gift from my mother. A small token that made my memories feel real again. I closed my eyes as an open invitation to sleep , accepted immediately.

When I opened my eyes again, I was alone in bed. I could hear faint voices downstairs. Yusuf and Suhayl? I wondered. i swung my legs over the side of the bed and found the floor. I sat up and took a deep breath. Ok, Shower , dress , then face the future I thought.

Half an hour later I walked down the stairs to the kitchen. Only Elizabeth is in the kitchen. “Good, Morning Elizabeth” I say quietly to her. “did Yusuf go out?” I ask her. “No Ma dam, Mr. Yusuf is in the study” she replies with the same audibility sensing my discreetness. I nod my response. “Please bring my tea out to the patio, Elizebath” I say as I walk towards the half opened doors. Suhayl is sitting at the table reading the paper alone, and even from behind looks a lot better than last night.

“Assalamu Alaikum” I say as I walk up from behind him. He startles slightly and turns around anxiously.

“Wa Alaikum Salaam” he replies softly and humbly, then hides his face behind the paper again. He is dressed in Yusuf’s jeans and T-shirt. I sit down across him and say nothing. He slowly drops the paper and folds it at his side.

“Im so sorry, Hasina. I don’t know what I was thinking” he begins. The conversations sounds like de ja vu and I cant do it. I hold up my hand in front of him indicating that I want him to stop talking.

“Listen, before you say anything, I want you to know that I don’t blame you for anything” I began. “Whatever the reasons were to get in you into that, I want you to know that we are here to help you overcome it”.

He looked down ashamed. “I spoke to Yusuf this morning, and he told me what was decided. Im sorry to put you guys through this” he said shaking his head. “About staying here, I can’t..”

“Yes you can and yes you will” I said forcefully. “Look, I want to be involved in your life, and I know I haven’t been a great sister but I want to try” I pleaded.

He takes a sigh, “Hasina, I don’t what I am doing half the time” he says out of nowhere. “The business is one thing, then there’s the girls, and the cars, and before I know whats happening…” he trails off. I put my hand on his shoulder. “it’s ok, we will figure it out” I say and he smiles at me.

breakfast on patio

family love