We got home at around zuhr time just as nani and Humi also pulled in.
“Ooh, busy shopping up a storm huh! Didn’t even offer to take me with,” I pouted, eyeing the bags in their hands.
“Psshhtt, like you would have left Ahmed and accompanied us. You two were busy making goo goo eyes at each other whole morning,” Humi raised her eyebrows at me.
“Ya, you two never offered to take us with also,” nani put in.
“Oh, believe me nani, you wouldn’t wanna go anywhere with them. They would have scarred you for life with their besharamness,” Humi said.
I rolled my eyes. “Excuse me! You’ve been with all throughout hols and here you are, not scarred at all. And is besharamness even a word?”
“Leave them, they have to make babies for us,” nani said and with that she swished away, leaving us staring after her open-mouthed. Ahmed recovered first and guffawed.
“Nani is too much, kassam. Come along princess, let’s start the baby-making process now,” he teased with a wink in Humi’s direction. Humi ewwwwwed and made puking motions as we walked off, laughing.
Lunch was leftover rice and chicken from the day before since we’d all spent the morning out and had no time to cook. After lunch Humi was sitting on one side in the kitchen, trying to feed Numair a little bit of porridge, one small spoonful at a time. She had started him on solids about a week back and he seemed to be liking his new diet though it did take him quite long to eat. Nani and I were clearing and washing up when Ahmed walked in.
“Nani,” he said with a serious face. We all looked at him questioningly, “this house is lacking in some serious barkat these days. No burfee, no aloo parathas. My poor stomach is miserable and only you know how to put it out of its misery.”
I rolled my eyes. I knew exactly why he was remembering burfee and aloo paratha now! To my surprise nani burst out laughing. Putting down the food she was emptying into a small pot she walked over to him and pinched his cheeks, even though she had to reach up quite a bit to do it.
“Ahmed, Ahmed! Remembering the good old days, are we! How you used to come and say that to me all those years ago. Then your nana would say, “look how much he’s lissing for your food bicharo. Make some for him now.” And you both would enjoy. Your nana would laugh and say, “Ahmed ka naam aur hamara kaam.” Ey, those days. I am so happy you married my granddaughter. I always liked you but I couldn’t talk to you because of purdah. But now you really are my poiro and I can love you and spoil you nicely!”
“Don’t spoil him too much, nani. Look, his head is already getting so big like a big laddoo. Just now you’ll have to take that big needle of yours and pop it,” I said.
Ahmed smirked at me. “Don’t be jealous now. I was here before you.”
“No, you weren’t…”
“Yes, I was. I came to UK before you. I got to know nana and nani before you came. This was like my second home until you came. Then nana for some reason kicked me out and disowned me. All because of you,” he frowned at me in mock affront.
“What’s all this about kicking out and disowning?” Nana walked in at that point. He raised his eyebrows at Ahmed questioningly, not seeing Humi who was sitting out of his sight.
“Ahmed’s saying you disowned him after I came to UK. Tell him that’s not true.”
“He just stopped calling him over so much…because of you. He was very protective over you, Fazzu,” nani put in, laughing.
“And do you blame me for being like that? I knew how boys reacted to her…including Ahmed here,” he nodded towards Ahmed. Ahmed looked like a kid who was caught with his hand in the candy jar.
“What do you mean, nana?” He asked cautiously.
“You don’t remember the time you came here to give me a kitab and heard Fazila reading Qur’an? That look on your face…you became an aashiq of her voice then, just like her father became with her mother. That was exactly history repeating itself for me. Faruk got so impressed with my Rabia reciting Qur’an that he came back in two days sharp with a proposal. I thought you might do the same but you didn’t. But there was something there, neh?” His gaze probed at Ahmed who had actually gone red.
“Maybe he didn’t get so impressed like you thought, that’s why he didn’t come with a proposal,” I laughed, trying to lighten the moment.
“Oh, he definitely got impressed. He went into like a trance. I had to call his name so many times before he heard me then he told me, “she’s praying so wow.” He actually said that to me so he can’t even deny it now.”
I burst out laughing again, finding this whole thing hilarious. And the best part of it was Ahmed’s face!
“Errr, jee, I was impressed, nana. I might have even come with a proposal if it was possible for me to.”
“Why wasn’t it possible? I knew there was something going on between you two. Should have just made it halal.”
“Dad wouldn’t have allowed it and I wasn’t earning to support both of us then. It was tough but my hands were tied, so to speak. And there was nothing going on between us, really,” he shot me a quick look, “we only used to talk from time to time…not so much also.”
“But it was enough to develop some feelings there, neh?”
“Errrr, yeah,” Ahmed shifted awkwardly on his feet while I pressed back, trying to make myself invisible so his attention wouldn’t suddenly focus on me.
Nana smiled suddenly. “Never mind, that’s all in the past now. You both made tawbah and Allah brought you back together in a halal way alhamdulillah. No need to keep bringing up those days now. Rather concentrate on the halal story you have now. Now, I also heard the word aloo paratha back there…” he looked meaningfully at nani.
“Ya, you were just waiting for the opportunity, neh. I bet you sent Ahmed to ask for aloo paratha so you can also have some,” nani replied smartly.
“No, that I didn’t do. But if you’re going to make for Ahmed may as well make extra so we all can have. Aloo paratha and tea sounds lekker for supper, jaanu. You know no one can make aloo paratha like you so you can’t blame me for wanting some made by your own hands,” he winked at nani.
“Aww awwwww, look at nani blushing!” I chuckled, seeing nani go red. Nani shushed us and disappeared into the pantry. Nana grinned and turned to go.
“Oh, by the way, Ahmed,” he added, turning back in the doorway, “I knew there wasn’t anything serious going on between you and Fazila, otherwise I wouldn’t have just banned you from this house, I would have kicked you all the way back to PE! So count yourself lucky that you were sensible so I only banned you from this house, boy!” And with that he walked off.
Humi, who had been quiet till now, burst out laughing. “Finally someone managed to shut you up proper, Ahmed! The last time you looked like this was the time you were eight and you raided dad’s cupboard to find those chocolates he’d bought from Dubai and hidden at the back. Remember how you found them and you were nicely eating one, thinking you’ll take some and put the rest back and no one would know, and dad caught you. The tongue lashing you got that day and the way you looked, so guilty and gobsmacked, is how you’re looking now! I wish I could have recorded all this. Would have been classic!”
“This is what happens when you marry your ustadhs granddaughter,” Ahmed joked. We all laughed then, even Numair, who joined in with his own gurgle-laugh.
“Aloo paratha it is for supper, then,” nani said, coming out of the pantry, “you going somewhere in the afternoon, Faz?”
“We don’t have any plans yet…why?”
“You can help me make the parathas then, so you can make for Ahmed at home as well. Must feed men what they like, you know, then they’ll be your gulams for life. Ahmed, shoo now. You not supposed to hear all this,” she said, pointing at the door with her welan.
Ahmed laughed and held up his hands. “I’m leaving!” As he passed me he leaned down and whispered, “you heard. Learn how to make aloo paratha and burfee and keep making for me then I’ll be your gulam for life,” he winked at me and sauntered off.
“And burfee for dessert, nani?” I asked, already salivating over nani’s hot, fresh burfee.
“You want to make that today? Won’t you be full from the paratha? Rather make the burfee tomorrow,” nani replied.
“Okay, tomorrow then, inshaAllah.”
The parathas were simply divine! They got wiped in no time, washed down with hot, sweet tea. Even Humi, who had never tasted them before, was impressed and wanted to learn how to make them from nani. We were so full afterwards that I was glad we had decided to make burfee another day. It would have been a shame to only be able to eat a little since burfee was meant to be indulged in fully!
We were all sitting in the lounge infront of an old fashioned roaring fire after supper, tired and replete, when my phone beeped. Khadija.
Salaams, what you doing tomorrow?
Wslm, nothing planned yet. Why?
Okay, cool. I thought we can visit the orphanage at around eleven. How does that sound?
I smiled. I’d been wanting to visit the orphanage since I’d come so this sounded like a great idea. Sounds great, I’ll be ready, inshaAllah. You’ll pick me up?
Yup, I’ll come just before eleven so be ready. And don’t plan anything for the afternoon incase our visit gets extended.
Okay, I’ll let Ahmed know. See you tomorrow then. Salaams.
I updated Ahmed who nodded. “Sure, you can go. Maybe I’ll pop by with Zul afterwards, see the place as well.
I asked Humi if she wanted to join us but she shook her head. “I can’t stay for long with Numair but you can take me another day for a short visit.”
I was almost bouncing in my excitement when we went up to sleep. Ahmed laughed at me.
“Look at you, like you’re going to visit the queen!”
“Even better, I’m going to visit my kids! Though they’ll have gone so big now. I can’t wait to meet them all, especially Brianna!”
“Come sleep now or else you won’t be able to wake up on time tomorrow.”
I went to sleep with a smile on my face.