Posts Tagged ‘memories’

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The pain is excrutiating. You expect this kind of pain for your first child but I have been through that already. Once you have experienced child birth, you expect subsequent labours to be easier. This is worse than I remember. Sharp stabbing pains shoots assaultingly up my spine, then down again. My entire abdomen goes hard and I hold my breath in instinct only to be scolded by the nurse. “You have to breathe the pain out” she says to me, and I shoot her a murderous look, as a string of profanities come to mind but I am in too much pain to find my voice.
This time my labour is so different. This is not what I remember. The last time I was in the labour ward it felt like a five star holiday. “I want an epidural!” I scream, “Call my doctor” I plead to the back of the nurse as she walks out.
My husband finally makes himself useful and brings me some ice cubes and juice.
“The nurse says that you are five centimeters dilated, it will still be a while”, he says as helpfully as he can. He must feel so useless, I think. He has been hanging around aimlessly and timing my contractions. I think he is in shock. “Maybe you should get some rest” he suggests. I nod. “I will stay here” is his promise as I slip under the covers. He says something else, but I don’t hear him. My body craves sleep and it consumes me immediately.
I am awoken with another sharp pain, and I sit up immediately. The contraction monitor is going crazy, the constant periodic beep is more rapid and louder than I remember. That pain comes back again with avengence, and I freeze unable to move a muscle. The pain feels different, something is wrong. Suddenly the machine sounds an alarm. Before I register what is happening I am surrounded by nurses, frantically checking the machine and then me. There are about five of them now, “what’s wrong?” I ask but I don’t get a reply, “What’s wrong with my baby?” I scream, now frantic, completely forgetting about the pain that paralysed me a minute ago.
“Call the doctor” one of them instructs and shouts out commands to the rest of them, I scream for my husband, and I try to look through the barrage of nurses in front of me.
Suddenly, he is by my side. He has the quraan in his hand.
“hey” he says, stroking my forehead that is wet with perspiration. “The baby’s heartbeat is irregular. They were monitoring it while you were asleep. The nurses were hoping you would dilate quicker” he says. I look at him in disbelief. “They have to do a c-section” he announces. Then before I can say anything, the head nurse shouts for an IV. Then she looks at me, “We need to get you on the gurney, do you need help?”
I shake my head in response and try to move off the bed. Another shooting pain runs through my body and this time I cry. I can’t believe I am crying. The pain is immense but the fear of what could happen is even worse. The bottom half of me feels like it belongs to someone else. The nurses roll me onto the gurney and they rush me out, not before I catch sight of the bed I was sleeping on, stained red with blood.
I feel like I have been cut in half and then stitched back together. I would crawl under a rock and disappear if it wasn’t for the little miracle that is swaddled in the crib next to me. I look over at her. She looks different now then she did a few hours ago. Her long fingers are splayed over face so beautifully you would think she was modeling for vogue.
“mummy!” comes a scream from the door. I look up to see miracle number one and Hussain not far behind. Muhammed jumps on to the bed next to me. “Baby out” he says, as he looks at his little sister in wonder. I open my arms and he comes in for a big hug. Hussain goes straight to his daughter and picks her up.
I remember 18 months ago when Hussain held Muhammed for the first time. It was our big moment. Muhammed was the baby we were waiting for, for ten years. The baby that sealed our marriage. Muhammed was the baby that we worked so hard to have. The baby that I endured, invasive scrapings and oestrogen suppliments for. I never thought I would see Hussain as happy as he was that day, until now.
“She has your nose” Hussain says, not looking up. “and your moods” I add sarcastically. “She screamed like crazy when I tried to feed her earlier” I say. He smiles, he seems proud of that.
I couldn’t believe when the doctor told me I was pregnant and not in early menopause, as I suspected. OK I was only 35 but – I heard it happens. After everything I went through to conceive the first time, Getting pregnant by accident was the last thing I thought would happen.
“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you…” I hear some singing in the corridor and I immediately recognize the voices. I smile. I know who that is.
“Don’t look at us like that?” Hasina says accusingly as she walks in. Then quickly adds – “it was her idea” and points to Jameela next to her. The both come over for hugs and kisses.
“I told mummy that we have to sing for the baby, because it is her birthday” she says seriously. Ahh this girl. She pulls muhammed off me and carries him away. I can’t believe how she has grown.
“How are you feeling?” Hasina asks me now as she sits next to me on the bed. I shake my head. “Im just glad it’s over” I say the memories flooding back. She takes my hand.
“Hussain told me how brave you were” she says. She looks at Hussain and he comes over and presents the new little baby as if it were a first prize trophy. She reaches out and Hussain reluctantly hands the bundle over to her. “Did you ask her?” Hasina asks Hussain as they exchange glances and the baby. He shakes his head. I have no idea what they are talking about.
“Ask me what?” I ask. Hasina takes her time to respond. She fixes the baby’s blanket and shifts her position.
“I told him to ask you about your confinement” – she holds up her hand as I am about to speak – “just wait till I am finished” she says. We have had this discussion before. She began insisting I stay with her after the baby is born months ago. She was over everyday back when Muhammed was born and I thank goodness for that.
“You need to look after yourself now Farnaz, especially now after the C-section.” Hasina begins to reason. “How are you going to do that with Muhammed to see to and a new baby?” I have asked myself that same question earlier. I can hardly bend over now but I am sure I will be ok.
“It will be difficult at first but I will manage” I say. How can I possibly impose on her and her family. The confinement is a big deal in most indian homes where all the women in the family pitch in to help with the new baby and make sure the mother recovers well.
She gives me that look. The baby starts to squirm and she stands up to rock her. “I spoke to Sameera, she is coming this weekend, and Reza and them are trying to get flights.” she says. I smile inwardly at this. My sister and brother seem to have accepted her as part of my life.In fact the last time we were all together you would think Hasina was part of the family. For this I am thankful.
The baby starts to cry. It’s feeding time, I think. Hasina hands her to me. “think about it” she says. I nod, I know her offer is sincere and I know I need her now more than ever.
My bags line the wall all the way to the door. I can’t remember having so much stuff for Muhammed. In just four weeks I have managed to collect six bags full of clothes, toys and the essentials.
“Hey”, comes a voice from the door. Hasina walks in with a tray.
“I was going to come down” I say to her embarrassed. I hate her treating me like a guest. “I was just dressing Laikah” I say. My daughter’s name is starting to become part of my vocabulary and is not sounding as strange on my tongue as before.
Hasina puts the tray down. “It’s the last time I can serve you breakfast” she says. As she motions to hand over the baby.
She talks to Laikah, “Aunty Hasina is going to miss you so much my poppy”.
“Is aunty Hasina not going to visit us?” I pretend to ask Laikah myself.
“Of course I will visit” Hasina says, “But it won’t be the same.”
I know what she means. The middle of the night talks while I sit up breast feeding, the extra pair of hands to rock and shake when I just cant do it anymore and the emotional support when I need it.
Theres a knock on the door , “Hasina…” it is Yusuf’s voice. She looks at me and I nod. “Come in” she says. Yusuf walks in takes one look at the bags and laughs.
“Hussain is on the way” he says to me, “ Must I call him and tell him to bring a truck rather” we all laugh. “This” I say, and motion to all the bags, “is your shopoholic wife’s fault”.
“hey!” Hasina defends, “I can’t help it if there is so much of cute girls stuff out there”.
Before I can retort, she instructs Yusuf, “Darling, Start taking the bags down so it’s easy when Hussain gets here”. Yusuf obliges immediately.
“Thank you so much for everything” I say to her when Yusuf leaves. “What?” she asks now pretending to be confused, “wouldn’t you do the same for me?” she asks playfully. “In a heartbeat”, I answer.
“Did you bring the salad?” I ask Farnaz. “Of course”, she answers , “That is all I have been eating for the past six months”. I laugh. “I can’t get this baby weight off” she says, as she pops a koeksister in her mouth. She looks at me and we both burst out laughing.
The children are playing on the jungle gym and the men are all braaing the meat on the fire. The Zoo lake is packed today.
“Where is the birthday boy?” Sawliha asks. “Zunaid is buying him ice cream” Farnaz’s mother in law responds. Farnaz rolls her eyes. “Sawls, I feel you sorry when you have kids…” she says. “The way Zunaid spoils Muhammed. He doesn’t want to know me when Zunaid is around”.
Everyone is here today for Muhammed’s birthday – a family fusion at the Zoo lake. Suhail and the very pregnant Rahima, Waseem and his family, Farnaz’s sister in law and mother in law, and Farnaz’s niece.
“How is your paintings, bachoo?” Farnaz’s mother in law asks me. This woman is the reason I look forward to having a daughter in law of my own one day. “Alhamdulillah, Ma” , my kids both call her ma, and so do I.
“Ghorima’s daughter in law said you did one for her entrance hall, and she just loves it.” she looks at her daughter in law, now and says, “It has the ninety nine names of Allah – So Masha Allah”.
I smile gratefully.
“How far are you now?”, Fehmeda asks Rahima. “Six months now” she says glowing. Suhail has been a different person ever since he got married and they both have been on cloud nine since they announced that they were expecting.
My inner Chachima makes a rare appearance. These days she has been busy having a fulfilled life. She looks around satisfied. Bilal chases his cousins up the jungle gym while Muhammed tried to keep up, Jameela is walking around proudly playing mummy to Laikah and showing her off to the other girls in the family.Yusuf ,Suhail, Hussain, and Waseem are huddled around the braai probably trying to remember if they turned the meat already or not. I chuckle at my prediction.
I sit with the rest of the women on a mat on the ground. Converstaion is flowing over each other and the feeling of contentment settles through me. I catch Farnaz’s eye and she winks at me. We are bonded forever, not through blood but through the many little memories like this we will share together. Now. And always.


CHAPTER 20 final

Posted: August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Verily, with hardship there is relief” (Qur’an 94:6)

“Can I draw on your table tomorrow mummy?” Bilal asks me sleepily. He has been eyeing the easel Yusuf bought me since I assembled it. I smile at him. “Ok” I whisper. “If you are a good boy”. Satisfied with that deal, he closes his eyes and drifts off to sleep.

Jameela is already fast asleep in her bed, and I tuck her in before going downstairs.
“Tea?” I ask Yusuf. He is reading the paper on the dining room table.
He nods, “Come and look at this first, Hasi”. I walk towards him.
“The article says that there is a new swimming pool policy. People who want to put pools on their property will have to apply for a permit and then a government official will have to inspect fences and filtration”, he lifts the paper to show me the article.

“That is a good policy” I say thinking that too many people put in pools and do not even fence it off. I make a mental note to call Bilals swimming teacher and rebook for this season.

I bring Yusuf’s tea into the dining room together with my coffee and start to page through the part of the paper he is done with.
“Farnaz called today” he says, not taking his eyes off the paper.
I look at him. “She said the title deeds will be ready this week”
Looking up at me he says, “she will drop it off”. I nodded and smiled, I am looking forward to seeing her. I want to tell her about the art classes. My mind drifts about how I will be able to sneak the topic in to our conversation. I really hope that she calls before she comes, I would hate to miss her.

“How is Suhail?” Yusuf asks. “I think he is ok” I say hoping that is true.
I take a moment and say, “the day we went to for family couseling…” my voice is shaky and he looks up at me and nods.
“I was so surprised by what Suhail said” I began. The look on his face told me that he knew exactly what I was talking about. He closed the paper and listened.
“I mean” I try to gather my thoughts, “I had no idea he felt that way after our father passed away”. I say it out loud and I realize that I do not call our father – “Daddy”- like Suhail did.
“How could you have known, Hasina, you were so young”.
“I remember some things”, I say my guilt raising. Yusuf listens.
“I remember him getting at fights at school, and shouting at me when I wanted to go with him everywhere”, this makes me laugh. I think I was the annoying little sister. Yusuf laughs too.

“…then I began to sketch”, suddenly a light bulb went on in my head. Was that the way I coped? Was that how I dealt with the loss of my father? I think he knew this. He smiles at my realization and starts to drink his tea and I am lost in thought.

I think about family therapy.

Initially Suhail seemed calm and quiet. I think we were all a little unsure of what was meant to happen.

When I met Moulana Desai I was pleasantly surprised. From what Yusuf had told me , I was expecting an old man in a Kurta and long greying beard to his chest and a large tummy. Instead he was maybe in his late thirties with a neat trimmed sunnah beard and he wore track pants and a T shirt!!!

He greeted Yusuf warmly and it was clear there was some history between them. He greeted Waseem with both hands and made salaam to Shaheeda and me verbally. Looking over at Shaheeda, I could see she was actually more surprised than I was. Moulana Desai obviously realized this and spoke to us directly, “Usually I am in Islamic dress, but today I’m playing football with the boys”, he chuckled.This seemed to break the ice. He explained the purpose of the session and answered our questions, and introduced the counselor.

Half way through the session, Suhail had taken over.
I was so proud of my brother , the way he took responsibility for his actions. He asked us all for maaf (forgiveness) and said that he was ready to turn his life around. He told us that his sessions made him realize the reasons he was feeling so empty, and this is where I saw Suhail as the boy I never knew.

He spoke his mind as though he was reading a prepared speech. It seemed there were things he needed to say, and perhaps things we needed to hear.

Suhail began, “When Daddy passed away, I don’t think I really understood. I mean – I knew what death was, but I thought that was only on TV. When he went to work that last day, i remember fussing about my breakfast.” He paused. “Daddy told me that Allah has given me food and he can take it away if I don’t appreciate it. I remember that like it was yesterday.” He looked down at his hands. “It was only after the mayyet that I remembered what he said to me” he swallowed hard, clearly emotional about what he was saying, “I thought that Allah had taken him away because I didn’t appreciate him” he said with a weak voice. .. Then he smiled, “I was just a lightie”, he said laughing. Waseem laughed along. I smiled in encouragement. I looked at my brother, this grown man, was clearly still affected by this experience as a child. I couldn’t believe it . I was too young to remember this but he clearly seems to remember it well.

“I remember trying hard to be good”, he continued, “that didn’t work – he never came back – obviously” – he said rationalizing. “I made all these deals with Allah”, he said now laughing, “I will eat all my breakfast and do all my homework. But when things didn’t change I got angry. Angry at myself, and angry at everyone”.

He took a deep breath. The counselor indicated that he is not finished. We waited. Suhail seemed to be gearing himself up for what came next.

“I made her life so hard for her” he began, his entire body looking remorseful. “She would wait up for me when I would be out with friends” he said trying to get the words out. “Keep my food ready and warm it up when I came”. He smiled now.
Then suddenly as if something inside him gave in, he began to sob. My heart jumped into my throat at the sight of him in pain. I was about to get up and go to him when he began to speak again. “Those last few days she was bugging me – about getting married – and we had a big fight” the words were struggling to come out now in between sobs. He looked up. He caught my eye and stared into it, then shifted to Waseem’s and did the same. Slowly the tears pooled in his eyes. “I was so angry with her for poking in my life, I didn’t speak to her that whole week.” the tears were falling fast down his cheeks now. “That morning she made me breakfast and I wanted to tell her that I was sorry” his voice broke away. Shaheeda wiped her tears and handed me a tissue. I didn’t realize I was crying too. I looked at Waseem. His face was wet with grief. Suhail continued, “I thought it was not the right time, or that there will be another opportunity. But now I realize that anytime is the right time and you should do what is in your heart, because Allah has put there for you as a sign. I never got to say sorry, Hasina “ he cried, now talking directly to me. “I didn’t appreciate her and Allah took her away”. He finally broke down completely and dropped his head in his hands.

I hadn’t realized my brothers’ pain until that moment. We all had grieved on our own. We lost our mother, but through Suhails struggle, that day, it seems  – we found each other.

hardship ease


Posted: July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized
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I’m not really sure what to expect but my conversation with Suhails councelor assured me that family councelling is routine in drug rehab cases. Yusuf and I are on the way to the Rehab centre and Waseem and Shaheedah have arranged to meet us there. I have never been there before, but from what Waseem told – me it is quite a drive.

The children were excited to spend the day with dadda and daddi, even though they were disappointed that they could not visit Suhail. They really miss him. I do too. It’s hard to imagine that Suhayl has been at the rehab centre for three weeks already.

Yusuf glances at me momentarily. He can read the anxiety on my face, but he choses not to say anything. He focusses on his driving. I shift in the car seat and steady the plastic container on my lap. It is filled with freshly fried samosas, some homemade biscuits and some chevro for Suhail. My inner chachima shudders to think what they are feeding him in there, and I wonder if I should have added anything else.

“It’s more than enough”, Yusuf says, reading my thoughts. “It’s not a prison”. I chuckle and then remember that he knows first hand what it is like.

“What was it like, when you went?” I ask apprehensively. I realize that I never really delved deeply into the topic with him. Of course we spoke about the place and the people, but back then we were starting our lives together and I guess, I wanted to make a fresh start. Yusuf hesitates, it has clearly been a long time since he has spoke about it. “It was hard at first” he paused, thinking. His concentration seem fixed on driving and he focusses on the road. “At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. It’s the withdrawal that really makes you feel sick. If it wasn’t for Maulana Desai, I don’t know if I could have made it”. His revelation throws me somewhat, because I never realized that it was that intense. “I didn’t realize it was so hard” I say to him , my voice thick with sympathy for both him and Suhail.

“When I would get tremours and sweats, and throw up, Moulana would sit with me and talk me through it. He would compare it to my Iman fighting my desires within me. We were told what drug withdrawal is and the chemical dependence your body has. But the way Moulana put it…” he shook his head emphatically, “it just made a lot of sense spiritually.” Yusuf paused for a while allowing this all to sink in. The picture in my head was vivid as he spoke. I was burning with questions to ask him, but I could tell he wasn’t finished with his story.

“Moulana use to say that it was up to me to decide whether my desire or Iman would win. He encouraged all the boys to read the English quraan and that helped. He also said I should set goals for when I leave. That was probably the best advice he gave me”.

“Really?” I asked. He nodded and glanced quickly in my direction. “How so?” I asked him, wondering if this advice could work on Suhail. “Well, I started thinking about marriage and you. And that was all the motivation I needed”. He said this straight-faced without so much as a twitch. Usually this would be the point where I would blush and be silenced. But these past three weeks have been an eye opener for me and I can feel myself stepping out of the Hasina I once was.

“I am so glad that everything worked out the way it did”, I began. “When I meet Moulana Desai, I will definitely thank him for his excellent advice to you” I said with a tone so confident that Yusuf looked at me quizzically. I caught his eye and held his gaze. “Eye’s on the road Mr. Vally”, I ordered a second later and as his gaze shifted back to the road, I noted a smirk creep on to his face. He is certainly enjoying the changing Hasina, and perhaps all men want to be put in their place now and then.

It was clear he was not expecting that from me but he seemed please rather than surprised. I began asking all the questions that I should have asked a long time ago. “what was his parents reaction?” , “Did his friends support him?”, “How did it feel to leave?”, “did you worry about staying clean?” and more. He answered them all so honestly and willingly, that I felt guilty for skirting this topic all these years.

With all the new information marinating in my head i wondered why it was that I never asked him these questions before. Maybe I was just trying so hard to be a wife that I forgot to be myself. Maybe, being young and naiive, I thought that my role as a wife was just to be a pillar supporting my husband and family. It was Farnaz that first made me think that the wife is actually the foundation of the marriage.

I think back now to the day that got my mind changing. I had accepted Amina’s invitation for coffee politely but I was reluctant to go that day after the drama that had taken place the night before. My brain was numb from everything and the email from the art school was the spanner in the works that was blocking normal thought processes.

Yusuf insisted that I go and get a break from reality – talking about shoes, clothes and shopping really did seem inviting. After a few minutes of arriving and meeting the ladies I was glad I had gone. Amina was sweet and introduced me to all the other ladies. The smell of the coffee in the air was enough to calm my nerves and almost satisfy my caffeine craving. Most of the women I met were young mothers like myself, who had either left work or had never worked at all. They, like me, had found comfort in domestic achievements, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I was the only one there who wondered if that really was enough.

tupperware      yusuf

CHAPTER 17 (continued)

Posted: July 16, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change. -Wayne W. Dyer

“You really have talent” I say genuinely. “You should think about going for formal classes.. I’ve heard  that there are a few studio’s that allow you to submit your work and…” I lose my train of thought  as I see my words cause Hasina’s eyes to pool up with tears.

I am rendered speechless and I don’t understand what is going on. Her face looks pained, and she is trying hard to hold it together. For a moment I freeze and then in silence, I pour her a glass of water from the jug and dig in my purse for a tissue.

“Im sorry” she says a minute later, slightly embarrassed. “Its.. er..  ok” I say still a little confused. I try and make an excuse. I am not usually good with emotional situations. “I’m sorry” I begin, “I’m not sure why I said that, its not my place to…” she stopped me mid sentence.

Her voice was calm and cool as she related the story about her mother and told  me about the offer she received from an art school just the night before. “to hear you say that…” her voice trailed away, “It just made me start thinking about her again” she said keeping her composure although it was clear to see the emotion was fresh under the surface.

It was only after she explained the details about her mothers passing and everything in between did I understand her reaction. “Im sorry about your mother” I said. “To lose someone suddenly must have been so difficult” I empathized. She nodded, sullen.

“You looked a little unnerved all afternoon” I added surprised at my own words, encouraging her to speak about her emotions. “There’s just been so much going on” She said shaking her head. “It never gets easier…Your mother is always your mother”. I empathized by telling her about my mother’s cancer when I was a teenager and that I was thankful that I got to say goodbye, no matter how hard it was at the time. She listened thoughtfully.

“You need your family support” I added, “you have two brothers right, I met them at the party” I said. This was met with a sad nod and she briefly told me that her younger brother is going through a bad patch. “you right” she said, “family support is so important”. I got the feeling that his bad patch may be something serious. “I hope everything is ok?” I say questioningly. She briefly tells me that they were up all night trying to sort things out, “But Insha Allah, he will be ok”.

Hearing her reply, I remembered the conversation with Husna telling me that these women were just like me with their own problems. I know now she was right. The conversation with Hasina is such an eye opener. She wasn’t the damsel in distress I assumed her to be. She wasn’t the poor stupid Indian woman I thought she was. “you must think I am a wreck of a women” she said suddenly after. I looked at her. What did I think? The voice in my brain registered a response, No – Hasina, I thought. I think you just like me.  But, “No” is all I managed to say , with a weak smile.

“I admire you , you know” she said catching me off guard. Before I could react she said, “building a successful business and seeing to the home can’t be easy. You are educated at University and that makes you see the world differently. A working woman is her own person separate from her domestic obligations”. I thought about that for a moment. As glamorous as that sounded, it doesn’t always work out that way. There are sacrifices that need to be made. Starting a family was one of them.

She listened as I spoke. I was brief, the baby story could be made into a 20 volume book by now, but I managed to give her the gist in a few sentences. I spoke briefly about the strained marriage that goes with that and somehow I felt comfortable and even relieved being able to talk about it. “you’ll be Ok. Allah tests the ones he loves the most” she said. It brought me comfort to hear that, and perhaps that belief is what gives her , her strength. truth surprise you  shine

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I have everything I thought was important and nothing that really is.
-Lily Francone


Later that evening, after supper and salaah I decided to tell Hussain about the call I received this afternoon. Hussain usually relaxes in front of the TV after supper or gets working on his model airplanes. From the absence of any sound filtering through the passage to my room, I guessed that he was probably in the outside shed where he usually does all his models. His model planes hobby began almost two years ago, just after my miscarriage. That was no coincidence. Hussain is a man of action and not words, doing and not talking, but despite his tough guy outer shell, it was plainly obvious that the miscarriage had been hard on him. Thinking back now, you’d think it wasa HIM who had his insides poked and prodden.

We discussed the miscarriage at the time – biologically only. He was comfortable talking about an incompetent cervix, cervical scarring, uterine detachment and all the details of the miscarriage. The conversations he avoided was the ones I so needed. What do we do now? When can we try again? Tell me how you are feeling.

He was supportive during my stay at the hospital following the miscarriage. It was not until a few days after I got back home from the hospital that I could feel a subtle change. It was nothing overt. Not immediate, but it was as though the house itself sighed with grief as I entered. The home that just a few weeks ago was buzzing with anticipation and the prospects of the future, seemed now emptier than ever before. The knowing smiles we shared in the corridor turned into avoiding glances. The playful banter turned into stressful conversation. My loving husband became a roommate.

He preferred to be by himself and brushed me off when I wanted to talk about trying to get pregnant again. I consoled myself by thinking that it was just his way of dealing with it. After all he was a man who weighed the logic of a situation and not necessarily the emotion. He began to spend more and more time in the shed. At first I did not know what he was doing there and decided to give him his time alone although I really wished that we could talk about our feelings about losing our baby. It was then more than ever that I needed his support and comfort. My heart was breaking for the child that never was, and then what little pieces if it remained, was ground to dust by a husband who seemed to have emotionally abandoned me. The few weeks after the miscarriage were the hardest. Hussain would sometimes come home late from work, and if I had an early meeting, there would be days where we would miss each other completely. He avoided deep conversation and our verbal correspondence was limited to a sterile report of our daily work activities. My husband was distancing himself from me. He was still there physically, but the closeness we shared a few months before was gone with our unborn child. I felt like I was being punished. But why? Was it my fault? Did he blame me for putting my career before a child? Would my body have been stronger two years ago? why did I have to wait?

My doctor’s explanation was that the condition of an incompetent cervix is rare and the cause in my case is unknown.   As we sat in the doctor’s office a month later for a follow up appointment, I remember how helpless I felt. I felt like a knife that could not cut, a pen that could not write or a candle that could not burn. I was a woman who could not bare children.  I looked at the doctor and saw the concern on her face, her lips were moving but the sound of her voice was drowned out by my thoughts which were racing loud and fast. I kept thinking, What use is a woman who cannot bare children? Is that not what women are made for? I am intelligent –yes, I am beautiful- yes. I am funny and hopeful and kind and generous – yes, yes, yes. But what use is all of those qualities if you cannot pass it onto someone else. I am a woman, I can do anything I want and that included having a baby. I had looked at Hussain sitting beside me and to this day I wish I hadn’t. I could have avoided what came later. If my eyes wasn’t already burning with the tears that I kept trying to blink back, the injured look on his face would have been enough. He looked like a man defeated. He was listening to the doctor but his body was resigned. His eyes were shining with moisture. He nodded to the doctor and I tried to bring myself to listen. The doctor was explaining something. She was talking about the next time. My ears pricked up.

“You need to be careful about contraception for at least the next six months”, she said. Adressing Hussain she continued, “The cervix needs some time to rest and get stronger, After six months you need to come back and we can run some tests and decide if it is okay to try to conceive again”, she instructed with authority. She was still looking at Hussain as if it was HIS damaged cervix in question. Hussain seemed dazed, perhaps he thought it was.  He nodded absentmindedly and I wondered if he had even heard what she had said. She may have wondered the same thing so her next statement was more forceful. “There is a good chance Farnaz could miscarry again, and a second miscarriage could put Farnaz at great risk”. She looked at me this time for a reaction. I had none. She continued. “So the next time we will have to be on high alert”. Husain was motionless. He seemed deep in thought but he said nothing. He seemed to have shrunk in stature in this 30 minute appointment, his confident attitude also dissolved. I couldn’t help but feel responsible for his pain, yet I felt totally useless to do anything about it. As we got up to leave, without a thought I stretched out my hand to hold his.  From the time I had looked at him and saw the pain in his eyes I wanted to reach out to him. I needed to feel him next to me, we needed to be there for each other. I wanted to comfort him – I wanted him to feel me saying, its going to be OK. My hand reached out and just touched his as he pulled his hand away. It was a split second moment and to an onlooker it may have looked like a co-incidence but I knew better. He didn’t want my support. When I looked back at him for explanation, I saw anger and blame on his face. ‘He blamed me’, I thought, ‘He is angry with me!’ The realization of all the weeks before, the avoidance and the isolation, shot threw me like an arrow.  He couldn’t have hurt me more at that moment than if he had run me over with a truck. My tears flowed silently and secretly as we left the doctors office and I wondered if I had lost my husband too, with my unborn child.

The few months after the doctor’s appointment were the hardest. We never spoke about what happened and it was just understood that we will go back six months later. Everytime I looked at him I could see the blame on his face, although he never once said it. We argued over trivial things: the empty milk carton, his missing socks, and toothpaste in the basin. We were obviously skirting over the real issues. Our marriage became effortful and just being in the same room was a difficult task.

It was probably Hussains new hobby of model planes that helped us through the worst part of our miscarriage. In the shed, it was his own space that he escaped to every evening, making sure that we did not spend more time that was necessary together. Spending time together caused arguments, yelling and door banging. I never bothered about what he was doing there, but I would see him take packages out to the shed. One evening after a particularly tensed supper I eventually stumbled across it in a rage about the empty water jug in the fridge. I probably was not expecting to be amazed at the sight I met. I threw open the door, fuming, and found him leaning over a spectacular red and black plane with a wingspan of almost a meter and I was impressed. Actually… I was beyond impressed. First at the plane- it was huge even though it was only partly assembled – and then and more surprisingly at this man. His face looked like a little boy unwrapping a new present and my heart melted at the sight of the man I married. He looked up at me, smiled, and continued. My feet felt like lead and I couldn’t move for fear that the moment would dissolve and there would be no way to get it back. So I just stood there. He continued for a long time and I watched him. His careful hands tightening the screws, testing the rotors and oiling them, checking each part meticulously until it was perfect. Yes, I thought, thinking about his clothes thrown on the floor and the dishes waiting to be packed, his hands DO work. Then he said without looking up, “come check this out Farnaz”. He said this so coolly and calmly in a tone that had become almost unfamiliar to me. For a moment I wondered who he was talking to. I walked over to him as he began to explain. He spoke about the plane and the engine, the cockpit and the wingspan. He spoke about the engine and its silencers and cooling system. He spoke and spoke and spoke. It was as though everything he failed to say he was saying now, in the safety of the shed, in his element. The conversation was full of nuts and bolts but the parallel conversation – the one where he looked at me with excitement, and where I laughed at his jokes, where he actually tried to be funny and where we shared smiles and stares – was a glimmer of hope for our marriage.

That particular day had eased some of the tension that had been gripping our marriage. I realised that we weren’t railed off the marriage tracks. Although the arguments had stopped after that day and we got along most of the time, the issue of children was still a sensitive one. Staying with the train analogy, we began moving forward together although our coaches were not attached.

Making my way outside now, on a mission to discuss the call this morning, I walk into the shed and find Hussain hard at work on his new project. The red and black spitfire finished months ago, is suspended from the ceiling to make it look like it’s in mid flight. The shed is the size of a small bedroom big enough for a double bed and walking space. Hussain has all his spares and small tools in steel drawers lining the far wall, and a large wooden table is set in the middle where the new project takes pride of place. The wall on the far right has cottage windows that bring in the morning light. On the opposite wall hangs medium and large power tools in an impressive lockable cage made and designed by Hussain.

I walk up to him. “You’ve assembled the engine already”, I say with an impressive tone. “That was quick”, I add. He nods and says, “This one is smaller and simpler than the spitfire”, he explains without looking up. I nod, but he can’t see me. I feel a little strange. I don’t usually go down to the shed to talk to him so this scenario seems forced. The call this afternoon was for him too, so I have to tell him. It makes me feel uneasy. I try to think of something. “Im going to make some tea, are you going to take a break soon?” I ask trying to sound like I ask him this all the time. By his look, I can see I wasn’t successful. He frowns a little then says, “Twenty minutes” and carries on without another word. I leave and wait in the kitchen.

When he walks in, he still has his work gloves on and I he brings with him a musty oily smell into the kitchen. It’s a manly smell that almost screams a tarzan type dialoque – “I’m man. Work hard” while pounding his chest. The thought makes me smile and Hussain watching me, returns it. He sits down and removes his gloves. His hands are soft, deceptive for a man who works with his hands. “Thought I was getting tea” he says. I get up to pour his cup and sit back down next to him. I allow him to take a sip and then begin.

“I sold a house today, the one I told you about the other day” I begin.

“Hmmm” he responds taking another sip.

I lean over the counter and pull the biscuit jar to him and open it. He takes one and dips it. I hate that, I cringe. He knows this. He looks at me and shakes his head in amusement.

“The Vally’s, remember”, I continue. “They decided to buy it.”

“Oopling”, he says. Referring to the trend of Indian businessman doing deals under the table without paying tax. I shrug my shoulders.

“They are having a house warming and birthday party for their daughter next month, and the owner called to invite us”. I stressed on US. Hussain and I have not been out together socially for a long time, well since the marriage got shaky. I can see him thinking about it, maybe wondering when the last time was that we went out together. Visits to his family and grocery shopping does not count I say to him in my head.

“hhmm” he says still pondering. After about a minute’s pause of more tea sipping and biscuit dipping he nods his head and asks, “when?” I hand over the scribbled notes I made this afternoon with all the details. He looks at it and asks, “Don’t you usually go to these things by yourself?” I nod and respond “Yes, but when Mr. Vally called this afternoon to invite us…” I stressed on the us again, “He insisted we come as guests and not as his agent”. He took a few moments to think, picking up the paper and turning it around. I wondered if he was trying to think of an excuse. Then putting his tea cup down he got up and said, “okay” and began walking out of the kitchen. The tarzan smell following him faithfully as his unfinished cup of tea, still sat on the counter.

I didn’t expect that. I thought he would make up an excuse or just tell me to go by myself. I really didn’t want to go alone so I am glad that he has agreed to come. It will probably be weird though, going out with him after so long. Or maybe it will be nice, I think. With a feeling of relief and motivation. I grab the phone and dial Mumtaz from Taalim. She answers on the first ring.

When I end the call I am smiling. I will be attending house warming in a month and a coffee date a week after that. Two social activities within a week of each other, I laugh to myself, Husna will be so proud. I am on a roll – I think. I call Husna with the good news.