CHAPTER 20 (continued)

Posted: August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized
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In the parking lot of the children’s school I soak in the warm sun. It was a frantic dash to finish up all that baking but we just managed.I finally check my whatsapp message from Yusuf.

Yusuf: slms. Mummy phoned. Shes frantic about some funraiser *confused emoji* She needs to bake something in our oven. She is going to the house.She should be done by the time you fetch kids.k. slmz

I laugh out loud. We always say Allah has a plan, but it is not often that we get to witness it. What happened in my kitchen earlier definitely had some devine intervention. I never thought I would be belting out instructions to my mother in law while she quickly obeyed. She did not say much and perhaps being at the mercy of her inadequate daughter in law dealt her a fierce blow to her ego.

We made lemingtons and choux pastry cases, mini chocolate brownies and I just managed to decorate all the cupcakes before it was time to leave. My mother in law was certainly lost when it came to patisserie and eventually Elizabeth and Jeanette had to lend a hand – dipping the vanilla sponge in syrup and coconut, and getting the piping bags ready for me to butter ice and ganache. Thinking back to my mothers talent for baking, she certainly was certainly a whizz in the kitchen and I have to admit that my butter icing roses and flowers did not look as perfect as hers.

I am suddenly jolted by a loud knock at the window.

“Hasina!” I hear a high pitched female voice call, and I am thankful I am not being hijacked. My heart rate slowly decreases as I turn on the ignition to slide down my electric windows. Standing outside my car, is Khulsum, a mother of one of the boys in Jameela’s class. I don’t know her very well but I do make salaam whenever our paths cross.

“Assalamu Alaikum” she says before I can wind down my window completely.

“Wa Alaikum Salaam”, I reply and add “How are you?”.

“Al hamds” she replies like a teenager and I smile. “I haven’t seen you for a while..” she says. “The mummies were wondering what happened” she can’t hide her curiosity.

Seems I have been the talk of the parking lot. I wonder what crazy stories were made up. My inner chachima has a good mind to make up a ridiculous story but I decide to tell the truth. “I have started some classes so the days I can’t make it I get my father in law to pick Jameela up”.

“Oh” she says, clearly not the answer she was looking for. Another mother walks to my car and after salaams goes on to tell kulsum about the wedding she attended on the weekend. She kindly looks at me now and then and tries to include me in the conversation as I nod dumbly. I want to ignore them but they are standing at the window of my car. My inner chachima dares me to roll up my window and I contemplate it, just as the conversation suddenly turns to me.

“What classes are you doing” the other mummy asks. I don’t really know her. She may be a mother of a child in another class. Khulsum hasn’t bothered to introduce me, but then again social etiquette doesn’t really apply with Indian women. “I do art classes” I reply.

“That sounds lovely” she says. She turns to Khulsum and says. “We really should get hobbies Khuls”. I smile at them wondering why the children haven’t come yet. Chatting through the window of my car is not why I am here. There’s an awkward silence and then she asks me, “How is your brother doing?”

I am suddenly taken aback. I didn’t realize she knows Waseem , but I assume that she is maybe some distant family of Shaheeda’s.

“He is fine, busy at work , I guess” I say. This is meted with a strange silence and then then the inquisitive woman I don’t know says, “er… No, your brother that…” she pauses and Khulsum and her exchange knowing glances.

“We heard about your brothers… trouble” she says. Aah, I think. so this is what they have been talking about.

From the research I have done, drugs are rife in our community. It’s something that needs to be dealt with and people pretending that it happens only to other people is part of the problem.

“Yes, Suhail is doing better. Alhamdulillah he seems to be coping with Rehab. The counselors have been a great help to us. In sha Allah he will be back home in a few weeks” I say without flinching.

Both the women are noticeably shocked at my response and they do not immediately respond, instead they share another glance. Really? I think. Do they think I can’t see them?

I refuse to deny suhails drug problem. I have lived my life too long in denial.

“My cousin also got involved with drugs” khulsum offers suddenly. “It really took a toll on his family”.

“Ya, and remember Shakira’s sister” the other women says to Khulsum. Khulsum nods. She turns to me and says, “Her sister went to University then ran away with that drug dealer…and came back pregnant and with HIV?” she said as if relating a story from a book. I was shocked, and taken aback, wondering if the story was true or just primary school parking lot exaggeration.

“Is she all right now”, I ask curious but challenging the story. She shrugs her shoulders.

“Mummy!” I hear Jameela shout at the passenger side door trying to open it up. I unlock the door.

“Mummy we doing a concert and I am going to be a butterfly and I have to make wings and sing a song” Jameela excitedly says.

“Make salaam first my angel” I remind her kindly.

“Salaams mummy” , I reply to her and turn to my window again just as I see both women disappear behind the line of cars now exiting the parking lot.

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