Monday, November 16, 2009

more please mum

Okay, so I've ignored chronological order with all of this. But I think you get the picture. But this has to be the last excerpt for some time now. Can't go giving it all away for nothing :)

Dear Diary

I give him this much. He’s persistent. I mean, this guy just does not let up. Yesterday he insisted on walking me to the ward. Even though he had a lecture to attend. Plus, he embarrassed me by wanting to carry my books. Must be watching too many movies from the sixties. Though it was sweet. And very flattering to be treated like some princess.

As for the lectures he keeps missing on my account, I’m sure he won’t have any problems with catching up, since everyone says he’s a genius.
He doesn’t look like much of a genius though, if he’s chasing damaged goods this hard. Sometimes people just don’t know what’s good for them. Or what’s not.

Fatima has a good laugh whenever she sees him coming our way. She says he looks a bit like Tom Cruise in Endless Love. I reckon she probably says so because she doesn’t know how to say that he’s got a big nose. And that one slightly crooked front tooth. Tom Cruise looks good with it though. So maybe he looks that way too. I can’t be sure since I find myself hiding from his gaze most of the time.

She keeps bugging me to give him a chance. But she doesn’t push me. She knows…

She’s going out with this gorgeous guy she met while we were getting pizza one afternoon. He’s…wait for it…studying to be an accountant. Aside from his dead beat interests, he seems like a nice guy. He’s very sweet. And the way the two are forever together, every spare minute that they have, I’m sure it will end in marriage. Good for her. She really deserves a break in life.
Today, I’m thankful for the love of good friends. And for my father who seems to really be coming around now. He’s almost normal.

By that I mean that he now watches TV most days and doesn’t try to set the table and stuff anymore. He seems to have reconciled himself to the loss of his shadow.


“So Asma. I don’t think you’re even going to relax around me enough for us to start something. So I think I’m going to get my father to phone yours. And then we can do this the right way. Like an official proposal and stuff. When’s a good time to call?”

My jaw must have dropped to the ground when he said this. I mean really! The guy could not be serious. I didn’t even know him! Proposal! Was he out of his mind?

Fatima walked up to us just then. At the sight of my face she started laughing. The laughter of the demented.
“What happened, Zaheer? Did you ask her to go to the bioscope with you or something? Majestic?”

“Erm, Fatima. Assalaamu alaikum.” A dense silence.
“What? Did I interrupt something?” She looked worried.
“Just come with me. And don’t say another word. I’m not lus for your jokes today okay.”
I pulled her hand and led her to the parking lot.

When we got into the car, she turned to me. That same no nonsense look she used to give me whenever I asked her to cover for me back in the day on her face.

“When are you going to just move on huh? I mean the guy is gone, what’s it? Six years now. You have to start living again. You can’t punish yourself and this guy, who happens to be the best thing that has happened to you in the longest time, for something that neither of you had anything to do with. If you must blame someone, blame this country for giving us twisted values. Blame the government. But don’t keep making yourself suffer. What do you want to be? The Penitent of Benoni?”

“Oh, shut up will you. You don’t need to lecture me. You’re not my mother okay.”

“In case you forgot baby, you don’t have a mother. I’hm all you have.” She didn’t do a half bad Southerner.

And then I was laughing. From deep within me. From my very core. And between the raucous bursts of laughter, I saw his face. And I realised that I had noticed. I had noticed that his eyebrows were thick. And joined over the bridge of his nose. And that his eyes were very warm. That his lashes were lush. And that his smile transformed his face from ordinary to extraordinary.

Maybe…just maybe…

Saturday, November 14, 2009


So Farzana reckons I go from phases where I post often enough to those where I all but vanish. She's right. So to thank her for the observation. And for taking the time to voice her irritation with the state of affairs, another little taste.

“Wow! Your mother is a very charming woman.”
“Ya, I know.”
“Ya, and she’s also very pretty.”
“Oh, so you wish you’d married her instead?”
“What? You jealous? Tell me you’re jealous. It would make this night all the more memorable, ’Cos I sometimes wonder whether I’ve just married the Ice Queen. You haven’t given me a single kiss all day.” His eyes laughed.
“How could I? We’ve been surrounded by people all day!”
“Ya, and I think you like it that way. That’s why you’re sitting so far from me. Come hither daahling .”
“Your English drawl is lame. But I’ll come closer anyway.” I got up from the bed and went to settle myself on the couch next to him. We were in at the Holiday Inn in Jo’burg.
“Wait!” He stood up from the couch.
“I need to do something first.”

He disappeared into the bathroom. I stood up and went to the window. I pulled back the curtain. The City stared back, all million eyes, or so it felt. The lights were just amazing.
So this was the big First Night. There were questions I had to ask though. Before…Things I needed to know. I was surprised we’d got this far without discussing it. Zaheer emerged from the bathroom with a dripping chin. He was towelling his arms dry.

“Can’t forget the salaat.”
“Before, dot, dot, dot? You don’t know?”
“Hmm, so it would appear that you didn’t do this thing the right way the first time around.”
His first mention of my past. And done so casually. He sure had my vote.
“Okay, now, go and make Wudhu. I brought a musallah for both of us. And a compass. Among other things.” He winked. And my pulse tripped over itself.

I stood behind him. To the right. He was my imam. I followed his movements. Matching. Just a beat behind. And I knew that into the world of the great unknown he would always precede me. He would always clear the obstacles. My Imam.