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.
“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!”
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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”
“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:
“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..”
“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.
“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..