Chapter 18. Patience

“I have two meetings with potential clients in Abu Dhabi next week. I hope it works out” said Osama while spending the evening with Fahad in Coco’s outdoor area.

“Expanding your services out of the country ha!” said Fahad impressed.

“Why not! It’s been a while since I started and the projects I have here are small. My network can help me reach out for clients around the GCC and I want to use that”

“It’s a good move”

“Let’s hope it works. I’m putting a lot of effort in the presentations. I want to deliver a professional image to them”

“Why don’t you get ISO certified?”

“I was thinking about it, but we’ll need to develop more procedures for it so I feel it’s too soon” said Osama & took a sip of the lemon juice that was placed in front of him in a long transparent glass.

“Are you planning on going for your marriage proposal next week? Other than the women part?” asked Osama while placing his juice back on the table.

“Don’t know yet. Once the women go they get to decide”

“I’ll be away for a couple of days only anyway”

“Can’t wait for tomorrow’s match.” Said Fahad as a guy in a Manchester United t-shirt passed by.

“You will be playing against Liverpool, get ready for a big loss!” said Osama daringly.

“You Liverpool fans are freaks! Too passionate” said Fahad laughing.

“Manchester United is for girls”

“Girls? I am a Manchester United fan who is getting married for the second time while you never did!”

“I don’t have time. I’m a busy man. A career oriented man.” said Osama acting all-important.

“Why don’t you marry Dalal? I’m sure she won’t mind” joked Fahad.

“I say let’s leave before we start a fight” said Osama as he waved to the waitress to get the check.

 

Nadia got back to the hotel while her parents were resting in the sitting area of their suite. The volume of the TV was so high that she heard the Syrian accent of a dubbed Turkish Series before she opened the door.

“Come here” said the father as soon as she stepped in and lowered the volume. “Ha? What did you decide?” he asked as she sat down.

Nadia didn’t answer, she took off her coat and woolen hat quietly and slowly.

Tehachay!” said the mother impatiently.

“Will you accept, if, we decided to go for it?”

Ya binty! Don’t put yourself in such complicated situations” said the mother upset.

“I went for the most normal scenario before and I ended up getting a divorce! I’m not going to stick to the rules anymore, I want to do what feels right and not what looks right!” said Nadia.

“Calm down both of you! Now is not the time to argue” said the father.

“Why not? I came all the way here for this!”

“Enough talking for now. Give it time. I’m out of here!” he said standing up.

“Where are you going?” asked the mother.

“Meeting a friend” he put on his overcoat and left the room.

“Tell me” said Nadia as soon as her father left.

“What do you want me to tell you?” asked the mother upset with her eyes fixed on TV.

“Why are you upset?”

“Because I don’t understand how you want to cause a family trouble! You think that the wife and son will survive this? Never!” she said in anger.

“But why are you thinking of the wife and son and discarding him? He was clear about how he’ll take care of them!”

“And you really think that it will work? How naïve are you? You will be an intruder and no one will accept you! Not even his family! Does his parents know about this? Are they ok with it?” she said in frustration.

“Mama! Focus! We said that this is a first step only. And once you accept it we’ll move to the next stage” said Nadia annoyed.

“And what if we don’t?”

“I’m almost 29 years old and I am divorced! I’m mature and with enough experience to know what I want to do!”

“You can never get enough experience! No one knows better than your parents!”

“And Baba didn’t object yet. If he was totally against the idea he could’ve said no from the very beginning! But he is being patient and not jumping to conclusions”

“He is doing that because he doesn’t want to hurt you. He wants you to think and understand by yourself!”

Nadia’s phone rang cutting of the conversation. “Hello?” answered Nadia and walked away from her mother.

“Every time you travel a disaster happens to me!” said Yara.

“What happened now?”

“I think that I’m being fooled and I’m rushing into this marriage!”

“Fooled?”

“He lied! AGAIN!”

“What did Alia tell you?”

“Remember how he told me that the reason they got divorced was because she didn’t want children? HE LIED”

“What did she say?” asked Nadia again.

“That…he is not able.. to be a father” said Yara in shock as if it was just hitting her.

“What is this nonsense! I’m sure she is lying. Why are you believing her?”

“No, no, I believe her. He lied before. And I sensed it this time. Every time I talked about her he got nervous”

“Still, you can’t believe her and dismiss Fahad completely. Hear him out”

“I don’t know what to do. I am so angry and shocked that I am shaking now”

“Calm down and think wisely. I know it’s not easy because if this is true…” she said and Yara interrupted her, “This lie is big, this is something that I won’t be able to forgive. What if it’s true and I only found out after marrying him? If he were honest with me then the hell with children, I’d marry him no matter what. But to hide something as big? This is huge!” she said getting more shocked with each word.

“Do you want to confront him?”

“No, I don’t want to be fooled again. At the same time, I really want to see his reaction and hear his excuse!”

“Don’t rush. It might not be true after all. I think that you should give yourself some time to calm down and then talk to him”

“I don’t know what to think anymore. The proposal is in few days and…uufffff” she started crying.

“I’m sorry I’m not there”

“I need to be alone now. I’ll talk to you later”

“Yara, I know you too well. You will get all angry now, scream and make the issue bigger than it really is. For once, don’t! Try to solve and not ruin”

“OK OK”

“I’m heading to the airport in few hours and should arrive early morning. Stay sane till then”

Yara was driving home when she was talking to Nadia. She suddenly changed her direction and drove to the studio. The last thing she needed was to find Sajida planning the proposal day. She wanted to deal with this on her own without the interference of anyone. So she drove quietly at a very slow speed till she reached the studio praying that Fahad won’t be around.

Santosh was there moving from one place to the other as usual. It was around 7pm. She asked him to leave for the day and she took over. The studio was small in size but rich in content. It was a rectangular space, with a transparent door as the entrance. The armchairs were placed in the corner between two walls with framed paintings and themed photos. The walls were not painted, she intended to leave them as they were; bare with cement. It reflected an artistic natural look on the studio and it directed the attention of the viewer to the photos right away. The flooring was dark brown parquet that added a vintage touch to the whole place. Her desk was classic, wooden and tiny with a flat screen computer and different pieces of funky accessories.

She walked to the wall, which was facing the door and stared at a framed postcard of the Drowning Girl painting that she got from Museum of Modern Art in New York. The painting was a comic drawing of a woman who was drowning in her own tears with a bubble saying: I don’t care. I’d rather sink than call Brad for help. She stared at the woman carefully, at her blue hair and her hand that was calling for help out of all the tears that surrounded her whole face. But yet, she resisted, and refused to call Brad for help. She was always curious to know the story behind that painting. Who’s Brad? And what did he do to her that hurt her that bad? She never figured it out. And today, out of all days, she felt the connection. She found herself somewhere in that painting. The possibility of Fahad lying again, a lie that wasn’t just a lie but a life changing matter, made her feel like she was sinking, just like the Drowning Girl. Something in that painting spoke to her and enlightened her. Calling Fahad to figure out the truth wasn’t the right thing to do. The Drowning Girl was smart enough not to call Brad, and so thought Yara. She decided to get help from another source, and so she reached for her phone and called Sara.

“I need you to tell me the whole story behind Fahad’s divorce” said Yara after picking Sara up and going for a drive.

“Didn’t he tell you already?”

“He did. But so did she” said Yara with a quick stare at Sara.

“You talked to Alia?”

“Yes. And Fahad doesn’t know”

“Can you park somewhere or can we go sit somewhere? It’s dangerous to drive and discuss a sensitive issue like that” requested Sara.

Yara was driving along Adhari highway. She turned right by the waterfall and then again right towards Veranda. She parked in front of the nearby complex, opened the widows and turned off the engine, “Tell me” she said turning to Sara.

“First you have to tell me what you have heard from both sides” said Sara.

“No. I want to know what you know first.”

“But I don’t want you to get more confused. Tell me so I could put it in the right context while telling you”

“Won’t make a difference.” Insisted Yara.

“As you wish. You know that they had issues conceiving right?”

“I only found out today”

“Today?!”

“Yes. Alia told me assuming that I already knew”

Sara got suddenly nervous, “You need to tell me what Fahad told you about this”

“Nothing”

“Then how did he explain his divorce?”

“He said that she didn’t want any children. He lied, right?” asked Yara looking at Sara in the eyes.

“What did Alia say exactly?”

“She said, that.. he is unable” said Yara in difficulty.

Sara took a deep breath, “This is not exactly right”

“What do you mean?” asked Yara with a spark of hope in her eyes.

“They both had problems. They went through many tests but it didn’t work out so we don’t really know who’s able and who’s not!”

“But…there must be clear results for those tests!”

“It was complicated, for both. I’m shocked that Alia didn’t admit that she had problems too!”

“Doesn’t matter. He lied again!”

“I’m sure that he didn’t mean to..”

“Nothing can justify this. This is more like dragging me into a life where he had no idea where it’s heading!!”

“Don’t jump to conclusions. They both had problems so it’s normal that they weren’t able to conceive together. Doesn’t mean that they can’t at all even with other people!”

“But I had every right to know!! How could he propose to someone without mentioning that? It is a big deal!! A very big deal!” said Yara sharply.

“Yes, you’re right. But don’t let anger control you now. Think of what made him hide this, he really loves you Yara..”

“Please don’t tell him anything about this. I will deal with it on my own” said Yara and started driving.

 

After dropping Sara back to the house and driving back home in silence, Yara was glad that she didn’t find Sajida spending her evening in her usual spot in front of TV. She walked into her room, dropped her handbag on the floor and sat on her bed holding her phone. Few minutes later, she dialed Dalal’s number….

“Hello?” answered Dalal excitedly.

“Hey Dalool. How are you?”

“I’m good how are you doing? Are you ok?” asked Dalal in her usual hyper mood.

“I..no.. I am not” said Yara hesitant.

“What’s the matter?” asked Dalal in a total shift of mood.

“Is your dad in town?”

“Yes, he is. Why?”

“Is it possible to see him?”

“Oh my god why?” panicked Dalal.

“No no it’s not me. I just need to discuss something with him and ask some questions”

“You realize that my father is a gynecologist right?”

“Yes, of course! How can I forget”

“Ok. You want to come to our house tomorrow morning? He will be home”

“Yes, the sooner the better. But I’ll need to speak to him privately”

“I can arrange. Will you tell me what’s going?” asked Dalal curiously.

Yara explained to Dalal the whole situation and was instantly relieved to open up to someone who was a good listener. Dalal was into the conversation passionately commenting every now and then with shock and disbelief. They spoke as if nothing had ever come between them, as if they were that close to each other yesterday and the day before. All those months apart suddenly felt as if it didn’t exist. At first, Yara felt guilty for using Dalal when she needed her. After feeling calm and relaxed, she realized that she was waiting for an excuse or a push to get in touch with her. And she was really glad that she did.

Just when she was about to go to bed, Fahad called. She stared at his name not knowing what to do. She didn’t want to talk to him but at the same time she didn’t want him to sense that something was wrong. Not before she does her own research and find out the real deal.

“Hello”

“Hey.. Where have you been?”

“I…was…with Tamara today”

“Why? What did you do?”

“She needed to buy a gift for her friend so we went shopping”

“That’s nice. I was with Osama and the guys all day, just got home.”

“Hmm”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Why?”

“You’re not usually that quiet!”

“It was a long day and I just got into bed. I really need to sleep” she said faking a yawn.

“Go to sleep then. We’ll talk tomorrow” he said sweetly.

“Good night”

Her head was buried in her fluffy pillow and her thick quilt was covering it. She was surprisingly proud of herself. Proud of how she didn’t rush to confront him like she usually did. Maybe she was finally ready for marriage after all.

The next morning, Yara woke up early and headed to Dalal’s house. The hyper mother was too excited to see her after all this time. She squeezed and welcomed her warmly just like the old days. After having breakfast and catching up with the family, Yara, Dalal and the father went to his home office and discussed the matter privately. Yara asked him about the condition that Sara explained. She needed a medical explanation and maybe some future options or possibilities. He was very frank with her, he couldn’t tell her anything since he had no details of the cases. But he assured her that if any two couldn’t conceive together, it doesn’t mean that they both never will.

After hugging Dalal passionately and thanking her for her help, Yara left Dalal’s house and went to Nadia’s. Nadia was in bed and the curtains were down. Yara jumped on the bed, hugged Nadia and kissed her cheek several times. “You missed me!” said Nadia pushing her away.

“Yes” admitted Yara with a grin as she lay next to her.

“What happened at Dalal’s?”

“Nothing new. What Sara said could be possible. But it’s not that, it’s the fact that he lied. It’s the lie that I won’t be able to get over”

“You’re calm now. No longer angry”

“I guess”

“Then maybe it’s time to talk about it with him?”

“I was thinking about that. I should do it today. Only two days are left for the proposal”

“But you have to be as calm as you are now, don’t lose your temper or else things will get out of hand”

“I’ll try. What happened with you?”

“We didn’t talk about it. Mohammed left last night and my parents are coming back after tomorrow. Time off for now”

“How do you feel?” she asked smiling.

“I can’t believe that Mohammed met my parents. It felt weird after all this time. But I am really happy and both of us are so into it now. I don’t think that we’ll bear staying away from each other again”

“You surrendered?” teased Yara.

“Yes” said Nadia covering her face with her hands.

“And you’ll fight for it?”

“Yes” affirmed Nadia happily.

“At least one of us will have a happy ending”

“Don’t say that. We both will inshalla. Now call Fahad and tell him that you need to see him” said Nadia and got off her bed.

 

“You’re pale! You need to eat” said Fahad as he sat in the café with a Tuna sandwich in his hand and a glass of Orange juice in front of him.

“No, I had heavy breakfast” said Yara as she sat next to him on the same sofa.

“You must be stressed then. Are you nervous about Tuesday? You still have time to change your mind” teased Fahad and took a bite.

“No, no, it’s not that”

“What is it then? Tell me.”

“I met Alia yesterday”

“What? Why?” he put the sandwich down.

“I’ll be honest with you Fahad but please don’t be angry. We are getting married and I had every right to ask her about you”

“Ask her about me? If you have me why would you need to ask anyone about me?” he asked in anger.

“It’s different..” she said still calm.

“And what did she tell you? Anything that I don’t know about?”

“Things that I didn’t know about”

Fahad rested his back on the sofa and looked away nervously.

“Why didn’t you tell me Fahad?”

“What did she tell you?” he repeated the question with clinched teeth.

“You lied again”

“Answer my question!” he bended forward.

“The tale that you came up with about her not wanting to become a mother is far from being true”

“Talking to her behind my back means that you don’t have trust in me!” he said furious.

“You keep on lying Fahad. And you talk to me about trust?”

Fahad rested his elbows on his knees and scratched his almost bald head with both hands, “Have you even thought about why I hide or.. lie as you say?”

“Yes. But…what if Alia was right, and..” she said trying hard to put the words together.

“Don’t finish” he interrupted.

“Then tell me! Tell me why you lied about this! You know how much I love you and you know that if you were honest with me I would’ve married you no matter what!” she said exploding.

“I didn’t know you well back then. And since me and Alia were never sure of the problems we had…”

“You are making it sound so easy when it’s not. You are dragging me into this marriage blindly. I had every right to know. And I asked you recently about it and you refused to answer.” She said with her anger starting to rise.

“Listen to me” he said and put his hand on her shoulder, “don’t allow this to come between us. Not a couple of days before things get official.”

She remained quiet and lowered her head. “We went through a lot till we reached this stage. And we are old enough to understand each other in such situations. I don’t know what Alia told you, but I assure you that the reasons behind being unable to conceive are unknown for both of us.”

“It’s the 21st century. Your tests must have said something! And was this the reason why you got divorced? Only that?”

“Mainly yes, but we lost patience and were not able to deal with each other. It got complicated between the two of us emotionally. Our personalities wouldn’t click anymore. We didn’t have the will nor the power to fight for it. And things reached to a dead end”

“Why didn’t you say all that before? You know how much I appreciate honesty. And…” she said and he interrupted her “ssshhhh” he said and covered her mouth with his hand “enough said. What happened had happened. This was in the past. Now you know that there is a chance that I won’t be able to give you children. Even if it’s a small percentage, now you know. But the question is, are you willing to take the risk?”

She took a deep breath and looked at him in the eyes, “You know how much I love you, and I want nothing from this life but to be with you. You saved my family and you are everything a woman dreams of. And I think that…”

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Chapter 17. Disclosures

“My parents? What do they got to do with this?” asked Nadia confused.

“If I got to convince your parents then nothing else will stand in my way” affirmed Mohammed.

“What about me? I told you a million times how I’m not ok with it! What’s the use of talking to my parents if you still didn’t get my approval?” screamed Nadia in disbelief.

“I know how much you want this” he said calmly.

“Want what? Can we speak clearly and start being specific about what we want?” she asked angrily.

“I want you to be mine. I want us to be together again.”

“How?” she asked sharply.

“By getting married!” he said finally.

“Mohammed, can you remember why we didn’t get married at first place?”

“Because I left the country. And you, yourself, said that it was a mistake”

“Yes, it was a mistake back then. But it doesn’t mean that I can do that now!”

“I understand. It’s not possible to come over there while I’m living with my wife and son. But, I’ve been considering moving back to Bahrain for a while!” he confessed.

“Oh no! What happened to that bright career that you left your whole life for?”

“It was the right thing to do seven years ago. People change..”

“This is a mess Mohammed. You are messing up your life!”

“You are absolutely wrong. I am being brave by trying to fight for a life that I’ve always wanted”

“Fine. Let’s say that you’ll quit your job and come back here. Then what?”

“We’ll have our own life. Me and you”

“And your wife? Your son?”

“I can be fair to you both. Reem is understanding. She will understand.” He said confident.

“So you want me to be your second wife and share you with another woman? You think that this is easy? First of all, it will cause me a lot of pain. Second, what will people think of me? The woman who stole a man from his wife? Don’t you hear about such stories every single day and how it’s affecting our community and the children?” she screamed.

“Can you stop screaming and discuss this like mature people do? Nadia, we are not old. We have our whole lives ahead of us. The examples that you are talking about are old men who waited for their children to grow up and for their wives to age to finally have the courage to move on! I am not like them at all. I am doing this right now because it’s easier to go for it now and not later when my children grow old” he explained.

“What is this mentality? Why does it have to happen? One woman is not enough for you?” she asked in disgust.

“It’s not that. I told you that I don’t love Reem, and that I am not happy. Sooner or later I will get fed up and move on. Fate brought you back into my life when I really needed you. How do you want me to let you go?”

“I will never live in peace being a second wife”

“But we will talk to Reem. We won’t do it behind her back like the normal scenario goes”

“Come on! Reem hates me just for the fact of me being your X. How do you expect her to approve this?”

“She wouldn’t want to lose me”

“That won’t make me any less of a sinner in people’s eyes”

“Why do you care so much about what people think? To hell with them!” he said in a high tone.

“Because it will affect my life in every aspect. My relations with others, my image, my new shop, it will all be affected!”

“You’re saying that your life will be miserable if we get married?”

“No, of course not.”

“Nadia, I need you to answer this question honestly. Aside from all this mess, do you want to be with me?” he asked sensibly.

Nadia stayed quiet for few seconds and took a deep breath, “Yes. I do”

“And there is nothing I want more in this life. So let’s try and work it out. We owe this a try. And if we fail again, we won’t have any regrets later for a life that we could’ve had”

“You are right. I get your point. But…”

“I know, you are worried about my son, my career, and everything that will have to change. But you know me more than that. I am responsible enough. You have to trust me. Be sure that I will never do anything that will cause you pain. Let me talk to your parents.”

“My parents are still in Munich” she said saved by a good excuse.

“Even better, I can go to Munich for the weekend.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes! It’s a 2 hour flight!”

“You’re getting me all nervous. What will you say to them?”

“I will explain our situation and convince them of my plan” he said easily.

“So you thought about it already!” she said feeling a twinge in her tummy.

“Of course!”

“Today is Monday. You’re going on Friday?”

“Yes. I will book now”

“Then…I must be there too!”

“It will make things much easier, yes”

“I think.. it’s better if I go and talk to them first, before you get there” she said hesitant.

“If you have a visa you can go right away!” he said happily.

The next morning, Yara woke up early and headed to the studio. As relieved as she was that the debt was taken care of, she was certain that it was time to sell the studio in order to pay Fahad his money back. She passed by the café for her usual take-out skinny Latte and went to the studio focused and ready to face reality. “Good morning Madame” said Santosh as she entered.

“Hello Santosh. How are things?”

“Mr. George came yesterday and took his photos”

“Great. Are the ones we sent for framing ready?”

“Not yet. But I will go today and check”

“Ok. But before you go, I need to tell you something” she said as she walked to her desk and sat down. “There is a big chance that the studio will be sold soon”

“Oh! Sell it? Close the shop?” he said in an Indian accent.

“Yes Santosh. I am telling you so you can start looking for another job”

“Madame. This is sad. What will you do?” he asked concerned.

“Well, as a start, I’m getting married” she said now smiling.

“I know I know. Mr. Fahad right?” he asked in joy.

Yara laughed, “Yes”.

“Congratulations Madame”

“Thank you. But, if you see Mr. Fahad, don’t mention anything about selling this studio. Please”

“Ok Madame.” He said and was about to go out. “Santosh, I can talk to Nadia and see if you can work at her new shop instead” she suggested.

“Yes Madame” he nodded in contentment and headed out.

Yara rested her back on the chair and stared at the place. It was her passion that was displayed on those walls. How can she let go of it? Fahad’s merger idea occurred to her suddenly. She thought about giving him the studio in return of the debt he paid. But knowing him, he wouldn’t accept it. He will agree and let her continue using the studio in addition to dropping the debt. There was no other option but to sell.

She heard the door open while she was facing the other way. She turned the chair around to see Dalal by the door. “May I come in?” said Dalal with her obvious blond highlights that showed more in her curls.

“Yes. Sure” said Yara surprised.

“How are you?” asked Dalal as she walked to her and kissed her.

“I’m fine. You?”

“I’m good.” She said as they both took a seat on the armchairs.

“Don’t you have work today?”

“I’m on leave”

“How can I help you?” asked Yara straight ahead.

“I.. actually came here… to apologize”

Yara let out a sarcastic laugh, “apologize? About what or what or what…”

“I know that what I did to you is unforgivable. It’s the worst thing that any friend could do to the other. But we never got the chance to even talk about it”

“And say what? You didn’t stop at a certain point. You kept on going and causing more harm”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I can’t think of an excuse, I meant everything I did. But I am sorry”

“So you just want my forgiveness?”

“Yes. And I hope that we can be friends again”

“We are not kids Dalal. It’s not like you broke a toy or something. You tried to break a relationship!” said Yara loudly.

“I know. It was big. But now I can see it. I can see how bad it was and I am really sorry”

“Are you sure? Or are you just getting lonely since you lost your friends?”

“Of course I miss you! And yes I am feeling lonely. But look at you now, you are getting married. You won over my bad intentions”

“Exactly, bad intentions. I can easily forgive you. But how can I be your friend again?”

“I understand, I really do. But why do we have to be out of each other’s lives completely? We don’t have to be best friends, but it would be nice to stay in touch and hang out from time to time. For the sake of the old days!”

“I don’t know. I feel like I will have to pretend to be fine while I’m not”

“I’m very happy that you and Fahad are getting married. I really mean it. And I do regret getting between you two. I am a human being and I make mistakes. Yara, I know that there are some habits that you don’t like in me. But this is who I always was and you accepted me that way.”

Yara stayed quiet staring at the floor.

“I really love you. You and Nadia were my whole life. And my life is just too empty right now. I’m really sorry” said Dalal as she got up, kissed Yara on the cheek and left the studio.

For a moment, she felt like she was pulling a Sajida on Dalal. All her life she dreaded the thought of growing old and becoming another version of her mother. She was sure that she never would though because of the huge difference between their personalities. But as she sat there on the armchair, she noticed that it really was starting to happen. Her dry and careless attitude with Dalal and how she didn’t even consider forgiving her was something that Sajida would do.

“Are you in the shop?” asked Yara as soon as Nadia picked up her call.

“No. Why?”

“Just asking. Last night I told you that Fahad’s family will finally come to propose but you weren’t the usual excited you.”

“I wasn’t?” asked Nadia distracted.

“Where are you?”

“Al Aali mall”

“Why?”

“Why are you questioning me? I need to buy some stuff!”

“You’re tensed. What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“Nadia, what is going on?” asked Yara again sharply.

“Come here. We’ll talk”

After one hour, Yara and Nadia met in Armani Café. “I’m, leaving to Munich tonight” said Nadia.

“WHAT?” gasped Yara in shock.

“I will be back before Tuesday. Don’t panic”

“Is your dad ok?”

“Yes. It’s Mohammed”

“What happened to him?” asked Yara scared.

“Nothing. Chill girl!”

“Talk clearly!”

“We’ll meet in Munich this weekend. He wants to..talk to my parents”

“HE’S PROPOSING?” screamed Yara and all the waiters turned around. Yara and Nadia were the only customers there.

“Shh. No!”

“I don’t understand!” said Yara in total confusion.

“He wants to meet them and discuss our situation. If they are fine with it, he wants to move to the next stage”

“Wow! That’s big”

“And you blame me for being tensed”

“What about his family? His job?”

“He wants to work it out. He’s saying that he’s got a plan”

“And you’re ok with all that?”

“I don’t know. This time he didn’t give me a chance to object. He was pretty convincing”

“This is scary. Are you even ready to leave tonight?”

“Trying to do as much as possible. That’s why I came here”

“I don’t mean to sound selfish but I really need you here this week”

“I’m so sorry. The most important thing is that I’ll be here by Tuesday”

“I’ll go crazy planning everything with my mum” said Yara worried.

“She’s much easier now and even fun to hang out with”

“Oh well. I have no other choice”

Nadia traveled that night with a very vague idea about what was going on and what might happen in Munich. It wasn’t easy to believe that the reason she was traveling was to talk to her parents about Mohammed. It was something that was supposed to happen long years ago, but it never did. And now, after all what they have both been through, the time has come for that to happen? She was kind of sure that her parents wouldn’t accept it. But she believed that it was worth a try and that it’s not fair to fight any less than Mohammed was fighting for it. During her flight to Munich, she thought about all those things with her eyes wide open. Her parents were always understanding and supportive. But will they still understand that their own daughter could be a second wife? The only hope that Nadia had was the fact that she was divorced, and that could help in convincing her parents as divorced women have less chances of getting re-married to the perfect guy. It was the way the old generation thought and it was a good string to play.

The next morning, Yara and Sajida were supposed to go furniture shopping to change and maybe add some pieces in the formal sitting room. Yara was totally against the idea for financial reasons but Sajida insisted. She thought that their furniture was outdated and it won’t be appropriate for the proposal. They agreed that they would only change few pieces and home accessories within a budget.

Yara overslept that morning, and she only woke up when Fahad called at 11am. “Still sleeping?” asked Fahad as he heard her sleepy voice.

“What time is it?”

“It’s 11! Get up”

“Oh no! Why didn’t anyone wake me up?” she got off bed.

“Weren’t you supposed to go out with your mum?”

“Exactly” she said as she left her room looking around for anyone but the house was deserted. “Where is everybody?” she wondered upset.

“You sound like your house is always full of people!” joked Fahad.

“Tamara is in school but where is the queen?” she walked to Sajida’s bedroom and opened the door. Sajida was sitting on the floor next to one of her cupboards with heaps of clothes around her. “What are you doing?” asked Yara.

“What do I look like doing? De-cluttering!”

“What about the furniture?” wondered Yara with her phone still on her ear.

“You’re the one who just woke up” said Sajida folding a mustard yellow cardigan.

“You could’ve woke me up!” whined Yara.

“Too late. They close in an hour.  We’ll go at 4”

“Ooooh” said Yara upset and left the room.

“What are you going to do now?” asked Fahad.

“I don’t know. I need my cup of coffee and then I will be able to think”

“Come to the café. Have your coffee with me and let’s chat a bit”

“I’ll probably have to pass by the studio. I’ll change and come” she ended the call.

“It’s been a while since we sat together and had a decent conversation” said Fahad sitting in the café with Yara.

“I know. Feels good!” said Yara and sipped her coffee in comfort.

“Many good days to come” he said with a smile.

Inshalla. I want to fast forward all those formalities; the proposal, the melcha, and I just want to close my eyes and open it to find myself living with you in one place” she said dreamy.

“Why the rush? Enjoy all of those steps!”

“You know me. I’m not as patient as you are”

“I like that. Creates balance between how I am and how you are”

“Can I ask you something that’s been on my mind lately?”

“Sure” he said with his arm resting behind his head.

“How come Alia is still in good terms with you and the family?”

“Just because we got a divorce doesn’t mean that we have to be in bad terms” he answered casually.

“But..i don’t know..” she said puzzled.

“Are you jealous?” he teased.

“No. Of course not. But she is a very nice woman as far as I’ve seen and your family obviously loves her. How is it possible that she doesn’t want to become a mother?”

Fahad’s face expression suddenly changed. He looked nervous and looked the other way.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. Can we not talk about this?” he said a bit upset.

Inshalla” she obeyed in oppose to the doubt that was only increasing inside of her head.

Nadia and her parents were having tea in the lobby of The Mandarin Oriental in Munich. Both her parents were uncomfortable about meeting Mohammed and the whole marriage idea. They didn’t object, but they were a little agitated. Their mood didn’t force Nadia to make any changes on the plan. Mohammed was arriving to the hotel any minute and the three of them waited silently.

“What brings you all the way here son?” asked Nadia’s father right after he was introduced to Mohammed.

“I….” started Mohammed nervously.

“Nadia explained your situation to us, but I want to hear it from you” said the father calmly.

“I lost Nadia once before, and, I, can’t spare losing her again” said Mohammed with his white cheeks turning rosey.

Nadia’s mum sat quietly with her left hand folded on her chest and her head rested on her right hand while Nadia sat up cautiously with a straight back and her hands on her lap. It was a man-to-man conversation and both ladies stayed out of it and listened.

“But the situation was different before. You have your own family now and she’s a divorcee. Why are you wishing to complicate things for yourself?” asked the father still very calm.

“To be honest with you, I was never happy with my current life. I have got the career that I always dreamed of and I am settled. But..”

Nadia’s father was dark skinned and a bit chubby. His looks never failed to present his wise personality and high status. His big nose, that was similar to his wife’s since they were first cousins, was a trademark in the family. Luckily, Nadia didn’t get it. His first name, Salah, was representing his looks and personality very well. He was sitting facing Mohammed in his posh black over coat that gave the impression that he was ready to cut the conversation and walk out the hotel any minute.

“You think that Nadia will make you happy?” asked the father.

“Yes” answered Mohammed shyly looking at the ground.

“What about your family? Having two wives is never easy”

“My wife is understanding. And, if everything goes well, she will be the first to know about it even before it happens” said Mohammed politely.

“And why do you think that we will accept giving our only daughter to a married man?” said the father and took a sip of tea.

“I think, Nadia can answer this” he said turning his head to Nadia.

“The fact that Nadia introduced you to us proves that it’s what she wants too. But I want to hear your answer” said the father.

“I am sure that Nadia’s happiness is important to you. And the fact that her first marriage failed to make her happy will make you consider this”

“What are you planning to do?”

“Go back to Bahrain for good. If you grant me this, I promise that I will give Nadia everything that she deserves. And she knows it”

“Listen to me my son. Now that I listened to you I can tell you what I think.” Said the father with his hand holding his chin. Nadia’s heart started racing as she turned her body 90 degrees around to face her father nervously.

“No woman in this world accepts sharing her husband with another woman. If we accept and you marry Nadia, both women will suffer. This will only lead to you getting lost in the middle. Even if your wife understands and accepts this marriage, what about Nadia? Will she bear sharing you with someone else? Will you bear it? Since you said that you are currently not happy and you will find your happiness with Nadia, that means that you will favor Nadia over your wife. That will also complicate things for your son. It’s very complicated. Keeping one family standing is hard enough for a man, how about two?” he said and took another sip of tea while awkward silence covered the place. “I don’t want to stand between my daughter and what she wants. She is old enough to decide for herself. But at the same time I don’t want to grant her a complicated life” he continued.

“Baba, will you please allow us to talk about this? Me and him, privately?” asked Nadia in sudden courage.

The father took a deep breath, turned to the mother, “What do you think?” he asked.

“They should talk about it” she said nodding.

“Go somewhere and talk. You are both old and mature to know what’s best for you. Try to keep your emotions aside and think with your brain today” said the father.

“Thank you” said Mohammed as he stood up pleased.

“Be rational in your discussion today” said the father as Mohammed shook his hand, shook the mother’s hand, excused himself and left the hotel with Nadia.

Although it was three degrees in Munich that day, Nadia couldn’t think of a better place to have a quiet conversation with Mohammed other than the English Garden. It was sunny with some fluffy clouds moving along with the wind. She was wearing a baby pink woolen hat with her big waves falling over her shoulders, white overcoat that had huge golden buttons, and a beige pashmina with small embroidered flowers was wrapped around her neck. The wind was moving towards them as they walked through the garden and she found herself holding Mohammed’s arm tightly to survive it. They both laughed at their stupidity for coming to the garden in this freezing weather, till they reached a small bridge that overlooked a tiny waterfall. “Thank you” said Nadia as she turned around and faced him while they stood on the bridge.

“What for?” he asked smiling.

“For coming all the way here”

“You know that I’d do anything to be with you”

“What do you think will happen now?” she placed her hands in her pockets.

“We both know that we want this more than anything else. And I don’t think that your father’s words will change anything. Right?” he asked looking at her in the eyes.

“He made sense though. How will I stand sharing you with another woman?” she asked feeling the jealousy starting.

“I’ve been with another woman for years!”

“But you weren’t mine”

“You know that I loved you all the way” he said staring at the waterfall.

“Do you feel like you’re cheating on her when you’re with me?”

“I don’t know”

“Do you even care about her feelings?”

“In a way, yes. But it won’t stop me from being with you” he said looking back at her.

“My parents were not ok with the idea. They will need more time and more convincing”

“Leave that aside now. Are you convinced?”

“Am I convinced?” she asked confused as they started walking again.

“Before we came here you weren’t convinced. You were still fighting back”

“I thought that you knew that I was resisting for your own good” she looked at him with crossed eyebrows.

“I did. And that’s why I insisted” he said with a grin.

“I missed this smile..” she said staring at him and losing the resistance fight. He surrounded her with his arm in a side hug as their heads touched. There was nothing left to discuss.

“Hey Yara” said Alia as she walked into Crepe Café and headed directly to Yara’s table.

“Hey, thank you for agreeing to see me” said Yara as she stood up and shook her hand.

“My pleasure. I hope that everything is ok?” asked Alia concerned and took a seat.

“Yes everything is fine. It’s just some regular questions that the new fiancé has for the x-wife” said Yara with a smile.

“That should be fun” said Alia with a laugh as the waiter came with the menus.

“I know what I want. Nutella Crepe & Skimmed Latte please” ordered Yara.

“Tempting. Make them two but with a Cappuccino” said Alia.

“How is Fahad? Is he feeling better?”

“Yeah. It’s hard to keep him away from sweets though”

“He’s a stubborn kid that’s his problem…” said Alia and kept on talking about Fahad and his diabetes. Yara watched her as she spoke and her jealousy grew with every word. She watched her beautiful lips that were covered with red lipstick, her wide eyes and perfect long lashes that went up and down as she blinked. That woman used to belong to Fahad. Those lips, those eyes, and that thick black hair was Fahad’s.

The waitress came with the coffee cups and woke Yara up from her deep thoughts. “Tell me. What questions do you have for me?” asked Alia.

“Can you, tell me why you got divorced? Of course Fahad told me but I’d like to hear it from your side” asked Yara nicely.

“Yeah, I understand. We, women, look at things differently so I’m sure you’ll understand the situation differently from my side.”

“Yeah, men barely speak.”

“But let me tell you first that I admire how brave you are. You must really love Fahad”

“Brave? Why?”

“Because you agreed to marry Fahad knowing that he can never be a father!”

“Never be a father?”

“He told you that he is unable to, right?” said Alia….