Because I promised the lovely oceanus868, enjoy another chapter!
Chapter Thirty Four
I felt a twinge of guilt and immediately shoved it aside. I couldn’t have known that he’d be there, listening to my call with my brother and I refused to feel even an ounce of regret about my baby, no matter who it was for.
Desperately in need of a distraction, I decided to call my father. I expected to get his voicemail but to my surprise, he answered with a distracted salaam.
“Hi, Daddy,” I said quietly, suddenly shy.
“I’ve been waiting for you to call. Your mother said that you’d been to the doctor? Are you feeling better now?”
I nodded, even though he couldn’t see it. “Much. She gave me some supplements and stuff and I’ve been taking them.”
“You need to take better care of yourself,” Dad scolded. “I’ve told you before, it’s important to schedule regular check ups for just this sort of thing. At least it was nothing more serious than a simple deficiency.”
I hummed in agreement.
“I have a surgery in a little while so if there’s nothing else, Az, I’ll talk to you later.”
“There is! Something else, that is.” I twirled a strand of hair around my fingers. “I’m having a baby, Daddy.”
My father started laughing.
“Dad? What’s so funny?”
“I knew it!” Dad crowed. “I told your mother you needed to take a pregnancy test the second I heard your symptoms and she told me I was being ridiculous. But I was right.”
“I wish you’d told me,” I grumbled. “I could’ve saved myself a trip to the doctor.”
Dad sobered. “Az, you can’t dodge the doctors like you’ve always done. I know you don’t like them, though God knows why. You’d think you’d be one of the few people to like us since both your mother and I have been practising since before you were born.”
“Dad!” I complained, recognizing the start of an old lecture.
“Alright, alright, never mind,” Dad said testily. “But you need to go to your appointments. Pregnancies can be delicate and you haven’t been having the easiest one. Promise me you’ll go regularly?”
I promised dutifully.
“Oh, and ask your Nana for the list of duas he sent your Mom when she was pregnant. It’s never to early for you to start praying for the baby.” Dad added just before saying goodbye.
Right. Praying. I made a face. What would Dad say if he knew that I hadn’t prayed in almost half a year?
My parents had no idea about my rocky relationship with religion. Rayyan knew I wasn’t particularly devout – he’d had to nag and prod me into praying often enough. But even he didn’t know how easy I’d found it to just stop and neglect those obligations.
I hated the guilt that came whenever I tried and inevitably hit a stumbling block. It was so much easier to just give up and gracefully admit defeat.
Yet another way I was different from the rest of the family. My parents, my brother, even my grandfather… They worked hard and long and fought their way to the top. Nana had made himself a business empire. My parents had and continued to fight daily for their patients’ lives. And Rayyan had ignored the lucrative, easier legal career that he would’ve been handed on a platter to fight for human rights.
I felt the familiar surge of pride mixed with shame.
Make some effort, Azraa, I told myself. You’ll never be on their level, but do something difficult. All you do is sit on your butt all day.
The doorknob turned, startling me. It was Zak, I knew. He was the only one who came in without knocking. But I hadn’t expected him back so soon.
“Right where I left you,” he teased as soon as he saw me. “Did you even move?”
I flushed. “I was making calls,” I explained lamely, getting to my feet to greet him.
He didn’t hear me. Clearly in a good mood, he walked straight past me to check something on his laptop, whistling.
“Zak?” I prompted.
He lifted his head. “Huh?”
“Did you have a good meeting?”
Zak grinned. “I had an excellent meeting.” He drew the words out. “Everything’s going exactly as planned.”
“That’s great,” I exclaimed. “I’m so happy f-”
“Yeah,” he said absently, cutting me off. “Listen, I have some stuff to sort out. Can you give me a minute? Go talk to Mom or something.” Zak waved a hand in the direction of the door, dismissing me.
“Sure,” I said irritably. “I’ll go.”
I made my way down into the kitchen. I still didn’t have much of an appetite but I’d been warned by both the doctor and my mother that I needed to make myself eat, at least a little.
Mom had talked to Amira and the housekeeper whose name I still didn’t know and made sure that they were well aware of my sweet tooth and for the past few days I’d been waking up to delicious honey cakes that tempted me even when I knew I’d soon be seeing them in the toilet.
I bumped into my mother in law in the kitchen. She was busily kneading dough with her hands and I saw a tray of already rolled out pizza bases next to her. “I thought we’d have something simple for lunch,” she told me. “And Zak’s a big fan of pizza.”
Home made pizza wasn’t my idea of simple but I’d ordered the takeaway version often enough to know that she was right. Zak loved pizza. And if he’d only ever eaten it home made, that explained why he was so picky about it.
“Great idea,” I told her. “He hasn’t been able to find a place that makes it anywhere near as well as you do in Sydney.”
“No?” Shamima looked pleased. “Well, I suppose that’s because it’s not home made. Oh,” she added over her shoulder. “I left some of those honey cakes you like in the fridge.”
“Thank you,” I said gratefully and closed the cupboard I’d been poking around in.
Retrieving my snack, I sank into a chair and began to devour it.
Shamima put aside her dough and went to the sink. “You have good timing, I’ve been wanting to talk to you.”
I swallowed my mouthful. “You have?”
She took the chair across from me. “Yes. I’ve been thinking… You’re clearly not a strong girl.”
She held up a hand and I knew my offence had shown on my face. “It’s not a criticism. You’re young and that makes a difference. But, I really don’t think you and Zak need to be going away so far. What if you get sick again – there’s no one there to take care of the two of you. No, you’d better just stay here until the baby is born.”