“Taahir?” Faiza called, walking through the apartment. As she wandered, she noticed little details that she hadn’t paid attention to when she’d rushed to appreciate the view.
The apartment was large and airy and the clean, cool lines of the furniture immediately appealed to her. The kitchen was her favorite room by far. There was a huge amount of both counter and cupboard space and the windows looked out towards the sea.
She smiled happily, immediately imagining spending an afternoon indulging in baking all of her favorite recipes.
A noise behind her made her jump and she whirled around.
Taahir stood there, looking at her apologetically. “Maaf, I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said.
Faiza smiled, shaking her head. “It’s my own fault, I was lost in a dream,” she smiled. “It’s a bad habit of mine,” she confided.
Taahir tilted his head curiously. “What kind of dream,” he asked.
“Nothing too extravagant. I love the kitchen and I was just imagining using it to bake.”
Taahir grinned. It relieved him to hear that Faiza was liking the apartment. And her simple dream appealed to him as being strangely cute. It was so simple but she was still so happy at the thought of it.
“I’m glad to hear you like the kitchen. I don’t use it much. I know how to cook but Mamma insists on dropping off enough food for three people at least once a week and I don’t like to let it go to a waste. I suppose now, it’ll get a bit more use.”
“A lot more use,” Faiza corrected. “I bake almost every day.”
“How do you get the time in between work?”
“Um, I’m not working,” Faiza said softly.
Taahir blinked in confusion. Not working?
“Then, what do you do all day?”
“I’m studying at the moment,” Faiza said, smiling uncomfortably.
“Oh. Are you going to need me to drop you off in the mornings for classes?”
Faiza shook her head. “No, I’m studying online. Through UNISA. The only time I attend anything is exams.”
“Oh. So you’ve got a lot of free time every day then.”
“I… suppose.” Faiza felt incredibly awkward. She didn’t actually have a huge amount of free time every day compared to someone who attended physical classes – she worked fairly hard to try and earn the best marks and always made sure to dedicate a significant portion of her day to studying. Compared to someone who was working, however, her day was light.
“I see,” Taahir said. ‘She doesn’t seem like a lazy person… But according to what she’s saying, she doesn’t do much of anything all day? Maybe she does other things…’
He quickly redirected the conversation, asking Faiza whether she liked to read and showing her the small library he’d started in one of the rooms.
But the awkwardness remained.
When Faiza started yawning, he quickly offered to sleep in the guest room for the next few weeks until they were more comfortable with one another and, before Faiza could say anything to either agree or disagree, he retreated to the guest room.
Faiza woke for Fajr feeling disoriented and irritable. She’d spent the night tossing and turning, unable to find proper sleep in a new, unfamiliar place.
She finished her salaah and it occurred to her to check on Taahir. She hadn’t heard him wake up. Standing up, she crept into the guest room, finding him sound asleep. She paused to look at him for a moment. He really was very attractive.
Faiza reached out and shook his shoulder lightly. “Taahir… Taahir, wake up, it’s Fajr time.” she called.
Taahir woke to a strange sight. There was a woman standing over him, shaking him.
What on Earth? he thought, before remembering. He was married and the woman standing over him could only be Faiza.
“What is it?” he asked her sleepily.
“Fajr time,” Faiza said sweetly. “Hurry, you only have twenty minutes.”
“Jazakallah khair,” he said, getting up quickly.
It was sweet of her to wake me, Taahir thought to himself. Usually, being woken up by someone would have irritated him – he was the opposite of a morning person and often struggled with waking up for Fajr. But somehow, being woken by Faiza had been different.
Taahir slept in after Fajr but he finally awoke at ten o’ clock to an amazing smell. His stomach growled and he immediately went in search of the source. He found Faiza in the kitchen, flitting between the stove and the kitchen table which was already laden with food.
She spotted him and greeted him happily. “I was wondering when you’d get up. I don’t know what you usually like for breakfast so I just decided to make pancakes. There’s some fruit as well and I made coffee. But if you don’t like that, I can make you something savoury… Or even waffles or something?”
Taahir shook his head. “This is wonderful,” he said. “Jazakallah khair.” He took a seat at the table and waited for Faiza to join him.
He could see that she was nervous – she hadn’t even taken a bite of her own breakfast and was staring at his plate. He took a bite quickly, already waiting to compliment her even if the food wasn’t to his liking.
“This is great, Faiza,” Taahir said, immediately going for a second bite.
Faiza slumped into her chair, relaxing finally. “Jazakallah khair,” she said.
She turned her attention to her own breakfast, silently thanking Allah that nothing had gone wrong in the kitchen that morning. Cooking was something she prided herself on and she really did want to make a good impression on Taahir. It was the first meal she’d cooked for him and she wanted it to be special.
For his part, Taahir was simply enjoying the good food. He didn’t actually really enjoy pancakes but Faiza really was talented enough in the kitchen for him to truly enjoy the food.
Eating breakfast had reminded him of his mother’s invitation and he quickly took the opportunity to tell Faiza about the invitation.
She agreed enthusiastically that it would be nice to spend some time with his parents and Taahir smiled happily at her enthusiasm.
They agreed to leave at one o’ clock and Taahir took the next hour to get some work done while Faiza got ready.