When Aasia and Waseem graduated, they had a plan. A well thought out career plan, filled with objectives and deadlines and goals. Waseem would use his visual arts degree and Aasia would use her journalism degree to start up their very own media company. Of course, even they knew they had to gain experience elsewhere before attempting to create their own company. And so that is exactly what they did the moment they graduated.
But they weren’t the only ones who grew up and moved on with their lives. The friends that Waseem and Aasia both shared had plans of their own. Some got married immediately, others got jobs and were successful, but a few moved away. One of those adventurous few was Amaan Amra.
It was one of the hardest goodbyes Waseem ever had to say. Amaan had decided to move to Australia to further his studies and to say that Sydney was far would be the understatement of the year. Flights weren’t cheap either and Waseem found himself seeing his best friend every few years. It was heartbreaking and, at the time, Aasia knew it.
She would go out of her way to try and keep her husband cheery, and for the most part, he was. But when soccer games, weddings and group dinners came around with Amaan, not in attendance, Waseem felt the absence of his friend. But Amaan was a true gem. When Aasia passed away, he was on the first flight home and was at his best friend’s beck and call day and night. It was a test of true friendship and Amaan passed with flying colours. In the process, he also became a complimentary uncle to Hasana, alongside her real uncle Ishaaq.
Ishaaq Ahmed was Waseem’s older brother. Separated by seven years, the duo had little in common. Where Waseem was outgoing and loud Ishaaq was a timid introvert. Where the former preferred living freely and enjoyed the arts, the latter liked stability and dealing with numbers. Yet even though they were chalk and cheese, they loved each other very much.
Ishaaq and Amaan were Waseem’s pillars of strength in the months following Aasia’s death.
Her passing struck a chord with Ishaaq who was unmarried at the time. He was 30 and had felt every bit as old. A wife was what he needed. A sister in law, an aunt, a daughter in law; that was what his family needed. Someone who was fiercely strong yet loving at the same time. Someone who was independent yet who could help keep his family afloat, as they navigated through a hard time in their lives. And by some stroke of luck, he found that woman in Sarah, who eventually turned into Aunty Sarah for Hasana.
Ishaaq and Sarah doted on their niece as any uncle and aunty would. They spent five years living in Durban together, spending weekends and holidays with the Ahmeds, giving all the love and support they had. But when Ishaaq was offered a job in the Netherlands, Waseem put his foot down.
“You can’t say no. You just can’t. It’s too good an offer.”
“Job offers come and go Waseem-”
“Not this job. Look, I really appreciate what you and Sarah have done for us, all of us. Honestly, you will never know how much I owe you Ishaaq, but you have to accept this job. If not for you, then for your family and for your future.”
“But what about you guys?” Ishaaq asked. “We can’t just leave.”
“Yes, you can. I’m here. I’m back on my feet and working. I can take care of this, okay?”
Ishaaq was hesitant. Waseem was insistent. In the end, insistent won.
Though they visited regularly, Hasana missed her Uncle and Aunt dearly. To her, most of the people in her life seemed to arrive and depart readily, her father included.
“Why do you have to travel so much?” She asked Waseem as he tucked her into bed the night of her ninth birthday.
“Because it’s my job sweetheart. I have to work otherwise we’d be living under the bridge, like that mean old monster in that goat story.”
Hasana gave her father a weird look. “You mean The Three Billy Goats Gruff?”
“Yes! That’s the story!”
She rolled her eyes and laughed. For a nine-year-old, she sure was sassy.
“But everyone travels so much. You, Nanee, Nana, Uncle Ishaaq, Aunty Sarah. Even Uncle Amaan! It’s not fair.”
“I know sweetie, but I have some good news. Uncle Amaan is coming to visit.”
Hasana’s eyes lit up like the fourth of July. “He is!”
“Yep, he’s coming to see his favourite chatterbox.”
Hasana gasped playfully. “I am not a chatterbox!”
Waseem laughed and kissed the top of her head. “You can argue with him about that when you see him. Right now, you need to go to sleep.”
“But do I really have to?” She looked at her father with pleading eyes, but he was not falling for it.
“Bedtime missy. You have a full day tomorrow with Uncle Amaan.”
Hasana wished her father goodnight before settling into her covers. She tried to fall asleep, she really did, but she couldn’t. She was just too excited.
Uncle Amaan was coming to visit!
Thought I’d introduce some brotherly love in this post with Ishaaq and Amaan.
I will go back to the whole 2003/ 2017 post format I had going on, but for now, we are talking present day.
I hope you enjoyed the read.
Please feel free to comment and tell me if my writing is terrible… because I have not written in ages!
Have a good week yall
P.S. The title of this chapter was low-key inspired by Lilo and Stitch but I also think the meaning of Ohana is really beautiful! The Hawaiian saying doesn’t just refer to family. It has a wider meaning including blood relatives, community members and friends.