Written by: Sophie
Today is the weekend, something I always look forward to, as it’s chill-out time for me. Who likes Desi parathas? Yum–I do! My mum just makes the best. I’m a bit greedy so I’ll bug her until she fills mine with keema or aloo (mince or potato).
In my house we have me, Mum, and my two siblings, a younger sister, Mariam, and an elder brother. We tend to get on, except for the morning, when we all are shouting to use the bathroom. That’s the only time when you will hear my mother shout.
“Oye besharam log, chup karjow!” she shouts this morning, as usual.
I laugh because it’s my day off, and I just lie in bed smelling Mum’s cooking downstairs. I wait for the noise to calm down before going to see Mum in the kitchen. She turns around with a smile.
“Yeh lo, here’s your paratha with yoghurt. Sit down, Moti!”
Now I’m not really moti (fat); it’s just my chubby cheeks, which I have naturally inherited from my baba, who passed away many years ago. My mum is just a super mum. She raised us single-handledly, and despite her family pressuring her to re-marry, she never did. So when she says oye besharam, we all simply laugh at her because we love her.
She brings over our usual milky tea, and we sit and slurp together and laugh.
“Listen Roxanna, we have to go this wedding tomorrow,” she shows me a wedding invitation.
I look at the wedding card, which is bright red with a peacock and a bride and groom looking at each other as if they just won the lottery.
“Oh Mum, you know I don’t like weddings, especially with all the aunties and their usual questions. ‘Beta, why you no marry, is problem with you?” Beta, you no get married, then no happy family with babies!'”
“Roxanna, don’t be batamese. They are older than you. We have to go.”
I eventually give in. “Ok. but only as long as we leave after food.”
I look at the wedding card and then hear Mum saying “I hear food is being made by that new company, Happy Rainbow Wedding Services.”
I choke on my tea and look up at her, and then remember that beautiful brother.
“Oh, well then, Mum, we definitely need to go. Who knows, their food might be extra tasty!” We both laugh.
Happy Rainbow Wedding Services
We reach the wedding really late, but I don’t think it made much of a difference, since a lack of punctuality is expected at these weddings. My mum wears a blinged-out sari, but my sister and myself went quite casual, both of us wearing tikka at Mum’s insistence. We agreed, knowing that we would eventually go into the toilets and take them off later.
We went inside. The wedding hall was very glamorous and bright. We were greeted by our aunty, who had such a heavy sari on, it looked like it would fall off any minute. She begins talking a mile a minute in her heavy accent, “Hello, my beautiful sister and nieces! Thanks for coming! What do you think of my son’s wedding? Wait ’til you see my daughter-in-law; she’s wearing such a beautiful outfit and so much gold! I gave so much she will look like a beauty queen!”
She began laughing. Oh no! When my aunty laughs, we need to be cautious. Last time she was so happy, she laughed and laughed we ended up calling the ambulance service because the old bat couldn’t breathe.
“It’s beautiful, Amina,” Mum responds calmly.
“Of course! It’s all thanks to that new company, Happy Rainbow Wedding Services. Such a nice young man! What’s his name? Amir!”
I splutter on my cocktail that I have just been sipping on, and Mariam looks at me.
“What’s wrong with you, Roxanna? Do you need a tissue? Your drink has spilt on your outfit.”
“No sweetie, I’m fine, thanks. I think I drank too fast,” I reply.
Later, as I make my way to the ladies powder room, I realize how underdressed I am. Everyone else looks like a disco ball, and I probably look like a samosa in the background.
In the toilets, it’s full of girls on their phone taking selfies, some of them re-doing their immaculate and heavy make up.
“Hi, Roxanna!” shouts my cousin Fatima across the room. She pushes through the crowd of girls and hugs me.
“Hi, how are you, Babe?” We hug and she takes her phone out to take a selfie, and we both pout and giggle. We talk briefly and she then has to leave, which I guess is a good thing as I’m bursting to use the toilet.
Inside the toilet, I adjust the strap on my sandal and am about to leave, when I hear someone giggling.
“Hey, she’s here today,” says the voice.
“Who?” says the second voice.
“Roxthaana, uh uh uh, stutter,” she mimics me and laughs before continuing, “I’m so embarrassed to even stand near her. It’s bad enough, her being invited to our family’s wedding.”
“Listen, Suraya, don’t be like that. She didn’t even say anything to us. It’s not really fair, and when will you understand that she has special needs. You always bully her. Remember what happened last time?” says her friend.
They eventually leave after I hear Suraya comment that I’m simply useless and dumb, despite me having a degree and working for myself, which I’m quite proud of.
Actually, I do remember what happened last time. We had visited Suraya’s family for dinner, when she deliberately took me out for a drive with her friends. The whole time, she kept asking me to repeat everything I said.
“What are you saying, Roxanna? I can’t understand. Sorry guys, my cousin is a bit deaf and dumb and has disabilities,” she said to her friends, who laughed except the one who was in the toilets with her earlier.
During that car ride. I was so upset and distraught, but she was driving on the motorway and I could not even leave. I remember crying myself to sleep that night, and woke up with puffy eyes like I had Botox.
I come out of the toilet and look into the mirror again. I think to myself, Maybe I should talk less tonight, if it means less criticism.
I fix my hijab and walk out into the hall. Who do I see walking towards me? It’s him! Yes, Amir, from Happy Rainbow Wedding Services! I can see him smiling and walking towards me.
I fluster and feel like I’m going to faint.
“As’salaamu alaykum, sister Roxanna, it’s me, Amir. Remember we came to your office for an interview?”
“Wa alaykum asalam! Yes I remember. How are you? Don’t worry, the article will be out next month. How are you? Oh sorry, I just asked you that. . .umm. . .very nice venue and decorations!”
I pause. What else do I say?
“Thank you. Are you ok? You look a little red. Shall I get you some water, sister?” he asks.
Stop calling me bloody sister! I think.
“Um, yes, please,” I say.
He leaves to get me some water and I wait. I stand there dreaming of him and me being on the stage instead of my cousin. I see him walking back with some canapés too; how nice of him!
The next thing I know, someone pulls my hand.
“Hey Roxanna, what are you doing here? Mum is looking for you.” Mariam drags me away.
I look back at my prince charming to be (in my dreams). Farewell, till we meet again!
“Oye, Roxanna besharam, where did you go? I was looking here and there and everywhere,” says Mum lovingly.
“Oh Mum, I was just looking for some water,” I smile dreamily.