“I have two meetings with potential clients in Abu Dhabi next week. I hope it works out” said Osama while spending the evening with Fahad in Coco’s outdoor area.
“Expanding your services out of the country ha!” said Fahad impressed.
“Why not! It’s been a while since I started and the projects I have here are small. My network can help me reach out for clients around the GCC and I want to use that”
“It’s a good move”
“Let’s hope it works. I’m putting a lot of effort in the presentations. I want to deliver a professional image to them”
“Why don’t you get ISO certified?”
“I was thinking about it, but we’ll need to develop more procedures for it so I feel it’s too soon” said Osama & took a sip of the lemon juice that was placed in front of him in a long transparent glass.
“Are you planning on going for your marriage proposal next week? Other than the women part?” asked Osama while placing his juice back on the table.
“Don’t know yet. Once the women go they get to decide”
“I’ll be away for a couple of days only anyway”
“Can’t wait for tomorrow’s match.” Said Fahad as a guy in a Manchester United t-shirt passed by.
“You will be playing against Liverpool, get ready for a big loss!” said Osama daringly.
“You Liverpool fans are freaks! Too passionate” said Fahad laughing.
“Manchester United is for girls”
“Girls? I am a Manchester United fan who is getting married for the second time while you never did!”
“I don’t have time. I’m a busy man. A career oriented man.” said Osama acting all-important.
“Why don’t you marry Dalal? I’m sure she won’t mind” joked Fahad.
“I say let’s leave before we start a fight” said Osama as he waved to the waitress to get the check.
Nadia got back to the hotel while her parents were resting in the sitting area of their suite. The volume of the TV was so high that she heard the Syrian accent of a dubbed Turkish Series before she opened the door.
“Come here” said the father as soon as she stepped in and lowered the volume. “Ha? What did you decide?” he asked as she sat down.
Nadia didn’t answer, she took off her coat and woolen hat quietly and slowly.
“Tehachay!” said the mother impatiently.
“Will you accept, if, we decided to go for it?”
“Ya binty! Don’t put yourself in such complicated situations” said the mother upset.
“I went for the most normal scenario before and I ended up getting a divorce! I’m not going to stick to the rules anymore, I want to do what feels right and not what looks right!” said Nadia.
“Calm down both of you! Now is not the time to argue” said the father.
“Why not? I came all the way here for this!”
“Enough talking for now. Give it time. I’m out of here!” he said standing up.
“Where are you going?” asked the mother.
“Meeting a friend” he put on his overcoat and left the room.
“Tell me” said Nadia as soon as her father left.
“What do you want me to tell you?” asked the mother upset with her eyes fixed on TV.
“Why are you upset?”
“Because I don’t understand how you want to cause a family trouble! You think that the wife and son will survive this? Never!” she said in anger.
“But why are you thinking of the wife and son and discarding him? He was clear about how he’ll take care of them!”
“And you really think that it will work? How naïve are you? You will be an intruder and no one will accept you! Not even his family! Does his parents know about this? Are they ok with it?” she said in frustration.
“Mama! Focus! We said that this is a first step only. And once you accept it we’ll move to the next stage” said Nadia annoyed.
“And what if we don’t?”
“I’m almost 29 years old and I am divorced! I’m mature and with enough experience to know what I want to do!”
“You can never get enough experience! No one knows better than your parents!”
“And Baba didn’t object yet. If he was totally against the idea he could’ve said no from the very beginning! But he is being patient and not jumping to conclusions”
“He is doing that because he doesn’t want to hurt you. He wants you to think and understand by yourself!”
Nadia’s phone rang cutting of the conversation. “Hello?” answered Nadia and walked away from her mother.
“Every time you travel a disaster happens to me!” said Yara.
“What happened now?”
“I think that I’m being fooled and I’m rushing into this marriage!”
“He lied! AGAIN!”
“What did Alia tell you?”
“Remember how he told me that the reason they got divorced was because she didn’t want children? HE LIED”
“What did she say?” asked Nadia again.
“That…he is not able.. to be a father” said Yara in shock as if it was just hitting her.
“What is this nonsense! I’m sure she is lying. Why are you believing her?”
“No, no, I believe her. He lied before. And I sensed it this time. Every time I talked about her he got nervous”
“Still, you can’t believe her and dismiss Fahad completely. Hear him out”
“I don’t know what to do. I am so angry and shocked that I am shaking now”
“Calm down and think wisely. I know it’s not easy because if this is true…” she said and Yara interrupted her, “This lie is big, this is something that I won’t be able to forgive. What if it’s true and I only found out after marrying him? If he were honest with me then the hell with children, I’d marry him no matter what. But to hide something as big? This is huge!” she said getting more shocked with each word.
“Do you want to confront him?”
“No, I don’t want to be fooled again. At the same time, I really want to see his reaction and hear his excuse!”
“Don’t rush. It might not be true after all. I think that you should give yourself some time to calm down and then talk to him”
“I don’t know what to think anymore. The proposal is in few days and…uufffff” she started crying.
“I’m sorry I’m not there”
“I need to be alone now. I’ll talk to you later”
“Yara, I know you too well. You will get all angry now, scream and make the issue bigger than it really is. For once, don’t! Try to solve and not ruin”
“I’m heading to the airport in few hours and should arrive early morning. Stay sane till then”
Yara was driving home when she was talking to Nadia. She suddenly changed her direction and drove to the studio. The last thing she needed was to find Sajida planning the proposal day. She wanted to deal with this on her own without the interference of anyone. So she drove quietly at a very slow speed till she reached the studio praying that Fahad won’t be around.
Santosh was there moving from one place to the other as usual. It was around 7pm. She asked him to leave for the day and she took over. The studio was small in size but rich in content. It was a rectangular space, with a transparent door as the entrance. The armchairs were placed in the corner between two walls with framed paintings and themed photos. The walls were not painted, she intended to leave them as they were; bare with cement. It reflected an artistic natural look on the studio and it directed the attention of the viewer to the photos right away. The flooring was dark brown parquet that added a vintage touch to the whole place. Her desk was classic, wooden and tiny with a flat screen computer and different pieces of funky accessories.
She walked to the wall, which was facing the door and stared at a framed postcard of the Drowning Girl painting that she got from Museum of Modern Art in New York. The painting was a comic drawing of a woman who was drowning in her own tears with a bubble saying: I don’t care. I’d rather sink than call Brad for help. She stared at the woman carefully, at her blue hair and her hand that was calling for help out of all the tears that surrounded her whole face. But yet, she resisted, and refused to call Brad for help. She was always curious to know the story behind that painting. Who’s Brad? And what did he do to her that hurt her that bad? She never figured it out. And today, out of all days, she felt the connection. She found herself somewhere in that painting. The possibility of Fahad lying again, a lie that wasn’t just a lie but a life changing matter, made her feel like she was sinking, just like the Drowning Girl. Something in that painting spoke to her and enlightened her. Calling Fahad to figure out the truth wasn’t the right thing to do. The Drowning Girl was smart enough not to call Brad, and so thought Yara. She decided to get help from another source, and so she reached for her phone and called Sara.
“I need you to tell me the whole story behind Fahad’s divorce” said Yara after picking Sara up and going for a drive.
“Didn’t he tell you already?”
“He did. But so did she” said Yara with a quick stare at Sara.
“You talked to Alia?”
“Yes. And Fahad doesn’t know”
“Can you park somewhere or can we go sit somewhere? It’s dangerous to drive and discuss a sensitive issue like that” requested Sara.
Yara was driving along Adhari highway. She turned right by the waterfall and then again right towards Veranda. She parked in front of the nearby complex, opened the widows and turned off the engine, “Tell me” she said turning to Sara.
“First you have to tell me what you have heard from both sides” said Sara.
“No. I want to know what you know first.”
“But I don’t want you to get more confused. Tell me so I could put it in the right context while telling you”
“Won’t make a difference.” Insisted Yara.
“As you wish. You know that they had issues conceiving right?”
“I only found out today”
“Yes. Alia told me assuming that I already knew”
Sara got suddenly nervous, “You need to tell me what Fahad told you about this”
“Then how did he explain his divorce?”
“He said that she didn’t want any children. He lied, right?” asked Yara looking at Sara in the eyes.
“What did Alia say exactly?”
“She said, that.. he is unable” said Yara in difficulty.
Sara took a deep breath, “This is not exactly right”
“What do you mean?” asked Yara with a spark of hope in her eyes.
“They both had problems. They went through many tests but it didn’t work out so we don’t really know who’s able and who’s not!”
“But…there must be clear results for those tests!”
“It was complicated, for both. I’m shocked that Alia didn’t admit that she had problems too!”
“Doesn’t matter. He lied again!”
“I’m sure that he didn’t mean to..”
“Nothing can justify this. This is more like dragging me into a life where he had no idea where it’s heading!!”
“Don’t jump to conclusions. They both had problems so it’s normal that they weren’t able to conceive together. Doesn’t mean that they can’t at all even with other people!”
“But I had every right to know!! How could he propose to someone without mentioning that? It is a big deal!! A very big deal!” said Yara sharply.
“Yes, you’re right. But don’t let anger control you now. Think of what made him hide this, he really loves you Yara..”
“Please don’t tell him anything about this. I will deal with it on my own” said Yara and started driving.
After dropping Sara back to the house and driving back home in silence, Yara was glad that she didn’t find Sajida spending her evening in her usual spot in front of TV. She walked into her room, dropped her handbag on the floor and sat on her bed holding her phone. Few minutes later, she dialed Dalal’s number….
“Hello?” answered Dalal excitedly.
“Hey Dalool. How are you?”
“I’m good how are you doing? Are you ok?” asked Dalal in her usual hyper mood.
“I..no.. I am not” said Yara hesitant.
“What’s the matter?” asked Dalal in a total shift of mood.
“Is your dad in town?”
“Yes, he is. Why?”
“Is it possible to see him?”
“Oh my god why?” panicked Dalal.
“No no it’s not me. I just need to discuss something with him and ask some questions”
“You realize that my father is a gynecologist right?”
“Yes, of course! How can I forget”
“Ok. You want to come to our house tomorrow morning? He will be home”
“Yes, the sooner the better. But I’ll need to speak to him privately”
“I can arrange. Will you tell me what’s going?” asked Dalal curiously.
Yara explained to Dalal the whole situation and was instantly relieved to open up to someone who was a good listener. Dalal was into the conversation passionately commenting every now and then with shock and disbelief. They spoke as if nothing had ever come between them, as if they were that close to each other yesterday and the day before. All those months apart suddenly felt as if it didn’t exist. At first, Yara felt guilty for using Dalal when she needed her. After feeling calm and relaxed, she realized that she was waiting for an excuse or a push to get in touch with her. And she was really glad that she did.
Just when she was about to go to bed, Fahad called. She stared at his name not knowing what to do. She didn’t want to talk to him but at the same time she didn’t want him to sense that something was wrong. Not before she does her own research and find out the real deal.
“Hey.. Where have you been?”
“I…was…with Tamara today”
“Why? What did you do?”
“She needed to buy a gift for her friend so we went shopping”
“That’s nice. I was with Osama and the guys all day, just got home.”
“You’re not usually that quiet!”
“It was a long day and I just got into bed. I really need to sleep” she said faking a yawn.
“Go to sleep then. We’ll talk tomorrow” he said sweetly.
Her head was buried in her fluffy pillow and her thick quilt was covering it. She was surprisingly proud of herself. Proud of how she didn’t rush to confront him like she usually did. Maybe she was finally ready for marriage after all.
The next morning, Yara woke up early and headed to Dalal’s house. The hyper mother was too excited to see her after all this time. She squeezed and welcomed her warmly just like the old days. After having breakfast and catching up with the family, Yara, Dalal and the father went to his home office and discussed the matter privately. Yara asked him about the condition that Sara explained. She needed a medical explanation and maybe some future options or possibilities. He was very frank with her, he couldn’t tell her anything since he had no details of the cases. But he assured her that if any two couldn’t conceive together, it doesn’t mean that they both never will.
After hugging Dalal passionately and thanking her for her help, Yara left Dalal’s house and went to Nadia’s. Nadia was in bed and the curtains were down. Yara jumped on the bed, hugged Nadia and kissed her cheek several times. “You missed me!” said Nadia pushing her away.
“Yes” admitted Yara with a grin as she lay next to her.
“What happened at Dalal’s?”
“Nothing new. What Sara said could be possible. But it’s not that, it’s the fact that he lied. It’s the lie that I won’t be able to get over”
“You’re calm now. No longer angry”
“Then maybe it’s time to talk about it with him?”
“I was thinking about that. I should do it today. Only two days are left for the proposal”
“But you have to be as calm as you are now, don’t lose your temper or else things will get out of hand”
“I’ll try. What happened with you?”
“We didn’t talk about it. Mohammed left last night and my parents are coming back after tomorrow. Time off for now”
“How do you feel?” she asked smiling.
“I can’t believe that Mohammed met my parents. It felt weird after all this time. But I am really happy and both of us are so into it now. I don’t think that we’ll bear staying away from each other again”
“You surrendered?” teased Yara.
“Yes” said Nadia covering her face with her hands.
“And you’ll fight for it?”
“Yes” affirmed Nadia happily.
“At least one of us will have a happy ending”
“Don’t say that. We both will inshalla. Now call Fahad and tell him that you need to see him” said Nadia and got off her bed.
“You’re pale! You need to eat” said Fahad as he sat in the café with a Tuna sandwich in his hand and a glass of Orange juice in front of him.
“No, I had heavy breakfast” said Yara as she sat next to him on the same sofa.
“You must be stressed then. Are you nervous about Tuesday? You still have time to change your mind” teased Fahad and took a bite.
“No, no, it’s not that”
“What is it then? Tell me.”
“I met Alia yesterday”
“What? Why?” he put the sandwich down.
“I’ll be honest with you Fahad but please don’t be angry. We are getting married and I had every right to ask her about you”
“Ask her about me? If you have me why would you need to ask anyone about me?” he asked in anger.
“It’s different..” she said still calm.
“And what did she tell you? Anything that I don’t know about?”
“Things that I didn’t know about”
Fahad rested his back on the sofa and looked away nervously.
“Why didn’t you tell me Fahad?”
“What did she tell you?” he repeated the question with clinched teeth.
“You lied again”
“Answer my question!” he bended forward.
“The tale that you came up with about her not wanting to become a mother is far from being true”
“Talking to her behind my back means that you don’t have trust in me!” he said furious.
“You keep on lying Fahad. And you talk to me about trust?”
Fahad rested his elbows on his knees and scratched his almost bald head with both hands, “Have you even thought about why I hide or.. lie as you say?”
“Yes. But…what if Alia was right, and..” she said trying hard to put the words together.
“Don’t finish” he interrupted.
“Then tell me! Tell me why you lied about this! You know how much I love you and you know that if you were honest with me I would’ve married you no matter what!” she said exploding.
“I didn’t know you well back then. And since me and Alia were never sure of the problems we had…”
“You are making it sound so easy when it’s not. You are dragging me into this marriage blindly. I had every right to know. And I asked you recently about it and you refused to answer.” She said with her anger starting to rise.
“Listen to me” he said and put his hand on her shoulder, “don’t allow this to come between us. Not a couple of days before things get official.”
She remained quiet and lowered her head. “We went through a lot till we reached this stage. And we are old enough to understand each other in such situations. I don’t know what Alia told you, but I assure you that the reasons behind being unable to conceive are unknown for both of us.”
“It’s the 21st century. Your tests must have said something! And was this the reason why you got divorced? Only that?”
“Mainly yes, but we lost patience and were not able to deal with each other. It got complicated between the two of us emotionally. Our personalities wouldn’t click anymore. We didn’t have the will nor the power to fight for it. And things reached to a dead end”
“Why didn’t you say all that before? You know how much I appreciate honesty. And…” she said and he interrupted her “ssshhhh” he said and covered her mouth with his hand “enough said. What happened had happened. This was in the past. Now you know that there is a chance that I won’t be able to give you children. Even if it’s a small percentage, now you know. But the question is, are you willing to take the risk?”
She took a deep breath and looked at him in the eyes, “You know how much I love you, and I want nothing from this life but to be with you. You saved my family and you are everything a woman dreams of. And I think that…”