As narrated by Zee:
WhatsApp Chat: Rameez.
MEEZ: Come over asap
That’s all his message says.
I know better than to take my time or reply with a snarky comment. Changing out of my school uniform, I throw on a sweater and pull on a hoodie over that. Jeans, sneakers and a quick comb through my hair, I grab my warmest jacket (Yeah, it’s freezing cold and I’m no superman -sorry girls!), let Ma know where I’m going, and I’m out of the house.
Aunty Aadila greets me at the door with a hug and few words. She looks tired, a look I’ve last seen on her when Uncle Ismaeel was gone, which was about a year ago!
“Rameez is in his room. Take it easy..” she says, not meeting my eye.
I give her a reassuring smile and head upstairs.
Meez is laying on his bed, staring at the ceiling, doing absolutely nothing.
Are you kidding me?!
He sits up as I walk into his room.
“What’s up bro?” I ask after greeting. “You look like crap man.”
“FIFA?” he answers my question with a question.
“Sure,” I reply, knowing that he’ll talk eventually.
While everything starts up, I update Meez on Tayyiba’s situation.
He nods now and then, acknowledging that he is listening.
4 nil later, I hit the pause button.
This is not Meez. Something’s off, drastically off- you don’t just find yourself ahead of Meez in a game of FIFA within the first 15 minutes.
He looks at me wearily.
I’m silent, waiting for him to talk.
“Parents found out..” he starts.
I look at him questioningly. I mean, there are many things that Meez’s parents could have found out considering the amount of crap he does that his parents don’t know about!!
“Nabeelah,” he says bitterly.
Oh shit! That couldn’t have been an enviable situation!
My expression must have revealed my thoughts because he nods with a sigh.
“How?” I ask before resuming the game.
Meez then proceeds to tell me the events of the past 48 hours, occasionally yelling at his players to ‘shoot!’, or ‘pass the darn ball!’.
“And I just flipped, might have connected with her shoulder-blade, almost hit my mum.”
I drop my controller, shock seizing me.
“WHAT?!” I ask, unable to control the horror in my voice. “Dude if you’re-”
Meez ignores me, continuing in a monotonous tone.
No, no, no! What is he saying?!
“Meez, bro!” I grab his arm, forcing him to look at me.
And when he does, I almost don’t recognize the guy looking back at me.
When had so much changed? I was here all along, but why does it seem like I’ve missed so much?
Meez and I, we’re the boys.. the duo who’d throw sand in the girls’ hair and then run away in play school, the duo who’d steal Uncle Ismaeel’s stethoscope and then fight to be the doctor…
“I got the stethoscope so I have to be the doctor!”
“But my dad is a doctor! Give it to me, you have to be the patient!”
“I’m cleverer than you, you’re stupid!”
And then Meez would go crying to his mum saying I called him stupid. The stethoscope would be given back to Uncle Ismaeel and we’d be sent to play outside.
We were the duo who hid in the girls’ bathroom during break to scare the crap out of them in Grade 4.
We were the duo constantly getting detention for breaking the school rules when we went through our punk rock phase in Grade 7.
And in Grade 8 when I came back to JHB after 3 months, being unable to adapt to life in Durban, new school, new friends, etc, Meez and I were once again the duo that drove the teachers crazy. And at that time our bond was stronger than ever.
But life isn’t easy.. it wasn’t made to be easy.
As they say, life happened.. more so for Meez than I.
And that was the point we all started losing Meez… only, at that time we didn’t realize. We’ve only realized now, but now it’s too late.. because we’ve lost him already.
“I tried, I swear I tried to fight it,” Meez voice brings me back to reality.
I listen silently, observing the way he fiddles with the controller in his hands, observing the way his jaw clenches at every pause.. and I’m watching him, my eyes don’t leave him, yet it still feel like his slipping away.. deeper and further into a powerful sea of sadness.
“Meez!” I yell.
He stops, startled.
“Jeez bro, I’m sitting right next to you!”
“Sorry,” I mumble, then laugh at my ridiculousness.
“You behave like such a girl sometimes!” he says shaking his head at me.
“Says the boy who used to cry when I would call him stupid!” I say with a smirk.
He frowns, trying to remember.
“You know, when we used to play, ‘Doctor, doctor’!”
“Oh yaaaa!” he says, grinning now.
Meez resumes our game of FIFA and we reminisce on our childhood memories (as if we’re adults with our lives all in order now!)
“Serious though, you need to get yourself sorted bro,” I say after a while.
He doesn’t say anything.
“Habits that start now are going to stay forever. Just stop all this crap you’re doing and everything else will fall into place mahn.”
But if only it was so easy…
Meez comes with his dad and I for Maghrib Salaah and Uncle Ismaeel drops me off at home after that.
Meez looks much better, happier, and lighter when I greet him in the car than when I did this afternoon when I just got to his house…. which is obviously the outcome of spending time with me! 😉
Grinning I walk to the front door, slip my keys into the keyhole and unlock the door.
A frown slowly replaces the grin on my face, as I walk into a dead silent house.
The Radio Islam receiver is usually playing 24/7.
“Ma?” I call out instinctively.
She’s probably just reading her Salaah, calm down!
But my heart rate increases rapidly, as I close the door as silently as possible.
My footsteps sound too loud, even though I’m wearing sneakers.
My mind is racing with the worst possible scenarios.
I stop, and breath.
Right, calm down Zee, the house has been quiet before, no biggie.
I go to the kitchen first.
Ma isn’t there.
I switch on the Radio Islam.
The after Maghrib recitation of Surah Waaqiah comes blasting through and I jump in fright.
I turn the volume dial.
I spin around, panic seizing me.
I freeze, horror filling my entire being.
The ‘creature’ opens its mouth and reaches for me.
A blood curling scream escapes me involuntarily, as I duck out of reach and race out of the kitchen.
Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola.
Hope everyone is doing gooood on this Thursday evening!
Shout out to the person who looks like the image in the post, which she found for me, because I was too scared to do it. (Jk, thanks -foreal)
Sorry if it scared the crap out of you, you can fight with the person who found it, who by the way calls herself my ‘editor’!
Lmao, I’m outta here before she comes at me with that scary face of hers.
Troubled Illusioner. ❤
(P.S. Drop me a comment letting me know who you think is the face behind the mask.)