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.
“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”
“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.
“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”
“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.
“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.
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”
“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.
“Hey gorgeous. How are you?”
“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?”
“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..