One Hundred and Fourteen

As narrated by Amz:

“Is everything okay?” I ask, watching Dee as she bites into her slice of pizza.

“The food’s great. Eat before it gets cold,” she says, after swallowing her mouthful.

“After supper,” she adds almost inaudibly.

I smile inwardly.

We eat quickly in comfortable silence. After clearing up, I scoop out ice-cream into one big bowl, grab two spoons, and we head to the lounge.

I wait patiently for Dee to talk.

“Uncle Rashid called again,” she says finally. “Daanyaal is leaving Rehab tomorrow. He said I should be there.”

“Already?” I ask, unable to contain my surprise. “Wow. Time flies.”

“Yeah,” she replies quietly.

“So you’re going, right?” I ask hopefully.

Her spoon stops midway to her mouth.

“Well, actually.. I was thinking of going.. but, I don’t know.”

“Well, you know what they say. Don’t overthink it, just do it!” I say enthusiastically.

She smiles, rolling her eyes.

“No really, you should go,” I say seriously.

“You reckon?” she asks, sucking on her spoon.

“Yeah. It will be lovely!”

She frowns.

“Well, maybe not lovely,” I add quickly, realizing that maybe I’m being too enthusiastic! “But it’ll do you good. And I’m sure everyone will be happy to see you.”

She sighs softly, her frown deepening slightly.

“Daanyaal will be pumped. I’m sure he’s nervous, too. Seriously, stop thinking about it so much and just go!” I say, trying to convince her.

A long moment of silence passes.

“Alright,” she says, after what feels like eternity. “Guess I’ll go, but -”

Dee’s phone rings, cutting her off. She hurries out of the lounge to get it.

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As narrated by Daanyaal:

Today is the day… the day I go home.

Filled with a mixture of emotions, I watch from the window, as Uncle Rashid gets off the car.

He’s here… he’s here to fetch me!

The knot in my stomach tightens when I lose sight of him as he enters the building.

I’m going home.. 

A couple minutes later, Uncle Rashid walks into the ward.

“Assalaamualaikum Daanyaal,” he greets, hugging me.

Replying his greeting softly, I gather up my iPod and earphones, slipping them into my pocket.

“How are you?” asks Uncle Rashid as he picks up my small backpack.

I’m scared.. terrified in fact.. But I’m also excited..

“Alhamdulillah,” I reply.

“Ready to go?” he asks, surveying my area in the room, before looking at me.

I lift my gaze, and look him straight in the eye.

“Yes.”

*****

The drive is quiet, just the way I want it.

Uncle Rashid understands that I’m not in a mood to make conversation, and I’m grateful for the silence. It gives me an opportunity to think.

Different scenarios play out in my head as the tall buildings of Joburg city pass by.

I roll down the window and rest my chin on the frame.

Hot wind blows against my face.

I close my eyes.. and vividly it all replays.

First the door slamming, then the yelling… The blows, the glass bottle, the pain… The endless darkness that followed, the oblivion, the unawareness… The bright light when my eyes opened after a month… The hushed words, the strong surgical smell… The confusion, the anxiety, the terror… Dee; my long lost sister… Moving locations… starting from scratch again – learning to do basics… The truth unfolding… Remembering… The pain, the hurt, the anguish, the disbelief… And now, finally, leaving… Closing a chapter that I’m certain I’ll be forced to read again and again…

The car stops, pulling me out of my thoughts and back to reality.

My heart instantly starts beating faster, but then I realize that we’re just at a red robot.

Calming down only slightly, I glance at Uncle Rashid, wondering if my mother will look similar to him. Only shadows of her image reside in my memory..

It’s painful.

It’s painful spending hours wondering about things like what my own mother looks like.

It’s painful living a life with empty spaces in your memory.

And even though he’s dead, it’s painful just simply thinking about Paapa.

This pain… it’s the kind of pain that leaves you breathless. The kind of pain that crushes you so mercilessly, that you’re left wondering if it will be the reason for your death..

But it won’t… because it is that same pain, that keeps you alive.

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*****

My heart hammers against my chest, and I wipe my sweaty hands on my pants for the umpteenth time.

The car has slowed and we’re now driving slowly down the roads and around the bends of a suburb.

Uncle Rashid pulls into a driveway and I have to remind myself to breathe, to calm down, and to just take it as it comes.

The gate rolls open and we pull in.

My limbs feel like lead as I move my hand to the car door handle.

“It’s going to be fine, Daanyaal.”

I stop at the sound of Uncle Rashid’s voice.

“Everyone is looking forward to seeing you, especially your mum.”

His words do nothing to calm me. In fact, I feel even more anxious.

Just breathe, just breathe. No one’s going to shoot you!

Taking a deep breath, I step out of the car.

Together Uncle Rashid and I go up to the front door.

It’s awfully quiet here and that does nothing to help my nervousness.

I look around, scanning my surroundings as Uncle Rashid fumbles with his bunch of keys.

The lawn is a perfect shade of green, roses of all shades growing on its perimeter.

I hear the lock click as Uncle Rashid turns the key.

He pushes the door open, and gestures for me to enter.

Filled with trepidation, I obey.

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