Chapter One: The Past – Part Three

(please note we are editing as we go along, so there maybe changes,apologies,  mummy’s husband is now Riaz)

After that incident, Nani never spoke to Mummy again. She wanted nothing to do with her. As long as Riaz was in the picture, Nani preferred to be out. I’m not even sure whether Mummy noticed. She was so glaze-eyed everytime I saw her, sinking deeper and deeper into her self-made pit of misery. Two hours was the most I ever spent there anymore. It was two hours filled with a silence that eats at your heart. I saw Nani’s pain. Fatikhala tried to soften the blow for her, for both of us actually. She tried to ease the pain by distracting us with her antics, hoping we would forget and go about our lives. But how could a mother forget her daughter, and a little child could never forget her mother.

Not long after that incident, Fatikhala received a proposal for marriage, when we went to Durban, for Nani’s neice, Aunty Rabia’s wedding. Mustafa’s aunt found our lovely hazel-eyes Fatima not only beautiful, but full of good manners too. “Just like a Muslim pooyri should behave” Rooki Nani told Nani, was what Mustafa’s aunt had said about Fatikhala. Aunty Shabnum, his mother, phoned a week after the wedding to say that her sister-in-law gave high recommendations about Fatikhala and asked if they could come for a Maangu – official proposal. Of course Nani jumped at the offer and said yes without even bothering to discuss it with Fatikhala. Who turns down such a good Maangu? After bitching and moaning for almost a whole week, Fatikhala finally relented. “I’m only allowing them to come because it would be rude to turn them away after you already said yes. But I’m not marrying him,” she added quickly and firmly. Nani only nodded, maintaining a straight face, but I saw the twinkle in her eyes, and the elated smile when she turned her face.

Mustafa’s family was from Cape Town and a month after the phone call came, they flew down to Jo’burg and drove down to Pietspruit, a little town three hours from Jo’burg, settled in old-fashioned ways and lots of dust. They were going to sleep by family in the town next door. Nani invited them for a Saturday night supper.. She cried amid cleaning the chicken that morning.

“It’s not my wedding day, Ma, only a proposal,” Fatikhala laughed at Nani. She waited for Fatikhala to leave the kitchen before turning to me to say, “I can feel it in my bones, Mumi, this is the one for Fati. A mother knows these things.” I guess they do, or else Nani would have given my mother to Riaz as willingly as she gave her hand to my father.

The Mohammed family were expected to arrive after Maghrib Salaah – the prayer at dusk. In spite of herself, Fatikhala was excited. That afternoon she had a long soak in the tub. She even bought special clothes for the occasion. As the sun lowered further into the horizon, and the time grew nearer to meet the family, Fatikhala was beginning to get nervous. She kept going back to her room to check herself in the mirror. She came back to the dining room to arrange and rearrange the table she and I had laid out that afternoon for the supper. “Shoo, get away from here,” Nani flicked her kitchen cloth, ushering Fatikhala away from the table as if she were a pecking bird, leading her into the lounge, where the family would sit and indulge in sweetmeats before making their way into the dining room for the big feast. “Everything looks perfect Fatima, just relax,” Nani scolded her lovingly.

As soon as Nani left the lounge to go check on the food one last time, before hopping in for a quick shower and change, Fatikhala jumped up and studied herself in the sideboard mirror. “You do look perfect, Fatikhala, You’re the prettiest person I know,” I told her, feasting my eyes on her beautiful face and lovely clothes. When she emerged from her bedroom earlier, I was in awe. Fatikhala was generally beautiful, but that day she had a different glow about her. She looked the image of a good wife serene and pure in wide cut linen trousers and a long flowing chiffon kaftan in white, intricately beaded in the palest of gold. She wasn’t very tall, but the gold diamante sandals gave her the perfect height. As a token of respect to Mustafa and his family, Fatikhala draped a white and gold ohni – long scarf– over her head. With just the slightest bit of make-up, she looked like a real-life fairy princess, in my nine year old eyes.

It was obvious to everyone that from the moment Mustafa laid eyes on Fatikhala, he was hopelessly in love. She was impressed too. Mustafa was better looking than she expected. His thick, black curly mop dishevelled upon his head, accentuated the deepness of his eyes and allowed you to notice the soft curve in his nose. And when he smiled, you could notice his deep dimples a mile away. They made a striking couple. The only flaw in the match was Fatikhala’s tiny body against Mustafa’s body-built hulk, but even then they seemed to fit perfectly together, like two pieces of a puzzle clicking into place. The heels did nothing to allow her even a fraction of height next to him. When he looked at her, his eyes already gave off promises of love and safety for all eternity.

His mother’s eyes were a whole different story. They kept darting everywhere around the house, looking for something, possibly faults. I wondered if she only phoned Nani on her sister-in-law’s insistence. Finally, I understood her nervousness. “I heard you have another daughter, Kulsum,” she addressed Nani, her mock-sweet tone immediately bringing silence to the table. “Couldn’t she make it today?”

Okay! Wow! I am sharing the third part of my story with you! Thank you for  all your support and encouragement.

Till Tomorrow

NB: NB: this is all fiction and all part of a made up world with real life problems.We are editing as we go along and there maybe some changes to characters, names etc. please bear with us.

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