The black Hiace van was packed with a family of four. Seated on the passengers seat was my Dada. The passengers seat and the drivers seat somehow always found a man. In our society might I add. I recently got to know, for I thought it was common to the rest of the world too for we know not how outside the territorial boundary of our town which I don’t want it to be named worked. And even if we knew it, we pretended not to. To be “them”, we believed, is westernization. To be like “them”, We believed was blasphemy. Women ran the house. No, women were for the house.
And where are we going?
To meet my dads parents in their ancestral house.. Oh how we all hated it.. I could literally see my mothers sadness overflowing which in return filled each of us with equal emotions.
To make things better, sat my twenty three year old cousin brother in the drivers seat. However, he looked happy. Zain Riham, the kind of boy the aunties tell their kids not to associate with. The kind of boy who’s left alone because “he is of no use”. The kind of boy who doesn’t take a shit from anyone and who lives life on his own terms. The kind of boy the girls are jealous of.
There’s more about him. I could keep writing about him. It will be a forever book. You will fall in love with him too. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Zain Riham was my periyamma’s son. My mothers elder sisters son.
My grand parents had a lot of patience I bet. They, bless them, had 10 children. My mama had 4 elder brothers, 3 elder sisters and one younger brother and a sister. You will be getting know most of them in this story.
The thing about Zain was that he was always happy. Sometimes I wished I could just open up his head and read his thoughts just to reach his level of happiness. The guy kept smirking at me whenever his eyes found mine in the rear view mirror as if he knew what I was just thinking about.
I was the last one to get out of the van as we reached our destination. The sorrow I felt formed the words I spoke next.
“Come tomorrow ?” I asked
“Give me a call” zain replied. A genuine smile on his face.
His voice. It’s so rough yet so gentle. What kind of magic is that?
“Uhmm.. I don’t have your number” I replied, twirling the end of my extra large maroon shawl I had worn with my abaya. He let out a laugh.
“I’ll give you a call then” he said
I watched him leave with a wave and a honk.
As the sky turned into a shade of black and as the moon came out lighting everyone’s soul my phone beeped.
A girl given a phone before marriage?
Na’oodhu billahi minha
May god forbid.
I looked up at the moon and smiled. The message on my phone read,
Zain:- doing okay?
Me:-yeah for now. You are coming tomorrow right?
Zain:- yes. I’ll try 😜😜
The clock ticked by, the lights in the corridor had been turned off, I was lying down on my bed my face lit by the phones brightness, sleep forgotten, thumbs at work making him smile. Little did we both know this would be the start of a relationship which not a soul on earth could put an end to.
He did come the next day.