Sajida was sitting in her usual spot in the sitting room in front of TV nibbling on some seeds when Yara got back home. She stood in front of her mother blocking the screen and pretended to scratch her face with her right hand, “Notice something different?” asked Yara holding back a smile.
“Oh My!!” said Sajida as she stood up, pulled Yara’s hand and stared at the ring with sparkling eyes.
“What do you think?” asked Yara happily.
“Speechless! This is worth a fortune!”
“Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Beautiful and valuable! You have chosen the right person my dear. I can congratulate you now” said Sajida as she gave Yara a quick and cold hug.
Yara was overwhelmed by her mother’s hug. It was their first hug for as far as she can remember. She was sure that it meant something to her mother too. Sajida was really happy at that moment to see her daughter engaged and not just to see that huge diamond on her finger.
“Mama, I’m sorry that I’ll have to put your happiness on hold for a moment. But there is something important that you should know” said Yara sitting down.
“How I hate bad news. Make it quick” said Sajida with her attention back on TV.
“That man that we owe money called again few days ago”
What does he want? Didn’t you just pay him?”
“Yes, but it was a small amount and he wants the remaining balance”
“Why can’t he be patient? He wants us to sell the house? Because that’s all we have left!” said Sajida angrily.
“I don’t know. But he threatened to go to court so we better come up with something”
“Why don’t you ask Fahad to lend us the amount?”
“No way! Impossible!”
“Then what other option do you have?”
“I’m thinking of…selling the studio” said Yara hesitant.
“Finally!” said Sajida and cracked a seed with her teeth.
“I could sell my photos in Nadia’s new shop or even in the café. The only thing is that.. baba gave me that place. It’s special to me” said Yara sadly.
“Well, it’s his debt at the end of the day! It’s like you’re giving it back to him”
Ignoring her mother’s comment, Yara got up and poured herself an Estikana of Black Tea. “One more thing” she said as she sat down holding it carefully.
“Please, enough for today!”
“Let’s just get done with this please. We can’t keep on paying for Tamara’s school.”
“There is no way that I’m getting her out of this school” snapped Sajida.
“But can’t you see how much we have to pay for it? I can’t keep on managing the amount”
“You’re getting married now! You won’t need to spend on yourself, he will spend on you. So use the money you earn for the school!” said Sajida easily.
“Spend on myself? When was the last time I went shopping or spoiled myself in a spa? You spend more than I do!! All my money goes to the house!”
“I told you to find yourself a job but you never listened”
“So I could pay for my sister’s school? It’s not just my responsibility! You are responsible too!”
“Don’t give me a headache. Sell the studio, pay the man and then use the rest of the money for your sister’s tuition. End of topic” said Sajida as she raised the volume of the TV.
The next morning, Yara and Nadia were doing more work in Nadia’s shop. “I have to take a picture of you in this hideous outfit” said Nadia and took a picture with her phone of Yara standing on a ladder wearing a dungaree with a bandanna on her head.
“If you want to blackmail me and send this to Fahad then be sure that I don’t care”
“You look like a blast from the 90’s” said Nadia laughing.
“All that she wants, is another baby…” sang Yara.
“That would make a lovely theme for one of your shoots! Back to the 90’s!” said Nadia excited.
“Don’t remind me. If I sell the studio there will be no more themes. Just random framed pictures hanging somewhere..”
“There is no other solution ha?” asked Nadia sadly.
“Can you think of any?” asked Yara as she walked down the ladder.
“Let me lend you the money!” suggested Nadia sweetly.
“No! I’d rather take a loan from a bank and pay interest than take the money from anyone! We’re not talking about a hundred or two, it’s thousands!”
“Do whatever you want. But do you think that Fahad will allow you to sell the studio? I don’t think so”
“I won’t tell him!”
“What? You want to cause more problems between you two?” asked Nadia in shock.
“Nadia I really don’t have any other choice! He will understand later on” she said as she sat on one of the packed boxes.
“I really think that you’re doing a big mistake”
“Leave that now. You promised that you will tell me what happened with Mohammad yesterday!”
Nadia smiled and sat on a wooden chair, “he wants me back” she said without any introductions.
“Don’t panic. He just said that we should do something about it, and not let this chance go by once again!”
“I said that I would never ruin his stable marriage”
“But is he willing to ruin it?”
“I don’t know. I think so, but he wasn’t clear. All he said was that we should think of a way. But it doesn’t matter because nothing can happen”
“Are you sure? This is the love of your life asking you to be with him. After all what you’ve been through, you think that you should let go of him again?”
“He said that we should think of ourselves and not make this about others. But what kind of life will I have then? I asked him not to call me again. I basically pushed him away. I can’t even think of the possibility of me causing him trouble”
“But it’s what you both want!”
“It’s too late..”
“I feel bad. I’m part of the reason why you let him go back then” said Yara.
“Of course. You are a big part of my life and you shouldn’t feel bad!”
“It’s really hard to believe. He is back and willing to try again!” said Yara shaking her head.
“Let’s just forget about it and go have something to eat? Food is always the solution” suggested Nadia as she got up.
“Totally..” said Yara.
One week later:
It was a Monday afternoon. Fahad, Yara, Nadia, Osama and Sara were having lunch in Maki. Yara was against the idea of showing up with Fahad in public since their engagement news spread and there wasn’t any official proposal yet. But Fahad managed to convince her by playing the recovering-from-sickness card. He also convinced her that it’s time to make Nadia and Osama pay attention to each other. With everything that happened to Nadia recently, Yara thought that it might be a good idea to do this in order for her to get her thoughts off Mohammad.
They were seated in the center of the dining area on a rectangular table, where Yara and Nadia sat next to each other faced by Fahad and Osama. Sara was left with the seat between Osama and Nadia. The girls got engaged in their own conversation after they were handed the menu. Fahad took that chance and moved closer to Osama, “What do you think of her?” he whispered.
“Who?” wondered Osama.
“Who else? I will never ask you to check out my fiancé or my sister!”
Osama laughed, “Nadia? She’s..nice”
“Nice? Only?” he said disappointed.
“What more do you want me to say?”
“She’s a good catch! Just keep that in mind” said Fahad and opened the menu.
Yara picked up her phone and BBMed Nadia:
Yara: He’s hot right?
Nadia’s phone was blinking but she didn’t care to check her messages. “You have a message!” said Yara. “Yeah, never mind” said Nadia carelessly. “Check it!” said Yara hitting her leg. Nadia understood, picked her phone, read the message and typed back:
Nadia: Who? Fahad?
Yara: Oh no! The only other guy on the table maybe?
Nadia: Haha you’re funny. Now you really wish that it was him you’re engaged to?
Yara: You are so stupid. You check him out for yourself!!!!!!!
Nadia: LOL, OSAMA? AHAHAHAH..i’m not 19 anymore!
Nadia had a laugh on her face that she was trying hard to hide while she typed. She put her phone away and went back to the menu.
“We must order Yara Maki” said Fahad jokingly. They all laughed, “it’s my least favorite unfortunately” said Yara.
“Most important thing is Edamame Salad” said Sara.
“Yeah that’s for sure” said Osama while flipping the menu.
Just when the waiter came to take the order, Yara’s phone rang. “Yes mama?”
“You need to come home right now!!” ordered Sajida in panic.
“What’s going on?” asked Yara scared.
“Some men are here and they want to get inside and evaluate our belongings! They have a court order” screamed Sajida in terror.
“He did it!! I’ll be there now, ask them to wait” said Yara as she ended the call, picked up her bag and walked away without saying a word.
“What’s going on?” asked Fahad, but she didn’t look back and kept walking.
“Yara, wait. What’s the matter??” asked Fahad as he ran after her in the parking lot.
“I have to be home right now we’ll talk later” she said reaching her car.
“Let me drive at least”
“No. Please, Fahad, I’m in a hurry” she ordered.
“I will drop you home. You don’t have to explain. I’ll just drop you” he begged.
“FINE” she said frustrated as she gave him her car keys and hurried to the passenger seat.
It was a ten minutes drive that passed so slowly for both of them. Yara was absent minded and worried throughout the whole drive and Fahad respected the space that she asked for and stayed quiet.
The moment he parked in front of Yara’s house he saw two Bahraini men in Thoab standing by the gate, “Who are these men? What’s going on?” asked Fahad confused.
“Go back to lunch. It’s nothing” she said as she opened the door.
Fahad ignored her and got out of the car after turning off the engine. “What kind of a man do you think I am? To leave three ladies, who’ll be my family in no time, deal with strange men on their own? If you are not used to having a man who takes care of those things then it’s time for you to start doing so! You can’t deal with everything on your own!” he said seriously and roughly. Yara stared at him with a blank face. She couldn’t argue. He made total sense and gave her no option but to give up.
“How can I help you?” said Fahad as he approached the men. They gave him the court order and he read it carefully. He then turned around to Yara, “Is this from the man you owe money to?”
Sajida came out after seeing Fahad and Yara through the window and stood by Yara’s side, “You told him?” she asked in a low tone. “He found out” said Yara.
“Could you hold on please?” Fahad excused himself and moved closer to Yara and Sajida, “You need to tell me what happened exactly”
“He called around ten days ago and warned us that he would have to go to court if we don’t pay him the full amount” explained Yara with her hands folded on her chest.
“Do you have anything written?” asked Fahad.
“No. I just have a copy of the contract he signed with my father and the receipt of the amount I paid him”
“Give me his phone number quick”
“Give me the number and get inside the house!” ordered Fahad angrily.
After few minutes, Fahad walked inside Yara’s house for the first time. “What happened?” asked Sajida in concern as she and Yara were standing in the middle of the hallway.
“They left” he said with a firm face expression.
“Come inside. Let’s sit down” said Sajida as the three of them walked to the sitting room.
“Why didn’t you tell me that he threatened you?” asked Fahad angrily staring at Yara. She remained quiet.
“She didn’t want to trouble you with our issues from the very beginning” explained Sajida.
“This is no trouble. I’ll be a part of this family and you should treat me accordingly” he said sharply.
“I’m sorry” said Yara.
“It’s solved.” He said.
“Solved? How?” wondered Sajida.
“I spoke to the man. I promised him that he would receive the whole amount by tomorrow morning. He withdrew the order immediately”
“Oh, Fahad. Can’t thank you enough” said Sajida relieved.
“This is why I didn’t tell you! It’s a huge amount Fahad. How will you manage it?” said Yara upset.
“I have my ways. And it’s either you accept this or the court order will go on and you’ll end up losing your belongings and the house!”
“God forbids” said Sajida placing her hand on her chest.
“Yes, this is why those men where here” said Fahad.
“How will you manage the amount?” asked Yara again.
“I will arrange with my father. But don’t worry, it will be between me and him only. My mother will never know. I understand your concerns”
“Yes that would be great. Thank you so much dear. It feels good to finally have a son” said Sajida.
“What will your father think? Asking for money even before things get official is very embarrassing” said Yara.
“He will understand. You don’t know my father, he is the kindest man on earth. He never thinks badly of anyone”
“Allah ykhaleeh lekum” said Sajida.
“We’ll pay it back. As soon as we manage to do so” said Yara with her mind fixed on the studio.
“There is nothing to be worried about now. Do you have any other debts?” asked Fahad.
“Small manageable ones. Been paying them for a while and it’s almost covered” said Yara.
“We need to sit down together and calculate the whole amount of all the debts. It is important to do so” ordered Fahad.
“Inshalla. Thank you so much, you really proved what a good man you are” said Sajida.
Fahad leaned towards the coffee table that was placed between him and Yara to view the framed photos that were on it. “That’s the picture that was in your display when I first added you on BBM” said Fahad while looking at a picture of Yara and her father. He was carrying her with huge vintage sunglasses on his eyes and she was laughing and trying to pull the glasses off.
“I really love this photo” said Yara with a sad smile.
There was another old picture of Sajida standing on her own in front of Eiffel Tower. Her hair was short and curled and she was wearing a brown blazer with shoulder pads. “Look at that vintage look” said Yara sarcastically holding Sajida’s picture.
Fahad laughed silently so Sajida won’t hear him. She was busy with her Blackberry and she didn’t seem to hear their conversation. “Seems like it was always this way. You and your father together while she’s busy in her own world”
“Yup..” said Yara absent minded.
“Why do you look worried?”
“Nothing” she said avoiding looking into his eyes.
“You can’t lie to me. Is it the debt?”
“You should be happy that it has been taken care of”
“I am! But this is not how I wanted to start my life with you! Remember when we first met and how upset I got when you paid the electricity bill! It’s not a nice feeling.” She said annoyed.
“That was different. We are engaged now and what’s mine is yours” he said with a smile.
“What about some Turkish Coffee?” asked Sajida as she put her phone down and took off her reading glasses.
“Let me treat you, how about we go out for coffee? You need the change after this stressful afternoon” offered Fahad.
“Don’t trouble yourself dear. I’ll ask the maid to do the coffee” said Sajida.
“I insist. Yalla get ready and I will ask my mother and Sara to join us” said Fahad.
“Can’t object. I’ll go change” said Sajida getting up.
“Did you talk to Nadia?” asked Fahad.
“Yes, while you were out. They ate”
“Great. We’ll grab a bite as we have coffee.” Said Fahad.
“Unplanned outings always work better” said Fouzia as they were all seated on the table under the stairs.
“It does. I am a very organized person and I get really frustrated when plans change but as you said, unplanned feels surprisingly nice!” said Sajida.
“Because it doesn’t give you a chance to have any expectations” said Sara.
“As long as we’re all here I think that we should set a date for the official proposal” suggested Fahad.
“True. We shouldn’t delay it any longer.” Said Fouzia.
“You’re welcome anytime habeebti” said Sajida happily.
“What about next week? Which day would be suitable for you?” asked Fouzia.
“Hmm. Today is Monday, what about next Tuesday? In a week time” suggested Sajida.
“Fine by me. I’ll have to inform the family today” said Fouzia.
“How many ladies will you be?” asked Sajida a bit worried.
“My two sisters, two sisters in law from my side, three sisters in law from Bu Fahad’s side, my aunt and her four daughters….” Counted Fouzia.
“Wow Yumma why are you going that far? No need for all those people” interrupted Fahad.
“Wait till she gets to the end of the list!” warned Sara laughing.
“We have to. This is how it works. And if I don’t, I will never hear the end of it” said Fouzia.
“Hayakum Allah” said Sajida sincere.
“Walla I think that it’s unnecessary. Why don’t we just call the close ones? The aunts from both sides. That’s more than enough” said Fahad.
“Let her do what she thinks is right. It’s once in a life time” said Yara.
“Not exactly. It’s my second” said Fahad jokingly and they all laughed.
“Do you want a wedding Yara?” asked Fouzia.
“No, not at all. I hate weddings”
“Come on! I’ve been dreaming of your wedding since you were born!” begged Sajida.
“No way! It’s just impossible” said Yara firmly.
“What about a small one? We could do it in your house or ours and invite family and close friends only” said Fouzia.
“That I won’t mind” said Yara blushing.
“Yeah, fair enough” said Fahad.
“But I really wanted a grand wedding” said Sajida disappointed. Yara gave her an angry look discreetly. How could she ask for a grand wedding when the man just paid thousands of Dinars to save them from the debt? “But yes you’re right that would be better” said Sajida changing her mind.
Yara and Fahad were sharing Mini Burgers and Kibbeh while the rest were having coffee and different kinds of sweets. To their surprise, Alia, Fahad’s x-wife walked out of the other section of the cafe. They all stared at her as she walked towards them.
“elsalam Alaikum” she said confidently yet politely.
“Alooy!! Where have you been!!” said Fouzia as she stood up and kissed her.
“So good to see you!” said Alia as she hugged Fouzia.
“How are you? Are you getting younger with time!”
“I’m so sorry I never call and ask about you” said Alia.
Yara was staring at them and then at Fahad in confusion. “It’s his x-wife by the way” she then explained to her mother. “Wow!” said Sajida not able to take her eyes off of her Chanel bag.
“Fahad, how are you feeling now? I was planning to call and check on you” said Alia.
“I’m good. Much better. You met Yara already. This is her mother” said Fahad introducing them.
“Nice to meet you” said Alia shaking Sajida’s hand.
“Look at those earrings” whispered Sajida staring at her Van Cleef earrings.
“I miss you” said Sara as she hugged her.
Yara was still confused with all the warm greetings. She wasn’t jealous as much as she was wondering what was the reason behind all this love and admiration to the X. She is an X after all and there should be some hard feelings or awkwardness.
“Such a nice girl. She is still respectful and loving” said Fouzia as soon as Alia left.
“She’s beautiful” said Sajida and put a spoon full of Concerto in her mouth.
Yara’s eyes were fixed on Fahad as they spoke about Alia. He was calm and expressionless, but she felt that there was something hidden behind that silence. There must be a reason that would explain the excellent terms between them.
Nadia was sitting in the living room of her huge empty house watching Showtime when she heard her mobile ringing. She took fast steps to her room, reached for the phone to see Mohammad’s London number. She looked at it hesitantly, not knowing if she should stick to her word or listen to her heart. She was hoping for it to stop ringing, but it didn’t. And so.. she picked it up.
“Nadia?” said Mohammad as she stayed quiet after accepting the call.
“Hi” she said finally.
“How are you?”
“Aren’t we supposed not to speak to each other?”
“It was you who said that and not me”
“And why can’t you respect my decision?” she asked whining.
“Because I know that it’s not what you want.”
“There is a difference between what we want and what we’re not allowed to want!” she said sharply.
“I asked you to think about it and all you did was believe that this is something that you can’t have!” he said upset.
“Yes. And that can’t be changed” she said.
“Listen to me, I called today because I have made up my mind.” He said firmly.
Nadia stayed quiet. She felt her heart fall down to her feet, “and?”
“I want to talk to your parents…” he said.