We walked down the familiar road to the house in a more comfortable silence than at the coffee shop, but still a silence none the less. She pulled out her keys as we got closer to the house and I so desperately wanted to warn her about what was going to happen tonight. Why? Maybe so she could tell me not to say yes, so we could get married... but that was just my mind playing tricks with me and I knew that.
We entered the door and I was slowly taking my shoes off as she walked upstairs to her bedroom and Nasser came out of the kitchen. 'Salam bro,' he said hugging me... 'so you ready?' I shook my head and he saw the sheer terror in my eyes before pulling me into the kitchen. He sat me down and started to pour me some tea, 'you wanna pray isha first? then we can chat for abit. They are here but they dont know you are I dont think, unless Sadia has come down.' I shook my head, 'yeh lets pray,' I told him... we prayed long and hard, I was grateful to him for using longer surahs to give me something else to concentrate on. We even prayed sunnah salah afterwards and then moved back into the kitchen to finish our drinks, Nasser talked a little about the girl and asked what I had reservations about. I told him that my heart just wasnt totally in it and I think he read where I was coming from, 'dude, this is totally new to me. I havent grown up with this and dont know what to expect. Ive fallen hard for someone but know it cant work out and that bothers me for reasons I dont quite understand. I dont even know this girl you are talking about and Im being asked if I want to spend the rest of my life with her.' He nodded, he understood, I knew that.
His father walked into the kitchen, noticing me he seemed shocked that we were sat there drinking tea. Looking at Nasser sternly he said to me, 'Oh, you're here. Well do you want to come inside and talk with us? or sit here and make us wait?' He was smiling, I liked this family, which made it all the more harder to reject what they were offering me. 'Shes upstairs,' he told me... she was upstairs! with Sadia, what would they be talking about? what would Sadia say when she asked her about me? All these questions kept going around in my head and it was making me dizzy. 'She will come down in abit when things have settled. So shall we?' he stepped aside and directed me to the living room. 'I can say no? right?'I asked Nasser and his dad, wanting that confirmation, his dad shrugged, Nasser grinned, 'if you want to,' was the reply. Had I already made my mind up? I was unsure. I just prayed things would work out for the best as I opened the door and stepped in the front room.
The atmosphere wasnt as I had imagined, Amani was sat in the corner finishing homework, Aisha was sat on the couch and Nassers father joined her. There were a few chairs spread around and I did notice things had been moved from how I had taken that mental picture the first time I visited them. I saw another older gentleman who I assumed was the father of the girl we were discussing and Nasser's younger cousin Taheem playing with some toys on the carpet. I assumed he was some relation to the older guy. I was surprised at how many people werent there, for some reason I had imagined more older men and ladies all trying to ask me questions and get me confused. Aisha motioned for me to take a seat and Nasser sat next to me, although why I wasnt too sure, his mother asked how I was.. usual formalities.. and I answered every little question she asked me. She was making me feel more at ease I realised after awhile, making it more normal alhamdulillah. I was introduced to the older gentlemen who I found out was the imam at the masjid behind the house that we had prayed in all that time ago. I found it weird that this was how he was introduced and not as how he was related to the girl in question.
'So, you know why we are all here dont you Ethan?' I nodded. 'Zain is here to just go over a few things that would be expected from you as a husband. The islamic things and feel free to ask him any questions you have,' ok now I was more confused but I listened to what the imam had to say and did even ask a few questions. I had never been in this situation before and as I wasnt really looking for a wife previously I hadnt really read up on the subject, so was grateful for this crash course in islamic marriage. The imam chatted for about an hour, which went by quickly and I even embarassed myself by making a few notes of the things he said, to the amusement of Nassers dad and to the gentle approval of his mum.
Once he had finished I reached for my glass of water and Nassers father turned to me saying, 'so now we should discuss if you think you are ready for this responsibility of looking after our daughter' I dropped my glass, got very flustered and apologised profusely. Aisha realised what had happened and yelled at Nasser in urdu while slapping him around the head. His father came back from the kitchen with a cloth to mop up the water and demanded to know what was going on. I couldnt talk, I grabbed hold of Nasser and looked at him smiling to himself.
'She didnt want him to know it was her!' he told everyone so matter of factly, 'she wanted to make sure that he wanted the same thing before giving him the idea. And... well... it seems he did cause she aint here objecting now, is she?! and you know she would if she wanted!' Aisha shouted her daughter from upstairs. I sat down as I heard her gently walking down the stairs and into the living room, she had changed, was now wearing a loose blue cotton skirt with a white flowing top and one piece hijab that she must have stored away for times like this. She looked at her parents but wouldnt look in my direction when her mother asked her to explain. We all sat down, she sighed and started to explain her reasoning behind the secrecy