“Fazila, you make the chocolate cake, the one you made last time. It came out nice. And Humi, you start frying the samoosas and take out the pies to bake. As soon as the cake is done put them in. And hurry up, both of you. We want to leave as soon as we can,” and with that mummy sailed away to do her own thing. I smiled at Humi who was her usual sulky self and set about taking things out for the cake, pleasantly surprised that mummy had complimented my cake. Mummy gave out compliments sparingly.
“Why can’t we stay here? At least some weekends?” My words to Ahmed two days ago came back to me as I weighed the butter and sugar to beat, putting a damper on my mood again. I would have preferred privacy in this house to the beach house but mummy had other ideas. Initially they only used to go to Seascape, as the beach house was named, every other weekend so Ahmed and I used to go there alone on alternate weekends. But then mummy had said that since we were going every week…since we joined them when they went as well, at her demand…they would also go every week. So there went my privacy and spending a weekend alone with my hubby. That time I had suggested to Ahmed that we could stay back here on some weekends, just to get that time alone. Ahmed had agreed and brought it up at the supper table on Thursday night. Mummy had thrown a fit.
“Why? Is our company not good enough for you’ll now?? I thought you’ll love Seascape sooo much??”
Ahmed had tried to explain to her but she wasn’t having any of it, going into a proper sulk where she refused to talk or even look at us.
“She’s just being silly. Ignore her and let’s do our own thing,” I had said to Ahmed when we were alone in our room, rolling my eyes.
“She’ll make life difficult for you, princess. When she flies into these moods she makes everyone’s life hell till someone snaps her out of them. Let’s just go. We’ll try to spend time alone there as well.”
“Oh? Where? Camp out on the beach, maybe?? Then mummy will come crash our tent as well, crying that we don’t like her company any more so we ran away, blah blah blah. She’s playing bloody mind games with you’ll. Why can’t you and daddy realise that??” I yelled, all my frustration boiling over and spilling out on Ahmed.
“I know what she’s doing, I’m just saying it’s easier to go along with her. You have to spend the most time with her and I don’t want her to make life difficult for you.”
“Oh, so it’s me you’re thinking about?? Fine then, I’ll take the risk. Go tell mummy that we would prefer to spend the weekend right here but we’ll join them next week. Isn’t that a compromise? Go tell her that.”
Ahmed opened his mouth, shut it again…then sighed. “Fadheelah, you’re making a big thing out of a small one. You do love Seascape, neh? So why all the fuss?”
I felt like shaking him at that point. “It’s not about me loving Seascape or not. It’s about you letting her walk all over us and drag us whichever way she wants,” I gritted out between clenched teeth, “why can’t we do what we want for once?? Why do we always have to do what she wants?? That’s why she has these silly tantrums like a small child! She knows you’ll all toe the line when she turns on the drama! God, I’m sick and tired of it!”
Ahmed placed his hands on my shoulders. “That’s my mother we’re talking about, Fadheelah. No matter how she is, she’s my mother,” he said quietly, “if I go tell her that she’ll make a bigger fuss and we’ll never hear the end of it. She’s much older now, she’s set in her ways. It’s difficult for her to compromise. But you can. You’re doing so well these days, with talim everyday and making mummy and daddy smile with all your small gestures. You’re getting along so well with them. Can’t you do this as well, to make them happy?” He smiled at me cajolingly.
I shrugged off his hands. “I’m also human, Ahmed, not an angel. And sometimes I get so sick and tired of playing the martyr!” I stormed into the bathroom, slamming the door behind me. When would this end??? I was giving my all here, bending over backwards to please a woman who only cared about herself. And what did I get in return?? She wasn’t changing for the better. She was still the same person under the sweet smiles and friendly words. She was only being sweet and nice with me because I went along with whatever she said. Tonight had proven that if things didn’t go her way she could revert to her real self in a matter of seconds. So I wasn’t softening her or turning her into a better person. No, the only person changing here was myself. And I was changing into a person I didn’t like at all.
I glanced at Humi out of the corner of my eye as I went about making the cake. She was banging trays on the countertop, a scowl on her face. I shook my head. How draining it must be to be so unhappy all the time. I felt sorry for her despite how horrible she was to me and made a silent dua for her to find happiness someday. I smiled at her again as I poured the cake batter into the pan and slid it into the oven to bake.
My softened attitude towards her suffered a blow when I came back into the kitchen twenty minutes later. My eyes immediately flew to the oven and a gasp escaped my lips. The oven door was ajar!! The kitchen was empty, Humi nowhere to be seen. And my poor cake! A quick peek confirmed my worst fears. It sat at the bottom of the pan, a dense, soggy mass. I quickly closed the door and prayed that it would turn out well.
Twenty more minutes later I was turning the cake out onto a rack. Dark, about an inch thick. If I knocked on it it gave a solid thunking sound. It was more like a large lump of chocolate Rusk than cake. I rested my hands on both sides of the cake and closed my eyes, willing the tears not to leak out.
“How’s the cake? Show me what mummy was praising so much.” Humi’s smug voice brought me out of my bleak thoughts. I whirled around to face her. The idiot was actually smiling!
“You did this, neh?? How dare you???” I hissed at her furiously.
“Did what?? What are you on about??” Humi widened her eyes innocently.
“You.left.the.oven.door.open.admit.it,” I gritted out. I was so mad I could chuck her into the hot oven and hope she burnt to crisp!
“What? I didn’t do anything. You must have left the door open yourself. How careless of you,” she tsked as she waltzed out of the kitchen, a smirk on her face.
“Who’s careless?” Mummy asked, bumping into Humi in the doorway. I mentally groaned.
“Fazila. She left the oven door open while her cake was baking,” Humi said.
“I didn’t! I know I closed it when I left the kitchen but when I came back it was open! Someone must have opened it!” I said hotly.
Mummy came to peer over my shoulder at the sorry lump sitting on the rack. “Who could have opened the door? No one was even here. You must have forgotten to close it. Really, Fazila, that’s quite careless of you. Now what will we do with this? Such a waste of expensive ingredients as well,” she tsked, shooting me a disappointed look. I gritted my teeth and shot a foul look at Humi who was smirking at me behind her mother’s back.
“Stop at the bakery on the way to Seascape, Ahmed, and buy a chocolate fresh cream cake,” mummy said as she clip-clopped her way out of the house on her sky-high heels.
“Why? I thought Fadheelah made a chocolate cake,” Ahmed said innocently. I mentally face-palmed myself. I hadn’t gotten a chance to tell Ahmed about the cake fiasco.
“Didn’t she tell you? She forgot to close the oven door and the whole cake flopped. You must take her to the doctor, Ahmed, she might be sick. Or maybe she’s pregnant. It’s not normal to forget something simple like that.”
I rolled my eyes so hard I thought my eyes would get lost somewhere at the back of my head. Humi was still smirking away and actually in a good mood for once. So she got happy by making others miserable. Great!
“What happened?” Ahmed asked me with a concerned frown on his face once we were on our way.
“Your sister opened the oven door so my cake would flop,” I said bluntly.
Ahmed turned to stare at me. “Humi? Did you see her?”
“No but you should have seen her face. She looked like the cat who got the cream. So bloody pleased with herself,” I rolled my eyes, “if it’s not your mother it’s your sister. That house is filled with hidden enemies, I swear!”
“You’re in a lekker mood these days, aren’t you?” Ahmed was looking at me weirdly, “first bad mouthing mummy and now Humi. Are you getting your periods already?”
I gritted my teeth in anger. “Ever thought that I might have valid complaints?? Why do men always think that bad moods equals PMS?? Can’t I be unhappy about something just like that???”
Ahmed didn’t answer though I thought I heard him sigh. My own anger was boiling over. As if it wasn’t enough that I had to contend with mummy’s tantrums and Humi’s silly tricks my own husband didn’t even believe me. Great, just great!!!
“You don’t have proof that Humi did it, do you?” Ahmed asked quietly a few minutes later, “so you can’t just pin the blame on her. That is tohmat (slander), Fadheelah.”
I threw up my hands in annoyance. “Fine, a bhoot (ghost) came and did it. I didn’t do it, I know that, and mummy didn’t do it. Dalia would never do something like that and daddy hardly even comes in the kitchen. So who’s left, huh? Unless you also agree that I’m going crazy!” I slammed my hands down on the dashboard, “that’s the problem! Stay in a house where you’re clearly the outsider, not free to do anything or say anything that you want, not allowed to move out also, then after you try to do things their way you still turn out to be the crazy, sick psycho. Great!” I ranted to him some more, letting out my frustration on him. He didn’t say a word, keeping his eyes on the road the whole time. When we reached the bakery I went in, got the cake and came back to the car. The rest of the way was filled with silence, me still fuming away silently, Ahmed probably lost in his own thoughts.
Way to start the weekend!!!