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.”
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.
“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.