Durban always has a calming effect on me. I have fond childhood memories playing in the warm ocean and building sandcastles on the beach.
We checked into the Elangeni Hotel. I immediately rummaged through my bag looking for my bikini. I could not wait to have a dip in the sea. Aslam pulled me towards him, gave me a kiss and said he needed to take care of business with “the foreigner”, and that tonight we would be having dinner with him and his wife Dahlia.
“Your meeting is only in an hour’s time so please come with me?” I begged.
He reluctantly agreed. As we were getting comfy on the beach, I heard a very familiar voice.
“Fati, you so nangi, go cover up child. Doesn’t mean you are married you can dress like this. You are still Muslim?” It was a long lost relative who does not give you a chance to speak. “Is this your husband? You got married so quickly? Are you pregnant?”
I introduced Aslam to this aunty whose name I could not remember.
“Fati, you have a handsome man, I heard he is very rich also. Why don’t you join Baboo and myself. You are looking stick thin? Come have some biryani with us? It is still piping hot, I am keeping it warm in the wonderbag. Are you not feeding her Aslam?”
Aslam made an excuse to leave. I begged him to give me something or else I would drown them because they were working on my nerves. He gave me a pill and said this would calm me down until he returned.
This aunty kept on interrogating me about why I got married so quickly. She was upset that she did not get an invite to the wedding because she bought an outfit from Dubai and she really needed to show it off at some function. She kept on lecturing me about my dressing. She forced me to eat because she felt I was withering away.
“You must stop dressing like these nangi people, dress decently,” she nagged.
“My husband likes me to dress like this and I will change when I get older.” I retaliated.
“Fati, we have to live every moment as if it is our last moment. We don’t even know if we will wake up alive the next day. These days you hear so many incidents where young children are dying. Old age is not guaranteed for all of us. You should have some modesty and only share you assets with your husband.”
Tired of the bayaan(lecture), I greeted the aunty and left for our hotel room.
It is my life and I will dress the way I want. I remember seeing pictures of her in miniskirts when she was younger. Now she is all self-righteous, lecturing me on modesty. I was so angry at the audacity of this woman. All I wanted to do was enjoy some sun and surf and here she had to spoil my mood. As soon as I entered the room, I charged for the mini bar. I needed a stiff drink. I took out an alcoholic beverage and quenched my thirst.
My phone started vibrating. It was Layha. Could this day not get any worse? Reluctantly I picked up.
“Fati, I can’t live this haram life any more. I want a divorce. I am willing to stay if both of you give up your wild ways, all this drugs and alcohol.”
I laughed at her scornfully and told her to leave if she wanted to. She carried on with all these fatwas that she had researched. I was in no mood for all this Islamic lecturing today. I cut the call.
I suddenly felt nauseous. I threw up. I did not eat any food even though that aunty was forcing me. The nausea was not going away. Could I be pregnant? My period was only due in a week.
Panic began to set in. I couldn’t go for a blood test with all these drugs. I don’t think a pee stick would be effective because it was still early. I didn’t want a child to spoil my fun. I wasn’t even on the pill. Maybe it is just seasickness? I laughed as I looked at the ocean.
Aslam walked into the room and asked if something was wrong and why I looked so pale. I reassured him I was fine.
“I am feeling exhausted,” he said “and I need to take a quick nap before supper.”
I rested my head on his chest and asked him for something to alleviate my agitation. He passed me some pills that would help me sleep.
Aslam woke me up from my deep slumber.
“Babe, dress to kill today. Look elegant. The “foreigner’s” wife is apparently very classy.”
I didn’t know what to wear. I only packed all my sexy stuff for the honeymoon and nothing fancy. I frantically tossed out all the contents of my bag. I was relieved to find a short, gold, glitzy dress. I paired it with my gold stilettos. My make up was simple but flawless. My hair was lose but curled giving it a casual look in case we went clubbing later.
The craving for cocaine was nagging at me. I begged Aslam for a line but he gave me some pills instead. Aslam looked handsome, all dressed up in his suit. We headed out of the hotel arm in arm and looked like the perfect power couple.
We entered this elegant restaurant, which had perfect lighting.
“This way sir and madam,” a man ushered us to the table where Dahlia and “the foreigner” were seated. Dahlia was as gorgeous as Aslam described her.
We exchanged pleasantries. Conversation started flowing and so was the wine. I became light headed.
“How do you find Dahlia?” enquired “the foreigner.”
“Hot, sexy” replied Aslam blushing.
Looking at me the foreigner said “I always find Indian women intriguing. They think they are so high and mighty, better than everyone else.” I couldn’t help but smile. I didn’t know what he meant by that, but I kept smiling.
Dahlia complimented me about my dress and we started talking about the latest fashion trends, leaving the men to discuss business. Oddly Dahlia asked me about my sex life and if I have slept with anyone else but Aslam. “Is it true Indian girls only sleep with the man they marry?”
“Yes we choose to keep ourselves pure.” I replied proudly.
“The foreigner” decided to take us to a club to meet his new business associates.
I was already lightheaded and the car ride was not fun at all. I could not understand why there were bodyguards.
“Once Aslam agrees to help clean the drug money, you will also need a body guard,” said Dahlia.
The trendy club had more women than men. Dahlia started flirting with Aslam right in front of my eyes. She started whispering something in his ear and Aslam looked overly excited by her attention. “The foreigner” sat next to me. He started touching my hand and I just ignored it. He asked me if I would be interested in a night with him, casually laughing, I said no.
Aslam saw what was happening and immediately confronted “the foreigner”. The bodyguards started beating Aslam. I screamed, asking them to stop. Dahlia laughed at Aslam’s double standards. “It is ok for you to flirt with me, but the minute my husband flirts with your wife it is a problem? Grow up. How can we trust each other if you can’t trust him with your woman?”
Aslam wiped the dripping blood from his mouth and said that Dahlia was right. Clearly Dahlia was the one calling the shots and in charge. I began to feel nauseas, the thought about being pregnant long forgotten. I excused myself and headed for the bathroom after having too much to drink.
Aslam followed me into the toilet cubicle.
“Listen you are my wife and not a cheap slut. Don’t you dare flirt with other men? Am I not good enough for you that you want some white man to screw you? Are you a whore?”
He picked up my dress pushed me against the wall and once again forced himself on me.
“No! Please stop! I don’t mind giving you what you want, but not here.” I begged him to stop. He pushed me harder and told me to shut up while he pictures Dahlia because my nagging was ruining his fantasy. I begged him to stop degrading me. The loud music was drowning my screams. When I left the cubicle no one even cared. I am sure they heard the commotion but they just ignored me and carried on like nothing happened. When he was done he gave me cocaine. “Stop wailing, I am your husband and I’ll have you where and when I want.” I tried to numb the pain. Maybe he was right. A husband can do what he wants.
For the rest of the night I drank until I almost passed out. Aslam was finally ready to leave. On our way home I asked him to stop because I needed to puke.
As we continued driving he said, “Babes, I love you, stop behaving like a slut. You are not every man’s toy. I have a good wife at home. I married you so I could have a wild wife to go partying with but not a whore.”
“Why don’t you just go fuck Dahlia, she is your fantasy!” I retorted.
He slapped me violently across my face. “Never disrespect me ever you heard!”
I started to cry and this softened him a bit. “I am sorry babes, don’t cry. As long as you give me what I want in bed you will get any drug your heart desires. You need to learn to be a good wife and stop embarrassing me in public.” My self-respect was bruised and my soul was crushed. Aslam had forced himself on me again and I couldn’t come to terms that it was in such a public place.