41. Grey Cloud Hovering Overhead … Blue Skies Visible Beyond

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.

 

Twenty-five Cents Worth

It’s true.  Only a quarter of LBM’s story has been told up till now.  Then we went and missed 3 weeks worth of posts.  Sorry.  There’s good reason though.  While LBM was off on a long weekend up north, he had some questionable cardiac activity … or was it his diabetes?  c- the flame! (James' b-day torch)

The hospital ran thorough tests and so did his cardiologist upon his return to town and no, nothing.  His heart is good and strong (yes!) so … it begs the question, what did happen?  

Well so we all can go on, he’s been blessed with more time, the internal flame is still burning – yay!

Needless to say, the blog was secondary on the agenda.  Lots of rest and slow down (a bit more than usual) for some extra days.  Then there was me on a temporary overload of sorts.  That’s the nutshell version and more than enough!

Thanks for coming back to check on things, your continued reading and likes; always appreciated for sure!  Looking out for more comments.  All of you, be well and dig in deep to all of life’s moments!

 

40. A Breath of Fresh Air After the Storm

Time to live in a lighter present.  I didn’t have to look long before I landed a job in a New Zealand-based jeweler and watchmakers shop in Suva.  Okay so it also happened to be the place of my brother’s employment for the last 10 years.

What a perfect position for me at this time.  I was scheduled 8a-5p with a very leisurely lunch break, Mondays through Fridays and a half day on Saturdays, closing up shop at 1p.  All over the island Fijian natives honored Singa Tambu the holy day or sabbath if you prefer by closing up everything.

My wage was set at £5 – 5 shilling per week and I do say this was higher than the standard.  Saturday also happened to be payday.  And there was a nice bar next door serving ice cold beers where the guys in my circle of friends would meet up for the afternoon.

The next step was a few steps towards the open air market stalls where I would shop for the good stuff; the weekend feast!  I would pick up the seasonal vegetables, what nots and most often fish.  I loved the fresh catch, always tasting it on my tongue before it was even cooked up in our kitchen.  

If a fish of choice was not available I’d cruise over to the meat vendor and grab some lamb usually.  I took these items home for my mother and sister-in-law to whip up something amazing for Saturday night’s feast.  It is a good, tasty memory.

Days like these filled my space in that time; work all week and thankfully not really a daunting thing to do.  The group that made up our staff were all very wonderful people, including the owner.  There was my brother, my uncle and five other sweet, friendly people.  

My brother occasionally went fishing with the owner upon his boat and I would sit at the dock with his dog.  It was a time for me to take it easy and I was glad of it.  

Noori was with me, with all of us most days, usually having to leave in the early evening to report home but always leaving us happy for her presence.  I had a great job, money to spend on the family, lots of love and good eats, ice cold beers and good friends.  

There was swimming at the Suva Sea Baths.  I really enjoyed diving off the high board; yes I had come a long way from the Sweet Water Pool incident.

Oh yes there would always be the cinema.  During the week if I felt like seeing a film the choice was usually an American one, which was always fine by me.  Apart from entertainment it was a learning tool of sorts.  Sundays however were reserved for the Hindi films and that was always special to me.

It would have been even more special if I could have taken Noori with me but all that was not possible.  We were only able to enjoy one another’s company at my family home.  Gary and Noori still couldn’t display their oneness in public.

1957 had played itself out.  One day I got notice in the mail from my legal counsel; it was time for my court appearance.