CHAPTER 21 (continued)

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

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I hear shuffling at the door and get the package ready. When the door opens it is not the domestic worker, but Hasina herself. She stands in the entrance wearing large overalls with her hair tied up in a high pony tail.

“Assalamu Alaikum” she greets me warmly with a smile. “So sorry to keep you waiting”, she says as she reaches to the wall beside her to press the striker lock to let me in. I spy something stuck to the underside of her forearm.

“Wa Alaikum Salaam” I reply finally as I walk trough the gate to the main door, clutching the manila envelope containing the documents, to my chest.

“Er..” she hesitates, “I told Elizabeth that I didn’t want to be disturbed but…” she pauses, “I didn’t realize it was you” she says purposefully , and I feel as though she is glad to see me.

“I just came to drop off the title deeds” I say and show it to her.

“Yes, I expected you to come last week”, she says and I flush in embarrassment. I can’t believe Zaheera’s messup is making me look like a fool.

Before I can apologize she takes the documents I offered and puts it down on the table in the foyer. “Don’t worry, I know how busy it is these days” she says kindly and all is forgotten.

“Please come in” she gestures me towards the lounge.

I have done this so many times before. Dropped off documents, or popped in for signatures. I am often treated as a guest, sometimes with the greatest sincerity, other times as empty offerings. In my business over the years I have always kept the relationship very professional. This time however it feels different.

Her offer is certainly sincere and it matches the look on her face. I have so much to say to her so I decide to stay. She follows me into the lounge and we both sit down. I feel a bit uneasy, not sure what I am doing. This is unchartered territory. I take a deep breath.

“The children not here?” I say questioningly, wondering where they could be at this time of the day.

She laughs, “they are out in the back. They can’t get enough of that trampoline”.

She smiles. “the house is so spacious, I miss them sometimes when they are playing outdoors and actually end up going looking for them” she says with affection and I get a glimpse of the Hasina I met at the coffee shop.

“How are you doing?” I ask her.

“ALhamdu lillah , how are you?” she answers the automatic response and I wonder how I could ask about her grief without sounding too nosy.

“Alhamdulillah” I respond, to her enquiry and I feel like the conversation is going in circles. I want to say so much to her. I want to ask about her mother, and the art, and Jameela and I want to tell her about my doctors appointments, but… it sounds crazy. In my head I think I have rehearsed the conversation but now I lose my nerve. I feel my hands clam up.

I search for something to say. THINK Farnaz, I say to myself. I look at Hasina and she looks like she wants to say something too. If I was a fly on the wall and not a socially inapt grown women I would be rolling with laughter at this scene.

“er” I say resorting to the only thing I know, “please check the documents, and if there is any problem let me know”, I say and then stand up.

Suddenly she gets up too. “Are you in a hurry?” she asks enquiringly. I am curious about where she is heading with the question. “no…Not really” I reply.

She smiles slowly. “ok”, she says, “I want to show you something”. And she walks out of the room.



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