Surprise, surprise!!! Yes, it really is me. Don’t faint in shock or else you’ll get delayed in reading the post😉
This is for all the times I was late, for all the times I made you’ll wait and for all the times I might do the same again😜
P.S. Next post will be on Friday if I don’t manage to complete it by Thursday.
The next day I took Laaibah with all the excitement of a child with a new toy. Not even Bashir’s repeated warnings and instructions could dampen my mood. I nodded at everything he said, waved jovially at him then Laaibah and I skipped off to our new adventure. I had already completed my run so I strolled along leisurely, pushing the pram, walking in the direction of the promenade. I strolled along the promenade for a bit, enjoying the cool, crisp air blowing on my face, cooling me down, and the waves crashing on the shore on my right, further relaxing me.
After a while I passed a coffee shop, causing my stomach to growl loudly as the mouth-watering aroma of freshly made coffee and hot delicacies wafted out. That was all the encouragement I needed. Within a few minutes I was sitting in a chair just outside the door, the pram parked on my side, ordering a cup of cappuccino and a couple of chocolate croissants. I turned to look at Laaibah who was watching her surroundings in wide-eyed wonder and smiled.
“Such a good baby you are today, hmm? Looks like you love being outdoors too! And no wonder…who wants to be cooped up all day indoors, right?” I tickled her under her chin and she snuffled into my hand like a kitten.
After my delicious albeit impromptu breakfast I started off again. Laaibah fell asleep with the soothing motion of the pram and I hummed as I walked, my thoughts as peaceful as my surroundings. This was the best time of the day for taking walks, I thought. No rush, no throngs of people to maneuver through…
By the time I reached Zee’s house again it was eight-thirty and Zee had already started cooking. She glanced at the time and raised her eyebrows on seeing me, then her eyes fell on her baby, peacefully asleep under her blanket and her face broke into a wide smile.
“She’s sleeping! How long has she been sleeping for?”
“About thirty minutes,” I whispered back.
“Wow, mashaAllah. Jazakillah, Faz. This idea of yours is the best I’ve heard in my life!” She came forward and hugged me exuberantly.
Bashir was just as pleased on hearing about our outing and his doubts vanished under the relief of having acquired a free babysitter and a talented one on top of it…if I had to say so myself.
And so a routine was set. I picked up Laaibah on my way back everyday for the next twelve days and took her out for roughly forty-five minutes. I had developed my own style of knocking on the gate so Bashir would know it’s me and open for me. Zee used to be asleep at that time so I would chat to Bashir while he got her ready or changed her nappy or did anything else that had to be done. Then I’d be off, returning her when Zee was up and about, either cooking or cleaning up a bit before the domestic arrived. Only twice it so happened that I got there, only to find Laaibah already asleep so there was no need for me to take her out. The first time it happened Bashir invited me in to have a cup of tea before carrying on home. Thirsty and tired from the exercise I accepted and joined Bashir for his breakfast of cereal, tea and biscuits.
“How do you have cereal and tea together?” I asked, “isn’t cereal filling enough by itself?”
Bashir laughed. “Habit, I guess. I have to have my tea in the morning but I have cereal before it to fill me up so I don’t binge on biscuits with my tea.”
“Hmmm, makes sense, I guess.”
We chatted about different things as we munched our way through breakfast. Bashir was a jolly guy with an easy way of talking and I found it very easy to talk to him. He reminded me of Salim in so many ways; maybe that’s why I became more comfortable with him than I normally would with just any guy. I used to be close to Salim and confide in him quite a bit; I didn’t really confide in Bashir but I grew close to him as well, in a purely brotherly fashion, of course. I had taken Salim as another older brother and I took Bashir as the same.
Until that fateful day…
I had arrived at Zee’s house panting and out of breath as usual, ready to go for my walk with Laaibah. Only when Bashir answered the door he was minus his usual little bundle and the house was suspiciously quiet. Bashir smiled and ushered me in, putting his finger on his lips as he shut the door and turned back to me.
“She’s sleeping,” he whispered.
“Should I be happy or sad?” I whispered back.
Bashir laughed and led the way into the kitchen. “I’m very happy. The little chit was screaming on top of her lungs and refusing to calm down. It took me so long to settle her.” He stretched his back with a groan.
“Well, then, I suppose I should be happy for you,” I said in a disgruntled tone but a smile was tugging at my lips.
“Oh, definitely! You have no idea how precious this peace is. Shall I make tea for you?”
“No, it’s fine. I’ll make myself some coffee,” I said, seeing that he had already made himself a cup of tea.
“Okay, sure. The coffee and sugar is on top,” he waved his hand at the top cupboard.
I nodded and started preparing myself a cup of coffee while Bashir regaled me with stories of his workplace.
“I’ve got a secretary named Linda. God, she’s such a blonde. She makes the most obvious mistakes but she tries so hard to please me that I have to pretend to love her work and send her off with a pat on her back. Then get someone else to come in and correct all her mistakes.”
“You have the patience of a saint,” I commented, watching the kettle start to bubble “anyone else would have fired her in a flash.”
“That’s what the other owes keep telling me but she tries so hard to please, man! I do end up losing my patience and shouting at her sometimes…and sometimes I’ll explain everything to her slowly like I’m talking to a nursery kid. But few days later she’ll make the same mistake and I’ll be like, grrrrr! And she’ll be standing there with a big smile on her face and be like, “oh, sir, how is it this time??” Then I just have to swallow my anger and tell her it’s just fine, she’s done a lekker job!”
I was laughing away at this point. The kettle reached the boiling point and switched off and I poured the boiling water over the ground coffee beans, closing my eyes as I inhaled the mouth-watering aroma of fresh coffee that swirled around my nose.
“Here’s the sugar. Sorry, I forgot I had it.”
I started as I felt Bashir’s chest brush against my shoulder then his arm came into view as he placed the sugar tin on the counter top. I whirled around to face him instinctively, startled by his close proximity. Big mistake. I found myself trapped between the counter top and the bulk of Bashir’s body, unable to move in either direction. My eyes unnervingly fixed on the smooth, brown column of his throat and I saw his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed convulsively. Jerking my head up I found his face inches from mine. As though in a dream I watched his eyes drop to my lips, linger there for an excruciatingly long moment, then lift to pierce my eyes again, his own gaze heavy lidded and smouldering. His musky, male scent surrounded me as he slowly lowered his mouth to mine…