One Hundred and Fifty

As narrated by Zee:

I pick up my skateboard, carefully sipping from my steaming cup of coffee as I sit down on the cold metal chair.

My conversation with Humairah plays in my head, as I scan my surroundings.

There’s something about the atmosphere at airports that I just absolutely love.

The stark contrast of emotions, the tears and smiles, hugs and kisses, souvenirs and gifts. Perhaps it’s the vast open space. Or maybe it’s the show of emotions so genuine. Perhaps it’s the excitement that comes with knowing a new adventure awaits, simply by boarding a plane. Or maybe it’s the thrill that comes from the speed before taking off.

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Still in shock and disbelief at the fact that Humairah is getting married, I sip my coffee, unable to stop smiling!

The best part is, the boy is from Jo’burg! Which means she’ll be coming to stay this side!

Obviously super excited, I booked a flight straight after getting off the phone with her.

Using nana’s card to make sure I surprise them completely, I booked a flight leaving 2 hours later, and the earliest morning return flight. I would be a little late for school the next day, but I didn’t care!

After throwing random clothing items into my backpack, I headed to the kitchen where nani was frying samoosas for my padkos.

“Maaa, it’s only an hours flight. I don’t know why you even stressing!”

Areh (way of expression) Ziyaad! I don’t know why you going so rushed rushed! You should just wait till the weekend, they are coming then,” said Ma, clucking her tongue.

“I can’t believe you and nana knew but didn’t tell me, ma!” I said, stealing a samoosa from the plate.

Ma tried to hide her smile, but failed.

“They were going to tell you when they came during the weekend. Seems like they couldn’t wait till then,” laughed Ma.

“See in the cupboard there’s those small box juices,” said Ma, gesturing with her chin as she carefully scooped out the samoosas from the oil.

“I’ll just take water, Ma,” I said, nonchalantly. “Don’t make so much fuss, we just ate supper. I’m not hungry. And mummy will make me eat when I get there.”

But of course nani still made fuss, reminding me to carry a jacket and call when I reach.

“Read your duaas and give them my salaams,” said Ma.

I nodded, kissing her cheek.

The announcement for my flight breaking through my thoughts, I get up and hitch my backpack onto my shoulder.

Stepping onto my skateboard I move through the departures lounge towards the plane.

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I call nana and let him know that check-in went fine and that I’m boarding now.

“Make sure ma doesn’t phone and tell mummy I’m coming, okay?” I say to nana.

“Jee beta (son), dooon’t worry!” laughs nana. “She’s too busy making duaa you go safe!”

I laugh, then tell nana the alarm code once again before hanging up.

Briefly greeting the air hostess standing by the door, I check my boarding pass for my seat number as I slowly walk down the aisle.

‘Yes, window seat!’ I think, mentally fist pumping the air.

But then I realize it’s something past 9 at night so I probably will only being seeing darkness!

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Putting my backpack into the overhead compartment, I sit down and get comfortable.

A little while later, a young couple take the two seats next to me, and before long, an air hostess stands in the middle of the aisle demonstrating rules and safety precautions.

As the plane picks up speed, I pop a gum into my mouth and connect my earphones to my phone.

Once we’re flying way up high, I unbuckle my seat belt and stare out into the darkness.

Still unable to believe that my sister is getting married and impatient to see their reactions as I unexpectedly walk through the front door, I silently will the journey to fold.

But a plane, as fast as it is, can obviously also only go so fast!!

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*****

“Thanks man, bye,” I say to the driver, as I get off, shutting the car door behind me.

Silently praying that they haven’t set the alarm and gone to bed yet, I turn the key in the lock and step into the yard.

Breathing out a sigh of relief at not hearing a blaring siren, I walk to the front entrance and let myself in.

My palms are sweaty and my heart is thudding vigorously.

I feel like a burglar even though this is my home! Well… second home!

Grinning to myself, I open my mouth and yell at the top of my lungs.

“KNOCK KNOCK, ANYBODY HOOOOOME?!”

Silence answers me.

I walk past the lounge towards the family room.

“Helllooooooo!” I call.

Muaaz sees me first.

Coming out from the side the bedrooms are, sleep evident on his confused face, he stops abruptly.

He blinks, rubs his eyes and blinks again, a deep frown on his face.

Then, mumbling to himself, he turns back around and walks away.

I bite my lip, trying hard not to start laughing.

Next comes Humairah.

Singing softly to herself, her hair wet, wrapped in a towel turban-style, her eyes go wide as she spots me.

For a moment, she just stares at me..

And then, suddenly, I almost fall over as she lunges, yelling at the top of her lungs.

“ZEEEE!!! Ohmygodohmygod what are you doing here?! When did you come?!” she says all in one breath.

Laughing, I hug her back tightly.

“Mummy!!! I can’t believe you didn’t tell me he’s coming!” she says crossly, turning around to look at mummy who has come to see what the big commotion is about.

But obviously, unaware herself, mummy looks quite confused!!

“Ziyaad?”

“Assalaamualaykum mummy!” I greet with a sheepish grin.

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Muaaz is back again, looking more awake this time, but still very much confused, and daddy has joined too.

Everyone is asking questions at once and talking on top of each other.

Laughing I hold up my hands, indicating to them to keep quiet.

“C’mon, let’s go sit. I’ll explain,” I say with a grin.

A little while later, we’re all gathered in the family room, steaming mugs of hot chocolate in hand.

I send the tupperware of samoosas around before sitting down on the floor in front of the fire.

After assuring Humairah that yes, I really am here, and Muaaz that no buddy, you’re not dreaming, I briefly explain to them my spontaneous decision to come home for a couple of hours.

“You’re crazy! Honestly!” says Humairah, shaking her head at me.

“Mad!” adds in Muaaz, shaking his head too, pretending to be serious.

“Insane!” says Humairah, going with the pretense.

“Senseless!” continues Muaaz.

“Ludicrous!” says Humairah.

“Bê wuqoof!” mutters Muaaz.

I almost choke on my hot chocolate.

“What did you say?” I gasp, looking at Muaaz with wide eyes.

They all burst out laughing.

“Dad!” I say, shocked. “He just swore me in another language and you’ll are laughing!”

That only makes them laugh harder.

“Oh my god,” says Humairah, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. “It’s so good to have a stupid person in the house again!”

“Hey!!” I exclaim.

“He didn’t swear you,” mummy explains, still laughing. “He called you foolish in urdu.”

“Ohhh!” I say.

“Since when do you speak urdu?” I ask Muaaz, raising an eyebrow.

“It’s a long story,” replies Muaaz.

Humairah tries to hold her laughter and ends up snorting instead.

“A funny long story,” adds Humairah.

“Okay, another time,” I say to him. “For now…”

“YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED!” I exclaim, looking at Humairah.

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“I am,” she says, blushing shyly.

“Oh my worrrd! I still cannot believe this! And why the fish did no one tell me?!?!”

“Well, we’re coming to Jo’burg this weekend to make things “official”. Usually the boy comes to the girl’s house, but something came up last minute so we agreed to go there. And we thought we’d tell you then,” says Humairah.

“Unacceptable!” I say promptly.

“I know,” smirks Humairah. “That’s why we told you tonight!”

I shake my head, biting into a samoosa.

“Right, so give me the run down. Start to finish!” I say, crossing my legs, and putting on an “I’m paying attention” expression.

But Humairah once again blushes furiously so mum fills me in instead.

Times ticks away as we talk and joke around, making memories.

Before long it’s three in the morning and Muaaz’s eyes are closing on their own, despite him trying to stay awake.

“Come, you’ll should go to bed now,” says Mummy. “Muaaz, you have madrassah tomorrow morning.”

“Shame,” I tease, sticking my tongue out at him.

“You don’t talk too much! You have school tomorrow!” says Muaaz.

“I can always just not go!” I say, smirking.

“I’ll phone and tell the school that you’re not “sick”, but rather, you decided to catch a damn flight to Durban and back overnight!” says Muaaz, punching me lightly.

We head to our bedrooms, mummy following me to mine to check that I have everything I need.

“Oh I’ve forgotten my toothbrush!” I say, searching my backpack.

“That’s what happens when you do last minute packing,” laughs mummy. “Wait I’ll get you one.”

Mummy returns a few minutes later with a toothbrush and a blanket.

“You need anything else? One blanket is enough?”

“Jee, one is fine. JazaakAllah, mummy,” I say, hugging her.

“Aameen,” she replies, hugging me back. “I don’t advise you to do this again, but it was a nice surprise.”

My heart filled with happiness, I climb into bed and fall asleep immediately.

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