Two Hundred and Three

As narrated by Dee:

“Dee.”

A soft voice stirs me from my sleep.

“Come on, we have Fajr to pray and a flight to catch,” says Amz, shaking me gently.

“What’s the time?” I mumble sleepily.

“6:15,” she replies.

I groan, burying my head deeper into my pillow.

“Okay, I’m getting up,” I say, succumbing to the comfort of sleep once again.

I dream a dream, then.

A dream of a peony covered pier at sunrise.

On its end stands a tall young man, his back facing me, brown hair blowing in the wind. The sight makes my breath cease to mix with the sea spray.

My heart racing, I slowly make my way up to him, the peony petals caressing my bare feet.

On reaching him, my hands move up and cover his eyes. Instinctively, his own hands reach for mine, trying to move them off.

“Guess who?” I whisper in his ear.

“My favourite?” he whispers back.

The sea tries to snatch his words, knowing their worth is more than the priceless pearls laying in its belly, but they’re meant for me.

I bask in the shiver of warmth that they fill me with for a fleeting second.

Then, smiling, I draw back my hands, and he turns around.

For the first time ever, the sun rising up on the horizon fails to hold my attention.

*****

“Dee.”

“5 minutes,” I grumble, really not ready to wake up.

“Time is going, come on,” Amz replies patiently.

“I’m so tired,” I complain, snuggling into the warmth of the duvet.

“Maybe if you had slept when you were suppose to….”

I’m suddenly wide awake.

My body no longer needs the duvet – thinking back to last night, my insides warm.

Amz pulls the duvet away from me, and laughing I hide my face with my pillow.

“We didn’t speak for that long,” I say sheepishly.

“Oh yeah?” she grins back at me. “You think I don’t know?”

“I thought you were sleeping!” I admit.

“I was,” says Amz. “But you didn’t hear your alarm. When -”

“Did you go through my phone?!” I gasp, wide-eyed.

“Nooo, chill!” laughs Amz.

Oh, thank goodness!

“I saw an unread message from Zee. It was sent at 5:13,” she says, looking at me knowingly.

Trying to hide my smile, I reach for my phone.

“No, no, no!” warns Amz, grabbing my phone. “You need to perform Salaah first, time is going!”

“Let me just see what he said!” I whine, trying to get my phone from her.

“Uh uh, Salaah first!” she replies.

“I won’t reply, I’ll just read the message, promise!” I plead.

“It says, Can’t wait to -”

I lunge at her, but she jumps neatly off the bed out of reach, laughing crazily.

“DON’T READ IT!” I shout.

“Shhh!” she gasps, between her laughter, her eyes widening. “You’re going to wake the whole house up!”

“Very good. Like you said, we have a flight to catch,” I say matter of factly. “Now give me my phone!”

“Nope!” says Amz. “Go perform Salaah.”

“Okay but don’t read my chat with Zee,” I warn.

“Why? Will it make me puke?” she teases.

I glare at her, feeling my cheeks heat up, then disappear into the bathroom.

*****

Durban, though still a bit chilly, is much warmer than Joburg, the sun shining through the patches of clouds.

I hope that the good weather holds until tomorrow, and that the forecasted rain doesn’t make its way down.

After we settle in, I make my way to the room I’d be sharing with Maama.

Flopping down on the bed, I text Zee.

ME: The place is so lovely!

We were staying at Phezulu safari park,  about 20 minutes from Durban, which overlooked the breathtaking Valley of a 1000 Hills.

Our Walima would be on the resort, and Zee’s family had booked all the units for the occasion.

My phone buzzes in my hand.

ZEE: You guys need anything?

ME: Don’t think so.. But I’ll let you know

ME: How long you’ll going to be?

Zee and them had went home first, and would be joining us a little later today.

ZEE: Another two hours, I’d say

ZEE: Missing me already?

ME: No just can’t wait to push you in the pool.

ZEE: I’ll make sure we take longer in that case

ME: Come in your costume one time

“Again!”

I look up and find Sumayya standing in the doorway, hands on her hips.

“What?” I ask innocently, trying to discreetly slip my phone under my leg.

“All you do is sit on that phone and speak to Zee! We’re going exploring, come on,” she says.

“Exploring? Didn’t know we came to a cave,” I muse out aloud.

“This is the African bushveld, there’s a lot to… explore!” replies Sumayya. “Now come!”

“Okay, okay, I’m coming,” I say, getting up lazily.

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*****

The next day…

“Don’t get back into bed,” I say softly, poking my head into the room Sumayya and Amz are sharing.

“Too late,” comes a muffled reply from Sumayya.

“What’s up?” asks Amz, eyeing me.

“You wish!” I reply to Sumayya, pulling the duvet off her.

“Dee!” she squeals. “Let me sleep!”

“You slept whole night!” I say. “We’re going for a walk, come on.”

“You’re nuts! It’s freezing!” says Amz.

“Yeah, take your husband and go!” adds Sumayya, pulling the duvet back from me.

“Spoilt sports!” I mutter, heading for the door.

“Okay, make us coffee to warm up and then we’ll come,” says Amz.

“No. I’ll just take my husband and go,” I mutter, mimicking Sumayya.

I head to the kitchen area and put the kettle to boil.

Locating the paper cups we had brought, I prepare three cups of coffee, each different yet perfect for the person who will drink it.

Then I head back to the room.

“Coffee is ready,” I say.

Amz is tying up her laces, Sumayya draping her hijaab.

They follow me to the kitchen and I hand them their coffees.

Quietly, we make our way out into the chilly morning.

“The sun rises by the pool area,” I say to them after taking a careful sip of my hot coffee.

Amz was right.. it is freezing! But also, fresh and crisp, the grass still wet with dew.

We walk in silence, breathing in the invigorating air and admiring the view.

On reaching the pool area, we sit down next to each other on a little step and wait for the sun to transform the sky.

*****

Sumayya breaks the silence.

“What’s it about the sunrise….”

Amz and I turn our attention to her.

“…that just makes you feel.. so…” she trails off, trying to find the right word.

“Awake?” says Amz, raising her eyebrows.

“Ugly?” I suggest.

We laugh.

“Hopeful?” I suggest again, seriously this time.

“Yes!” says Sumayya, her eyes lighting up. “That!”

It’s quiet for a moment, each of us lost in thought.

“I don’t think it’s always the case,” Amz says finally, staring into the distance. “Some days you wake up feeling like you wish you didn’t.”

I watch her intently for a few moments before listening to Sumayya again.

“No, no,” says Sumayya. “I’m talking about when you wake up before the sun and then watch the daylight seep in. Like, watching the sun rise.”

“I think I get you,” I say.

“It’s.. you feel like the sunrise…” explains Sumayya. “Your emotions being all the different colours because you feel… a whole lot of things at once. Like, the colours in the sky stir the colours within you. But there is that… that feeling of… peace.. which stands out the most.. just like the sun stands out the most, despite all the colours around it.”

“Like, Amz, right now, don’t you feel.. content? Like your worries aren’t that worrisome and your problems can all be solved.. will all be solved, somehow or the other.”

“I think I get what you mean,” Amz replies softly, her gaze focused on the now almost fully risen sun. “I don’t think my problems are just going to be solved, but I do feel that… peace. That it’s okay.. if I just sit here and take this in.. if for a moment I don’t think about all that’s going wrong and how to make it right.”

“That’s it,” Sumayya says softly. “Exactly that.”

It’s quiet for a while again before I speak.

“Guys. Today is my walima.”

“Don’t remind us!” says Sumayya.

“How is this happening? Why is life moving so fast? I still can’t quite believe it all,” I say, all in one breath.

Amz wraps her arm around my back and squeezes me gently.

“Don’t remind us,” she repeats Sumayya quietly.

“Do you think life will be very much different?” I ask them worriedly. “Will we still be able to hang out and have sleepovers and -”

“Dee! Sshh!” complains Sumayya.

I turn to her.

“Oh no! You’re crying!” I exclaim.

I look at Amz.

“And you! I’m sorry!”

They laugh and I frown.

“Wait, are you’ll happy or sad?” I ask.

“Happy-sad,” they say in unison, wiping their eyes.

I’m about to say something, when suddenly I’m being lifted.

I clutch desperately onto what my hands can grab hold of, my eyes widening as I see a grinning Zee looking down at me.

Though out of sight, I hear Meez greet the girls.

Where did they come from?

My mind begins processing then.

Zee lifted me…

He’s currently holding me…

We’re by the pool…

It’s – Oh god.

“No! NO! Zee, DON’T!” I warn, locking my hands tightly behind his neck so that he won’t be able to throw me in without coming with himself.

Still holding me he drops me further.

“Zee, it’s freezing! I’ll get sick!” I shout, clutching him tighter.

“Ask nicely,” he says, his eyes twinkling mischievously.

“Please don’t throw me in,” I plead… nicely!

He dips me further and I can almost feel how cold the water is.

“Zee I -”

He lifts me up and puts me down, grinning.

“Idiot!” I grumble, moving away from him.

“What was that?” he asks, reaching for me again.

I run.

“Nothing!” I yell, my laughter trailing behind me.

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and the feeling you get as you watch the sun rise, in silence, with your hands wrapped around a steaming mug of coffee as the crisp morning air stings the tip of your nose, that’s contentment. happiness unfiltered. because despite what’s going on in your life, in that moment, as the sun comes up you know that today is a new day. that you have another shot at fixing things up. It’s gratefulness in its purest form. an unfiltered feeling of bliss realizing just how blessed you are.

~ troubled illusions.

*****

I stand in front of the mirror.

The same feeling of surprise I had felt when I had looked in the mirror on my engagement day washes over me.

“I.. wow you guys.. is it not.. too much?” I ask nervously.

Sumayya groans.

“For goodness sake, Dee!” laughs Amz. “It’s your walima! What do you want to wear?! Sweatpants and a sleep-shirt?!”

“No, but like, the dress… it’s so.. beautiful,” I say, glancing at myself from every angle.

That sets Sumayya off.

“That’s the point you dumbass!” she laughs hysterically. “You are so funny, Dee, honestly!”

“Come now, put on your shoes, Zee will be here just now!” says Amz.

“Okay,” I reply.

At that exact moment, I hear a tap on the unit door.

My heart goes into a mad frenzy.

“Wait, you guys!” I call, as Amz and Sumayya move to make their way out of the room.

They turn around.

“Do I look fine?” I ask.

“More than fine!” says Amz.

“Just ask Zee when he comes,” adds Sumayya.

“Sumayya!!” I hiss.

Laughing, they make their way out.

I hear the door opening and the brief conversation between Meez, Zee, and the girls.

My heart pounds, my hands feel clammy and my stomach cramps painfully out of nervousness. Once again it baffles me.

How come before he shouldn’t make me nervous?

“Knock knock.”

“Come inside,” I say.

“Why do you never follow the -”

Seeing me, he stops abruptly.

I don’t even realize.

How come before he wasn’t this handsome?

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*****

The walima set up takes my breath away.

It’s minimal and beautiful and there’s white roses and lavender and candles and…

I gasp.

“Fairy lights!” I all but squeal.

I look at Amz, and she smiles at me.

“Do you like it?” she asks quietly.

“You guys are the best!” I reply, smiling so wide that it hurts.

“Zee said he didn’t get much say in the decor, but he insisted there be fairy lights.”

My heart melts then, and again when I see that they hadn’t set aside a special table for me.

They’d made everything perfect, and in that moment I felt like the luckiest girl alive.

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Amz
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Sumayya

*****

I’ve just spooned my last bit of chocolate mousse – another thing Zee insisted there be, Humairah had said, at which I had felt like my heart would burst –  into my mouth when my phone rings.

Zee.

“Assalaamu Alaykum,” I greet, smiling.

He replies my greeting, then asks if I’m ready to go.

“Do you know what I’m thinking?” I ask, ignoring his question for a moment.

He pauses for a few seconds, thinking.

“About the times I’d call and you’d be in a grumpy mood, so I’d trouble you and ask if you were expecting it to be your non-existent dishy boyfriend?” he guesses.

“Oh my gosh how did you know?!” I gasp, genuinely surprised.

I hadn’t expected him to get it right!

He laughs.

“Guess what?” he says.

I smile, and it makes sense then. Like him, somehow, I just know.

“My dishy boyfriend is no longer non-existent?” I guess, grinning. “I’m speaking to him right now??”

“Damn right, gorgeous,” he says. “Now I’m giving you two minutes to meet me at my unit.”

“Wait, where are we going?” I ask, trying to ignore my dancing heart.

But he has already ended the call.

Guess that second chocolate mousse would have to wait.

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Two Hundred and Two

*Shoutout to Zed005, without whom this post would not have been possible. You the best – when you not bullying me.. which is like never. 🙃❤ 

*And Baloo, for ever so generously providing the best joke of July. 😂❤


As narrated by Dee:

Zee’s voice comes through the receiver, soft, but clear.

“I accept, Nakahtuha wa qabiltuha…”

The strength of my emotions overpower me. Before I can catalogue them, however, I am swamped by well-wishers.

“Barakallahu lakuma wa baraka alaikuma….”

Everyone begins coming forward to greet me so I stand up… slowly, because my legs feel like jelly.

My gaze, which had been focused on my lap through the entire khutba, lifts and connects with Maama’s.

After a time so long that even my memory fails to remember, I see Maama’s eyes shining with happiness.

I fall into her arms, and I am engulfed. Engulfed in her scent; engulfed by every emotion in all its entirety.

There’s no better word to describe it than bittersweet.

But more sweet than bitter.

For before this day my heart knew happiness, but not like this.

It knew the happiness of a day well spent, of mental jokes with friends, of watching a sunrise, of a well coordinated outfit. It knew the happiness of a good cup of coffee, of a warm meal, of a well written book, of flipping my pillow and using the cold side. It knew the happiness of fresh linen, of pleasant surprises, of a box of chocolates. It knew the happiness brought by rain, by afternoon drives with the window down and a breeze blowing, by lazy Sunday morning thoughts. My heart knew the happiness brought by little things: Amz’s laugh, Ramla trying to imitate someone, chocolate mousse, watching Daanyaal kick a ball against the wall, early morning runs, a text from Zee, finding a comfortable posture when going to sleep.

My heart knew happiness and it knew sadness. And now it knew what those two emotions felt like together. It was a unique feeling, for no other feeling can be quite as… raw.

I remember reading once, that anything can make you smile and anything can make you cry, but it takes something special to make you do both simultaneously. And this moment, right now, encompassed that quote – because tears tracked down my cheeks, and my jaws ached from smiling. Simultaneously.

As I cling to Maama, I think about Paapa..

Despite everything he’d put us through, here we were, scarred yet smiling. And despite everything, I wish he was here too, as the Paapa I knew when I was a kid, not the monster I had to fight as a young teenager.

Despite everything, I wish I could have saved him. I wish I could have saved him from himself.

As I cling to Maama, I think about Dayyanah..

I wonder why she hasn’t come and what’s stopping her. And I wonder if she’s lost all hope and if we will ever meet again.

I wish she was here, all done up, so we could look in the mirror and look the same. But different. I wish we had each other, that the inseparable bond we shared in Maama’s womb hadn’t broken.

I wish she was here to share my happiness, to congratulate me, to tease me. I didn’t care if she teased me. I wanted her to tease me.

And as the ache in my heart becomes unbearable, I think of Daanyaal..

I think about how much he has grown, yet in so many ways he is still the same.

I think about how lucky I am to have him, even though he annoys me to no end.

I think about him and I think about Maama.

Maama who cries with me now, equally happy, equally sad.

Maama, who no words can suffice to explain my love for.

Maama, who with all the broken pieces of her heart loves me even more.

And as she steps back, kisses my forehead and prays for my wellbeing, I say a silent prayer for hers too.

My whole life, my whole world.

*****

“Your husband is on his way,” grins Sumayya, walking into the room.

Feeling slightly overwhelmed, I had come to my room to get a few minutes away from everyone.

“Hamza just called. They should be here any minute,” says Sumayya.

“Tell him not to,” I reply.

Sumayya’s mouth falls open in surprise, her eyes widening in worry.

“I don’t think I can see him, I’m too nervous,” I say, chewing my lip.

She bursts out laughing.

“Oh my god! You almost had me!”

I glare at her.

“Nothing is funny,” I mutter. “I’m so nervous I could cry!”

“Please don’t!” Sumayya gasps in horror. “There won’t be time to fix your makeup before they get here.”

I take a deep breath, trying to calm down, but it makes no difference!

“Do I look fine? Is my hijaab in place? Did I smudge my eyeliner? Oh god it’s just Zee! Calm down, calm down, it’s going to be fine,” I speak aloud to myself, closing my eyes.

Amz walks into the room at that moment and stops short.

“What is going on? Dee, are you alright?” she asks with a frown.

“No, Zee is on his way!” I say apprehensively, pacing the room.

Right on cue, I hear a car pulling into the driveway.

“Well, we better get going,” says Amz.

“No! Can’t you’ll just stay?” I plead, hurrying to the window to confirm that it’s them.

“Once he’s in here, I don’t think you’d want us anywhere even near!” laughs Sumayya.

“The house is full, just remember that,” says Amz, winking at me and then following Sumayya out.

I glance in the mirror, taking in my appearance to make sure I look fine.

I’m still standing in front of the mirror, when a tap sounds on the door which Amz had pulled closed behind her.

My heart drumming, I don’t move, watching in the mirror as the door opens, and Zee walks in.

He stops for a moment, wonderstruck, his hand still on the door handle.

Then, turning completely, so that his back faces me, he closes the door softly before turning around again and walking up to me.

I feel the weight of his hands on my shoulders, and slowly my eyes lift until they finally meet his in the mirror.

For a long moment, neither of us say anything.

Then, a thoughtful expression appears on Zee’s handsome face.

“Is June over?” he asks.

Confused, I frown.

“Urm.. yeah??” I reply.

He pauses.

Then…

“Julying!” he exclaims.

It takes me a few seconds to get the joke, but when I do, it cracks me up.

“Seriously?!” I laugh, turning around to face him, my nervousness momentarily forgotten.

He grins at me, his hazel-brown eyes shining with amusement.

But then his gaze moves, trailing down the length of my dress and I feel my cheeks heat up again.

I take in his face in the moments he is not looking at mine, and I find myself wondering how so many years had passed without me realizing just how dreamy he was.

Suddenly, his eyes lift.

Immediately my own gaze drops, but not before meeting his for a split second.

Blushing furiously, I pretend to admire his shoes, but I know he caught me staring and his perfume has clouded my brain and my heart is pounding so loudly and he can probably hear it and I should stop chewing my lip because that’s a bad habit but he is making me so nervous and I can’t understand why and I hope he likes my dress and –

I feel his fingers on my chin, lifting it gently so that I’m forced to look at him.

In that moment I realize how tall he is compared to me. The top of my head only comes up to his shoulders.

“Don’t be so nervous,” he says, freeing my lip from my teeth with his thumb. “It’s just me.”

It’s quiet for a few moments.

I breathe in sync with him, and quickly start feeling a little more at ease.

That is, until Zee speaks again.

“Me, your husband.”

“Zee!”

Must he do this to me?!

He laughs, pulling me into his embrace.

I melt against him, inhaling his perfume.

Then, slowly, hesitantly, I wrap my own arms around him.

And so begins the journey of a lifetime.

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Two Hundred and One

*Narrative jumps a lot in this one again. Sorryyy! 🙈 The whole post is from Dee’s pov though. Enjoy – It’s a nice long one! Much Love, Troubled Illusioner. ❤


As narrated by Dee:

“No! I am not giving in to that!” I say staunchly.

“You have to, Dee!” says Sumayya.

“Says who?” I ask, rolling my eyes.

“You’re the bride!” exclaims Sumayya.

“So?” I grumble, but my heart skips a beat.

The bride. I’m the bride!

And Zee is the groom!

“She’s not even listening to you!” laughs Amz.

“I am!” I say, glaring at her, trying to hide my smile.

“Oh gosh, can you stop thinking about him for one second and just give me all your attention?!” Sumayya rolls her eyes.

“You have all my attention!” I say, grinning at her. “I heard what you were saying. You told me you’re calling the mendhi lady for Thursday night. But I’m not putting mendhi! You can call her, and you guys can all put, but don’t make it another whole function and don’t ask me to put!”

“But why not?!” groans Sumayya.

“It smells gross and feels weird! And I’m sure it won’t suit my hands because they’re so small,” I say.

Amz whips out her phone, her eyes lighting up suddenly.

“What?” I ask, looking at her curiously.

She ignores me, lifting the phone to her ear.

Seconds later, I hear Zee picking up.

Amz puts it on speaker.

“We have a problem,” says Amz, smirking at me.

“We don’t!” I yell, jumping up and lunging at Amz.

Seriously?! Does she think Zee would manage to convince me?

“No! Don’t touch my phone!” shouts Amz, lifting it high.

“There’s no problem!” I say. “Cut the call.”

“Can someone explain to me what is going on?” asks Zee, sounding confused and amused at the same time.

“Dee doesn’t want to put mendhi!” shouts Sumayya.

Shaking my head, I give up trying to get the phone.

“And they’re forcing me to,” I grumble.

“Don’t do that you guys,” says Zee, sounding like a gentle, reprimanding mother. “If she doesn’t want to, leave her.”

I smile at them smugly.

“Are you mad?! She’s a bride!” shouts Sumayya. “How can she not put?!”

“You’re just taking her part because she’s -”

“SHUT UP!” I yell, feeling my face grow hot.

I fling my pillow at Amz, not trusting what she’s about to say. They seem to have no filter these days!

Sumayya falls off the bed erupting in a fit of silent laughter and that just makes Amz double over, laughing harder.

Shaking my head, I take her phone from her.

“Send help, I’m surrounded by lunatics,” I say, rolling my eyes at them as they continue laughing hysterically.

He laughs and my heart leaps, a small smile making its way onto my face.

“What on earth is going on there?” he asks.

“Well Sumayya just fell off the bed because she laughed in the wrong direction,” I say matter of factly.

“She fell off because what?!” laughs Zee.

“Because she laughed in the wrong direction!” I say.

Laughing too hard he’s unable to say anything for a couple of seconds.

“Oh gosh you’ve gone mad also!” I huff, trying to bite back my smile.

Uncle Rashid taps the door and pokes his head in, only to see Amz and Sumayya crying with laughter, and hear Zee laughing on the phone too.

He raises an eyebrow at me, a grin making its way onto his face.

I shrug, shaking my head.

“Have you’ll been taken over by wedding stress?” asks Uncle Rashid. “I hear that it sometimes makes people laugh hysterically for no reason.”

Sumayya shakes her head and points at me, unable to say anything.

“Uncle Rashid,” says Zee. “I think your niece is the one suffering from wedding stress.”

“I am not!” I say immediately. “You’ll the one laughing like maniacs!”

“Oh gosh, Dee you kill me!” gasps Amz, wiping her eyes and catching her breath.

“And I didn’t even make a joke,” I say to Uncle Rashid. “They’re definitely losing it, poor things.”

“I came to call you’ll for lunch,” says Uncle Rashid, shaking his head with a smile.

“Okay, Shukran, we’re coming,” says Amz, getting up.

“What’s for lunch?” asks Zee.

“Leftovers from yesterday,” I say.

“Eat for me also,” he says.

“If Dee can eat for herself that will be a miracle,” says Amz, taking her phone from me.

“Only thing she eats for herself is chocolate mousse,” laughs Sumayya.

“Must be why I’m so sweet,” I say in mock arrogance, flicking my hair and walking out.

They laugh behind me.

Amz ends the call with Zee and the three of us head to the dining room for lunch.

*****

How come you fighting the mendhi?

I read Zee’s message as I climb into bed, shivering slightly.

It smells gross and how on earth must I sleep with it? I text back. What if it gets itchy 

He reads my messages instantly.

Zee: I’m sure it won’t get itchy.. you’ll be sleeping so it shouldn’t bother you

Me: Do you want me to put? 🙈

Zee: Only if you want to but I like how it looks

Me: Not on my small hands 🙄

Zee: Everything looks nice on you

Me: Have you been eating chocolate mousse? 🤔

Zee: Don’t need to

Zee: I’m just naturally sweet

Me: Oh sounds like me 😊

Zee: You wish

I log into Instagram, then open Pinterest as well and start checking henna designs.

10 minutes later I text Zee.

Me: Okay no you’re not getting mendhi hands

Me: There’s like 5 million patterns

Me: Of which I like about 4998

Me: The lady is coming Thursday night and I’ll never be able to decide by then 😭

Zee: There can’t be that many

Me: Oh yeah? Go check

He goes offline and then comes back after a few minutes.

Zee: Okay I think we’re going to have this wedding in about a years time

Me: Told you 😂

Zee: Just tell the lady to put for you anything

Me: And then what if I don’t like it

Zee: Okay I’ll find you a pattern

Me: Or I can just not put…

I’m clearly still not all that thrilled about the idea.

Zee: Noo

Zee: Okay just one hand at least?

Zee: Please

Me: You’re just saying that to make your life easier not to compromise 😂

Zee: Why did I have to get a smart girl

Me: You chose her so technically it’s  your own fault 😊

Zee: I can live with that

Zee: Do you want a thin pattern or thick one

Me: I don’t even know what’s the difference 🤔😂

2 hours and about 200 screenshots later we’ve finally agreed on a pattern.

It’s minimalistic yet elegant and flowy with dainty florals.

Exhausted, as I’d been shopping the whole day with Maama, Aunty Raeesah, and the girls, I say goodnight to Zee and hit the sack.


Dee couldn’t believe how quickly the week had passed.

It felt like just yesterday when she’d said yes to Zee, but that had been Saturday, 5 days ago!

Today was Thursday, Meez and them would be returning from their trip and tomorrow would be the nikaah already!

She lay in bed for a long time, deep in thought.

But then the thoughts which scared her drifted into her mind, slowly at first and then all at once.

Pulling a beanie over her messy hair, Dee climbed out of bed and made her way to the bathroom.

Amz was already up and probably in the kitchen having breakfast.

Amz was never the early bird, but ever since they’d been living with Uncle Rashid, Amz was usually up before Dee.

Dee couldn’t wait for the day they moved. She knew Amz didn’t feel totally at home, which was why she woke up so early, took shorter showers and that too, before going for breakfast. She wore more modest clothing, changed into pajamas last thing at night before getting into bed, and didn’t talk as much at the supper table – which was the one meal they all ate together.

Sighing softly to herself, Dee finishes up in the bathroom and then goes to the kitchen for breakfast.


“I was just coming to wake you up” says Amz, standing up, empty coffee mug in hand. “We’re leaving at 9:30.”

“Leaving for where?” I ask with a frown, putting a slice of bread into the toaster.

“Shopping,” she replies.

“But we just did that yesterday!” I exclaim.

“You still need a few things,” says Amz.

“Like what? I only needed new clothes and I think I have enough now,” I say.

I had literally emptied my wardrobe and gotten rid of all my old clothes and bought new stuff – a lot of which I’d made a big fuss to buy.. like the sandals and dresses! But they’d all insisted, going on about how lovely I had looked in the dress yesterday and that I would be a married woman now, I had to dress like one!

“We’re not even going to be staying together!” I had complained at that, but they weren’t hearing any of it.

We had returned home that evening, arms laden with shopping bags after purchasing a whole new wardrobe collection for me and even a couple of things for Amz and Aunty Raeesah, who had accompanied me.

My wedding and walima outfits were both sorted out as well, which was why I couldn’t understand the need to go shopping again!

“You don’t have any abayas,” says Amz. “I don’t either. Maama said we should get a few.”

“Oh,” I reply. “Yeah, okay, what time did you say we’re going?”

“9:30,” answers Amz.

“And did Sumi say what time the mendhi lady is coming?” I ask.

“Yeah, 8pm,” says Amz.

“Okay,” I reply, sitting down with my mug of coffee and cheese toast.


Shopping for abayas turned out to be much more difficult than I thought.

Purchasing plain abayas went smoothly but when it came to the patterned, designed ones, it was a nightmare.

Being tiny, most styles didn’t suit me, and others were so fitted I didn’t see the point of wearing it. But when I did finally see a couple that looked nice on me and were my style, the price left me reeling.

Why are abayas so expensive?!

I had voiced my surprise to Maama, who had joined us on this shopping trip.

“You’re covering a gem so you have to pay the price of a gem,” smiled Maama.

“Wow, I’m going to feel like a queen wearing these,” said Amz. “This is ridiculous!”

“And some of them aren’t even that nice!” I said.

After a tiring 3 hours of going to almost every Abaya store we could find, we decided it was enough.

Amz had bought one plain abaya and a few colourful scarves to go with it, and two patterned abayas.

I had bought two plain ones, one black on black one, and two patterned ones.

It was already 1:30 by the time we got back home.

After eating lunch and praying our Zuhr Salaah, Amz and I get ready to go to the airport to welcome Meez and them back.


That evening…

“Oh my god am I seeing things?!” gasps Sumayya, walking into the lounge and seeing the henna artist working on my hand.

Her name is Sukaina and she’s only 20! I was expecting her to be a talkative aunty, but instead here she was, a quiet, friendly young girl.

I roll my eyes and try to suppress my smile.

“Salaams everyone,” she greets cheerily, waving at everyone. It’s just Maama, Aunty Raeesah, Humairah, Amz and I.

The men were having a braai at Zee’s Ma, so Aunty Fahmida had gone to help her out there. Not going to lie, I was quite relieved when she told us, since I didn’t feel totally at ease in her presence anymore!

“Who bribed Dee with what?” asks Sumayya.

We reply her greeting, and Amz, who also just came to the lounge speaks up.

“She won’t tell us, which obviously means it was Zee,” says Amz, teasingly.

“Oooh in that case we won’t ask what he bribed her with!” says Sumayya.

“He did not bribe me!” I defend myself.

What is it with them and all the inappropriate teasing recently?!

“Awww!” exclaims Aunty Raeesah. “So you just agreed the moment he told you.. So cute!”

“Maama! Tell them to stop troubling me!” I whine.

Maama merely smiles at me fondly, her usual quiet self not joining the conversation.

“Are you sure that’s all?” asks Sukaina.

I turn my attention to her, looking at my hand.

“You’re done so fast?!” I exclaim.

She laughs.

“Well this is a new bridal record for me but only because you’re putting so little,” she says.

Sumayya makes her way over to us.

“Are you kidding me?! That’s all?!” she asks, taking in the minimal patterns on the top side of both my hands.

“Just keep quiet!” I say, shooing her away. “It’s either this or nothing! And you lucky I’m putting on both hands, I was suppose to only put on one!”

“But you have to put on the other side also!” says Sumayya.

“No, I like it like this,” I say, getting up.

“Jazakillah!” I say to Sukaina.

“You’re welcome,” she replies.

“Wait, and your feet?!” asks Humairah.

I gasp.

“In your dreams!” I say, sitting down carefully next to Maama on the couch.

“You are no fun!” huffs Sumayya.

“Sorry right,” I say with a grin. “I’ll find you a husband then you can demonstrate how to be a fun bride.”

Even though we’re so few, the lounge is noisy with chatter.

I glance at my hands, admiring the pattern.

“How’s it looking, Maama?” I ask her quietly.

“It’s beautiful,” she says. “I like the roses.”

Maama and I get lost in our own quiet little conversation amidst the chatter.

“I wish Dayy was here,” I blurt out suddenly, after a small moment of silence between us.

Maama places her hand on my leg by way of comforting me, but she doesn’t say anything.

Often I wonder about Maama… how she manages to silently store all her pain behind her smile.

I look at her in wonder, the ache in my heart almost overwhelming.

“Do you think she’ll come tomorrow?” I ask.

My voice is low, so that the others don’t hear, but the hope, the longing for her to answer to be in the affirmative is as clear as a baby crying in an empty house.

I don’t get it.

I don’t get the positive answer that I want.

Instead, in the soft, slow manner which Maama always speaks, she says, “Don’t worry about it, Deeyanah. If it’s meant to be, she’ll be there. And if she doesn’t come, remember that goodness is not always apparent to our eyes.”

I blink rapidly, trying to fight back the tears that threaten to fall.

We’re quiet amidst the noise again.

“I love you, Maama,” I whisper after a long moment, leaning my head against her shoulder.

“I love you too,” she says.

And for a few, brief seconds, my heart knows no sadness.

Two Hundred

Much to everyone’s relief, the engagement went smoothly.

Dee’s nerves settled as the time passed and she realized that despite the fact that her relationship with Zee’s family would be changing very soon, they still treated her the same, if not better.

Lunch was a three course meal. For starters there was kiri kebabs, with chips, pita and a yoghurt dip on the side.

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Then came the sweet dish – milkybar sojee, which was lastly followed by a Deoband mutton pilau.

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To drink there was iced-tea, summer breeze punch, and cold drink.

And of course, there was atchaar, paapar, salad and dhay.

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After lunch they discussed, to confirm, the things which both families had agreed on.

Considering the circumstances, until they finished school Dee and Zee would stay separately. Zee would continue staying with his grandparents, and Dee would stay with her mother.

They would be moving soon. Uncle Rashid had bought a plot with two spacious houses. Salma, Amaani, Deeyanah and Daanyaal would live in the one house, and Rashid, Raeesah and Ramla in the other.

Once they finished school, they’d take things from there. A lot depended on where Zee would get accepted to study. As for Dee, she wasn’t keen on studying further right now.

There were other finer details discussed and Hussain repeatedly stressed the importance of them concentrating on school.

He was no longer against his son marrying, but he did wish it could wait. But as Fahmida had said, things were going wrong and they needed to make it right.

An ideal parent will not, on finding out that his or her child is on drugs, kick them out.

An ideal parent will not, on finding out that his or her child is in a haraam relationship, force them to break it off.

An ideal parent will not, on finding out that his or her daughter is pregnant, make her abort the innocent being.

An ideal parent will not, on failing once, fail again.

At the end of the day, a child is a child. A child is not an adult.

Parents, your children do not have the maturity you have. They do not see the world through the lens you see it through. They do not understand things like you do.

And so, he will slip. She will slip. Your child will falter. Your child will make mistakes, some bigger than others, some so terrible you will be unable to comprehend how this is your child.

But remember, that an ideal parent does not make the same mistake twice.

An ideal parent realizes their mistake, and handles the situation with gentleness and kindness.

And even if it’s not the parents’ fault, even if you taught your child, even if you brought your child up as you should, then too, an ideal parent will not blame the child – for what is youth except a delusional stage of trying to find what makes your heart beat the fastest.

Beautiful is the example of Yaqub (A.S).

A father to twelve sons, his favourite being Yusuf (A.S).

The story is known to all, but today understand it like this:

Imagine what must have went through Yaqub (A.S)’s heart when the ten brothers threw Yusuf (A.S) into the well.

Imagine what it must have been like for Yaqub (A.S) to have, not one, not two, or four, or six, but ten… ten of his sons rebel in a way that took from him his dearest son, Yusuf (A.S).

Imagine what grief it must have caused him. Imagine how much he must have cried in order to lose his eyesight.

But despite it all, he didn’t kick them out, he didn’t shout, he didn’t disgrace them further. For years and years he looked those same sons in the eye everyday.

Understand it like this:

Yusuf (A.S) saw 11 stars in his dream. His brothers were 11 in number.

Understand that if you become the Yaqub (A.S) of the time, dear parents, your child will one day become that shining star too, Insha Allah.

Fahmida had made Hussain understand that and the wedding was set for a week from that day – now only 3 days away.

*****

Tea and dessert was served after Asr. There was coffee, milo, and hot chocolate for those who didn’t drink tea.

The biscuits, brought by Aunty Fahmida were of three types: choc-chip cookies, raffaello biscuits, and date biscuits.

For cakes there was Ferrero cupcakes with a rich mousse topping – which Zee had baked specially for Dee, poppyseed loaf, and individual red velvet cakes – both baked by Zee as well.

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On the dessert menu there was mini tarts, salted caramel eclairs and along with that, Humairah had made mini oreo cheesecakes and milktarts.

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By the end of the tea and dessert session, everyone was stuffed.

Everything had tasted as delicious it looked.


As narrated by Dee:

Some time after tea, I notice Maama’s absence.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” I say quietly to Amz, standing up.

She nods slightly and I make my way into the house.

Sounds of gay chatter coming from the dining room reaches my ears and I can’t help but smile.

Needing to use the bathroom a bit urgently, I decide to do that first and then check up on Maama.

I wash my face and freshen up a little after using the toilet, grateful that I had refused to allow Sumayya to put for me make-up.

They had got their way with everything else, but when Sumayya whipped out her make-up bag, I backed away. We had argued until I said, “I’ll let you do that for my wedding.” At that, she grudgingly gave in.

After drying my hands and face, I exit the bathroom and head to Maama’s room.

The door is closed halfway. I knock lightly and wait, but when she doesn’t call me in, I push the door open, peeking in.

“Maama?” I call.

“Oh,” I breathe softly, spotting her praying.

I can’t help but notice how peaceful she looks, and for a long moment I simply watch her in awe and admiration.

I pray too, but it doesn’t feel like how Maama looks when she prays.

Turning on my heel, lost in thought, I quietly make my way back out.

I pull the door behind me and then turn around.

“Oh!” I startle, almost walking right into someone.

“I can’t be that distracting! Or am I?”

His fresh scent hits me and immediately my heart takes off.

“Who said I was thinking about you?” I tease, trying to play it cool.

I admire his shoes, finding it impossible to look up.

But then he doesn’t say anything. It’s quiet apart from the now seemingly distant sound of chatter in the dining room.

Curious to what he’s playing at, I glance up and make the mistake of catching his eye.

“Hey,” he says softly.

He’s grinning, because he knows he got me. Now that I’m looking at him, he knows that he has all my attention. Who can blame me?

Dressed in tan pants and a blue shirt, sleeves rolled up, his perfectly messy hair and matching brown eyes, which shine with mirth as he looks at me… how can he not have all my attention?!

“You look nice,” I hear myself say.

My hand flies to my mouth. Did I just…?!

He laughs and my face flames.

“Stop it!” I say, covering my face with my hands.

“I’m not doing anything,” he says, grinning.

He moves my hands off my face using his own.

“You look nice too,” he says.

I can’t even hide my face this time, so I scrutinize his shoes again instead.

“The nicest I’ve ever seen you,” he adds a moment later.

I look up, cock my head to the side, narrow my eyes ever so slightly.

“That’s a compliment,” he says quickly, trying to hide his smirk.

“Now, did you eat a cupcake?” he asks, not giving me a chance to say anything.

“Oh my god, they were amazing!” I gush, remembering the heavenly taste of the rich chocolate mousse mixed with velvety cake.

Then, playing his game I add, “I almost ate two!”

He pouts, tugs me closer to him.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he grumbles.

It’s my turn to smirk.

I open my mouth to say something, when Zee’s gaze lifts and focuses over my head.

He lets go of my hands and takes a small step back, so smoothly that had he not had all my attention, I wouldn’t have even realized.

Then, seemingly unflustered, he smiles his genuine, sincere smile which has a way of making the sun seem dull.

“Assalamaamu Alaykum,” he greets.

I turn around.

Maama.

I smile… then feel my face flush again.

She’d been in the room the whole time. And we were standing right outside the door!

“Wa Alaykum Salaam,” she replies Zee’s greeting. “How are you, Ziyaad?”

“Couldn’t be happier, Alhamdulillah,” he says, grinning. “You’re well?”

“Alhamdulillah,” replies Maama, as she always does. “Did you eat nicely?”

“Too nicely!” says Zee. “The food was scrumptious!”

“Maama, did you have dessert?” I ask.

“No, I’m going now,” she says, making her way past us.

“I’m coming with,” I say. “Those cheesecakes look amazing!”

I wave at Zee and turn to follow Maama.

“Those cheesecakes got nothing on you,” I hear him call after me as I walk away.

My step falters, but I pretend to have not heard. Blushing furiously I rejoin the girls outside.

“Oh, oh, OH! You did not go to the bathroom, did you?!” asks Amz, immediately noticing my flustered face.

I shoot her a look before smiling sweetly.

“Of course I did!” I say, sitting down.

“Oh yeah?!” probes Humairah. “Straight to the bathroom and straight back?”

“Exactly like that!” I lie, praying my face doesn’t betray me.

“Why you’re all flushed then, huh? You sure you were alone in the bathroom??” asks Sumayya.

“Sumayya!!!” I gasp, my eyes widening.

I quickly glance at the aunties, hoping no one is listening to us. Thankfully they all seem busy in their own conversation!

“Listen, what do you do after using the toilet?” I ask, turning to the girls again, straight-faced.

“You flush! Idiots! Now pass me a cheesecake, please!”

One Hundred and Ninety Nine

Raeesah couldn’t quite believe that her niece was getting married.

Placing the vases of Gerbera Daises in the center of the round tables, she took a step back and surveyed the set up.

It was as close as they could get it to what Dee wanted.

White, with a pop of colour.

The tables were covered with white tablecloths and atop it sat plain white dishes. Ordinary glasses stood beside each plate. The plastic chairs were bare, and white too – well, as white as white plastic chairs could be.

The vase of flowers, popping with colour, broke the plain whiteness of everything else. Gerbera daisies because those were Dee’s favourite flowers. Well, second favourite. Peonies were her favourite, but they were also ridiculously expensive and hard to find.

Along with flowers, a bright coloured serviette was folded in a long rectangle and placed vertically on each plate. The serviettes were plain, but each a different colour.

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The ladies would eat in the garden, while the men would eat in the dining room.

There weren’t a lot in number, mostly being single siblings and small families.

It was herself, her parents, Rashid, and Ramla.

Salma, Daanyaal, Deeyanah and Amaani.

Then, Fahmida and her family – Hussain, Fahmida, Humairah and her husband Hanzalah, Zee and Muaaz.

Zee’s maternal grandparents – Aunty Shenaaz and Uncle Dawood.

And finally, Sumayya and Hamza.

Sumayya’s parents and younger sister were invited as well but they had politely said that they wouldn’t make it.

As for Ismaeel, Aadila and Rameez, they were gone for Umrah, so they couldn’t be there either.

Dee had decided that she wouldn’t invite any school friends, because she didn’t feel that close to any of them.

Satisfied with what her eye saw, Raeesah made her back into the house to check if everything was in order on the men’s side.

She picked up the remaining 2 vases of Gerbera Daisies, which Salma had expertly arranged, from the kitchen table and carried it with her to the men’s side.

The tables here were rectangle, as they didn’t have more round ones, but otherwise it was all the same – white, with a pop of colour.

“Need any help?”

Raeesah turns around and smiles at Amaani, who had just entered the room.

“Nope, just putting the flowers,” says Raeesah.

“It looks perfect,” says Amaani, smiling happily.

“I hope Dee thinks so too!” laughs Raeesah. “I think we should go get dressed now. Is Dee done?”

“Yeah, and wait till you see her!” exclaims Amz, her eyes shining.

They exit the dining room together and make their way to the room Dee is in.

Raeesah knocks on the door and walks in simultaneously, Amz right behind her.

It’s just Daanyaal and Dee in the room.

“I’m worried about Maama,” Dee is saying to him. “I feel like -”

She stops abruptly, seeing Raeesah and Amz walk in.

A split second of awkward silence follows, then quickly disappears as Raeesah gasps, stunned at how effortlessly elegant Dee looks.

She’d never seen her in a dress before and now that she did, she couldn’t understand why! Dee looked beautiful! And that’s exactly what Raeesah told her.

Her dress was strappy and maxi. A deep shade of blue merged into a lighter one which then merged into white. She put it together with a white inner and left her chest-length, black hair open, with small waves at the bottom.

The blue of the dress made her eyes, which shone as she smiled shyly at Raeesah’s comment, stand out even more.

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Dee’s dress

“Can I go out now?” she asks. “I’m dying to see the tables!”

“Jee, it’s all done,” grins Raeesah.

“Come on, I’ll take you,” says Daanyaal.

“I know where the garden and dining room are!” laughs Dee, standing up.

“Sumayya gave me strict instructions to make sure you don’t spoil your dress and… stuff,” says Daanyaal, gesturing wildly with his hands.

Daanyaal looked quite the young man himself.

In his perfectly styled red and black kafieyya (Arab scarf) and crisp white kurta, paired with the signs of his childhood disappearing and adulthood approaching, he looked dashing.

He was almost 16 now. Time truly waits for no man.

It doesn’t wait for sadness. It doesn’t wait for you to heal, to feel okay again.

And after this happy occasion passed, they would realize that time doesn’t wait for happiness either.

*****

Lunch was scheduled for 2:00 pm but the guests would be arriving after Zuhr.

By 12:00 pm everyone was dressed and ready.

Amaani wore a white dress with a floral print at the bottom and by the neckline, flowing slightly down one sleeve. She wanted to match the decor, she’d said.

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Amaani’s dress

Sumayya, who had a more bold, “extra” sense of fashion, wore a white skirt in duchess satin, paired with a short white top decorated with pom-poms. She wore blue heels, also decorated with pom-poms and completed the look with outstanding earings – which had pom-poms too, of course! She styled her scarf, which was white and edged with colourful pom-poms, so that it flaunted her earings and didn’t cover too much of her top.

Sumayya, too, matched the decor quite well!

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Sumayya’s shoes
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Sumayya’s earings

Everything was in place and everyone was ready.

Now, all they had to do, was wait.