Kempville is a small Indian suburb in South Africa. Nothing much happens here. It is almost like watching paint dry. Don’t let the small town facade fool you. There are always stories for the Panchaat Khalas (gossip mongers) to talk about. This one’s son is messed up or someone’s daughter is trying to elope. Other than that there really not much to do in our dorpie(small town).
“Fati! Fatima! Fatima do you have ears? Wake up it time for salaah my mother yells.”
Fajr salaah is my favourite time of the day. Before the hustle and bustle, we call life starts, you have those few minutes of solace even before the birds start chirping. After fajr I laze around on my bed. I reach out for my phone to text Aneesa.
Me : “Salaams bff.. lol whatz going on with you and the whole bff thing. Any way final exams for grade 12 starts soon and stress levels about to boom. So let plan a weekend to jhb. Maybe a shopping spree?”
Aneesa: “sounds good i’ll call my aunty layha and ask her if we can spend the weekend in her glamorous abode in Sandton. I finally met with Faheem….. He is prince charming can’t wait to see you soon my bff.”
Breakfast is served by my house at exactly 6h30 every morning even weekends. My mother likes to torture us. I swear, for all the things we do, she enjoys it.
As I near the bottom of the stair case I catch mummy and daddy smiling at me as if I’ve won something.
“Fati,” daddy calls out, “Mummy and I are…..”
“Our little Fatoo bear is all grown up,” mummy adds.
I roll my eyes, cringing at the pet name my parents call me.
My dad hands me a bow-tied red box. I was so delighted at the thought of A gift. Yes, we all love surprise gifts from time-to-time, okay. I grabbed the gift from his hands, ripped the bow off and gently lifted the lid. Nestled inside was a pretty pink prayer mat, matching prayer beads and a Quran. Understanding the thought behind it,I smiled and thanked them. Muslim parents try their best to guide their children the best way they can. Nothing is better than a musalla to pray on and talk to Allah and a Quran to read to help you find solutions to all your life’s problems.
Daddy teary eyed, looked at me and said
“Oh, Fatima, one of these days you’ll be getting married and starting your own family. I ask Allah to guide you every day,” daddy had tears in his eyes when he looked at me. And then he looked away with a twinkle in his eye, “That’s the day I’m coming to live with you, eat all your food, leave a stinking mess and scream ‘I need to eat!’ “
We all laughed.
My parents are my biggest fans. I remember wanting to wear a scarf as a young girl. Both my parents were overjoyed. No more nangi nangi(naked). Being an only child, my parents and I were very close, best friends. Aneesa my BFF, was the sister I never had.
Panchaat Khala from next door barged into the house as soon as daddy left for work. Like she waits to see exactly when he switches on the car. He doesn’t even get to the corner and she is already in the house.
“Salaams Fatima, where is that mother of yours?” As she waited for mummy, “You getting very big now and marriage proposals will start coming in. Then the samoosa run will start ne’. You must start dressing the part. You dress like a nanima (grand mother), no man wants a nanima. Today man want very smart almost actress types like Priyanka or Deepika or in my time we had Kajol and Karishma Kapoor.” Gosh! I sat there thinking, this woman only nags about marriage.
“Fatima, she said, “man don’t like educated women, oh no they don’t.”
Quickly I replied, “if women are not educated how would she help her children with school work? Is it not a mothers duty to do school and madressah home work with the children so the father can come home and relax?” That got her to stop talking for a second, as mummy emerged to save me and take nosy rosy away from me.
My phone started beeping, I opened the text message
Aneesa: Salaams pops spoke to my aunty and she said it cool we can come stay. Btw faheem coming to this dry place today. Come with, meet him and your crush guy will be there also. We can tell the parents we going for a milkshake just us two. They will never question that.
Me: ok sounds cool. Crush guy, like I ever have a chance with someone like him, will never notice someone like me. But for a chance of you having a happy ever after why not.
I got dressed, wearing a long pink top with a blue jeans and the new pink scarf my nanima gave me. I hope I look and smell good just in case my crush guy decides to talk to me. I had butterflies in my stomach and I felt like I was going insane. I left my house and walked to Aneesa’s house. There he was, prince charming of my dreams, Shaheen, the cool guy who didn’t care about anyone or anything. I felt so nervous. It felt as if every sweat gland in my body was going to erupt. How would I have known that he would be the most dangerous addiction of my life?