Chapter Sixty Nine
Rayyan’s departure had seemed to serve as a reminder to my parents that they too had been ignoring the jobs they so dearly loved and had centred their lives around. Mom was the first one to leave on a proper trip but they’d both been in operating rooms within a week of that final goodbye.
A few years ago, I would have been furious at being abandoned yet again and left to sit at home. I wasn’t that girl any more. I couldn’t deny the twinge of jealousy I felt watching them all go. But I’d grown enough to realize that I could change that myself, if I chose to. No one was stopping me from leaving and travelling to my heart’s desire.
Well… no one besides the ghost of my ex-husband and his insane parents. But none of that was my parents’ fault and blaming them was childish.
Speaking of which… I’d had a harebrained idea for how to get them to lose interest in us and then, almost immediately, had a second one that was even stupider.
It was highly likely that all I’d end up accomplishing would be making an even greater fool of myself. But I didn’t know what else to do and I was sick and tired of looking over my shoulder all the time.
I hadn’t told anyone what I was planning, not even Zaakir who I’d begged to get me the camera footage and whatever documentation from the police station he could manage to get his hands on.
I was fairly certain he knew what I was planning to do – it wasn’t particularly subtle, after all and it hinged entirely on my father in law’s ego being big enough to overrule his sense.
God help us.
I turned to my laptop and loaded my emails, praying for a distraction to try and stop myself from over thinking. I could do nothing until I had my ammunition, pitiful though it was, all lined up and I could only read so much before the longing to visit every place I read about became unbearable.
The last few remaining volumes of my grandfather’s journals had been sitting gathering dust on a shelf for exactly that reason. It was too painful to read them and lose myself in the descriptions of yet more fantastic places that would overwhelm my senses in the best ways possible.
I’d been toying with the idea of trying to get the journals published some day – they were that good. He’d been an amazing writer and his love for the places he’d been to was almost tangible. The words had me aching to leave despite knowing how foolish it would be. I couldn’t imagine what they’d trigger in a population without those particular shackles.
The earliest ones especially had accounts from half a century ago and even up to the most recent, my grandfather had had a penchant for experiencing everywhere as the locals did. The only time he stayed in high class hotels was when he was doing business. The rest of the time, it was little hole-in-the-wall places that any of his business associates would have been appalled to ever step in.
I would have balked at most of them myself. It made me laugh and then cringe, thinking back to how spoilt I’d been.
A notification popped up on my screen, announcing a new email. I clicked and immediately began to read the message from Rayyan, noting its length with satisfaction. It was only the third email I’d received from him in the two weeks he’d been gone and I barely counted the first two, they’d been so short.
I’d whined about it in my last reply to him and, in typical Rayyan fashion, he’d overcompensated by sending me an account of almost quite literally everything he’d done in the past day. Thankfully, he’d spared me from having to hear about his bathroom trips.
Satisfied now? he continued.
No. He’d told me every mundane thing he could but hadn’t said a thing more significant than that his toothpaste had run out. He knew that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I typed out a reply to that effect and was about to close my browser when I noticed the second email.
‘DON’T SULK’, the subject line read. The sender was, of course, my brother.
From: Rayyan Razi
Regretting anything yet? It’s okay, I forgive you for whatever whiny thing’s about to end up in my inbox. I know you can’t help yourself.
I blushed. I hadn’t been that whiny.
Okay, maybe I had.
Whatever, he could live with it.
I didn’t mean to ignore you. I really didn’t. It’s just so busy here. Every time I turn around, there’s another pile of cases, of people who are desperately waiting for help. It seems so unfair to neglect them when if I kept at it for a few more hours, maybe I could help one of them sooner.
But, as my supervisor keeps yelling at me, that kind of single-mindedness isn’t a good thing. It leads to burn out which takes a lot longer to fix than just taking small, regular breaks. One of which I can use to entertain my annoying little sister.
I promised to try to be better, so here you go: I’ll talk.
Before I start filling you in though, do me a favour? Could you send me some video of baby Az? I miss her.
I opened a new tab and quickly obliged, grateful that I’d been so habitually recording Azmiah. She’d begun to enjoy it, waving at the camera and cooing. At almost a year and a half, she was growing faster than I could have dreamed and I loved being able to go back and look at how she’d changed as time went by.
I went back to reading.
You remember that I deal with human rights violations, don’t you? It’s a pretty broad field. Illegal detainment, ill treatment of prisoners, crimes against minorities… I’ve dealt with all of that. The cases I’m dealing with right now are all the same – immigrant children being forcibly separated from their parents.
It’s heartbreaking, Az. And the lengths that people will go to to try and justify it make me sick to my stomach. They’ll tie themselves in knots just because it’s unfathomable to even try and accept the truth, that their government is in the wrong.
I’ve dealt with it before and I still don’t have a prayer of understanding how their minds work. Little children being ripped from their mothers, crying hysterically all the while?
I love my job but sometimes… It’s just hard.
How are you holding up at home? Zaakir keeping you company the way I told him to?
Oh, by the way, your giant box of madeleines barely lasted two hours off the plane. My colleagues commandeered half and the kids swindled me out of the rest. I managed to save three for Amira and me to share but that was about it.
Make us another batch?
Pleease? I’ll be nice to you if you do.
Oh, and Amira asked me to tell you she’d sent you a few letters. I offered to let her use my laptop to email you (or just get her one of her own) but she insisted on snail mail.
So look out for those.