Chapter 17. Disclosures

“My parents? What do they got to do with this?” asked Nadia confused.

“If I got to convince your parents then nothing else will stand in my way” affirmed Mohammed.

“What about me? I told you a million times how I’m not ok with it! What’s the use of talking to my parents if you still didn’t get my approval?” screamed Nadia in disbelief.

“I know how much you want this” he said calmly.

“Want what? Can we speak clearly and start being specific about what we want?” she asked angrily.

“I want you to be mine. I want us to be together again.”

“How?” she asked sharply.

“By getting married!” he said finally.

“Mohammed, can you remember why we didn’t get married at first place?”

“Because I left the country. And you, yourself, said that it was a mistake”

“Yes, it was a mistake back then. But it doesn’t mean that I can do that now!”

“I understand. It’s not possible to come over there while I’m living with my wife and son. But, I’ve been considering moving back to Bahrain for a while!” he confessed.

“Oh no! What happened to that bright career that you left your whole life for?”

“It was the right thing to do seven years ago. People change..”

“This is a mess Mohammed. You are messing up your life!”

“You are absolutely wrong. I am being brave by trying to fight for a life that I’ve always wanted”

“Fine. Let’s say that you’ll quit your job and come back here. Then what?”

“We’ll have our own life. Me and you”

“And your wife? Your son?”

“I can be fair to you both. Reem is understanding. She will understand.” He said confident.

“So you want me to be your second wife and share you with another woman? You think that this is easy? First of all, it will cause me a lot of pain. Second, what will people think of me? The woman who stole a man from his wife? Don’t you hear about such stories every single day and how it’s affecting our community and the children?” she screamed.

“Can you stop screaming and discuss this like mature people do? Nadia, we are not old. We have our whole lives ahead of us. The examples that you are talking about are old men who waited for their children to grow up and for their wives to age to finally have the courage to move on! I am not like them at all. I am doing this right now because it’s easier to go for it now and not later when my children grow old” he explained.

“What is this mentality? Why does it have to happen? One woman is not enough for you?” she asked in disgust.

“It’s not that. I told you that I don’t love Reem, and that I am not happy. Sooner or later I will get fed up and move on. Fate brought you back into my life when I really needed you. How do you want me to let you go?”

“I will never live in peace being a second wife”

“But we will talk to Reem. We won’t do it behind her back like the normal scenario goes”

“Come on! Reem hates me just for the fact of me being your X. How do you expect her to approve this?”

“She wouldn’t want to lose me”

“That won’t make me any less of a sinner in people’s eyes”

“Why do you care so much about what people think? To hell with them!” he said in a high tone.

“Because it will affect my life in every aspect. My relations with others, my image, my new shop, it will all be affected!”

“You’re saying that your life will be miserable if we get married?”

“No, of course not.”

“Nadia, I need you to answer this question honestly. Aside from all this mess, do you want to be with me?” he asked sensibly.

Nadia stayed quiet for few seconds and took a deep breath, “Yes. I do”

“And there is nothing I want more in this life. So let’s try and work it out. We owe this a try. And if we fail again, we won’t have any regrets later for a life that we could’ve had”

“You are right. I get your point. But…”

“I know, you are worried about my son, my career, and everything that will have to change. But you know me more than that. I am responsible enough. You have to trust me. Be sure that I will never do anything that will cause you pain. Let me talk to your parents.”

“My parents are still in Munich” she said saved by a good excuse.

“Even better, I can go to Munich for the weekend.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes! It’s a 2 hour flight!”

“You’re getting me all nervous. What will you say to them?”

“I will explain our situation and convince them of my plan” he said easily.

“So you thought about it already!” she said feeling a twinge in her tummy.

“Of course!”

“Today is Monday. You’re going on Friday?”

“Yes. I will book now”

“Then…I must be there too!”

“It will make things much easier, yes”

“I think.. it’s better if I go and talk to them first, before you get there” she said hesitant.

“If you have a visa you can go right away!” he said happily.

The next morning, Yara woke up early and headed to the studio. As relieved as she was that the debt was taken care of, she was certain that it was time to sell the studio in order to pay Fahad his money back. She passed by the café for her usual take-out skinny Latte and went to the studio focused and ready to face reality. “Good morning Madame” said Santosh as she entered.

“Hello Santosh. How are things?”

“Mr. George came yesterday and took his photos”

“Great. Are the ones we sent for framing ready?”

“Not yet. But I will go today and check”

“Ok. But before you go, I need to tell you something” she said as she walked to her desk and sat down. “There is a big chance that the studio will be sold soon”

“Oh! Sell it? Close the shop?” he said in an Indian accent.

“Yes Santosh. I am telling you so you can start looking for another job”

“Madame. This is sad. What will you do?” he asked concerned.

“Well, as a start, I’m getting married” she said now smiling.

“I know I know. Mr. Fahad right?” he asked in joy.

Yara laughed, “Yes”.

“Congratulations Madame”

“Thank you. But, if you see Mr. Fahad, don’t mention anything about selling this studio. Please”

“Ok Madame.” He said and was about to go out. “Santosh, I can talk to Nadia and see if you can work at her new shop instead” she suggested.

“Yes Madame” he nodded in contentment and headed out.

Yara rested her back on the chair and stared at the place. It was her passion that was displayed on those walls. How can she let go of it? Fahad’s merger idea occurred to her suddenly. She thought about giving him the studio in return of the debt he paid. But knowing him, he wouldn’t accept it. He will agree and let her continue using the studio in addition to dropping the debt. There was no other option but to sell.

She heard the door open while she was facing the other way. She turned the chair around to see Dalal by the door. “May I come in?” said Dalal with her obvious blond highlights that showed more in her curls.

“Yes. Sure” said Yara surprised.

“How are you?” asked Dalal as she walked to her and kissed her.

“I’m fine. You?”

“I’m good.” She said as they both took a seat on the armchairs.

“Don’t you have work today?”

“I’m on leave”

“How can I help you?” asked Yara straight ahead.

“I.. actually came here… to apologize”

Yara let out a sarcastic laugh, “apologize? About what or what or what…”

“I know that what I did to you is unforgivable. It’s the worst thing that any friend could do to the other. But we never got the chance to even talk about it”

“And say what? You didn’t stop at a certain point. You kept on going and causing more harm”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I can’t think of an excuse, I meant everything I did. But I am sorry”

“So you just want my forgiveness?”

“Yes. And I hope that we can be friends again”

“We are not kids Dalal. It’s not like you broke a toy or something. You tried to break a relationship!” said Yara loudly.

“I know. It was big. But now I can see it. I can see how bad it was and I am really sorry”

“Are you sure? Or are you just getting lonely since you lost your friends?”

“Of course I miss you! And yes I am feeling lonely. But look at you now, you are getting married. You won over my bad intentions”

“Exactly, bad intentions. I can easily forgive you. But how can I be your friend again?”

“I understand, I really do. But why do we have to be out of each other’s lives completely? We don’t have to be best friends, but it would be nice to stay in touch and hang out from time to time. For the sake of the old days!”

“I don’t know. I feel like I will have to pretend to be fine while I’m not”

“I’m very happy that you and Fahad are getting married. I really mean it. And I do regret getting between you two. I am a human being and I make mistakes. Yara, I know that there are some habits that you don’t like in me. But this is who I always was and you accepted me that way.”

Yara stayed quiet staring at the floor.

“I really love you. You and Nadia were my whole life. And my life is just too empty right now. I’m really sorry” said Dalal as she got up, kissed Yara on the cheek and left the studio.

For a moment, she felt like she was pulling a Sajida on Dalal. All her life she dreaded the thought of growing old and becoming another version of her mother. She was sure that she never would though because of the huge difference between their personalities. But as she sat there on the armchair, she noticed that it really was starting to happen. Her dry and careless attitude with Dalal and how she didn’t even consider forgiving her was something that Sajida would do.

“Are you in the shop?” asked Yara as soon as Nadia picked up her call.

“No. Why?”

“Just asking. Last night I told you that Fahad’s family will finally come to propose but you weren’t the usual excited you.”

“I wasn’t?” asked Nadia distracted.

“Where are you?”

“Al Aali mall”

“Why?”

“Why are you questioning me? I need to buy some stuff!”

“You’re tensed. What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“Nadia, what is going on?” asked Yara again sharply.

“Come here. We’ll talk”

After one hour, Yara and Nadia met in Armani Café. “I’m, leaving to Munich tonight” said Nadia.

“WHAT?” gasped Yara in shock.

“I will be back before Tuesday. Don’t panic”

“Is your dad ok?”

“Yes. It’s Mohammed”

“What happened to him?” asked Yara scared.

“Nothing. Chill girl!”

“Talk clearly!”

“We’ll meet in Munich this weekend. He wants to..talk to my parents”

“HE’S PROPOSING?” screamed Yara and all the waiters turned around. Yara and Nadia were the only customers there.

“Shh. No!”

“I don’t understand!” said Yara in total confusion.

“He wants to meet them and discuss our situation. If they are fine with it, he wants to move to the next stage”

“Wow! That’s big”

“And you blame me for being tensed”

“What about his family? His job?”

“He wants to work it out. He’s saying that he’s got a plan”

“And you’re ok with all that?”

“I don’t know. This time he didn’t give me a chance to object. He was pretty convincing”

“This is scary. Are you even ready to leave tonight?”

“Trying to do as much as possible. That’s why I came here”

“I don’t mean to sound selfish but I really need you here this week”

“I’m so sorry. The most important thing is that I’ll be here by Tuesday”

“I’ll go crazy planning everything with my mum” said Yara worried.

“She’s much easier now and even fun to hang out with”

“Oh well. I have no other choice”

Nadia traveled that night with a very vague idea about what was going on and what might happen in Munich. It wasn’t easy to believe that the reason she was traveling was to talk to her parents about Mohammed. It was something that was supposed to happen long years ago, but it never did. And now, after all what they have both been through, the time has come for that to happen? She was kind of sure that her parents wouldn’t accept it. But she believed that it was worth a try and that it’s not fair to fight any less than Mohammed was fighting for it. During her flight to Munich, she thought about all those things with her eyes wide open. Her parents were always understanding and supportive. But will they still understand that their own daughter could be a second wife? The only hope that Nadia had was the fact that she was divorced, and that could help in convincing her parents as divorced women have less chances of getting re-married to the perfect guy. It was the way the old generation thought and it was a good string to play.

The next morning, Yara and Sajida were supposed to go furniture shopping to change and maybe add some pieces in the formal sitting room. Yara was totally against the idea for financial reasons but Sajida insisted. She thought that their furniture was outdated and it won’t be appropriate for the proposal. They agreed that they would only change few pieces and home accessories within a budget.

Yara overslept that morning, and she only woke up when Fahad called at 11am. “Still sleeping?” asked Fahad as he heard her sleepy voice.

“What time is it?”

“It’s 11! Get up”

“Oh no! Why didn’t anyone wake me up?” she got off bed.

“Weren’t you supposed to go out with your mum?”

“Exactly” she said as she left her room looking around for anyone but the house was deserted. “Where is everybody?” she wondered upset.

“You sound like your house is always full of people!” joked Fahad.

“Tamara is in school but where is the queen?” she walked to Sajida’s bedroom and opened the door. Sajida was sitting on the floor next to one of her cupboards with heaps of clothes around her. “What are you doing?” asked Yara.

“What do I look like doing? De-cluttering!”

“What about the furniture?” wondered Yara with her phone still on her ear.

“You’re the one who just woke up” said Sajida folding a mustard yellow cardigan.

“You could’ve woke me up!” whined Yara.

“Too late. They close in an hour.  We’ll go at 4”

“Ooooh” said Yara upset and left the room.

“What are you going to do now?” asked Fahad.

“I don’t know. I need my cup of coffee and then I will be able to think”

“Come to the café. Have your coffee with me and let’s chat a bit”

“I’ll probably have to pass by the studio. I’ll change and come” she ended the call.

“It’s been a while since we sat together and had a decent conversation” said Fahad sitting in the café with Yara.

“I know. Feels good!” said Yara and sipped her coffee in comfort.

“Many good days to come” he said with a smile.

Inshalla. I want to fast forward all those formalities; the proposal, the melcha, and I just want to close my eyes and open it to find myself living with you in one place” she said dreamy.

“Why the rush? Enjoy all of those steps!”

“You know me. I’m not as patient as you are”

“I like that. Creates balance between how I am and how you are”

“Can I ask you something that’s been on my mind lately?”

“Sure” he said with his arm resting behind his head.

“How come Alia is still in good terms with you and the family?”

“Just because we got a divorce doesn’t mean that we have to be in bad terms” he answered casually.

“But..i don’t know..” she said puzzled.

“Are you jealous?” he teased.

“No. Of course not. But she is a very nice woman as far as I’ve seen and your family obviously loves her. How is it possible that she doesn’t want to become a mother?”

Fahad’s face expression suddenly changed. He looked nervous and looked the other way.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. Can we not talk about this?” he said a bit upset.

Inshalla” she obeyed in oppose to the doubt that was only increasing inside of her head.

Nadia and her parents were having tea in the lobby of The Mandarin Oriental in Munich. Both her parents were uncomfortable about meeting Mohammed and the whole marriage idea. They didn’t object, but they were a little agitated. Their mood didn’t force Nadia to make any changes on the plan. Mohammed was arriving to the hotel any minute and the three of them waited silently.

“What brings you all the way here son?” asked Nadia’s father right after he was introduced to Mohammed.

“I….” started Mohammed nervously.

“Nadia explained your situation to us, but I want to hear it from you” said the father calmly.

“I lost Nadia once before, and, I, can’t spare losing her again” said Mohammed with his white cheeks turning rosey.

Nadia’s mum sat quietly with her left hand folded on her chest and her head rested on her right hand while Nadia sat up cautiously with a straight back and her hands on her lap. It was a man-to-man conversation and both ladies stayed out of it and listened.

“But the situation was different before. You have your own family now and she’s a divorcee. Why are you wishing to complicate things for yourself?” asked the father still very calm.

“To be honest with you, I was never happy with my current life. I have got the career that I always dreamed of and I am settled. But..”

Nadia’s father was dark skinned and a bit chubby. His looks never failed to present his wise personality and high status. His big nose, that was similar to his wife’s since they were first cousins, was a trademark in the family. Luckily, Nadia didn’t get it. His first name, Salah, was representing his looks and personality very well. He was sitting facing Mohammed in his posh black over coat that gave the impression that he was ready to cut the conversation and walk out the hotel any minute.

“You think that Nadia will make you happy?” asked the father.

“Yes” answered Mohammed shyly looking at the ground.

“What about your family? Having two wives is never easy”

“My wife is understanding. And, if everything goes well, she will be the first to know about it even before it happens” said Mohammed politely.

“And why do you think that we will accept giving our only daughter to a married man?” said the father and took a sip of tea.

“I think, Nadia can answer this” he said turning his head to Nadia.

“The fact that Nadia introduced you to us proves that it’s what she wants too. But I want to hear your answer” said the father.

“I am sure that Nadia’s happiness is important to you. And the fact that her first marriage failed to make her happy will make you consider this”

“What are you planning to do?”

“Go back to Bahrain for good. If you grant me this, I promise that I will give Nadia everything that she deserves. And she knows it”

“Listen to me my son. Now that I listened to you I can tell you what I think.” Said the father with his hand holding his chin. Nadia’s heart started racing as she turned her body 90 degrees around to face her father nervously.

“No woman in this world accepts sharing her husband with another woman. If we accept and you marry Nadia, both women will suffer. This will only lead to you getting lost in the middle. Even if your wife understands and accepts this marriage, what about Nadia? Will she bear sharing you with someone else? Will you bear it? Since you said that you are currently not happy and you will find your happiness with Nadia, that means that you will favor Nadia over your wife. That will also complicate things for your son. It’s very complicated. Keeping one family standing is hard enough for a man, how about two?” he said and took another sip of tea while awkward silence covered the place. “I don’t want to stand between my daughter and what she wants. She is old enough to decide for herself. But at the same time I don’t want to grant her a complicated life” he continued.

“Baba, will you please allow us to talk about this? Me and him, privately?” asked Nadia in sudden courage.

The father took a deep breath, turned to the mother, “What do you think?” he asked.

“They should talk about it” she said nodding.

“Go somewhere and talk. You are both old and mature to know what’s best for you. Try to keep your emotions aside and think with your brain today” said the father.

“Thank you” said Mohammed as he stood up pleased.

“Be rational in your discussion today” said the father as Mohammed shook his hand, shook the mother’s hand, excused himself and left the hotel with Nadia.

Although it was three degrees in Munich that day, Nadia couldn’t think of a better place to have a quiet conversation with Mohammed other than the English Garden. It was sunny with some fluffy clouds moving along with the wind. She was wearing a baby pink woolen hat with her big waves falling over her shoulders, white overcoat that had huge golden buttons, and a beige pashmina with small embroidered flowers was wrapped around her neck. The wind was moving towards them as they walked through the garden and she found herself holding Mohammed’s arm tightly to survive it. They both laughed at their stupidity for coming to the garden in this freezing weather, till they reached a small bridge that overlooked a tiny waterfall. “Thank you” said Nadia as she turned around and faced him while they stood on the bridge.

“What for?” he asked smiling.

“For coming all the way here”

“You know that I’d do anything to be with you”

“What do you think will happen now?” she placed her hands in her pockets.

“We both know that we want this more than anything else. And I don’t think that your father’s words will change anything. Right?” he asked looking at her in the eyes.

“He made sense though. How will I stand sharing you with another woman?” she asked feeling the jealousy starting.

“I’ve been with another woman for years!”

“But you weren’t mine”

“You know that I loved you all the way” he said staring at the waterfall.

“Do you feel like you’re cheating on her when you’re with me?”

“I don’t know”

“Do you even care about her feelings?”

“In a way, yes. But it won’t stop me from being with you” he said looking back at her.

“My parents were not ok with the idea. They will need more time and more convincing”

“Leave that aside now. Are you convinced?”

“Am I convinced?” she asked confused as they started walking again.

“Before we came here you weren’t convinced. You were still fighting back”

“I thought that you knew that I was resisting for your own good” she looked at him with crossed eyebrows.

“I did. And that’s why I insisted” he said with a grin.

“I missed this smile..” she said staring at him and losing the resistance fight. He surrounded her with his arm in a side hug as their heads touched. There was nothing left to discuss.

“Hey Yara” said Alia as she walked into Crepe Café and headed directly to Yara’s table.

“Hey, thank you for agreeing to see me” said Yara as she stood up and shook her hand.

“My pleasure. I hope that everything is ok?” asked Alia concerned and took a seat.

“Yes everything is fine. It’s just some regular questions that the new fiancé has for the x-wife” said Yara with a smile.

“That should be fun” said Alia with a laugh as the waiter came with the menus.

“I know what I want. Nutella Crepe & Skimmed Latte please” ordered Yara.

“Tempting. Make them two but with a Cappuccino” said Alia.

“How is Fahad? Is he feeling better?”

“Yeah. It’s hard to keep him away from sweets though”

“He’s a stubborn kid that’s his problem…” said Alia and kept on talking about Fahad and his diabetes. Yara watched her as she spoke and her jealousy grew with every word. She watched her beautiful lips that were covered with red lipstick, her wide eyes and perfect long lashes that went up and down as she blinked. That woman used to belong to Fahad. Those lips, those eyes, and that thick black hair was Fahad’s.

The waitress came with the coffee cups and woke Yara up from her deep thoughts. “Tell me. What questions do you have for me?” asked Alia.

“Can you, tell me why you got divorced? Of course Fahad told me but I’d like to hear it from your side” asked Yara nicely.

“Yeah, I understand. We, women, look at things differently so I’m sure you’ll understand the situation differently from my side.”

“Yeah, men barely speak.”

“But let me tell you first that I admire how brave you are. You must really love Fahad”

“Brave? Why?”

“Because you agreed to marry Fahad knowing that he can never be a father!”

“Never be a father?”

“He told you that he is unable to, right?” said Alia….

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Chapter 16. Decisions

Sajida was sitting in her usual spot in the sitting room in front of TV nibbling on some seeds when Yara got back home. She stood in front of her mother blocking the screen and pretended to scratch her face with her right hand, “Notice something different?” asked Yara holding back a smile.

“Oh My!!” said Sajida as she stood up, pulled Yara’s hand and stared at the ring with sparkling eyes.

“What do you think?” asked Yara happily.

“Speechless! This is worth a fortune!”

“Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Beautiful and valuable! You have chosen the right person my dear. I can congratulate you now” said Sajida as she gave Yara a quick and cold hug.

Yara was overwhelmed by her mother’s hug. It was their first hug for as far as she can remember. She was sure that it meant something to her mother too. Sajida was really happy at that moment to see her daughter engaged and not just to see that huge diamond on her finger.

“Mama, I’m sorry that I’ll have to put your happiness on hold for a moment. But there is something important that you should know” said Yara sitting down.

“How I hate bad news. Make it quick” said Sajida with her attention back on TV.

“That man that we owe money called again few days ago”

What does he want? Didn’t you just pay him?”

“Yes, but it was a small amount and he wants the remaining balance”

“Why can’t he be patient? He wants us to sell the house? Because that’s all we have left!” said Sajida angrily.

“I don’t know. But he threatened to go to court so we better come up with something”

“Why don’t you ask Fahad to lend us the amount?”

“No way! Impossible!”

“Then what other option do you have?”

“I’m thinking of…selling the studio” said Yara hesitant.

“Finally!” said Sajida and cracked a seed with her teeth.

“I could sell my photos in Nadia’s new shop or even in the café. The only thing is that.. baba gave me that place. It’s special to me” said Yara sadly.

“Well, it’s his debt at the end of the day! It’s like you’re giving it back to him”

Ignoring her mother’s comment, Yara got up and poured herself an Estikana of Black Tea. “One more thing” she said as she sat down holding it carefully.

“Please, enough for today!”

“Let’s just get done with this please. We can’t keep on paying for Tamara’s school.”

“There is no way that I’m getting her out of this school” snapped Sajida.

“But can’t you see how much we have to pay for it? I can’t keep on managing the amount”

“You’re getting married now! You won’t need to spend on yourself, he will spend on you. So use the money you earn for the school!” said Sajida easily.

“Spend on myself? When was the last time I went shopping or spoiled myself in a spa? You spend more than I do!! All my money goes to the house!”

“I told you to find yourself a job but you never listened”

“So I could pay for my sister’s school? It’s not just my responsibility! You are responsible too!”

“Don’t give me a headache. Sell the studio, pay the man and then use the rest of the money for your sister’s tuition. End of topic” said Sajida as she raised the volume of the TV.

 

The next morning, Yara and Nadia were doing more work in Nadia’s shop. “I have to take a picture of you in this hideous outfit” said Nadia and took a picture with her phone of Yara standing on a ladder wearing a dungaree with a bandanna on her head.

“If you want to blackmail me and send this to Fahad then be sure that I don’t care”

“You look like a blast from the 90’s” said Nadia laughing.

All that she wants, is another baby…” sang Yara.

“That would make a lovely theme for one of your shoots! Back to the 90’s!” said Nadia excited.

“Don’t remind me. If I sell the studio there will be no more themes. Just random framed pictures hanging somewhere..”

“There is no other solution ha?” asked Nadia sadly.

“Can you think of any?” asked Yara as she walked down the ladder.

“Let me lend you the money!” suggested Nadia sweetly.

“No! I’d rather take a loan from a bank and pay interest than take the money from anyone! We’re not talking about a hundred or two, it’s thousands!”

“Do whatever you want. But do you think that Fahad will allow you to sell the studio? I don’t think so”

“I won’t tell him!”

“What? You want to cause more problems between you two?” asked Nadia in shock.

“Nadia I really don’t have any other choice! He will understand later on” she said as she sat on one of the packed boxes.

“I really think that you’re doing a big mistake”

“Leave that now. You promised that you will tell me what happened with Mohammad yesterday!”

Nadia smiled and sat on a wooden chair, “he wants me back” she said without any introductions.

“WHAT!!”

“Don’t panic. He just said that we should do something about it, and not let this chance go by once again!”

“Wow! And?”

“I said that I would never ruin his stable marriage”

“But is he willing to ruin it?”

“I don’t know. I think so, but he wasn’t clear. All he said was that we should think of a way. But it doesn’t matter because nothing can happen”

“Are you sure? This is the love of your life asking you to be with him. After all what you’ve been through, you think that you should let go of him again?”

“He said that we should think of ourselves and not make this about others. But what kind of life will I have then? I asked him not to call me again. I basically pushed him away. I can’t even think of the possibility of me causing him trouble”

“But it’s what you both want!”

“It’s too late..”

“I feel bad. I’m part of the reason why you let him go back then” said Yara.

“Of course. You are a big part of my life and you shouldn’t feel bad!”

“It’s really hard to believe. He is back and willing to try again!” said Yara shaking her head.

“Let’s just forget about it and go have something to eat? Food is always the solution” suggested Nadia as she got up.

“Totally..” said Yara.

 

One week later:

It was a Monday afternoon. Fahad, Yara, Nadia, Osama and Sara were having lunch in Maki. Yara was against the idea of showing up with Fahad in public since their engagement news spread and there wasn’t any official proposal yet. But Fahad managed to convince her by playing the recovering-from-sickness card. He also convinced her that it’s time to make Nadia and Osama pay attention to each other. With everything that happened to Nadia recently, Yara thought that it might be a good idea to do this in order for her to get her thoughts off Mohammad.

They were seated in the center of the dining area on a rectangular table, where Yara and Nadia sat next to each other faced by Fahad and Osama. Sara was left with the seat between Osama and Nadia. The girls got engaged in their own conversation after they were handed the menu. Fahad took that chance and moved closer to Osama, “What do you think of her?” he whispered.

“Who?” wondered Osama.

“Who else? I will never ask you to check out my fiancé or my sister!”

Osama laughed, “Nadia? She’s..nice”

“Nice? Only?” he said disappointed.

“What more do you want me to say?”

“She’s a good catch! Just keep that in mind” said Fahad and opened the menu.

Yara picked up her phone and BBMed Nadia:

Yara: He’s hot right?

Nadia’s phone was blinking but she didn’t care to check her messages. “You have a message!” said Yara. “Yeah, never mind” said Nadia carelessly. “Check it!” said Yara hitting her leg. Nadia understood, picked her phone, read the message and typed back:

Nadia: Who? Fahad?

Yara: Oh no! The only other guy on the table maybe?

Nadia: Haha you’re funny. Now you really wish that it was him you’re engaged to?

Yara: You are so stupid. You check him out for yourself!!!!!!!

Nadia: LOL, OSAMA? AHAHAHAH..i’m not 19 anymore!

Nadia had a laugh on her face that she was trying hard to hide while she typed. She put her phone away and went back to the menu.

“We must order Yara Maki” said Fahad jokingly. They all laughed, “it’s my least favorite unfortunately” said Yara.

“Most important thing is Edamame Salad” said Sara.

“Yeah that’s for sure” said Osama while flipping the menu.

Just when the waiter came to take the order, Yara’s phone rang. “Yes mama?”

“You need to come home right now!!” ordered Sajida in panic.

“What’s going on?” asked Yara scared.

“Some men are here and they want to get inside and evaluate our belongings! They have a court order” screamed Sajida in terror.

“He did it!! I’ll be there now, ask them to wait” said Yara as she ended the call, picked up her bag and walked away without saying a word.

“What’s going on?” asked Fahad, but she didn’t look back and kept walking.

“Yara, wait. What’s the matter??” asked Fahad as he ran after her in the parking lot.

“I have to be home right now we’ll talk later” she said reaching her car.

“Let me drive at least”

“No. Please, Fahad, I’m in a hurry” she ordered.

“I will drop you home. You don’t have to explain. I’ll just drop you” he begged.

“FINE” she said frustrated as she gave him her car keys and hurried to the passenger seat.

It was a ten minutes drive that passed so slowly for both of them. Yara was absent minded and worried throughout the whole drive and Fahad respected the space that she asked for and stayed quiet.

The moment he parked in front of Yara’s house he saw two Bahraini men in Thoab standing by the gate, “Who are these men? What’s going on?” asked Fahad confused.

“Go back to lunch. It’s nothing” she said as she opened the door.

Fahad ignored her and got out of the car after turning off the engine. “What kind of a man do you think I am? To leave three ladies, who’ll be my family in no time, deal with strange men on their own? If you are not used to having a man who takes care of those things then it’s time for you to start doing so! You can’t deal with everything on your own!” he said seriously and roughly. Yara stared at him with a blank face. She couldn’t argue. He made total sense and gave her no option but to give up.

“How can I help you?” said Fahad as he approached the men. They gave him the court order and he read it carefully. He then turned around to Yara, “Is this from the man you owe money to?”

“Yes”

Sajida came out after seeing Fahad and Yara through the window and stood by Yara’s side, “You told him?” she asked in a low tone. “He found out” said Yara.

“Could you hold on please?” Fahad excused himself and moved closer to Yara and Sajida, “You need to tell me what happened exactly”

“He called around ten days ago and warned us that he would have to go to court if we don’t pay him the full amount” explained Yara with her hands folded on her chest.

“Do you have anything written?” asked Fahad.

“No. I just have a copy of the contract he signed with my father and the receipt of the amount I paid him”

“Give me his phone number quick”

“Why?”

“Give me the number and get inside the house!” ordered Fahad angrily.

After few minutes, Fahad walked inside Yara’s house for the first time. “What happened?” asked Sajida in concern as she and Yara were standing in the middle of the hallway.

“They left” he said with a firm face expression.

“Come inside. Let’s sit down” said Sajida as the three of them walked to the sitting room.

“Why didn’t you tell me that he threatened you?” asked Fahad angrily staring at Yara. She remained quiet.

“She didn’t want to trouble you with our issues from the very beginning” explained Sajida.

“This is no trouble. I’ll be a part of this family and you should treat me accordingly” he said sharply.

“I’m sorry” said Yara.

“It’s solved.” He said.

“Solved? How?” wondered Sajida.

“I spoke to the man. I promised him that he would receive the whole amount by tomorrow morning. He withdrew the order immediately”

“Oh, Fahad. Can’t thank you enough” said Sajida relieved.

“This is why I didn’t tell you! It’s a huge amount Fahad. How will you manage it?” said Yara upset.

“I have my ways. And it’s either you accept this or the court order will go on and you’ll end up losing your belongings and the house!”

“God forbids” said Sajida placing her hand on her chest.

“Yes, this is why those men where here” said Fahad.

“How will you manage the amount?” asked Yara again.

“I will arrange with my father. But don’t worry, it will be between me and him only. My mother will never know. I understand your concerns”

“Yes that would be great. Thank you so much dear. It feels good to finally have a son” said Sajida.

“What will your father think? Asking for money even before things get official is very embarrassing” said Yara.

“He will understand. You don’t know my father, he is the kindest man on earth. He never thinks badly of anyone”

Allah ykhaleeh lekum” said Sajida.

“We’ll pay it back. As soon as we manage to do so” said Yara with her mind fixed on the studio.

“There is nothing to be worried about now. Do you have any other debts?” asked Fahad.

“Small manageable ones. Been paying them for a while and it’s almost covered” said Yara.

“We need to sit down together and calculate the whole amount of all the debts. It is important to do so” ordered Fahad.

Inshalla. Thank you so much, you really proved what a good man you are” said Sajida.

Fahad leaned towards the coffee table that was placed between him and Yara to view the framed photos that were on it. “That’s the picture that was in your display when I first added you on BBM” said Fahad while looking at a picture of Yara and her father. He was carrying her with huge vintage sunglasses on his eyes and she was laughing and trying to pull the glasses off.

“I really love this photo” said Yara with a sad smile.

There was another old picture of Sajida standing on her own in front of Eiffel Tower. Her hair was short and curled and she was wearing a brown blazer with shoulder pads. “Look at that vintage look” said Yara sarcastically holding Sajida’s picture.

Fahad laughed silently so Sajida won’t hear him. She was busy with her Blackberry and she didn’t seem to hear their conversation. “Seems like it was always this way. You and your father together while she’s busy in her own world”

“Yup..” said Yara absent minded.

“Why do you look worried?”

“Nothing” she said avoiding looking into his eyes.

“You can’t lie to me. Is it the debt?”

“Yes”

“You should be happy that it has been taken care of”

“I am! But this is not how I wanted to start my life with you! Remember when we first met and how upset I got when you paid the electricity bill! It’s not a nice feeling.” She said annoyed.

“That was different. We are engaged now and what’s mine is yours” he said with a smile.

“What about some Turkish Coffee?” asked Sajida as she put her phone down and took off her reading glasses.

“Let me treat you, how about we go out for coffee? You need the change after this stressful afternoon” offered Fahad.

“Don’t trouble yourself dear. I’ll ask the maid to do the coffee” said Sajida.

“I insist. Yalla get ready and I will ask my mother and Sara to join us” said Fahad.

“Can’t object. I’ll go change” said Sajida getting up.

“Did you talk to Nadia?” asked Fahad.

“Yes, while you were out. They ate”

“Great. We’ll grab a bite as we have coffee.” Said Fahad.

 

“Unplanned outings always work better” said Fouzia as they were all seated on the table under the stairs.

“It does. I am a very organized person and I get really frustrated when plans change but as you said, unplanned feels surprisingly nice!” said Sajida.

“Because it doesn’t give you a chance to have any expectations” said Sara.

“As long as we’re all here I think that we should set a date for the official proposal” suggested Fahad.

“True. We shouldn’t delay it any longer.” Said Fouzia.

“You’re welcome anytime habeebti” said Sajida happily.

“What about next week? Which day would be suitable for you?” asked Fouzia.

“Hmm. Today is Monday, what about next Tuesday? In a week time” suggested Sajida.

“Fine by me. I’ll have to inform the family today” said Fouzia.

“How many ladies will you be?” asked Sajida a bit worried.

“My two sisters, two sisters in law from my side, three sisters in law from Bu Fahad’s side, my aunt and her four daughters….” Counted Fouzia.

“Wow Yumma why are you going that far? No need for all those people” interrupted Fahad.

“Wait till she gets to the end of the list!” warned Sara laughing.

“We have to. This is how it works. And if I don’t, I will never hear the end of it” said Fouzia.

Hayakum Allah” said Sajida sincere.

Walla I think that it’s unnecessary. Why don’t we just call the close ones? The aunts from both sides. That’s more than enough” said Fahad.

“Let her do what she thinks is right. It’s once in a life time” said Yara.

“Not exactly. It’s my second” said Fahad jokingly and they all laughed.

“Do you want a wedding Yara?” asked Fouzia.

“No, not at all. I hate weddings”

“Come on! I’ve been dreaming of your wedding since you were born!” begged Sajida.

“No way! It’s just impossible” said Yara firmly.

“What about a small one? We could do it in your house or ours and invite family and close friends only” said Fouzia.

“That I won’t mind” said Yara blushing.

“Yeah, fair enough” said Fahad.

“But I really wanted a grand wedding” said Sajida disappointed. Yara gave her an angry look discreetly. How could she ask for a grand wedding when the man just paid thousands of Dinars to save them from the debt? “But yes you’re right that would be better” said Sajida changing her mind.

Yara and Fahad were sharing Mini Burgers and Kibbeh while the rest were having coffee and different kinds of sweets. To their surprise, Alia, Fahad’s x-wife walked out of the other section of the cafe. They all stared at her as she walked towards them.

elsalam Alaikum” she said confidently yet politely.

“Alooy!! Where have you been!!” said Fouzia as she stood up and kissed her.

“So good to see you!” said Alia as she hugged Fouzia.

“How are you? Are you getting younger with time!”

“I’m so sorry I never call and ask about you” said Alia.

Yara was staring at them and then at Fahad in confusion. “It’s his x-wife by the way” she then explained to her mother. “Wow!” said Sajida not able to take her eyes off of her Chanel bag.

“Fahad, how are you feeling now? I was planning to call and check on you” said Alia.

“I’m good. Much better. You met Yara already. This is her mother” said Fahad introducing them.

“Nice to meet you” said Alia shaking Sajida’s hand.

“Look at those earrings” whispered Sajida staring at her Van Cleef earrings.

“I miss you” said Sara as she hugged her.

Yara was still confused with all the warm greetings. She wasn’t jealous as much as she was wondering what was the reason behind all this love and admiration to the X. She is an X after all and there should be some hard feelings or awkwardness.

“Such a nice girl. She is still respectful and loving” said Fouzia as soon as Alia left.

“She’s beautiful” said Sajida and put a spoon full of Concerto in her mouth.

Yara’s eyes were fixed on Fahad as they spoke about Alia. He was calm and expressionless, but she felt that there was something hidden behind that silence. There must be a reason that would explain the excellent terms between them.

 

Nadia was sitting in the living room of her huge empty house watching Showtime when she heard her mobile ringing. She took fast steps to her room, reached for the phone to see Mohammad’s London number. She looked at it hesitantly, not knowing if she should stick to her word or listen to her heart. She was hoping for it to stop ringing, but it didn’t. And so.. she picked it up.

“Nadia?” said Mohammad as she stayed quiet after accepting the call.

“Hi” she said finally.

“How are you?”

“Aren’t we supposed not to speak to each other?”

“It was you who said that and not me”

“And why can’t you respect my decision?” she asked whining.

“Because I know that it’s not what you want.”

“There is a difference between what we want and what we’re not allowed to want!” she said sharply.

“I asked you to think about it and all you did was believe that this is something that you can’t have!” he said upset.

“Yes. And that can’t be changed” she said.

“Listen to me, I called today because I have made up my mind.” He said firmly.

Nadia stayed quiet. She felt her heart fall down to her feet, “and?”

“I want to talk to your parents…” he said.

Chapter 15. Impression

 

“He died! You think he died? She said he just fell on the floor all of a sudden! He died Nadia he died!” cried Yara in panic.

“Will you calm down and stop thinking these crazy thoughts! People faint everyday!” said Nadia while driving Yara to the nearest Emergency Room.

“They faint for seconds or minutes but not until the ambulance reaches!”

“Pray Yara. Pray that he is fine and that it’s nothing major instead of wailing” said Nadia when her car suddenly stopped in the middle of the road.

“Oh no! Please no. NOT NOW” screamed Yara as Nadia tried restarting the engine several times but with no luck. “Troubles come at once!” mumbled Nadia and pressed on the Hazard lights.

“I will walk. I can’t stay here and wait anymore!” said Yara as she opened the door and was about to leave the car.

“Are you insane? Stay where you are! I’m calling the driver now” said Nadia pulling her back in.

“No no I can’t wait. WHY IS OSAMA NOT PICKING HIS PHONE!”

“Yara please calm down so we can reach the hospital fast. You call a cab and I will call our driver. Let’s see who’ll reach here first” said Nadia while dialing.

“TEN MINUTES. IF I WALK I WILL REACH FASTER!” Screamed Yara and ended the call with the cab agency.

“The driver will be here any minute. Relax, please. You don’t want Fahad to see you like this”

“SEE ME? HE’S UNCONSCIOUS REMEMBER?”

“Stop crying. He’ll be fine! He’s strong and you know it” said Nadia sweetly.

“I never called him. If something happens to him I will never forgive myself” sobbed Yara.

“You will see him and you’ll tell him everything that you wanted to say. He’s not going anywhere” said Nadia as she removed Yara’s hair off of her face and patted her shoulder.

 

Osama was smoking by the front entrance of the Emergency when Yara and Nadia arrived, “OSAMA, WHAT HAPPENED? WHERE IS HE?” asked Yara as she approached him fast.

“He’s fine, he just woke up. First floor room #2” he said calmly with a puff of smoke coming out of his mouth. Yara ran inside while Nadia stayed with Osama.

Yara opened the door of room #2 to find Fahad lying in bed weakly with an IV inserted in his hand. She paused by the door for a second, pleased to see him alive and breathing. “hamdella” she whispered thankful and overwhelmed that she didn’t pay much attention to the lady that was sitting next to him with her hand on his. “I’m so glad that you’re ok” she said as she walked to him with tears streaming down her face.

The other lady stepped away.

“I’m fine, don’t worry” said Fahad in a tired voice.

“I was so scared..i thought that I lost you” she put her head on his chest and he hardly placed his hand with the IV on her back.

“It’s ok. I’m here” he whispered and kissed her head.

“What happened?” she sat straight and wiped her tears.

“Diabetes” said the other lady as she stood up and closed the button of her red coat. Yara looked at her and back at Fahad in confusion. “Did you even know that he is diabetic? I don’t think so. He never cared and seems like he still doesn’t” said the lady as she picked up her huge black Dior bag. “I’m Alia. His x-wife” said the lady and offered her hand to Yara to shake.

“Nice to meet you” said Yara shocked as she shook her hand and wiped her tears with the other hand.

“I never knew that you’re seeing someone” said Alia smiling at Fahad.

“We’re going to get engaged” he said looking at Yara and smiling.

“That’s great. You take good care of him please” she said to Yara and headed to the door.

Yara watched her as she walked out. She was a bit tall with a perfect body. Her soft black hair was tied up in a ponytail and her features were blending beautifully together; wide eyes, pumped lips and a nose that linked them perfectly together. “She’s gorgeous” said Yara the moment she stepped out. Fahad ignored her comment and stared at her with a smile. “Why was she here?” wondered Yara.

“Her name and number was registered for emergencies. It was never changed I guess” he said as he put his hand on hers.

“I’m so sorry I never called. Walla I was planning to do so tonight” she said with guilt.

“You have nothing to apologize for. I started it all”

“Let’s not talk about it now. You are really weak and you need to rest” she said and brushed his head with her hand.

“No big deal. It’s just a high level of glucose”

“It is a big deal! And you will get your share of yelling later for not telling me that you are diabetic!”

“You’re cute when you’re worried” He said laughing and he pinched her cheek.

“You take injections everyday?” she asked concerned.

“No. Just pills. I might’ve missed it last night or today”

“And don’t you have to watch out with food?”

“Yeah. But…”

“You’re unbelievable! Why are you so careless? This is serious you have to be more careful. This time it passed, next time it could lead to a diabetic coma!”

“I will watch out I promise” he smile.

“I can’t lose you Fahad. I went crazy just for the thought that something might’ve happened to you. So please take care of yourself, for me!” she begged.

“Anything for you” he said and kissed her hand.

Osama and Nadia were still standing by the entrance when Alia walked out and waved goodbye to Osama. “Can you guess who that lady is?” asked Osama daringly.

“Hmm, I don’t know but she is damn gorgeous” said Nadia.

Osama laughed, “Guess”

“Someone that you used to date?”

“Nope” he said with a smile.

“Good because you’ll be stupid to leave her!”

Osama laughed out loud, “You’ll be surprised. She’s Fahad’s x-wife!”

“Go away! This is his x-wife? And he left her? Tough luck Yara!”

“They were insanely in love with each other. But, you know, a lot of things get revealed after marriage”

“Yeah, of course! Scary how the divorce rate is increasing by the day”

“Women are independent now, they think that they can do without a man in their life. Reality hits them shortly and they get lonely all over again!”

“Watch it” she said offended.

“No offense! You are so easy to tease” he laughed and noticed Sara approaching from the parking lot.

“Hi Osama”

“Hey. This is Nadia. Yara’s best friend” said Osama.

“Nice to meet you” she said and shook her hand. “Why are you outside?”

“I was smoking and then Yara came terrified. Giving her space.”

“Oh I can imagine. She never faced this before with him”

“It happens often?” wondered Nadia.

“Not often but he is so careless that it happens from time to time. That’s why I’m calm” she smiled.

“Did you tell your parents yet?” asked Osama.

“Yes they are on their way”

“Then I’ll call Yara and tell her to leave.” Said Nadia and took out her mobile.

“I’ll see her on my way up then” said Sara walking away.

“I’ll come with you” said Osama following her.

They met Yara halfway through the corridor. “Feeling better?” asked Osama.

“I’m better. I was so worried!”

“It’s all right. You’ll get used to it” said Sara jokingly and hugged her.

“I can’t believe that I didn’t know about it!”

“He doesn’t like mentioning it!” said Sara.

“And we have to pretend that it doesn’t exist!” said Osama.

“Come on, the least we could do is to remind him to take his pills and eat right” said Yara whining.

“He hates that!” said Sara.

“Yes, you want to lose him? Do that!” said Osama jokingly.

“Things will have to change. We could’ve lost him!” she said frustrated.

“Well, you’re the wifey now!” said Sara.

“Not just yet but until then, promise me that you’ll take good care of him Sara”

“I promise”

“Ha? How are you feeling now?” asked Nadia as soon as Yara got in the driver’s car.

“Relieved! hamdella

“And how is he?”

“He’s weak. Sorry to keep you waiting”

“It’s fine I was with Osama. I also met Sara, she looks sweet”

“She is. Did Osama tell you about Fahad?”

“Yes and I was shocked! How could he hide something like that”

“I didn’t want to stress him with that now. Will talk about it once he gets better”

“And the x-wife!!”

“I KNOW. What kind of test is this!” said Yara with her hand on her face.

“Don’t worry, I understood from Osama that she’s just a beautiful figure from the outside. What was she doing here?”

“I’m not worried.”

“You don’t feel jealous?” teased Nadia.

“No” said Yara rolling her eyes.

“Sure?”

“Maybe a little! It’s just that.. she looks amazing! I’m just an average looking girl”

“Beauty comes from within” said Nadia in a cliché tone.

“What a day! I’m so tired. I haven’t slept in two days” said Yara yawning.

“You need a good night sleep. Tomorrow will be a better day”

Inshalla” said Yara as she rested her head back and closed her eyes.

“Hello?” Nadia answered an unfamiliar Bahraini phone number.

“Nadia..”

“Mohammed? Are you in Bahrain?” asked Naida shocked.

Yara opened her eyes widely as she heard his name.

“Yes. I’m here for a couple of days” he said.

“Why? Mohammed I begged you not to call me again!” said Nadia in a pleading voice.

“I’m here for work, and I need to see you”

“See me why? No. No. We shouldn’t!”

“Please Nadia. Just see me this time and hear me out and after that you’ll never hear from me again. That’s all I’m asking for”

“Ok, fine. I’ll take your word for that”

“Can we meet tomorrow morning?”

“Yes, do you know Yara’s studio?”

“Not really, it didn’t exist back then” he said in a cheerful tone remembering the past.

“I’ll text you directions now. See you tomorrow” she said and ended the call.

“Hey! My studio is not a dating spot!” said Yara.

“I don’t want to show up with him in public. Where else do I go?!”

“What’s going on? Why is he here and what does he want?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know..” answered Nadia nervous.

“We have to go and visit him” said Sajida the next morning when Yara told her about what had happened to Fahad.

“Visit him? But that won’t be appropriate. Nothing is official yet!” said Yara.

“The man is sick and we are his future in laws. It won’t be appropriate if we didn’t go! We have to show them that we have manners. And it will be a plus point for us, to show concern while they delayed their visit. They will only feel embarrassed” said Sajida mockingly.

“You’re wicked but I like your thinking this time!”

“Alright then, check on your sister, she must come too” said Sajida as she got up and headed to her room.

Yara stayed where she was, curled up on the sofa, thinking of what her mother had just said. A small part of her was worried about meeting his mother and how things will go between the two mums. It had to start somewhere. This was a golden opportunity for them to prove to Fouzia that her impression about Sajida could be wrong.

Nadia was waiting for Mohammed to arrive in Yara’s studio. She was nervous as much as she pretended that she wasn’t. Guilt didn’t allow her to dress up for him, but she wanted him to get fascinated by her beauty just like he always did. She wore skinny dark denim jeans with a dirty pink poncho style top. Her hair was falling on her shoulders in natural waves and she put on some light natural makeup.

She was sitting on one of the armchairs with her attention on her phone screen when he walked in. “Not so hard to find. Good location” he said as he took a step. Nadia raised her head up to see him by the door, flashing his beautiful smile with his Cartier shades covering his dark brown eyes. To her surprise, he was wearing a Grey wintery Thoab.

Her heart started beating fast unexpectedly. She had imagined this moment many times. She was certain that she would be able to rein in all her emotions and old feelings that had come up to the surface lately. But when she saw him smiling in that Thoab, looking as mature as he never looked before, and coming to see her after begging for it, she lost all control.

She stood up and he walked slowly to her until they stood face to face. He took off his shades and they stared at each other quietly. He was still smiling and she smiled as she looked into his eyes that spoke a thousand words. Without realizing how, she found herself buried in his arms. Her head was comfortably rested on his chest and her arms were around his back while he held her tight with his head on hers. “This is where I belong..” she whispered with teary eyes.

“I was hoping that we meet in better circumstances” said Sajida sitting next to Yara and Tamara in the hospital.

“This is Allah’s will. Inshalla many more to come and we were planning to meet you anyway” said Fouzia.

“How are you feeling Fahad?” asked Sajida.

“I’m fine hamdella. Happy that we finally got to meet, I heard so much about you” he said excited. Yara stared at him in a confused yet happy look.

“Me too my son” said Sajida as Sara offered her a tray of chocolates.

“Thank you dear I’m on a diet” said Sajida.

“Come on, just one for the gahwa” insisted Fouzia.

“Alright. Can’t say no to this pretty girl anyway” said Sajida as she picked up a piece. Sara blushed and moved to Yara with the chocolate trey. They looked at each other trying to hold a laugh.

“You only have those two daughters ha?” asked Fouzia.

“Yes, I just wanted one child. You can see the huge age gap between the two.” Said Sajida as she took a bite of the chocolate and Fouzia handed Sara the coffee thermos.

“Watch it. You don’t have to explain everything” Whispered Yara to her mother. “What did I say now?” whispered Sajida back.

“Which grade are you in Tamara?” asked Fouzia.

“8th grade” answered Tamara shyly.

“And which school do you go to?”

“Ibn Khuldoon”

“Oh so you studied in a private school too Yara?”

“No, I went to government schools” answered Yara politely.

“Not that we had any financial problems. But Government schools were really good back then” explained Sajida in her usual money talk and Yara hit her leg. Fahad noticed and couldn’t help laughing.

“I was telling Fahad yesterday that we should go out and have dinner together to get to know each other” said Fouzia.

“What about the proposal?” wondered Sajida. Yara hid her head with her hand in embarrassment.

“I think it would be much nicer if we get to know each other first so things won’t get so awkward when we come and propose” said Fouzia nicely.

“Yes you have a point” said Sajida convinced.

“Let’s plan it now then. Where would you like to go khalty?” asked Fahad sweetly.

“I like this boy!” said Sajida looking at Yara.

“It’s up to you, anywhere will do” said Yara out of respect to Fouzia.

“I insist. I want khalty Sajida to pick the place” said Fahad enjoying Sajida’s reactions.

“Hmm, not that I go out much but my favorite restaurant has always been Sato” said Sajida.

“You got it. When shall we go?” asked Fahad.

“Once you get better. How can you decide now when you’re still sick?” said Fouzia.

“I’ll be dismissed today”

“She’s right. We’ll plan it once you get your strength back. And you better do so soon” warned Sajida.

“I’m avoiding you for this very reason. I don’t want to lose control and say things that we’ll regret later” said Nadia as they were sitting on the armchairs.

“I’m missing you insanely these days. Especially after I heard about your divorce”

“But things will only get harder now. We didn’t see each other for years. You left the country and started a family. And in a moment out of time we met by coincidence and everything changed”

“So things changed for you too?”

“Of course. Everything turned upside down. But I had to be dry with you so things won’t escalate”

“I never forgot you. I had to move on. We both had to. I’m sure that you understand what I mean”

“I do”

“Nadia you know that I was never in love with Reem. She was just an available option who had no goals in life other than getting married”

“Don’t say that about her. It’s not fair. She left her whole life here and went with you!”

“But I always wished that it was you Nadia. You were and still are special”

“But I chose my life over you. This could be enough reason for you to hate me” she said sadly.

“It worked for a while, and it helped me move on. But now all I can see is a different life that we could’ve had together. My current life is.. cold. I’m focusing on my career, and when I come home I don’t find the warmth that I need. Reem is a lovely girl. Me and Khalid are her whole life. But she fails to fascinate me, to steal me away from everything just like you do” he said and reached for her hand.

“I recently realized.. that choosing my life over you was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made” she said holding his hand.

He looked at her warmly and got closer, “and you realize that I’m not happy. I am content, but not happy”

“Don’t get me started. What did I get from this life that I chose? Manaf and his betrayal? Being with him was a failed attempt to get over you anyway” she confessed in frustration without looking at his face.

“Look at me Nadia. You think that we still have a chance?” he asked as he held her chin and turned her head to him gently.

“Are you crazy? Of course not” she panicked and pulled her hand out of his.

“There must be a way. We can’t let go of each other all over again and repeat the same mistake”

“How? You are a father and you have a stable marriage. Don’t expect me to ruin this for you!” she warned him.

“It doesn’t have to be ruined.”

“What the hell are you saying Mohammed? Please stop, please! We agreed that this will be the last time we talk and see each other” she said and stood up.

“Please wait. Don’t say anything now. Just think about it. Think of a way and I will too. I want to be with you, I really do. And I know that you want that too. Please think about it and be selfish. We have to be selfish and not live our whole life for others!”

“It’s too late. Let’s forget that this conversation had ever happened” She said as she picked up her handbag and walked out.

“She’s not bad!” said Sara as soon as Sajida and her daughters left the room.

Ee walla, I expected her to be much worse than that!” said Fouzia.

“It’s lovely that you liked her but it’s funny how you’re judging the mother when I’m marrying the daughter” joked Fahad. They both laughed, “The girl seems nice. She’s not beautiful though, very average looking” said the mother.

“Don’t be mean mama!” said Sara.

“I’m only being honest” said Fouzia while pouring milk tea in a cup.

“Once you get to know her better you’ll see how beautiful she is” said Fahad with a happy smile.

“But that was a lesson for you mama. You shouldn’t judge people based on what you hear. You should always find out by yourself” said Sara.

“It was obvious that what I had heard through people was somehow true. She said some unreasonable stuff. But I expected much worse” said Fouzia defending herself while sipping some tea.

“Women always exaggerate” said Fahad sarcastically as he reached for his mobile and BBMed Yara:

Fahad: All good. She likes you both.

Yara: Really? What did she say???

Fahad: Doesn’t matter. Are you happy?

Yara: Of course I am. I was so worried that my mum would say something and ruin it all.

Fahad: I LOVED her. She’s so much fun!!

Yara: Wait until you get enough of her.

Fahad: I never will! She’s not bad at all! You just have to know how to get to her.

Yara: That’s what Nadia says!!

Fahad: As long as everything is set for me and you, what do you say about hooking up Nadia with Osama??

Yara: haha why so suddenly!

Fahad: Why not.. and it will be so cool, the four of us hanging out together.. I can imagine Dalal killing herself.

Yara: You just have to go on and on and on with your plans.. we can’t force it.. let it be.. they are old enough to realize it if they have feelings for each other..

Fahad: We should push it.. It will be good for both of them

Yara: Can we focus on us for now? We still have a lot to do!

Fahad: Right. Love you xx

“I was too nervous to meet his mum! She’s not so easy going and I felt that I was being judged. But Fahad said that she liked both of us” said Yara while having lunch with Nadia at Café Italia in City Center.

“Good” said Nadia with a distant mind.

“What’s wrong? You’re too quiet! Will you please tell me what happened with Mohammed!! What did he want?!”

“Nothing. It was more of a good bye” said Nadia quietly.

“Come on! What happened?”

“Can we make today about you only please? It’s a big day for you and I don’t want to talk about my issues”

“But I can see that you’re sad!”

“And I want to be happy for you. So let’s put my issues aside today and I promise that we’ll talk about it tomorrow”

“Whatever makes you comfortable”

“Dalool called me a couple of days ago”

“Oho! What does she want now?”

“You won’t believe it! She was asking if it’s true that Fahad proposed to you!”

“WHAT? How did she know? I can’t believe her. She has sources from all around the country!”

“I know! She tried to make me feel guilty for taking sides”

“So the news spread already?!” asked Yara in shock.

“Can you believe it? But it’s normal since Fahad’s mother asked around about you and your family”

“I guess. I really don’t care anymore. As long as things are ok let the whole world know” said Yara in excitement.

“I’m so happy for you. It’s a dream come true for me, seeing you married to the one you love” said Nadia emotionally.

“Aww. Let’s not get so carried away with feelings now, I’m starving! What shall we order?” said Yara as she opened the menu.

 

“Damn! I got overwhelmed with all what happened yesterday and I totally forgot about the debt!” said Yara and put her knife and fork down half way through lunch.

“What debt?” asked Nadia while eating her penne pasta.

“That man called me and he was really upset! He wants his money back immediately and he threatened to go to court!”

“Oh no! What will you do?”

“I don’t know, I really don’t. But I really really need to get done with this even if it will mean selling the studio”

“Why don’t you talk to Fahad?” suggested Nadia and took a sip of her diet coke.

“Not now. He will feel responsible since we are practically engaged and he will insist on paying. I really don’t want that to happen”

“True. Finish your food now and we’ll think of something to do. There must be a solution”

Just when they paid the bill, Yara’s phone rang. It was Fahad. She answered as she was putting her wallet back in her classic Louis Vuitton spy bag.

“Where are you?” asked Fahad angrily.

“City Center. What’s wrong?” asked Yara confused.

“City Center? Really? I am sick in the hospital and you are roaming around City Center?” screamed Fahad.

“What is the matter Fahad? Calm down”

“How considerate of you! I’m extremely disappointed”

“Calm down this is not good for your health! Why all the anger?”

“Come here right now!” he said pissed off and ended the call.

After leaving the mall immediately and heading to the hospital nervously, Yara entered Fahad’s room to find him lying on his bed calmly with a smile on his face. She stared at him with a blank face. He laughed out loud on her reaction, “come here” he said.

“What happened to you? One minute you’re yelling and the other you’re laughing! You will drive me insane!” she said too confused as she walked to his bed.

“Sit down” he ordered.

She shook her head, sat on the edge of the bed with her hands folded on her chest waiting for an explanation.

“Close your eyes” he said and reached for the drawer next to him, opened it and got a small jewelry box out of it. He then reached for her right hand and pulled it towards him, “open your eyes” he said.

The moment she opened her eyes he placed a sparkling solitaire ring in her ring finger that took her breath away. She gasped and put her left hand on her chest with her eyes glittering. “Now you’re officially mine” he said as he lift her hand up and kissed it.

Chapter 14, Delay

It was hard for Yara to understand Fahad’s sudden change of behavior. All those months she was the one with the uncertainty and unrevealed emotions while he was always frank and direct. Is this a new side of him that she hadn’t seen? Was he being too protective about his family to the extent of lying? She was sitting on one of the faded armchairs in the studio and playing with her hair. It was 8pm, she was absent mined and distracted all day that she couldn’t do much work no matter how hard she tried.

Her phone rang and brought her back to life, “Hello?” answered Yara, not recognizing the number.

“Alo, Salam Alaikum

Alaikum elsalam, who is it?”

“It’s Anwer, your dad’s friend.”

“Oh”

“I have received your cheque. Thank you very much”

“You’re welcome. Inshalla you will receive the rest as soon as I can arrange it”

“This amount you sent is very small. It’s not even half of the amount” said the man upset.

“I know, I’m very sorry but this is all I could do right now” she said nicely.

“And I’ve been very patient with you. Tell me how much longer shall I wait?”

“I really don’t know but I’m doing my best right now” said Yara politely.

“I really need that money. Managing it is your problem. Get a loan or even steal if you want. But I need that money by next month maximum. Otherwise I will have to go to court!” said the man and ended the call.

Nadia walked in the studio an hour later while Yara was still sitting in the same spot drowning in thoughts.

“Why aren’t you answering my calls?” said Nadia angrily.

“I don’t feel like talking. Can’t I be on my own for one day?”

“But I got worried! You could’ve picked up and said that you don’t want to talk instead of ignoring!” said Nadia as she sat on the other armchair.

“Don’t make a topic out of this now please!” said Yara annoyed.

“Did you talk to him?”

“No and I don’t want to!”

“He didn’t call either? Or come to the café?” asked Nadia confused.

“Nope!”

“Maybe he’s.. embarrassed..and he doesn’t know what to say or do” said Nadia trying to think of an explanation.

“Whatever! He started it and he’s the one who should fix it”

“What about your mum? Did you tell her?”

“No. I’m avoiding her. How can I tell her that the guy that we’ve been speaking highly of is a liar! ”

“You know her better than that. She won’t care! As long as she’s convinced that his family is the kind of family that she is looking for, she won’t care. Yesterday she was upset because she really wanted it to happen and it didn’t”

“You have a point. Anyway, let’s not talk about it anymore. What’s new with you?”

“I’ve been working in the shop all day. That’s it!”

“I found something in the storeroom today. Might be interesting for you” said Yara as she walked to her desk and got a shoebox that was full of pictures. She opened it and gave Nadia a batch of photos with an elastic band around them. The first photo was an old photo of Nadia and Dalal in Chili’s, “Oh my God, I look horrible, look at my blond highlights!” said Nadia as she removed the elastic band and moved to the next photo. To her surprise, it was a picture of Mohammed. Her heart dropped for seeing him the way she knew him back then. Not in London, not with a son, not with a wife; but just the guy she once knew and loved. “Wow. You still have these!” she said as she stared at it. Mohammed was wearing a white French Connection t-shirt, which was in fashion back then. He had a dirty beard that covered his white cheeks and his hair was brushed to the back with a little bit of gel.

“You grabbed my camera from me and took this picture” said Yara smiling.

“I remember..”

“Do you want it? Or shall I get rid of it?”

“This comeback is scaring me..”

“Comeback? What comeback?”

“Seeing him, his beautiful words that messed me up, these photos…and…his call” said Nadia.

Fahad and his sister Sara were sitting on the floor at the sitting room with parcels of Tikka and Kebab placed on a mat in front of them. They were having dinner and Date Night was playing on DVD but they weren’t paying attention.

“Maybe she had the right to refuse to go and propose that fast. But she had to be more careful and stay home” said Fahad.

“I think that you shouldn’t have lied at first place.” said Sara.

“What was I supposed to do? I had no other choice!”

“You should’ve thought of something better. I know how much you love mama and respect her, but you shouldn’t have allowed her to come between you and Yara.”

“I wasn’t planning on lying. I just called her and it was the first thing that came to my mind”

“It happened anyway. Fix it. These days are supposed to be the most beautiful days of your life. Call her and apologize. What you did was wrong.”

Their mother walked in the house at the same time. “Here you are! Join us please.” said Fahad sarcastic.

“I’m full, had so much finger food at the society meeting” said the mother as she took off her hijab and walked through the hall.

“Mama what were you thinking when you went out last night?” said Sara in a mixture of politeness and disappointment.

“Why? What’s wrong with it?” wondered the mother as she sat on the sofa behind them.

“They saw you! You were supposed to be sick remember?” said Fahad.

“Who saw me?”

“Mama! Shfeech? Yara and her mother were at Traders last night and they saw you!” said Sara.

“Out of all the restaurants in Bahrain you’re telling me that they were there too?” said the mother in shock.

“Yes! And even if they weren’t, Bahrain is small and people talk! Anyone could’ve told them that you were there” said Fahad.

“And what did they say?”

“It was too obvious to cover up” said Fahad.

“So they know that we lied?” gasped the mother.

“Yes..” said Fahad nodding.

“This is embarrassing. Why didn’t you cover up? You could’ve said that I got better”

“And make it worse by lying again?” said Fahad trying to remain calm.

“She’s not talking to him already!” said Sara.

“Are they changing their mind? Maybe it’s for the best!” said the mother.

“No Yumma! I will not change my mind even if they do.” said Fahad.

“THEN DO SOMETHING!” screamed Sara. “You are not the Fahad that I know! You are acting like a teenager! What happened to you?”

“This stage is out of my control! It’s all in the family’s hands!”

“Quiet both of you. I think that we should meet them unofficially and get to know them. You can suggest that we go out for dinner with them this week. Just us 3, the girl and her mother”

“That’s a start!” said Sara.

“Make sure you mention that you just want to introduce us and it’s nothing official.” Said the mother firmly.

Yara was driving back home and listening to Majida Al Roumi. It’s been a while since she listened to her and she felt the need to do so. Habibi was playing when her phone rang. It was Fahad.

She stared at the phone screen hesitantly. As much as she wanted to pick it up and hear his voice, listen to his explanation and tell him how much she missed him, she couldn’t. “Not tonight, not tonight!”, She thought as she put the phone back in the cup holder and raised the volume of the song.

“Is Yara with you?” asked Fahad as he called Nadia.

“No but I was with her a while ago in the studio”

“I called her a couple of times but she’s not picking up. Is she ok?”

“She was pretty upset” said Nadia honestly.

“So you think that she’s ignoring me? She doesn’t want to talk?”

“She was in that mood yeah.”

“But I have good news for her.”

“She’ll have to forgive you first. You know her and her stubbornness.”

“Can you please call her and convince her to talk to me?”

“Sure. I’ll try but no promises” said Nadia.

“Is Fahad sending you to talk to me?” guessed Yara as soon she picked up Nadia’s call.

“Why are you ignoring the guy?”

“What part of I-don’t-feel-like-talking do you not understand?” said Yara in anger.

“He really wants to talk to you. He said he has some good news!”

“He can’t take back what he said! Please tell me that he’s not expecting me to forget what had happened and get excited for whatever news he has!”

“Talk to him and see how he explains it!”

“I can’t. I can’t. I’m just too frustrated, disappointed and I need some.. time away.”

“Time away?”

“This is marriage Nadia. It’s not a game. And I’m.. terrified.. after what happened. Yesterday I was 100% sure that he’s the one. But after the way he behaved yesterday I’m having second thoughts..” confessed Yara.

Just when Nadia put down her phone, it rang again. “It just won’t stop ringing today. Hello?” answered Nadia without looking at the phone screen.

“Nadia!!” said Dalal.

“Dalool?” asked Nadia shocked.

“Yes! I miss you!” said Dalal right away. Nadia was taken by surprise and she didn’t know how to react, “shloanech?” she asked politely.

“I’m good I really miss you. Why don’t you ever call me? Why are you boycotting me too? Have I ever caused you any harm?” asked Dalal in her usual whiny tone.

“It’s not that..”

“I know I know. No need to go through it again. Tell me, is the news that I’ve heard true?” asked Dalal curiously.

“What news?”

“Come on don’t act dumb. I heard that Fahad is proposing to Yara! Is that true?”

“Who told you that?”

“It’s Bahrain dear. News travel faster than light”

“Nothing happened yet and no one knows about it! I wonder how it spread!”

“It’s good news anyway. Please send her my warmest regards”

“Dalool, stay out of this! What you’ve done caused them enough trouble so please stay away” begged Nadia.

“You’re mean! You pushed me away out of your life and now and that I’m being nice you’re being rude to me!”

“My God. It was the sudden change in you. I didn’t push you away for no reason!”

“You didn’t even talk to me about it!” said Dalal whining.

“Not a good time. I have to go now. And please stay away” said Nadia as she ended the call and huffed. It wasn’t good news that the word spread about Fahad and Yara. She decided to keep that from Yara and spare her the tension. And just before she receives any other frustrating phone call, she put her mobile on silent and went to bed.

Yara didn’t get much sleep that night. She went to bed early to get away from the thoughts that haunted her all day, but she couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t about his lie or what he said about her mum. It was much bigger than that by now. She doubted if they were really doing the right thing by moving to the next step so fast. By the time it was 7am, she decided to get out of bed and start her day.

She fixed herself a cup of tea and two fried eggs. She placed them on a tray and headed to the living room. Breakfast had a different taste early in the morning and in front of TV. After finishing her breakfast and watching an episode of Wheel of Fortune, she lay down on the sofa and fell asleep peacefully without planning to do so.

“Why are you sleeping here?” asked Sajida curiously. Yara opened her eyes to see Sajida’s figure right in front of her.

“What time is it?” asked Yara as she hardly opened her eyes and stretched her arms.

“It’s 10!”

“Wow, I slept for two hours!” said Yara as she sat straight yawning.

“What brought you here? And you had breakfast already!” said Sajida as she sat down staring at the trey.

“I don’t know. I Just woke up early” lied Yara feeling flattered that they were finally having a normal conversation.

“What happened to the proposal?”

“You were right. They were lying”

“They’re not changing their mind are they?” said Sajida worriedly with her hand on her chest.

“I don’t think so. But…I’m having second thoughts!” confessed Yara.

“What second thoughts? You will drive me crazy! What happened so suddenly to all that love? What happened to I’ll either marry him or no one else?” wondered Sajida sarcastically.

“What they did is a big thing. What kind of marriage starts this way?”

“So what? It’s a stupid lie! They wanted to delay and they couldn’t think of a better excuse!” said Sajida coldly.

“But don’t you think that there is a reason behind that delay?”

“Who cares! You complicate things! Go show them that you are ok with it before they completely change their mind!” said Sajida as she got up and headed to the kitchen.

Without paying any attention to her mother’s words, Yara changed her clothes and went to the studio. The door was not locked, meaning that Santosh was already there. The moment Yara opened the door, she saw something on her desk that made her freeze where she was; it was a beautiful flower arrangement. She walked closely to it and dropped her handbag on the chair.

“Good morning Madame. These got delivered for you this morning” said Santosh.

“It’s alright Santosh. Go back to your work”

She stared at those fuchsia pink roses and white lilies, hoping that it’s not from him as she didn’t want anything to affect her decision. She reached for the small card nervously and pulled it out of the envelope:

I’m sorry.. Let’s start the rest of our lives together..      Fahad..

She held the card tightly and sat on her chair while remembering her mum’s words. Is she finally making sense? Am I complicating things? She wondered. How can I ever doubt his feelings? She thought with flashes of the past months playing in her head. She took her mobile out of her handbag and started dialing his number slowly. And just when she was about to press the call button, a girl walked in the studio.

“Hello Yara” said the girl. Yara observed the girl. She was petite with white skin, her hair was light brown, layered and reached up to an inch below her shoulders. She was wearing a short black dress with black stockings and a long woolen black jacket on top.

“Sara?” said Yara.

“Yes! You know me!” said Sara as they both walked to each other and kissed twice on each cheek.

“Of course I know you! Glad to finally meet you, I heard so much about you” said Yara as she led her to the two armchairs.

“Me too and I’ve been begging Fahad to introduce us for a while”

“I’ve seen you in pictures but you look even prettier in real life”

“Thanks. How are you doing? It’s a lovely place by the way” said Sara observing the studio.

“Thank you. Don’t you ever come to the café?” wondered Yara.

“Not really. When I have the time I’d rather go somewhere lively or new. I also try to stay away from the family business”

“So I’ve heard” said Yara smilingly.

“I think that you know why I’m here” said Sara sweetly.

“Tell me. I’ve been listening to myself only and I need to hear something else”

Sara laughed, “I know that guys are horrible when it comes to explaining. So I’m doing my brother a favor, not that he knows that I’m here”

“It’s fine. I’m finally starting to let go of what happened”

“But we owe you an explanation. I’m really sorry. I was against delaying from the beginning, but you know mothers.”

“I understand. I just wish that he didn’t lie”

“He didn’t want to, trust me. He argued with my mum about it and he tried hard to push her to go. But she won. My mum has a strong personality. I’m sure that you know how she and Fahad are close to each other so he would never upset her”

Yara smiled and remained quiet.

“I’m not pushing you to forgive him or do anything against your will. I just felt that you deserve an explanation. And be sure that he loves you a lot. I haven’t seen him fighting for something in years”

“I understand why your mother got hesitant. I’ve been getting some thoughts too. Will our families be ok with each other? Will the marriage work with both families uncertain about each other?”

“Of course it will. Those are normal disputes. If it means anything, it only means that your marriage is normal!” said Sara with a flashing smile.

“Thank you so much. I really feel much better now” said Yara.

“She’s such a nice girl! I’m so happy that I met her. Things will be easier now” said Yara as she called Nadia and told her about the flowers and Sara’s visit.

“I’m glad to hear that but I need to steal you right now. I’m picking you up and we’ll go work on my shop. I have so much to do and I really need your help.” Said Nadia.

“Yeah sure I want to get busy anyway”

“Come out, I’m only three minutes away”

“So when are you planning to contact him?” asked Nadia once she picked up Yara.

“Soon, today but not now”

“Why are you still delaying it?”

“I want to be completely clear headed when I call him. So I better wait for Sara’s words to erase every single doubt or fear I have in my head”

“But what if he calls you before that?”

“He won’t. She said that he told her that he won’t push it and will give me space”

“That’s good. Shows how mature he is.”

Nadia and Yara spent the whole day working on Nadia’s shop; receiving deliveries, hanging and re-arranging items. They didn’t get a chance to have a lunch break. Yara called Pizza Hut and ordered one large Super Supreme that they had to eat between all the cartoons and packaged stuff. By the time it was 7pm, they both were extremely exhausted and they decided to continue what’s left the next day. All day long, Yara was thinking of all the things she’d tell Fahad once she calls him at night. The conversation was getting repeated in her head with modifications every time she thought about it.

When Nadia was driving Yara back to the studio for her car, they saw an ambulance speeding with the Siren on. As they parked in front of the studio, they noticed a bunch of people standing outside the café with the waiters and waitresses. Yara left the car and walked hurriedly in concern to the waiters, “What is going on?” asked Yara scared. “It’s…Mr. Fahad” said the waitress in panic with her hand on her mouth.

Chapter 13, Lie

 

“HE’S PROPOSING” screamed Yara in excitement as soon as Nadia picked up the phone.

“What? Who? What? FAHAD?” gasped Nadia.

“Yes yes yes!!”

“Oh my God. Oh..my..God.. YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED” screamed Nadia.

“My tummy is hurting. I’m so nervous I want throw up.” Panicked Yara.

“This is huge! What happened? TELL ME!”

“It was all very sudden! He called and said that his family is visiting a day after tomorrow to propose!”

“A DAY AFTER TOMORROW!!”

“I know I know don’t make it worse!”

“We have so much to do. Where shall we start!!!!!”

“I haven’t even talked to my mum yet!! This is the worst part. If I pass this, everything else won’t matter!”

“What are you waiting for! GO TALK TO HER NOW!” ordered Nadia.

 

At the same time..

“Mama, it’s for you” said Tamara after picking up the house’s land line.

“Who is it? I told you a thousand times to always say that I’m not available!!” said Sajida in anger.

“It’s not family don’t worry. It’s your Kuwaiti friend!” said Tamara.

“Hello?”

“Hala Sajida. Shloanech?” said the lady in a Kuwaiti accent.

“I’m fine. Good to hear from you. How are you and how is the family?” asked Sajida.

“All are fine. How are your daughters?”

Hamdilla. Haven’t heard from you for a while. Where have you been?”

Wallah my sister Mariam wasn’t feeling so well. And we’ve been back and forth between Kuwait and Beirut. She’s seeing a doctor there”

“Oh I didn’t know. Matchoof shar inshalla

“I saw Yara, your daughter, few months ago in Beirut. You never told me that she got engaged!”

“Engaged? But she isn’t!” giggled Sajida.

“How come? I saw her there with a guy!”

“He must be her friend’s brother or cousin” said Sajida confident.

“I don’t think so. They were holding hands! That’s why I thought that she got engaged” said the woman realizing the situation.

Sajida felt so embarrassed that the sitting room suddenly felt as hot as a sauna:  “I’m sure that it wasn’t her! Maybe it was someone who looked like her”

“No, I know Yara well. And if she was in Beirut back then, then it must be her!”

“Ooooh. Now I know. Remember my friend Afaf? The Minister of Works wife? Her son Haitham proposed to Yara a while ago. It must be him. Yeah yeah I’m sure that it’s him. They are seeing each other behind our backs!” said Sajida covering up and faking a laugh.

“That makes sense and it’s good news. You got yourself some pretty well-off in laws” said the woman impressed.

“Yeah they are getting to know each other now.” Said Sajida relieved that the woman believed her.

“Congratulations. Inshalla things work out smoothly between them” said the woman.

Yara walked out of her room quietly and nervously to find her mother sitting on a sofa with her hand on her cheek. “Mama, I need to talk to you..” said Yara.

The mother turned around and stared at her in anger, “who’s the guy that you’ve been seeing?” she asked straight forward.

“What guy?” said Yara shocked and froze where she was.

“Shame on you! WHO IS HE?” screamed Sajida with her anger growing.

“This is.. what I wanted to talk to you about” said Yara scared.

“Now? After everything that you’ve already done?”

“I haven’t done anything mama”

“You haven’t? What about walking around Beirut hand in hand!” screamed Sajida in a louder tone.

“He is proposing!” said Yara cautiously.

“WHO IS HE? ANSWER MY QUESTION”

“His name is Fahad. He’s a very good guy and he comes from a good family.” Explained Yara shaking.

“A good guy won’t allow himself to have a relationship with a girl behind her family’s back!”

“Back in the 50s maybe! It’s the 21st century!”

“How do you know him?” asked Sajida curiously.

“He owns the café next to the studio”

“Aha! No wonder you almost live there!”

“It’s only been few months mama!”

“You know how I married your dad? His mum chose me for him. And we only dared to speak to each other after the melcha!”

“And I don’t want to end up like you!” said Yara disrespectfully.

Sajida took two fast steps to Yara and slapped her roughly on the cheek.

Silence.
“I love him” said Yara with tears stating to run over her cheeks.

“And where will this love take you?”

“Nothing will stop me from marrying him!” she said walking back to her room.

“Over my dead body” screamed Sajida with her voice echoing around the house.

 

“She’s angry now.  Give her some time and she will come to you and discuss it all over again” said Fahad on the phone.

“You don’t know her at all then. Once she sets her mind on something then there is no going back” wept Yara.

“Don’t cry. It was just bad timing”

“I don’t know who told her! Someone saw us in Beirut”

“We should’ve been more careful”

“I don’t want to stay here tonight. I can’t. I have to get out of this house!”

“Where are you going at this hour? Stay where you are. Things will change tomorrow trust me.”

“Why can’t you understand? Nothing will change! It’s either we get married behind her back or not get married at all!”

“Behind her back? What are those crazy thoughts?”

“It’s the only way!”

“Yara, you don’t know what you’re saying now because you are upset. We’ll find a solution tomorrow.”

“I’m not staying here tonight! I’m going to Nadia’s house, her parents are out of Bahrain” said Yara as she opened her cupboard and picked a random outfit.

“You are not leaving this late and in this condition!” said Fahad firmly.

“I’m sorry but I’ll have to. I can’t listen to you this time.”

“Wait then, I will come and drive behind you till you get there!”

 

Yara pulled her small pulley bag and headed to Tamara’s room. She opened the door to find her on her bed with her laptop on her lap.

“What’s with the bag?” wondered Tamara.

Yara closed the door and sat next to her on bed. “I’m sure that you heard me and mum arguing”

“Yup!”

“Did you figure out why?”

“No and I don’t want to know” said Tamara with her eyes fixed on the laptop screen.

“Ok. I’m leaving to Nadia’s house now. Are you ok with being alone in here with her?”

“Do I have any other choice?”

“Things are a bit complicated now Tamara. You are used to me being there for you all the time and there is a possibility that I might be getting married soon” said Yara and her heart dropped as she mentioned this and realized it.

Tamara ignored and typed something on the keyboard with a smile.

“I will always be there for you. But you have to learn how to survive on your own too. You’re not a baby anymore and you have to be responsible.” Said Yara and got a missed call from Fahad as a sign that he was outside.

“I have to go now. She will be very frustrated and firm with you but you know how to deal with her. Bye” said Yara as she got up, took her bag and walked out.

 

Fahad drove all the way to Nadia’s house behind Yara. They didn’t speak to each other on the phone, each of them was drowned in his own thoughts and worries while driving. But when Yara parked her car in front of Nadia’s house she walked to his car and he opened his window.

“Thank you..” she said.

“The least I could do to protect my fiancé” said Fahad and smiled.

Yara started crying all over again when he said that. “Please don’t cry habeebty. Everything is going to be just like we want it” said Fahad and held her hand through the window.

“You took me by surprise. I didn’t expect this!” said Yara between sobs.

“It’s nice no? Unexpected is nice!” he said trying to cheer her up.

“And it didn’t last for long. My mum killed it” she said crying.

“We’ll find the right way to make it happen. We’ll get married, have our own little house, and our own little kids” he said still holding her hand.

Yara smiled and wiped her tears with her other hand.

“The girl will be just like you, stubborn and high tempered. But the boy will be as handsome and cool as I am” he said jokingly and Yara hit his shoulder. “Yalla go inside and don’t think negatively. Think of how to convince your mother, and of all the beautiful days to come”.

 

“Who are we kidding? She will never accept!” said Yara laying on Nadia’s bed.

“Yes. She never will. And that’s why we have to think in another way. Sajida’s way” said Nadia.

“I’m really nervous, I don’t have a good feeling about all of this.”

“But you know what? I liked the element of surprise”

“Typical Fahad. All this time I was wondering if he ever thought about marriage. I had a feeling that he was scared since he is divorced and that really stressed me”

“I love his mysterious ways of getting to you. Coming to Beirut so suddenly to tell you that he loves you, and now proposing out of the blue. It’s cute”

“I love him. I really do. And I can’t see myself without him or with anyone else”

“I think I have an idea” said Nadia and got off her bed. She picked up a notebook and a pin from a nearby drawer and came back to bed. “What are Sajida’s priorities in life?” asked Nadia as she lay on her tummy.

“Money” said Yara and Nadia wrote it down.

“Ok that is priority number one. What else?”

“Social status”

“Aha” said Nadia as she wrote that down.

“Luxury? Or is that related to money too?”

“Hmm. No harm in writing it. What else?”

“She’s a show off. She hates communicating with normal people. She befriends rich people..”

“Ok. Now, how can we make Fahad’s family look attractive to Sajida? Let’s start from the beginning, money.”

“They own several businesses. They are a medium class family” said Yara.

“We’ll have to twist that to Sajida. We’ll tell her that they own that and that etc. We could talk to her about their cars and house. And lie about them owning real estate or something” suggested Nadia.

“You’re smart!” said Yara and laughed.

“Next. Status. Hmm, anything in mind?”

“She won’t care that he’s got MBA. But we can say that he’ll eventually become the owner of all family businesses when his dad retires. His mother has her own cookbooks and her name is well known. She’s an active woman”

“Excellent. What about the father? Is he a member in the Parliament or Shoura council?” asked Nadia jokingly.

“No. But I remember Fahad mentioning that he’s a member in Bahrain Chamber of Commerce once”

“Excellent. I think that should be enough to fill Sajida’s ego”

“But don’t forget that the reason she got upset is because we’ve been seeing each other behind her back”

“Come on. She will get over that the moment we display all those attractive information to her. She will even get over that fat ugly Haitham of hers”

 

Just when Nadia turned the light off and they were about to sleep, Yara received a BBM notification:

Fahad: Where is your dream honeymoon destination?

Yara: You are very optimistic!

Fahad: America or Australia?

Yara: Can we not jump to this now? We don’t want to get disappointed later.

Fahad: I think Australia is better since we both have never been there.

Yara: Inshalla we’ll discuss this at the right time..Me and Nadia have a plan..let’s hope it works.

Fahad: Did she find out that you left the house?

Yara: I don’t think so. Or she did and didn’t care as usual

Fahad: Sleep now and tomorrow is a better day

Yara: Good night..love you

Fahad: Night xx

 

The next morning, Yara and Nadia woke up early and headed to Yara’s house to take action on their plan. They found Sajida having breakfast on the dining table with a piece of toast in one hand and a mug in the other. “Good morning!” said Nadia as she walked to her and kissed her.

“Nadio! Where have you been!” said Sajida roughly.

“I was out of Bahrain. Shloanech khalty?” asked Nadia sweetly and sat next to her.

“What is this news I heard about your divorce! I’m upset with you” said Sajida as she tightened her silky navy blue robe without paying any attention to Yara.

“I’ll find someone better don’t worry” joked Nadia.

“You better do!” she said and took a bite of her toast.

“Khalty can you allow me to discuss something with you?” asked Nadia politely as Yara took a seat.

“Ahhh. I’m about to have a headache! I can feel it coming so make it brief” said Sajida carelessly.

“We know that it wasn’t right for Yara to see someone behind your back. But as long as he is proposing maybe you should give him a chance and…” said Nadia and Sajida interrupted, “It’s either Haitham or no one else!” she said coldly.

“But what if this guy is better than Haitham?” asked Nadia.

“There is no one like Haitham” said Sajida confidently.

“That would be a loss then. You didn’t even ask who’s son is he!” said Nadia.

“Who’s son is he?” asked Sajida intrigued.

“Fouzia Abdul Ghaffar. I’m sure you know her!”

“Oh. Fouzia! I know Fouzia!” said Sajida astonished.

“Yeah. I’m sure you know her husband too. He’s well known” said Nadia and winked to Yara.

“Yes. Yes. They own several companies!”

“Yeah. And Fahad is highly involved in all of them”

“Aha. Interesting. Where do they live?”

“They have a huge villa in Saar”

“How old is he?”

“Hmm 31?” asked Nadia looking at Yara.

“32” corrected Yara quietly.

“Please think about it Khalty. He’s a good catch”

“He is!” said Sajida thinking deeply.

“Yesterday they requested to come and see you tomorrow. Meet them. What will you lose?” asked Nadia.

“Tomorrow? So soon! I got to go get ready now!” said Sajida and got up.

Yara and Nadia looked at each other gasping in excitement. “So can we confirm to them that the timing is ok?” asked Nadia.

“Yes yes” said Sajida walking away.

Yara and Nadia ran to each other and hugged, “I told you it will work!” said Nadia in excitement.

“I can’t believe this! I can’t believe that it’s happening for real!” said Yara with teary eyes.

“Ok let’s not panic! Where do we start!!!” said Nadia freaking out.

“I have to call Fahad first! Then we go look for a dress!” said Yara and rushed to her phone.

Nadia’s phone rang at the same time. She reached for it to find an international number that starts with +44. “London?” she thought and picked it up.

“Hello?”

“Nadia?” said a familiar, warm and manly voice.

“Yes..” said Nadia shivering, realizing who it was.

“It’s me, Mohammad” said the man.

“I know. How can I not know..” she said nervously.

“Nadia, why didn’t you tell me that you got a divorce?” asked Mohammad concerned.

“Why would it matter” said Nadia, still not realizing that she was speaking to him.

“Of course it matters!”

“No. It doesn’t. Is this the reason you’re calling?” asked Nadia, firm but tensed.

“Seeing you messed me up, Nadia. And when I heard about your divorce..i dunno..i felt a strong urge to get in touch with you”

“Why?” she was trying hard to limit her joy and overcome it with restrictions.

“I missed you..”

She took a deep breath, taking high control of her emotions “Please don’t call me Mohammad. It’s not right!” she said straightforward.

“Don’t get me wrong, please.”

“You know very well that I’m not the kind of woman who’ll accept to catch up with her married ex!” she said with her heart shattering.

“When I heard that he cheated on you, I went mad. I felt like finding him and breaking him into pieces” said Mohammad angrily.

“It’s over now. Just like we’re over. You have a lovely family Mohammad. Don’t ruin it.” She said sincerely.

Mohammad remained quiet.

“I have to go. Bye..” said Nadia and ended the call.

She felt a very heavy weight on her chest and tears started streaming down her face as she placed her phone in her hand bag. “Are you crying?” asked Yara as she ended her call with Fahad and walked back to Nadia.

“I’m just too excited for you” lied Nadia and wiped her tears.

 

“Yumma, tomorrow is confirmed inshalla” said Fahad smilingly as he entered the living room where his mum and sister were sitting with the TV on.

The mother remained quiet as he sat down.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I’ve been asking around about the family. And to be honest with you, I didn’t hear good things about her mother. Everyone is saying that she’s shallow” said the mother with a concerned face.

“I know that. Her mother is not exactly the perfect mother in law. But it’s unfair to Yara. She is nothing like her mother”

“That’s right mama, it’s unfair to judge the girl by her mother. Every family member has a personality of his own nowadays” said Sara supporting her brother.

“I’m not judging the girl, but she comes with a package. They are going to be family after all. This lady is going to be the grandmother of your children! You are my only son Fahad, you already have one failed marriage and I don’t want you to suffer again!”

“She makes me happy.” said Fahad briefly.

“And I want to see you happy my son. But I’m not feeling comfortable about this for some reason”

“What really matters is that they make each other happy. Anything else could be dealt with” said Sara.

“I think that we should wait. Tomorrow is too soon. It’s better if we postpone, ask more about them and pray for the best” suggested the mother.

“It’s inappropriate mama. We already told them that we are going” said Sara.

“We could come up with an excuse easily. Tell them that I’m not feeling well or something”

“You should go Yumma. Meet them and see how it goes. Maybe you’ll feel comfortable after that” said Fahad.

“But if we go things will get official. You told them that we are going to propose, Allah yhadak bas. I wish that you only said that we are going to get to know them”

“So what now? You made up your mind? You’re not going?” asked Fahad frustrated.

“It’s better to wait. Talk to her and tell her that I’m not feeling well. And we’ll see what happens later” said the mother and Fahad got up and left the house angrily.

 

After heading to the office and getting distracted with some work, Fahad called Yara without really planning the conversation in his head and thinking of how or what to tell her.

“Where are you?” he asked.

“I’m in Saks trying on a dress for tomorrow.” She said excited.

“Do you like it?”

“Not much but Nadia is saying it’s perfect”

“Listen, there is no need to rush. My mother woke up today with the flu and I don’t think that she’ll be able to leave the bed by tomorrow.”

“Oh no! What happened so suddenly?” asked Yara concerned.

“I don’t know. It happens. So seems like we’ll have to postpone tomorrow till she gets better. Is that ok?”

“Of course! Actually I’m glad that we’ll have more time to get prepared!” said Yara relieved.

“Great then”

 

“Now how am I going to tell my mum?” wondered Yara after telling Nadia about it.

“I’m sure she’ll be glad to have more time too”

“She’s a Virgo!! She hates change of plans”

“Let’s distract her with something else then. Like ask her to come here to see the dress”

“Don’t think it will work. I really want to try and fix my relationship with her though. It won’t be appropriate to be married and keep treating each other this way”

“Why don’t we take her somewhere nice for dinner tonight? This could be a start” suggested Nadia.

“You think?”

“Yeah. I’ll book a table in Trader Vics and you call her and tell her”

“No! You will call her! She listens to you but she never listens to me”

“Ok, but that would be the last time! Starting tonight you will do all the talking!”

“Deal!” said Yara.

 

The three ladies walked in Trader Vics looking their best. They were seated and the waiter handed them the menus. Nadia and Yara started going through the menu while Sajida was looking around and scanning the place to check if anyone of importance was there when suddenly, someone caught her attention. “Isn’t that Fouzia?” asked Sajida squinting her eyes.

Both girls looked at the direction where Sajida was staring and to their shock, it was! “Oh my god! Isn’t that Fahad’s mum?” said Nadia.

“What the hell? Could she heal that fast!” wondered Yara.

“And you’re telling me that she’s sick in bed!” said Sajida offended.

“I’m sure that she got better. There is no other explanation” said Yara confused.

“There is! Maybe he lied to you!” snapped Sajida removing the napkin from her lap and standing up.

“Where are you going?” panicked Yara and held her arm.

“I’m going to introduce myself! And let’s see what she got!” said Sajida and moved a step forward.

“No no no please mama please” said Yara and stood in her way, “sit down and I will talk to Fahad. No need for dramatic scenes in public” she forced her to sit down.

Yara stared at Fahad’s mum with confusion and concern. The mother was wearing hijab, a silk maxi skirt and a shirt. She was with two other women who were clearly her friends. Yara decided to have this dinner quietly, enjoy her mum’s company for a change and deal with Fahad afterwards. But she couldn’t help thinking and considering the fact that her mother might be right and that Fahad could be hiding something. There was something fishy going on and she sensed it. She messaged Fahad discreetly and asked him to meet her in the studio in an hour.

 

Once Nadia dropped Yara and Sajida home, Yara had to come up with an excuse to leave the house and go to the studio. Her mother was tired by now of all the complaining she made in the car about Fahad’s mum. When Yara lied about having to go to the studio to lock the back door, she didn’t argue much.

 

“Hi” said Yara as soon as she got into Fahad’s car that was parked in front of the studio.

Ahlain. You look good!” said Fahad.

“Thanks. Guess who we saw tonight in Traders?”

“Who did you see?” asked Fahad interested.

“Your mum!” said Yara with a forced smile.

“Oh!” said Fahad in shock.

“Bahrain is so tiny.”

“Yeah” he lowered his head biting his lips.

“Fahad. Are you hiding anything from me?”

“Why do you think so?”

“You canceled on us tomorrow because, supposedly, your mother is sick in bed. How can someone who was sick in bed this morning be dressed up and dining out with friends?”

Fahad took a deep breath “I’m sorry..” He said in embarrassment.

“So you lied to me?”

“I had to.”

“Fahad, I want the whole truth, right now. Please don’t hide anything or lie. Please” she said in frustration.

“She needed more time. She thought that it was too soon and she..wasn’t feeling comfortable!” said Fahad hesitant.

“I don’t understand. Not feeling comfortable about what?”

“Yara. It’s normal. These things happen with every proposal. She just needs more time to ask about you and your family and I can’t force her not to. She’s my mother after all”

“She was ok with it! What changed her mind so suddenly?”

Fahad remained quiet.

“Does this have anything to do with my mum?”

“Kind of”

“What do you mean kind of? TALK!”

“She asked, about your family, and no one gave her any good feedback about your mum” said Fahad hardly speaking.

“Unbelievable!” said Yara shaking her head.

“I tried, I tried so much to tell her that you have nothing to do with her and how different you are. But her only wish was to wait a bit”

“She’s my mother Fahad! What do you mean I have nothing to do with her? No matter how awful she could be, she is my mum! And accepting me means accepting her as well!” snapped Yara.

“Well, excuse me if your mother has a bad reputation! There is nothing I can do about it!” said Fahad rudely.

“What the hell are you saying? You lie to me and then tell me that my mum has a bad reputation?” said Yara hurt.

“What do you want me to do? Really, tell me. Tell me if you can think of anything that I can do about it!” he said sarcastically.

“If you really want me..you’ll know what to do!” said Yara and left the car upset.

Chapter 12. Reverie

Fahad walked out of Adliya Mosque after performing Friday prayer and shook hands with some acquaintances. While putting on his traditional slippers, he saw Osama approaching him in a white Thoab and without Ghetra, “Hey” he said and offered his hand.

Shakhbar?” asked Fahad shaking his hand.

Tamam

“Good that I’ve seen you. I owe you an apology” said Fahad as they walked down the steps.

“It’s me who should apologize” said Osama.

“We’re too old for this” joked Fahad.

Osama laughed, “Very last decade”

“Why don’t you come over for lunch? My parents will be happy to see you” offered Fahad.

“Sure.” Answered Osama gladly and they both walked to their cars like two little school boys who made peace after a fight in the school yard.

 

7aya Allah men yaneh” said Fahad’s mother as soon as Osama walked in the house.

“Where have you been?” said Fahad’s father glad to see him.

“The older we become the busier we get. I really miss your cooking khaltey” said Osama.

“Then let’s eat before the food gets cold” said Um Fahad. She was a typical Bahraini housewife in her 50s. After getting her diploma she started working for around a year and eventually gave up her career for the sake of her family. She was known for her excellent cooking, especially the traditional Bahraini dishes, that she published two popular cook books. After her son and daughter got old enough to take care of themselves, she started volunteering in non profitable organizations and spending her time between that and socializing like every other Bahraini woman.

“How is the business going?” asked Bu Fahad while holding a spoon full of rice.

“It’s slow. Companies have no money to pay for branding and advertising nowadays” said Osama.

“They rely on Facebook and Twitter. Free of charge and faster than any other form of advertising” said Fahad.

“Give it some time. You’re still new and you really need to build a reputation for your business” said Bu Fahad.

“How is your mother? It’s been a while since I last saw her!” asked Um Fahad placing some salad in Fahad’s plate.

“She’s good. Still refusing to leave her job in the Ministry”

“That’s good. She shouldn’t retire. One of the things that make Bahrain special is women like her. Being in high positions with high experience is something to be proud of”, said Um Fahad picking up Osama’s plate.

“Yeah but it’s stressing her. The procedure didn’t change and work is becoming harder by the day. It’s affecting her health” said Osama concerned.

“She’ll quit when she feels its time. But don’t try and convince her because she will only do what she wants” said Um Fahad returning Osama’s plate with lots of salad.

“How is work Sara?” asked Osama turning the attention to Fahad’s younger sister.

“Not so bad. Gets really busy sometimes but it’s quiet most of the time” said Sara.

“I’m trying to convince her to join the family business. She wanted experience and she gained it. Now it’s time to join us” said Bu Fahad pouring lemonade in his glass.

“I can’t have my brother and father as my colleagues. We have enough fights at home” joked Sara.

“That’s right. Leave your brother alone and let him concentrate on his job” said Um Fahad.

“Yeah Yeah take his side as usual” said Sara upset and everybody laughed.

Ana3m Allah 3elaikum. Best Machboos in the world!” said Osama once they were done with lunch and were moving to the sitting room.

“And now it’s time for Sara’s delicious dessert. I hope that you’ve left some space for that” said Fahad’s father.

“You better did. I made cheesecake today!” said Sara.

“See that’s why I don’t come here so often!” said Osama jokingly.

Um Fahad came out of the kitchen carrying a trey with a tea set on it.

“Now and that you’re all here, there is something that I want to talk to you about…” said Fahad.

 

**

 

Yara was lying lazily on her bed when Fahad called, “What are you doing?”

“In bed, watching TV”

“It’s 4pm! Why so lazy?”

“I was up all night and Tamara woke me up early to drop her to her friend’s house. Couldn’t go back to sleep and now I’m just tired” she answered in a low lazy tone.

“Why were you up all night?”

“I don’t know. Had a lot on my mind”

“Share please!”

“Don’t want to talk about it”

“Talk!” insisted Fahad.

“I miss my father. Everything is different without him. True that my mum was always out of control but he had his way of keeping this family together and make everything seems normal.. and warm”

“Ok. What else?” he asked trying to get her to open up more.

“The debts”

“Mhmmm. That’s what it’s all about then” he figured.

“Yes and it is a big deal. A very big deal. It’s the worst feeling in the world, to owe people money”

“You’ve got to stop thinking about it and think of a solution instead”

“Ok but not now. Please I don’t want to spend the day thinking about it”

“Then get up and do something” he ordered.

“Yeah Nadia is back. I will go see her later”

Yara’s bedroom door was suddenly opened and her mum walked in, “Who are you talking to?’ she asked.

“It’s Nadia. I’ll call you back” she ended the call.

“I’m going out now, with Haitham’s mother” said Sajida.

“And why are you telling me?”

“Because they are waiting for an answer and I’ve been delaying it as much as I can”

“I already told you my answer!” snapped Yara.

“No. This is not an answer. I want the answer that I’m waiting for. Talk to the guy, what will you lose? You don’t even know him and you have no valid reason for rejecting him”

“Good night mother. Have fun” said Yara and covered her face with the quilt.

“You are so your father’s daughter!” said Sajida and left the room frustrated.

 

“I missed you this time the most” said Yara while hugging Nadia.

“Thank you but I’m glad that I wasn’t here” teased Nadia as she hugged her back.

“I know, it was a mess!”

“I’m not so shocked that Dalool is still doing what she’s doing. Her anger will only grow with time. She lost everything!”

“Leave that now. Tell me all about Mohammed.” Said Yara in excitement.

“Let’s get out of this room first. I need fresh air, let’s sit in the garden” said Nadia.

 

“Everything changed since I saw him.” Said Nadia as soon as they sat outside and asked the maid to get them tea.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s a wonderful feeling. All the old feelings, all the old dreams suddenly came back to me. And it’s so freaky because I’ve been thinking about him since Beirut. Which makes me feel guilty all the time. I shouldn’t feel all of that to a married man” said Nadia.

“It’s just some old feelings that woke up inside you. It’s not like you are planning on making him cheat on his wife!”

“Of course not. Never!”

“Then it’s nice to feel what you’re feeling. It was real. It was THE love story of your life and you will never be able to erase it from your system. So don’t feel guilty, just enjoy it”

“I saw his wife!” said Nadia in disgust.

“Oh my god. You saw Reem?” screamed Yara.

“Yeah, she took him away, as usual. She didn’t see me though. I don’t think she did.”

“You think she’s still jealous of you?” said Yara and laughed.

“How am I supposed to know? I only met her once few years back and she almost murdered me with her looks”

“Very bad choice. He deserved someone better”

“Oh well. I think choosing my country over him was a mistake. If I could only go back in time, I’d leave everything behind and go with him” she said regretfully.

“I agree. I was against it before and I didn’t encourage you to give up your life for him, but now and after all what happened with Manaf, I think that you should’ve followed your heart and not your brain”

Naseeb

“But what a coincidence!”

“I know subhan Allah. What brought him to my way?”

“Everything happens for a reason”

“So what could the reason be? Seeing his cute son that was supposed to be mine? I can’t explain the feeling. I was shaking. Shaking from head to toe. And I was so nervous that I didn’t know how to react and I just stood there looking so stupid”

“It’s normal. And I’m sure that you didn’t look stupid”

“He said something before he left. It brought me back to life after years of being dead” said Nadia dreamingly.

“What did he say?”

“He said, you look as beautiful as you always did..” said Nadia with her eyes glittering.

“Aaawww. He still has feelings for you!!”

“No, not really. He also said that he was happy that I got married” said Nadia in disappointment.

“Of course he’ll say that. What do you expect him to say?”

“Doesn’t matter. Each one of us moved on with his life” said Nadia sadly and Yara suddenly started singing, “hobbek fy galby Mhammad, ya oyoony ya hamoody”.

Nadia laughed, “You’re insane” she said as the maid came by and served them tea.

 

**

 

“I’ve been thinking about your idea, joining our businesses” said Yara while she and Fahad were going through the sales records of the exhibition.

“And?”

“I think that we should go for it.” She said without hesitation.

“What makes you think so?”

“After the exhibition I realized that I need more exposure. I need my work to be displayed to the public. Maybe it’s time for me to go to people instead of asking them to come to me”

“I’m glad that you finally think so”

“I’m happy with the exhibition’s outcome. What I have sold in three days at the exhibition is what I normally sell in around two months at the studio!”

“Then we have a lot of work to do beautiful lady”

“First let’s deal with all the payments. All the exhibition’s income will be a partial payment to that man we owe BD10,000”

“Don’t you want to wait till you get the full amount?”

“I think it’s better to pay him now and then pay the rest when I have it. This way he will know that I’m working on it”

“Ok. Do whatever you think is right.”

“Thank you. What would I do without you?” she said and patted his hand.

Santosh entered the studio with several frames in his hands, “It’s ready Madame” he said and placed the frames on her desk. It was a collection of all press releases about the exhibition in both languages. Each press release was framed in a separate frame. “Excellent!” said Fahad amazed as he went through them. “Where shall I hang them?” she asked. “I say wait till we plan the merger. A lot of changes will be made” said Fahad.

 

Yara started organizing her desk as Fahad left. She got a phone call from Tamara, “When are you coming to pick me up?”

“I’m leaving now, I’ll be there in 10 minutes”

“Fatima’s mum is asking you to come in”

“Oho, why?” said Yara annoyed.

“I don’t know. She said she wants to meet you”

“Ufff. This is your mother’s job! Why do I have to socialize instead of her?” said Yara angrily.

“Bye”

 

The maid seated Yara at the formal sitting room. The mother then came and welcomed her: “It’s good to finally meet you. My daughter talks about you all the time and how much she envies you”

“That’s sweet. I love Fatima a lot” said Yara.

“They’ve been good friends for long, Fatoom and Tamara, and they visit each other all the time. But I have never met your mother and I see you with Tamara more”

“Yeah” said Yara embarrassed.

“My husband used to know your father Allah yerhema. He met him few times. And I know your aunts, your father’s sisters. You know in Bahrain it’s a good thing that we all know each other”

“Yeah. True.”

“But yet I have never met your mum or seen her anywhere with her in laws or with Tamara.” Said the mother digging for explanations.

“She’s not very social” said Yara politely.

“Aha, and even when I ask Tamara about her she never gives me any answer. She just smiles. So I just wanted to check if everything is ok or if you need anything?” said the mother sweetly but with hidden curiosity.

“Thank you very much. I appreciate it”

“What would you like to drink? Tea? Coffee? Juice?” offered the mother.

“Thanks I really have to get going.” Said Yara and got up.

“You’re welcome anytime to visit my dear. Regards to your mum” said the mother and shook her hand, “I will call Tamara for you now”.

 

“I don’t know what’s going on with me!” said Nadia while talking to Yara on the phone.

“What’s the matter?”

“My mind is not with me. My head is full of thoughts..”

“Is it about him?”

“Yes. I really wish that I hadn’t seen him. Suddenly I’m depressed and angry. Thinking of all the ‘what ifs’ and putting scenarios of what might happen next”

“Are you out of your mind? What might happen next? The guy is married with a kid! You just met by coincidence and that’s it!”

“But there must be a reason why our paths crossed after all those years”

“I can’t believe you. How come you didn’t think this way when you agreed to marry Manaf? Or when Mohammed asked you to leave your whole life here and go with him? You were always the mature one who thought with her brain. What’s happening to you now?”

“I’m telling you I’m going insane. It’s really painful. I want to go back in time. What was I thinking marrying that cold boring man who even cheated on me!”

“Listen to me. Go have a warm shower, read Quran and try to get some sleep.”

“No no no I can’t sleep.”

“I said TRY. You will go crazy with all those stupid thoughts. Just do something about it please. Fahad is calling, I’ll talk to you later. Bye” said Yara and went for the other line.

“Hello”

“Hey gorgeous. How are you?”

“Stressed. Really!”

“What happened?”

“I’m just tired of covering up for my psycho mum!” snapped Yara.

“But that’s nothing new!”

“That’s the thing. I’m getting fed up. I feel like running away so she starts being responsible”

“Talk to her. Try in different ways if she doesn’t listen. Find a secret door”

“I was put in a very embarrassing situation tonight because of her and I also had to deal with my best friend who is losing her mind!”

“Calm down please” said Fahad sweetly.

“I can’t. Too much frustration for one night”

“Calm down right now!”

“You’re right. I’m sorry. How was the movie?” she asked trying hard to switch moods.

“Leave the movie now. Are you at home?”

“Yes, in my room!”

“Is your mum home?”

“Yes! Why?”

“Is your sitting room organized and clean?”

“Fahad!!” she said annoyed.

“I want you to go out of your room now, go to your mum, tell her that the sitting room should be properly organized, and most importantly, to book herself a day after tomorrow”

“Excuse me? What are you saying?” wondered Yara in confusion.

“I’m sending some women over..” he laughed.

“Fahad this is really not the time for your jokes!” she said angrily.

“Yara…I’m proposing to you…a day after tomorrow….” He finally said..

Chapter 11, Mohammed

Two months later:

Yara was having coffee at the café while reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy when Nadia came in with a face that screamed joy. “Heyyyyyy” she walked towards Yara, grabbed her face and gave her a smooch.

“Ok! What’s the matter?”

“THE DIVORCE IS FINALIZED”

“FINALLY!” said Yara and got up to give her a hug. “I’m so happy to hear that!” she squeezed her.

“I can’t describe how I’m feeling. Such a relief. Now I believe that freedom is the most precious thing in life” said Nadia as she sat down.

“That idiot! I can’t believe that he was refusing to grant you the divorce all this time”

“And now it’s time for some bad news” said Nadia.

“Why can’t happy news last for a while?”

“No big deal. It’s just that I won’t be around for your exhibition”

“Noooo!” said Yara in disappointment.

“I’m really sorry. I’ll have to leave to Europe in three days to buy pieces for the shop. I tried delaying but it didn’t work”

“Why? We can go together once the exhibition is over”

“I’ll have to go with my mum. I need her to be with me while choosing the pieces, she knows better. And she has to be in Germany a week after for my dad’s check ups so we are left with no choice but to go now.”

“That’s sad. It’s a big day for me and I really need you here”

“You have Fahad here. He’ll provide you with all the support and help that you’ll need”

“Yeah but still, I need you. I need my friends. If only Dalal was still Dalal”

“Funny how we miss her after all”

“I feel guilty sometimes. Maybe I should’ve given her a second chance.”

“I totally understand. It’s the good old days that make you think this way. But when you think of all the things she said and did, you find yourself unable to forgive” said Nadia.

“Yeah, exactly”

“My mum saw her in a wedding the other day. She was with her mother and aunts”

“I wonder how she explained all of this to her mum”

“I’m sure she came up with something new. It had become a habit for her” said Nadia.

 

**

It was finally time for Yara’s exhibition. Many popular photographers and artists were participating and the press coverage was enormous. Photo holders were spread around the First Floor of Seef Mall starting from Maya La Chocolaterie and making a circle around the railings overlooking the ice rink. Yara’s four photo holders, where four photos were hung on each, were located at the spot near Caribou Coffee. She was standing by one of the holders arranging some photos an hour after the opening ceremony when Fahad appeared behind her.

“Hey beautiful!” he said.

“Hey” she said smilingly as she turned around.

“How is it going?”

“Two photos are sold already!”

“No way!”

“Yeah! I was worried that I won’t sell anything”

“You’ll sell them all, trust me. I had a look on the stands on my way here and your work is one of the best” he assured her.

After helping her with re-arranging some photos, Fahad took out a small Tiffany & Co box from his pocket and handed it to her.

“What’s this?” she wondered surprised.

“Open it and see” he answered smiling.

She opened the box like an excited kid opening a birthday gift to find a silver Tiffany key necklace: “That’s really nice!”

“Do you like it?”

“I love it”

“It’s just to show you that I’m proud of you for being here and doing all this great work”

“Thank you. Means a lot” she said as she wore it.

“Shall I get you something to eat? A muffin or something?” offered Fahad.

“A cup of coffee will do.”

“Maya or Caribou?”

“Had Caribou earlier so Maya for a change”

 

Few minutes later, Osama showed up.

“Good job!” he said. He was looking very elegant in a suit.

“Thanks. What are you doing here?”

“I had a business meeting nearby and I passed by to check out the exhibition”

“Enjoy it” said Yara and turned around, not giving him much attention.

“Yara!”

“Yes?”

“Why are you treating me like that?”

“And how am I supposed to treat you. I’m being normal!”

“Yeah and too formal”

“I don’t know what you’re expecting after what happened!”

“How many times do I have to explain this? You can’t keep this attitude forever especially that we cleared things up ages ago!”

“Can we not talk about this again? I’m trying my best to forget it and be normal so Fahad won’t notice!” said Yara harshly.

 

At the same time, Fahad was waiting for the coffee in Maya when he noticed Dalal walking by. He waived politely and she turned around and walked to him, “Good to see you!” she said.

“You too. How have you been?”

“Great!” she said and faked a smile.

“Are you here for the exhibition?”

“No, not really. It’s my lunch break”

“Do you know that Yara is exhibiting here?” he said proudly.

“Oh really? Which side?”

“There” he said and pointed all the way to where she was.

“I see. Is that Osama standing next to her?” she wondered squinting her eyes.

“Oh yeah! I didn’t know that he was here!”

“Then you better go back soon” she said sarcastically.

“Why?”

“Not a good idea to leave them alone”

“What do you mean? Is that a joke?” he laughed nervously.

“She didn’t tell you?!”

“Tell me what? Are you playing with my head again?”

“Go and ask them yourself if you don’t believe me. He had his eyes on her, and she knew about it!”

Fahad walked away in frustration without picking up his order. By the time he reached, Osama was gone.

“What’s the matter?” asked Yara when she saw his state.

“Is it true?” he asked clinching his teeth.

“What?”

“My closest friend had his eyes on you?” he screamed.

“Calm down” said Yara and took a closer step to him.

“And you knew? You knew and you stayed quiet?!” he said in disbelief.

“It was a misunderstanding! Please calm down”

He walked away in fast steps ignoring her until he disappeared from her sight. He called Osama.

“Where are you?” asked Fahad.

“I haven’t seen you so I left. I’m walking to my car”

“Where?”

“The parking lot of the new extension. By the fountain”

“Stay where you are!”

By the time Fahad reached the fountain, he spotted Osama standing next to his Audi with the front door open. Fahad took faster steps when he saw him and his breathing got heavier. He grabbed his shirt and pulled him closer roughly, “haqeer” he said.

Osama was taken aback by surprise and shock had numbed his tongue.

“Out of all the girls in this world you had your eyes on mine? What does that mean? Tell me what does that mean?” asked Fahad with his hand still grasping Osama’s shirt.

“Are you out of your mind?” said Osama and managed to pull himself out of Fahad’s attack, “people are staring! Get inside the car!”

Fahad looked around and saw that some people were staring from a distance. With his face flushed red, he swallowed his anger and got into the passenger seat. He sat quietly for few moments.

“I had no idea that you liked her”

“Come on!” screamed Fahad.

“Let me finish. I don’t know how you just found out about it, but back then you and Yara were not together. I noticed how you got closer to her but I thought that she was just a friend, just like many other girls we know.” Explained Osama while Fahad remained quiet. “And yes. She is a nice girl and you know how I was looking for a serious relationship. I asked Dalal to talk to her, to see if she was involved with someone or anything of that sort. And that was how I found out that you two had something going on”

“And that’s it? You’re saying that this is how it started and ended? The terrified look I just saw on her face said much more!”

“Dalal played a major role in this. Why do you think that they don’t hang out with her anymore?”

“That’s a total different issue. She tried to come between me and Yara” answered Fahad in confidence.

“Not just that. She tried to make me come between you and Yara!”

He let out a sarcastic laugh.

“Fahad. I’m like your brother and you know for sure that I won’t allow any girl to ruin our friendship. Dalal played with my head and made me believe that Yara liked me. I was a fool and I talked to Yara about it. But Yara got really offended and she was hurt for you!”

“Unbelievable!” said Fahad shaking his head.

 

Yara was wandering around the mall looking for a trace of Fahad. She was extremely worried and he wasn’t answering his phone. Running out of options, she called Nadia. “I told you not to leave me alone!” said Yara the moment Nadia picked up the phone.

“I’m in Rome. And no matter what is going on right now I really don’t care!” teased Nadia.

“Fahad found out about Osama and he disappeared in a very, very angry mood. I’m worried sick!”

“I told you that you should’ve told him about it”

“This is not the time for your lectures.”

“You can’t do anything now. Just wait till he calms down and he will call you”

“But what if he’s driving? He was very frustrated and I’m worried that he’ll hurt himself”

“He won’t! He’s a mature man. You should be able to have more control over your anxious thoughts. Now let me enjoy my last day in Rome and go deal with your mad issues” said Nadia and ended the call.

Yara didn’t find comfort in Nadia’s words and kept on calling Fahad till he finally picked up. “ARE YOU OK?” she asked in panic.

“Yes. I’m fine”

“Where are you? I looked everywhere!”

“Meet me by the entrance next to the fountain” he said and put the phone down. “We’re not done!” he said to Osama and left the car.

They both reached the entrance at the same time. “I’m sorry I never told you” said Yara.

“He just told me everything.”

“But what happened so suddenly? You just went to get coffee!”

“I met Dalal”

“What? And she brought it up? She’s still playing this game? And why would you believe her!”

“She didn’t lie this time! And it’s not appropriate to find out about it from her!” he said upset.

“I only did it because I didn’t want you to get hurt”

“I know but it’s not an excuse to hide it from me”

“I’m sorry” she said sincerely.

“I just want you to be focused on your exhibition right now. Let me walk you up”

 

**

Sloane Street was Nadia’s weakest point in London. It was cold but sunny that morning. She was walking around with her long hair looking as gorgeous as always with its big waves. Huge D&G shades covered most of her face and she had a fashionable black coat on with a belt that was tightened around her waist.

She was on her way out of Louis Vuitton carrying their brown bag in her hand when she suddenly spotted a very familiar face. An average height man, white skin and a goatee. He was wearing a black leather coat and holding a little boy’s hand. The world stopped. She stood where she was, and everything around her seemed to be on hold too. She stared at him pulling that kid carefully, watching his steps with a caring smile. That smile took her back in time, long back. She took slow steps towards him, and he turned around at the same time. He stared at her with his eyes glittering. “Nadia?”

Nadia was washed away by emotions, memories and crushed dreams. She stared at the kid smilingly with teary eyes:

“Khalid..”

“Yes. He finally came to the world”

Nadia lowered herself down and opened her arms for the kid. He refused to go to her and clinched around his father’s leg. “Go give auntie a big hug” he said and tried pushing him to her, but he refused again. Nadia smiled and stood up, “He has your nose” she said, still overwhelmed and shivering. He smiled and kept staring at her, “Shloanech?” he finally asked.

“I’m good, hamdilla” she answered nodding.

“It’s been years..”

“Long years”

“I heard that you got married” he said as he patted the kid’s head.

“I did..” she answered quietly and briefly.

“I was.. happy.. to hear that..” he said hesitant.

“You still live here?”

“Yeah. This little boy is British” he laughed.

Nadia smiled.

“What are you doing in London?” he asked.

“Short visit” she said and was interrupted by a woman who appeared from behind: “MOHAMMED” screamed the woman with her red lipstick and short, thick black hair. “COMING” he answered as he looked back at her. “It was really nice to see you, Nadia” he said and carried the little boy up.

“You too” she replied quietly.

“You still look as beautiful as you always did..” he said gently and walked away.

She watched him walk away carrying his son, Khalid. The son that they dreamed about once upon a time. She watched him walk to his wife, the woman who stole her love, her dreams and a man that was once hers..