You know they say that the company you keep has a bearing on you.
I never truly believed it until this Ramadaan.
For the first ten days- the days of mercy- I was running around like a headless chicken focussing all my energy on cooking the fanciest of things.
This is what my neighbours and new married friends do.
But after all that drama before I got married I promised myself not to become like this.
Its so easy to get carried away into the hub of making the best dessert or dressing the best.
And the thing is, I really didn’t realise it that I was focusing so much on stupid material things, my own husband grew tired of me.
It only hit home one day when I went to visit my cousin, my foi’s daughter who is married in Killarney.
I never really got along with her but now that we both married I try my best to keep in contact.
Also, she doesn’t know many people.
And I have forgiven her for what she did to me before I got married.
What’s gone is gone.
Anyways, she invited me and my hubby for iftaar.
So I made a middle east platter to take with.
Pita and falafel and hummus. The works.
And the only reason I went out of my way was because I know how she is.
She pulls her nose at everything- just like my foi.
I also made mini individual death by chocolate dessert.
So we rock up there and the first thing she tells me is how dark I have become.
“Ay but you becoming just like Ayesha… dark dark.”
Well hello to you too.
“How you Mas?”
“I am okay… carrying on. Ay but you gone really fat. You must start gyming.”
“So hows things?”
“Okay… I told you not to bring anything. I made so much.”
She did tell me not to bring anything but if I hadn’t taken anything the whole of Newcastle would have heard.
I was shocked at the table.
There was easily 8 types of savouries, steak, butter chicken, sticky chops, 2 types of veggies and a ton of types of breads.
And there was only 4 of us.
What a waste!
Plus she made three types of milkshake and Ramadaan milk.
Even her date platter was excessive.
It was some serious wastage.
What really made me angry was that she didn’t even put my platter on the table.
She gave it straight to the maid right in front of me.
Some people have no shame!
And most of the food was left over.
“Will you eat the left overs?” I asked her.
“Never… I don’t eat left overs. I give it to the naddi or just throw it away. What must do…”
I turned to look at my hubby who seemed furious.
I know how much he hates wastage.
“Give it to us we will give it away,” he said to her.
But this girl doesn’t learn from it.
She takes me in the corners and sneakily asks if we are “having it tough”.
“You must just say if you want the left overs… I know your hubby is still trying to make it. My husband is a doctor shukr Alhamdulilah… so we can afford things you know.”
I had enough and so we left right away.
My hubz was so peeved off.
And thats when I realised that I can’t continue the way I was.
I mean it is almost halfway through Ramadaan and I am only on the fifth para.
I have no time to read Quraan because I spend the whole day in the kitchen.
And you know I heard what’s happening in Gaza on Channel Islam.
Its so sad.
Imagine whole families being killed
I don’t really understand what’s going on in Palestine but I mean they don’t have half the luxuries we throw away.
Small small children and being orphaned.
Its really sad.
I mean we are complaining because City Power switched off our lights for an hour.
We complain to read Taraweeh because its so cold.
Imagine the people of Gaza… they reading Taraweeh in rubble.
Today my hubby’s friend from work invited us over to his place in Brynston for Iftaar.
It is not that far but with traffic in Jo’burg its going to be a mission.
Anyways, I called my hubby at work to ask what I should make to take with.
“Anything is hard to make. Tell me something specific. ”
“I don’t know… make a dessert or something. But don’t stress. They are chilled. ”
“Okay I will make that chocolate dessert I made the other day then?”
“Jee. That’s fine.”
“Okay… let me leave you… what time will you pick me up?”
“Around 4:30. Also, please make sure the maid ironed my kurta…”
“I did that already… okay see you later.”
I still am not used to this. To have my hubby openly say he loves me.
Its very cute.
And even after all these months.
Okay its only been three months.
After everything I went through it is so nice to finally be with someone who loves and appreciates me.
Obviously we have our days when we annoy each other- that’s normal.
So anyways I make mini desserts to take with and decorated it fancy.
I don’t know the people so I don’t know what they used to.
Imagine if they used to fancy double thick peppermint dessert and I rock up there with jelly.
Although I saw recipes for fancy jelly which I am dying to try out.
My hubby comes a little early to fetch me and I am still putting the final touches to my tray.
“I told you not to worry.”
“We can’t show up empty handed.”
“Okay… okay. Whatever makes you happy Amina.”
I ask my hubby to put the tray in the car while I fix my hijaab.
First impressions. Enough said.
Also I need to start making friends.
I was so upset when Mariam moved to Durban.
They have a kid now and they say Durban is a better place to bring up children.
Also, Riza got a really good job there.
Its weird that they all done with campus and are now working.
Also its sad that I can’t visit them like I used to when I was on campus.
Oh campus days!
They seem so far behind!
A million things has happened since.
Actually it is like a blurry shadow of a memory.
Anyways we rock up at my hubby’s friends house only to realize that they are so simple people.
They only had samoosas and badjias on the table!
And the thing is, they not even poor.
I was so shocked.
Imagine- there was no milkshake to break my fast.
And I am even okay with that ordinary pink ramadaan milkshake.
But there wasn’t even that.
Just dates, water, samoosas, badjias and chicken curry.
I knew I should have listened to my gut and made savouries.
There were three couples all together and they set for the females separately.
I didn’t know any of the wives there but they were very nice and sweet.
Once we ate and prayed we had to hurry back in time for Taraweeh prayers.
The thing about Ramadaan is the says are really short.
And there is no chilling really.
I guess that is the big sacrifice.
As we drive back home, I let my hubby have it aboout stopping me from taking more things with.
“Shame did you see how they eat?”
“Are you still hungry?”
“What you mean? No I am not hungry.”
“What you mean. I could have made pies and cutlets at least. How can you break your fast with only two savouries.”
“Very nicely Amz. We just did and we are fine.”
“But these people are not poor why are they acting poor?”
“It is not acting poor. It is been simple. There is no need really for a million savouries even if you can afford it. I wanted to actually show you a lesson. You really have to stop going to town with the luxuries everyday.”
“If you can’t afford it its fine… I have the money my father gives me.”
“Its not about the money! It is about the simplicity. Eating a ten course meal defeats the purpose of staying away from food. Hun, I just think we must try and cut down. Not because we can’t afford it- because we can… But how can we eat a million things when people are starving in most parts of the world? Its fine to enjoy a good meal. But I think we are getting a bit excessive.”
It is the fourth of Ramdaan and I haven’t yet started my Quraan.
I mean I am not so pious to read like 10 Quraans in the month, but I try to finish one at least.
But being married is really hectic. Like I said most of the day goes in the kitchen and the other time goes in shopping.
I spend almost three hours in the shops- Ssh, don’t tell me hubby.
But seriously there is a lot to buy.
I mean I buy all the groceries because my mother in law hates the shops.
Also, I volunteered.
But that’s only because only I know what we need.
Especially for my desserts- sometimes I need pickled pears sometimes I need Belgian dark chocolate. I mean there is a huge difference between ordinary dark chocolate and Belgian dark chocolate.
Also, it must be superior quality. That’s what they tell you on Master Chef right?
Thankfully, I can use my hubby’s credit card so I don’t have to keep asking him for money.
Shame, my in laws give me everything I need and want. I have it easy, I guess.
So anyway, today I was in the Norwood Spa right, and I bumped in to Sarah the loud mouth doctor that stays two doors away from us.
She is so health conscience its patronizing.
She looked into my trolley and I had two litres of fresh cream, three huge slabs plus two tubs of ice cream.
The way she pulled her nose.
“Is that all for you?”
“It is for my extended family too.”
“You must try to cook without cream. You will clog up your arteries.”
“Jee.” I just roll my eyes. But she was not nearly done.
“You know Ramadaan is not about eating. It is actually about not eating and abstaining. You must eat normally at Sehri and Iftaar.”
“Its Ramdaan, we need strength for the day.”
“Well I can tell you all that junk food in your trolley will only make you more lethargic.”
“JazakAllah for that, but I must go.”
“Before you go, let me give you my friend’s number. She is a personal trainer at the gym down the road.”
Was she just saying I am fat?
Ag, stupid women.
Imagine a Ramadaan without dessert? It must be really sad.
And yes, I am picking up some weight but my hubby is not complaining so who is she anyways?!
Once I was done with groceries, I needed to buy fresh flowers for the tables and also get me some new scarves.
I know I bought a lot in my trousseau but scarves go out of fashion so quick. It is unreal.
There is always something prettier and better.
And because a lot more people wear scarves in Ramadaan, many people pay attention to other people’s scarves.
You know what’s also really funny?
There has been a burst of Ramadaan Muslims in Jo’burg malls.
You see them everywhere.
Yes, there is a lot of Muslims that live in Houghton but you don’t see them often.
Now scarves and beards have taken over.
Well, it is not a bad thing I guess.
Rather put a scarf on your head for a month than not at all.
But you know, I get embarrassed, some of my cousin in laws are something else.
They don’t wear scarf even in Ramadaan or even when they eat.
The one is a CA or something and she wore a short skirt the other day. In Ramadaan. Clearly her shaitaan was not locked uup.
They don’t even try to make it to the Iftaar table in time.
They rock up at Taraweeh time and expect food.
I mean how can you break your fast on the road or at work.
And they make excuses all the time. One day its the traffic, one day its a meeting.
Ay, I tell you!
Waking up for Sehri is really difficult.
It was so much easier when I was at home and my father would splash water on us.
Okay scratch that. It was terrible.
But atleast we were forced to wake up.
And my mother would prepare everything for us.
All we had to do was get to the table.
When I stayed with Aunty Behn- she too would scream for me to wake up.
And the drag of her voice could even wake uo the dead.
But now, I had to wake up for Sehri and make things to eat for me and hubby.
It was not easy.
And it didn’t help that I am really moody in the early mornings.
I feel really bad for snapping at my hubby buy its so early to make conversation.
Also, it still feels lovely to say “my hubby”.
This is our first Ramadaan together and I am actually a bit nervous.
Even though I am not totally on my own, having to look after someone is not that easy.
Deciding what to make for Sehri is a mission.
Don’t roll your eyes.
You know how Indian men are.
Every meal must be freshly cooked and must have some sort of spices.
We put spice in tea and porridge too.
I am very lucky my hubby does not demand fresh roties or kuri kitchri at 5am in the morning.
Its just too early to function!
I cannot imagine making green chutney at that time of the morning.
Oh and the continous stirring off the pot!
I cannot deal.
My hubby always tells me not to fuss over Sehri but I still try to do my best.
I usually just warm left over savouries from the night before, make hubby a cup of tea, a bowl of porridge, banana and dates.
We were brought up to think that without a banana at Sehri time, your fast may not even be valid.
But a banana is important
And not forget the five glasses of water.
Now my hubby didn’t grow up how I grew up.
His family have a bowl of yoghurt, a date and a glass of water each for the pre fast meal.
But then they go all out for Iftaar
I would nevet get used to it
There is a cook that comes in especially for Ramadaan and all my in laws eat together.
I mean from Dadima to Naanima to the neighbor’s granddaughter.
It is full house every single night.
Gosh, it is exhausting.
I can understand if they do this on the weekends but everyday is just too much.
At least I don’t have to cook everyday but the helping makes me really tired.
I go in the kitchen from around one o clock and help the cook prepare iftaar.
I usually start with 5 litres of milk shake then I google different styles to set the table.
I try to make it fancy every evening.
A girl has to impress and all…
The I make the dessert for after Taraweeh.
At least I don’t have my mother complaining that I use way too much of cream.
But I get so upset when my hubby doesn’t have my dessert.
It takes me so long to make every day.
And I really focus on the design and presentation only to have my hubby say he doesn’t feel for something sweet.
I really break my back on the desserts.
But atleast we have something unique to send over to the neigbours.
Houghton is not like Newcastle.
People send you things in Ramadaan on gold plaited platters.
Okay, I am kidding.
But everything is so smart and sophisticated.
Some of the ladies even have specially printed throwaway boxes to send goodies to the neighbours in Ramadaan.
That’s why I work so hard trying out new recipes.
I mean they can’t think I come from the farm, even though I do.
My mother in law says I musn’t worry but you know Guji mother in laws!
The facy that I didn’t help in my first year of marriage will come out 20 years down the line.
They never forget
Also, when they say don’t help they are actually daring you not to help and you should anticipate consequences
Or at least that is what I observed.
Shukr hubby and I are still in the honeymoon phase of our marriage so I don’t have major mother in law drama.
Obviously I must complain now and again to my mother but its not big stuff.
Like the other day she bought me a new pair of whudu champals and gave my old ones away- without my permission!
That’s not cool! I really liked the old pair.
But yoy know how mothers are, they will listen but will tell you to make Sabr.
What does patience have to do with any of this?
Don’t give away my perfectly fine plastic sandals!
Okay, rant aside.
Okay not really
You know what else she did?
She gave all the full cream milk I bought to the maid and replaced it with skim milk.
I don’t know if that’s her way of saying I am getting fat.
Ay, but I am getting fat.
My granny says it is a sign I am in a happy marriage.
But now I am married I don’t have to really worry.
I eat all the time.
Well of course only after I have taken a picture of my food
‘Cos is your food even Halaal if you haven’t uploaded a picture to instagram or Facebook?
Durban was, let’s just say, a big mistake.
What was I thinking?Actually I was not thinking.
A suma cum laud graduate does not go on random blind dates with guys who’s muscles are competing with his ego in size.
She also ought not to spell out his rather dreary future at the end of the date.
But, what’s done is done.
It’s actually funny in retrospect how that dude reacted to my Bayaan/fortune telling.
“Erm… Wow. Okay… Alright. Fine. I’ll see you.
He was gobsmacked!
It was an awful evening but I’ve learnt from it.
Finding a husband is not as easy as finding a vein for bloods.
And in first year of med school I used to struggle to do that.
I am obviously missing the hospital!
Suggesting I go back to work to my mother will be trying to inject a bratty kid.
Okay, I really need to stop with the medical metaphors.
But you get my point right? I am most comfortable in my ward!
But now Operation Find this Clever Guji a Husband is in second gear.
My mother and aunty signed me up for the roti making class which I robotically attended.
Even 24 hour convenience stores sell roti these days, there is no need to learn how to make them.
But, it’s a marriage prerequisite. You know, it sits high up there with mehr or dowry on important aspects of marriage.
So I was in for a pleasant surprise when the “roti appa” asked who was actually there voluntarily.
“I don’t even know why I am here- I don’t even eat carbs,” I said.
“We eat roti every day at home,” another girl chips in.
So I met this girl Amina who’s engagement just broke off and obviously she is ostracised as much as a schizophrenic.
She was really cool actually and we joked as we shared a work space.
“That roti looks like the map of Africa,” I said.
“Well at least it is taking some kind of shape,” Amina said.
“All for the sake of getting married hey.”
“It’s not even the half of it. I even left Jo’burg for a full time samoosa run.”
“Oh I stayed there too. I worked and specialised there.”
“What are you?”
“A child doctor.”
“You could just say pediatrician- I know what that is.”
“When I do say that people look at me weird as if I am trying to act clever.”
“Oh do you also get the ‘you too clever to get a husband’ talk?”
“Well obviously. Being thirty and unmarried I get that talk all the time.”
“You don’t look thirty. But I am sure all the aunties believe you can’t get married because you are too qualified. It would have made them feel better if you had a skin problem or you were overweight.”
I laughed myself silly.
Amina is not my age but we got along. And we could speak about things other than marriage.
So the next day I was alone at home so I decided to invite her over for tea.
It was informal, but obviously Amina had to come with a Tupperware full of eats, even though I told her not to worry.
“I remember you from school. But you were a baby when I was in matric.”
“When I entered high school the teachers were very proud of you. Yes, didn’t you get 8 A’s?”
“Jew. Now those same teachers feel sorry for me.”
“Why? Because you not married?”
“I get it too even though I am so young. But have you been avoiding marriage?”
“Not at all. I was open to it from first year. But I only had a samosa run when I started specializing. That is because my mother got desperate.”
“And you didn’t like anyone on med school?”
“Well I did… but things don’t work that way.”
“Tell me about it!”
“I am listening…”
“Well last year when I went to campus I sort of had a huge crush on Moe- Aunty Rahima’s son. And things carried on and he told me he wanted to marry me and then he went on to marry this other girl.”
“Are you serious? What an idiot.”
“Yeah. He is divorced now so I feel like I was saved from something bad.”
“You were saved. Those boys got things too easy in life.”
“Hmm. And I was proposed… but it didn’t work out.”
“Well Moe’s wife spread a rumour that I was having an affair with her husband.”
“Oh my word.”
“Turns out he was a lying, cheating husband and she was just trying to vent.”
“You are too understanding.”
“The drama was just too much. And then my engagement broke because of all of that…”
“That is terrible man.”
“Well, at least that is all behind me now.”
“You very strong, Amina. I would not be able to show my face in public.”
“I guess life carries on. That is why I reapplied to continue my degree.”
“Seriously? That is awesome!”
“Yeah. I think I will be a little more mature to handle campus.”
“I am also going to head back to Jo’burg at some point.”
“I am sure you are bored here.”
“It is not the boredom- I feel like I am wasting my life away. I could be helping some seriously sick children. And yes, I know I need to get married but this living in limbo is driving me mad.”
“The other day I was thinking- maybe we should stop doing these million classes and do something of value.”
“I don’t know. Tutor poor kids maybe. Learn something of substance.”
“You are so right!”
“Maybe we should start a once a week Islamic class.”
“That will be awesome. It is always good to brush up on Islamic education we learnt so many years ago.”
“And the tutoring is good too. Maybe you can do math and I can do Biology?”
“Yes! Let me speak to one of the teachers I know in the public school and see if it will work out.”
“This is exciting!”
“Yes, at least I will have something to look forward to everyday. Now I don’t have a reason to get out of bed. I literally just exist to eat and sleep.
“Me too! And the occasional shopping here and there.”
“I don’t think that is how we ought to spend our days even when we just at home.”
“Moping about and pining our lives away will make us into cruel old spinsters. Let’s just promise to let His plan work out.”
To new beginnings?
Amina and her drama is back. Kinda. Well, the drama is only going to get juicier as the old crew are in for a come back.
Some kind Samaritans have started an initiative to help ‘Bring Guji Girl Back’ after my home was ransacked and every single piece of technology, and possession, I owned was stolen.
This included my PC dedicated to Diary of a Guji Girl admin and for the writing of the manuscript.
And as ‘Murphy Mamoo’ would have it, my cloud back-up crashed and I also lost all the work we have done for #DiaryofaGujiGirl2.0 site.
Melancholy aside, Inc Desings by Fatimah has curated a variety of hand crafted cutlery assembled for unique gifting.
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Love and kindness
The other Zahra messaged me to say Zain spoke good things about me and we were on to something positive.
I walked around with a cheesy grin on my face all the time!
He was really nice to speak to and we spoke for hours at a time.
But it was never about marriage or settling down.
We spoke about our studies, our goals and dreams.
It felt so real.
Then one day he texts me…
“So when am I going to see you?”
I was shocked… for a moment.
But naturally thought that he could come see me whenever he wanted at home
But guess what I responded??!
My specialist mind could not fathom a better response!
What was wrong with me?
“I am coming to Durban soon. We must meet up.”
He does know that Newcastle is not Durban?
“You live near Durban right?”
“Its not technically near.”
“But you will make a plan to come see me. I”ll be there over the weekend for work.”
Gosh! This is insane!
A girl does not go and see the guy!
In Guji culture it is the other way around.
And what do I tell my mother?
“Oh hey mum, I am chatting to a guy and he wants me to go see him.”
She will freak out.
Also, my mother will obsess about it for days even if it doesn’t work out.
I had no idea what to do.
I called my friend Zahra that introduced us to each other.
“Just go see him babes! What harm can that be?”
The two Zahra’s in my life just caused a whole lot of drama for me!
I am literally a giggly teenager again.
I had to devise a plan to get myself to Durban.
“Mum can I go to Durban for the weekend?”
“One of my campus friends is having a get together.”
“Oh, so nice. Your uncle is going, you can get a lift with him.”
“Or maybe I must come with. That Durban flat needs to be cleaned.”
“No, don’t worry. I will clean it.”
“You sure ma?” My mother asks in typical Guji affection.
I was so nervous on the way to Durban.
In my 30 years I have never done something like this.
But being a good girl didn’t really help me.
I am still single!
I packed all my best outfits which was a huge change from the kaftans I got comfortable in.
I stayed in our flat we bought when I moved to medical school.
It is on the beach and creates a sense of nostalgia of my student days.
I used to sit for hours and study.
And even though it was right on the beach I never took a walk on the beach.
In retrospect, I regret it.
Anyways when I got to Durban I didn’t hear from Z for a whole day.
I didn’t know whether I should call or message him.
So I spring cleaned the flat, went to visit all my cousins and aunties.
Why did I come all this way?
And then it dropped.
“Sorry, I was in a conference all day.”
“Can I come and see you?”
“Uhm yeah where?”
“Where are you?”
“At our flat in Durban.”
“Okay I am coming.”
“Uhm, you can’t come here.
“I will pick you up… send me the address and meet me downstairs in ten minutes.”
I was more nervous than by final med school exam.
And obviously, ten minutes became 45 minutes.
I waited patiently.
No I am lying.
I tied and retied my scarf. I changed shoes almost a dozen of times.
I also applied and removed makeup a whole lot of times.
He finally pulls up, and just then I realized that I had no idea what he looked like.
Zayn was shockingly good looking.
He was one of those guys who were too good looking for med school.
For a moment my years of achievements meant nothing as insecurity overpowered me.
Summaya you will be fine.
What do I do? Just walk to his car?
While I was mulling over that, he got off his car to open the passenger door for me.
I greet him by nodding my head! Yes, nodding my head like Gora Papa from Newcastle does to every person on the road!
“So you must be Summaya?”
“Yes, it is good to meet you.”
At least he had good English skills and was pleasant.
“Where are we off to?”
“I was thinking we will take a turn at Umhlanga?”
“So how long are you down for?”
“Just the weekend.”
“And then? You back to work in Jo’burg?”
‘Uhm not really. I am on a sabbatical. I still didn’t decide when I am going back to work.”
“I could do with a sabbatical. My company is pitching to do all the marketing for Unilever so we have to work around the clock.”
“Do you at least enjoy what you do?”
“I absolutely do. I just have so much of drive to conceptualize an idea knowing that that idea can or cannot make a company millions of rands. Its tons of fun! Initially I thought I would go the journalism route but I like money way too much.”
I laughed as we drove along the coast to Umhlanga.
We turned up at a pub-like place, filled with people sipping on beer.
I stuck out like a sore-thumb with my scarf but I didn’t let it bother me. It wouldn’t happen again.
“I hope you okay here?”
“Yeah…I am fine.”
Besides the booze, blondes and music!
“So… Tell me more about yourself.”
“Well there is not much… like I said, I studied medicine, specialized and if I don’t get married, I will super specialize.’
Zain laughed so hard he almost fell of his chair.
The irony of it was I wasn’t even joking.
“So you really want to get married?”
“You don’t ask that to a 30 year old Guji Girl that!”
“Because it is not what I want. Being unmarried at my age is worse than leprosy.”
“Living in Cape Town, I really forgot about all that Guji stuff.”
“All my chick friends are over thirty and don’t want to get married any time soon.”
I cringed when he said that. How many “chick friends” did this guy have!
“So when are you planning on getting married?”
“When I meet the one.”
I blushed and looked down.
“Define the one?”
“Someone who my mother won’t complain too much about.”
I snorted out loudly. It was so embarrassing but the only fitting response.
“So your mother disapproved of girls in the past?”
“Yes! She wants the perfect Guji girl for me.”
“And the problem is?”
“Guji Girls don’t know how to have fun, no offence.”
“None taken. You are right. We were never thought the concept of fun.”
“But you look like you know how to have a good time.”
Was that even a compliment? And what does that even mean? I was no party-girl!
“So there was never a special one?”
“Uhm, not really. Like I said, I grew up in a cave and then migrated to medical school- hence no social life.”
“That’s sad. I actually feel sorry for you. Do you need a hug?”
I laughed so loud!
This dude was seriously funny.
“So did you have the one?”
“Not really. I date often though. I probably have to settle down at some stage.”
Oh, he dates often?
What does that mean?
Like dates one girl, or takes a bunch of girls out on random dates?
This was all so confusing.
Maybe if I read Sweet Valley instead of reading Chem textbooks in high school it would have helped.
We spent the night talking about each other’s lives, when I realized it was way past midnight.
There was no way our neighbor at the flat, who is distant family, will not tell my mother what time I reached home.
“I have to get going.”
“It’s still early though!”
“You forgetting I grew up in a cave.”
“I like your humour,” he said.
I smiled. This was actually going well.
“So when am I going to see you again?”
“Uhm, I don’t usually do this…”
“This going out thing… My parents disapprove. ”
“Why? You are not an eighteen year old school girl.”
“Yes. But I am a 30 year old adult who actively took a decision not to go out on casual dates.”
“Wow. Chill already.”
That was a disaster. But I was not finished.
“I am chilled out. But I am wondering the point of all of this. You an eligible bachelor, you take girls out who you obviously won’t marry. You will marry a young naïve girl probably 10 years your junior who will make your mother happy. But you will be bored within a year, six months even, then you will go on “boys weekends” at least once a year where you will make up for your mediocre routine life. In that weekend you will be as unscrupulous as you can be and return to a naïve little wife. But it does not end there because boredom in a marriage is like virus. It increases without you even knowing it. And the next thing you will have kids because society dictated you to have kids even though you are not mentally prepared to be a dad. Then you will inevitably try to get a second wife but your mother will discourage you because “what will people say”. You will be just another 38 year old good looking, wealthy but bored and drained out Guji guy. And then, not forgetting, you will have a mistress preferably a non-muslim- because, I mean, how can you resist those legs??? All this while your wife is living miserably as she consciously chooses to ignore your nasty cheating habits. She will take anti-d’s prescribed secretly by a family doctor, because, again, “what will people say”. You will of course stay together for the sake of the kids and live a pathetic, shallow and sad life. Why? Because you learnt that marriage is actually a punishment, a reformatory. Your mother threatens you with marriage. In your mind, it is not the beautiful institution of love and warmth that our religion actually advocates. In your mind, it will be the end to your life of working hard, gyming hard and partying hard. Your wife will never be your true partner because she is just a random girl that you married because you were tired of take-out and you needed someone to cook for you. And we all have to look on, sigh and say “what to do, men will be men”.”
I sighed and looked at Zain. He looked as if I smacked him in the face.
“I have no words,” he finally said.
#DiaryofaGujiGirl question: Is Summaya loosing her mind? Was she right to give Zain that lecture?
I returned to Newcastle more disillusioned than I left.
I have all this knowledge and skill, but I know that somehow putting it to use is hindering me from getting married.
It is like my career stands in my way of finding a decent guy. Any guy actually.
The frustrating part is that my work is actually helping small children.
I am not scheming and ripping people of with large interest-filled loans.
I just want to save lives and be happy. That sounds a bit self-righteous buy you get what I mean.
So everyday I would wake up more disillusioned than yesterday.
Until one day I began chatting to one of my friends from first year. Zahra dropped out of medical school to get married and we keep in contact every now and again.
She is obviously living a princess life and has the perfect husband, in the perfect mansion with a kid that looks like he comes straight out of a Woolies commercial.
But she’s a sweet girl and its great that she still makes time for me.
“Sumz! What’s up my bebe?”
“Hey, nothing much love. I left work by the way.”
“What? I could never imagine that! You were married to your job?”
“Yeah but it wasn’t keeping me warm at night so we got a divorce.”
“You got jokes! Seriously what happened?”
“Nothing happened. I am just 30 and realized that I will not find a husband in a hospital.”
“Its because you want to get married?”
“Its not that I want to get married. I really have to get married.”
“We always assumed that you didn’t want to get married. Like you never seemed the type…”
“To… Like be in a relationship or something.”
“I was never in a relationship because it is haraam. Like I never ever dated.”
“I know… But we just assumed.”
“So how you plan on finding a husband in Newcastle?”
“I don’t know… Samoosa run.”
“But you thirty!”
“All I am saying is that at that age guys don’t come to you as easily.”
“Yeah… I hear all about how I reached my sell by date.”
“But if you interested I know a really nice guy…”
“Tell him to come home.”
“He won’t just come home. He would want to chat first.”
“That’s not going to happen.”
“Okay. Anyways babes, I have to go…”
My conversation with Zahra played on my mind all day.
Maybe she is right. Perhaps I had to be ‘out there’ to find a guy.
But it still wrong.
I was at such conflict.
Surely chatting to some one with the hope to marry them can’t be that wrong?
But I have always been so good.
I don’t even accept invites from guys I don’t know on Facebook.
Actually I am barely ever on social media.
I never ever posted a selfie on Instagram too.
But in the sad reality of things… I was getting desperate.
Sitting and waiting around was driving me nuts.
And so in a moment of weakness I asked Zahra to give that guy my number.
For two days I stared at my phone. Nix. Nada.
Just when I reached an “oh well” moment, I get a phone call.
“Salaams… This is Zain. I got your number from Zahra. Is this Summaya?”
And suddenly I was a giggly adolescent.
“Yes it is…”
“I hope this is a convenient time.”
“No, sure it is.”
“Zahra is my cousin’s wife. She said you a doctor.”
“Jee a pediatrician.”
“Lovely. Where do you work?”
“I used to work at Jo’burg Gen. Now I am in a bit of sabbatical.”
Sabbatical is a better way to say I left work to get married.
“I took a sabbatical last year to travel through Europe. It was amazing.”
“What do you do?”
“I am in marketing…”
“Oh and where do you work?”
“I just got promoted to group head for my company so I have been in Cape Town for the las three months.”
“Where you originally from?”
“Kroonstad… I studied in Durban… Then worked for many years in Jo’burg.”
“Me too. I mean I also studied in Durban and worked in Jo’burg.”
“We already have things in common.”
I just laugh.
And by then there are butterflies. Lots of butterflies!
“So you thirty right?”
“Jee and you?”
“I am 32.”
Oh, finally a guy older than I am!
“So why are you not married?” We both asked at the same time.
I laugh, but it is terribly awkward.
“I was studying and then I woke up and I was thirty,” I say.
“That pretty sums up my life too… I woke up with an MBA and no personal life.”
Oh, he has an MBA! That is very impressive.
I felt really good about this.
Was this the start of something?
I was feeling guilty at first but then I rationalized the situation.
For two weeks we chatted every single evening.
It was all and fuzzy.
Am I doing the right thing?
Jo’burg was a great breath of fresh air. Although I just wanted to return to work already.
My mum and I stayed an extra day and shopped our way through the Northern suburbs.
“So cheap. Maybe we must buy extra and keep away,” my mother said about eve single item she picked up.
“Ma, where are we going to fit all of this?” I asked in protest after my entire boot and back seat was packed to capacity.
“Oh, I already called the driver from the shop. He will take me back to Newcastle tonight.”
“But you know I am not done sorting everything out with my next course.”
“You sort yourself out and when you ready to get married, come back home.”
I rolled my eyes.
I had a ton of normal things to sort out.
Like cancel my phone line and wifi at the flat, spring clean my flat, speak to estate agents on the possibility of leasing it out and other odds and ends.
I also needed to buy some new Hijaabs because apparently the one’s I wear back home in Newcastle is, in the words of my mean cousins, “so last year”.
I also needed to sort out my glasses- yes I am a nerd and I wear glasses.
Oh, and meet up with some friends.
But one thing at a time.
First, I needed to finish all the shopping I had to do and pack my mother off back to Newcastle.
That evening I decided to spend some time with my friend Zahra- who is also a doctor.
She’s newly married and is finding it so difficult to juggle being a good wife and a doctor.
“I think my hubby is getting frustrated that he only ever sees me exhausted. But je doesn’t say anything,” she says.
“Why don’t you take a break for a while?”
“I think I would go nuts. But I am looking to open my own practice so things will be easier.”
“That will be lovely.”
“So when are you getting married?”
And this was my queue to leave.
“Why are you so fussy then?”
“I am not fussy! The one just hasn’t come yet. All I want is a half sane, decent, responsible, pious guy. That is all!”
“Okay, I think I know a guy right for you!”
“No, I am serious. What you doing tomorrow?”
“I need to find a good optom.”
“I know an awesome optom. I will give you the details only if you agree to see this guy.”
Zahra gave me the details of The Spectacle Boutique near Cresta Mall in Northcliff.
I was grateful that it was a female muslim optometrist and I felt a lot more comfortable.
My eyes had deteriorated drastically over the last few years, with the late night studying and stuff so I needed to get a stronger lense and perhaps a more flattering frame.
I have been wearing the same frame since second year med school and, according to my mother, its the reason why I can’t seem to get married.
Literally every single thing I do or don’t do for my family is the reason why I can’t get married.
How is it that being so successful in terms of my career means nothing at all?
And why must it be either or.
I can be a doctor and be a good wife, right?
Anyways, I scheduled and early morning appointment to sort out my eyes.
This is the first time I am going to an optom in Jo’burg and I didn’t really know what to expect.
Also, I am a freak when it comes to professionalism. Probably another reason why I am not married.
But jokes aside, I simply cannot deal with some- mind my prejudice- indian professionals who run surgeries like paan shops!
I actually walk out of places that don’t meet the minimum benchmark of professionalism.
So thankfully, The Spectacle Boutique was actually very professional.
Anyways, although I felt heartsore to change my 10 year old frames, I was excited to pick something new and fresh.
Obviously it was a mission to go through all the amazing frames.
Finally, my choices were eliminated to three and then I just closed my eyes and picked one.
It was a very stylish branded frame but shukr, I had medical aid paying for it.
Then, in behavior unknown to me, I impulsively bought a pair of Ray Band sunglasses as well.
I think normality has reigned in Summaya world. I actually invested money in my looks.
I left Northcliff feeling quite satisfied with my purchases and glad I got a good optom that I am happy with.
Zahra called me on the way back.
“How did it go? Did you finally get rid of your daadima glasses?”
“Yes and I even bought sunglasses!”
“Good. Now when are you going to meet that boy I told you about?”
“You didn’t tell me anything about him!”
“Okay, he is a sweet boy from Mayfair. Reads his namaaz. He is my husband’s cousin so you know, good family. And he has a bit of a brain.”
“A bit of a brain?”
“Oh shush man! Can we set up something tonight?”
“My mother is gone back to Newcastle.”
“No stress. We will do it at my mother’s house.”
“Do I really have to?”
“Yes! And an attitude like that is building a brick wall in the way of your taqdeer! And wear your new glasses!”
The meeting that evening went better than expected.
Zaakir was a “mashAllah boy” in Guji terms and he looked sane.
He was an engineer and Guji.
We spoke for about 20 minutes and I left feeling quite optimistic.
“So what do you think?” Zahra asked me.
“He is nice.”
“No, he is nice.”
“But why is he 32 and not married?”
“I knew there was a but!”
“He was married before but he got divorced.”
“Why didn’t you tell me he was divorced?!”
“I didn’t think it was a big deal.”
“He is a divorcee! It is a big deal!”
“No it is not. He is a decent guy.”
“My mother would not accept me getting married to someone that was married before. And who knows, he probably beat up his wife!”
“Actually, he got divorced because his wife was in love with someone else. That’s it. He is decent.”
“I don’t want to settle for a divorcee.”
“Well, you hitting thirty. You have to settle! You can’t have dreams of a perfect guy!”
“I am serious. You need to grow up.”
I was a little offended so I exchanged insincere pleasantries and left.
I know my options are a lot less than it was at 20 or 22 but I would really be stigmatized for marrying someone who is divorced- more than I already am.
And I don’t think I could have that fight with my parents.
Even though Zaakir was actually a really nice guy.
As a Guji girl, I didn’t want to raise more eyebrows than I have already.
And so, like a good Guji Girl I returned to Newcastle ready for a roti making class.
Because carbs and cholesterol is a ticket to a happy ever after…
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Samoosas had always been just two types: mince and potato.
But apparently I was sitting in a dark corner at the edge of the world because there are so much variety I cannot keep count.
During my first few years on campus, samoosas used to be my staple lunch.
But as I grew more health conscious, I tried to reduce my in take and left it exclusively to Ramadaan.
And slowly as I became a health fanatic- I completely cut it out of my diet.
So forgive me if I am out of the cholesterol-inducing loop.
So the course I am enrolled in was divided into four types of samoosas:
Cheese and corn
Three cheeses and chives
Steak and pepers
Salami and cheese
Spinach and feta
Fried bananas and toffee
Cream cheese and
Don’t laugh, this is a serious thing. Although samoosas may actually give me a heart attack before a husband!
I found myself actually enjoying the technique of making the perfect samoosa.
I was the only person in the class that got it right after one try.
“MashAllah, look how a natural you are!” The Appa said.
I am not a natural, I was taught how to use a scalpel! It needs the same amount of precision and a sturdy hand.
During the class, some girls who were 10 grades below me in school made conversation with me.
But I mostly kept to myself. A 30 year old has no place talking to girls that are 18 and are engaged to get married.
I will look weird. In fact, people will just feel sorry for me.
So I kept to myself as I slaved away at folding food into a triangle.
By the end of the five day course, I had vowed never to eat a samoosa again.
Samoosa making is extremely tiresome and a whole dozen can be wiped out in 10 seconds, just like that.
At the end of the five days we actually had a proper graduation!
It was a high tea which displayed our “achievements” and mothers were invited.
I promise I saw my mother tear!
Then the most ridiculous thing happened- we were given certificates and prizes.
“Congratulation on successfully completing Samoosa Champ course”.
What am I supposed to do with this certificate? Add it to my CV in between my several degree certificates.
Better still, I could create a parallel CV just to hand over to my future husband.
My mother was seriously more excited that I “graduated first” in samoosa making than she was when I specialized.
“You see Summaya… You will thank me later! This is a real investment to your future.”
But I guess my fully paid off car and flat was not a true investment.
“But you know… I have been asking so many people if they know any boys for you but everyone is saying no. I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Shukr you lost all your baby fat and we fixed your teeth. Ay, I don’t know.”
I sighed and walked on.
There is something wrong with me, apparently my mother and aunties just could not place their finger on it.
Before I used to take it personally, now I just laugh it off.
But following the course, I got immensely bored.
From working 14 hour days to do nothing the entire day is a huge adjustment.
I could not even go to gym or take a run because according to my mother: “good girls don’t do such things”.
So I secretly signed up for a four week online course on HIV.
Its important for a doctor to keep up to date with new research and innovation.
And so the four weeks went well.
While my ,other thought I was sitting on Facebook looking for potential suitors, I was busy studying the make up of new anti- retrovirals.
My mum was quite pleased that I was also cooking daily and doing the grocery shopping.
She had that “this girl is ready to get married” look on her face.
A slight glitch was that I was ought to write an exam for the course in Johannesburg.
“Ma, I have to go to Jo’burg for a few days. Do you want to come?”
“What you wan’t to go for? Shopping?”
“No… I need to right an exam!”
“Taubah Astaghfirullah! Summaya! I told you! You must stop this nonsense of studying this and studying that. I want grandchildren!”
“There is no way I can give you a grandchild because the last I checked I am not Mariam Alaihassalaam! I need to leave in the morning.”
“Okay, fine. My masala is finished anyway- I will come with.”
The trip was fine and the exam went well.
I scored a B so I was satisfied.
Before we could leave back home, my mother’s aunty called to say there is a guy in Jo’burg that is interested in seeing me.
“Kasam? Oh tell, them we are in Jo’burg they must come to Summaya’s flat here in Houghton.”
I had no idea who the suitor coming to see me was.
All I knew was that he is a male looking to get married.
He could be a sociopath for all I knew.
But I had to do it.
I wanted to get married the proper way so I had to meet this stranger under supervision.
His name was Ahmed. He was a 44 year old divorcee with 2 kids. He was a wealthy lawyer. Oh, and he drove a convertible- the most prominent sign of a mid life crises!
It was devastating for a bit that they expected me to be interested in a man 14 years my senior.
Mind me, but I am looking for a soulmate. Someone who can understand me.
Not someone who got bored with his wife and is looking for a new adventure.
Even my mother was quite perturbed.
“Ay… This man. He couldn’t even hide his bald hair by wearing a topee.”
And that was another dozen of crispy samoosas gone to waste…
When I worked at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto- affectionally known as Bara- I was part of Operation Woza Life.
Under this programme, initiated by the department of health, we had to promote healthy eating, vaccinations and HIV testing.
It was a successful operation and I saw the results in my kids.
Looks, how I say “my kids”- gosh, I am broody!
But you know I am referring to my patients.
It was a massive programme and took months of planning.
But now I was to be involved in a different kind of operation.
Operation Find a Man.
But before that I had to, according to my mother, undergo Operation Become Marriageable.
It was some serious task. I kid you not.
So my mother and aunty sat with a piece of paper to draft the things they need me to do to make me “prime marriage option”.
First on the list was a baking course.
This is despite my objections that I can follow a recipe.
“How hard is it to follow a recipe? I am part of delicate operations on real humans!”
“A kitchen is not a surgery! It is more complicated,” my mother says irritably.
It couldn’t be worse.
“So Zarina Foi has a number of a lady who will teach you how to cook. Nani and I will teach you the traditional stuff. Then there is another lady that offers a roti making course and then you will do the samoosa making course… You know what, you should start with the samoosa course because I hear it is intensive.”
“But we buy samoosas anyway?”
“So what? You have to know. You think boys marry girls who can’t make samoosas?”
“Fine… I’ll do it.”
Anything to get my mother off my case.
“Okay… I spoke to the Apa that offers the course, she says she has one last space. The course starts tomorrow but you must go pay the deposit and fetch the study material tonight.”
“Pay a deposit? What is this? An MBA?”
“It is the price you have to pay for not getting married at 18 like I said!”
Jee, thanks mother.
I needed to talk about this craziness to a friend.
The only thing is that all my school friends are onto their second children. My campus friends are all married or divorced and my colleagues- or ex colleagues- are either working or passed out.
So I went to pay my deposit for the all important samoosa making course and fetch my “study” material.
I could not get over the hilarity of the situation.
It was not even some spoof- actual girls are enrolled in this course.
“You need to study page 1 to 13 before the class tomorrow,” Apa Ayesha- the course instructor- said.
Well how hard could folding a strip of baked dough be?
So I got home, dropped the book at the side of my bed and picked up a political biography.
Apparently that is another thing working against my odds of getting married.
The fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is not on my bed stand and Putin’s biography is alongside Men Around the Messenger puts me right into the “she thinks she’s too clever” category.
But I digress.
So I was woken up by my mother who was more excited about the samoosa making course than I was.
“Do I have to go?” I ask groggily.
“Summaya! Stop your nonsense. You can’t stay in our house forever. You have to get married.”
But, but… But I was not staying at home for 10 years. I also bought my own flat. So I really don’t get it. But mothers will be mothers. In fact, Guji mothers will always be Guji mothers.
I pack my unread course material in a bag together with a list of items I was instructed to take with.
On my way out my mother runs with a lunch bag!
You got to be kidding me!
My mother is packing lunch for her 30 year old daughter!
And I was not even going to an actual school or university.
So I rocked up, hoping the day would end already.
“Assalamualaikum.. You must be Summaya… Welcome!”
I was actually surprised how friendly everyone was.
“Normal girls” are actually not that bad after all.
And, to my utter horror, samoosa making is a science!
Anatomy has nothing on rolling little round disks, counting them, stacking them on top of each other with just the perfect amount of slightly melted butter, then rolling it into a flat pan.
But it does not end there.
That has to be baked to just the right degree, then cooled and individually separated.
What- 10 years of medicine did not prepare me for this!
Then we had to make fillings from scratch and by that I mean I still had to wash mince!
After six hours of work, there was not even one samoosa in sight!
“Okay, girls, well done. We just about done. JazakAllah for coming!”
Samoosa making is so labour intensive it better get me a husband! And in shorter time then it takes to make those three-cornered devils!
Because, this game is ON!
This post is dedicated to Aarifah Hunter. Just ‘cos.