Noori came over that weekend as was now the normal for us and upon hearing the news about the letter, she jumped up in excitement with the biggest smile across her face and said, “Gary, after everyone has gone to bed in my house, I have been praying to Allah every night.”
Her face softened. “I pray that He will help you and guide you. And I ask Him to have mercy and free you from that evil family for good.” Well that is what she said.
She was talking with a spirited high and continued in her sweet voice, “I realize now that I love you even more and I would do anything to make you happy and nurse you when you’re not healthy. I am with you always, my dearest Gary.”
We spent as much time together as possible. She was still in school and I would be at work, but to be sure we’d manage to see one another at some point during the week. Weekends and holidays we definitely were able to spend more time together.
I will tell you the truth about this young lady (haven’t I already?). I was falling deeper in love with Noori every day. We knew we couldn’t marry right away as besides the obvious, the religious differences wouldn’t permit; she was too young (even though she was 18) to fight her parents and brothers about it.
The Hemma war was on its way out and the culture-clash war was immediately at hand. Noori’s family was well known around Suva and her brothers on their motorcycles riding all over town, we’d be too easily spotted. Our love had to stay inside my family home …still.
On the date of the court hearing, I met up 1st with my legal counsel in the courthouse and he reminded me the judge may not grant me what I want. My case was heard by a bearded Australian judge not that it matters, it’s just what I remember about him. Hemma’s legal representation was present, she was not.
Here we go! My lawyer presented my case, main arguments being that I wanted a divorce because of her parents’ influence. “Your honor, my client cannot live a normal married life with his wife due to constant interference from her parents. There has been no privacy in their relationship and this has become a constant hurdle.”
My counsel continued, “My client was away it’s true. Mr. and Mrs. Masala had a mutual agreement between the themselves about trip. He was out seeking to make a fresh start for the two of them in London, free from distractions.”
And finally my lawyer said, “My client returns from overseas to find a man in his dining room, the handyman to be exact. Mrs. Masala was unable to explain his presence.”
The oppositions turn to respond. Hemma’s counsel claims these are false statements. He’s doing his best of course to make it look as though I just abandoned my wife to go galavanting around the world.
So now I am called upon to tell my side of the story. Her lawyer naturally protested again, and said his client claims her husband is always going away leaving her alone, so she’s taken up with her family.
Looks like she’s forgotten the part where we lost our son and she didn’t stay with me for a moment … and yet I still tried to work things out with her.
The judge called the lawyers to approach the bench and they briefly spoke. Then the judge took a pause without leaving the room to look over the files and think over the verbal statements before making a decision.
At last he looks up from his seat at the grand desk and returning his attention to us says: “Mr. Masala, I will not grant you a divorce at this time. Also I cannot grant you a legal separation either.” I’m listening to this feeling a bit bowled over.
He explains, “I give you a year to see if there can be a reconciliation between the two of you. And yes, you cannot leave Fiji. You must stay away from each other [rather contradictory] as in, no harassment!
“And one more thing Mr. Masala, in the meantime you will be paying Mrs. Masala her maintenance; half your monthly salary, every month.”
The judge then closed the case. Well then.
My lawyer said he was sorry the separation couldn’t be made legal and we had to discuss the maintenance expense. I explained to my lawyer that half of my salary always went into the family’s expenses; I gave it my brother to help pay for everything as he was the sole provider.
So he told me that, of the remaining half Hemma will get ½ of that. That was the way it would to be and I would be paying it through his office.
I went into work for the remainder of the day. By the time evening rolled around I was ready to go home and lie down. I was feeling a bit done for but real glad the ball was now rolling in the right direction.