I walked into the kitchen early one Saturday morning to find Amira, Aliyah and Haneefa sitting around the table stuffing their mouths with hot pancakes. I inhaled deeply of the mouthwatering aroma and my stomach grumbled loudly in response, making them all laugh. I raised my eyebrows at them and pulled out another chair for myself.
“You guys here early. Did you smell the pancakes all the way from your houses?”
“Well, Rabia Chachi makes such yummy pancakes I might be able to smell them from my house as well,” Amira replied, casting a smile mum’s way who stood at the stove expertly flipping pancakes, “but I came over for you, actually. Ally and I are going to Algoa Grand Prix. You’ll wanna join us?” She looked at me and Han expectantly.
“The go-karting place at Moffett on Main?” I scrunched up my forehead.
“Yeah, that one,” Amira replied.
“You in quite an adventurous mood today, hmmm?” I raised my eyebrows at her.
“Not really. Is there something wrong in going there?” Amira raised her eyebrows right back at me.
“Nope. Just wondering where the idea came from.”
“I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time but haven’t gotten the opportunity till now. Ask Ally, we’ve been discussing it for some time.” Ally nodded in agreement.
“So do you wanna come or not?” Aliyah pitched in, “of course, if you’re still mourning over your Javed you wouldn’t wanna come but I think you should, it will take your mind off him, you know,” Aliyah ducked her head and laughed as I shot her my most unamused look.
I sighed loudly. “Can’t you’ll stop talking about Javed now?? It’s been months, you know!”
My three disastrous proposals had made me into the butt of the family jokes. It had all started with my huge, thoughtless blunder of telling my cousins about each of my proposals. Within a week the girls had told the guys who had repeated it infront of the adults and at the next family braai the talk was of little else. Ilyas made everyone cringe and get annoyed; Nabeel made everyone laugh and shake their heads in pity but Javed had captured everyone’s attention and not in a good way.
“Javed Topee??? That owe actually came to see Fazila??? How on earth did you agree to that, Rabia Mamie?” Immy exclaimed. Apparently Immy and Asif knew Javed quite well, knew exactly how he was, to my surprise.
“Well, I didn’t know how he was, did I,” mum said defensively, “Sajid gave me a good recommendation and Faruk asked few people who also said he’s very nice and would make a good husband for Faz. How was I supposed to know how he was underneath??”
“Money talks,” Asif said in his usual quiet way. They say quiet people are wise and I saw the evidence of that in Asif. He spoke little but when he did speak it was worth taking note of. In this case he had gotten to the root of the matter in two simple words. Money talks.
“He’s right. The Topees are stinking rich so no matter how lousy the owe is people will think he’s a great catch. You watch, he’ll get a vrou in no time at all, skidding around in that topless car of his!” Immy said.
I looked at Aliyah wide eyed. “Skidding around in a topless car???”
Aliyah burst into muffled giggles. “Ya, Immy was saying how he cruises around in his latest sports car with the roof down and the latest tracks blasting on his stereo. The whole road can hear him coming, that’s how loud he is. He likes to make an entrance, that one.”
I shook my head. “No wonder he didn’t want an alima!”
In the kitchen Immy was echoing my exact thoughts. “What I don’t understand is why he came to see Faz. She and him are worlds apart. Didn’t he know she’s in purdah and all that??”
In the lounge I whispered the reply to that to Amira and Aliyah. “His friend Bilal only told him I’m a hot chick. Nothing else,” I rolled my eyes and they laughed even more.
After the whole discussion was over the teasing started. Amira and Aliyah wasted no opportunity in teasing me with all three, finding it hilarious when I shuddered or glared at them. The guys also couldn’t resist making digs at me though I barely spoke to them anymore, just the odd salaam and ‘how are you’ at times. The Three Musketeers, they called them. Or the Three Idiots. Or Tom, Dick and Harry. Or they would call me Mrs. Topee, or Mrs. Kara or Mrs. Umar. It got to the point where no weekly braai was devoid of mention of any three of the weirdos, as I liked to call them. I found it annoying and amusing at the same time but lately I also wished the family would bury the topic of the three once and for all. I for one would definitely like to put them out of my mind and pretend none of it had happened. And now here was Aliyah, still carrying on…
“Nope, we can’t. Your reactions are so entertaining everytime,” Aliyah grinned.
“Whether Faz wants to go or not I’d definitely like to join you’ll,” Han put in suddenly. I shot her a grateful look and grabbed at the opening.
“Of course I want to go! I wouldn’t miss it for anything, especially after the scene Aliyah made the last time we went!”
Just that easily the topic was changed and we laughed at and teased Aliyah, who’d had a series of mishaps the last time we went go-karting, much to the amusement of a group of guys who had been standing nearby. They had laughed at her so much that she’d run away from there and vowed never to go back. I was glad she had broken her vow because where would the fun be if all of us weren’t together?
“I know why Faz likes go-karting so much. ‘Cause she drives like a rally driver all the time!” Amira complained as I drove at my usual breakneck speed, then gasped when I took a particularly sharp turn. I shot her a grin.
“Keep talking about my driving and we’ll see who laughs last.”
“No one’s laughing anyways except you. See, this is why you would have suited with wacko Javedo. You both drive the same way!” Aliyah pitched in from the back.
I groaned loudly and glared at her through the rear view mirror. “Not again! I’m beginning to think you’re in love with Javedo yourself, the way you keep going on and on about him.”
“Ewww, never! I don’t have such lousy tastes to fall for him! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah, watch out!” She screamed suddenly. I jerked my gaze back to the road to see a car heading my way. In my preoccupation I’d gone over to the opposite lane slightly. With a screech of tires I swerved sharply back to my lane and left onto the next turn, making the other drivers hoot furiously at me, then carried on, grinning into the rearview mirror.
“You can relax now, Ally. We’re safe.”
“Can you look at the road?? I’m not talking to you if it means sending us to early graves!”
I burst out laughing but obediently kept my eyes on the road till we reached our destination.
Moffett on Main was already buzzing by the time we got there. We made our way to the go-karting place then had a blast zooming around and trying to outdo each other. Finally, hungry and laughing we made our way to Simply Asia where the indian cuisine tantalised our taste buds. Then we popped into Checkers to buy a few things we needed and then back to the car.
“I’ll drive us back,” Amira said quickly as I started to go over to the driver’s side.
I quirked a brow at her. “Scared of a little speed, babe?”
“See, she’s even got his habits of talking now. Now she’ll keep saying “babe” like her Javed,” Aliyah piped up from beside me.
“Aliyah, can you shut up with your Javed nonsense?? I don’t ever wanna hear Javed’s name again in my life!” I yelled.
“Which Javed would that be, babe?”
I whirled around then gasped loudly at the sight infront of me. Javed Topee stood there flanked by two other guys. Javed Topee himself. In the flesh. From the grin on his face I could tell that he recognised me, probably from my voice, which made it all the more mortifying. Where the hell was that shovel when I desperately needed one to bury myself???
I blushed a deep shade of red which thankfully was hidden under my niqaab. Even my ears felt like they were on fire!
“You, who else?” I retorted impulsively, then whirled back around and flung open the car door, flinging myself into the drivers seat. Luckily the others piled in just as quickly and I was able to beat a hasty retreat but not before I heard his laughter ringing out behind me. The others in the car were laughing so hard, rolling all over the place that I was tempted to drive full speed into a wall just to shut them up.
“If only I could have seen your face! But your eyes gave you away. They were ready to pop!” Amira gasped out between bouts of laughter and that set the others off again. I concentrated on taking deep, calming breaths and watching the road, willing my face to go back to its normal colour and temperature. I just knew that I’d never hear the end of this till the day I died.