Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀 (Think we’ll just stick with this greeting for now, yeah?)
So, I woke up this morning like:
And then, still in bed, cuddling (with my blanket, duh 🙄😂) I realized I need to finish this post, and study maths. 😭
Mood went from that👆, to this👇, real fast.
Anyway 😂, here’s your post, my lovely readers. Enjoy! 🌸
Troubled Illusioner. ❤
As narrated by Zee:
Rust coloured palisade lines the boundary of a facebrick house.
We turn into the driveway, parking in front of the double garage.
I glance at Dee.
Her expression is blank, but her face is pale. Her knee is jiggling up and down and her hands tremble slightly. She’s biting her lip, a habit she’s had from small when she’s nervous.
“We’ll only go in when you’re ready,” Uncle Ismaeel says to Dee quietly.
The atmosphere in the car is charged with negative vibes, making it tense and suffocating.
“I’m ready,” says Dee, her voice just above a whisper.
She doesn’t sound ready at all.
Uncle Ismaeel opens his door and gets off.
“Hey, it’s going to be fine, Dee,” says Meez, turning around in the front seat.
“Yeah,” I echo. “They’re going to be ecstatic to see you!”
I look at Dee and wonder at the current state of her mother as she awaits her daughter’s arrival. I wonder if Aunty Salma is as nervous as her daughter. If she too didn’t sleep last night, apprehension and fear keeping her up. I wonder if she too is fighting against guilt and shame, suppressing it with positive thoughts that she barely believes in.
“Listen,” says Amz, playing the strong role, as always. “Just breathe. Even if things don’t go fine, just remember to breathe. Hold the reigns of your mind with a firm hand. Now is the last time you need your thoughts to throw you over. Don’t fight your emotions. You need to express yourself or they’re going to destroy you inside. If you feel like crying, cry. If you feel like laughing, laugh. And if you feel like running out, run out. I’ll be at the door to send you back in.”
Meez and I laugh lightly, but Dee barely smiles.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” says Dee.
Amz’s face falls.
“Of course you can,” encourages Meez. “C’mon, you look fine as wine, and everything’s going to go smoother than my pickup lines!”
“Meez!” scolds Amz.
“Sorry,” says Meez, grinning mischievously.
Uncle Ismaeel ducks his head and peers into the car.
“You’ll coming?” he asks.
“Yeah,” replies Meez, getting off.
I squeeze Dee’s hand gently before opening the car door and slowly getting out.
Amz and Dee join us a couple of seconds later.
“I can’t,” whispers Dee.
“You can,” Amz whispers back, holding her hand.
Uncle Ismaeel rings the bell..
My heart beats a little faster in my chest.
“Amz. I can’t. Please.”
Her voice is shaky, pleading, begging.
My heart clenches.
Her face seems to have paled even more, bringing out the blueness of her eyes.
“Hey,” I say quietly, to get her attention.
She turns to look at me.
Our gazes meet as I take her cold hand in mine.
“Breathe with me,” I command gently.
Together, we take in a slow, deep breath.
As I count to five inside my head, our gazes locked, I can’t help but notice how blue her eyes are. They’re a blue the shade of a calm sea merged with the colour of a cloudless sky.
I can’t help but notice how sad her eyes are..
They hold a sadness as deep as outer space, as painful as a blunt jagged blade sawing at the soft, delicate skin of a newborn baby.
Her eyes are alive with fear and distress, the kind felt by a lone injured cub as the hyenas’ cackles move closer.
And even though I’m breathing, it feels like I’m not.. for the emotions in her innocent blue eyes, so raw, so vivid, so agonizingly painful, have transfixed me.
“Zee!” calls Amz, snapping me out of my daze. “Come on.”
The gate has opened and they’re heading in.
“Better?” I ask Dee softly, ignoring Amz.
“A little,” she replies, giving me a small smile.
“I’ve gotchu,” I say, smiling back.
Together we join the others, pushing the gate closed behind us.
Uncle Rashid greets us at the door, his lips stretched in a broad smile.
“Assalaamualaykum!” he greets. “How are you all? Come, come inside.”
One by one we shake hands with Uncle Rashid and step into the house where we find ourselves in a passage-like entryway.
Dee goes last.
I watch as her uncle hugs her, his smile so wide, so sincere.
“It’s good to see you, Deeyanah,” says Uncle Rashid.
“Likewise,” she replies before entering the house.
I catch her eye and give her a smile. She smiles back.
In my mind, I make a silent prayer for this afternoon to go well, for Dee to manage it emotionally and for Amz to uphold her strong front.
The silence is broken by a surprised voice coming from somewhere inside the house.
“Yes they are, Daanyaal!” Uncle Rashid calls with a grin, leading us further into the house.
Hurried footsteps are heard on the wooden flooring..
And then, there he is.
Last I’d seen him was when he was in hospital about 5, 6 months ago.
He looks same yet different.
He looks… happier. Free. Loved.
For a couple of seconds he simply stands there, his gaze bypassing all of us to meet Dee’s.
And then, the biggest, broadest, happiest smile I’d ever seen spreads across his face.
Yelling her name he dashes forward, pushing past us all.
He jumps on her, almost knocking her over, and envelopes her in tight hug.
“Whoa, missed me so much?” asks Dee, her voice soft and teasing. “I seen you, like, just the other day.”
“You’re here?! You’re really here?!” asks Daanyaal, disbelief echoing off his words. “Can I pinch you to see if you’re for real?”
We laugh, and I catch Amz fighting back happy tears.
“Ur, no! Please don’t pinch me,” says Dee, hugging him again.
“I can’t believe you’re finally here,” he says quietly.
“I know,” replies Dee. “Neither can I.”
“That makes three of us..”
Silence falls and head turns at the sound of her voice.
Dee lets go of Daanyaal.
My heart beats faster as her gaze slowly lifts up, passes Amz’s, passes mine, Meez’s, Uncle Ismaeel’s… and finally meets her mother’s.
Everything seems to slow down, as Dee’s gaze immediately drops. She takes a deep breath, closing her eyes briefly.
I have a sudden urge to hold her hand,
remind her to breathe again,
tell her not to run…
Dee moves then, her eyes still down.
not to run…
She moves, forward, one foot in front of the other.
I let out a breath I don’t realize I’ve been holding.
Slowly she walks past all of us until she’s in front of Aunty Salma.
Then, finally, she looks up.
Going one more step forward, Dee gently kisses her mother’s cheek.
“Assalaamualaikum, Maama,” she says, her voice faint yet strong.
“Wa’alaykum Salaam, Deeyanah,” replies her mother, gently wrapping her arms tightly around Dee’s small frame like she’ll never let go.
For a moment I’m surprised, and then, confused.
Dee looks perfectly calm, totally under control.
And then it clicks, and I’m worried.
Worried because she’s involuntarily doing exactly what Amz told her not to do.
She’s fighting her emotions, suppressing them, pushing them down.
She’s reeling them in, and locking them away, only intending to open them in solitude.
In solitude, for then no one will see her weak side.
No one will hear the pain in her sobs.
No one will see the anguish in her red puffy eyes.
No one will hold her shaking cold hands.
No one will embrace her fragile, aching body.
In solitude she will break down, and in solitude she will rise up.
My heart sighs, clenching with an unfamiliar pain.
All I want to do in that moment, is save her.
I want to save my best friend.
I want to save her, from herself.