Waseem pulled open his top drawer and slid his finger across the row of ties he owned, but never wore. He hated ties. He felt suffocated and stiff wearing them. There were only three occasions in his life when he wore a tie: graduations, weddings and visits to his in-laws’ house.
Mr and Mrs Sami were posh to say the least, or so they thought they were. Not only were their children brought up in a prim and proper manner, but they expected the same from their granddaughter Hasana. At eight years of age, Hasana was expected to know the difference between a fish fork and fruit fork. Waseem laughed the first time Yusuf Sami quizzed his granddaughter on the endless cutlery layout in front of her. She was five at the time and Waseem would never forget the look of fear on his daughter’s face.
Hasana was the type of person who hated letting people down. She hated getting things wrong and worked hard to please everyone around her. And so after that disastrous dinner three years ago, she went home and memorised the etiquette of cutlery.
Waseem tried to tell his daughter that knowing a dessert spoon from an ice cream spoon was not important, but Hasana wouldn’t hear it. She wanted to impress her Nana, her maternal grandfather. After all, she only saw him once a month.
According to Yusuf and Maya Sami, it wasn’t that they didn’t want to see their granddaughter. It was just that their posh lifestyle allowed them very little time to spend with her. When they weren’t jetting off to London for gala dinners, they were enjoying a relaxing weekend at a nearby golf resort. Not that they ever offered to bring Hasana along, not that they offered to take Hasana anywhere.
Hasana was like their part time granddaughter. She only existed on birthdays, weddings and their monthly dinners. The rest of the year, Yusuf and Maya Sami were wrapped up in their bubble, oblivious to their darling eight year old granddaughter.
In the beginning, when Aasia was no longer around, Waseem would go red in the face. Annoyed at his in-laws for not wanting to play a larger role in his daughter’s life, he would be filled with fury, rage and anger. But then he would see his own parents shower Hasana with all the love and attention in the world and he would calm down. He would count his blessings: thank goodness Hasana didn’t spend time with people who cared more about golf than family.
Sliding his finger over the row of ties for a second time, he half heartedly pulled out an old plain dark navy tie. Fastening it around his neck, he fumbled with both sides until, on his fourth try, he finally got it. Well, to him it looked like a decent knot. No doubt his father in law would comment on how it was skew, but Waseem had grown accustomed to Yusuf Sami’s insults and remarks. After all, he had been dealing with them ever since he became friends with Aasia fourteen years ago.
The first time he saw the infamous Sami parents was at the campus coffee store in his second year. It was an odd sight to see two grown, well-dressed parents in the midst of rowdy, loud university students. Waseem would have never guessed that they were Aasia’s parents. Her funky backpack was a far cry from the cashmere cardigan her mother wore. Waseem had watched as they walked into the cafe, immediately sticking their noses into the air. Walking around with a snooty aura, they cast dismissive looks at every student that dared to wander into their way.
Waseem and his friends watched from afar as the high and mighty couple paraded around campus. They laughed and poked fun at the poor student who went home to those pretentious parents, until they realised that the poor student was Aasia.
Shaking his head and reflecting on the memory, Waseem smiled to himself. It was a good thing Aasia never found out about what he and his friends had said. She would have never agreed to marry him.
Running a hand through his hair and making sure he had no strays sticking up, Waseem called out to his daughter.
“Sweetheart, where are your shoes? We’re going to be late!” He hurried Hasana back into her room and rummaged through her cupboard. “These will do.”
Waseem helped his daughter slip her feet into a pair of children’s loafers. Trust her Nanee, her maternal grandmother, to think that eight year olds liked loafers. Sometimes he wondered what went through his in-laws’ mind and other times, he was grateful he didn’t have a clue. They probably only thought about golf.
Pulling up to the Sami household, Waseem turned around to face his daughter. “Now remember Hasana, when it’s 9 o’clock you have to yawn really loudly and say that you’re tired so we can leave.”
Hasana laughed and unbuckled her seat belt. Her father did this every single time they went for dinner to her grandparents’ house. Last month, he said that she should fake a cramp. The month before, she had a tooth ache.
Joining her father at the front of the house that felt more like a museum, Hasana slipped her hand into Waseem’s and waited patiently for the door to open. A lady dressed in a black button down and white apron greeted them and led them into the hallway.
“Sir and Madam will be right with you.” And she walked towards the kitchen.
Sir and madam, Waseem thought to himself. Could his in-laws be any more pretentious?
Pushing away his thoughts, he watched as Yusuf and Maya Sami walked towards them. Arms spread out they first hugged Hasana before shaking Waseem’s hand.
“Good to see you both again.” Yusuf said curtly before gesturing for everyone to make their way into the dining room.
Dinner ensued as it always did at the Sami household. It was boring, dull and stiff. Waseem and Hasana paid extra attention to the fork, spoon and knife they used throughout their five course meal.
“So, Waseem where have you been travelling to lately?” Maya asked as dessert was being brought out by their maid.
“I was in Cape Town a few weeks ago. We’re doing a segment on hidden gems in South Africa, so it’s all local travel right now.”
“I see.” Yusuf stated as he dug into his crème brûlée.
A tense silence settled over the dinner table and Waseem took this opportunity to shoot his daughter ‘the look’. Catching his eye, Hasana smirked and put her hand over her mouth, faking a yawn. “Daddy, I’m really tired.”
“Oh darling, did you have a busy day?” Maya asked.
Hasana nodded her head. “We went to the park so I could ride my bike and feed the ducks.”
Wrong answer, Waseem thought to himself as he watched his mother in law stick her nose into the air, as she always did when she frowned upon something. “Feeding ducks? Sounds strange.”
Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, Waseem took in a deep breath and let it out slowly before he polished off his dessert and stood, signalling for Hasana to do the same.
“Well, this dinner was lovely as always. Thanks for having us.”
“Yes thank you Nana,” Hasana said as she hugged him. “Nanee.” And hugged her.
“Don’t be strangers now. We only get to see you once a month.” Maya said as she walked the pair to the door.
Waseem once again resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Every single dinner, she would say that and every single time she would not mean it. Maya simply said it out of curtesy, not care.
Waving his in-laws goodbye, Waseem bundled Hasana into the car and set off towards home.
“Good dinner?” He asked from the rear view mirror, a smirk on his face.
“The best!” Hasana replied in the most sarcastic tone she could muster.
They looked at each other for another second before bursting into fits of laughter.
They had survived yet another dreaded Sami dinner.
Apologies that this chapter was not posted sooner! I have no excuses except to say that April is exam season so expect to have delayed chapters.
I know, it’s not fair that I started a new blog right before exams… but oh well!
You guys are used to me being unreliable and useless so this is nothing new.
I hope you guys enjoyed the read!