Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…
Posting this on behalf of my friend. She saw the response to the khatams and asked me to tell you’ll that she’s blown away by the response and may Allah reward you all greatly😘❤❤❤
He really was huge, was my first dazed thought. Well over six feet tall, so tall that he had to duck through the doorway, and built like a wrestler. His white shirt was stretched over a wide torso that filled the doorway, and stark against his dark, ebony complexion. Black, piercing eyes bore into me beneath raised eyebrows. He took a step closer to me, away from the doorway and I opened my mouth to scream again…and froze, my mouth still hanging open foolishly, as Humi and Ahmed stepped into sight behind the strange man.
“Fazila!” Humi gasped, pushing past the man to get to me. She caught me up in a tight hug which I automatically returned, my eyes on Ahmed who looked decidedly put-out, “why did you scream like that?”
“I think it was because of me.” My gaze swung back to the stranger as he spoke, his deep baritone matching his large physique.
“Oh, Faz,” Humi laughed and stepped away from me…and into the stranger. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her against him, almost swallowing her small frame with his build. My mouth fell open again and I was grateful for my niqaab because I was sure I was looking like a total fool right now. My gaze swung between Humi and Ahmed, wordlessly asking them to enlighten me. It was Humi who did.
“Faz, meet my husband…”
“Mickey’s the name…Mickey Cohen,” the man interrupted and laughed as though he had cracked a joke. Humi jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow.
“Mikaeel,” she finished pointedly.
I barely heard anything beyond the word husband. I stared at Humi, the word revolving around my head sickeningly. Her husband…she’s married to him…he’s her husband…her husband……
“I think your sister inlaw is surprised,” Mikaeel said lightly, though his eyes were boring into me again. I mentally cursed my expressive eyes which always betrayed my emotions and mumbled out a reply, dropping into a crouch to hide my confusion. I began picking up the scattered naan khatai mechanically, my mind in a turmoil. Surprise was a mild word to describe what I was feeling. Shock, yes. Bafflement. Anger. Dismay. Stupefaction. I picked up all the biscuits, placed them in the Tupperware again and went to the kitchen. I needed space to think. I was promptly followed by Humi but that I didn’t mind. I also needed answers and that only she could provide.
“You got married???” Was the first thing I said to her in the kitchen. I plopped down on a chair and she pulled out another one opposite me. She rolled her eyes.
“Here they come. The haraam police.”
I rolled my eyes right back at her. “If you think I won’t grill you for every little detail you’re mistaken. Spill!”
“What’s there to say? Girl met boy, they liked each other and they got married. End of story.”
I shot her my foulest look. “Details, woman!”
Humi laughed. “Okay, okay, chill. I met Mikaeel last year in August…just after ramadhan. We hit it off immediately but obviously we couldn’t be seen together or else you can just imagine the fireworks,” Humi rolled her eyes, “I knew mummy would never accept him. All she had to do was look at one finger of his and she’d send him packing. Nothing else would matter to her besides the fact that he’s black. When your sister married that coloured maulana I tried to sway her to the idea by praising him and telling her what a nice family they are, etc. Remember you were also surprised at me praising them?” I had been surprised. I remembered Humi taking my side when I’d argued with mummy that colour and wealth didn’t matter, deen and character did. I’d been surprised that Humi thought the same way; I’d thought she would think like her mum. But now it made sense. She’d been trying to further her own agenda. “It didn’t work, of course,” Humi was saying bitterly, “mummy’s very set in her ways and will never look at anything from anyone else’s perspective. I brought up Mickey once, indirectly. I asked her what she would do if I fell in love and wanted to marry a guy who was not Indian and not wealthy or well known in society. You should have seen the look she gave me, Faz! She said, “don’t even think about it. If you have any silly ideas like that you better throw them away right now because it’s never gonna happen!” I knew then that she would never accept Mickey. I’d always known it but that day I knew for sure I’d never win with her. There was no choice left. If I wanted to be with him I’d have to run away, even if it meant cutting off ties with my family because they would never accept him.”
“I’m not against black or coloured people or any non Indians for that matter…you know that,” I began carefully, “but knowing how your family is, why didn’t you rather look for someone they’d approve of? There’s plenty of nice Indian guys around. You got so many proposals from Indian guys as well but you kept saying no. Why choose someone where you would have to choose between him and your family, when you could have both?”
“You think it’s that easy to fall in love with someone?? You think we can tell ourselves, “oh, let me fall in love with this owe, he’s got the dough and the looks, he’s the ideal man, mummy and daddy will be so happy!” You think it works like that??” Humi was standing now, her palms on the table, leaning towards me. Her eyes flashed angrily. “Just because you were a goody-two-shoes who found a goody-two-shoes maulana just like you and made your parents happy doesn’t mean we’re all like that! And besides, why should I make mummy happy? Huh?? That woman has never made me happy! She’s made me miserable all my life! So should I choose her happiness over mine?? Hell no! I love Mickey and he treats me like a princess. That’s all that matters to me. If mummy and daddy don’t like it, tough!” She sat back down, breathing heavily.
“Have you told them?” I asked carefully.
“Who, mummy and daddy? No, you’ll do that for me.” Humi bared her teeth in a mirthless smile.
“What? No, you have to tell them! They’ve been worried sick about you! We’ve all been worried sick about you! Couldn’t you at least call and let us know you were okay?”
Humi shrugged. “Not really. I didn’t want to answer any questions till everything was set. We had to make a quick nikah where no one would recognise us then settle down and all. I needed everything to be set before I made an appearance. We came straight here. Haven’t been home…to mummy’s house at all.” Her upper lip curled slightly as she said, “mummy’s house.”
“You need to go there, Humi. We’ll come with you if you want but you need to see them, let them know you’re okay…”
Humi snorted. “They won’t let Mickey past the main gate and I wouldn’t be surprised if they lock me up in the house just to keep us apart. No, I’m not going there. You can tell them. And tell them it’s already done so they can forget about trying to reverse anything.”
“At least go for daddy’s sake,” I tried again, “he’s so worried about you, Humi.”
Humi’s face softened for an instant, regret flashing across her face. Then she shook her head. “No. He’ll only do what mummy says and he’s just as bad in worrying about what people would say. He wouldn’t accept Mickey as well. Forget it, Faz. I’m not going back there.”
I could not budge her so I left it and talked about other things instead, like where she was living right now. It turned out that she’d been living across town all this time. So Han had been correct, I thought, she’d been holed up in someone’s house all this time. Mikaeel’s sister’s house, to be precise, while his own house was getting done up. He had no parents…it was him, his two brothers and two sisters, all of whom were married. They lived across town, in a closed compound of sorts, an area where it was just them and the people they knew; the odd cousins here and there and their friends. Humi was the only Indian amongst them, a fact she didn’t seem too fazed by. I was more worried about the kind of people they were than the colour of their skin. Humi replied vaguely when I asked her what work Mikaeel did. Again an uneasy feeling settled in my gut. There was something here, something I couldn’t point my finger on yet but it did not bode well for my naive, unsuspecting sister inlaw who talked and laughed so easily, and who looked so lovingly at her husband as they left our house promising to visit us again soon. Humi also promised to keep in touch and not switch off her phone and disappear again.
“Well?” I asked Ahmed when we were alone again.
“Well what? She went and got married without informing any of us, the brat! I agree with mummy this time, it was irresponsible and very childish of her. Couldn’t she go about it like a civilised person???” I had never seen Ahmed so angry before. He was pacing up and down, tugging his long hair in frustration.
“She said they’d never accept him, Ahmed. And she’s right, neh? I don’t think your parents will ever accept him.”
“Of course not! That’s quite obvious!”
“Do you?” I asked quietly. Ahmed stopped and turned to face me.
“I don’t like him,” he stated bluntly.
I winced. “Definitely not what you pictured as a brother inlaw, right? But colour doesn’t matter, babe. So long as he’s a good person.”
“When did I say colour matters? I don’t care that he’s black. But I do care that he seems dodgy. All those tattoos, the rings and chains and what not. He seems like a proper gangster…not the decent, religious sort I would want for my sister. That’s why I say she should have consulted us at least. Made mashwara, made istikhara. Not run away and do as she pleased!” He sighed heavily and rubbed his hands across his face.
“Right now the most important part is telling your parents,” I said quietly.
Ahmed winced. “Yeah. That’s not going to go well.”
I nodded in agreement. I still remembered mummy’s reaction to Han marrying a coloured man clearly so to tell her that her daughter was married and that too to a black man… World War Three was going to erupt in the Cassim household and there was nothing we could do to stop it.