Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀
Hope all my wonderful readers are well!
This is the longest post I have ever written (2753 words in total). To be honest, it wasn’t suppose to be this long. I stopped at the usual word count of 1000 something words, but it was still Wednesday so I continued writing and somewhere along the line I digressed. And it might all seemed muddled up towards the end, but I like it just the way it is – digressed, muddled up, but honest.
I hope you guys enjoy the post and have a superb Saturday!
Troubled Illusioner. ❤
As narrated by Zee:
“Do you want me to open the sliding door or leave it closed?” I ask, dropping the blinds.
When Meez doesn’t reply, I turn around, only to find him fast asleep.
My eyebrows raise involuntarily.
I knew he was tired – he looked completely knackered – but I really didn’t expect him to fall asleep that fast.
Running a hand through my untidy hair, I sit down onto Meez’s bed with a sigh.
I watch him sleep for a long time, my mind wide awake, running at hundred miles an hour.
I wonder about him; my since-childhood friend.
I wonder about the boy he was, the boy he has become, and all the things that caused the change.
I wonder how much more he’ll change and I wonder what the reasons behind future changes will be.
I wonder how everything he’s experienced will affect him later on in life – whether it will even affect him. Perhaps it won’t.
I wonder long and hard – about the past and how there are many things I wish I could change about it, about the present and how it will all too soon become the past, about the future and how it is terrifying yet equally exciting not knowing what it holds in store. I wonder about myself, Meez, Dee, Amz and Sumayya, allowing my mind to stray into dangerous zones, impossible situations and hopeful scenarios. My imagination has full control over the reigns and it pushes my mind to its limits, not stopping at the edge of the cliff, but jumping right off instead. And it creates a strange feeling within me.
It’s wariness, distress, agitation, and fear. But it is also anticipation, exhilaration and eagerness. And together it creates an unsettling contentment, a peaceful distress, an offbeat harmony.
Sighing, I flip my pillow over – seeking the cold side – then, turn over and close my eyes, falling into a perturbed slumber as soft, steady rain hits the roof.
It feels like I’ve slept for a mere couple of minutes before I’m awakened by a banging clap of thunder.
For an unknown amount of time, I drift in and out of drowsiness, the storm singing me to sleep.
But then the thunder booms again, in close series, and I’m wide awake.
It’s pouring now, fat drops of water pounding against the roof in a noisy chaos.
Lightning flashes, illuminating the room for split seconds at a time.
I lift my head off the pillow and turn to Meez.
My heart leaps straight into my throat.
He’s lying flat on his back, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling.
Something about his expression, about his eyes, causes my breath to catch.
He looks dead.
“Meez,” I say quietly, my heart suddenly drumming.
He doesn’t acknowledge me; he doesn’t even blink.
Oh god. Is he fine? Is he… alive?
“Meez,” I say again.
The thunder sounds soft now, compared to the fear in my voice.
Panic overtaking me, I reach out and shake him roughly.
“Meez!!” I yell this time.
His eyes turn to look at me, slowly, unwillingly.
Then, his forehead creases slightly.
“What?” he asks.
The relief that floods through me in that moment is like a volcano exploding.
My body slumps back down onto my pillow, my heart still racing.
I breathe deeply, muttering gratitude repeatedly.
Once my heart is beating a little more calmly, I meet Meez’s gaze.
“What the hell was that?” I ask him.
He doesn’t reply, merely looks at me – unblinkingly.
“Stop that!” I command, hating the way it causes fear to rush through me. “It makes you seem dead. Talk to me!”
The Meez I know would have smirked, done it for longer, then laughed and told me I’m a drama queen.
The Meez in front of me mumbles, “wish I was dead”. Then, he turns around, his back facing me now, and drops his head back onto his pillow.
It’s silent for a long moment as his words sink in.
“Meez,” I say gently, shaking him slightly, praying that he doesn’t shut me out.
“Shut up, Zee,” he says, shrugging me off. “I’m tired.”
And then he is sleeping again.
And my mind is wandering again.
The next time I wake up, the sound of rain is replaced with that of the shower running. The place Meez occupied is empty, answering my question.
Sunlight forces itself in through the slits of the almost-closed blinds.
I peek at the time.
Yawning, I stretch indolently before burying my face into the pillow again and dozing off.
But not for long!
The tranquil peace is disturbed by the ringing of Meez’s phone.
Groaning, I reach across his pillows for it, groping around on the pedestal.
Glancing at the name on the screen, a small smile makes its way onto my face.
I swipe my finger across the screen and place the phone at my ear.
“Deeyanah Mahomed. To what do I owe the pleasure of such an early call?”
“Zee?” comes her confused reply.
My smile broadens a little.
“Why are you answering Meez’s phone?” she asks, a moment later.
“What, you’re not happy to hear my voice?” I ask, feigning hurt.
“Did you just wake up?” she answers with a question of her own.
“No, of course not!” I say indignantly. “Been up since the crack of dawn!”
“Please!” she laughs. “I can hear that you’ve just woken up.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I admit, grinning. “Meez and I had an impromptu sleepover and I did just wake up. In fact, you woke me up. And you better have a good reason!”
“Firstly, I called Meez – no one told you to answer! Secondly, I do have a good reason! He has to be ready in 7 minutes for a run. Is he up yet?”
“A run?” I ask confused.
“Yes,” she replies. “A run.”
I wait for her to elaborate but she doesn’t.
“What do you mean a run?” I ask.
“Meez and I run on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings,” she explains. “Now can you tell Meez that I’ll be there in 5.”
Meez and I run on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings…
“Oh,” I hear myself saying.
How come I don’t know about that??
A moment of silence passes.
“Well, Meez won’t be coming today,” I say eventually.
“Why not?” she asks, sounding somewhat irritated now.
“Uhhh… it’s a long story,” I sigh.
An idea strikes me then.
“How about… I come with you for a run.. and I’ll fill you in then?” I ask, before I can stop myself.
“Yeah, okay, sure,” she replies nonchalantly. “You at Meez’s?”
“Yepp,” I reply, flinging away the duvet, all indolence suddenly gone.
“Okay, see you in a bit.”
Just as I cut the call, Meez steps out of the bathroom.
His face looks terrible – worse than last night.
“Assalaamualaykum,” I greet him, trying to keep my expression neutral. “How you’re feeling?”
He mumbles a reply to my greeting before stepping into his walk in closet, ignoring my question.
“Do you need me to pick you an outfit?” I ask lightheartedly.
Up until very recently, Aunty Aadila would set aside clothes for Meez to wear each day as he had a pathetic sense of fashion.
However, now, Meez seems to be doing it pretty fine on his own.
‘Another change,’ I think to myself. ‘That’s one good one at least.’
Meez once again ignores my question.
Sighing, I head to the bathroom to freshen up.
I hear the doorbell ring and hurry up with brushing my teeth.
After thoroughly washing my face, I exit the bathroom, just as Dee walks into the room.
“Hey you!” I greet her, grinning.
“Howzit?” she asks, grinning back.
“Good, good,” I reply.
“Where’s Meez?” she asks. “Is he alright?”
My grin falls.
I sigh, indicating to the balcony.
She walks up to me, squeezes my shoulder and then disappears past the sliding doors.
A moment later, I hear her gasp.
“Meez?!” she breathes in shock. “Oh my god. What… what happened?!”
‘You should have given her some warning,’ I muse, as I make up the bed.
After throwing Meez’s clothes of last night into the washing basket, I put the pillows in place and join the two of them on the balcony.
Meez is laying in his hammock, Dee standing to his side, a pained expression on her face.
“I’m fine, serious,” Meez is saying to her, a small smile on his lips.
He looks everything but fine.
“Are you going for a run?” asks Meez.
“Not anymore,” she replies, sliding open the widows that enclose the balcony.
She jumps up and sits in the open window frame.
“You shouldn’t sit there, Dee. You can fall,” I say worriedly.
“You’ll just have to catch me,” she replies, glancing at me briefly before turning her attention back to Meez.
“What happened?” she asks, again. “Did they get you?”
He shakes his head no, pushing his hair that falls onto his forehead away.
“I.. well, it’s a long story,” he says, looking up at the sky through the transparent rooftop.
“We’ve got time,” I say, glancing at my watch.
I open the window next to where Dee sits, then jump up and sit in the frame as she’d done.
She raises her eyebrows at me.
“You’ll just have to catch me if I fall,” I say with a smirk, using her words.
She shakes her head at me before looking at Meez again.
“For you, we always have time,” adds Dee, smiling sincerely.
Meez doesn’t say anything for a while.
Then he sits up and starts talking.
He starts at the beginning – from the first time he hung out with Faizal – and doesn’t stop until he reaches the end.
Just like me, Dee is a good listener.
Despite all the questions we have, we listen silently until he is finished.
For a long moment after Meez stops speaking we simply stare at him in stunned silence.
Was he actually being serious?!
And then, unable to hold it any longer, Dee and I fire our questions all in one shot, talking on top of each other.
We stop at the same time and then speak again; at the same time!
“You first,” we say in unison.
Grinning I indicate to Dee to ask her questions first.
“So this is the same guy you were hanging out with when you saw Dayyanah all that time ago?” she asks.
“Yeah, same guy,” he replies. “Same guy who first got me involved in a whole lot of crap, and same guy who continues making it impossible for me to change those same crap habits which he inculcated in me.”
“So his girlfriend was shot and killed and you were there?” asks Dee, her eyes widening a little.
Meez nods, then lays back down in his hammock.
“Oh my god,” she breathes, shaking her head. “How are you not… my goodness, are you.. are you okay? Like, did that not mess with your mind?”
Meez looks away, not answering her question.
Dee doesn’t know that it’s not the first time he’s seen someone being murdered and I hope it stays that way.
For herself, her heart is a rock. But for us – her friends – it’s the complete opposite.
“I can’t believe Zishaan killed her,” I blurt out, breaking the silence. “I mean, we see him every day in school. And everyone knows he is a bit sketchy – being the only 20 year old in matric and all – but this is mad. He killed someone.”
“I can’t quite place him,” she says, looking deep in thought. “And why is he 20 and in matric?”
“Like I was saying, he and Faizy were in the same class all along from grade 8 until grade 10. They were really good friends and then Lubna came in between and Zishaan dropped out halfway through grade 11. Then he came back this year to do matric.”
“How come?” asks Dee.
Meez and I shrug.
“I’m still not sure who he is, but anyway, what’s going to happen now?” she questions further.
“Is he going to be sentenced?” she adds hesitantly.
“I don’t know,” replies Meez, shrugging again. “I don’t remember much of what happened last night at the police station after he confessed; I was too tired.”
It’s quiet between us for a while again, the sound of dogs barking and birds chirping the only thing that can be heard.
“You know what,” I say, once again breaking the silence. “It’s actually so… so.. well, sad.”
Meez and Dee look at me questioningly.
“It’s so sad that this guy is barely an adult, and this is what he’s chosen to do with his life. I mean, imagine all the things he could have done. He’s young, he’s got good health, a fairly okay reputation, and of all the possible amazing things he could have done with those assets, he chooses to kill a girl – not even any girl, the girl he loves – and spend the best years of his life in a prison cell. And it’s horrible to think of because it really hits you, doesn’t it? Like, how are we using our youth? We may not be falling in love and killing people, but if we’re not doing anything… well, beneficial, we may as well consider ourselves as good as someone in a prison cell. Our generation is so messed up it’s actually terrifying,” I say, shaking my head in despair.
“Here’s the thing, right,” says Meez, sitting up again. “What you’ve said, I agree, but I just feel that he can’t be blamed. Like, it’s unfair. If you think of it logically, no person in their right mind would do such a thing. Why would he intentionally throw away his whole future? I just feel that it’s unfair to blame him. He did it, but it wasn’t him who did it. Do you guys get what I’m trying to say? Does it make sense?”
“No,” I say, frowning.
I look at Dee, whose eyes hold a sad, faraway look.
“I don’t know how to explain -”
“It does,” says Dee, cutting Meez off.
“It does make sense,” she continues. “I know what you’re trying to say.”
Something in Meez’s expression changes
“I.. I’m sorry,” he hurriedly apologizes to Dee. “I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s okay,” says Dee.
“Guys, I’m lost,” I say, my frown deepening, looking back and forth between the two of them.
“Dee knows what I’m talking about, because…”
Meez trails off, unsure of himself.
“Because I used to feel the same way with my father,” says Dee, her voice quiet. “You can’t understand how it’s possible, you feel like you’re not allowed to blame them, because it can’t possibly be their fault. It’s not them doing what they’re doing.”
Not knowing what to say, I remain silent.
“You know what I find sad?” continues Dee, looking off into the distance. “What people have done to the meaning of love – that’s what I find sad. How we’ve given love just a selfish, messed up definition. We’ve torn its meaning to shreds, honestly. We expect so much but we’re willing to give so little in return. Maybe it’s just me or maybe I don’t believe that love exists because I’ve never seen love flourish. But now, I don’t even want someone to prove me wrong anymore, because to me, it just looks like love makes you a horrible person.”
“No,” I say immediately, jumping out of the window frame, off the half wall of the balcony.
“No, what?” asks Meez, looking at me curiously.
“I don’t think love makes you a horrible person. If you truly love someone, it won’t make you a horrible person. How the hell would – that doesn’t even make sense!” I say, the words tumbling out of my mouth at their own accord.
“It doesn’t make sense because you’ve never been in love,” says Meez.
“No,” I repeat, something deep inside me disagreeing so strongly that it makes my voice shake.
“You’ve got it all wrong Dee,” I say, looking her straight in the eye. “And you have to change that thinking because love does exist, and when it comes your way, you’re not going to be able to accept it. And that is selfish. Selfish and unfair to yourself.”
“It won’t come my way,” says Dee, holding my gaze, her blue eyes piercing into my soul. “I won’t let it.”
But of course it would.
Love goes everyone’s way.
And love, is unstoppable.