We said our goodbyes and mine was the hardest, I looked at my parents and wanted to hold and never let go I felt like a small girl looking back at her daddy as he went to work. I stood there tears in my eyes and my mother told me to go before Rahim ends up staying out of guilt. Abdullha and Sadia were only leaving the next day which made it harder. I needed someone who understood me well.
Eventually we headed to the Airport. I looked out at London and bid farewell to the place I called home. Johannesburg scared me. The idea of nothing and no one familiar being there was terrifying. I reminded myself that Allah was with me that was all I needed in life so. Rahim squeezed my hand and when I looked up he smiled and it was at that moment that I realized things would be ok. I called him habibi (my love) as I caressed his face. He told me that considering all the stuff we’d done thus far, it had taken me pretty long to call him something besides his name.
The cab stopped and we collected our bags. Rahim paid for the cab. I was definitely not going to miss the cold weather, I thought, as I pulled my coat closer around me.
When we reached our counter I had to lift my niqaab for identification and then we continued with our check in. We decided to grab some coffee and something to snack on before we boarded. We ended up spending 2 hours just chatting and drinking coffee and just like that… it was time to board.
We found our seats, recited our prayers for travel and I held Rahim’s hand tight. I felt sad leaving home behind with all my loved ones but I would visit often and so would they.
Rahim, as if he was reading my mind, asked me if I had changed my mind and wanted to stay a little longer because I wasn’t supposed to come back with him originally. I reminded him that after our week in Paris I probably wouldn’t be able to fall asleep without him.
Rahim’s parents and Fati had seats in the row behind us. My mother-in-law got up to hug me and told me that there was so much love back in Johannesburg I wouldn’t miss home too much and would probably make my parents move there soon. Fati watched us and pulled her face and looked out the window. Soon it was time for take off , when Fati saw the seat next to Rahim was open she decided to come sit next to him.
Once the plane was cruising I decided I’d get some sleep but then Rahim got up to go to the toilet and Fati told me to take off my ‘stupid face veil’ because it was annoying her. I chose to apologise for her discomfort and reminded her that I was most comfortable with my veil on. She kept fussing until her father told her to go and sit next to her husband and then murmured under his breath that he wouldn’t blame the guy for cheating on Fati.
I was pretty upset and felt awkward around them without Rahim. I wondered what was taking him so long. My eyes went from side to side like an emoji. I knew I had to contain the situation before a fight began. Fati loved making a scene. I thought the safest would be changing the topic entirely and asked my mother-in-law if she knew what Bollywood movies were available and she smiled and told my father-in-law to help her with the fancy remote.
Rahim came back and asked what why Fati was sulking and blaming me for starting a fight. I told him what happened and he was furious. I told him it was a long flight and anyway I would have to find ways to deal with Fati on my own. With that I rested my head on his shoulder and fell asleep.
When we landed in JHB, I was informed that my papers were not in order. I sat there confused, what papers were they even talking about? Luqmaan’s dad had got all the papers I needed to leave on holiday as I was to go back home in 6 weeks time anyway. Rahim looked over the papers again and again , he was very confused as well. I told his family to go on without us and that we would be out shortly.
The official at the desk insisted that there was a stamp missing. I showed them the exit stamp and asked what stamp they required. The lady was stern and reprimanded me for telling her how to do her job. I calmed down and asked her what the issue as my travel visa was in order , my dad had made sure of it when I told him I want to come to South Africa for 6 weeks.
Apparently my visa was in order but my exit stamp was the issue. I showed it to her again and then I was taken to a room for questioning. I was nervous and began to cry.
The immigration official waited for a female officer to arrive in order to search me. I agreed, there was no point in arguing with them at this point so I gave my full co-operation.
After the search I was left in a dark depressing Room. A gentleman came in and sat down. I greeted him and asked him If I could please put my nikab back down. He said I can do that as it my right. He asked me about why am I coming to South Africa. I told him my Husband is South African and I came to spend 6 weeks with him, there after I will return back home before completing my move to South Africa. He asked me if I was Pakistani. I told him I was born in London and have lived there all my life. He wrote down everything I said and I asked him why I was being held but he said he couldn’t answer me before he had evaluated the situation. I nodded. He asked if I plan to stay in the country illegally like all the other Indians and Pakistanis until my husband could organise some papers. I was calm and told him that I was a lawyer from London and that his comments were not only unnecessary but also racist. He laughed and said koolis always think they’re better than everyone else. I was firm and said that I wouldn’t tolerate being called degrading names and that I was aware of my rights , so if he wasn’t going to deport me then he should let me in. He was a bit surprised and apologised before he left the room. An hour passed, there were more questions, more searches, two hours passed and eventually I was told that they would be deporting me.
Wait, What? Back home! Why? I was horrified and shocked. No one told me why this was happening. The immigration police handcuffed me and took me to the holding cells where I was to wait for the next flight. I was exhausted and terrified, I couldn’t help but burst into tears.