“I’m assuming you saw the pictures of Yaqub’s Nikkah?” Zaynab asked shyly. Hawa paused for while on the other end of the line before she continued the conversation. Sheepishly, she mustered up the courage to answer “yes,” without the knot in her throat resulting in fallen tears.

“Maaf, my friend, but you know these things happen for a reason. You deserve better than Yaqub,” said Zaynab as she tried to console her friend.

“He wasn’t meant for me. It was Allāh’s decree,” answered Hawa as she tried to hide her wound.

“Do you want to hang out with me and Ahmad later? We are going to catch a movie?” asked Zaynab.

“No, you know how awkward I feel around dating couples, and I need to concentrate on my writing piece.”

“It’s Haraam. I know, I know,” replied Zaynab with clear annoyance at her abrupt tone. “I don’t know how you expect to marry someone without dating them. Anyway, my Turkish show is on, and you do your writing. I’ll WhatsApp you later.” Zaynab quickly hung up the phone.

“Allāh promises us that our soulmates are out there. He will come to me when I seek him the halaal way,” whispered Hawa to herself. This was no easy task, so she decided to enlist help.
“So, you would like to get married?” noted Mr Ismail, Hawa’s father, as he stood and stared in confusion.

“Yes, Boppa,” replied Hawa as she modestly bowed her head in response to her father’s question.

“Are there any potential suitors at our local mosque?” she eagerly inquired.

Mr Ismail scratched his head with uncertainty. He mentally tried to tally up the potential suitors while his hands travelled down his perfectly combed beard. He remained silent for a bit, then answered, “I don’t think so, but I’ll ask around…if that is what you truly want?” he asked with his hand under his chin.

“Yes Boppa, It’s what I want.”

Mamma Hafsa, an elderly small, grey lady, came bulging through the door with numerous grocery bags. Hawa hurried to help her.

“This why you are my favourite grandchild,” bragged Mamma Hafsa as she poked Hawa lovingly on the nose.

“Mamma, I’m your only grandchild,” replied Hawa mockingly. Mamma Hafsa’s eyes ran through her grocery list as she analysed all her wares.

“Oh yes, Hawa, will you accompany me to the airport tomorrow morning? Tietie Gaya is leaving for Umrah, and I want to greet the Hujaaj,” she asked while offloading the groceries.

“Yes, of course, Mamma,” answered Hawa. She then handed Hawa a fresh bunch of sweet-smelling pink roses.

“I know they have been your favourite since childhood.”

“Tramakassie Mamma!” said Hawa as she took hold of the beautiful bouquet and eagerly made her way to the kitchen to place them in a vase.

“Hawa!” yelled Mamma Hafsa

Hawa came racing back.” Yes, Mamma?”

“You dropped your brooch. Passop kind. You might lose it one day.”

Hawa grabbed a hold of her brooch and attached it to her hijab, where it always sat.

“I need to concentrate on my writing. Shout if you need any help in the kitchen, Mamma.”

Mamma Hafsa signalled with her hands for Hawa to take her leave.

A mark of frustration was drawn across Mr Ismail’s wrinkled face.

“Why do you look so worried?” asked Mamma Hafsa.

“Die kind wil nou trou.”

“En nou? Wat mekaar? Sy is oud genoeg!”

“Yes but…”

“No buts,” replied Mamma Hafsa. “Just because your troue didn’t work out, doesn’t mean that you must prevent her from trying. Give the child her due.”
Mamma Hafsa readied the pots and pans for her famous mouthwatering bobotie dish.

Mr Ismail’s heart weighed heavy.

“Mummy, you know she is my only child. The gem to my crown. I don’t know if I can entrust my gem to any man out there. Who would be good enough for my daughter?” enquired Mr Ismail worriedly as he brushed through his beard.

The late afternoon call to prayer sounded in the backdrop of the colourful houses of Bo-Kaap. Mr Ismail took abdas, grabbed a hold of his fez and headed to the local mosque for the daily prayer and to spread the word of his daughter’s hand.

Tell us: What do you think about arranged marriages?