One Hundred and Twelve

As narrated by Amz:

“Dee! Get the phone,” I shout from my bedroom.

“Hello?” I hear Dee answer after a few seconds. “I’m well shukran, how are you?” “Okay, just a minute.”

“It’s for you,” she says quietly as she enters my room and hands me the phone.

Dee walks out, closing the door halfway behind her.

Lifting the phone to my ear I greet.

“Aunty Sakeena!” I exclaim, on hearing the voice of the woman I would have been calling ‘mummy’, had things panned out differently. “How are you?”

“Alhamdulillah and how are you?”

“I’m well.. doing much better,” I reply.

“That’s good,” she says.

A brief moment of silence passes before she speaks again.

“Amaani, I have some news…” she says.

*****

I hang up, my cheeks aching from smiling too wide.

“Dee!” I yell excitedly, jumping up and heading to her bedroom.

“I’m in the kitchen,” I hear her call.

I make my way downstairs and find her sitting on the counter top.

“Guess what?!”

“Aunty Sakeena is pregnant!!” I say happily, not even giving her a chance to guess.

“Aunty Sakeena?” she asks, confused. “Ohh, your would have been adoptive mum?”

“Yip,” I reply, popping the p.

“That’s lovely!” she says, smiling.

“I know right! I felt so bad changing my mind last minute like that. I’m sure they must have also been excited to have a daughter. And now they’re having one of their own… after 12 years!!”

The buzzing of the intercom stops Dee from what she’s about to say.

“I’ll get it,” I say.

It’s Sumayya… but I almost don’t recognize her.

Draped untidily on her head is a black hijab with a swarovski printed brand name, shining in the late afternoon sun, on its edge.

I can’t help but show my surprise, my eyebrows lifting involuntarily.

“I know, I know!” groans Sumayya. “It’s untidy, but this is the only thing I can think of!”

I greet, hugging her.

“How you doing?” I ask.

“Urgh, don’t even ask! I am so close to murdering Zee! I haven’t had such a bad day in ages!” she complains. “First I stood in the shower till the hot water got finished, because Hamza said it’s some cheap brand that should be out in 3 weeks if I wash everyday, but no! It didn’t even fade one bit! Then my mother says we’re having a family braai at Zoo Lake! Zoo lake!! Of all the places on planet Earth, they chose Zoo lake, where every Indian goes on a Sunday! And now I must also go, with my hair looking like I went to a child who had three shades of paint in her hand to get it done! I tried like, every single style on YouTube, but they only made it look worse! Now what must do?! I go to ask my mother and see her tying her scarf, so I’m like, ‘That’s it. Just tie one hijab round couple times.’ But nooo… bloody thing is more slippery than a wet seal and makes me look bald because my hair is too short to tie!”

It’s getting more and more difficult to hold my laughter in as Sumayya dramatically continues her story. I notice Dee has joined us, she too trying to hide her grin.

“All those YouTube tutorials are lies! The girl just puts a pin here, takes it round her head, and then another pin, and the material goes another way and bam, she’s ready to catwalk a brand new hijab style! But when I tried doing it, it ended up looking like my T-shirt got stuck going over my head so I just stuck several pins in it and left it! But okay fine, it’s understandable, I mean, it is, after all, my first time trying it. So sure, it took me like, five hundred tries, but eventually I got it to look satisfactory. But then I realized I hadn’t done my makeup yet! And it would be impossible to do it with a hijab on! All the way back to square one! And then… after getting it right AGAIN, I go outside to put something in the car, and in 0.3 seconds, after spending like, three darn hours getting it right, the wind blows and viola, my hijab thinks it’s in some kind of game where it has to block my view while flying off my head at the same time! My goodness, I was so annoyed by then!!”

Dee and I are laughing now, unable to hold it any longer.

“And ohhh my God, the worst was when I had to eat! I had managed to get my hijab in place for the THIRD time after the damned tornado almost blew it away, but all of a sudden, at lunch time, my hijab is falling again, 4 pins and all!! And then, by the time I had finished eating, it looked like my hijab had eaten too, because I had to keep on putting it in place with my messy hands! Eyh, for real man, I don’t know how people wear this thing so effortlessly on a daily basis!”

“I suppose you will get used to it,” I say when she stops, finally getting a chance to speak.

“I don’t think I ever will! Lucky it’s only for a little while. I already can’t wait to get it off! Plus it’s so hot! They may as well have braaied the meat under my hijab!” exclaims Sumayya.

“It suits you though,”says Dee.

“Salaam, by the way,” she adds, grinning.

Sumayya replies Dee’s greeting, rolling her eyes.

“You should just carry on wearing it forever, because like Dee said, it suits you. Plus it’s a good step Islamically,” I say seriously.

“Yeah, and it really does look nice on you, you just have to get used to tying it. Your cheekbones look great! Higher than Mount Everest,” says Dee.

“Is that a compliment or an insult?” asks Sumayya, narrowing her eyes.

“A compliment obviously,” I say, laughing.

“An insulting compliment,” corrects Dee, smirking.

Sumayya shakes her head but smiles.

“Anyway, Hamza’s coming to fetch me after Salaah. I came to get my toothbrush. I forgot it here last night,” says Sumayya.

We get up and go upstairs together.

I’m glad to see Sumayya like her old self again. She doesn’t usually get angry in a hurry, but last night, when she did get angry, it was a bit scary!

Dee on the other hand seems to be slipping again.

This morning she added an extra spoonful of coffee into her mug and twice I’ve caught that weary look in her eyes before she quickly replaced it with the standard guarded one.

I make a mental note to ask her if everything’s okay once Sumayya is gone..

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Sumayya
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