Chapter 3, Debts

After parking his black X5 on the pavement, Fahad was walking towards the café when he noticed that the lights in Yara’s studio were still off. It’s been a week since he first met her and every time he passed by he found the place dark or closed. This time he saw a shadow moving inside so he walked in.

“Hello?” said Fahad trying to get the Indian guy’s attention.

“Hello sir, sorry we are closed” said Santosh.

“Are you still having a problem with electricity?”

“Yes sir”

“What is the matter? Maybe I can help”

“Thank you, sir. We are working on it”

“But it’s been a week. Let me get one of my staff to check it” said Fahad as he walked out.

“No, sir. You can’t do anything. We already talked to the EWA and we’ll get it back soon” said Santosh trying to cover up.

“It doesn’t take that long to fix whatever could be wrong! I will talk to them” insisted Fahad and left the studio.

**

Yara, Dalal and Nadia were having their usual coffee gathering at the café:

“I was really excited about Paris and now I’m just running out of things to look forward to!” said Dalal in a whiny tone.
“No one needed it as much as I did, trust me. But we have to think of another plan” Said Yara.
“You wanna go to Durrat AlBahrain for the weekend?” asked Nadia.
“Please, no. I hate that place.” Said Dalal.
“Why not. We’ll get to be away and relax by the pool” Yara nodded.
“How boring! This is not what I had in mind. I was hoping for a fun and loud break!” Said Dalal disappointed.
“But that’s our only option right now. So you either come or not!” warned Nadia.
“You know that I’ll end up coming anyway!” said Dalal annoyed. “Oh wait, who’s that hottie?” she wondered as she saw Fahad walking in the café.

Yara turned her head to see Fahad approaching their table: “Hi Yara”

“Hi!” she said smiling.

“Good to see you here!” he said while Dalal was looking at both of them with question marks all over her face.

“Those are my friends Dalal and Nadia”

“Nice to meet you” he shook their hands and turned back to Yara: “How have you been? Is my picture ready yet?”.

“Not yet, I’m really sorry didn’t get a chance to work on it. Been very busy the past week”

“It’s ok, no rush. Just give me a call once it’s ready” he said and handed her his business card.

“By the way girls, Fahad owns this café”

 “Oh really?” said Dalal with one eyebrow crossed.

 “Any complaints, you know who to go to” said Fahad as he excused himself and walked away.

“He’s something!!” said Nadia amazed as soon as he left “and you had nothing to say about him except for the photo he liked?”

“How do you know this guy?” wondered Dalal.

“He passed by the studio last week and introduced himself.” she said casually and took of sip of coffee.

Nehna wel amar jeeran” Nadia started singing.

“He’s not wearing a ring!!” said Dalal excited.

“Stop it girls. Seriously! You can’t do this every time I meet someone” said Yara irritated.

“He is not someone, he is SOMETHING!!” said Nadia hitting Yara’s arm.

“Look at that gray hair. I thought that he was bald at the beginning but…” said Dalal while checking him out.

“Stop staring at the guy both of you!!” yelled Yara.

“And look who just joined him” said Dalal with her jaw dropped down.

“Osama from accounting?!.” Said Nadia in shock.

“I can tell that they are good friends” said Dalal while observing them.

“And how did you figure that out Miss?” Yara said sarcastically.

“He didn’t shake his hand and the way they are talking to each other is very casual” said Dalal, still observing.

Yara’s phone rang interrupting “It’s my mum. Something must be wrong!! Hello?”

“Come home immediately!”.

**

“Hey ladies, did Yara leave?” asked Fahad approaching their table.

“Yeah, she had to leave. Need anything?” asked Nadia.

“Yeah, I need to talk to her about something quite urgent. Never mind I’ll speak to the Indian guy in the studio” he said and was about to leave.

“Do you want her phone number?” asked Dalal as if she was waiting for such chances to present themselves.

“That would be great. Thanks”

**

Yara walking into the house to find her mother sitting in the living room with a man that she had never seen before. He looked like a typical Bahraini man in his 50s, wearing a white Thoab and white Ghetra with a distinguishable white moustache.

Yara looked at him and back at her mother, waiting for an explanation. “Sit down.” Ordered her mother. Yara sat slowly next to her mum facing the man and waiting for him to speak.

“You look a lot like your father”, he said smiling.

“You knew my father?” She wondered sweetly.

“Your father was a friend of mine. Allah yerhima, he was a great man”.

Yara was still confused. Her father was a very social man and he knew a lot of people, but his family was well aware of his close friends and this man was not one of them.

“Anything we can help you with?” she asked politely.

“I’m sorry that I’ll have to tell you this. I tried to delay it as much as possible, but unfortunately it can’t be delayed anymore”

“He owes you money?” she guessed

“Yes. It was a part of a business deal that we never got to start. I assure you that I wouldn’t have asked for it if it weren’t really needed. I understand your situation. But as you know, with the current market conditions we are all facing some problems”

“You don’t have to apologize. It’s your money and you have every right to ask for it.”

Her mother stared at her with anger “Ask him if he can prove it!”

“Wait” whispered Yara back.

“Here are copies of some documents stating the amount I lent him with dates and signatures. Read it and contact me whenever you’re ready. I’m very sorry again for the inconvenience” he said as he got up.

“Thank you. I’ll surely get back to you” she said as she walked him out.

 

“This is ridiculous”, screamed the mother as soon as Yara returned.

“Please don’t start! The man was very polite and understanding.” said Yara as she went through the documents.

“How much does he want? Wait, let me have Xanax first. Where are my pills!” she fetched under the cautions.

Yara’s face went pale, she lowered the papers on her lap and stared at her mother: “10,000 Dinars!”

 

Meanwhile, Yara’s phone was ringing on silent in her handbag. She was too agitated to notice. The world was spinning around her and she couldn’t even hear her mother’s continuous cries and complaints. She couldn’t manage to pay an electricity bill, how about BD10,000?

**

The room was dark and quiet. Yara opened her eyes wondering what time it was. She reached for her mobile that was still unchecked to find 3 missed calls. One was from Santosh but the rest of the numbers were unfamiliar. It was 8 in the morning. What could he possibly want this early? She called him immediately.

“Good morning Madame”
“Good morning Santosh. What’s going on?”
“The electricity is back!”
“What? How did that happen? We didn’t pay the bill!”
“I don’t know but it was back this morning”
“I’m coming now”

She headed to the studio right away. It felt good to see it back to life, but she was sure that it was some kind of a mistake. “Santosh, do you know anything about this? I didn’t pay the bill!” she asked him as soon as she walked in.

“I don’t know Madame. But a man came yesterday and said that he will do something about it”
“A man? Who’s he?”
“He said that he’s the owner of that cafe” said Santosh pointing.
“Oh no!! Did you tell him anything about the bill?” she panicked.
“No. I told him many times that it will be back soon but he insisted to check”
“And why didn’t you tell me about this?” she screamed.

Santosh looked down and remained quiet while her panic grew to anger. She called EWA to investigate and found out that the bill was paid. She left the studio in frustration and headed to the café next door. The place was nearly empty. She looked around for Fahad but she couldn’t find him. She took a deep breath in a failed trial to calm down and sat on the nearest seat she found. One of the waitresses asked her if she’d like to have her usual coffee. “Yes please. What time does Mr. Fahad usually comes?” asked Yara. “He doesn’t have a usual time” answered the waitress.

She remembered the business card that he had handed her the previous day, and just then she realized that she had left her handbag at home. Placing her head on her palm, she thought that she heard his voice somewhere in the background of her awful morning. She turned around to see him walking towards her smiling. She stood up and looked him straight in the eyes: “I appreciate how you’re trying to help. But what you did is totally unacceptable!”

“Please let me explain”
“You are interfering in my business. It was a personal issue!”
“You are angry now. Give yourself few minutes to calm down, have a cup of coffee and we will talk about it”
“We barely know each other. Thank you for your help but I don’t need your money!”
“I apologize if you look at it this way. I thought it was a technical issue and I tried to help. The money can be considered a part of what I owe you for the photo I’m buying from you” he said gently.
“You will be getting your money back! I appreciate your concern as a neighbor but in the future please know your limits!” She said as she turned around and stormed out of the cafe, leaving him standing next to the puzzled waitress who was about to serve her coffee.

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