This is the story of a modern Cinderella. Zawadi is the daughter of a wealthy man, but she is the maid. Her stepmother takes advantage of the fact that her father is not in the country to mistreat her. Finally, her luck is changing, she gets an invite to Rafik’s party. Rafik is the most famous musician in the land, a prince among men. They have a spark but Zawadi like the fairytale Cinderella has to leave the ball at midnight. If you have not read the rest of the story here is where the story begins.
Zawadi woke up with a headache. She had drunk a lot of champagne last night and she had a hangover. Looking at her cheap plastic alarm clock on the side of the bed she realized it was 7 am. She got out of bed in a hurry, took a 2-minute shower and went to the main house. Luckily none of the family members was awake. She didn’t expect them to wake up for another 3 hours at the least. Her stepmother and sisters liked to drink a lot of wine and they were likely to have stayed at the party until the wee hours of the morning so as not to miss out on the gossip and goings-on. It is not every day one was invited to an international musician’s house.
Zawadi made tea for the other workers. She took this out to them and then sat outside on the bench under one of the garden umbrellas. She was having her tea and bread. Thoughts of last night came to her mind. She blushed thinking about Rafik and how she had behaved last night. She put her head in her hands and groaned. There was something about Rafik. Something that she had never felt before with other guys. He had made her laugh and they had talked as they danced for hours. Then just when he was about to kiss her…
Thinking about that almost kiss made Zawadi blush. She had never let a guy kiss her. She had taken her mum’s words to heart. When other girls in high school were experimenting with kissing and more Zawadi had concentrated on her studies. She wanted to make her grandmother proud. She did not want to end up like her mum, the shame of the village.
Last night had been great but she knew that there was no way something could happen between her and Rafik. They were from different worlds. She was a practical girl and she knew that a man like Rafik would not date a maid. She started daydreaming about how romantic it would be if he would. They would fall in love, travel the world, get married and have 3 children. Zawadi was so caught up in her daydream that she forgot about the time.
Zawadi was startled out of her daydream when she heard Zuwaida shouting her name. She looked up only to see her stepsister looking at her with a scowl on her face.
“Zawadi you are not here on holiday. Where is our breakfast?”
Zawadi said, “I will make it right away!”
Zuwaida followed Zawadi to the kitchen. She seemed to be in a foul mood. She started making noise for Zawadi telling her the way she was a good for nothing and she would end up poor like her mother because she was lazy and she couldn’t get a man.
She then told Zawadi “I can’t wait until you are out of our house. You are an embarrassment. Look at you. You have no class, no brains and you are ugly. No man would ever look at you.” She went on and on, then she went to her room.
Zawadi was left in the kitchen with tears running down her cheeks. She didn’t know how much more of this she could stand. She knew that what Zuwaida said was not true but it hurt. And she knew that if Zuwaida was in a bad mood her stepmother and stepsister would also be mad. She decided she would stay out of their way.
Zawadi was right. Her mum and sisters were grumpy and touchy all day. In the afternoon she had screaming from Zuwaida’s room. She wasn’t sure if she should go up to her room but she went up anyway. She found Madam Asila there comforting Zuwaida.
Her stepsister had been on her laptop on the net. Zawadi could see pictures on the computer and when she looked at it she saw her face staring back at her. She looked beautiful. Zawadi for the first time realized how beautiful she really was. There were pictures of her with Rafik dancing and chatting. Then there was a picture of her with Alex.
At the top, there was a headline: Mysterious Beauty Capture’s Prince Charming’s heart.
Zuwaida’s was sobbing. “That bitch stole my Alex. He didn’t want to talk to me. Now she has gotten Rafik too. I hate her! I hate her!”
Madam Asila saw Zawadi looking at the computer. In a harsh tone, she told Zawadi, “don’t just stand there. Go downstairs; bring the decanter of brandy and 3 glasses.”
Zawadi went downstairs to get the brandy and brought it back in a tray with 3 glasses. Madam Asila told her not to admit any visitors. Some guests (neighbours) were supposed to come for dinner. Zawadi called them to cancel.
Zawadi cleaned the house from top to bottom. When her stepmother was in a bad mood she was likely to find fault in Zawadi’s work. Then she would refuse her to have dinner. When she was done she made supper. She went to Zuwaida’s room and knocked. She said that dinner was on the table. She then went to her room.
An hour later she went back to the house. The food had not been served. She put the food away and washed the serving dishes. She fed the dogs, cleaned the kitchen and went to bed. On radio, they were talking about the mysterious woman. People were asking who she was. Rafik had apparently been on TV talking about her asking her to get in touch. Or saying that if anybody knew who she was they should get in touch.
Zawadi slept with a heavy heart. She knew she couldn’t come forward. Her stepmother and sisters would humiliate her. Tell the world who she really was. She was glad however that she wasn’t the only one who had felt that spark. But it broke her heart that she could not do anything about it.