Ayesha and I, lying on the floor of my room, catching up on the latest family stories (we do not gossip in Ramadan!) feeling exhausted from just sitting around all day. If you have not felt this yet, then you are not observing the lockdown rules correctly.
After a while we just sat, comfortable in our silence and each other’s company. The aroma of food slowly began to drift up through my open window and simultaneously, a rather odd laugh and soft chatter, all emanating from the kitchen.
Of course, curiosity levels were at a peak for us, and we tiptoed down the stairs to investigate this strange happening. Halfway down, we realised Mum was laughing and conversing with someone in the kitchen. It sounded like a man!
That was odd, for when Mum is in the kitchen, she takes on a whole new personality, almost as if the kitchen brings on a dose of schizophrenia! Mum is like a dragon and yells and spits fire at anyone who tampered in her kitchen business.
As we got to the bottom few stairs, giving us a good view of the kitchen, we realised that it was Dad with whom Mom was having a conversation. Shockingly, she was helping him to prepare a dish. She was laughing and seemed to be enjoying her role as a coach, which was very different when she was attempting to teach us! Dad looked happy to be getting her favourable attention as he smiled and stirred the pot on the stove.
But it was a sight to behold and it warmed my heart knowing that my parents, even in their middle years, loved and cared for each other. It gave Ayesha and I a deep sense of comfort and made us realise that the relationship between spouses is not just about creating a family but one of friendship, solidarity, and trust.
Within most homes, particularly, in the Asian culture, affection is rarely put on display and seldom in front of their children and elders. For us, this was a rare but beautiful opportunity.
As we quietly made our exit, we caught sight of Nana and Nani peeking into the kitchen from the garden-side window. They, too, were smiling as they witnessed the unusual sight.
Nani beckoned us over, and we knew there would be a bayaan to follow. We met them at the bench under the peach tree and true to form, Nana, asked, “Do you know how Allah describes the marriage between spouses?” Of course, we did not.
After reciting the ayah, he gave us the meaning, “He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts” And with a mischievous smile, he turned to look Nani and said, “And that is why Nani and I are still together after my incarceration of fifty-eight years!”, eliciting a gentle klap to his head from Nani.