I WAS SURPRISED BY THE SUDDEN change of heart but I was also happy this means I get the chance to go to my sewing classes and go to my early morning islamic studies. I turned on my side still thinking of Assad’s sudden change of heart I rose from the bed and walked to the wooden rack I hanged my bags on, I had only three leather bags which I inherited from mom, I heaved a sigh and removed them from the rack, I took the smallest one and unzipped the middle pocket, I didn’t know how much I had in there but I hope it would see me through the week, my heart thumped as I roamed my hand through the bag, I pulled out the rumpled notes I had thrown in, and sighed that was the little I made during the last month from sewing, I raised my head and looked at the clock on the wall it was past 10 pm, I hated going out at this time, I stood at the veranda and did my ablution then ran back inside.
I lied on the prayer mat after I was done ‘I just hope this will be the end of my scantily dressed days’, but why did he give me the whole week off, I smiled as I succumbed to the darkness that engulfed me.
I looked up and jotted down what was written on the board “Well that’s all for today, don’t forget to rewrite the words I’ve written”, I rolled my eyes internally, I hated writing, I prefer given memorization assignment to this. I smiled at the lady I shared a desk with after the mu’alim (teacher) was done praying, “See you tomorrow” she said gesturing to her extended hand I nodded and shook her hand.
I blinked back the tears that had welled in my eyes after leaving the mosque premises, mom would have been very proud if she were alive, she’d be amazed by my how I turned out but she’d still be happy. I pulled off my abaya and wore the old dress I wear when I’m going to bathe, I was quite disappointed when no water flowed from the tap after turning the faucet, it was mostly closed yet we still had to pay exorbitant monthly bills, I rolled my eyes and took the plastic bucket back to my room, I was lucky I had two gallons filled with water, I half filled the bucket with the water and went back to the bathhouse to bathe.
I wore my white ankle length chiffon dress with a blue mandarin collar and blue belt across the tummy, then tied my head with a blue and white head gear, I held the mirror further from my face and pushed the gear a bit up, I nodded and smiled content with my look, I placed the mirror back on the top of the drawer on my bedside. I looked around the room one more time to see if I’d forgotten anything then took my bag and locked the door.
Leaving the house is always heart wrenching the sneers I receive from the tenants is annoying, I rolled my eyes and shook my head lightly when I saw the ladies at their usual gossip joint, I walked by them not caring to greet either of them which I know would be a topic immediately my feet hit the ground outside or even right now.
“Good morning” I greeted smiling tightly “Good morning welcome” they all replied in unison, I arched my brow at Mansa who was giving me a skeptical look, she burst into a fit of laughter with some of the girls following cue, the shop we work at is a bit huge and has 6 rows of desks in the middle of the room and about eight around the room facing the wall, I frowned and checked if I had stained my dress but it was clean I looked around at the other girls who were also trying to hold in their laughter then rolled my eyes, the sad news was I sat close to Mansa, we sat by each other both facing the wall “What is it this time around Mansa?” I asked getting more irritated when she covered her mouth with her palm, I placed my bag gently beneath my table and turned to look at the other girls “Well you can go back to what you were doing or continue laughing like this fool here I know the Madam will be very happy to lay off a few of us when she comes in and find you laughing the day away” that quieted them down I pulled a tissue and wiped the top of the wooden chair then took my seat.
I still wonder what was so amusing about me that had them laughing, I shrugged turning my attention to fixing the thread through my sewing machine, sewing was the only thing I was good at after years of watching mom sew.
The head seamstress “Madam” as we called her arrived at noon and checked the progress we’ve made in sewing the school uniforms the shop was contracted with, she stood at the door of her office and cleared her throat “Girls I’m not happy with the progress you’re making, schools will be reopening next week and I have lots of schools assigning me to make their uniforms so I expect you guys to do a double shift from now onwards ……..you shouldn’t be squealing Marie those schools saw the kind of work I did with other schools before assigning me with this project so I want you all to bring on your ace game” I clamped my mouth shut and blinked thinking of how I could combine Assad’s work with this, will he even understand this?, I cleared my throat refocusing on the lady, “Mansa, Marie, Amanda, Hawa you are my lead apprentices so you’ll do majority of the work” WTF did she mean I have other things to do my life doesn’t evolve around this work.
“Uhm ma’am I usually work after this so I don’t think I can make it, …… Uhm I mean combining my work with this one” she squinted her eyes a little and shook her head “No you don’t get to have any say in this, what I’ve already said is final, you know where to find the door if you can’t do it and that goes for the rest of you too” the girls chuckled in mockery, she rolled her eyes and sauntered back to her little office, I turned back facing my machine, “So you can’t wait to see your new rich beau is that why you were complaining” Mansa asked undertone in a teasing voice, I was not too surprised by her statement she’s a real gossip monger, and knows about almost everyone here, I decided to indulge her a bit
“Oh so you’ve heard about my rich friend already?” she nodded her smile widening a bit “I wonder why you’re here though I would not even spend a second here if I had a guy with that kind of wealth” she straightened up and raised her hand waving like a pageant queen, “I’d sit in the car and wave my hand to everyone I see” I shook my head and held up the dress I was working on, “Are you happy with this new arrangement?” I asked Mansa quietly she shrugged twisting her lips a bit “Who cares, I don’t even care if we have to spend the whole day here so far as I’ve got my family covered it’s ok” I nodded in understanding that was one thing I loved about her, she was a single parent to two lovely girls, and she’d kill and die for them, that was the only thing we had in common, we hustled for our loved ones, she for her children and I for Shakeel and the debt Don had tagged on my family.
I stifled the yawn with the back of my hand and tightly shutted my eye warding off the sleep away, “I don’t think I can keep my eyes open to finish this one I feel like sand has been thrown into my eyes” Hiba one of colleagues complained in a sleepy voice, I felt just like her maybe worst, I don’t even know if I was sewing the dress I was making right.
“Would you stop whining and do the work at hand, you’ve only started today and you’re complaining what of the days to come today is the first day and I want to have 200 nice completely sewn dresses before any of you leaves this place”.
I don’t know if I can do this the next minute cos my head was starting to throb the lighting system is not so good and my eyes was starting to water from forcing them open, going on almost 24 hrs with no sleep, “Madam I’m done with mine” I said folding the dress I had just finish making. “You can leave it there and go” she replied not even turning to look at me, I took my bag and walked out of the room. My heart started thumping when I got outside, what if something happens to me, I was lucky to get a taxi, just as I got to the bus stop, I sighed and entered the backseat, then nodded at the passengers; two ladies one at the front the other at the back with a guy, I was very scared cos of recent taxi snatching and robbery events, I blurted out my stop praying that he really takes me there.
I heaved a sigh when the taxi alighted me at the junction that led to my house, I looked around a bit scared of what might happen to me, but one thing about the thugs around here is they don’t attack the people living in this vicinity, they more like share their loot here, but I was still scared I held my bag tightly innerly praying to reach home safe.
I walked hurriedly and rushed into the house, “Alhamdulillah” I muttered softly when I got to my door I heaved a sigh leaning my back on the door, ‘This is the last time I’ll ever do any of those late night shift, nothing happened today but what of tomorrow, I couldn’t use the bathroom now, so I wetted a towel and wiped my body with it.