Fathima’s POV (Basheera’s mum)
“Assalamu Alaykum. It’s Maleeha, Khalid Habeeb’s daughter speaking. Can I please speak to Basheera?”
I froze in shock as a shiver ran down my spine, her words echoing in my mind as loud as gun shots, “IT’S MALEEHA, KHALID HABEEB’S DAUGHTER SPEAKING CAN I PLEASE SPEAK TO BASHEERA … KHALID HABEEB’S DAUGHTER…SPEAK TO BASHEERA…HABEEB…BASHEERA….
Luckily there was a chair nearby and I found myself falling back into it feeling slightly faint. No! I cannot lose my daughter again. Why would they contact me again after more than 13 years? They can’t take my daughter away from me!
This is my daughter and no one, absolutely no one is going to take her away from me! The entire reason we moved is because they tried alienating her from me. I hate them! Suddenly I regained my equanimity and then I was seething. How dare they?! In my coldest voice I began speaking.
“Over my dead body! There is no way on Earth I am letting any of you scum bags near my daughter. I don’t care what y’all say, I may not have given birth to her but she is my daughter. End. Of. Story. I brought her up and treated her way better than your family ever could. Your family has done enough damage. I think Bilqis will be turning in her grave if she knew what y’all did to her innocent daughter. I don’t know how such a sweet angel came from a family of devils like y’all. Don’t ever, ever phone this number again, you little twit. I hate you and your inconsiderate family…”
I heard a double gasp before the sound of the phone being slammed down and the call ended tone. Wait double gasp? Were there two people on the phone or…. I turned around to see Basheera back from school looking at me with a very shocked expression. “Mummy, who was that? Why were you so rude? Who is Bilqis?”
Uh oh. How much did she hear? I could feel the comings of a headache. I ignored her questions and instead asked holding my arms out for a hug, “No salaam?” Little did I realise how hypocritical I was being because Maleeha had just greeted me with Salaam few moments earlier and I did not reply.
“Assalaamu Alaykum…” She greeted giving me a hug. I don’t know if she noticed I held on longer and tighter. I needed to reassure myself that she was still mine and that she still loved me. Before she could ask any further questions I spoke.
“I have a headache. I’m going to lie down. Please bring for me a Panado and a glass of water, sweetie.”
She turned to go fetch it for me and I grabbed the hand-phone fearing that she might call back. Taking it with me I began heading to my room. Basheera returned with what I had asked for and Alhamdulillah, she didn’t ask any more questions. I don’t know what had deterred her. I don’t know whether I really looked a sight or whether she saw how I held on to the phone like a life line or whether she saw the shake in my hands, now that the adrenalin had worn off. Whatever it was, I was extremely grateful for it because I had no idea what to tell her. I can’t tell her the truth. She’ll hate me. I tossed and turned for a while my mind and heart in turmoil before the tablet kicked in and I found myself finally submitting to the safety and peace of sleep.