She had been trying to get him to tell his parents ever since they had gotten married. She had already lost her parents, and she would be devastated if she learnt that his felt somewhat similar about their marriage. That Sunday evening was a tough one to remember, one he would rather forget. He shook in his boots as he stood as a stranger in the house of his in laws.
Amani had made the decision that two days after their marriage would be the best time to go and confront her parents. They pulled up slowly on Sami’s little yellow Vuka scooter in her parents’ driveway. It was an unusually chilly night for summer. He had quickly learned just how aggressive the winter weathers in the friendly city could be, so he was already accustomed to getting cold. Amani removed her yellow helmet and neatened her shimmery silver hijab tucking it under her short leather jacket that she donned over a thigh-length, loose-flowing, chiffon sparkling top.
Amani’s knee-high heeled boots that she wore over her skinny dark blue jeans echoed on the concrete as she led him hand in hand to the front door. She gave a sniff knock and waited for someone to answer. They waited for what seemed like an eternity in silence together.
An instant later, the door cracked open, revealing Amani’s mother, Shireen, behind the door. Sami’s knuckles turned white as he tightened his grip around Amani’s hand. The butterflies in his tummy felt more like bats rolling around inside him.
“Mummy, Assalaamu alaykum. Can we please come in?” Amani spoke graciously to her mother, deciding that it was probably best to be formal given the circumstances.
“Wa alaykum salam, Please come in. I’ll just call your father.”
Amani quickly clasped her hand around her mother’s wrist, forcing them to face each other.
“I missed you ma.” Amani said, with tears threatening to fall as they welled up in her eyes.
Shireen threw her arms tightly around her daughter as the two shared a few silent fallen tears, while Sami stood awkwardly behind Amani, unable to decide where to put his gaze. Shireen gently let her daughter go and beckoned the young couple to sit.
“I’ll go and call your father,” mumbled Shireen as she wiped the corner of her eye with an apron she was wearing. As Amani held her mother and breathed her in, she smelt like the comforting aroma of Melting Moments, Amani’s favourite cookies. They always made them together.
“I thought your mom was the strict one.” Whispered Sami.
“When it comes to things like this, like family name and honour, it’s my father who is in charge.”
Just as she spoke those last few words, Shireen returned to the lounge area with Raghib, who looked less than pleased to see them.
Amani started to speak. “Daddy, we-“
“Before you say anything, you will hear me speak.” said Raghib firmly. “I want you to know how utterly disappointed your mother and I are in you Amani. We expected more from you. We raised you properly, to the best of our abilities. We invested a lot of time and effort into your education, both deeni and otherwise.”
Shireen started crying into the tissue she had in her hand. As Amani watched the tears from her mother’s sorrowful eyes fall, she couldn’t help but weep herself. She was causing this apparent pain to her mother, and she hated herself for it.
“Amani, you went directly against my wishes. Do you know how much it pains me that I was not there as a father to give my daughter away? Do you know how much pain you have caused your mother and sister? You have robbed them of the experience of planning a wedding to a girl of the house. No amount of time or money can change that.”
Raghib then turned his attention to Sami, with anger burning in his eyes, “And you. How dare you take our daughter away from us like a thief? I am sorry, but in my eyes, you are not a man. You are a coward. You have stolen my daughter from me, and taken her to an aalim for hire, who married you two with no honour whatsoever. This is the last time you set foot in my house. Do you understand me?”
Sami nodded his head stiffly as hot tears of anger welled up atop his lower eyelids that he tried desperately to blink away. Amani’s father had already reduced his ego to that of a mouse, he was not about to let him watch him cry.
“Daddy,” Amani’s dampened eyes pleading, “Does that mean we are not welcome here?”
“You alone can return home anytime you like. But I refuse to acknowledge you two as husband and wife.”
Shireen wept profusely, but knew better than to challenge the word of her husband in that state. Amani dried her tears with her hijab, and stood up, pulling Sami up with her. She knew what her father’s words meant. She had so to say been banished from her home. She was Sami’s wife, and her loyalty was to him. She needed to stick by him. All she could do was hope and pray that her parents would eventually come around, just like Sami had suggested. She didn’t even get a chance to see or greet her sister, who was amongst other things, her best friend.
Amani left the house of her parents with Sami’s hand still supporting hers, her heart in pieces. She turned around one more time to face her parents, but her father was much too disgusted to even look at her. She turned her gaze to her mother, who was still weeping inconsolably. Sami led her back to his scooter and fixed her helmet onto her head before sliding his on.
“What have we done?” whispered Amani through her tears. “I have never seen my parents this upset before. I hate myself for doing this.”
That was the first time Sami felt completely helpless in trying to comfort Amani. He wondered whether this was all worth the trouble he had caused. He felt sick to his stomach.
He brought himself back to reality, and shook himself away from the memory of the night when Amani cried herself to sleep. He now needed to deal with a rude awakening. Neither of them had family to rely, and in the blink of an eye he was forced to grow up and become a man. And with his father disowning him, He needed to think and act fast.
He knew at the back of his mind that Amani received a decent amount of spending money from her State-paid scholarship, but he couldn’t bear the thought of accepting her money for something he was liable for. He needed to find a way to make money, and he needed to do it fast. He couldn’t tell her just yet about the phone call with his father, cutting off all communication with his parents. It would break her heart.
Present day- October 2013
How insignificant and miniscule their problems were back then thought Amani, as she lay on the cold, hard floor, a woman with little to nothing more to lose. Each time she thought of silly little misunderstanding and fights she and Sami had, she became angry with him over and over.
She remembered the way Sami slaved away working two Campus jobs along with his studies fulltime just to make ends meet. He lied to her, told her he was studying, or doing extra research, but he had been working in the labs all along.
All he needed to do was tell her the truth and she would have gladly helped him out to pay their bills, but Sami was a proud young man. He would never accept defeat, which is something Amani admired him a great deal for, whether she cared to admit it or not.
She smiled, the dried blood crackling on her cheeks over the spot where her dimple was, as she thought fondly of her beautiful little 3 year old son whom she shared with Sami. He resembled both Sami and her equally.
The arrival of Danyaal came as a surprise to them both, but he was nonetheless a pleasant one. They both owed so much to their little man. He was the means of mending and patching things up with both their parents.
Amani remembered keeping her pregnancy completely to herself for the first 4 months. She knew that Sami was under a loss of stress, financially especially, and she didn’t want to add to his problems, but she knew that pretending the baby wasn’t there wouldn’t solve a thing.
When he began noticing her visibly swelling little belly, he didn’t say anything though. His mind didn’t immediately gather that she was carrying their baby. He thought maybe she was starting to game a little bit of weight as so many others do.
One particular evening, she saw the way he oddly eyed her figure, and realized that she needed to come clean. It was rather unfair to him, because it was his baby too. He had a right to know.
“What are you staring at?” she asked, almost in an annoyed tone.
“Nothing,” he said guiltily, “You’re just really beautiful.”
“Nice try Romeo. I can see you noticing my weight gain. But it’s not because I am getting fat or anything.”
“Uhm, okay…” he replied, clearly confused.”
“I’m kind of pregnant.” She cringed.
“Amani, you can’t be kind of pregnant,” he replied through a broad smile, “You’re either pregnant or you’re not.”
“Argh, you know what I mean!”
He got up from their bed and hugged her warmly from behind, with both pairs of hands resting on her belly as they stared into the full length mirror in front of them. He rubbed her belly gently over her strappy knee-length cream night-dress.
“I know enough about pregnancy to know that you’re almost halfway through. Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked as he gently kissed the side of her neck.
“I’m sorry, it’s just that you know things haven’t been ideal. Certainly not the best condition to bring a baby into.”
“I know, but don’t keep something like this from me. We’re in this together now.”
That was one of a few memories Amani replied in her mind to keep her sanity. She suffered every symptom under the sun of a typically bad pregnancy, but was thankful anyway when the little boy was placed in her arms.
She remembered walking in a shopping centre with Sami, while being heavily pregnant. They had managed to save enough money for all the baby essentials they would be needing and was out buying the items when she ran into her sister Jehan, who was a state of utter shock when she saw her very round pregnant stomach.
Amani decided to break the ice and walked up to her older sister and hugged her. Tears fell from Jehan’s eyes as she held onto her sister for dear life. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Her little sister was on the brink of childbirth, and endured the entire pregnancy all alone. She cried tears of guilt, because she had asked Amani not to contact her. But a baby changed things, for everyone.
Once again tears flowed from Amani pained eyes as she remembered the reunion with her family. At the news of the impending childbirth, as if by magic, all was forgiven overnight. The following morning, a familiar looking silver Passat pulled up at Sami’s tiny flatlet.
Startled by the sound of a firm knock, Sami bolted up to answer the front door. He was completely dumbfounded when he saw a smiling Raghib and Shireen standing there.
“Assalaamu alaykum, please come in.” he ushered them both into his home and beckoned them to sit on the couch. “Amani is just having a bath.”
“Sami,” spoke Raghib, “Why did you not bring Amani to visit us?”
“I wanted to, many times, but she refused to go without me.”
“Well, why didn’t you come with?”
“I thought… I wasn’t allowed to.”
“Nonsense. We tend to talk things out of anger, that’s all. Besides, be are overjoyed at the news that you two are making us grandparents!”
“Sami,” spoke Shireen, “You and our daughter must to stay with us now. She is near to her time, you will both need a lot of help.”
And just like that, Amani had gotten her parents back. Her heart broke when she thought of the way her second baby had been ripped away from her. She was lying in her baby’s remains for
If only she and Sami were not so vocal about their political beliefs in a country rife in political turmoil, she would never have been taken hostage by a group of terrorists who tortured her daily.