Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


The poor kitten jumped out of my hands as Hannah spoke, obviously terrified by her shrieks. Well, I would be too if I was that small.

Hannah’s dark almond eyes were mischievous and her smirk was blatant.

I wasn’t sure why, but this girl and I were just never going to see eye to eye. I narrowed my own eyes at her, but I couldn’t do it for much longer, because it only took a minute before both Aunty Nas and Aunty Agnus appeared at the top of the stairs, obviously hearing the commotion that was going on.

I couldn’t let them see just how annoyed I was at Hannah, in case they might think I had gone crazy on her again.

What is going on?”

Aunty Nas spoke with a stern look and a heated voice. She placed her hands on her narrow hips now and looked from me to Yunus, raising her eyebrows. I could see where Hannah got her piercing eyes from. Her mother and her looked almost exactly alike.

“And where do you think you’re coming from, young lady?”

I looked back at her, not answering. What did I say?

We had been staying out of each other’s way all this time, but I would often hear Zuleikha complaining about her terrible moods. Seems like she wasn’t the best person to live around.

I really didn’t want to test her patience, so I kept my head down, letting my unruly locks cover my face, almost wanting to hide.

Without any warning, I felt a shooting pain in my ear. My ears were almost on fire as she twisted it with her long fingers, and I grimaced.

Hot tears filled my eyes as she twisted my other ear, harder this time. It was awfully painful.

“I asked you a question,” she muttered through gritted teeth, her long nails digging into the fleshy part of my ear.

“I-“ I started, not really able to form audible words due to the pain. It was excruciating.

“Missis, please, no-“

It was Aunty Agnus who I could hear was trying to stop her. She tried to approach us but Hannah’s mother stopped her with a death look, almost daring to retaliate. I could hear feet scurrying away and my heart sank. Were they leaving me alone with this horrible woman?

My ear was stinging with the pain and I tried to free it of her grasp. It was in vain, because the pain got worse as I resisted.

“Next time, it will be much worse,” she warned, finally letting go and standing straight up again.

She dusted her dress with a certain heir of arrogance, tossed back her peroxide blonde blow-dried hair, and then stalked off.

I looked back at her, my heart filled with an aching loneliness and the most brutal anger. I hated her.

“Don’t worry, Khawlah,” Aunty Agnus whispered. She had come down as soon as Aunty Nas had left the room.

“Come Khawlah, lets go change,” Aunty Agnus said to me, guiding me up the stairs, taking one step at a time so I wouldn’t trip.

I was a little disoriented. My mind was boggled after the events. Where was Zuleikha? Why was she barely at home? I even missed Foi Nani. Had everyone just forgotten about me and went on with their own lives?

And then I remembered. The kitten!

“Oh no!” I said instantly, slapping my forehead with my palm. “Aunty! I need to find Chinky.”

She looked at me, utterly confused.

“That cat,” I said, pointing to the basket at the bottom of the stairs. “It ran out and -“

“Okay, Khawlah,” she said simply in her broken English. “I check when I go to my room. I keep her there.”

She knew it wouldn’t be a good idea to bring her in.

I nodded, relieved that at least we had Aunty Agnus. If it wasn’t for her I wasn’t sure what I would do. Yunus was already showered and busy with his cars. Aunty waited for me to finish, and slowly brushed my long wet hair as she would do  from when Mama got sick. It brought tears to my eyes, for the second time today, as I remembered my mother and her easy smile.

Oh, how I missed her.

“Khawlah, you must be good,” Aunty Agnus was saying now as she guided the brush through my hair, detangling the multiple knots that had formed there over the past few days.

I nodded. I knew I should be good. I did try. Especially for Abba. But sometimes I just didn’t know when I wasn’t being the best. Did everyone maybe just expect too much?

“I don’t like to see what is happening,” she said softly, almost to herself.

My own heart ached. It was a permanent ache. I might have been young but I wasn’t too young to feel the loss and comprehend the sadness. It was so different to when Mama was here.

Our house was bow like a derelict l shell. An empty space of no warmth or love. No feeling. Everyone had evolved into beings who were just trying to get through each day, devoid of empathy and emotion.

Abba came home later that night, but instead of coming to us like he usually did, he stood tiredly at the bottom of the stairs, calling for us to come down.

Yunus shot out of his bed, and Ahmed came out of his boy-cave for the first time that day. It was weird how much he had changed. He was even sounding weird.

His voice had become a bit croaky and he had gotten a whole lot taller almost overnight.

“I have to talk to you’ll,” Abba said as we approached him one at a time. He signaled for us to meet him in the lounge.

Abbas looked weary and rugged. He was almost unlike himself as he sat back in his favourite cream arm chair and looked at us. I could tell he had something important to say, but I did too. I didn’t want Aunty Nas to badmouth me before my father knew the truth.

“Abba, I need to tell you something.”

My father frowned at me and gestured for me to sit down.

“Let me talk first, Khawlah.”

His voice was stern and his tone was firm. My father had changed. He wasn’t the same Abba that we had known when Mama was alive. Even his beard had become just a shadow of what it used to be. Instead of wearing kurta on Friday’s like he used to, now he just wore his usual work clothes.

I felt an ache somewhere inside my gut. Mama wouldn’t have liked it.

The strong perfume that he had spritzed this morning was still lingering in the air. He wore more than usual. He passed his fingers through his hair, almost nervously as he looked at us.

“I’ve bought a new house,” he said, looking at us expectantly.

We looked back at him, a bit confused. Why?

He still looked tired. The worries of the world had engulfed my Abba. He was never so inflicted with weariness as he was on that day. It was something that we hadn’t realised, but the greed of the world had been instilled into my father, and he couldn’t help but fulfill whatever was expected. Fulfill what his wife had wanted. It was the invasion of our home that we least expected and wholeheartedly rebelled. It was the love of this world that we had abhorred since childhood. It’s what money does to you when you get too much. You just keep wanting more.

If only he remembered Mama’s words when she had told him how wretched this world was. How futile this life was. It takes a strong couple to make each other better, and she was Abbas better half.

”But Abba, this is our home.”

It was Zuleikha who spoke now in a hostile voice, her hazel eyes blazing. Her straight brown hair had been tied back into a ponytail, and she still wore her school uniform.

Even my elder sister had changed. She had become quieter. Less outspoken. Extremely obliging.

But this. This she could not just overlook. This was a betrayal.

”Zuleikha, you must understand,” Abba said, sounding tired. “It will still be the same. We will just go to another house. We will sell this one. It’s better and much bigger. Maybe you’ll will have more brothers and sisters.”

He added the last part as an afterthought and I frowned at him after he said it. I didnt want another house. I didn’t even want more brothers or sisters. That horrible Hannah was enough.

“Well, then, Abba,” Zuleikha said firmly, getting up and looking at Abba. “If you insist on moving, I cannot come. I will stay somewhere else.”


Abba’s expression changed slightly, and it was almost like he gave her a little smirk.

But what she said next was enough to wipe it completely off his face.

“Yes,” she confirmed. “It’s no problem at all.”

He looked at her expectantly and she shrugged.

“It’s simple, Abba,” she said, as if speaking to a small child. She shrugged nonchalantly.

“I’m going to get married.”

5 thoughts on “Betrayal

  1. The story has been written so brilliantly, one can feel the emotions BUT everytime I read it I end up feeling so depressed the whole day. Its just tooo sad…

    Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s