Faiza and Taahir had both been making plans, quite unaware that each was plotting how to woo the other.
Taahir, mindful of Muneerah’s advice, had taken to messaging Faiza when his thoughts drifted towards her at work.
Their conversations, though admittedly stilted, were growing longer as the couple began to get familiar with one another.
They’d progressed from playing the generic twenty questions to discussing current events and debating over favourite books.
Taahir had been delighted to discover just how intelligent Faiza was and he’d felt a pang of guilt at the superior attitude he’d had previously.
He’d also realized that Faiza was far from lazy – on the contrary, his wife was always on the go! She put him to shame with her endless amounts of energy.
Faiza, on the other hand, had discovered Taahir’s sense of humor. He’d always been fairly reserved and serious around her, though he wasn’t stern, but as they began to relax around one another more, he’d stood less on ceremony around her and his natural good humour began to shine through.
Taahir still slept in the guest room though, much to Faiza’s chagrin. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to talk to him about the issue as Saeedah had suggested. And her mother’s suggestion to be extra sweet and caring had yielded no results either.
Her cheeks turned crimson remembering Mrs. Amir’s other suggestion – that she, Faiza, should join Taahir in the guest room one night after cooking him a romantic dinner and ‘let nature take its course.’
Faiza had shrieked when she’d first heard this idea and clapped her hands over her ears, trying to un-hear what had been said. But it was too late.
And… her thoughts sometimes drifted, imagining actually going through with the crazy plan. She’d always come back down to Earth fairly quickly though.
Saeedah’s other suggestion appealed – to wait for Taahir to make the first move.
But he seemed content to leave things as they were and not push the issue.
Sometimes, she wondered if he simply didn’t desire her, if he just didn’t want to be intimate with her. When she’d suggested this to Saeedah, her loyal friend had been quick to assure her that that couldn’t be the case.
But she still wondered…
Faiza was under no illusions about herself. She knew that she was average-looking. This didn’t usually bother her – she was quite happy in her own skin and knew that she had other appealing qualities.
But, next to Taahir, she did sometimes feel a little inadequate.
It felt like they didn’t fit next to each other. He was handsome and she… she was plain.
She went to the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror, assessing herself critically. Saeedah had tried countless times to give her a makeover – but Faiza had always resisted, not seeing the point.
Perhaps it was time to reconsider…
Faiza sat with a mug of tea, trying to pretend nonchalance. She was, dare she say it, excited.
Saeedah was very talented when it came to fashion and beauty and, after the two of them had spent close to an hour discussing everything the previous day, Faiza was eager to see the final result they had planned for.
There was a knock at the door and Faiza spilled tea all over herself in her haste to get up and answer it.
She opened the door still dripping and Saeedah immediately burst out laughing.
“I can see we have a lot to do!” she joked.
Faiza giggled. “I’m going to change,” she said. “Go set up in the lounge.”
When Faiza got back, she stared in amazement. “Saeedah, how many women are you making up today exactly?”
Saeedah rolled her eyes. “Don’t start,” she said. “There’s only two suitcases here.”
“Why is there even one suitcase? How much stuff are you going to use, exactly?”
Saeedah huffed in irritation. “Faiza, this is not even a lot, trust me. I have so much more at home. Remember, not all of this is what you’d think of as make up. There’s products here for your hair, for your skin, for your hands and, of course, there’s also a ton of traditional make up.”
Catching the overwhelmed look on Faiza’s face, she hurried to add, “Don’t worry, it’s simple once you get the hang of it. And the only reason it’s going to take a lot of time and effort today is because you haven’t done any of it before. Most of this stuff needs to be done once every few weeks or months only.”
“Oh. Good.” Faiza said, feeling relieved.
Saeedah laughed. “Just relax,” she soothed. “And remember, this is supposed to be fun!”
Taahir came home that evening to a beautifully cooked meal and a very nervous wife.
For once, Faiza didn’t come out to greet him when he entered, staying in the kitchen.
He went into the kitchen to greet her and stopped short at the threshold.
Wow, he thought to himself. Faiza looked beautiful…
“What do you think?” she asked shyly.
“You look… nice,” Taahir said. Inwardly, he cursed himself.
Nice?! Of all the many adjectives in the English language, you go with nice?
Faiza’s face fell.
Nice. Well, it’s better than nothing.
Taahir hurried to fix his blunder. “You look fantastic, Faiza,” he said.
He could see that she was less than convinced.
“Really!” he insisted. “You just… surprised me. I didn’t know what to say.”
A slow smile made its way across Faiza’s face.
“Jazakallah khair,” she said. “I’m glad you like it.”
“I do,” Taahir agreed.
An awkward silence fell.
“The food’s ready,” Faiza said finally. “We should…”
“Right! We should eat.”
The couple sat down to their supper, eating mostly in silence.
Taahir was preoccupied staring at Faiza and the conversation suffered for it.
He couldn’t help it though. More than the slight make up and pretty clothes, it was the fact that Faiza had gone to so much effort that resulted in him being unable to take his eyes off her.
Recalling the smile she’d worn in the kitchen, he felt slightly ashamed at the realization that he’d never before complimented her and resolved to make more of an effort.
Suddenly, he felt the urge to tell Faiza his feelings, but he hesitated. His mother’s advice came back to him.
“Be romantic when you tell her, Taahir. Make sure that the way you do it is significant. Don’t just mumble it out one day on the way out the door.”
This is hardly romantic. But… I’m afraid if I don’t tell her now, I never will. I’ve been putting it off for weeks now!
He peeked at Faiza out of the corner of his eye. Would she be disappointed that he hadn’t done more to mark the occasion?
He wrestled with himself. Should I? No! But…