Chapter 20 (continued)

Posted: August 5, 2014 in Uncategorized
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transformation definition

As I pull up to the street where I live, I see my mother in laws car parked in our driveway. My art lesson had lifted my sprits so high, that even the thought of her today is not entirely off putting. I park next to her brand new Audi A8 and walk up to the house.

The middle of the week is a strange time for a visit from my mother in law, especially since Yusuf is at the office and the children are still at school. I glance at my cellphone to check the time, as I turn the key to unlock the front door. There’s a Whatsapp message from Yusuf. My hands are full with my portfolio bag, handbag, car keys, house keys and my empty snack box – a swipe at the screen to read messages could disrupt the delicate balance in my hands. I decide to check my messages later. The time however, tells me that I have an hour before I need to fetch the kids from school.

“Assalamu Alaikum” I say to the empty foyer of my house. I know that my mother in law is here, but the greeting is for my home. Since I was a child I recall my dire need to be the first to greet the house as we walked in. Thinking back now, it was the habit of my father to do that. I was very young when I remember asking him if I could greet the house when we walked in. As a young girl I felt I was given an honour as my father would unlock the door and step aside for me to be the first to enter and then convey the salaam to an empty house. Since our family therapy at the Rehab Centre and the revelations I received about my brothers and about our family back then, memories that I didn’t know I had – seem to have been triggered.

I set my portfolio down on the round table in the foyer and begin the search for Mrs. Vally – the original.

Even though it is my house, I do not try to assert myself by calling out to her. She is probably seated in the lounge waiting for my arrival. What for? I still do not know.

In the Vally castle, she is still the queen. Our relationship has always been matriachial, and even with my shift in confidence in the past few weeks, a mutiny is the last thing I want. I hear Elizabeth in the kitchen, probably packing dishes by the sound of it and I make my way towards the lounge where inevitably my mother in law and I, shall clash.

I am surprised to find and empty lounge, and wonder if perhaps the car has been parked in my driveway and she is maybe visiting somewhere else. I recall her fondness for my neighbor Asma, the day of Jameela’s birthday party. Perhaps she is visiting with her. A stab of jealousy shoots through me at that very thought. Yes, I have the mother in law from hell, but I still crave her approval. I still long for the day I can drop by at the house and be welcomed with a cup of coffee and carefree conversation. I wonder if one day I would be able to call her up on the phone without having to endure awkward silences and comments of the weather, passing time until I can pass the phone on to Yusuf or the children.

Her disapproval seems to always penetrate the usual barrier I try to put up.

Shaking that thought from my mind, and determined not to let my happy mood slip away I head to the kitchen, wondering for the first time why Elizabeth is still washing dishes at this hour.

I stop myself in my tracks. I see my mother in law in my kitchen. I stand there at the kitchen entrance, unseen. It is a scene I have never before witnessed before. For a moment I wonder if I have come across something she wished I had never seen.



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