One Hundred and Seventy

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀

Hope you guys are well. 🌸

Apologies for the delayed post. Been a hectic few days and that’s why I’ve decided to trash the idea of a schedule for a little while. Posts will go up whenever I can manage. There will still be weekly posts, Insha Allah, just not on a specific day. 

Much Love,

Troubled Illusioner. ❤


As narrated by Dee:

“So what you’re saying is, I must just pitch up at the restaurant where she works?” I ask Zee, a small frown on my forehead.

We’re outside, under the big tree in Zee’s backyard.

Somehow we always end up sitting here when we need to talk.

The yard is huge, and the tree is far from the house, its branches overlooking the pool, making it a quiet, peaceful spot.

We’d often climb the branches as kids – Amz, Meez, Zee and I – seek at its trunk when playing hide and seek, and eat our lunch under its shade.

It had silently watched over us as we gradually grew from kids to teenagers and soon, adults.

It knew our hushed secrets, silent tears, and inside jokes.

This tree had our backs.

Sometimes quite literally, I thought, as I looked at Zee who sat leaning against its trunk.

“Yeah,” he replies, pushing his long, messy hair away from his forehead.

“Look, right, you have the fact that you’ll look identical to your advantage. If you make your way in through the back door, no one will look at you twice. Walk up to Dayyanah, say hi and start washing the dishes alongside her,” he says, as if it’s as easy as pie.

I look at him incredulously.

“You do know it’s not going to be as easy as you make it sound, right?” I ask, rolling my eyes.

“There’s no harm in giving it a shot. Who knows, it might even be easier,” he says, shrugging.

“What if she reacts really badly and we make a big scene like last time?” I ask, standing up and stretching.

Zee winces slightly, remembering the last time we’d been at that restaurant, unknowing to the fact that Dayy worked there.

“Just the two of us and Amz will go,” he says, his eyes following me as I pace in front of him. “We’ll outline the plan properly before we leave.”

I stop, looking out at the sparkling blue pool, my back to Zee.

“What do you say?” he asks after a long moment of me being silent.

“I… I don’t know, Zee,” I say, turning around to face him. “What if it all goes wrong?”

“You stress too much,” he says, shaking his head.

I sigh, sitting back down on the grass.

“Isn’t there any other way?” I ask, frustration creeping in.

Zee’s phone rings then, stopping him from saying what he was about to.

“Mr Varachia,” he answers. “How you doing, bro?”

…..

“Naah, Dee’s around. Come over.”

…..

“What time?”

…..

“Yeah, okay, you can pick me up.”

…..

“Alright, check you later. Salaams.”

Disconnecting the call, Zee opens his WhatsApp.

“Amz is checking up on you,” he says with a grin, glancing up at me before typing.

“What she says?” I ask, pulling out my own phone from my pocket.

“Dee’s by you?” he reads her message aloud.

“She never messaged me,” I say, rolling my eyes. “She’s got that stupid mysterious aura again. Going out for “work” and refusing to tell me what’s up. If she has a damn boyfriend, she just has to tell me.”

Zee is watching me with a grin.

“It’s not funny!” I huff, realizing.

“You already sound jealous and you don’t even know if it’s a boyfriend yet,” he says with a laugh.

“I’m not jealous! It’s just irritating!” I say, rolling my eyes.

“Maybe she’s organizing another adoption plan.”

I freeze, my irritation dropping and immediately being replaced by shock.

Then Zee’s laugh cuts through my panic, shattering it as I realize that he’s just messing with me.

“Damn you, Zee! It’s not funny!” I say, shoving him in the chest before getting up.

He grabs my wrist, preventing me from walking away.

“You’re hilarious, oh my god,” he says with a grin, shaking his head.

I turn my back to him, trying to yank my hand out of his hold.

“You need to relax, Dee,” he says, tightening his grip on my wrist, making it impossible for me to get away.

“You know she scratched that idea and tossed it in the rubbish dump,” he says, and I can still hear a hint of amusement in his voice.

“You’re an idiot,” I say, still not looking at him.

He laughs.

“Come here,” he says, tugging at my hand. “Stop being grumpy.”

“No,” I say. “Let me go.”

To my surprise he does.

“Just remembered,” he says, walking past me. “I have just the right thing to take away your moodiness.”

He disappears into the house, and I lay down on the grass.

Trying to rid my mind of what Amz might be planning, I wonder what Zee’s up to.

He appears a moment later, a bowl in one hand, two spoons in the other.

“Chocolate mousse!” he says with a grin, handing it to me with a spoon.

“Oh my god!” I gasp, reaching for the bowl, all irritation gone.

Digging in immediately, I moan.

“This is amazing, oh my god. I love you,” I say, the velvety, chocolate infused mousse making my taste buds go wild with happiness.

“You’re welcome. I love you too,” Zee says with a laugh.

Having momentarily forgotten about him, I look up.

“I was talking to the chocolate mousse, not you,” I say, deadpanned.

Then I see his spoon heading for the bowl.

“No!” I exclaim, holding my hand high up. “Don’t. you. dare!”

“Excuse me!” he says, looking at me in amusement.

“That’s my dessert which I am sharing with you,” he says, reaching for the bowl again.

“No, no, no!” I say, getting to my feet hurriedly. “It’s mine. And I don’t share chocolate mousse.”

A grin on his face, he watches me eat my way through the whole bowl of chocolate mousse.

“I put two servings in there,” he says. “You’ll get fat if you eat all yourself.”

I consider him for a moment before going back to my dessert.

He laughs.

“Do you not care?!”

“Does it look like I care?” I reply, rolling my eyes, as I savour the last few bites.

He laughs again, and all moodiness from earlier forgotten, I grin.

“Only because I’m such a lovely considerate person,” I say, passing him the bowl. “You can have the last bite.”

“No, it’s alright, you have it. I don’t really want,” he says, rejecting the bowl.

I give him a moment to change his mind, but when he doesn’t, I shrug, withdrawing my hand.

“Your loss,” I say, spooning the last bite into my mouth and closing my eyes in satisfaction.

“What’d Meez say?” I ask, after a moment of silence.

“Stop making nazr on my dessert,” I add a moment later, noticing Zee’s gaze fixated on me. “I offered you.”

He smirks before answering my question.

“There’s some program he’s going for. So he asked if I want to join.”

“Oh. What program?” I ask, placing the bowl on the grass beside me.

Zee shrugs.

“He didn’t say.”

I nod.

“How’s he doing? I haven’t seen him out of school in a while, and we’re always busy in school.”

“Surprisingly good,” replies Zee, placing his hands on the grass behind him and leaning on them. “Something’s changed in him since everything happened but it’s a good change.”

“Yeah?” I say. “That’s good.”

“Let’s hope it sticks. You know Meez and his relationship with change lasts as long as my sour gums do.”

I smile a small smile at the comparison, thinking about Meez.

“I can’t imagine how he’s made it this far in one piece to be honest,” I say, deep in thought. “He’s so strong.”

“So are you,” Zee says quietly, his tone serious. “I can’t imagine how you’ve made it this far in one piece, as well.”

I’m silent, not saying anything.

Sometimes I wonder too, how it’s possible to be fed to the lions and still come out alive.

Thing is, while you may come out alive, you don’t come out unscathed.

You come out bruised and battered, and the scars remain.

And for the rare, lucky person, the wounds may heal, the scars may even fade, but the memories don’t.

They live on inside you, feeding at your happiness, your hopes, your dreams and ambitions.

The memories, they don’t ever fade.

*****

Hearing a key turn in the lock, I drain my mug of coffee and pocket my phone.

I place my mug in the sink before making my way to the front to meet Amz.

“Assalaamu Alaykum,” she greets, smiling tiredly.

“Wa Alaykum Salaam,” I reply, smiling back. “How was your day.”

“Not too great,” she replies with a sigh.

I follow her into the dining room where she places her bag on the table.

I eye it, trying to be discreet.

But Amz notices.

“I’m not even going to hide it this time,” she says.

My heart drops to my toes.

“What do you mean?” I ask, trying to act nonchalant.

“I’m working on an adoption plan again…”

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One Hundred and Sixty Nine

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀

So I’m pretty familiar with that “Back to School” feeling. The one of excitement coupled with dread and annoyance, and of course resolutions (that we all know hardly ever last till the end of the year – it’s alright, you can admit it, we’re all in the same boat here! 😝😂). 

Well here’s a nice long post, in case the negative vibes overpowered the positive ones on your first day back. (The writing style is a little different – let me know what you think.)

May Allah grant all of us a successful year, in whatever field of knowledge we may be studying. Before we know it the year will be over again, so let’s make the most of it, IA! 😀🎉 

Much Love, 

Troubled Illusioner. ❤


It was the last weekend of the holidays.

Sumayya, knowing well how hectic the matric year ahead of them would be – after seeing Hamza drag himself through it – puts a message on the group.

WhatsApp Group Chat:

Sumayya: Anyone got plans this weekend? Let’s meet up??

The conversation only starts rolling a couple of hours later..

Amz: Good idea

Amz: Dee and I are available on Sunday

Amz:  Saturdays Dee spends at her Uncle’s

Zee: I’m in

Zee: What’s the plan?

Meez: Where to?

Sumayya: Idk

Sumayya: Suggestions?

Amz: Gold Reef?

Dee: No

Meez: Also not up for Gold Reef

Zee: Melrose?

Zee: Maybe lunch and bowling?

Meez: You can’t take S to a mall and expect her not to shop 😂

Sumayya: You’re learning, Meez 👏👏

Amz: 😂

Zee: 😂 So then?

Zee: Hartbeespoort?

Sumayya: Acrobranch?

Amz: Yeah that’s an option

Amz: We didn’t end up going last time

Meez: What? Acro?

Amz: Yeah

Amz: What you’ll say?

Zee: I’m in

Sumayya: Sounds like a plan

Sumayya: Hamza will chauffeur

Meez: Good with me

Dee: 👍🏻

*****

“Hamza!” calls Sumayya.

He sticks his head through her door.

“Yes Ma’am?” he says with a smirk.

“Do you know how much I love you?” asks Sumayya, giving him her best smile.

“Oh no need to butter me up. Cut to the chase, what do you want?” replies Hamza, walking into her room and collapsing on the bed.

Tybalt opens his eyes, glares at Hamza, then goes back to sleep.

“That’s for disturbing his sleep,” says Sumayya, shooting him a glare too.

“All I did was sit on the bed!” exclaims Hamza, laughing.

“You jumped onto the bed,” corrects Sumayya, rolling her eyes.

“Alright, alright. My apologies, your highness,” says Hamza, stroking Ty’s back gently.

“Now what did you want?” he asks a moment later, looking back at Sumayya.

“Would you like to come with us to Acrobranch on Sunday?” asks Sumayya.

Us would be? The frustrating five?” smirks Hamza, still stroking Ty.

“No, the fantabulous five!” replies Sumayya.

“That’s not even a word,” laughs Hamza. “And rephrase your question.”

“What do you mean?” Sumayya asks, feigning ignorance.

But she can’t hide her sheepish grin.

“Okay, okay. Will you take us to Acrobranch on Sunday? Please,” she asks sweetly.

“Hmmm… I’ll have to think about it,” stalls Hamza, hiding his grin.

“Oh come on. Pleeeaaase!” begs Sumayya.

“I’ll have to think about it,” repeats Hamza, standing up to leave.

“Why do you always make me ask so many times?! I know you’re going to say yes eventually!” exclaims Sumayya, standing up too.

She follows him out of her room to his.

“Maybe this time I won’t, who knows?” says Hamza, raising his eyebrows.

“Hamzaaaa!”

“Yeah, yeah, alright,” he grins. “I’ll take you’ll.”

“You’re the best!” says Sumayya, hugging him.

“I know,” he replies with a smirk, hugging her back.

*****

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“Wow, it’s pretty high up,” Dee nervously admits as she climbs the last rung of the first ladder.

“It’s a good thing none of us are scared of heights,” says Sumayya.

Once they’re all assembled on the first platform, they take a look around.

It’s an awesome place, no doubt.

“Who’s going first?” asks Zee.

“Well I’m at the forefront, so I will,” says Meez.

“I’ll go next,” says Sumayya.

Hamza follows, then Amz, then Dee, and finally Zee at the rear.

Meez carefully makes his way onto the first obstacle, Sumayya following shortly after.

“Whoa, it’s pretty shaky!” exclaims Amz, as she carefully makes her way across the swaying logs.

Not much conversation flows in the beginning as they concentrate on conquering each obstacle.

Reminding each other to make sure they’re constantly hooked on to the safety measures, they move from tree to tree.

Meez stops at what marks the end of the first part of the course.

It’s a zip-line.

A long zip-line that starts high up but ends at the ground.

“Oh my feathers!! I don’t think I’d be able to jump off the platform,” says Sumayya, glancing down.

“See you on the other end,” grins Meez, lifting his feet and zipping away.

She waits for Meez to unhook himself and step away.

“Come on!” he yells from the bottom. “It’s awesome!”

“Move along,” says Hamza, from behind her.

“Here we go,” she mumbles, placing her braking glove firmly on the zip-line.

Hamza goes, then Amz.

Like Meez and Sumayya, they both hesitate for a moment before the thrill overpowers the fear.

“Oh. my. god!” gasps Dee, when it’s her turn. “No way! I can’t do this!”

“Come on, Dee!” Amz calls to her from below.

“Are you mad?!” she calls back. “I can’t!”

“Yes you can. Go on,” says Zee, who’s behind her.

“It’s too high up,” says Dee, looking at him.

She shakes her head as the others encourage her from the ground.

“Must I give you a push?” asks Zee, placing his hand on her back.

“NO!” she gasps immediately, spinning around and almost losing her balance.

“Careful!” exclaims Zee, grabbing her shoulder.

“Can’t we go together?” asks Dee, eyeing the zip-line wearily.

She was afraid.

He could see it in her eyes.

“They said only one person at a time on the zip-lines,” Zee reminds her. “Do you want me to go first? Then I’ll tell you if you’ll manage.”

“Yeah, maybe you should,” says Dee, unhooking her harness from the zip-line and attaching it to the safety rope around the tree.

They switch places, and he has to admit – it is pretty high up.

“Promise you’ll come after me?” he says, looking at her. “If I do it, you have to.”

“It’s so high!” she says again.

The others are watching from below, waiting for the two of them.

“It just looks scary!” Sumayya is saying. “You can do it, Dee!”

She looks down at Sumayya, then at Zee.

“Promise,” she says. “But if I fall you’ll have to catch me.”

Zee laughs.

“You can’t fall, Dee, trust me! But I’ll catch you, don’t worry.”

Then, he steps off the platform.

Dee watches him go.

He turns and waves.

“It’s a piece of cake!” he yells with a grin.

Re-hooking herself onto the zip-line, she waits for Zee to reach the end and move away.

“You’ve got this, come on!” he says, cupping his hands around his mouth.

Taking a deep breath, Dee closes her eyes and lifts her legs.

With a scream, she’s off!

She’s at the bottom before she knows it.

“See, I told you it would be fine!”

She opens her eyes, looks at Zee and grins.

Adrenalin coursing through her body, she unhooks herself and holds her harness.

“You alright?” asks Zee, side hugging her.

“Yeah,” she replies, leaning into him as he squeezes her shoulder. “It looked much worse from the top.”

“I told you so!” says Sumayya, as they join the rest of them.

“Yaaasss, Dee!” exclaims Meez, holding up his hand for a high five.

Grinning, she hits his hand.

“You okay?” asks Amz, pulling her into a hug. “You looked terrified!”

“Yeah, it’s so high at the top,” replies Dee. “But it’s fine once you’re off the platform if you don’t look down.”

Together they make their way to the next part of the course.

Having got the idea of it by now, banter flows back and forth as they move through each obstacle, encouraging each other along whenever trepidation creeps in.

Constantly reminding each other to make sure they’re hooked on, they make their way across cargo nets, zip lines, barrels, rope bridges, balancing beams, and swaying tires.

Approximately an hour later, they climb off the last platform via the wooden ladder and exchange high fives, grinning.

After removing their harnesses and thanking the staff, they take a seat on the benches to down some water and energy bars before making their way back to the car.

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“Where to?” Hamza asks Sumayya.

“Let’s just go for lunch to Melrose. It’s not too far from here and never mind Sumayya, I need to shop too!” says Zee.

Hamza waits for affirmation from them all before starting the car and driving off.

In a couple of months, they wouldn’t need to be driven.

If they passed the test, they’d all have their learners.

The boys were already driving short distances, though the girls hadn’t found the courage to yet.

As for Dee, she had made it clear the first time the topic was brought up already, that she had no interest in learning to drive. It was too nerve-wrecking”, she’d said.

After lunch and some shopping they headed home.

Seeing each other off happily, knowing they’d meet tomorrow in school, they parted ways.

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The holidays were over.

Tomorrow was back to the grind.

And a grind it would be, for it was their last year of school – Matric.

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Oh how fast the time had flown by.

It felt like just days ago when they’d first met in Grade R, with Dayyanah in place of Sumayya.

Now young adults, aged 17 and 18, they were almost at the end.

It was the final task, the last leg of the 12 year long journey.

Joined with Sumayya too now, they’d make it through.

Together they’d made it through the easy years and together they’d made it through the difficult ones.

Much had changed along the way and surely much would continue changing, but they’d continue making it through the years to come, together.

Nothing could come in their way, because true friendship can overcome all hardships.

That’s what they thought, what they strongly believed.

But life has a funny way of showing us who’s the boss, doesn’t it??

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One Hundred and Sixty Eight

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀

Hope you guys are well!

Our dearest author of No Way Out/Finding My Way said to tell you’ll that the blog has officially ended and there won’t be anymore posts going up on the site. The blog has been made private – meaning it is no longer available for public viewing – due to personal reasons, and no requests will be accepted. If she does decide to write again, it will be on a different site, and you’ll will be notified, IA. Remember her in your duaas (and me too!).

Much Love,

Troubled Illusioner. ❤


As narrated by Dee:

Zee.

Groaning inwardly, I debate whether or not I should just ignore it.

I end up simply staring at the screen for so long, that Zee hangs up.

But a couple seconds later, my phone is ringing in my hand again.

Sighing, I slide my finger across the screen.

“Assalaamu Alaykum,” I greet, trying not to sound disappointed.

But he knows. Zee always knows.

“Wa’alaykum Salaam,” he replies. “Why do you sound like you were expecting a call from your dishy boyfriend and now you’re just irritated that it’s me?”

“Please. I don’t have a boyfriend. Forget a dishy one.”

“Whaaat?! A beautiful girl like you? Naaah, you’re pulling my leg!” says Zee, his voice humourous.

Rolling my eyes, I make my way back downstairs.

“How was the wedding?” I ask, ignoring his statement.

“Eyh, tiring!” replies Zee. “But so good, shukr.”

He then proceeds to giving me the full rundown.

“Aunty Faiza asked about you,” he says somewhere along the line.

“Oooh, I hope you told her I’m married to a “white white” haaroo poiro and pregnant with my fourth child,” I say, laughing.

Amz gasps and Zee cracks up.

“Aunty Faiza,” I mouth to her.

She grins, nodding.

“No I didn’t,” he says eventually through his laughter. “Apparently she thinks I’m the white white haaroo poiro for you. She told me to woo you with shoes. Louboutins, which she calls Loutibuns!”

“Well yeah I sure as hell would have fell at your feet if you bought me those.. but only because I’d never be able to walk in them!” I say.

We laugh and talk about the wedding for a little while longer before Amz motions to me that supper is ready.

“I’ll call you later,” I say to Zee.

“What’s for supper?” he asks.

“Stuffed squash,” I reply.

“Enjoy!” he says.

Smiling, I end the call.

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On Friday morning, Dayyanah woke up in a good mood.

Rightfully so – today was payday.

And then a week of holiday, which she currently had no idea how she was going to spend. In fact, she’d even considered asking her boss whether she could just work – no pay. But eventually she ditched the idea, wanting a break from scrubbing greasy pans and endlessly loading dishwashers, which she was now a pro at. She could fill a dishwasher better than a criminal could fill his pockets.

Grabbing her cap from the corner of her free-standing mirror, Dayyanah slips her phone into her pocket and exits her room.

A quick glass of milo later, she’s on her way.

The restaurant is a good 15 minute walk away but to her it no longer felt so.

Loading her work playlist, she enters from the back door.

The heat of the kitchen hits her immediately.

Nodding in way of greeting at a couple of staff who catch her eye, she makes her way to the washing area quickly, then stops short.

She frowns.

There’s already someone at her place, doing her job.

A boy.

Highly unsure, Dayyanah watches him for a long moment.

Then, she closes the distance between them, and taps his shoulder.

“Excuse me,” she says.

He turns around and a moment later, grins.

The first thing she realizes is that they’re the same height; she doesn’t have to move her eyes, they’re already looking right at his face.

“Dayyanah!” he says, wiping his wet hands on his apron before offering her one.

Instantly she panics.

He knows my name. How does he know my name?!

“Who the hell are you?” she asks, ignoring his hand and returning his warm smile with a frown.

“Your boss’ son,” he says, his grin widening. “But you can call me Rayyaan.”

Promptly, Dayyanah hears her boss yell for him.

“Rayyaan!”

“I’m coming!” the kid yells back.

“I’ll be right back,” he says, waving slightly as he hurries off.

Still a bit confused, Dayyanah stands right where she is.

She didn’t know her boss had such a young son – she guessed him to be around 14 years of age. But then again, she didn’t need to know either.

She wondered why she hadn’t seen him before considering the fact that she had been been working here for almost half a year.

Lifting her cap, she runs a hand through her hair before putting it back atop her head.

Well, let’s get back to work then, shall we?

She’s just slipped on her gloves, and is about to put her hands into the water, when her phone rings.

She groans internally.

If it’s Deeyanah again, I’m gonna give her a piece of my mind, damn her!! Why won’t she just stop calling?!

It’s Nuwaylah.

Phoning to tell her that she’d put the milo in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard.

A small grin on her face, she apologizes before hanging up.

Like Nuwaylah had said, No biggie. She’d done worse than that before. 

*****

“Take out a third for charity, spend a third, and save a third,” says Uncle Shuaib, handing me an envelope which contained my pay.

All the other staff were paid electronically, except for me. I didn’t have a bank account and when Uncle Shuaib had offered to open one for me, I’d declined.

I nod, saying a word of thanks.

He tells me that every single time.

Take out a third for charity, spend a third, and save a third.

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Usually I end up spending half, and saving half.

It wasn’t much, anyway. But it was enough.

When you living without parental support, even a little is enough.

Greeting my boss and the staff I pass, I make my way out.

Checking my pockets, to make sure I have everything, I adjust my cap so that it covers a little more of my face before closing the door behind me.

Just as I turn around, I bump smack into somebody.

“Whoops!”

“Oh, hey, sorry,” I say, finding myself face to face with Rayyaan.

“That’s alright,” he says. “You’re going?”

“Yeah,” I reply.

“Well I guess my shift starts then,” he says with a laugh.

Still puzzled at his sudden appearance I merely shrug.

“Dad said I’ve got to start working here during the holidays,” explains Rayyaan.

“You’re in school?” I ask, readjusting my cap so that it’s no longer so low.

“I was till grade 6. Then I left to do full time hifz at the Darul Uloom (Islaamic institution of learning) in Durban. I’ll start grade 7 this year,” replies Rayyaan.

I nod, still a little confused. What on Earth is a Darul Uloom?

“What about you?” he asks. “How come you’re not at school?”

My guard doesn’t need to go up at the change of focus, now on me. It’s always up.

“Too cool for that,” I answer after a moment, smiling a half smile.

He laughs.

“Wow, you have awesome parents! I hate school but I have no say in the matter!” he complains.

“Aren’t you gonna take over the restaurant though?” I ask, ignoring his statement.

“That’s exactly my argument!” exclaims Rayyaan. “But they’re having none of it!”

“Never mind, you still have a couple of years to try to convince them,” I reassure him. “How old are you? 14?”

“13,” he says. “I’ll be 14 at the end of this year.”

“What about you?” he adds a moment later.

“How old do I look?” I ask.

“Well…” he says, sizing me up. “You look around 15 but I have a feeling you’re older, with your dyed hair and piercings and all that.”

I grin, unable to not.

“Am I right?” he asks, grinning too.

“Yeah,” I admit, shaking my head slightly as he fist pumps the air. “Though I did have my dyed hair and piercings at 15 already.”

At that moment, we hear Uncle Shuaib yelling for Rayyaan.

“Oh well, seems like I’ve got to go,” he says, moving away from where he had been leaning against the wall.

“I’ll see you around,” he says, though it sounds more like a question.

Probably not.

“Enjoy having red hands for the rest of the week,” I tease. “Bye, kid.”

“Urgh, whatever!” he grumbles. “Enjoy your break.”

“And I’m not a kid!” he yells after me.

I glance over my shoulder and smile.

Giving him a final wave, I walk off.

*****

Dayyanah treated herself to a Caffe Latè and a chocolate croissant later that day.

As she sat and ate, she realized that her mood wasn’t as great as it had been that morning.

There was only one reason why.

That kid – Rayyaan – had reminded her of Danyaal.

She sat wondering about him for a long time. About him. About Deeyanah. About Maama. Even about Paapa.

Then, she downed the last bit of her coffee, which had gone cold, and left.

Maybe she should just answer her phone the next time Deeyanah called.

But Deeyanah didn’t call again.

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One Hundred and Sixty Seven

*Co-written with one of the strongest, most amazing persons I know. Shukran so much for taking the courageous step and the time to write with me. Stay slaying, sis. ❤ 


“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”  ~Rumi

Losing someone changes you.

It breaks you and then fixes you – putting your pieces back together differently.

Showers only end when the steam is suffocating you and sleep only advances when your pillow is wet and your head is pounding.

You’re suddenly losing every person you love in nightmares that entrap you so vividly, you’re left unsure which is reality and which is just a dream.

Losing someone pushes you down to rock bottom, to the bed of the ocean.

It’s dark and cold, your oxygen is finished and your lungs are screaming.

The circling sharks are inching closer; shadows, fleeting shapes in the vast water.

And suddenly you’re praying.

You’re praying harder than ever, begging, pleading – for help, for ease, for relief – because your heart physically aches and you can’t breathe and you’re terrified all at once.

And then just when you give up, when you hand yourself over to the sharks and surrender to the icy cold water, there’s a rope.

There’s a rope. Dangling. Right in front of your nose.

With newfound strength you grab at it desperately.

And the journey upward begins.

But your lungs are not yet relieved, and the cold still bites and the sharks still inch closer.

But now there’s hope.

You keep holding on, keep telling yourself that you’re almost there.

You keep praying that you make it, your heart beating with gratefulness.

And then the greatest thing happens – you reach the surface.

The light is too bright and the wind is too strong and you’re coughing and gasping for air and crying and laughing all at once, but your heart has never uttered such sincere thanks.

You look at your rescuer and he asks, “Why didn’t you grab the rope sooner?”

And you reply, “I didn’t see it. I didn’t think I needed it.”

Such is the effect of death – on the closing of someone else’s eyes, yours open.

Such is the nature of humans. We have to hit rock bottom, we have to be dying – sometimes quite literally – we have to be at our lowest, to remember the one who is Most High.

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*****

Rameez’s friendship with Faizal had been like stealing a rose from a vase.

It was wrong.

Yet, he held onto it, too mesmerized by the redness of the fully-bloomed rose, too intoxicated by its unmatched fragrance.

And without realizing, Meez’s grip on the rose of forbidden friendship tightened.

The thorns often pricked at his skin – reminding him of his error, warning him to leave the rose – slowly burying themselves deeper and deeper into his skin.

But the elegant beauty of the rose and its brain-clouding aroma would often distract him, taking his mind off the pain.

Some days, Meez would remember that it wasn’t okay for him to have this rose in his grasp, and he’d try to do the right thing and let it go, but it was of no use.

The task was too painful. He couldn’t do without it.

And so the days passed, the thorns embedding themselves deep within the flesh of his hands as he continued his hold on the prohibited rose of dangerous friendship.

Then, suddenly, it was snatched out of his grasp – just like that – tearing not only his skin, but his heart and soul too.

He had held on for far too long, allowing the thorns to go far too deep, and now there was blood; trickling down his arms, slipping out of his heart, staining his soul.

Perhaps this was his punishment, for following a forbidden friendship.

So he let the blood flow, guilt-stricken, grief-stricken.

Oh but how could he be blamed? For the rose was so alluring, so tempting. Its full flower hid its thorns below and its scent clouded his common sense.

If only he had known, perhaps he would have simply admired it from afar.

But what was done, was done.

It was time to learn from past mistakes.

Take lesson, and then put it behind him.

Because the focus had to be on the present and the future, not the past.

It had to be on that subtle shift he’d felt in the hospital.

The focus now had to be on change.

Change for the better.

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*****

The hardest part of losing someone isn’t saying goodbye; rather it is learning to live without them, filling the void that they once occupied.

And while you may feel as if your whole world has come to a standstill, time proves that the world stops for no one. People continue living, laughing, and losing, and you or the person lost just become another number, part of another statistic.

The wound may heal but the scars never fade away. Losing a person is not something you get over, you just learn to deal with it, to cope – you’re forced to.

Each dawn is the beginning of a new day and each dusk is proof that you’ve made made it through another day.

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As narrated by Dee:

You shouldn’t do this. 

It will only hurt more. 

Meez told you to stay away from her. 

Don’t, don’t, don’t.

I tap the call button.

And just like the last time, it rings endlessly.

God, why won’t she just pick up?!

Frustrated and angry when Dayyanah still hasn’t answered her phone 7 tries later, I drop my phone on my pedestal and head downstairs where I find Amz at the stove, reheating supper.

Taking out two plates, glasses, and placemats, I lay them out on the kitchen table.

Wincing as I mistakenly bang a plate too hard, I mumble a “sorry” at Amz.

She raises her eyebrows questioningly.

Too frustrated to keep it in, I vent.

“Dayyanah won’t answer her damn phone!!” I say.

“Wasn’t that the wrong number?” asks Amz.

“No!” I reply. “I checked with Meez. I don’t know or care who that Nuwaylah chic is, but that’s Dayy’s number!”

“Well, Meez did say that… you know,” she says gently.

Just as I’m about to reply, my phone rings upstairs.

I freeze, stunned.

Then, a surge of hope rushing through me, I dash to my room, taking the stairs three at a time.

Oh my god, please let it be her.

Please let it be Dayyanah.

One Hundred and Sixty Six

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀

Hope you guys are all well. 

Apologies for the long wait. This will be the last post of 2017 as I will be on holiday and unable to post. Insha Allah will be back around mid-Jan. Until then, take care and have an awesome holiday! Stay safe, stay cool! 

Much Love, 

Troubled Illusioner. ❤


*1 week later

As narrated by Zee:

“ZEEEYYOOO, GET UUUUUP!!”

I groan, covering my face with the duvet.

“5 minutes, pleeeaaase!” I grumble.

Much to my surprise, Muaaz exits the room, closing the door behind him.

Sighing contentedly, I bury my face deep into my pillow and doze off again.

But not for long.

“Ziyaad, come, you need to get up,” says Mummy, coming into the room and lifting the blinds.

“Ziyaad,” Mummy says again, when I don’t respond.

“What’s the time?” I ask, sleepily.

“It’s already 7:30, come on!” replies Mummy.

“7:30?!” I cry out. “It’s so early!”

And then I hear Muaaz’s voice from somewhere in the house.

“HUMAIRAH AND HANZALAH SITTING ON A TREE…. K-I-S-S-I-N-G….”

“Oh my gosh!” I gasp as realization dawns.

“IT’S HUMI’S WEDDING DAY,” I yell, flinging back my duvet (and my sleepiness!).

Mummy shoots me a bemused look, shaking her head.

“Yes it is,” she says. “And there’s things to do, so hurry up and get done!”

“Jee Mummy,” I say, saluting, not bothering to hide my grin.

Shaking her head, Mummy walks out and I head to the bathroom to wash and brush.

Couple minutes later, I dry my hands and face before making my way to the kitchen.

“You have to eat something, Humairah!” I hear mummy say as I walk in.

“I can’t, mummy!” replies Humairah, her head in her hands.

“Uh oh, is the bride getting cold feet?” I ask, walking up behind Humairah and pressing her shoulders.

“We can just call Hanzalah to feed you,” says Muaaz, smirking.

Humairah shoots him daggers, turning a deep shade of red.

Cackling, he scurries out of the kitchen.

“What’s up?” I ask Humairah once he’s gone.

“I can’t do this!” she says, shaking her head, her eyes wide.

“Why not?” I ask, sitting down next to her.

“What if they don’t like me? What if I burn the food? Or my baking flops? What if I do something stupid? And what if they have issues and dark pasts? Oh god,” she gasps in horror, tears welling up in her eyes.

“Hey, hey, listen to me,” I say. “Calm down. Take a deep breath.”

“The only reason it’s your wedding day today is because they must have seen something good in you. If they didn’t like you, would it make sense for them to take things this far? No, it wouldn’t! Obviously they like you, and if they don’t, they will grow to because you are amazing and sincere and very much likeable! About the food, you probably will end up burning the food some days and your baking will flop, but that’s not a problem because it’s normal. It happens to everyone! Your mother-in-law’s food will probably burn sometimes too, trust me! And everyone has issues, you just have to accept them with theirs how they’re accepting you with yours,” I say comfortingly.

“Oh gosh, I needed to hear that,” she sighs. “I’m just so worried, urgh!”

“Ziyaad, did you get married and not invite me?” comes Mummy’s voice from behind us.

We spin around, surprised.

“Huh?” I say in confusion.

“That was very good advice there,” explains mummy.

“Ohhh,” I grin.

“Learnt from my mother, what can I say?” I add a second later.

“Charmer! You just do it for nice food!” mutters Humairah, rolling her eyes.

“Don’t get jealous!” I say, smirking at her.

“Pfft, please! Mummy is serving me a 7 course breakfast here!” she huffs, indicating to the bowl of cereal, mug of tea, and toast and cake on a plate in front of her.

“Well you’re getting married in…” I glance at my watch. “…about 5 hours, so you better eat up!”

“Zeeee!” she groans. “Stop reminding me!”

“Whyyy?? Aren’t you suppose to be all happy and giddy and love struck?” I question, trying to hide my grin.

Humairah flushes furiously and mummy laughs.

“Oooh, seems like you are love struck!” I tease, scooting away from her hand that flies out to hit my leg.

“Now eat your breakfast! You’re gonna need the energy,” I add, winking at her mischievously.

She looks at me incredulously, turning bright red again.

Laughing, I exit the kitchen in search of dad to get my Wedding Day To-Do List..

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*****

Nikkahtuha waqabiltuha…

My cheeks ache from grinning, and a warm feeling of happiness spreads from my heart.

Humairah is married!

After greeting lots of people and trying to smile less, so that my cheeks would stop aching, I jump into the passenger seat of dad’s car.

Wanting to keep things as simple as possible, Humairah had requested to have an at home wedding – men in the garden, ladies in the house.

Only immediate family were invited for the 2 course meal, followed by tea and a variety of baking.

The day passed by in a beautiful blur and by the end of it, I was exhausted.

“About time you left, so I can go to sleep!” I say to Humairah when it’s time for her to leave.

She sticks out her tongue and I gasp.

“You’re a married woman!” I hiss. “Behave like one!”

I pull her into a hug, the bead work on her dress forcing me to let go after a couple of seconds.

“Mabrook again,” I say, smiling at her happily. “May Allah bless your marriage and keep you and Hanzalah happy together forever.”

“Aameen,” she says, her eyes shining with tears. “I’ll miss you, idiot.”

“You’re going to stay in Joburg! What do you mean you’ll miss him? You’ll see him the most!” grumbles Muaaz, joining us.

Humairah pulls him into a tight hug.

“I’ll miss you more,” she whispers to him, the tears finally escaping her eyes.

After she greets everyone, we walk her and Hanzalah to their car.

“I still can’t believe you’re married,” I muse out aloud, for the umpteenth time that day.

“Oh don’t worry, soon I’ll be saying the same to you,” she replies, wiping her tears.

I gasp, my eyes widening.

“Oh my gosh, you’ll should have seen the way Aunty Faiza was going on with him -” starts Muaaz, a grin spreading on his face.

Aunty Faiza was the neighbour from down the road – the one who even if you don’t invite, will still pitch up on your wedding day.

In her late fifties, she was that aunty – the one you try to avoid at all costs.

The one I, somehow, unfortunately, seemed to never be able to avoid.

“Don’t you dare!” I warn, glaring at Muaaz.

“Ziyaad?! Is that you, ma?” gasps Muaaz, imitating Aunty Faiza’s reaction when she spotted me.

Hanzalah grins.

Oh well, let’s give him a feel of what a whacked family he’s gotten married into.

“Jee,” I say meekly, as I had done on failing to escape Aunty Faiza. “Assalaamualaikum, Aunty Faiza.”

“Allaaah Paaak!” gasps Muaaz. “Every time I see you, you just looking more and more Masha Allah!”

As Muaaz imitates Aunty Faiza’s words, I once again wonder which “Masha Allah” she had meant!

I make a weird expression, as Muaaz pulls me into a tight hug and smacks a sloppy kiss on my cheek.

Every one is laughing by now, and I struggle to keep up my act without grinning too.

“Jee Aunty Faiza, you know, there’s lot Masha Allah girls back in Joburg – have to maintain my image,” I say.

“What you mean lot girls, tsk tsk?!” Muaaz looks at me with wide eyes. “What happen to that white white one?”

I frown.

“Such lovely eyes she had. Shame, but she was too short for you, huh?” asks Muaaz, looking at me sadly.

That’s when it had clicked.

“Ohhh, Deeyanah?” I say, a small smile once again making its way on my face, thinking of her. “We’re just friends.”

“Just friends?!”” Muaaz scoffs, just as Aunty Faiza had. “You carry on saying “just friends”, one nother lucky boy will take her away. You better pull some moves quick quick, you hear?”

“You need any help, you just call me,” adds Muaaz, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Jee, JazakAllah, but my pickup lines are very good, Aunty Faiza,” I say, smiling politely.

“Pickup lines?! Now you’ll need lines to pick up girls, huh?” asks Muaaz, frowning. “Just buy her shoes, I’m telling you. Loutibuns for this one, because she short.”

“Loutibuns? Do you mean Louboutins, Aunty Faiza?” I ask, struggling to hide my grin.

Humairah is cry-laughing by now.

“Ya, ya, that ones,” she had said dismissively. “Don’t worry about lines and all. Lines is where she must hang your washing, ma.”

“Jee, Aunty Faiza,” I reply.

I grin, remembering how I had almost laughed right then when she had said that.

“Next time you come Durban you must come have supper. Buy her shoes, then you bring your Deeyanah and come also. Then you tell me about your pokeup lines, right?”

“Pickup lines, Aunty Faiza. Jee, Insha Allah,” I reply.

Muaaz comes forward to hug and kiss me again, as Aunty Faiza had, but I hurry out of reach.

“I think we’ll stop there,” I say to him.

Muaaz and I grin as we look at our now laughing family.

“Welcome to the family, again,” I say, grinning at Hanzalah. “Here the only competition we have is who can be the craziest.”

He grins back at me, but doesn’t say anything.

A short round of greetings happen again before we find ourselves waving as Humairah and Hanzalah drive off.

I swallow a yawn and head to my room, more than ready to hit the sack.

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