A Safina Iqbal Story: For more visit her blog.
My dad comes three hours late. We had had this discussion over and over and over again. He had asked for your name, I had told him but he just switched the channels on the television. I am not sure he remembers your name and even if he does, trust him to act like he does not know. I am his little girl, you know. He enters the house and heads straight for the bedroom. I am sure he saw us stand up to greet him but I think what he was headed to do was more important than meeting the love of my life. He calls for my mum from the bed room, she looks at us apologetically and rushes inside. I do not know what they are talking about but I am nervous. I understand that you are more nervous and that’s why your palm is so sweaty in mine.
I am amazed that we can keep holding each others hand considering the amount of sweat we are producing at the moment. I look at you and smile. Okay, if exposing of my teeth through quivering lips can be considered a smile. You squeeze my hand and I could have sworn I heard a squishing sound. The door bangs, mother comes out of the room then dad follows. He sits and faces you. He looks at you from head to toe. He does not look pleased. I know you love your job but my dad made it seem like being a lecturer was such a menial job. I should have told you to draw a family tree, an elaborate one – okay, maybe an organogram too for everywhere your relatives work. I forgot to tell you, I did not think he would ask about your pay slip. You need to work harder by the way if we are supposed to take our children to Braeside. I agree that the part where he asked for copies of the last three pay slips was a bit too much but that is my dad, he has always been thorough.
I did not know you planned to own a chain of hotels baby. I think you lied since you think the hospitality industry is an unnecessary one since people can cook for themselves. He looks at me then looks away. He looks sad for a minute. Baby, I realize it would be hard to recognize my dad if you met him again since he was on his phone the whole time he was talking to you. He did not look up once except when he looked at me. Oh stop complaining, how was I supposed to know he would ask you about the first time I fell from the tree and the injuries I got – I do not remember, okay I do but in his defense, he just wanted to know if you knew me. And no, I know you are not a doctor so there is no way you would have known the dosage for my asthmatic, eczema and eye drop medication.
He looks at my mum and raises his eye brow. I did not hesitate when he asked me if I am sure you are the man I wanted to marry. I just let the question hang in the air. I answered yes baby, stop being obnoxious. His phone rings and he stands up and leaves. Trust me, if he did not approve, you would be in a police cell with a half mattress, a tin for your toilet and no eyes to see the gun being held to your face.
I know you like my mum. She is such a sweetheart that’s why she took her time to make you lunch. I am glad we had eaten before dad came because I doubt anything would have gone down. She is not a mind reader baby; she just knows what to ask. No, she is not a police officer, she is just good at asking all the hard questions but if she was, I think she would be the good cop. Make up your mind; was it a police interrogation or a job interview? She asked about your past girlfriends to check the trend. Yes, like she asked why you broke up with Tina and yes, she likes the details.
Mum excuses herself for a minute. I see you are now relaxed. You look very handsome. She comes back. I agree, I think she has a questionnaire somewhere. I have to admit I was also very interested in knowing about your relationship with God. You lied again but good call, if you had said you have issues with Him, she would have poisoned you with the next platter of cake. I did not see that question coming. Wow, my mum is crude. But I do not think we lied; we have not really had sex, have we? You look beautiful when you chuckle.
I am offended that you did not know what I take for my cramps. I have a monthly routine sweetheart, that was on you. Mum smiles then looks at me then at you again. What do you mean I should have your back? Excuse me but I have never been a fan of your drinking habits. The loo is on the left past the blue door. You leave. Mum whispers and we laugh. She likes you but she is not sure about your obsession with motorbikes. I think it is sexy until you break your hand, neck, leg and whatever else is fragile enough. Contraception is our decision, not mine alone so yes, she had every right to ask plus its time you read the pamphlet I had given you. She is not in a hurry love but she does not believe in prolonged engagements so I think we can pull this off in the eight months she stipulated. Mum has to go close her business and no, there is no way she is going to leave us alone in the house. Do not forget your coat. The breeze is what we needed. It did not go as bad as we had thought. I hold your hand and we leave.
“Christie, are you okay?”
I snap out of my happy thoughts. I look at you and smile. I have not eaten much of the overpriced dinner and I have not heard half the things you have been saying.
“I am okay baby. Plus the restaurant is really fancy so I definitely like it,” I say.
I smile bitterly because today is exactly a month after Valentines. I know the story about an impromptu departmental meeting on the 14th was bullshit and so was the business trip that followed. I cringe as I am sure I am one of those overrated women they call the side chick. As I sip the wine and smile at you, knowing you will never meet my parents.