“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.
“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.
“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”
“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?”
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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?”
“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.