Archive for July, 2014


Posted: July 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

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I haven’t been feeling like myself all morning. I really should not have eaten that chocolate cheesecake…or those chocolate eclairs…or all that burfee, I think horrified. What was I thinking yesterday? I wonder. I had been running around all weekend with Husna trying to get the parcels ready for Sauliha’s ‘fixing’ that I hadn’t eaten a proper meal until tea yesterday with Sauliha’s future inlaws.

The constant ringing phone is not helping my upset tummy and I have redirected all my calls to Dilshaad. Poor Dilshaad seems to be running around like a chicken without a head… but with an ever increasing waistline. Actually, as I watch her through my office door, she looks more like she is waddling along, rather than running – her swollen tummy leading her in every direction. I laugh at the comedy of it and then scold myself as it brings on that awful feeling of fresh cream, burfee and pastry rolling around in my tummy. I decide to put my head down momentarily.

“Farnaz” I hear Dilshaad whisper gently. I tip my head up. Dilshaad sees me and walks in, then lowers herself on the chair opposite my desk. She puts a mug of green tea in front of me. I straighten up slowly, thankful that my tummy seems to be obeying my command.

“How are you feeling” she asks. “Much better”, I reply followed by a quick “Thank you” as I sip the green tea. I don’t know if it is the tea or my short nap that has done the trick. I am really feeling absolutely fine. “I think that nap really helped me. It was probably lack of sleep and too much rich food yesterday”, I explain.

“You seem much better now”, she says noticeably relieved. “When you just got here this morning, you looked as though you were going to throw up” she said clearly shocked by my state.

I laughed. “That’s what happens after too much Mithi Morro” I say fondly remembering that’s what my mother used to call the tradition of feeding sweet meats to the soon to be bride. That is not usually the word I would have used and Dishaad knows that. She chuckles and the return of my sense of humour is the confirmation that my tummy ache has passed.

“How was Sauliha’s fixing?” she asks curiously.

“Actually it turned into an engagement and we fixed the date for the wedding already” I say still not believing how things had rolled along.

“Masha Allah” , Dilshaad said. “I knew Fehmida would have preferred it that way.”

Dilshaad and Fehmeda, despite their difference in age are really good friends. In fact it was my sister in law Fehmida that suggested I hire Dilshaad three years ago, and looking back, that was really the best thing I could have done for my business.

I glanced at the clock on the wall. I must have dozed for nearly 30 minutes. Dilshaad notices and offers, “you don’t have a busy day today, just some paper work”.

This I know. It’s the thing that happens after the paper work that I’m worried about. I haven’t told Dilshaad about my last doctor’s appointment and my recent follow ups. Call it superstition or just caution, Hussain and I decided not to say anything to the family either. Besides there really isn’t anything to say.

“oh, I nearly forgot” Dilshaad says quickly. “Zaheera called earlier. The mix up with the Vally’s title deeds…er, She said that she is going to try to sort it out…She said she will pay the extra stamp duty involved. She said to tell you that she is really sorry”, Dilshaad looked a little uncomfortable relating the message to me.

I could feel my blood start to boil. That woman goes on holiday and completely messes up my documents. Submits the wrong names on the title deeds. Really if it hadn’t been for Dilshaad double checking the documents before we handed it to the client…oooh!!

I take a breath, “I’m glad I didn’t speak to her, I would have lost my temper” I say my voice already rising. “I’m just thankful that The Vally’s did not seemed concerned when I called about the delay last week”, I said. There must be something occupying their time, I think.

Dilshaad gets up and starts to walk out of my office. “Bring me the rental contracts and tenants profiles for the office blocks” I instruct her. “OK” she says without looking back.

Alone in my office I wonder what awaits me in a few hours time. The results of my blood test today could actually be the deciding factor for the rest of my life. For the first time in a long time though, I am not anxious about it. Allah tests the ones he loves the most – Hasina told me that. Since then, I think about that, and her, everyday. I have played our conversation in my head over and over. She said I will be a good mother. I hope I get to try. Just let go, Farnaz, I say to myself. Allah has a plan and His plan is the best plan.

sick at work




CHAPTER 18 continued

Posted: July 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

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As we pull into the parking lot of the Rehab Centre, I am stunned. It is nothing like I imagined. It is green and lush and has a large garden next to a sports ground where some young boys are playing football. I wonder if they are in rehab too.

We park the car and I nervously get out. Despite what Yusuf has told me, I am anxious about what to expect. As we walk towards the entrance my eyes are drawn upwards towards the large sign that hangs at the entrance. In Arabic calligraphy at the top, is the usual Muslim opener – Bimillahi Rahmanir Raheem. Below it floats the English meaning – In the name of Allah and with the blessings of Allah. Vinyl letters in bold print announce the name of the centre : Al – Falah substance Abuse Centre. Below it, carved in gold letterring is a quote from the Quraan – “And seek help in patience and prayer (Al Baqarah 2:45)”. When I read it I am immediately calmed.

The building looks more like a small university than a rehab centre and then I begin to wonder what a rehab centre is suppose to look like.

Waseem and Shaheeda are already seated in the foyer and we greet each other warmly. Waseem has his lawyer face on so I don’t bother making any small talk with him and I rather direct my chit chat to Shaheeda.

“How are the children?” I ask.

“They are fine. Farhaan has a bit of a cold, and I am keeping the others away from him. Especially Nasreen” she says.

“oh dear, poor Farhaan” I say and make a mental note to call later and find out how he is getting on.

I smile at her encouragingly noting her beautiful modest tunic and hijab that she is wearing today. Her features are no less striking today, if anything the Hijab seems to have enhanced her beauty.

“The councelor is just finishing up another session”, Waseem reports to us. Yusuf and I nod in unison. We both sit down and just as I do I see my younger brother Suhayl walk towards us. He isn’t the man remember. His face is noticeably thinner. The weeks seem to have taken a toll on him and I remember Yusuf’s words about withdrawal symptoms. His clothes appear to hang on him and sway at the seams that are now too wide as he walks towards us.

When my eyes finally meet his I am surprised to find they are so alive. A smile warms his face and I am the one he is walking towards. I get up as he reaches me and worldlessly hug him. It is one of those long tight hugs I remember as a child when we would try to lift each other up and spin each other around. As he hugs me, I hold on, not knowing who is meant to start the spinning.

rehab centre hug

CHAPTER 18 (continued)

Posted: July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Purging my life history to Farnaz seemed like the easiest thing to do. She was easy to talk to and we seemed to be more alike than I wanted to admit. She told me about her mother’s cancer and my heart broke seeing the pain on her face, having to endure that as a teenager.

She seemed to also need an outlet for her emotions and she told me about her difficulty falling pregnant and how it affected her marriage.

This strong perfect woman, was actually just struggling, just like me, and I would imagine, just like everyone else.

I am still pondering this new revelation when I am pulled from my thoughts back to reality as Yusuf announces our arrival at the Rehab center.

I steady myself and take a deep breathe. I hope the subtle change that I have been noticing in myself these past few weeks helps me get through today.



CHAPTER 18 (continued)

Posted: July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

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As many ladies begin to leave I look at my watch. Yusuf has taken the children to a movie so I have at least another hour before they pick me up. I am only beginning to enjoy myself now and so a little while longer is welcomed.

“How is Jameela?” Farnaz asks me and I am happy to oblige. I think about my wonderful daughter and all is right with the world. This is probably how my mother felt about me. Farnaz seems happy to hear that Jameela has asked about her. My young daughter had taken an instant liking to Farnaz , and I have to admit she is probably a better judge of character than I am.

I know she doesn’t have any children yet, and I am careful not to pry into her personal life. I remember her at the party at my house with all the young children. She seemed so comfortable with them and they all seemed to love her.

“You are so good with children , I’m sure you will make a good mummy” , is my only opinion and the look on her face tells me that she is thankful for it.

Suddenly she makes a realization and excitedly asks if the sketches hanging in my lounge was done by me. I am impressed that she could see the similarities and I confirm her suspicion.

“They are such strong works” she says and I get the impression that she may have liked those already the day she saw them. My mother would agree with her, this I know. My mother had so much hope for my talent and she always regretted that I couldn’t study further.

“You should study further, you are so talented” she begins, “there are some art schools..”. I don’t hear the rest of what she says. She seems to be reading my thoughts. Her tone and words are just like my mothers and I wonder why I hadn’t listened to my mother all the times she had said the same thing. The emotion floods through me and I fight to stay in control despite the tears pooling in my eyes. in a split second I know that the questions that had been running through my head all day, are now answered. This is the sign I had asked for. She has told me to do exactly what I had been considering all the while.

This woman who seemed like the last person who would want to know me, seems to already.



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She seems to like it. I feel self conscious. Letting someone see your drawing is like having them see a small secret part of yourself. Only my mother saw many of my sketches, and then there were some that I didn’t even show her. I have some sketches framed on the wall at home, but only Yusuf knows they are mine. My hand trembles a bit as she asks to have a closer look, and I reluctantly hand it to her. She probably doesn’t know her Pablo from her Vincent, I think convincing myself that her opinion doesn’t matter.

She looks at it for a while examining it more closely than I expected. I hold me breath, and then I scold myself, she isn’t a critic. I wonder what my mother would say if she looked at this today. How I wished she could. My thoughts drift to the e mail again. I don’t know what to do, and I make a silent prayer for the decision to be an easy one.

When she finally speaks, it is not what I expected to hear. Most people would say , ‘its nice’. Or ‘its good’. But she doesn’t talk about the picture she speaks of its composition and elements. When she explains that she did drawing courses at University , I am impressed. She doesn’t mean it boastfully but as a compliment and as I listen to her, I hear my mother’s words coming out of her mouth. It surprises me how much she seems just like her. I hadn’t seen the similarity before. But now, here, I see her strength and confidence, paired with the echo of my mothers voice…it is uncanny.

“It has so much depth” she says, and the admiration in the voice is unmistakable. She knows what she is talking about, and she really thinks it is good! I can’t believe it. An overwhelming sense of pride builds up in me. Could I really still have a chance?

I look back at Farnaz and she looks different. She isn’t the cold iron woman I thought she was. Once more I am glad that I came today. slowly a smile creeps onto my face and I even start to enjoy myself.

I begin to get involved in the conversation, as it shifts to pregnancy I am finally at ease again. I begin to contribute to the conversation and even start some of my own. When Zaheera announces her pregnancy I am already sucked into the group. I can’t believe she is pregnant. She is so small I wonder if her womb is detachable, and she left it at home. When I mention how huge I was when I was pregnant I notice that the topic is making farnaz self conscious. I know that she doesn’t have children and I thought that was just the choice of a busy business woman. Looking at her now, I think I may have been wrong. My opinion of her softens once more as I imagine my life without my children.