Chapter Thirty Two
“Ameer, how are you? It’s so nice to see you again!” Kamal Joosab had once again swooped in where he wasn’t wanted.
“Kamal, what brings you here?” Ameer asked pleasantly.
“I heard about Daaem and I wanted to offer my sympathies. It’s so hard when the kids run wild, isn’t it?”
The whole world had heard about Daaem. Ameer was at his wits’ end with his son. The boy refused to listen and now it seemed like he was determined to kill himself.
“Thank you, Kamal, I appreciate it. Daaem has always been a free spirit.”
“Still, dragging you out of retirement so that he can spend his nights at clubs and crash cars…” Kamal shook his head. “We all thought he was outgrowing this, you know. When he took over the company he still had some bad habits but they were under control. And then when he got married, he seemed to let go of it all. Pity it didn’t last.”
“He’ll get there,” Ameer assured the other man. “He just needs some time.”
“Of course,” Kamal nodded patronisingly. “Well, I have to go. Best of luck with Daaem.”
Ameer sighed once the other man had left. Kamal Joosab had been a thorn in his side for years and clearly the man had grown overconfident in the past three years. He’d need to be cut back down to size – and soon.
But Ameer had bigger problems. In two months, his son had completely gone off the rails. When Daaem had first called him, he’d assumed that Daaem was feeling out of his depth and Ameer had been happy to help.
Now, he regretted the decision. If he’d been firmer with Daaem, if he hadn’t jumped in to save his son, perhaps Daaem wouldn’t have gone off the rails. Perhaps the responsibility would have curbed his self-destructive tendencies.
Ameer didn’t know. All he did know was that his son currently sat in a hospital bed because of the boy’s own bad choices and he was terrified that Daaem wouldn’t change his behaviour even now.
There was a knock on the door and Ameer looked up. “Yes, Emma, what is it?”
“Your daughter in law will be arriving in a few minutes,” the secretary informed him. “She asked whether you’d prefer to arrive at the hospital separately or if she could come here to speak with you before you left. What should I tell her?”
“Aabirah’s more than welcome to come here,” Ameer said immediately, smiling fondly at the thought of his daughter in law.
“Yes, sir, I’ll let her know.”
Daaem hurt everywhere. It felt like his entire body was a bruise. He tried to sit up, falling back with a groan at the unexpected surge of pain.
“Mr. Shaik, please try not to move. Do you remember what happened?”
It was fuzzy. “I was driving?” he asked more than said. “I was… driving home,” he added, feeling surer. “What happened?”
“You crashed your car,” was the matter-of-fact response. “You’ve been in and out of consciousness a few times, do you remember that?”
“No,” Daaem said blankly. “I’m in a hospital?”
“Yes, Mr. Shaik. You’ve been here since yesterday.”
“Your doctor is currently in surgery but he’ll be by to check up on you in a few hours. You’re probably in a little bit of pain and quite groggy, that’s normal.”
“Who knows that I’m here?” Daaem asked.
“Your father’s been here,” the nurse told him.
“No, not him. Who else knows? The press? Do they know?”
“Yes, Mr. Shaik, they do.” The nurse looked sympathetic.
“Gresat,” Daaem groaned.
“Our security is fantastic, Mr. Shaik, and we’re more than prepared to deal with the fourth estate. You needn’t worry about photographers or journalists while you’re here.”
“Right,” Daaem said distractedly. Where was… He turned to the nurse. “Do you know where my cellphone is?”
She nodded. “It came in with the rest of your things, but it’s shattered. Do you need to call someone?”
“No, it’s fine,” Daaem shook his head. He didn’t remember the number he needed.
“Visiting hours start in a little while, you’ll probably have some company then. You might want to take a nap now so you don’t sleep through them.”
With that parting comment, she left.
Aabirah knew she was making a mistake. She’d heard about Daaem’s accident the same way the rest of the world had – from social media. When Ameer had called her this morning, she’d debated about whether to go for a solid ten minutes.
She knew it was a bad idea to come back to the city. It was stupid and careless and dangerous. But she hadn’t been able to turn down Ameer. Her father in law had sounded so terrible over the phone that Aabirah’d had to come, if only to support him.
Jake had yelled at her, calling her all kinds of stupid. But in the end, he’d accepted defeat and had accompanied her on the trip with minimal further grumbling.
Now, he was on his way to Daaem’s apartment with her luggage while she waited for Ameer.
He arrived soon after she’d let Emma know she was downstairs and Aabirah fell into step with him. “How are you doing?” she asked, concerned.
He looked terrible, pinched and worried. “As well as can be expected,” he replied with a sigh. “I’m afraid I’m a bit out of practice with all this. Daaem stopped all of this destructive behaviour once he’d turned twenty one and started working. He’d still go out – and too often in my opinion – but he stopped with the drinking and speeding. He’s regressed so far in the past few months…” Ameer shook his head in dismay.
“”It must be hard for you to deal with all of this,” Aabirah said sympathetically. “I didn’t know Daaem used to drink.”
“He didn’t tell you?” Ameer asked, surprised.
“No,” Aabirah looked away. She knew Daaem’s father wasn’t aware of the circumstances behind his son’s marriage and she couldn’t bring herself to ruin his day even more by telling him the truth. Not today, at least.