One Hundred and Forty Nine

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀

Hope all my lovely readers are doing well!

K.A. this one is for you, cousin. ❤ (See I’m using a red heart for you. 🙄😜😘) 

Waiting to know your guesses once you’ll done reading. 😉

Much Love,

Troubled Illusioner. ❤

(P.S xoxomg and BeingMuslim, you’ll will be proud to know that I’m pretty happy with this post! 😊🌸)


As narrated by Dayyanah:

It’s dark.

Too dark.

The kind of dark where you can’t even see your fingers in front of your face, where you might as well shut your eyes because having them open makes no difference.

I stop, terrified.

My heart pounds against my rib cage as I squint, trying to make out something, anything, that will tell me where I am.

But the darkness stretches before me like endless river.

It engulfs me from every side with its claustrophobic hands, slowly tightening its hold on my throat, challenging me to breathe.

I grasp wildly at my throat, trying to pull away the invisible force pressing down on my windpipe.

Breathe.. Breathe!! You need to breathe!

But the darkness is overwhelming, terrifying me to the core.

And the silence… the silence is so loud, that it can’t even be heard.

They’ve teamed up, the absolute darkness and the deafening silence.

They’ve teamed up against me.

They’re the hunters- slowly, stealthily, creeping towards me, waiting for the perfect chance to strike.

I’m the prey, encircled, trapped, helpless.

And then I hear it.

At first, I think I’m imagining.

“Dayyyyaaaanaaah…”

It’s a dragged whisper, distant and low.

I strain my ears, trying to figure out where it’s coming from.

But my mind, troubled and anxious, plays a trick on me, for first it sounds to my right, and then to my left.

I slowly turn right around, squinting into the darkness as the voice calls over and over again.

“Dayyyyaaaanaaah…”

It’s getting closer, whatever it is, whoever it is.

It knows exactly where I am, whereas I, myself, don’t even know where I am.

And then, just like that, the voice is right by ear.

I feel the person’s lips lightly touch me, their hot breath fanning my ear.

“Dayyyyaaanaaah..”

Every fiber of my being fills with fear.

Oh god. It’s him.

My scream slices the silences, splitting it.

I whip around so fast that I almost fall over.

My hands strike out in way of self defense, but all they meet is the empty air.

His laughter reaches my ears. Cold, mocking, powerful.

I scream again, my heart hammering against my chest.

“Dayyanah,” he says, his tone is taunting.

God. He knows. He knows I’m terrified of the dark.

“WHERE ARE YOU?!” I yell into the darkness. “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

“Don’t shout, Dayyanah,” he whispers, right behind me.

I scream again, spinning on my heels.

He’s using my weakness against me, pushing my mental strength to its limits.

“GO AWAY!” I yell.

Suddenly, I feel his fingertips on my back, reaching for my  jacket.

I take off, the sound of my shoes slapping the ground echoing.

He follows in pursuit, right behind me.

I run faster and faster, adrenaline surging through my veins.

On and on, further and further into the depths of the darkness, until it begins to feel like forever.

My legs beg for mercy.

My heart thuds erratically.

My lungs feel like they’re going to give in.

But still, he’s right behind me. I can still feel his fingertips grazing my back. I can still hear his laughter at my ear.

Keep running… Keep running… You have to keep running.

And then, I stumble.

He is on me in an instant, grabbing my collar and lifting me up effortlessly.

“No!” I scream, kicking out.

But once again, my legs don’t find their target.

He is there, but he is not there.

There is no escape now. I’m sandwiched between a wall and the steel grip of his fist.

His humourless smile looms in front of me yet I can’t see his face.

“Dayyanah,” he speaks.

“No!” I scream again, trashing around wildly. “Leave me alone!”

He doesn’t.

Instead, he tightens his already suffocating hold on me and speaks again.

“You can run from your sister, but you will never be able to run from me.”

“You will never, ever, be able to run from me.”

And then he lets go of me and I’m falling.

This time, I don’t scream.

I can’t.

I want to, but I can’t.

Down, down, down I go, free falling into a bottomless hole.

His words echo around me, ringing in my ears repeatedly.

“You will never, ever, be able to run from me.”

“Never, ever, be able to run from me.”

“Never ever.. Never ever…”

My eyes shoot open.

“Never ever.. Never ever..”

I gasp for breath, sucking in air like my lungs depend on it. They do.

“Never ever.. Never ever..”

As I lay in bed, trying to calm my racing heart and rid my mind of its troubled illusions, I realize that he is right.

Paapa is right.

I will never be able to run from him, for he is not even here, yet I am at his mercy.

He is dead, but still, he is killing me.

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As narrated by Zee:

Where is it, where is it, where is it?!

I can hear my phone ringing but I can’t seem to find it!

Following the sound, I rummage between the books on my desk.

Aha! There it is!

Just as I swipe my screen to answer Humairah’s skype call, she cancels.

Sitting down on my bed, I call her back.

“Heyyyy! Assalaamualaikum!” she greets, a huge grin on her face.

“Haaloooo! Wa’alaykum Salaam!” I reply, grinning too.

“How’s my favourite brother?” she asks, winking.

“Hey!” I hear Muaaz in the background. “I’m your favourite brother!”

“That was just for the duration of the time that I needed you to do me a favour,” Humairah yells back, laughing.

Her image starts shaking and everything goes blurry as she starts running.

“JUST KIDDING, JUST KIDDING!! SORRY!! YOU’RE MY FAVOURITE!” she yells.

A couple seconds later, Muaaz jumps onto her back and grabs the phone from her hand.

Clinging onto her neck, he holds the phone high, out of her reach.

“Assalaamualaikum baboon,” he says. “Don’t know which Zoo you came from, but please go back there and stop trying to get my sister to love you.”

“Why? Does she love gorillas better?” I ask, smirking.

Muaaz’s mouth drops open in shock and Humairah cackles with laughter.

“Savage,” mutters Muaaz. “Can’t deal, maaaaf.”

Humairah and I laugh uproariously as he slides off her back and gives her back her phone.

“Oh, come back here, you drama queen!” I call to him, still laughing.

“Let’s go to the lounge,” says Humairah.

They sit down on the sofa next to each other so that I can see them both and they both can see me.

“Sooo, we have neeewwws!!” says Humairah.

My smile drops a little.

“Good news, I hope?” I say.

Very good news! The best news you’ll ever hear!” says Muaaz.

“Oh shush you!” laughs Humairah.

“What is it?” I ask, eagerly.

Humairah opens her mouth to speak but Muaaz butts in.

“Well, obviously we’re not just going to tell you,” he says, rolling his eyes.

“You have to guess.”

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One Hundred and Forty Eight

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀

I’m not entirely happy with the first part of this post, but despite trying to fix it a couple of times, it’s just not coming out how I want it to. So here’s what I have. 

Much love,

Troubled Illusioner. 

(Baloo, this one is for you. ❤ Have a kick ass day!)


As narrated by Dayyanah:

Squeezing the dish washing soap bottle till just the right amount is in the sink, I open the hot water tap.

One and a half months ago, when Uncle Shuaib hired me as a dish washer, I was disappointed. Extremely disappointed.

I was working to earn. What would washing dishes earn me?!

But I guess beggars can’t be choosers..

I hate to admit it, but washing dishes isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. With my earphones plugged in, the noise around me drowned out, it’s kind of therapeutic.

Not this Sunday though.

I’m in a terrible mood. I had forgotten to put my phone to charge, and worse still, my earphones had decided that today would be the perfect day to stop working.

Swearing under my breath I wipe 3 oily pans with tissue before slipping them into the water and scrubbing them vigorously.

Trying my best to ignore the constant yelling of Uncle Shuaib, the annoying hiss of potatoes being thrown into oil, the clanging of dishes, and the uproarious laughter of diners, I focus on the task at hand.

1 more hour, Dayyanah. You’ve got this.

Time ticks away and the dishes keep coming in..

Turning around to reach for a pile of dirty plates on the counter behind me, I briefly glance up.

Jeez, we’re crazy busy tonight. 

“We’ll put those in the dishwasher,” says Florence, my co dish washer, who usually packs the machine.

“Will there be enough plates, though?” I ask. “This place is f****** packed.”

Florence walks away to check the situation.

Just then, a hush falls over the entire restaurant…

“There’s a bomb?!” a woman screeches hysterically, a moment later.

I stop, confused.

It’s silent now.

Dead silent…

But the silence lasts a mere second before utter chaos ensues.

Unafraid, my irritation growing rapidly, I use the opportunity to slip out.

Exiting the back door, I light a cigarette before I continue walking.

Leaning against the side wall of the restaurant, I lift the lit cigar to my lips.

Screams can still be heard from inside..

Adjusting my cap, I look towards the entrance, watching as people rush out in a mad frenzy.

I almost laugh out aloud.

Seriously?! What’s the big deal? We’re all gonna die, anyway.

Just as I turn my gaze away, back to the horizon, a voice shouts above the noise.

“Zee!”

The tone is urgent, searching.

“Ziyaad!”

My eyes widening, I stand up straight.

I know that voice.

Searching the crowd, I go a little closer, stepping out of the shadows.

It’s him.

Just as I thought.

Rameez.

His hair is styled to perfection, his handsome face wearing an expression of slight desperation.

I watch as he pushes through the now somewhat calmer crowd.

“Car keys,” he yells. “Dad gave you the wrong ones. Here.”

My eyes follow as he throws a bunch of keys into the air..

A hand reaches up, catching it effortlessly..

Suddenly too much is happening at once.

The world seems to spin faster, trying to throw me off balance.

Ziyaad?!? That’s him?! That, is Zee?!?!

My god.

Moving on their own, my feet walk forward tentatively.

It’s only when I’m less than 20 feet away do I snap out of my trance.

‘F****** hell, Dayyanah! What are you doing?!’ I mentally chide myself.

But I can’t seem to look away..

He turns suddenly, looking around. I duck my head quickly, but it’s too late..

Recognition fills his eyes the instant he spots me.

“Oh crap! She’s outside!” I read his lips.

It is only when he moves do I  see her…

Deeyanah.

This time, everything slows down..

The crickets stop chirping and the dogs stop barking.

The trees stand still and leaves dare not rustle.

The wind, too courteous to steal Deeyanah’s gasp of shock, doesn’t blow.

The moon watches with bated breath from above, silently commanding the stars to shine theirs rays of hope a little brighter.

Ziyaad is tugging at her hand whilst Amaani talks to her desperately.

She doesn’t acknowledge them..

She’s oblivious to the world, as am I.

For a long time, we simply stand where we are, watching, staring, embedding the moment in our minds.

But then, Deeyanah moves…

Forward…

Towards me…

Closing the distance between us.

Oh god, no! 

Panicking, I turn on my heel and sprint away.

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As narrated by Amz:

“Don’t shut me out, Dee.”

Silence follows my plea.

The lights are switched off, the room is dark. Dark because Dee likes it that way.

She’s sitting on the floor, her forehead pressed against the cold glass of the slightly open window.

“Please,” I beg.

She turns her face slowly and my gaze locks with hers.

The shimmering moonlight casts an eerie glow on her skin, bringing out the blueness of her eyes.

“Please talk to me,” I say quietly.

“Go to sleep, Amz. You’re tired,” she replies.

“I’m not going until you let it out,” I say. “Please Dee, you need to express yourself. You still haven’t even told me what happened that day when we went to your uncle’s place.”

“What happened?” she asks, frowning slightly. “When?”

“Just as we were leaving,” I answer. “Before Zee stepped in.”

“Oh,” says Dee.

“Nothing major, actually,” she continues after a pause.

I hold my breath..

“Maama asked if I’m in contact with Dayy, when last I heard from her and if she’s okay,” she says. “I.. well, the question.. it just caught me off guard, I guess.”

She turns away, her gaze on the black starless sky once again.

“No go to sleep,” she says quietly. “I’ll call you if I need you.”

Her voice sounds faraway, devoid of any emotion.

“What about you?” I ask.

“I’ll sleep when I’m tired,” she replies after a long moment.

“You’re tired now, love,” I say gently.

“Go to sleep, Amz,” she says with a sigh. “I’m fine.”

I don’t move.

“So you’re going to sleep then?” I ask, despite already knowing the answer.

Her jaw clenches and she avoids my gaze again.

“I know you’re not going to sleep,” I say with a sigh. “And I know it’s because you’re afraid you might have a nightmare. Talk to me. Let it out. You’ll feel better, lighter. You know that.”

Torment lacing my words, I swallow hard, trying to fight the tears that threaten to spill.

But there’s no stopping them, for that is the way of the tears.

You can only hold back for so long.

You can only be strong for so long.

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As narrated by Dee:

You’ve made her cry. You’re horrible and inconsiderate.

I reach for Amz’s hand, but she pulls it away and covers her face as she gets up.

“Amz,” I call, dashing after her.

I grab her hand, pull her towards me and envelop her in a hug.

“I’m sorry. God, don’t cry. Please,” I whisper, holding her tighter as she struggles to get away.

“You don’t have to be sorry!” she cries out. “Heck, why am I crying?!”

Slightly confused, I step back and wipe her eyes.

“Are you okay?” I ask, frowning.

“Yes,” replies Amz. “No. Gosh, I don’t know!”

My frown deepens.

“I’m so upset, Dee!” she exclaims, tears falling from her eyes. “You’re hurting so much and I can’t even do anything about it!”

Horrible and inconsiderate.

Horrible and inconsiderate.

You’re horrible and inconsiderate. 

“I.. Amz, I.. I’m fine. I.. honestly, I’m okay,” I stutter, at a loss for words.

“No you’re not!” argues Amz. “I know you’re not. But I don’t know how change that!”

Overwhelmed, I pull her into a hug again.

“I’ll feel much better if you’d stop crying,” I say.

“I’ll stop crying if you tell me what’s going on inside your head,” she replies.

I sigh inaudibly.

“It’s a mess inside my head,” I confess, sitting down on my bed.

Amz wipes her tears and sits down in front of me.

“I.. might say something.. that.. I shouldn’t,” I start after a moment, speaking slowly, choosing my words carefully.

Amz silently waits for me to continue.

“That’s why.. I don’t want to.. say anything.”

“At least tell me what you’re feeling,” Amz says quietly.

I fiddle with the hem of my T-shirt.

What am I feeling?

“Hate,” I say, avoiding Amz’s gaze.

“Towards who?” asks Amz.

I don’t answer for a long time.

“Dee,” probes Amz.

I take a deep breath, saying a silent prayer that my voice comes out strong.

“Myself.”

“For what?” asks Amz.

“Everything,” I reply, after a couple of seconds.

Amz is quiet, her eyes watching my like a hawk.

I know that she understands, that I don’t have to explain myself any further.

And I know what she’s probably thinking as I look up and finally meet her eye.

You can’t make someone love them self, you can only love them.

*****

Self-love, they say, is essential because,

It helps you grow,

helps you achieve your goals,

helps you through adversity.

They say self-love makes you happier,

makes you stronger,

makes you confident.

They say self-love allows you to be at peace,

to accept,

to let go.

They say self-love leaves no room for frustration,

for loneliness,

for sadness.

They say self-love gives birth to creativity,

to inspiration,

to productivity.

They say self-love enables you to be human,

to make mistakes,

to correct faults.

They say self-love teaches you the most important lesson:

You

are

enough.

Self love, they say, is most essential.

But here’s what they don’t tell you.

They don’t tell you how difficult it is,

to love yourself.

They don’t tell you how all the negatives suddenly become apparent when you’re trying to focus on the positive.

They don’t tell you how you’ll be judged.

How your confidence will be called snobbish. How your happiness will be called fake. How your goals will be called impossible. How your ambitions will be called ridiculous. How your make-up free face will be called ugly. How your acceptance will be called forced.

They don’t tell you about the voice inside your head.

God, that voice…

They don’t tell you how it pushes you 10 steps back before you can even take 1 step forward.

“Love yourself,” they say.

But how do I love myself when there is nothing about me to love.

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*****

I close my journal and place my pen atop the printed cover.

Then, I switch off my bedside lamp and bury my head in my pillow.

Pulling the duvet tighter around my body, I close my eyes, praying that I’ll be okay, that I won’t have nightmares.

But, I do.

I always do.

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One Hundred and Forty Seven

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀

K.K. This one’s for you. Sending you cake and hugs and lots of love. See, I’m so nice. 😊❤

Next post on Sunday Insha Allah. 🌸

Much Love,

Troubled Illusioner. ❤


As narrated by Zee:

Nobody moves.

Then, all at once, they start asking questions.

“Why?”

“What happened?”

“Are you okay?”

“Is this a prank?”

“Hurry!” I say, grabbing Dee’s arm and pulling her off her chair.

She frowns, stumbling.

“What’s going on? Are you okay?” she asks, looking at me worriedly.

“Yes,” I answer, trying to stay calm.

‘But if you don’t leave now, you’re not going to be okay,’ I want to add, but remain silent.

Pushing Dee behind my back, I mouth a desperate ‘Dayyanah’s here!’.

That seems to do it.

Uncle Ismaeel and Aunty Aadila stand up immediately, surprise evident on their faces.

“Who’s here?” Meez and Sumayya ask stupidly in unison.

Hamza glares at Sumayya, putting his finger to his lips; indicating to her to shut up.

Amz is already by Dee’s side. She grabs her arm and leads her to the door.

“Amz! What are you doing?!” protests Dee, irritation clear in her voice.

She suddenly stops abruptly, pinning her heels to the ground, causing me to knock into her back.

“Can someone tell me what the hell is going on?” she asks, her voice rising.

“I’d like to know too. You’ll going on like a bomb’s about to drop!” adds Sumayya.

Heads turn and the couple at the table we’re standing next to get up in panic, causing their chairs to fall.

“There’s a bomb?!” screeches the lady.

The entire restaurant is looking at us now.

The rushing waiters have all come to a dead stop.

The sound of a glass crashing to the floor breaks the moment of tense silence.

“There’s a bomb?!” a panicked whisper comes from my left.

And then, all hell breaks loose.

“Oh no!” I mutter in dread.

“Ziyaad, take Amaani and get Deeyanah to the car. I’ll handle this,” Uncle Ismaeel commands quietly, giving me his keys. “The rest of you’ll stay here.”

“Just shut it and listen!” I yell sternly at Dee who opens her mouth, about to object.

Adrenaline pumps through me as I grab Dee’s other hand and pull her through the wild crowd of people trying to get out of the restaurant.

“There is no bomb!” I hear Uncle Ismaeel say in a calm, controlled, yet authoritative voice. “Please calm down. Let me explain.”

“What are you doing?!” screams a man.

I recognize his voice.

It’s the middle aged man who’d been shouting out orders in the kitchen.

It’s the boss.

I don’t glance behind me.

Instead, I push past the last person, holding firmly onto Dee’s hand so that she comes with me.

Stepping out into the cool night air with Dee next to me, I take a deep breath, trying to calm my racing heart.

“Jeez, is this the havoc a bomb scare causes?” I mutter, wiping my sweaty hands on my jeans.

We wait a couple of seconds for Amz, who’s still stuck in the chaotic crowd.

Nervously I glance around, praying that Dayyanah is still in the kitchen.

But, of course, fate deals the worst cards to those who least deserve it.

One Hundred and Forty Six

As narrated by Meez:

WhatsApp Chat – Zee:

ME: Plan suggestions for tomorrow?

ZEE: Early morning hike, breakfast basket, acrobranch, lunch at a restaurant, afternoon nap

ME: Sounds good if you scratch out the early morning hike

ZEE: Check with the girls

I take a screenshot of our chat and put it on the group.

WhatsApp Group Chat:

ME: Opinions?

Putting aside my phone, I power up my laptop to complete my assignment due on Monday whilst I wait for their replies.

My phone beeps a couple of moments later.

It’s Faizy.

I groan out loud.

FAIZY: braai at my place next week Saturday

FAIZY: i’ll send a car

FAIZY: dress casual 😉

ME: Will check my agenda…

FAIZY: clear your agenda boss

FAIZY: u’re not missing this one

Sighing, I put my phone on silent and throw it across the bed.

After working on my assignment for a while, I switch off my laptop and stretch tiredly.

Changing into pajama shorts, I brush my teeth and then clear up my bed before climbing under the duvet.

I dim my bedside light and reach for my phone.

WhatsApp Group Chat:

AMAANI: That early morning hike will not gel with me!

SUMAYYA: Heyyyy guys

SUMAYYA: I’ve got shopping to do again tomorrow so will only be free after that

ZEE: What time you expect to be done?

SUMAYYA: I could try to be done around 2

AMAANI: @Sumayya you shopping like you the bride! 😂

SUMAYYA: Smh (shaking my head) let’s not even discuss that

DEEYANAH: Sounds like a plan. Especially the early morning hike part.

ZEE: Yaaass Dee 👏😀

AMAANI: 🙄

AMAANI: Since S isn’t avlb in the morning I suggest we just go out for supper

ZEE: That’s okay with me

SUMAYYA: Yeah good with me also

AMAANI: Meez?

DEEYANAH: Or we could all just meet up at our place.

DEEYANAH: Amz will cook.

AMAANI: Excuse me

DEEYANAH: I’ll stir the pot. 😊

ZEE: 😂😂

ZEE: @Deeyanah You’re not up for supper out?

DEEYANAH: Whatever you guys want to do.

AMAANI: Meez???

AMAANI: Opinion bro????

Grinning, I type.

ME: Hello there

ME: Sorry for the delayed response

ME: Some of us are dedicated students

AMAANI: ??

ME: Was finishing that dumb assignment due for Monday

AMAANI: Dedicated? We were given that assignment like 3 weeks ago dude 😂

ZEE: I handed mine in so long ago I don’t even know what you’re talking about 😂

SUMAYYA: OMG What assignment?!?!?

ME: Chill woman

ME: It’s for bio

SUMAYYA: Oh thank god!

AMAANI: 😂

AMAANI: Okay now Meez are u fine with supper?

ME: Yeah but let’s do something else too

ME: Maybe bowling

AMAANI: So supper and then bowling thereafter?

SUMAYYA: I’m in

ZEE: Yepp perfect

DEE: 👍

ME: Awesome

ME: I’ll check with the parents and let you’ll know.


As narrated by Zee:

“How she’s doing?” I ask, holding my phone with my shoulder.

I gently tap my cake on the counter a few times before lifting it carefully and putting it into the oven.

Removing my oven mitts, I lean against the counter and hold my phone in my hand once again.

“She’s okay, I guess. I don’t think it has sunk in yet..” Amz says quietly. “She didn’t sleep for long, but she slept well. No nightmares.”

“Oh shukr for that,” I say in relief. “And you, how you’re doing?”

“I’m okay,” she answers with a heavy sigh.

“You sound tired,” I say.

“I am,” she admits.

I don’t say anything, giving her a chance to elaborate, hoping she will.

She does.

“I.. i just miss my mother.. so much more,” she says sadly. “I just.. I have to be so strong for Dee.. but, there’s no one to be strong for me. I’m not complaining. I love Dee so much. God, I’d do anything for her. It’s honestly scary.. how I’d willingly sacrifice anything for her to be happy. (pause) I don’t quite know how to explain it to you.. It’s like, my mother would just know what to do and say in every situation. And I don’t. And often I handle things wrong thinking I’m handling it right. Like, I don’t have someone to advise me how to handle the situation. And if I had my mother, she would be that person. Maybe it’s just because I’m emotionally strained, but.. god, I just miss them. So much.”

For a moment, I’m speechless.

Amz, although always honest and straightforward, barely ever talks about herself -her own feelings; but not in the way Dee does.

“I’m sorry. I honestly don’t know what it’s like to lose someone close to me, and I can’t imagine how difficult it must be. Just remember that they’re in a better place. It’s okay to feel crap sometimes, but don’t put yourself down like. You’re honestly one of the most amazing people I’m privileged to know. Your parents would be so damn proud of you, Amz.”

“Thanks buddy. I guess I’m just having a down day.”

“Well your day will soon be better considering we’re meeting up tonight,” I say.

Amz laughs.

“You’re so full of yourself!”

We speak for a little longer before Amz has to go.

Greeting, I end the call.

*****

“This place is so cool!” exclaims Sumayya.

I agree.

It’s a small, autumn colour themed restaurant, but the layout makes it look spacious despite it being busy.

At the entrance, behind the counter, is the kitchen, in full view.

To the right, is a small play area. Next to that, alongside the kitchen is the seating area.

Fancy wallpaper with food emojis give colour to the walls.

We watch the workers for a couple of minutes before going to sit. A middle-aged man shouts order continuously, while workers scurry around carrying them out.

Looks like Sunday nights are busy at this place!

“Let’s go sit,” says Aunty Aadila, as a big family enters and makes their way to the counter.

We choose a table more towards the front because the back is busier.

A waitress comes with menus a short while later and we each start deciding what we want.

We give the waitress our orders when she comes again and then decide to play ‘heads up’ while we wait.

“Rameez, go and ask the lady for a jug of water, please,” says Aunty Aadila , her face red from laughing.

“I’ll go,” I offer with a grin, getting up.

All the waiters in sight are hurrying on their feet so I decide to head to the front counter and ask someone there rather.

I wait for the couple in front to pay before stepping forward.

“Could I get a jug of water at table 4 please?” I request.

“One jug of water. Table 4!” yells the man, nodding at me.

“Actually, uncle, I’ll take it, don’t worry,” I offer.

“Bring the jug of water here,” the man yells again.

While I wait, I watch the workers again. It’s unusual to be able to see the ‘behind the scenes’ of your meal.

To one side two people stand cutting chickens. Then there’s someone frying chips. Another person removes a perfectly done tray of pizzas from an oven. Right at the back, a person loads a dishwasher. Next to her someone stands washing dishes.

My travelling gaze stops abruptly.

Hold up… is that???

I frown.

‘Don’t be silly! Obviously that’s not her!’ my subconscious says.

But something about the way she’s standing. Flat on one foot, tiptoed on the other.

Isn’t that how Dee usually stands…??

She turns then.

“Crap!” I mutter, my eyes widening.

I know that I’m blatantly staring, but I can’t help it.

“Thanks, lad. We’re super busy tonight,” says the man, placing a jug of water in front of my face, distracting me.

“Huh? Ohh. Oh, that’s okay. No problem. Thanks,” I say in a rush.

I turn and walk away with the jug.

My heart  is pounding against my rib cage.

How the hell do I handle this situation?

Amz’s gaze meets mine before I reach the table.

I must be looking frantic, because she stands up immediately, looking at me questioningly, worriedly.

I place the jug down on the table, my hands wet because of my unsteady hold on the jug.

I take a deep breath, trying to stop myself from panicking.

“We need to leave,” I say urgently. “Right now.” 

One Hundred and Forty Five

As narrated by Sumayya:

“I will not allow you to wear that, Sumayya!” admonishes mummy. “How could you have even bought such a besharam (immodest) dress! Have I not taught you better?!”

“I don’t see what’s immodest about this!” I argue, twirling the hanger around and looking at the dress.

“It’s so tight, Sumayya!”

“That’s the style, ma!! That’s why it’s called a mermaid dress!” I groan.

“I don’t care what it’s called, Sumayya. You are not allowed to wear that. You will go with Hamza and return it. And let me just warn you, you come home with another dress of this nature, I will make you wear a plain abaya for the wedding!”

“I don’t understand what’s so wrong with this dress!” I yell, close to tears. “Everyone else will be wearing dresses off the catwalk and you want me to wear a stupid plain cloak!”

“Sumayya.”

I turn at the sound of Hamza’s stern tone and see him entering my room.

“I’m not saying you have to wear a cloak. I’m saying that you must wear something modest,” says mummy, ignoring Hamza. “Now stop being difficult and go lay the dastarkhaan (tablecloth) for supper!”

Saying that, she walks out.

Gosh! Mummy is so old-fashioned!” I say, clucking my tongue in annoyance.

“You really shouldn’t speak like that to mummy,” Hamza says seriously, sitting down on my bed. “What’s the matter?”

“Apparently my dress is to ‘besharam’,” I say scornfully, throwing the dress onto the bed.

“Well it does look pretty narrow. Are you sure you bought the right size?” he asks, eyeing the dress.

I narrow my eyes at him.

“What are you implying?” I ask threw gritted teeth.

He looks up in surprise.

“Huh? Oh. No, no! I’m not saying you’re fat!” Hamza says in a rush.

“Did you try it on?” he asks.

Seriously?! Are you dumb?! Obviously I tried it on!!” I say throwing my hands up in exasperation.

“Well, is it tight?”

“Yessss! My god! It suppose to be tight!” I say.

“Oh. So why did you buy it then?” asks Hamza, looking confused.

“Oh my god! Just get out, please!” I say, pointing to the door.

Turning my back to him, I take the beautiful dress of the hanger, fold it up and put it back into the box.

“Sumayya,” calls Tayyibah. “Mummy said you must come and lay the table.”

“I’m coming!” I yell indignantly.

Plugging my phone into the charger, I place it on the floor and head to the kitchen.

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*****

After helping with the supper dishes, I go back to my room.

Feeling tired after a long day of shopping, I decide to have an early night.

I take a long, hot shower and then change into my pajamas.

Taking out the book I’m currently reading, I read for a while with Tybalt curled up on my lap.

After a while I decide to phone Shakirah. She and her fiance were suppose to go buy their rings today.

Getting off my bed I go to fetch my phone from the charger, but, to my surprise, it’s not there.

Frowning I check on my pedestal and then inside the pedestal drawers.

Unsuccessful, I check around in my room, but it’s nowhere to be found.

“Did anyone see my phone?” I ask loudly, exiting my room.

“Nooo!” comes Tayyibah’s reply from her room.

“Hamzaaaa?!” I call.

I head to the lounge where he’s learning his sabaq.

He looks up briefly but doesn’t pause.

“Do you know where’s my phone?”

He nods yes whilst still reading.

“Where is it?” I ask immediately.

I wait impatiently as he carries on reading, ignoring me.

“Hamza! Where’s my phone?” I ask, after a couple of seconds.

He finishes the verse before closing his Qur’aan partially and finally looking up.

“What?” he asks, slightly annoyed. “I’m learning.”

“Where’s my Qur’aan?!” I ask crossly.

Hamza frowns.

“Your -”

“I mean my phone!” I say, correcting myself.

“Oh,” says Hamza. “Your phone?”

“Yes, Hamza,” I drawl, getting irritated.

What’s his problem?!

“Your phone, dear sister, is by me,” he says, after a moment.

I freeze.

Did he just say….

“What?” I ask hesitantly.

“I. have. your. phone,” repeats Hamza, pausing after each word, a slight smirk on his face. “Now can you stop disturbing me? I’m trying to learn in case you haven’t noticed.”

Hamza has my phone…

Wait what?!

Hamza has my.. phone!! Crap, crap, crap!! Did I clear my history? Is my Instagram account logged in? Oh shit, what if Faraaz replied my messages? Do I have my YouTube history paused? 

“Can I have it please?” I ask as calmly as I can.

Hamza, having started reciting again, shakes his head at me.

Pausing, he looks up at me again.

“Don’t ask me again because I’m not giving it to you,” he says.

“Seriously?” I say, rolling my eyes, trying to appear unbothered. “Stop being childish.”

“You..” he starts, his tone solemn. “..have some explaining to do.”

Oh damn. Time to dig my grave. 

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*****

“I know you’re not asleep,” says Hamza, quietly shutting my room door.

I ignore him, breathing slightly more heavily.

“C’mon, get up,” he says. “I’m not dumb.”

A few seconds pass.

“Sumayya.”

“Sumayya.”

“Sumayya. Sumayya. Sumayya,” chants Hamza.

Oh god!

Just ignore him. 

He isn’t being irritating. 

You’re fast asleep.

He’ll go away just now.  

“Hey Su,” he starts, and I can hear his grin.

Oh no! Oh no! He’s going to say something funny. 

“Remember that time when we had guests o-”

He stops abruptly, the hand he’d been shaking me with stilling.

What is he doing?

“Oh my god. Sumayya. don’t. move.” he whispers, sounding terrified.

Dammit! Now what?!

My heart instantly starts beating faster.

“I’m going to try and get it away. Just stay very, very still.”

Panic rising inside me, I involuntarily do the exact opposite.

“Oh my god!! Sumayya you’re on the spider!!” Hamza whisper-yells. “I told you not to move!”

Did he say SPIDER?!?!

Screaming, I fling the duvet off me, and jump out of bed.

“Spider?” I gasp, my eyes wide with fear.

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Hamza’s expression mirrors by own for a second before he bites his lip, straining himself to keep a straight face.

And then he starts laughing, covering his mouth to muffle it.

It takes me a couple of seconds to put two and two together.

By now Hamza is doubled over, laughing uncontrollably.

“I’m going to bloody kill you!” I hiss, glaring at him.

He jumps over the bed, moving further away from me as he laughs harder.

“I.. got you!” he says, gasping for air.

His face is gone red from laughing so much.

“You.. jumped… so fast!”

Despite trying extremely hard, watching him laugh like a crazy hyena makes it difficult for me not to laugh.

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Hamza laughing 😉

“It’s not funny!” I say, trying to sound cross but a giggle escapes my lips.

That only makes Hamza laugh harder and then, unable to control it anymore I start laughing too.

“Stop now!!!” I say to Hamza, clutching my stomach.

It takes us several minutes to calm down.

Hamza goes to my bathroom to drink water.

“Sis, you’re disgusting,” I say as he puts his hand under the tap and drinks from his hand.

“What?” he asks.

“What if there was a spider on the mouth of the tap and you just drank like that?” I point out, raising my eyebrows.

“The spider is on your bed, not the tap,” he says, sticking out his tongue.

“Idiot!” I say, throwing a pillow at him as he walks out of the bathroom.

“Rrrrrright,” he says, catching the pillow and sitting down on my bed.

“Rrrrrright,” I mimic. “I was really enjoying my sleep, so I’d greatly appreciate if you’d haul your butt right back out of my room. Thanks.”

Saying that I get back under the duvet.

“Just you hold on!” says Hamza, pulling my duvet off me. “Firstly, you were not asleep!

Hamza rolls his eyes.

“Well even if I wasn’t, I’m going to sleep now, so see yourself out,” I say.

“Nope. First you give me my answers, then you go to sleep,” says Hamza, his voice serious now.

“Iwon’tdoitanymoreIpromise-”

“Where did you hide my ps controllers?” asks Hamza.

“andwe’rejustfrien-”

Wait what?

“Huh?”

“Where did you hide my ps controllers?” repeats Hamza.

“Oh,” I say.

A great wave of relief washes over me and I release a breath I didn’t realize I’m holding.

“Oh,” I say again stupidly.

Hamza looks at me expectantly.

So that’s what this is about.. Thank god!

I smirk.

“If you give me my phone, I’ll tell you,” I offer, stretching out my hand.

“Nauh. You tell me where my controllers are and I’ll give you your phone,” he says. “You seriously need to stop hiding them every time you get annoyed with me. It’s plain dumb.”

“You need to stop annoying me. That is plain dumb.”

“You’re plain dumb!”

“Oh shut it! They’re in mummy’s bathroom cabinet between the towels, which obviously means you can’t get them right now because the parents are asleep,” I say, smirking. “Buuut, you have to hand over my phone since I’ve told you where they are.”

“You’re such a pest,” he grumbles, passing me my phone.

I hurriedly grab it from him before he can change his mind.

“So, you didn’t go through my phone, did you?” I ask casually.

“Well you changed your password and didn’t tell me the new one,” he points out.

“I did,” I confess. “You waste too much time going through my phone.”

“That’s because I need to make sure you’re not up to any nonsense.”

“Oh c’mon. I’m not a kid, Hamza!” I say, rolling my eyes.

“All the more reason,” he replies seriously. “So now, I have to take you shopping again tomorrow?”

“Apparently,” I huff.

“Well I should have been sleeping ages ago in that case,” he teases.

I whack him with a pillow and shoo him out of my room.

“Alright, alright. I’m going,” he laughs. “Assalaamualaykum.”

“Sleep tight, little sis,” he adds, switching off the light.

I reply his greeting, rolling my eyes at his last statement.

Sighing in contentment as my head sinks into my pillow, I close my eyes.

‘Thank goodness I changed my password..’ I think, before sleep pulls me into it’s warm embrace.

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