4. Forbidden!

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم

I’m so sorry about earlier, I was playing around with the settings and next thing I see is, ‘Post is published.’ I’m not exactly sure what I did myself but I just know it was a terrible mess-up so I’m sorry. Anyway, here goes:

Since I was in-between these four walls 24-7 for the past 13 years of my life, I knew everything that was going on here… or so I thought. Little did I know that there was so much going on right under my nose that I didn’t even know about. Dihya is right, my observation skills suck!

This new feeling of being completely clueless about what is going on around me is really disconcerting. I have so many questions with no answers and it’s driving me positively insane.

Why did Dihya take me there? What exactly is that place? Why was he acting all mysterious? Why did he ask me to describe that place? Why did he take me all the way there only to turn back without even showing me the place? Why didn’t he want Abbaas to know where we went?

By pen-pal, did he mean Haalah had written back to me after 3 years? Or did he mean a new pen-pal? Wait, he said ‘pen-pals’ not ‘pen-pal!’ It’s plural so that means it’s more than one!? What are their names?

Ok, since I know how having so many unanswered questions is very irritating I’ll answer yours and hope that mine get answered too.

You probably wondering why when I talk English, I sound British and why my English is so good even though I’m Chinese. Well, my mother is British.

You want to know whose Haalah? She is my third cousin from England. My mother doesn’t have any siblings so I have no first cousins.

Haalah had come to China with my grandparents when I was about 7 years old. We both really enjoyed each others company and were very upset at being parted.

Mama came up with the idea of us writing to each other in the hopes that it will improve our writing skills as well, that way killing two birds with one stone. We felt a bit better at the thought of still keeping in touch and at the same time it improved our writing skills as well as my English grammar.

We wrote to each other for about 3 years and then she just stopped replying to my letters so I soon stopped sending them. Now, did she write back to me after 4 years?

Having enough of this miserable feeling of uncertainty I decided that enough was enough. There’s only one way to find out. Ask. Yeah, it’s that simple… or at least the pen-pal part of it is…I hope! Whatever’s going on with Dihya on the other hand is definitely much more complicated.

I went in search of Mama very determined to at least get some of my questions answered. “Mama, Dihya said you organising for me pen-pals. Did Haalah write back? The last time she wrote to me was about 4 years ago!”

“Sorry qiānjīn it’s not her. So far there’s one from Canada and one from South Africa that are confirmed. I’m trying a few other countries but I’m not sure if it will work out. You can either write to all of them or just to your favorite one.

I don’t know the names of the girls because I approached a few English teacher’s who wanted to do it as an English activity. I think you’ll only know their names when the letters come through. The first letter should come through in a week or two,” Mama informed me.

South Africa? Canada? What interesting and lovely places. They will probably have so much of interesting things to tell me but what on earth do I write back? I don’t even know what my own country looks like!

“Just write about yourself. Trust me you are very interesting…. Only one problem there, you don’t know much about yourself,” Dihya scared the life out of me, left me with even more questions and then disappeared.

I ran to my room grabbed a pillow and began screaming my frustration out. Questions and questions and questions but no answers. I thought Dihya was the one person I knew everything about, but he seems to be getting stranger and stranger by the seconds.

How can I not know about myself? I mean it is me, obviously I should know everything about myself because hello, I am me, I am Layya Ma!

Unable to take it any more I began screaming like a mad woman, “Dihya! Dihya, where are you? Dihya,you can’t do this to me! I need answers and NOW!”

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