Character: Sakinah-bhai

The rent money was gone.
Sakinah-bhai pulled back the decaying lace curtain to look outside. The street was still empty, Razi was nowhere to be seen.
That the rent money was gone wasn’t her only trouble, it was how it came to be ‘gone’. How would she explain it to Razi without that twit passing judgement and running off to tell her mother and sisters?
Stupid woman. Stupid woman. Her hands brushed against the tasbeeh on the sidetable. She picked it up and proceeded to thumb each prayer bead towards her. Stupid woman. Stupid woman. It’s what happens when you mix in the wrong circles. You try to impress, fit in. And you fail.
And you lose all the bloody rent money.
She hoped Razi wouldn’t tell Nishaad. He would be so disgusted. His own mother!
A noise at the door. It had to be Razi.
Sakinah-bhai’s joints creaked as she walked towards it. The pain had started again recently, she’d have to ask Nishaad to take her for the cortisone injection. That’s only if he didn’t find out about what she’d done with the rent money, he’d tell her to wear a hole with her forehead into her musallah instead. That boy, so bloody religious. If she hadn’t delivered him herself in the lounge, by Allah, she would have believed he was swopped at birth.
“Ah slam-laykum Razi. I’m so glad you came poppie. Come inside, come inside,” she scanned over Razi briefly. Always so smart in her work-clothes, Sakinah-bhai thought. Razi’s pale-pink skirt skimmed just below her knees. This reassured her that Razi would not be seeing Nishaad today. Not dressed like that.
“How you Apa? I was a bit worried when you phoned. Is everything okay? Work was so terrible today. I’m so tired of all the nonsense at the office. ” Sakinah-bhai found herself distracted by the gold-slit in Razi’s front tooth. Why on Allah’s earth, would she have one put there? Sakina-bhai remembered the fashion from the seventies, gold teeth were terrible then too.
“Aw poppie. I don’t even know what to say. I went to the casino and I lost all the rent money!” she wailed slightly at the end for dramatic effect.
Razi nodded her head in sympathy as Sakinah-bhai related the story of how she was feeling depressed and went to the casino with a group of ladies from the neigbourhood.
“It was just to relax you know. I first won a bit and then I think I got a bit greedy and I lost it all. Now what will I tell Nishaad? I can’t ask him.” Sakinah-bhai noticed Razi look into the mirror and preen like a little bird. Razi’s not a bad person, Sakinah-bhai mused to herself. Just a little too self-absorbed. She had this trick of turning any topic of conversation towards herself. Sakinah-Bhai really didn’t want her help, but her options were painfully limited.
“I won’t tell Nishaad Apa. Don’t worry. I brought enough for you to pay this month. Speaking of rent, Waleed’s still giving me problems you know. He just won’t leave us alone. That man! I was telling my mummy about it. She also told me how much she’s missing me because Saadi just won’t help in the house. You know how Saadi’s always trying to interfere in my life.” Razi prattled on while she scanned herself in the mirror. Sakinah-Bhai was amused with this little creature in front of her. Nishaad fell for her looks. That much was obvious. How he could stand being with her for periods longer than an hour, Sakinah-Bhai couldn’t fathom.
She sighed inwardly. Razi made Nishaad happy. She’d long since learnt to tolerate things and leave them be. Was this a symptom of her old-age? The pain flared in her right knee. Her face folded in pain and ironed itself. Razi was still smoothing her hair and smirking dumbly as she went on about the politics between herself and her sisters.
Sakinah-bhai whinced. Did getting old mean giving up?

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saaleha

I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on www.shootcake.com) based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

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