One Hundred and Ninety One

*Khan1204, this one is for you, habibti. ❤


As narrated by Meez:

“Rameez.”

“Rameez.”

Someone shakes my shoulder gently.

I groan, my eyes opening halfway.

Where am I?!

I rub my tired eyes before opening them fully.

Blinking against the bright light, I sit up and take in my surroundings.

I’m in a Jamaat Khana.

“He’s okay.”

I look up at dad, who’s hovering over me.

Slowly my mind registers… processes…

And then it all comes flooding back.

The crash. Umair. The paramedics.

My heart lurches and hurriedly I get to my feet, ignoring the protests of my stiff limbs.

“Dad!” I say, instantly wide awake. “Umair.”

“He’s okay,” dad says again, placing his hand on my shoulder.

He’s okay…

He’s okay!!

Relief floods through me, so intense that I’m forced to sit down.

“Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah,” I sigh repeatedly.

Happiness seeps through my relief, quickly overpowering it.

I look up at dad, my lips stretching into a smile.

He smiles back at me and in that moment all I can think of is that Allah accepted my duaa.

Allah accepted from me.

Despite my countless sins, He didn’t just listen to me, He answered me.

My heart cries in joy and anguish.

The moment is bitter sweet.

And I don’t want it to ever end.

*****

She’s smiling.

Despite her niqaab I can see that she’s smiling.

Her eyes are crinkled in the corners and her dark orbs are alight, shining with happiness.

My heart warms and I can’t seem to look away.

But then she turns, our eyes meet for a split, unintentional second and then I’m studying the tiles, realizing that I still haven’t got her name.

“Come on, you can go in, only his father is there,” says Dad, walking up to me.

I look up, then follow him into the ICU.

“Assalaamu Alaykum,” I greet, shaking hands with Umair’s father.

He is a tall, big built man and I instantly feel small and intimidated, quite sure it has something to do with the cane-like walking stick he has in his grasp.

“Wa Alaykum Salaam,” he replies in a deep voice, his grip on my hand strong and firm. “Rameez.”

I hold back a wince, trying to play it cool – which is pretty damn difficult when you’re standing in front of the father of the guy you crashed into, who also happens to be a giant with a walking stick.

“Jee,” I say, looking up briefly. “How are you, uncle?”

“Alhamdulillah, very well,” he replies. “How are you?”

I clear my throat.

“Alhamdulillah,” I reply.

I glance at Umair from the corner if my eye and catch him smirking.

“JazaakAllah for saving this scatterbrained lad,” says Umair’s father, indicating to Umair. “I’ll leave you to him now.”

“That’s okay -”

I stop abruptly.

What? Saving him? I didn’t save him!

“Oh! I.. I didn’t -”

But he’s already gone.

Umair’s laughter fills the room.

“You look more like a “scatterbrained lad” than I do right now,” he says.

I blink.

What? Oh. OH.

“Jeez, that was scary,” I mutter.

“Stop making me laugh bro, it hurts!” says Umair.

“I’m not making you laugh!” I reply. “You’re laughing at me!”

“Because you were so out of your element,” he laughs.

“I was not!” I say immediately, even though I was. “Besides, how do you even know what’s my element?”

“Oh, you and I have the exact same element, bro,” says Umair.

I shake my head at him, turning serious.

“Dude, you good?” I ask, eyeing him.

“Yeah,” he says, turning serious too.

It’s quiet for a moment.

Then Umair speaks again.

“I didn’t expect us to ever meet again after that day at the mosque, but I’m glad we did. Thanks for saving me,” he says.

Once again I don’t know what to say.

“I didn’t save you,” I say eventually. “I landed you in this mess.”

“It wasn’t your fault. Neither was it mine. It was meant to happen,” he says.

“And I’m glad it did,” he adds quietly a moment later.

Silence settles again.

As I look at him, the same feeling that hit me all those days ago in the Masjid carpark, hits me again.

I know this guy.

He and I, we’re the same.

Together we can accomplish great things.

And I couldn’t be happier that he is okay.

*****

Few weeks later:

“You’re what?!” I ask.

“I’m getting married,” Zee’s grinning voice comes through my phone.

“Bullsh*t!”

“Hey! Language!” he laughs.

“What kind of prank is this?” I ask, still not believing him.

“I’m serious,” he says, and he does sound serious.

“To who?” I ask after a moment of silence.

He doesn’t say anything.

“Bro, to who?” I ask again.

“Urmm…” he says hesitantly, but I can hear his grin. “Deeyanah.”

….

….

“Shut up!” I say, in disbelief.

“Ask her yourself,” says Zee.

“Holy guacamole! I’m coming ’round,” I say, hurrying down the stairs and grabbing the car keys before jumping into the car.

“Check you in 5,” laughs Zee.

*****

It had been a good month.

After the lows preceding it, it had been a damn good month.

In fact, I didn’t think it could get any better than this.

But it does.

*****

Dad walks into my room, trying to hide a smile.

“What?” I ask instantly, smiling too.

“I have some good news,” he says.

I look at him expectantly, my heart drumming.

What he says next, is the last thing I expect to hear.

After Zee’s news to me earlier that day, I didn’t think anything could leave me as surprised – nor as happy.

Everything in life always happen at the best time.

The thing is, we don’t always see the goodness in it.

And on the odd occasion, when we do – when the goodness of something happening at its specified time is apparent to us – it leaves us ecstatic.

In fact, so ecstatic, we even momentarily forget about all the times we wished something hadn’t happened when it did.

If only we could realize that everything happens at the right time, the best time, perfect time.

If only we could look at our lives through a lens of tawakkul and strong Imaan.

If only we could always remember that our destiny has been penned by a Being who’s mercy, love, and compassion is seventy times more than that of a mother to her child.

The heart would know no sorrow, no grief, no despair, for it would be content in every condition, knowing fully well that at that time, for it, that is the best condition.

“What is it?” I ask dad, the suspense making my mind race with possibilities.

“Insha Allah we’ll be leaving for Umrah in 4 days. Get packing!”


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

Gosh, I feel so out of touch writing from Meez’s head! 🙈 This is what happens when you don’t give your characters enough attention. They become difficult! 😭😂 Haha, anyway, hope you’ll enjoyed the post nonetheless! 😆💕

This will be the last post until after Ramadhaan, Insha Allah. Not sure exactly what date I’ll be back so make sure you’re following so that you don’t miss any posts once they start again. I hope you beautiful people all have a spiritually uplifting Ramadhaan and do remember me in your duaas, please! 🌻

Much Love, 

Troubled Illusioner. ❤

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One Hundred and Ninety

As narrated by Zee:

My heart drums against my ribcage as I wait for her reaction.

For a moment she simply looks at me, as my words register. Her eyes slowly widen and she gasps.

“I.. what.. did you just…” she stutters incoherently.

Then she’s hurriedly getting to her feet.

“Dee,” I say, quickly following suit. “Wait.”

I grab her hand involuntarily, preventing her from moving away.

“No,” she whispers, her tone matching the panic in her eyes. “No, no, no.”

My heart drops to my toes like a piece of lead in water.

“Listen,” I say, talking quickly.

“No,” she says again, her voice louder this time.

She tugs at her hand in mine.

“Let go,” she says. “Please, just let go.”

“Dee.. I -”

“I don’t want to hear!” she says her voice breaking. “Let go!”

And then she bursts into tears.

Momentarily surprised, my grip slackens. She yanks her hand out of mine and turns on her heel.

It was not suppose to go like this.

“Dee!” I call, my voice laced with anguish. “Wait! Please!”

But she ignores me, hurrying into the house.

Flabbergasted, I simply stand and stare at the gate she disappeared through.

What just happened…?!?!


As narrated by Amz:

It had been about 15 minutes since I let Zee out into the back, warning him that Dee was not eager to see him nor was she in a good mood.

He had confidently told me that he would manage to change that but he looked pretty nervous himself!

I hear the gate being opened, and jump to my feet, excitement rushing through me.

Are they good with each other now? Did he ask her? What did she say?

I head to the kitchen – which leads to the backyard – trying to act casual, but almost get knocked over by Dee dashing through the kitchen.

“Whoa!” I exclaim under my breath, stepping back and regaining my balance.

I make my way after Dee, already knowing that whatever happened did not go well.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” I ask gently, sitting down next to her on the bed.

Her breathing is fast and shallow, her hands covering her face to hide the tears flowing down her cheeks.

“Get out!” she says. “You knew! You knew and you still let him!”

“Dee -”

“No! I don’t want to hear! Get out!” she cuts me off, her voice rising.

Aunty Salma enters the room and immediately her face falls.

Our gaze meets and I sigh quietly.

Getting up, I shake my head at Aunty Salma and leave the room, making my way outside.

He’s sitting cross-legged, deep in thought, his hands fiddling with the grass.

“I warned you,” I say, sitting down in front of him.

“I know,” he says, not looking up.

“What happened?” I ask.

“I’m angry, not now,” he says, clenching his jaw.

“It’s not your fault,” I say.

“I know. It’s her father’s,” he says, getting up. “And I hate him for that.”

Then, he walks away.

I follow him into the house, willing my heart to stay strong for the sake of my friends.


As narrated by Zee:

“She said no,” I say, walking into the dining room, where the ladies are sitting. “Let’s go.”

I notice that Aunty Salma isn’t present.

Mummy frowns and a look of surprise crosses over Humairah’s face.

My ears listen to my words and my heart shakes in anger, in anguish.

Just like that, Zee?

You’re giving up so easily? After fighting so hard?

You’re not going to even try?

“What happened?” asks mummy, standing up.

“She said no,” I say, clenching my jaw.

“What do you mean she said no?” asks Humairah. “How could she have said no?”

“I thought you said she felt the same way,” adds mummy.

“She does feel the same way,” I say. “She’s just too scared to admit it.”

*****

That night – The early A.M.

Sleep hovers above me, an unreachable waft of bliss.

It slips through my eyelashes as I try to capture it, dancing between the thoughts of my mind. Between her laugh, her smile, her voice and her eyes.

It touches my eyelids, feather-light, and then disappears.

I toss and turn, willing it to caress my mind and pull me into its embrace but tonight it’s here to play.

Restless, I pick up my phone.

She answers on the first ring.

“Ziyaad.”

My heart pounds.

“Deeyanah.”

Silence meets my ear and for a second I think she’s hung up.

Then..

“I’m scared,” she says.

Her voice whispers her confession and I want to hold her and protect her and take away her fears.

“Listen to your heart, Dee,” I say. “It’s time you gave it a chance.”

“Zee,” she says, her voice breaking. “I can’t.”

“You can,” I say. “Don’t be selfish to yourself, Dee. Just this once, listen to your heart. I’m telling you, this time it won’t heal. If you break it now, it will stay broken forever. But if you listen to it now, it will heal. It will heal completely. I know you’re scared. I know I’m asking for a lot. I understand where you’re coming from. But give me a chance, Dee. Give your heart a chance. You’re too hard on yourself. It’s time to face your fears. I know it’s terrifying seeing something you don’t believe in right before your eyes, but take it head on. Love does exist and I’m willing to give you all of it. Just tell me what your heart says.”

It’s quiet on the other side and again I check my phone to see if she’s hung up, but she hasn’t.

So I wait.

Patiently I wait for her to speak, knowing that this can’t be easy for her.

As I wait, I wish it didn’t have to be like this, I wish it could just be simple and I wonder why love is so complicated.

But it’s not.

Love is not complicated.

We complicate it.

*****

“Dee,” I say after a long moment, when she still hasn’t said anything.

What she says next leaves me speechless for a second.

“My heart says that it’s willing to stop for you, how must it do that when you’re the reason it keeps going?”

Her voice is soft, shaky, but sincere.

This is a big deal for her – confessing the feelings of her heart.

“Dee….” I trail off, at a loss for words.

“Can we do a rerun?” she asks.

My heart skips a beat.

“A rerun?” I ask, desperately hoping she means what I think she means.

“Yeah. A rerun of your… samoosa run,” she says.

“Okay,” I say, my heart racing. “Knock knock?”

“Who’s there?”

“Will you marry?”

She doesn’t rush. This time, she makes me wait, taking her own sweet time to answer.

“Will you marry who?”

I play her game, letting the silence hang for a second longer than she did.

“Will you marry me?”

As the silence stretches, my smile slowly fades.

Then..

“Yes.”


ASDFGHJKL GUYYYYSS IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING!!! 😍💃🎉🎊💍❤

The initial plan was to have the wedding post and all finish before Ramadhaan but time constraints prevented that. There won’t be too much detail or many posts of the wedding because I want to get on with the story, and their “marriage” is going to be a bit different to what marriage usually entails (and also because I don’t have a clue how all this marriage stuff works! 😂😂) 

This post is for two people:

1) raindrop06 – I’m not sure if you’re still reading, but I remember in one of the still early posts you commented along the lines of not wanting these two to end up together. At that time I hadn’t even hinted towards the idea and I was so surprised that you guessed anyway. If you are still reading, I hope you no longer feel like they shouldn’t be together! 🌻 

2) Moolla – Your reaction when I told you Zeeyanah is finally happening still brings a smile to my face when I think about it. 😌😆 I’m also really glad that you’ve started reading again, even though I’m irritated that you missed a chunk (part of which was one of my favourite posts! 🙄) 

Insha Allah plan to get one more post up tomorrow before Ramadhaan – an update on Meez and Umair. If perchance I don’t manage, this will be the last post until after Ramadhaan. 

Much Love, 

Troubled Illusioner. ❤

One Hundred and Eighty Nine

As narrated by Dee:

My heartbeat picks up as I slowly open my eyes.

He’s sitting cross-legged next to my head, watching me intently.

For a long moment, neither of us say anything, lost in a breathless moment of mixed emotions.

Then..

“Hey,” he says softly, his lips lifting in a small smile.

Oh god. 

“Hey,” I say, but my voice doesn’t come out.

His eyes dance with amusement as his smile widens and my heart threatens to break through my rib-cage.

I swallow, then try again.

“Hey,” I say quietly.

Silence settles once again.

The sun disappears behind a cloud and the eye-squinting brightness dims.

I focus my gaze on the trees, trying to look anywhere besides at Zee, but my mind remains hyper-aware of his presence nonetheless.

“Do you want to hear a joke?” asks Zee, breaking the silence after a short moment.

I lift my gaze to meet his briefly before looking away again.

“Two police officers crashed their car into a tree. After a moment of silence, one of them says, ‘Wow, that’s got to be the fastest we ever got to the accident site.”

A smile tugs at my lips.

“A man asks a farmer near a field, ‘Sorry sir, would you mind if I crossed your field instead of going around it? You see, I have to catch the 4:23 train.’ The farmer says, ‘Sure, go right ahead. And if my bull sees you, you’ll even catch the 4:11 one.'”

I look up at him, giving in to my urge to smile when I see his grin.

“Nother one?” he asks, cocking his head slightly.

I lift myself up on my elbows, looking at him expectantly.

“A kid once bought his Grandma a very nice, luxurious toilet brush for her birthday. But when he went to visit her a couple of weeks later, it wasn’t in the bathroom. So he asked her, ‘Gran, what happened to the toilet brush I gave you?’ And she’s like, ‘Darling, I’m sorry but I just didn’t like it. It was too scratchy. After all those years, I’ve gotten used to the toilet paper!”

A gasp escapes me and then a giggle.

“An almost hysterical man calls 911 and yells, ‘Please come quickly! Kailey is pregnant and her labor started now, it’s really intense!’ So the operator asks, ‘Is this her first child?’ And the man is like, ‘No you dumbass! It’s her husband!'”

That one gets me.

My head falls back and I laugh out aloud.

“That’s a good one,” I say, sitting up fully, crossing my legs.

Zee grins.

“Knock knock,” he says.

“Who’s there?” I reply.

“Lena.”

“Lena who?”

“Lena bit closer, let’s talk.”

“Knock knock,” he says again, immediately.

“Who’s there?”

“Anita.”

“Anita who?”

“Anita little love and understanding.”

I frown slightly.

What is he doing…

His face is serious now, and his eyes are locked on mine.

“Knock knock?”

I hesitate.

He waits.

“Who’s there?” I ask quietly.

“Lenda.”

I search his eyes.

“Lenda who?”

“Lenda a listening ear, please.”

My heartbeat had slowed, but now it picks up again.

“Zee…”

My voice comes out just above a whisper, soft and scared.

“No. Wait. Let me speak first,” he says. “Please.”

I let him.

He runs his hand through his hair, taking a deep breath.

“I know I messed up, and for that I’m sorry. I’m not sorry for what I did to Fuaad but I am sorry that you had to see it happening. I’m going to tell you now finish that it might happen again. If he touches you again, it will happen again. If anyone touches you again, I’m going to get angry. But my anger will never be directed at you. That’s what you need to understand. I will hurt someone who hurts you, but I will never hurt you. That I promise. I’m sorry that you had to see what you saw, and that it triggered awful memories and I’m sorry that I just left it at that. I’m sorry that I didn’t clear the air, explain to you how I felt and why I felt like that but to an extent, I myself didn’t know. But I do know now and that’s why I’m here.”

He stops for breath and I realize that I’m holding mine too.

I breathe deeply, in sync with him, before he continues again.

“I’ve known you since playschool and that’s almost 13 years now. We’ve had our bad moments, but none have been as bad as these past two weeks. Dee, please can we move past this? Forgive and forget? There’s a lot of things I’ve figured out about you.. me.. about us.. in the past two weeks but I can’t live like this – not knowing where I stand with you, not being able to talk to you whenever I want, not knowing whether you hate my existence or not -”

I gasp, cutting him off.

“I… I don’t hate you!” I say, my heart aching. “Zee, you saved my life!”

“That doesn’t matter. Are you angry with me?” he asks.

I open my mouth to reply but he puts his hands on my legs, stopping me.

“No, think about it. I need the truth,” he says.

So I do. I think about it.

Am I angry with him?

Am I angry with this guy sitting in front of me, eyes pained, yet full of sincerity?

Am I angry with this guy, who for two weeks I didn’t know where I stood with him and the thought killed me?

Am I angry with this guy who makes every day of mine brighter, better?

His eyes search my face, waiting for an answer.

“I’m not,” I say finally. “I’m not angry with you….”

He waits, listening silently, waiting for me to go on.

I swallow, close my eyes and take a deep breath.

Then I look at him again and speak from my heart.

“But I am… upset. I’m confused. And afraid. After what happened that day… I couldn’t come to terms with…” my voice wobbles and I stop.

He takes my shaking hands in his, squeezing them gently, urging me to go on.

“I.. it triggered memories.. and I.. saw you as someone else,” I say, my voice breaking. “And I couldn’t bring myself… to.. to believe it… because.. that.. that wasn’t you. That isn’t who.. I know you to be. It was horrible.. because… because my mind kept telling me… that.. before Paapa…”

Unable to go on, I stop.

I remove my hands from Zee’s, wipe my tears and breathe deeply again before continuing.

“My mind kept telling me that before Paapa.. changed.. he too was a different person,” I say quietly, not daring to look up at Zee.

“But in my heart.. I knew.. I know.. that you’re different. Which.. probably makes you wonder… why I.. why I shut you out..” I continue.

The cloud that hid the sun moves along, and the hot sunlight touches my skin, brightens the whole yard again.

“I was.. confused,” I say, my voice wavering again. “Understand where I am coming from.. how difficult it was for me to be able to listen to my heart.. when my mind was yelling at me through a bullhorn. My heart knew.. it knows.. but my mind is a merciless torturer.”

I pause briefly, gathering my thoughts before carrying on again.

“That night on the pier.. you didn’t just save my life,” I say, looking up at him now, our eyes meeting. “You saved me from my mind.. you saved.. us.. our friendship. You saved that.. that drowning piece of confidence which thought of you as you are. You saved that and now it has healed and strengthened and I believe in it with a conviction so strong, that it has kept me sane.. pulled me through last week.”

I can hear it in the sudden strength of my voice.

I can feel it in the way my heart suddenly pounds against my chest in agreement.

He is Zee.

Gentle Zee. Kind Zee. Zee with a heart of gold.

Zee who saved my life. My best friend.

And no one else. Nothing else.

“I’m not angry with you,” I say again, finishing off. “I’m not upset anymore either, nor confused. But I would be lying if I said I’m not a tiny bit afraid.”

He’s silent for what seems like eternity.

More than once, he opens his mouth to say something, then stops.

My heart races in anticipation of his reaction.

Then…

“Knock knock.”

I smile; and he smiles seeing my smile.

“Who’s there?”

“Olive.”

“Olive who?”

“Olive you.”

I frown.

“What?!” I ask, with a laugh.

He groans.

“I knew you wouldn’t get that one,” he says, shaking his head and avoiding my gaze.

“Tell me!” I say, trying to get him to look at me.

“Olive you,” he says again.

“Olive?!” I say, laughing again. “You olive me? What?!”

He shakes his head with a groan again.

“Never mind, that one was a bad idea,” he says.

“Nooo, I want to know!” I whine. “Please!”

“Alright but first listen to what I have to say,” he says, turning serious.

“Okay,” I reply, waiting for him to speak.

But he doesn’t say anything for a long moment.

He doesn’t know how to say what he wants to – I can see it from his face.

“Actually, you know what, I have a lot that I want to say, but I don’t know how, and words mean nothing so I’m going to show you instead. I understand why you’re afraid and you have every reason to feel afraid, but I hate that you are afraid of me so I’m going to change that. I won’t ever physically hurt you, Dee. I know that emotionally, that’s exactly what I did. I’m sorry, Dee, really I am. He just made me so unimaginably angry, I couldn’t even think straight.”

I can see in his eyes that his behaviour has hurt him too. And all I can think of right then is how I want to erase it all, delete the moment from our lives, so that I can see his eyes smile again. So that the anguished hurt that occupies it now is removed.

“It’s okay, Zee, it’s okay. Don’t be upset,” I say, taking his hands in mine. “Let’s put it behind us. I hate to see you like this.”

“Do you forgive me?” he asks, his eyes pleading with mine.

“Yes, so long as you forgive me too,” I say.

It’s as if my answer breaks through his distress, cracking it open and revealing his heart-melting smile underneath. He pulls me into a hug and I smile too, his happiness contagious.

“For you there is nothing to forgive,” he says.

I pull back and look at him again.

“I’m so glad you came,” I say.

“I’m glad I came too,” he says.

“Did your family really all come just to visit, though?” I ask. “That’s what Maama says but I feel like you’ll planned this. They came as an excuse for you, isn’t?”

“I.. well,” he mumbles, running his hands through his soft, floppy hair.

He looks nervous all of a sudden and it makes me nervous!

“Well?” I press, waiting with bated breath.

He takes a deep breath.

“You wanna know why I’m really here… why we all here?” he asks.

“Yeah,” I say, my heart beating faster.

“I’m doing my first, and hopefully only, samoosa run,” he says.

“What?” I ask frowning.

“This script is not going according to plan so I’m just going to jump to the last line. Knock knock.”

I look at him dumbfounded.

“Knock knock!” he says again.

“Who’s there?” I ask, my voice full of trepidation.

“Answer fast, okay, don’t think about anything,” he says.

“Okay,” I say, nodding. “Who’s there?”

“Will you marry?”

“Will you marry who?” I say quickly, not thinking, just as he said.

“Will you marry me?”

One Hundred and Eighty Eight

As narrated by Dee:

The intercom buzzes and I take that as my cue to disappear into my bedroom.

I close the door halfway and head to the window from which I can see the driveway.

They came in two cars – Hanzalah’s BMW and Zee’s Naana’s Yaris.

I watch as the doors open and everyone gets off.

Automatically my gaze briefly passes over everyone before settling on Zee.

He’s wearing a white.. or is it grey…

I squint against the afternoon sun.

Grey.

A grey shirt style T with dark blue details and matching blue jeans.

“At least he’s dressed normally,” I muse.

In fact, they all are.

Humairah is wearing a maxi pale pink dress with grey floral printing and a matching grey cardigan. A pink hijaab sits perfectly in her signature turban-style atop her head, covering her hair.

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Muaaz, as always, is wearing a kurta. Beige with light brown details.

Aunty Fahmida is clad in a cloak and Uncle Hussain in a plain white kurta – also their usual dressing.

And Amz wanted me to wear a dress! I’d have stuck out like a sore thumb!

They make their way inside, Hanzalah and Zee lingering at the back.

A combination of loud, soft, feminine and masculine voices fills the house for a moment before the ladies make their way to the dining room and the men to the lounge.

Now I can go out without having to come across Zee because from the room I can go straight to the dining room, and the dining room can’t be seen from the lounge.

But for some odd reason a sense of nervousness creeps up towards me.

I sit down onto the bed, chewing my lower lip.

Maybe I can just get away without making an appearance…

Would that be rude??

“Extremely rude,” the voice inside my head admonishes sternly.

It’s just Zee’s family, Dee! Stop making a big deal out of it!

Clicking my tongue at my silliness, I get up and move to make my way out of the room.

At their own accord, my legs stop in front of the mirror.

I tug the bottom of my hip-length, green T-shirt down a little, frowning slightly.

Then, glancing up at my face, I meet my reflection’s gaze in the mirror.

“I should really go out in the sun more often,” I muse, noticing my pale skin.

I stand on tiptoes then flatten my feet again.

And maybe invest in a pair of heels..

Those chunky badass ones, perhaps..

Exiting the room, I make my way down the passage, stopping a few feet away from the dining room.

My heart thuds against my ribcage as the conversation reaches my ears.

“Never mind, I’m thinking it’s better,” Aunty Fahmida is saying. “You should see my Ziyaad! Ya Allah I wouldn’t be surprised if he hasn’t slept since Thursday!”

Thursday?? What happened on Thursday??

My mind doesn’t recall anything.

“Uhuh but I’m more nervous for Dee,” says Humairah.

I frown.

What’s she nervous for me for?!

“You’ll should have just told her, poor thing!” says Humairah.

My frown deepens, my thundering heart beginning to race.

Told me what??

I step forward but stop again as Amz suddenly appears in front of me.

“Dee!” she exclaims in surprise, her eyes widening.

“Tell me,” I demand in reply, my voice low but firm.

“What?” she asks, her voice lower this time, her surprise turning into confusion.

“Tell me,” I say again, my eyes narrowing. “What is this about? What are you’ll hiding from me??”

Amz doesn’t say anything immediately.

Her expression neutralizes before she speaks again.

“How long have you been standing here?” she asks.

“Why are they here?” I demand, my anger building.

“They’re visiting, Dee,” replies Amz.

“Don’t lie to me,” I growl softly through gritted teeth.

“I’m not,” she says, lowering her voice even more.

If she hadn’t been standing right in front of me I wouldn’t have been able to hear her.

“Don’t get angry, come on,” she says gently, taking my hand.

I tug my hand out of hers and push past her.

“Dee!” she calls, reaching for my hand again.

I move quickly, ignoring her.

Instead of heading back to the room, I make my way outside.

It’s a quicker escape from Amz and my lungs breathe in the fresh air, easing my anger slightly.

I sit down cross-legged in a shady spot on the grass, trying to get my thoughts in order.

They’re a swirling chaos, a gigantic unorganized mess.

I drop my head into my hands, resting elbows on my thighs.

Zee and his family are definitely not here just to visit.

I should have asked him. He would have told me.

But he hadn’t even answered my calls.

I think back to where it all started….

Fuaad’s mouth on mine, rough and silencing..

His hand connecting with my cheek, connecting with a weakly sealed box of memories inside my head, throwing it open and sending its contents flying..

Then.. Zee.

Zee in a blinding fit of rage, taking Fuaad to the brink of destruction..

Amz yelling, begging..

And me… my mind reeling, watching in complete disbelief, cold fear, heart-shattering realization.

He was one of them.

Zee.

My best friend.

He was a monster too.

“He acted out because he wanted to protect you,” Amz had said to me later. “I know what you’re thinking, and I’m sorry it triggered such horrible memories for you, but he will never hurt you.”

And I knew. I knew he would never hurt me. He never had.

But seeing someone act out in anger is something that plays on your mind for many days to follow.

The days had passed like that, my mind at war with my heart, troubled illusions confusing me even more.

And then he saved my life.

For a second time.

It hit me like a collapsing brick wall.

I switched our positions inside my head and knew in a heartbeat that I’d have done the same.

But, later that night when I called him, he didn’t pick up.

My mind jumped at the opportunity to taunt my heart again.

As it is once again doing right now.

I lay down on the grass, closing my eyes, trying to compromise with my mind and heart.

If only they’d agree, feel the same way.

But the mind is the mind, and the heart is the heart.

The mind thinks, the heart feels.

The mind is rational, the heart is impulsive.

The mind argues, the heart gives in.

The mind is careful, the heart is reckless.

And while it might seem logical to listen to the mind, you can’t fight the feeling of the heart.

The heart rules.

What the heart says, has to go.

A breeze blows and a whiff of a fresh fragrance hits my senses.

I briefly picture blue waves crashing at a shore surrounded by tall trees and lush greenery growing through rich brown soil, wet with rain.

Then, my thoughts freeze abruptly as the scent clouds my brain, the dots joining.

That scent.

One Hundred and Eighty Seven

As narrated by Dee:

A week later – Back in JHB…

“Deeyanah,” calls a soft voice.

Maama.

She shakes me gently.

“Deeyanah.”

“Hmm..” I reply.

“Come, you need to wake up,” says Maama.

But her voice is like a lullaby, her hand stroking my hair – a moment I want to last for ever.

“What’s the time?” I ask.

“Almost 9,” replies Maama.

“Aunty Fahmida and them are coming today…” she adds a moment later.

I groan.

“You still haven’t told me why,” I say, opening one eye to look at Maama before closing it again.

“I did tell you,” she replies. “They’re coming to visit.”

“All the way from Durban? To visit?” I humph.

Maama doesn’t say anything.

“I hope Zee doesn’t come,” I mumble.

“Come, Amaani is already up and in the kitchen,” says Maama, ignoring my statement.

A familiar regret pains me.

“When are we moving?” I ask. “She’s so uncomfortable.”

A sad expression appears on Maama’s face.

She stands up with a sigh.

“Whenever is best, Insha Allah,” she says quietly.

Sitting up I tie my hair into a ponytail  before pushing back the duvet and getting out of bed.

I watch Maama’s retreating figure as she exits the room.

I want to call to her, tell her I love her more than I love anything in the whole world, but the words jam in my throat.

Swallowing hard, I make my way to the bathroom.

*****

“What do you mean I can’t wear this?” I ask, frowning at Amz.

“You can’t!” she says, opening the cupboard all my things are packed in.

She rummages through the items, muttering to herself.

“Don’t you have a dress?” she asks, glancing at me over her shoulder.

My mouth falls open.

“A dress?!” I ask incredulously.

I stare at her in disbelief, then burst out laughing.

“You’ll have all gone insane!” I say, picking up my towel and standing up.

“Dee!” shouts Amz.

“What?” I ask, turning around.

“I’m serious. You can’t wear that. We’re getting visitors, you need to dress decently!” she says.

“This is how I always dress!” I say, indicating to my clothes. “I don’t have any other clothes.”

“Wear something of mines,” says Amz, opening the other cupboard and going through her larger variety of clothes.

“Your things don’t fit me, Amz,” I remind her slowly, starting to get irritated.

I hang up my towel in the bathroom before exiting the room and making my way to the kitchen.

Greeting quietly, I take out a mug and make myself some coffee before sitting down.

“You’re wearing that?” asks Maama.

My mug halts midway to my mouth.

What is it with them today?!

“Yes,” I say, frowning slightly.

“She’s being stubborn,” says Amz, walking into the kitchen.

“I’m not being stubborn!” I say, turning to her, my frown deepening. “This is how I dress all the time! Even in front of Auntyt Fahmida! I don’t see what the fuss is all about.”

“Fusshh!” squeals Ramla, sending the porridge in her mouth spraying.

“Ramla!” scolds Daanyaal, wiping his face.

“Fussh!” she says again.

I bite back a grin as Daanyaal wipes her mouth with a facecloth, reprimanding her.

“Naughty Ramla!” he says, frowning at her.

“Not naughty!” she says.

Amz’s phone rings, and the sound distracts her.

I don’t have to look at the caller ID to see who it is.

Zee is that person who half the room can hear when he’s on the other side of the phone!

I get up and leave the kitchen, feeling Maama’s gaze on me the whole time.

A familiar feeling of sadness merged with anger settles on my heart as his voice rings in my ears.

No matter how hard I try to deny it, I can’t wait to see him this afternoon.


As narrated by Zee:

“Do I look fine?” I ask Humairah.

“For the hundredth time, yes!” replies Humairah.

“You didn’t even look at me!” I say.

She rolls her eyes dramatically before turning to me.

I wait expectantly as she looks me up and down.

“Yes Ziyaad, you look perfect,” she says. “Now can you chill?”

“When Hanzalah came to see you I’m sure that’s exactly what you did,” I mutter.

“Is everyone ready?” asks Mummy.

A mixed chorus of Yeah” and Jee” sounds from different parts of the house.

“We waiting for you,” Daddy says to mummy.

“Just putting on my shoes,” comes her reply.

A couple of minutes later we’re in two cars on our way to Uncle Rashid’s place.