CHAPTER 23 (continued)

Posted: August 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Five minutes later we pulled into the parking lot of the art gallery. I take off my shoes and rub my feet for a moment. “Do you want to rest in the car for a minute?” Hussain asks. I nod. “My feet are killing me”. “How long is this thing?” he asked , bored already. “I am not sure, but she said she had something to show me”. A strange smile crept onto his face. “You two are really close now hey?” he asked. Shyly I shrugged my shoulders. “So was I right, or was I right?” he asked arrogantly. “About what?” I asked acting ignorant. “you know what!” he winked. “Yes, you were right” I admit.

The place is reasonably full. I see some of Hasina’s family and a few arty people. There is a movement sculptor that has put a few pieces in Hasina’s show and immediately Hussain is drawn to that. He begins to identify the pieces of metal and is amazed at what it has been transformed into. He begins to chat with the artist and nods when and I tell him I’m going to browse the paintings.

The room is a large open space of about 500 square meters. There are two doors at the end – both closed. There are four large paintings on each of the four walls. I look up to find large metal letters suspended from the ceiling individually. When I step back to look at it, I read the word, “TRANSFORMATION”. This is probably the name of the exhibition, I think thoughtfully.

I scan the room for Hasina but I don’t see her. “Assalamu Alaikum” I hear a voice from behind me. I turn around to find Rahima. “Wa Alaikum Salaam” I reply. “How are you?”. “I am good” she says sweetly. “Hasina was looking for you a while ago, she is so excited”. I look around quickly and I don’t see her yet. “Do you know where she is?” I ask her. “She was over there”, she points to the end of the room, “…there was someone interested in the painting. I think the curator of the gallery took her to the office after”, she assumes. “how has it been going?” I ask Rahima. Looking around I see many people, its hard to tell if they came for a party or really want to view the pieces. “It was quiet initially but it’s busier now. There were a few people interested in buying something. Oh, and someone from the paper was here also”, Rahima explains excitedly.

  

transformation definition

After the reception the bride’s close family went back to Fehmida’s house for an emotional farewell. My young niece, today the bride, collected her things and left her childhood house as a wife and not just a daughter anymore. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, or the memory of my own wedding that formed the lump in my throat as soon as I wished a tearful Sawliha well in her marriage. My undoing however was witnessing the farewell between Sawliha and Hussains brother, today the Father-of-the-bride.

As Sawliha made her way through the long procession of aunts and cousins, her dad stood at the end, just outside the front door of the house – the final goodbye. The male relatives of the women in the house, stood outside waiting for the ritual to end chatting about the latest soccer scores and whatever else, oblivious of the goings on indoors. Knowing the stoic character of my father-in-law I wondered about Moosa. If he was anything like his father I was expecting an uncomfortable moment between him and his daughter.

As Sawliha reached the end of the line, I watched as Moosa began to get nervous. When she turned to greet her father, the composure she managed to feign was destroyed by the the mere sight of him. The close relationship they shared was unmistakable. He looked at her with wet eyes and spoke to her softly to which she nodded between sobs. He was clearly advising her as to her new obligations as a wife. He took her head in his hands and then kissed her tenderly on the forehead. I could not peel my eyes away for fear that I would miss a second of this heartfelt moment. My instincts told me that the eyes of every woman in the house was now on this scene.

Moosa says something to Sawliha that makes her laugh, and this seems to ease the tension all around. Her laugh brings instant joy to his face but then just as suddenly, as if realizing what this procedure meant, his somber expression returns and with it a single tear that rolls down his check in an avalanche of emotion. The father-daughter embrace that ensues is charged with such emotion, that no director could have written a better script. I felt my heart breaking for the girl who now becomes a woman, and the father who loses his little girl. I look away trying to control my own tears and I see the tearful eyes of my fellow relatives. The moment is what is should be – something we all especially Sawliha, should never forget.

Ofcourse with the worse timing, the jaan(boys family) begin to hoot indicating their anxiousness to escort the bride to her new home and her new life. I followed as everyone streamed out of the house and filled up the cars parked right up to the end of the street. I found Hussain and we got into our car to followed the procession to Sawliha’s apartment in Melrose.

Hasina’s gallery show is also in Melrose, not far from the newlyweds new apartment. Im am hoping to duck away after we had officially given her to her new l ife.

“Wow, Sawls. This is very posh” Husna commented as she walked into the apartment. The grooms mother and sister took us through a short tour of the apartment. I was very impressed. Hasina certainly married well, this was definitely uptown living. “I thought it was never going to get done” Sawliha’s Mother in law said. “ Zunaid insisted that he wanted to stay here for their first night of marriage.” Zunaid’s sister chipped in , “My husband and I stayed at the Hilton for our first few days, it was the best” she said gushing with memories.”

“im so glad that Zunaid did decide to stay here”, my mother in law began, “There is so much more barakah”. I looked at my watch.

“We have to go” I whispered to Hussain. He nodded emphatically, he clearly had enough as well.

“Well”, began Hussain , “…Im sure the bride and groom have something better to do” Hussain announced very tongue in cheek. This was received with stares from the mother in law it turned my niece bright red. I stepped in to save him. “Maaf,” I began. “A very good friend of mine is doing a gallery show tonight and I promised her I would come” I said. I had never referred to Hasina as my very good friend before, and it feels so official and liberating.

After salaams from everyone we made our way to the car.

father bride

 

CHAPTER 23 (cont)

Posted: August 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

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The ladies are all making their way outside where it is cooler. Some of the husbands are their already and I spot Hussain.

As I walk up to him, I hear the excitement in his voice.

“it touched 100 meters, then lost control. I thought it was going to crash. Lucky it landed in some long grass. Im going to try a bigger motor and see what happens.”

“I hope he isn’t boring you with the stories of that plane” I say rolling my eyes at him. “Im just telling Moosa about last week Sunday” he says still excited. “You must come with me this weekend, the laaitie will love it” he says to his cousin, who seems very excited about it too. Moosa’s wife seemed to overhear as well and joins us, “You’ll have to swop your planes for prams soon, Hussain” she says jokingly. Hussain immediately responds, “No this one, loves the plane”, he puts his hand on my tummy and gently rubs it. when I look downi see that my tummy looks bigger now than an hour ago. Talking to me he says, “Nazi , just tell them how he Kicks when he hears the sound”. I nod but moosa’s wife’s ears are more acute. “He?” she asks curiously. “Do you know?” she asks. “Nope”, I say. “Ok, OK “ says Hussain. “She loves the sound of the plane” he says, and then he adds, much softer so only I can hear, “…just like her mummy”.

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CHAPTER 23 (cont)

Posted: August 14, 2014 in Uncategorized
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When you find yourself in the same place, but as a different person – That is progress. Farnaz (transformation)

Fehmida comes to our table just as we finish eating. We all get up to congratulate her. She collapses in her chair. “I’m just so glad it’s over” she says. “This last month has been a nightmare”. My mother in law comments, “But just look at Sawliha”. We all look at our little niece at the main table. She is a beautiful bride with a broad smile on the happiest day of her life. “May Allah always keep them happy together and grow the love and understanding, Aameen”, she says as we watch Sawliha show off her ring to her friends. When Fehmida turns back to face us all, there are tears in her eyes. “Aameen” she says softly. “Hey Fehms, not now. Wait till she comes home later to fetch her things, dan sal dit snot en trane wees”. (Then the tears will flow)

We all laugh at Husna’s animation when saying it. “Zunaid is a good boy , he will look after her” says my mother in law, much to the shock of the rest of the table. “What?” she asks innocently. Shazia nearly snorts out the water she was drinking. She looks at our mother in law and says, “”What happen to -you cant marry a Miabhai- and “the MiaBhai’s are not like us?” .“Agh you people are so old fashioned” , she says waving her hand and trying to act younger than her age. Husna and I are laughing at her, who is this woman? I think. She was so upset that Sawliha couldn’t find a nice kenam boy. Fehmida explains, “Her tune changed when Zunaid started taking her and papa to the Zoo lake and to Sandton evryweekend”. “And..” my mother is law adds, “He always phones to ask me if i want to go shopping when he is going to town” you could hear the pride in her voice. “You know the old men hate shopping, but the boys of today know all the good places to go”. I was laughing so hard I had to grab my stomach.

“Farnaz are you ok?” they all asked in unison. I nodded and said, “daddi is going to make me break my waters with her jokes”.

The mood has been so joyous, fitting the occasion. I usually hate wedding, because it involves ladies cliqueing together and complaining about the food or criticizing the colour scheme. But I think I was just focusing on the negative all this time. Since I fell pregnant it has been like a light has been shining everywhere and although the tjacherag aunties still poke their noses in everyones business, there are plenty of woman who are genuinely just nice, like Hasina. I suddenly remember about her gallery showing.

Looking at my phone to check the time, I see a message from Hasina.

Hasina: hows the wedding? Don’t overdose on Briyani. I need you here at 7 pm. I am going crazy.

I smile. Im sure she has everything under control. I was disappointed when the art school chose a different artist to exhibit at the gallery all that time ago. She however was not. She seemed to see it as a challenge and tried even harder. When I saw her first painting, I knew that is where her talent lies. I can’t believe she is doing her own gallery show today, I cant be late. She refused to show me any paintings that she did for the show but I can’t wait to see them. I text her back quickly.

Me: “Will be there, don’t worry. Can’t wait. Good luck.”

wedding pic

Sawliha and Zunaid

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CHAPTER 23 (last chapter)

Posted: August 14, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Sawliha is looking beautiful today. She has a white wedding gown and her head scarf is tied modestly and flatteringly over her head. Her mother sits next to her, her face exposed and she looks happy and sad at the same time.The venue has separate area for men and so many of the other ladies who also wear the purdah (face veil) have removed it. I am in awe of some of their beauty and think of how lucky their husbands must feel to be the only man to see it. It is a hot summer day in the highveld and it is sweltering. I have chosen a seat close to an open door. On my table sits my sisters in law and mother in law as well as Sawliha’s nani (maternal grandmother).

“My Bachoo is gone so big. I can remember the day she was born” says Hawa Khala, the brides nani. Fehmida is her only daughter and they are very close. “You know I did Fehmida’s and my daughter in law’s hoowaver (confinement) at my house, but no baby cried more than Sawliha”, she laughs. My mother in law joins in the reminecsence, “I know she nearly drove poor Fehmida crazy with her colic. I remember we tried everything, I even tied cloves to her naval, nothing worked”. My sister in laws and I join in the laugh but say nothing, we are all used to my mother in laws take on medicine.

Are you all ok here? The lady who has been serving our table during the wedding reception lunch, asks. “one more platter of masala , Kanala” says Husna adding, “..and..agh tog yine, please see if you have a diet coke in the kitchen for me”. she smiles kindly at her.

“Since when are you on a diet?” I ask her accusingly. She has never been one to watch what she ate, but she was certainly not overweight. “Moosa wants to book mauritius for the december holidays, so I need to look good in my bikini”, she winks at me. My mother in law overhears and joins the conversation, “As long as you don’t come back pregnant” she teases. Husna laughs, “no ma, don’t even joke like that, Tawbah tawbah” she says. I flush pink at my mother in laws comment, I can never get used to jokes like that from my mother in law. I am glad that she reserves them for Husna alone. “Farnaz” my mother in law says scoldingly, “please eat look at your plate it is nearly empty. You are eating for two, please Farnaz, dish up some fore gajar halwa or wait here’s the rice”, she spoons some hot Briyani in my plate just as the waitress brings it. I don’t complain, I seemed to have developed a taste for degh briyani ever since I stopped throwing up. I even ate it for breakfast everyday for a week when my Mother in law sent for me.

“When was your last appointment with the doctor?”, Shazia my other sister in law , asks. My fertility and general health has become an open subject since the day Hussain announced to his family that we were pregnant. Every doctor’s appointment is discussed and inquired about and every new drug and new word is researched. I enjoy how supportive they have all been. “I saw her last week Friday” I say. “Everything is looking good, she was very happy. She did a sonar and checked the thickness of my Uterus. She is happy and says there is no reason we should be worried now. She has given me a protein supplement and some exercises to make labour easy. I am also seeing a chiropractor to help with posture to take the pressure off my womb”.

“wow that is interesting, Farnaz. I’ve never heard of a chiropractor for pregnant woman before.” She says. “I was surprised too, but Rahima the Chiropractor said , that it works even for woman without uterus detachment, and she even gets you to wear a type of sling to support your growing tummy, saving you from back pain.” Im so glad everything is going well, We were all waiting until you were six months pregnant , and making so much of dua” Fehmida said. And I thank her for her kindness. “When I phoned motima a couple of months ago to tell her, she was so happy but she was cross when I said that you were already six months pregnant.” My mother in law said, “You know these old woman” she continues cheekily, excluding herself, “want to know everyones business all the time”. We laughed at my mother in laws attitude. “I gave her such a mouthful she couldn’t say a word”. She looked proud of herself. “Jee “, I began, “I met her here in the hall earlier, she just congratulated me and said that you explained to her everything”. My mother in law clearly did give her a talking to. “ Hey Farnaz” my mother in law says as I change position for the fifth time, “Are you are not carrying twins?” the humour in her voice makes me laugh. My tummy has grown very large and I probably look like I am ready to give birth. “Here”, she says handing me her rolled up pashmina, “Put this behind you”, I do so and it is helping. “I hope you are taking it easy” my mother in law warns. “Maybe I need to tell hussain to keep an eye on you”, she threatens. “i’m working from home now, It is hard carrying around this extra weight” I say and smile to myself, Carrying around a baby growing inside me for the past eight months, has been a burden I am only too happy to bare.

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