Chapter 12 – Deception

When you become an addict you really don’t care about anyone else but your habit. Fati has seen herself as a functioning drug addict even though many people didn’t even notice that she had an issue. Everyone thought I was moody which is common in teens my age at this point in life.

Exams came and went and I have no idea how I got through it. Frankly I don’t even remember what I wrote and how it went. One Monday morning we got a call from Aneesa’s father to inform us that his sister Layha was in hospital and it was serious. Being very close family friends my parents decided to take a quick trip to Joburg to show support and offer any help they needed.

These past few weeks  were mainly a blur. I have been experimenting all type of stuff. I was currently on a  high on Prozac. Faheem has become indispensable to me.  Although I was emotionless, I was loving the high even though it lasted in short bursts. Aslam and I have been secretly meeting almost weekly! He drives all the way to Kempville.  He spoils me with lavish gifts from LV bags to Prada sunglasses. He’s been a real gentleman, not pushing me into sleeping with him.

After what seemed like a lifetime of driving we  finally arrived at the hospital. As we ran in we spotted uncle Adam, Aneesa’s father in the foyer. My dad took Uncle Adam outside and were in deep discussion.   Aunty Ray, Aneesa’s mum, looked at my mum and started weeping,

“Bibi, Aslam hit Layha and this time it’s not just a few fractured bones, this time she has broken ribs, internal bleeding and a broken jaw.”

I sat there in shock! My Aslam. It could never be. These people didn’t know Aslam like I do. The moment Aneesa’s dadi, Layha’s mum walked in. My mother confronted her not holding back. “Are you happy now? You always blame her like she deserves this and is the bad one.

“Well if Layha learns to keep her mouth shut this won’t happen, spoilt brat she is always questioning a man about his whereabouts,” counterattacked Layha’s dadi.  My mother looked at her with disgust. I was on dadi’s side. I thought Layha was lying and in her self pitying state did this to herself to get some sympathy.

Aslam walked into the room with cops. I started to panic.  My Aslam with cops! He looked at Layha’s mother and said

“Mummy tell them I would never do this, that your daughter is mentally unstable”. Aneesa’s dadi verified his version of the story. Uncle Adam was ravaged with rage.

“Calm down Adam,” said my father.

Uncle Adam started sobbing unconsolably,

“What has that bastard done to my sister?”

“I did nothing! Maybe if your bloody sister learnt to be sane most days then she wouldn’t do this, stop blaming me you idiot, she is mentally unstable and needs help. Adam how many times must I tell you this?” yelled Aslam.

Aunty Ray asked my parents to take Aneesa and myself to Layha’s house to rest.  As soon as more news comes in they will call. She thanked my parents for being there and that their support meant alot. I was annoyed at them for blaming my poor, poor Aslam for nothing. As we left the hospital late that evening all I felt like running away with Aslam so that he could forget all this drama.  When we reached Layha’s house I rushed up to Layha’s room and took whatever pills I could find. I took a whole lot to try and help me sleep.

Chapter 10 – Betrayal

Layha speaks out

Weeks after Aneesa’s engagement, before midday,  Layha was still  in bed, contemplating if she should confront Aslam about his little fling with Fatima.  How many times is he going to look for things elsewhere and expect me not to know, I mean really how dumb does he really think I am.I found his phone last night and went through it and Fatima was the least of my problems. From sexting to naked women to other erotic stuff that I was so horrified I actually had to close my eyes when I opened it! What was going on in this man’s head. I  was troubled by what I saw and lost all my sleep.   I decided to investigate further and went through his browser history. What? An online dating profile. I  sat there in shock, almost frozen. I dealt with his occasional drinking, his party issues and but I can’t come to terms with the fact he finds comfort in other women.  This was the ultimate betrayal. I was grief stricken and felt like dying must be easier than this humiliation.  Was I nothing, a doormat he can trample on.

Later that afternoon when we were finally alone I decided to confront him with all the proof I had gathered. Like any cheat he denied everything. He couldn’t understand how all that rubbish mysteriously appeared on his phone.  As we approached the computer and I opened the dating site, Aslam started laughting quickly and retorted mockingly

“Oh goodness Layha, those are donkey’s years things. I have even forgotten about it.”

Finally I tackled him about Fatima.

“What is the deal with Fatima. She is so young. Are you a cradle robber? I saw that you shared a kiss with her on ‘our’ bed. How dare you?”

“A kiss, that’s all” he hurled back. Those words went through me like a knife. I got so angry I slapped him. I regretted hitting him even before my hand reached his cheek. He charged at me like a wild animal and started beating me  uncontrollably. Hitting, kicking, spitting. He continued bashing me. At first it hurt. Eventually I became numb and just took it. I finally fell to the floor. All  I could hear was muffled screaming and shouting. In my concussed state I had no idea what he was ranting about like a mad man. I finally blacked out. When I woke up still disorientated ,Anna, my maid, was by my side hysterical with the phone in her hand.

“Madam, there is too much blood, we must call the ambulance.” Anna insisted and yelled,

“No! no one must know” I shouted feeling pain in my ribs as I spoke.

“Layha you need a hospital!” and Anna started dialing .

It felt like eternity waiting for the ambulance. The pain was now unbearable. Finally  I could finally hear sirens approaching the house. As the paramedics were wheeling me out,  I heard one of them started radioing the police.I quickly tried to stop him and started pleading not to call them as it was my fault. They just ignored me and continued on the walkie talkie,

“Looks like she was moered by her husband, we are taking her to the hospital she is loosing lots of blood,  over and out.”  They must have given me something for the pain because before I was in the ambulance I passed out.

I woke up in the hospital feeling very croggy. The nurse brought the police into the room to interrogate me before any family arrived. They asked me all sorts of questions. All I kept on replying like a broken record,

“it wasn’t his fault,  I  hit him first and so he got angry. I’m a good wife.” I was naive trying to save face. I must have sounded pathetic. There I lay, broken ribs and fractured arms, still defending the dog  that used me as his  punching bag.

My mother walked into the room. Her face was filled with contempt. Without even saying a word I knew she blamed me for being in this sorry state. After sitting there in silence for a long time my mother finally started talking.

“A good wife is a subservient wife that takes the bad without question.  Enjoy the good without complaining. Your whole life you get whatever you want. I hope you learnt your lesson.” That was the moment hate for my mother entered my heart.  Was she blind? Could she not see what was happening. How could she still make this my fault. I can’t describe this hurt. It felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest.  This was the pinnacle of betrayal. I have never felt so alone in my whole life.  a I finally realized the problem with our society, that women are expected to just bare all this crap to save face, sit there, look pretty and hope for a better day.

My emotional state was like a yo yo. I started doubting myself again. Maybe my mother was right. Aslam is good to me, so why be ungrateful and complain.  My mind started racing. I need some time to sort all this out. I requested no visitors. I was now alone and abused.


Chapter 9 – Caught

Aneesa’s engagement day finally arrived. Both our parents came from Kempville to Joburg. Layha was organised and  sorted out every thing from the decadent food that was to be served to the most elaborate yet elegant table settings. The engagement was small and only about 35 close relatives  were invited. It was not your typical function where the whole dunya (world)  and  five generations of far cousins are invited.

The best  hair stylists and make up artists Joburg had to offer were called in to make sure  Aneesa, an ordinary farm girl became extra ordinary. A local hot shot couture designer was called in to give Aneesa an outfit of her dreams.  Aneesa wanted a cerise pink and silver panelled corset combined with a cerise pink cowl skirt with silver pleating at the bottom, embellished with antique silver embroidery.

As I was putting final touches to my scarf and couldn’t get it to sit right. I have not worn a scarf for the past few days now and I was definitely having a bad scarf day. It was starting to work on my last nerve. I still had to do make up and wear my outfit which was a simple and rust coloured churidar suit.

Finally the time arrived and we all sat in the lounge waiting anxiously. We were all tense and tjoep still incase we missed the door bell ring.

“Ding dong” The ringing door bell echoed throughout the house.   Finally, they here, I thought. Layha and few of Aneesa’s cousins welcomed Faheem’s family at the door. Everyone was  escorted to the garden lounge where we were sitting for the ” formal talk”.

Faheem introduced his parent’s to Aneesa. Faheem’s mother greeted Aneesa very coldly with a handshake and before she let go she said,

“look Aneesa me I am very straighforward, I am going to tell you we are very rich and I want no gold digging wife.”

The room suddenly went completely silent. We were all flabbergasted. My mouth actually dropped to the ground.

Aneesa’s father, uncle Adam,  immediately retaliated,
“what are you saying that Mr money bags here is to good for our daughter.  So why waste our time and agree to meet? He can marry a family girl and you can keep the money  in the family!”

I was a bit high. I found all this very hilarious. I suddenly let out a giggle. Every one turned and stared at me like I was going mad. Once I got back my composure I started to speak,

“Aunty look, Aneesa may not be well off but who cares, she loves your son a lot, so much so, that if tomorrow he looses his money and charm she will still be there”.

Faheem’s father then put his two cents worth
” argh this is such a waste of my time. Time is money. There is so much money to be made and here we are sitting arguing? They are in love!  If they not meant to be they will divorce or separate and  he will find another wife and she will be taken care of so what’s the deal? ”

Every one in Aneesa’s family could not believe what they heard and they all had a look of disgust on their faces.

Aneesa immediately interrupted before Faheem’s father could continue.
” I love Faheem. I suppose you are right. I accept the proposal with what ever contract you want me to sign even if you stipulate I’m not getting a single cent”.

Faheem’s family were all smiles now and looked very relieved. Immediately Faheem’s mother took out the chain from her hand bag and placed it around Aneesa’s neck and gave her a hug. Aneesa was now officially engaged. This is not your typical engagement we see in the movies where the couple go somewhere  private and romantic. The man goes on  one knee  and opens up a box and proposes while the lady starts screaming yes and jump’s into his arms. No,  in our community the entire ghaam (village)  has to be present to witness negotiations and proposal in action until officially the chain is noosed around your neck.

The three course meal was fit to dine royalty. The starter was a prawn cocktail served on a bed of lettuce. There was not a samoosa or soji in sight. The main meal was a rack of lamb with a mint sauce, some potatoes, peas and carrots. It was cooked to perfection.   There was an assortment of desserts to choose from. There was a pastry chef there ready to make you any dessert you wanted while you waited.  I was in a chocolate heaven. My favourite was the fried ice cream smothered in chocolate. It looked like phyllo pastry with ice cream inside deep fried served immediately. It was hot but cold at the same time.  Hats off to Layha. She knows how to entertain and this was the perfect dream engagement.

As my high was wearing off from the joint I had earlier in the evening, I saw Aslam signal to me to meet him. I excused myself telling people who I was having menial conversation with,  I needed to freshen up. I went into the house. I followed Aslam into his bedroom. As soon as I entered he pounced on me, pushed me down on the bed and kissed me.
“I want you so much, when are you going to give into me?” he said passionately.
Trying to push him off me I started giggling again and responded jokingly “when you marry me !”.
He got off me  immediately and looked at me horrified,

“who the hell do you think you are that your body is so special? I can have any damn girl I want, you wait one day I’ll show you when you pregnant with my child then you will see.” He stormed out in a rage. The door opened and I was about to apologise when I saw Layha enter the room. Panic set in. The feeling in my stomach was so intense I thought I was going to throw up. My head was spinning and I couldn’t think straight. I frantically started searching for my “help me” pill in my clutch bag to calm my mood.

Layha was not flustered at all. I was surprised. She didn’t seemed perturbed at all. She nonchalantly rebuked me,

“Fati you think that you the only one he has cheated on me with? Girl don’t flatter yourself! The moment he gets you he is going to use you, mentally, emotionally, physically abuse you the way he tortures me! Trust me, all these things I have is nothing. My life is empty.  I officially hate him. Next time you all over him ask him how he traumatises me and forces himself on me after a wild night partying, totally pissed drunk.  I can’t wait for this dog to die”.

Looking at her morbidly I popped the happy pill. She’s just jealous. I am younger and these days  she is looking like a old hag especially without  her make up. Who wants to wake up to that glum face every morning.  It is not my problem if she can’t make her man happy and feel alive. Layha laughed it off  and shrugged it off,  walked out of the room like nothing happened.

The pangs of guilt started  hounding me. I was restless and  I needed a quick fix. This is when Faheem introduced me to cocaine.

Chapter 8 – Hangover

I was disorientated and did not know where I was when I woke up. I still have no clue how I got home from the club but what scares me the most is how I got changed in to my pjs.

I woke up at two that afternoon and looked at Aneesa. She was still sound asleep. I thought back and the night was unforgettable.  Getting ready is such a mission when you have a killer hangover. I felt like every thing took twice the amount of effort even just batting my eyelids was exhausting.

Looking at my phone I saw a reminder for my zuhr prayer, guilt suddenly rushed over me, not wanting to dwell on this pessimistic emotion, I lit up a joint and let the feeling pass. There is enough time to catch up on prayers I thought to myself. I’m finally living life now and finally a rebel.

The high didn’t last long. Suddenly I felt the calm and soothing feeling slip through my fingers. Annoyed my euphoric state escaped so quickly, I decided to text Aslam, to distract my mind from all these feelings.

“hey last night was amazing, thank you.” I texted in attempts to start a conversation.
“Baby face I want more, u’ve seen that I can get any women I want, but now you need to realize what you have.” He responded. What I have? What is he going on about?

meaning?” I responded curiously.
“You will see baby face….”  A thousand thoughts filled my mind with his response.

I went inside feeling overwhelmed by my emotions. Layha was on the phone planning Aneesa’s engagement.  I dreaded the thought of us returning to that  droog farm place after the engagement. I decided to offer my help. Suddenly looking at Layha a sense of guilt over took me.I was kissing this woman’s husband. Panic set in and my emotions started racing as realization dawned upon me. I decided that I needed an immediate “calm me downer.”

Knowing Layha, she probably has some sleeping pills lying around somewhere. I managed to sneak away unnoticed and raided her bathroom cabinet.  “Happy” pills. What a find ! I decided to keep a few for my self and took one right away. The feeling was exhilarating, so I thought.

Shaheen came later that afternoon to see if I reached home safely.
“Yoh, you are a real party animal, so what happened once you and Aslam left the club.” The nerve, I thought. He suddently took my hand and looked deeply into my eyes.

“I have always been attracted to the goodie two shoes, I want to get to know you more. If everything goes well before I start university next semester I want to make it official.”
Yeah right who died and made him a saint? I thought to myself.Thank goodness Aslam walked in when he did, wearing a look I had never seen before. Shaheen, sensing the tension, left. Not even two seconds had gone by before I received a text from Aslam.
What does he want? There’s no way I’m sharing my women. I don’t like u talking to him, so next time? Tell him to get lost. By the way I have a gift for you.” The text read.
“Are you jealous? Omg u are! Sweet! I love gifts, can’t wait.” I responded with a smirk plastered across my face.

I waited till every one was asleep. The nerves overtook my body, a tight knot forming in my tummy. In an attempt to relieve all my tension I popped another happy pill. I sat at the pool side and suddenly felt a hand around me. As I turned around Aslam pulled me up pushed me against the wall, kissing me with pure passion, it was heavenly.

“I missed you doll face.” Aslam whispered in my ear. I didn’t know how to answer as I tried to come out of his grip.

Aslam smiled at me and handed me a pink box wrapped with bright bow on it. I clutched the beautifully decorated box tightly excited to unravel what was inside.  I was surprised to find a provocative set of underwear. I sat there emotionless as if all happiness had just been drained from the earth.

“Baby face, I was your first kiss, I plan to be your first of many things to come.” smirked Aslam with a naughty look on his face.

I became enraged,

“I am not a slut, if it is sex you want. Go and have sex with your wife.” He held my hand tightly and pushed my hair behind my ear and suddenly all the anger dissolved into thin air. He looked at me passionately,

” I am going to have you because I am in love with you.”

Before he could say another word I took the box and ran. I ran into my room and I took a deep breath and whispered to my self ” I love you too.”

Chapter 7 – Sins

As Friday night arrived. Shaheen called saying we should join him as he’s going to this “hang out” spot in New Town.

“Please doll face loose the scarf. Where we’re going? People will look at you oddly.” he pleaded. I have been wearing scarf  for eight years. I  never took it off regardless of the situation. Not for even for weddings and mendhi nights.
For the first time in eight years, I would be leaving home without a scarf. I felt so lost, as if a limb of mine was missing. Shaheen was gushing  with compliments,

“Wow, you  look gorgeous,  I would have never knew such beauty is hiding behind that scarf.” he commented.  Aneesa was so happy that I had allowed Layha to dress me up, with make up and the whole nine yards. I wore a skinny black jeans, with a platinum grey off the shoulder top underneath a silver platinum greyish sequins shimmering type cropped jacket with silver cinderella style stiletto shoes.
We arrived to this so called “trendy place” in Joburg. As you step foot into the dimly lit building with nothing but blinking lights and subtle music your eyes struggle to adjust to the new scenery but the rhythm in your chest quivers with expectation. I have never been inside a club before.

“What would you ladies like to drink?” asked Faheem
“Make is a cooler for me, ” answered Aneesa.

“My bro a cola for me, we need to get home some how.” said Shaheen swiftly.

“Uhm” I said while thinking to myself I have never drank alcohol before but I can’t seem like the slow one. My head and heart at war again. My head saying, taste a little it won’t hurt you. My heart screaming please girl you know better.

“I’m fine” I said to Faheem. I still have values and this isn’t how I act.

“Dammit girl, live a little, stop being the ‘dadima’ no one wants around.” said Faheem frustratingly. 

Quickly thinking of all the movies I’ve watched trying to recall a well-known drink. Thoughts of a martini, cocktail and Cooler came to mind. After a while of contemplating I finally said,

“ A bloody Marry.”
Faheem gave a quirky smile and left to get the drinks.
Shaheen came closer whispering in my ear “Have you ever kissed a boy?”

“No ,I haven’t. I will save that for marriage.” I retorted.  He just smiled in his cute way. “This is my song, come on Fati, let’s go and dance,” he swiftly said while rocking back and forth to the constant beat.

“No” I say, meaning it. I have no idea how to dance. I’ve never danced before in my life. Ok girl! I think to myself whilst trying to recall any “moves” from movies I’ve watched and before I knew it I was there, standing like a cactus doing nothing.

“Oh my, the haari poiri ( good girl) doesn’t even dance at home.” he mocked.
Who would’ve thought that Aneesa and Faheem would be so intimate? They were all over each other. I couldn’t help but sit there and feel jealous, of what she had, every girl dreams of a prince charming. Suddenly I saw Aslam walk in. Shaheen and I started to make our way back to the table where Aslam was only to find him alone. I wonder where Layha is? I thought to myself. Aslam had said, that good wives stay at home and bad girls go and party. I drank another drink. We had shots, and loads of it. Without thinking, unaware of what I was doing, I made my way to the dance floor and started dancing with Shaheen but strangely, found myself looking at Aslam.
Later, Aslam and I sat next to each other. He had ditched the girl he was with earlier, and we began dancing having a blast. He took me where no one could see us and held me. His warm embrace feeling so wrong yet exactly like home. As I looked up at him he kissed me, ”

“Farm girl lets get back before any one notices that we were gone.” he said huskily.
As I returned to the table Faheem rushed toward me saying that in order to have real fun I had to try this out.

“Ecstasy, only take half of it!” he yelled over the now blaring music. So that’s exactly what I did.

WHOA I thought to myself. Now watching the rush of the world passing by extra fast and I felt like I was invincible once again. After dancing a little more, we drank and drank , until I felt so sick that the bathroom floor at the back of the club had become my soul mate for the evening.
All I remember from that night was the feeling of death dawning upon me and as for the rest of that night is a blur. Till today I still have no idea how I made it home, up the stairs and into bed. From the hang-over feeling I experienced the next day. I was certain it must have been one wild night.

Chapter 6 -Guilt

I had no idea what was up with Layha but recently she’s been acting crazy and no one knew why? During one of those restless nights Aslam came down while I was sitting in the kitchen having a cup of tea. He looked at me and smiled and for the first time I looked at him in a whole new light. I had never ever taken notice of Aslam before. He was tall,fair with jet black hair. He exuded class in everything that he did from his words to his gestures even to the way that he looked at you. We started talking about random stuff and we got chatting in a way that felt amazing. I never knew that he was so easy to talk to. As the evening progressed I tried to imagine how life would be with a man like Aslam.  How would life be if I were Layha?

Aslam and I talked till the early hours of the morning.

“Won’t Layha mind we talking till so late and be wondering where you are?” I asked worriedly.

“Layha wont mind trust me” he said with a coy smile topped up with a wink. I had told him about the weed that Faheem had given me and he suggested that I bring it

“LIGHT IT UP” exclaimed Aslam excitedly.  The nagging voice in my head  told me to stop,  but I told myself that this would be the last time I would smoke weed. I put my lips on the joint and inhaled as I exhaled. I was infatuated with the feeling and it made me feel alive. It made me feel like this is what life should feel like. It was a whole new level.  I was convinced that this happy feeling it gave me was surreal.

Sitting next to a sparking blue pool on a cool summer night next to a handsome man this is what life is all about.

Aslam inhaled the joint and then slowly he moved towards me. He came to my lips and it felt as though he was about to kiss me. I watched it happen in slow motion and just when I parted my lips, he put his lips on mine and exhaled. The feeling, the rush, the excitement,it was on another level. As I looked into the depths of his eyes, he whispered

“Farm girl you make me feel alive. There is something about you that a man cannot forget so easily.”

I didn’t know what to make of this, I didn’t know what he meant but at that moment I didn’t even care.The brain is an odd thing really. It stops working when you need it to work the most! I went to bed way past a farm girl’s bedtime. As I lay in bed all  I could think of was his lips on mine. The feeling of his breath against my lips. Just then my phone starts beeping with a text message disturbing my fantasy.

“Farm girl thanks for tonight, you have what it takes to make me live again, baby girl you made me feel like a million bucks tonight thank you… Aslam”

Do I reply? Don’t I  reply ? That is the question?

I could feel that I was coming down from my high and instead of ecstasy I felt nothing but guilt.

Aslam was a married man how could I!  Even if I was a bit high I shouldn’t have done it , the guilt over took me. But at that moment it felt so right and he knew what he was doing .

I finally decided to reply to his text message

“ last night or should I say this morning was amazing, thank you for showing me what I am missing out on. Xoxo”

I was in a drunken daze and even though I knew that was time for fajr, It didn’t bother me, I was good until now and finally I got to feel what it’s like to be careless. I loved the feeling of letting go. I knew that what I was doing was wrong but the sooner you get over the guilt and tell yourself that it’s ok to do what you are doing the quicker you begin thinking that it is perfectly fine.

While guilt riddled me, I felt something that I did not feel before. I had an urge to smoke weed again.

I brushed the need to have a joint till it affected my moods. Aneesa came to tell me something and all I did was yell at her. How could I have such a bad craving for this when I only had it three times! This need became real. I finally gave in to my desires and gave my body what it was yearning for. Trust me this time the high did not last, the calm feeling escaped me and it did not last as long! To my surprise it wore off quicker than the last time.

Once it wore off I was back to feeling guilty about flirting with another woman’s husband! I kept telling my self that no one will get hurt if no one finds out about what was going on. This little sin drove me mad all day.

What is ironic about living a life of sin is that society glamourises it. You don’t realise that in fact you are selling your soul to the devil. The simple sin may be the one that you brag about and see as nothing may make you lose your faith.  Today I have sinned and even though I feel guilty I am fooled to think that I feel that I have finally  lived


Chapter 5 – Lies

The weekend went by really fast. I had to call my parents and tell them that we’re planning on staying a little longer as we were still on study break. My mother was actually happy.

“Ooh Fatoo, maybe, just maybe you will meet someone in Joburg!  As long as you study and read salaah then it’s okay to stay a bit longer.” said  my mum.

Salaah!  How on earth could I have done such a grave sin to forget my salaah. ! I looked at the time and rushed to read Zohar salaah before Asr salaah could set in. At least now I didn’t feel so guilty anymore. Growing up, my parents always called us for Salaah, always stressed and reminded us that we need to make time no matter how busy we were to perform salaah.

Meanwhile Aneesa had been too busy falling more and more in love with Faheem. We hardly spoke because she had the phone glued to her ears.  Layha rushed excitedly in the room,

“Faheem’s mum has called your mum to ask for your hand in marriage and if the answer is yes they want to have the engagement next weekend.”

Immediately Aneesa called her mum,

“Mummy I love him, I really love him. Faheem treats me so well, please mummy I am ready.” pleaded Aneesa.

“Let us just ask a few people and we will give them an answer soon.” answered her mum.

Like typical aapara wara mentality, a complete background check has to be done. When I say background check I don’t mean just how the boy is and so on. Trust me, if SARS ever needs anyone investigated they should call an Aunty. The mother and father background investigation is thorough! Facebook – check! Twitter – check! Money accounts – check! And if SARS finds you, how much money in the mattress to support our daughter – check! It amazes me that no one ever thought of coming up with the dial an aunty for  marriage investigation agency for the day your child wants to get married.

That evening Faheem came over for supper. Aslam was impressed by this twenty year old boy running his own business who  didn’t need good old daddy’s money. Faheem was what they call new money. Faheem apparently owned a few blocks of flats which he rented out as an income. He started off by his parents buying him an apartment near Wits while he studied. He was very kanjoos  and decided to stay with his Dadi  instead while he rented out his apartment. The rest, well that is always filled with just history. Faheem charmed everyone that night with his suave good looks and bubbly conversation.

“So tell me more about your family?” asked Layha. So the background check begins.

“Well I’m 20.  I make my own money with stuff I do here and there. My parents are originally from Lenz. My dad has a clothing store in bank city. My mother has her own Abayah range and as a full time nanima,  my sister’s kids keep her busy all the time. Layha, I’m a straight-up guy I really like Aneesa, she is sweet. She comes from a farm town so we all know she’s not spoilt if you know what I mean.” answered Faheem

“I know what you mean by spoilt, that’s why I went for Layha. We met at a family wedding, when she told me she was from a “farm town” I knew she would be my wife. You know, nobody heard of her, nobody has stories to tell about her, and honestly farm girls are taught old school. They’re told to respect the husband, allow the husband to do as he pleases. At the end of day you don’t need a smart mouth woman to ruin your fun and get all pulled up. For example, today’s girls with new school teaching, they just smell the perfume of someone else on you and bam! Your marriage is over, no trial nothing.” concurred Aslam.

Layha started laughing hysterically, ” Sure, that’s what you think. We maybe old school but we know how to make you pay for that perfume smell.”

“Faheem knows I love him and I know he loves me so I don’t have to worry about other women. Plus women today wear so much perfume just standing in line with a woman it will rub off on you without even touching her.” said Aneesa.

“Fati, you very quite tonight, don’t you have your two cents to add?” asked Faheem.

“Well, women deserve to be respected. My parents are married for 20 years. My dad comes home everyday the same time. He still calls my mummy just to talk and he always says that you may think that you’re having fun but Allah is always watching,” I replied.

“You can’t be that blind! Everyone is not perfect or happy, it just a face they show.” argued Layha.

We all just looked at her, thank goodness Faheem managed to change the subject and started talking about wedding plans.  The rest of the evening dragged on at snails pace. Before Faheem left I asked him for a few more white pills.

“Just one more, that’s all! We all just need to unwind especially with such good news” begged Aneesa.

“ok but Aneesa this is the last one for you.” reprimanded Faheem.

I was reluctant to take it but I fell in love with this sleep.  I took it and drifted into a deep slumber.

Chapter 4 – Small Steps

I went down to the kitchen where Layha was sipping  her morning coffee. Every part of the kitchen was covered in flower arrangements and ‘I’m sorry’ teddy bears. Even though she was surrounded with such beautiful flowers she sat and sipped her coffee in a daze.

“Layha, is there something wrong?” I asked.  

“You wouldn’t understand, you are not married.”she sighed.  

I could see something was drastically wrong. The ever so dolled up Layha who is always lecturing us about dressing to kill was now sitting in her pj’s having a very bad hair day. This was proof that all was not well in the fairytale castle.   Her usually immaculately made up face looked like she had been crying all night long.

Concerned I rushed to tell Aneesa  how miserable Layha was looking.

“Who cares, she has the perfect life and whatever the problem is, clearly Aslam is really sorry about it.” replied Aneesa.

Not offering Layha a shoulder to cry on would come to haunt me later.

Layha came upstairs to where we were sleeping and blonked herself on the bed.

“Aneesa, Faheem is much older than you, he is doing very well for himself driving that fancy car. His family are very well off. You really need to wake up and shake up. Your dressing needs to change. You can’t be  social diva and rich man’s daughter in law dressing like a poor ninja all the time. You need to show some skin, shorten that dress a bit” scolded Layha

“I desperately need a new wardrobe and a makeover, so Faheem can agree to have the wedding before final exams.” admitted Aneesa.

I couldn’t believe she agreed, I felt like I had no idea who my best friend was anymore. Nothing  she said anymore made any sense to me.

Faheem arrived after Maghrib.

“Well oh well, someone’s been shopping” he growled as he looked at Aneesa like a hungry wolf. Aneesa felt like a million bucks dressed in a her very very short sleeveless shimmering gold Selena Gomezish type party dress with shimmering gold laced up gladiator sandals.

“Well let’s go have some fun girls!”  he said as we drove off to Fordsburg.

“I need to make a quick stop in Newtown and drop off some cash and collect some stock.” said Faheem casually. He stopped the car in very dingy part of town. The building was old an dilapidated.

“He is taking ages, I am hungry now, how long does it take to just pick up stock and pay someone” I moaned

Almost an hour later he emerged carrying a black bag. “1 hour for that small black bag, I am really curious to know what is inside there that he left us in dark alley for so long.” I whispered as he approached the car.

“At least he is earning his own money” retorted Aneesa

Supper was great, we went to some lardy dah prawn place. My grumpiness vanished once Shaheen joined us.  He was looking as handsome as ever with those big brown adorable eyes, and perfect smile. Life was perfect! Shaheen and I spoke a lot more at supper and I could finally find my words calmly. Who would have thought that  behind all that perfection Shaheen was also a dreamer.

“Let’s do something fun tonight.” said Shaheen excitedly.  Faheem’s face lit up. No warning bells were ringing. All I could see was a chance to live a little for a change.

We went to Melrose Arch to some hyped about restaurant for coffee. Faheem came to sit next to me. He opened my hand gave me something.

“Doll, learn to live a little and stop being such a holy moly.” he said sarcastically.

  I looked at Aneesa horrified. 

“Oh Fati if yesterday you thought you were high,  this you will love Fati, this is exactly what we need to calm us before finals.” she said convincingly. 

Naively,  I slipped the little pill in my mouth and waited.  You wait for something as if it’s about to be an epic journey straight into a matrix movie type scene or something. When things started  I felt like I had no care in the world. That small high tricks you to believe you are queen of the jungle and you are ultimately drawn to the feeling of calm.   I was truly deceived at the overconfidence it made me feel that I could do anything, be anyone and I had the future in the palm of my hands.   

We stopped at Faheem’s friend’s house and he mumbled something to me but I was too high to care.  It was getting very late.  Amazingly  I demanded we go back home to Layha’s castle. At least  I still had some common sense left even in that zonked state.  I fell in the deepest sleep I had ever had as soon as  I hit the bed.  I slept till late in the morning deluded to think it was the best sleep I ever had.



Chapter 3 – Things fall apart

Sipping her morning coffee,  Layha was not looking her elegant self.

Layha was going through a whirlwind of emotions. The why and the how could not come to her mind. As she thought about what had happened last night, tears began to roll down her cheeks. Yes, she had the dream home, the fancy car and the untold riches but what happened was unexplainable. How was she to deal with this situation? How was she supposed to move forward? She felt so lonely at that point despite having a lot of friends. She especially felt lonely because her friends always thought she led a perfect life. Maybe she should just forget about it since it only happened once. Maybe she was to be blamed for what happened. Maybe she was not good enough for him. She whispered to her self “not good enough? Look at me I AM good looking, maybe he’s trying to ruin my image so that he can cure his jealousy.”

“Hello mummy it’s me Layha.” Tears gushing down as she began to sob.

“Bethi calm down and talk to me” her mother tried to console her.
“Mummy he hit me…. I don’t know what or why he came home late last night and I asked him why so late. That’s all. He went on screaming and yelling so I told him maybe if he was home more we could have children because all he does is work late, come home odd hours and sleep. Mummy he looked at me with so much hate and so much rage. He told me he took me from a middle class home to live like a queen in his house and now I have the nerve to question him about his going and coming, who the f#*k did I think I was. I told him I’m his wife and when we got married he was working in car sales and together we sacrificed life and saved so he could open up something and make his own money. That when he looked at me and slapped me saying “you want gratitude from me, you did nothing. You are no one I made this myself.” Mummy he continued to hit me as I fell to the floor he started kicking me calling me all despicable names. Mummy how could he?”

“Bethi, he provides well for you. Every function you never have to wear the same dress over. You have a cook and a maid. He has provided you so well that you don’t have to do anything except look good for him. Bethi what he did was in anger, forgive and forget and go do something nice for him to show him how much you appreciate him. Marriage is not easy but you have to remember that he is the man of the house, his coming and going should not be your issue. Don’t go opening a box that you don’t want to know what’s inside. All man have extra hobbies outside of home, only a few don’t so don’t mention the hitting again to anyone. Aslam is well known in the community and should be respected so don’t go be a spoilt brat and mention this to anyone. Remember that you caused this, you only have yourself to blame.Have I taught you nothing my child? I’ve told you a thousand times, spend his money, dress up for him and let him do as he pleases. Tomorrow if you leave where will you go to? You are so used to the lifestyle you have now that nobody will take in a spoilt brat. Tonight let the cook take the evening off, prepare something yourself for your husband and be quiet about this whole thing. In any case what does that cook know about Indian food? Maybe your husband just misses good home cooking. I’ll send you some easy recipes that even you can’t flop. Ok my child. I have to go now, daddy’s up for breakfast.”

With the phone still in her hand, Layha sat there in disbelief, shocked about what her mother had just said to her, wondering what’s wrong with her mother. That was the worse advise any mother could give a child.  She was now more confused as ever. Her world was turned upside down, about to crumble and fall apart. The question is was she about to let that happen? Was she supposed to just look pretty and bow down to this man and never know anything about his life just so that she can have her every materialistic desire?  Surrounded with so many possessions she felt as if the world was now an empty black hole. This was the start to her addiction of hell.

Chapter 2 – Hooked

I finally met the notorious Faheem, the one that Aneesa had been drooling about for ages. He has this sort of bad boy streak. Not your James Dean types,  he looked like your typical Bollywood superstar, hair combed back  and leather jacket.

Shaheen and I were then left alone. Like every girl who has a crush your brain stops working and you start babbling nonsense.

“Hey you, good to see you out of school. But I guess all good girls are house bound.” said Shaheen.

“Well umm school is very important…” I murmured.

Like I said bad case of non-functioning brain.

Shaheen went on talking about his plans after matric. He wanted to become a lawyer.  He told me how he has to get out of this small town and not end up like his elder brother in the family business. The need to make a name for himself really stood out.

“So Fatima, what do you plan on doing after matric?” he asked.

“Well (brain stops functioning yet again) umm I really haven’t given it much thought, I mean I have thought about it and the truth is I want to become a Doctor, you know how cool it is.”

Looking at me puzzled, I then realized how dumb I sounded and explained
“What I meant was, I’ve been provisionally been accepted into medical school and this is a dream come true since I really want to help people. Let’s face it, seeing what goes on in the human body is exceptionally interesting!”

After chatting for a while we exchanged numbers and parted ways. Aneesa on the other hand was no where in sight and maghrib (after sunset prayer) was fast approaching. Her cellphone was switched off but I assumed that she must be ok and walked home. I  still sent her an sms thinking she would reply once she’s home.

ME: “Salaams, can’t seem to get hold of you. I had to rush home for maghrib salaah. Are you ok or do you need me to come back. I tried calling about 9 times hope you are ok.”

Aneesa: “doll sorry was busy, yip im fine heading home as im typing this out. Call you later alligator.”

I spent the rest of the night thinking about how dreamy Shaheen is and how perfect it would be to marry him  till the point where I even picked out the names of our children. Don’t judge, we all do that at some point.

Around 10pm I get a call from Aneesa to confirm that in the morning her dad would take us to Joburg to stay at her aunt’s house. Faheem seemed so perfect and I was happy for her until she told me that he wanted her to change the way that she dresses. He called her dressing old fashion, “maybe lose the scarf as well” he added. I was so mad at her for taking it into consideration, she was no subservient being to him. She was Aneesa, the girl who fought the school so we could wear our scarf and pants with the school uniform. And now this!

Then she tells me that Faheem wants to get married to her after finals. He is  much older than her and the need to have a wife now has sunk in.

I sat there thinking OMG is she really going to give up her life this young and be a wife and all the rest. I quickly asked her what about studying. She replied saying that studying is not for women and that a woman’s job is to stay at home and raise the kids.

I honestly could not comprehend, I was just too disappointed! Is that really a woman’s job, nothing more?

“Fati, you and I have been friends since forever, you know boys of today want the perfect arm candy. Faheem’s right, I dress too old fashioned to be with him. Fati you have to be happy for me, I love him so much and he treats me well. Plus he’s coming with his parents to my house next weekend.”

I was still in shock and all I could say to her was “Fine Aneesa, as long as you are happy I am.”

I was far from happy for her. This was heading into disaster lane way too fast.

Eventually we were on our way to Joburg, the city of gold, the city of dreams.

We reached Aneesa’s aunt’s place in Sandton. The mansion was spectacular what dreams are made of.  This woman is living the fairytale life. Her social life is one to envy.  Trust me, no function is glam until  Layha and Aslam are there. They are the Jones of the Indian society and every one looks at them with envy. They recently got married, Layha who refused to be called aunty is only 30, and Aslam her charming king 39.  The wedding was one made in the movies and their love was also much to envy. Wherever they went people would stop and stare.

Layha greets us at the front door wearing an elegant green dress. Her brown eyes stood out and they were enchanting.

Rolling her eyes as soon as her dear brother left.

“Well girls, dressed like that it’s actually embarrassing. But you’re not my kids so I can only tell you that a man wants the perfect looking wife. Look at me girls, big house, nice car, dream holidays and whatever I desire. All I have to do is look good and look the other way when I’m not happy with something.” snided Layha.

Didn’t know what she meant look the other way, but that was not my issue.

As we got settled in I was waiting to talk to Aneesa about the proposal and the dressing issue, infact about everything that she spoke of.

Aneesa tells me to calm down and not  go all 911 on her. She then takes out a joint from her pocket. A freaking joint I tell you! The Nerve!

“Fati, before you jump, it’s just to have fun! Try it out and relax. Faheem said it’s worth a try and you know we always joked about trying it,” she explained.

I was very hesitant, we lit it up and began smoking in the back yard. The first few minutes the feeling was amazing then it was like a horror story, talk about mixed emotions. The sense of calmness it gave me became amazing, I fell in love with the feeling.

Aneesa and I spoke until we were called for supper. We were so hungry, we ate and ate and ate. Layha wasn’t worried about how much we ate until she remarked

“Girls, really you’re going to get fat and no one likes fat people so stop stuffing your face for the sake of your future.”

Aneesa looked at me and we both ended up giggling at her. After that the rest was pretty boring because I frankly can’t remember anymore.

That small little joint that was for fun would be the moment I would regret for the rest of my life.