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 1 – Humble beginnings

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?