Chapter 21. Nightmare

Forty minutes later:

“The police received a call from an eye witness.” Said Fahad calmly as soon as he ended a phone call. Yara, Sajida and Fouzia stared at him eagerly. “He said that he saw a man in a pick-up truck who tried dragging two young girls inside..”

BINTY” screamed Sajida hitting her chest.

“This doesn’t mean that it’s Tamara. It can’t be” said Yara.

“The incident happened in Hamad Town.” Said Fahad.

“Hamad Town? Why would Tamara go to Hamad Town? No, it can’t be them!” said Yara moving around.

“Didn’t he say more? Like what they were wearing? How they looked like?” wondered Fouzia.

“That’s all. He will call again as soon as they receive more information”

“It’s her. I have a feeling it’s her!” said Sajida breaking down.

Fouzia rushed to Sajida and held her with both arms for support, “don’t say that. Inshalla it’s not. Sit down” she pulled her down to sit.

Yara was in denial. She pretended that nothing was going on and she went to the kitchen and got Sajida’s pills and a glass of water. “Are you ok?” asked Fahad as soon as she turned around.

“Yes, why wouldn’t I be? She will call any minute and say that she is in a friend’s house, somewhere!” said Yara confidently and was about to walk away.

“It’s great that you are being optimistic about this, but, you have to keep in mind that something might be wrong.” he said nicely. She stared at him in confusion and walked to her bedroom.

When she finally had her space, she threw herself on bed and lay down for few minutes. She closed her eyes tightly and prayed from the bottom of her heart that a miracle would happen and Tamara would walk through the door. Her heart jumped out of place when she heard two knocks on her door. “Yara, Fatima’s mother called again, she wants to speak to you” said Fouzia behind the door.

“Hello” said answered the phone in the sitting room.

“Did you find them?” asked the mother.

“Not yet. But we are asking around so don’t worry” said Yara tired.

“Me and her father are very worried. He dropped her to your house in the morning so their friend would pick them up and take them to her house in Hamad Town” said the mother.

“Hamad Town?” said Yara and automatically dropped on the armchair behind her. Every head in the room was turned towards her.

“Yes. But I don’t have their number or address or even full name!” said Um Fatima.

“There is something that you should know….” Said Yara with reality finally sinking in.

 

At the same time, Nadia, Mohammed and his two sisters were having dinner in Mezzaluna. The place was as quiet as always, suitable for a group who needed privacy. After having a fine meal, they continued enjoying their conversation while sipping herbal tea.

“I really think that divorce is the right thing to do.” Said Amal, Mohammed’s eldest sister.

“That’s just the typical mean you! Don’t you have any consideration for your nephew?” said Hana, Mohammed’s second sister.

“Oh come on, Reem was always left out between us. And there is no need to worry about Khalid, he’s young and he’ll find his balance. You can’t sacrifice your brother’s happiness for that reason!” said Amal.

“And what will happen to her meskeena? She was a good wife to him after all!” said Hana in a broken voice that showed Nadia how naïve and sensitive she was.

“She can take care of herself!” said Amal rudely.

“You are a devil. Thank god you don’t have kids!” Said Hana and turned to Nadia, “she’s one of those evil old single women”

Nadia laughed loud, “are they always like that?” she asked Mohammed.

“Always were, always will” he said with a smile.

“You will get used to it with time. And what old woman are you talking about? I’m 40, single and can’t be any happier” said Amal proudly with her short hair and navy blue blazer.

“Yes. You don’t have to repeat that twenty times a day” said Hana with her straight soft black hair falling over her face naturally.

“Ok Miss I-can’t-say-no-to-my-kids” said Amal daringly and sipped her Jasmine Tea.

“Enough you two! What impression are you giving to the new member of the family?” joked Mohammed.

“Leave my kids alone. They have the most evil aunt on earth and that’s why I’m making it up to them by being extra sweet!” said Hana.

“How old are your kids?” asked Nadia laughing.

“My girl is 8 and my boy is 6” said Hana proudly.

“Remember when she got married? We were together back then” said Mohammed.

“Yes. I do.” She said shyly.

“Don’t listen to her. I am the nicest aunt anyone could ever have. I took them to Dubai last month and they had a blast” said Amal confident.

“With your rules and restrictions? I doubt it!” said Mohammed proving Hana right and they all laughed.

“It’s Fahad!” said Nadia as she stared at her phone screen, “hello?”

“Hi Nadia” said Fahad in a serious tone.

“Hi”

“I think that you should come to Yara’s house now”

“Why? You’re there? What’s wrong?”

“Tamara is missing. There is a chance that she might be kidnapped”

“WHAT!!”

“Yara is not doing well. She’s pretending to be strong. She’s not listening to me, but I’m sure she’ll listen to you”

“Coming now!”

 

It was after midnight in Yara’s house. The sitting room was dark with few lamps turned on in some corners. There was a tray of untouched sandwiches on a coffee table and some small bottles of water placed next to each other. Sajida was passed out on one of the sofas after her pills took effect. Fouzia covered her with a light blanket and sat on an armchair reading Quran under one of the lamps. Yara was sitting on the floor and resting her body sideways on the sofa behind her. Nadia was trying to force her to eat a sandwich but she refused by shaking her head slowly. Fahad kept his distance. The last thing he wanted was to annoy her or use that situation to win her back. He watched her from a distance and wandered around the house every now and then. He felt responsible for some reason. This family still needed him and he didn’t want to let them down.

“Any news?” said Nadia after following Fahad to the kitchen.

“No. Nothing” he said concerned.

“How bad is it? Is there anything that I don’t know about?” she whispered.

“I’m pretty sure that it’s her. Two young girls in Hamad Town! What are the odds?” he said finally getting to open up without considering any feelings.

“I know. But we need to put on a positive attitude. If we don’t, they’ll breakdown!”

Walla if I catch the one who did this, I’d kill him and cut his body into little pieces!” he said in anger.

“You think they’ll be able to find them soon?”

“I don’t know.. I really don’t” he shook his head.

“There are a hundred possibilities. They could’ve killed them or raped them or tortured them!” she said with her fear growing.

“The police needs to be more strict with some animal-like people.” He said pissed off. Nadia took a deep breath and went back to the sitting room.

“Did he say anything?” asked Yara as soon as Nadia sat next to her.

“No, what would he say?”

“Is she dead?” asked Yara with a distant mind.

“Why are you saying that? Stop thinking this way!” yelled Nadia trying to control her volume.

“I have a bad feeling, a very bad feeling” said Yara with teary eyes.

“Of course you will. It’s normal. But on the other hand you have to have some faith! Have faith in Allah and he won’t let you down..” said Nadia and tapped her head.

 

Five hours later:

It was around 6am. Fahad’s phone rang waking them all up from their very light naps around the sitting room. “Yes?” answered Fahad quickly. “Yes.. thank you.. thank you.. we are coming now..”

“What is it?” asked Yara impatiently.

“They found them…”

 

Fahad walked into the very quiet police station with Sajida and Yara following him. Sajida was holding her Bahraini Daffa that was on top of her head with one hand and carrying her Chanel with the other. Yara left the house with her flip flops, leggings and a white loose I Love Paris T-shirt. The short walk to the police office after entering the station felt long and cold. They didn’t know what to expect and the rough marble floor wasn’t friendly enough either.

The moment they stepped into the office, they saw Tamara and Fatima sitting on white plastic chairs next to each other with terrified looks on their faces. Their hair was messy and their clothes weren’t as neat as they were the day before. Tamara jumped out of her chair when she saw them walking in and ran to Yara with tears suddenly streaming down her face. “Don’t cry. You are safe now.” said Yara squeezing her back without being able to control her tears.

“They locked us in a dark room all day. And there was a dog barking outside” said Tamara weeping.

Sajida pulled Tamara out of Yara’s arms, held her face tenderly with both hands and hugged her tight while Yara gave Fatima a hug and wiped her tears.

“Did you catch them?” asked Fahad.

“Yes, and we’ll tell you the whole story” said the police officer.

“Mama why don’t you wait with the girls outside? Give them the juice and sandwiches that you packed for them” said Yara nicely.

“But I want to know what happened!” demanded Sajida.

“We’ll let you know. Please!” she said begging.

“Ok..” She said and led the girls outside.

“How are you related to them?” asked the police officer.

“I’m Tamara’s sister” said Yara.

“And you?” he looked at Fahad.

“He’s my fiancé” said Yara right away. Fahad stared at her and back at the police officer with a smile that he tried hard to hide.

“We caught the two men who kidnapped them. One of them is in his mid thirties and the other in his late twenties. They probably were planning to ask for a ransom. They didn’t harm the girls” stated the police officer.

Hamdella” said Yara relieved.

“We found the girls in a locked room of an old house in Hamad Town. We will question them now and find out more details. But usually in such cases, they wait for a day or two before calling the family for the ransom” said the officer.

“The level of confidence they have!! They really believed that it was that easy?” asked Fahad.

“That’s how they always fail! Such cases are very easy to track in Bahrain” said the officer.

“Thank you very much. We appreciate your efforts” said Yara.

“That’s our job. And we’ll provide you with more details shortly” said the officer.

 

After dropping Fatima home. Fahad drove to Yara’s house with Yara sitting in the front seat and Sajida holding Tamara in the back. “Thank you” said Yara breaking the silence and turning her head slightly to Fahad.

“You know that I’d do anything for you and your family” he smiled.

Silence descended in the car again ’till they reached the house. Fahad waited by the door and made sure that they were in and that the doors were properly locked. He drove to his house after a long night looking forward to a few hours of sleep.

Sajida stayed by Tamara’s side and forced her to have a glass of milk before having a shower. They didn’t talk about it. Yara warned her mother not to open up the topic till Tamara recovers. After her shower, Sajida noticed that she was still shaking. She tucked her into bed and promised her that she will sleep by her side. Feeling the warmth of her bed and her mother’s tenderness for the first time, she immediately fell asleep.

“Can you imagine us having to go through all of this without Fahad? Allah sent Fouzia to us at the right time” said Sajida as they both left Tamara’s room and closed the door slowly.

“True” Said Yara.

“I feel that he is a part of this family already”

“His mother stayed by your side all night” said Yara and yawned.

“I know that it’s not the right time, but maybe you should reconsider..” said Sajida nicely.

“Good night mother.. “ said Yara walking to her room.

 

**

 

“Fahad!!” said Alia answering her phone.

“Hala. The ring tone says that you’re out of Bahrain” said Fahad.

“I’m in Geneva. How are you?”

“Don’t you and your family ever get fed up with Geneva?” he asked rudely.

“What’s with the upset tone?”

“Why did you lie to Yara?”

“Lie? I didn’t lie. You are the one who lied!”

“She came to you, she trusted you and you should’ve told her the whole truth instead of a one sided story!”

“What happened?”

“It’s over! Thanks to you!”

“When I told her I thought that she already knew! I was surprised to know that you didn’t tell her!”

“Why didn’t you tell her that you had issues too!” he said angry.

“Because she doesn’t care about me! You were the topic!”

“Oh come on! You know the condition very well and you have no right to blame me while you were a big part of it too!”

“I don’t know! This is how the conversation went! I meant no harm!” Said Alia getting nervous.

“Fix it then!” he ordered.

“Will she listen to me?”

“I don’t know just do something”

“Fine. If it will make you feel any better, I will”

 

“Yara? How is Tamara? Is everything ok?” asked Dalal as soon as Yara picked up the phone.

“Yes. We are all fine hamdella.” Said Yara.

“I just heard about what happened and I lost my mind. You mind if I visit you later today?”

“You’re welcome anytime”

“You sound very tired. Do you need anything? Can I get you anything?”

“Thanks” said Yara quietly.

“You mind me asking about Fahad? What did you end up doing about him?”

“It’s over”

“Noooooo! I can’t believe it! Are you sure about this?”

“Sorry Dalal but I really don’t feel like talking about it” she said annoyed.

“I understand. You must be devastated. First Fahad and then Tamara!”

“And I sold the studio!”

“WHAT! I am coming to you right now..” said Dalal overwhelmed.

 

Sara and her mother were having a coffee break in Gloria Jean’s City Center. Fouzia was very stressed after all what had happened the previous night and she needed to go out for a change. “And you said no right away? Are you insane?” said Fouzia when Sara told her about Osama.

“What was I supposed to say?” said Sara confused.

“Say what every girl says in that situation. Give me time to think and I will get back to you” said Fouzia.

“But I didn’t need time! I know for sure that it’s impossible!”

“But why? The man is like a member of the family and we know him very well!” asked Fouzia disappointed.

“He is not my type!”

“What type? There are two types of men, a good man and a bad man. He is a good man and that is his type.”

“You’re funny. A “type” means much more than that”

“Stay single forever then. If each and every one of you has her own type then I doubt that this generation will ever reproduce another one!”

“You will never understand. But please don’t tell Fahad and let’s close this topic. I don’t like him that way, he is more like a brother to me and I can’t change that”

“Stupid. That’s all I can say!” said Fouzia and sipped her coffee.

 

Two days later:

Nadia walked into her shop to find a huge flower arrangement. She was sure of the sender, but not so sure of the occasion. She looked for the card between all the pink roses and white lily’s, pulled it and opened it slowly and excitedly:

I just signed the divorce papers. I am now a free man and I entirely belong to you and only you. Love you..

Mohammed

Chapter 20, Losses

“We are here today to propose to your daughter” said Um Mohammed. The sitting room, that was absolutely full of ladies when Nawaf proposed to Nadia, was nearly empty this time. Um Mohammed was sharing a sofa with Nadia’s mother while his two sisters sat opposite to them on two different armchairs. Nadia’s two aunts were in and out supervising the maids and checking on Nadia who was upstairs in her room waiting to be called.

“I don’t know what to tell you. The situation is not as we wished. But they are grown ups and there is nothing that we can do other than supporting them” said Nadia’s mother.

“You are right. I am very worried about my grandson getting lost between all of this. At the same time I know that Nadia was always special to Mohammed since they were in college and I saw how unhappy he was with Reem” admitted Um Mohammed holding a transparent cup of black tea.

“And if this will bring him back to Bahrain and give him a more settled life then why stand in his way?” said Mohammed’s eldest sister.

“I was very ashamed of my daughter being a second wife and getting between a man and his family. It is what it is no matter how we sugarcoat it, but their happiness is what matters at the end. Therefore, we have no objection” said Nadia’s mum.

Right at that moment, Nadia’s aunt rushed upstairs to call Nadia. She found her standing next to the stairs with Yara in a beautiful short yellow dress with a bow on her waist. “Come down now!” said the aunt reaching half way up.

“You are one hell of a lucky woman. Just when you finish your Edda you get proposed to all over again” teased Yara.

“Oh come on, what is about to happen was supposed to happen long years back” said Nadia and walked down nervously.

 

**

The Studio, 8:00pm:

Boxes were stacked all around the space with thick brown packing tape sealing them up carefully. Yara and Santosh were arranging the store, rolling some unframed posters and wrapping paintings with bubble wrap.

Nothing was left on the walls. They were as bare as they were back when Yara received the studio. The place that was once alive with art and music was now lifeless.

“I think that’s enough for today Santosh” said Yara supporting her tired back.

“Ok Madame. You want to take those two cartoons with you?”

“Yes, I need to take those two to Nadia’s shop. I will open the car’s trunk for you” she said picking up her keys and heading out. The moment she opened the door and stepped out she saw Fahad walking towards the café. He slowed down once he saw her and walked towards her. “Hello..”

“Hello..”

“Madame?” said Santosh carrying one of the heavy cartoons next to Yara’s car.

“Sorry!” she said turning towards the car and pressing on her remote car key.

“How are you?” asked Fahad.

“Clearing off the studio. You can imagine how I feel..” she said frowning.

“Do you..need help?” he asked formally and hesitantly.

“I’m fine.. thanks”

“Madame, I’m done. I am going” said Santosh.

“Ok Santosh.”

“I miss you” said Fahad as soon as Santosh walked away.

“Let’s not go there.. The studio is sold and you will get your money back. You will no longer be seeing me by coincidence around this area..” she said firmly.

“I still want you Yara and you know it!”

“Again, please let’s not go there. Everything is over.” Said Yara harshly.

“I deserve a valid reason!”

“A reason? You know what you’ve done, why do I have to repeat it to you!”

“What is it that you can’t forgive? This is what I demand to know”

“Fine. You want to hear it? I lost trust in you! You lied to me about one of the biggest issues that we might have to face! How do you expect me to trust you again?”

“I only did this to protect our relationship!” He said firmly staring at her angry eyes.

“It doesn’t matter..” she said and walked back to the studio.

He tried to follow her, but she shut the door roughly in a way that warned him to stay away. She sat on the floor, rested her back on one of the packed boxes and hugged her knees. She found herself in the middle of a very miserable state of mind with her tears pouring out. In a matter of one week, she lost the two most precious things to her; the love of her life and her career. The End was written all over the blank walls around her in that semi dark room, that was once called the studio.

She sensed the presence of someone at the door. Someone who was being hesitant about walking in. She knew who it was, and she was hoping that she could run to him, throw herself in his arms and tell him how life had no meaning without him. But she couldn’t. She felt like her hands were bound with a chain, her legs were tied with a thick rope and her mouth was covered tightly with a piece of material. Moving was impossible. And not a single start-over sign was sensed or felt right then. She cried until she felt every single drop of liquid leaving her body through her eyes. The person who was behind the door made his decision and left. She was left with nothing but her tears and the boxes around her.

**

“Hello?” answered Sara.

Hala Sara, shloanech?”

Zaina. How are you?”

“I’m good. Am I calling at a wrong time? Or can we talk now?”

La it’s ok. Tell me” she said coldly.

“How’s everything? How’s work?” he asked with a sense of nervousness.

“All is good. Nothing new” she answered not bothered.

“Great. Fahad told you that I needed to talk to you I assume”

“Yes. Anything I can help with?”

“There is a girl that I need to ask you about. Hmm, how can I describe her to you!”

“Don’t you even know her name?”

“I do. But I want to know if you’ll be able to guess who she is” he teased.

“Hit me” she said getting annoyed.

“She’s petite and cute”

“That is how most Bahraini girls are!” she said with no interest in the conversation.

“Hmm. I’ve known her since she was a little girl” he hinted.

“Your cousin or school friend?”

“Nope”

“Just say the name Osama!” she said getting fed up.

“Come on. One more guess. Her name starts with the letter S” he said with a grin.

“What? Please tell me that you are not talking about me?” she laughed.

“I am..”

“You can’t be serious!” she screamed.

“I am serious. You are a very good girl. Why go far?” he said casually.

“Osama! We grew up together. You’re more like a big brother to me! Does Fahad know about this?”

“No, I wanted to talk to you first.” he said disappointed.

“Please don’t get me wrong. I’m sorry if I sounded mean. You are a great guy and almost every girl I know wishes to be with you. But me? I don’t see you that way, and I don’t think that I ever will. I’m so sorry.” She said in an apologizing tone.

“It’s alright. I really appreciate your honesty” he said saddened.

“But I can hook you up with girls who are even better than me” she said sweetly and teasingly.

“It’s fine, really. I will not tell Fahad about this but if you want to do so feel free”

“I won’t. Of course I won’t” she said trying to sound considerate.

**

“I’m sorry for showing without prior notice” said Um Fahad as soon as she was seated in the sitting room.

Hayach Allah anytime. You don’t have to apologize” said Sajida dryly.

“Is Yara here?”

“No, she is not.”

“I’m very sad about this whole situation” confessed Um Fahad.

“Aren’t we all” said Sajida straightening her back and looking away.

“I want to speak to Yara. Maybe I could convince her to change her mind”

“Yara is stubborn! There is no way that she’ll break her word”

“What about you? What do you think?”

“I’ve never been as happy as I was last week. But now I am glad that it’s not happening” said Sajida with her nose up high.

“Glad?” asked Um Fahad confused.

“Yes! How can I not be? My daughter was about to be fooled into this marriage!”

“Fahad loves Yara a lot! He would never fool her or play with her feelings!”

“Then what do you call hiding a fact as big as this?”

“It’s not a fact! It’s just a small possibility that wasn’t even proven!” explained Um Fahad with rising tension.

“You will still defend him no matter what. He is your son!” said Sajida while the maid interrupted carrying a tray with two glasses of watermelon juice.

“You know that I was against this marriage at first. Then I realized how wrong I was when I saw how happy they were together.” said Um Fahad and sipped the juice.

“We were all happy. But now I’m just hurt to see how broken my daughter is and there is no one to blame but your son” said Sajida with the glass of juice untouched in front of her.

Yara walked in the house right then. She froze when she noticed Fahad’s mum. “Shloanech bintey?” asked Um Fahad sweetly as Yara walked to her and kissed her cheeks formally. But the mother wrapped her arms around her and pulled her to sit next to her. Yara remained quiet while the mother patted her shoulder and rubbed it. “Is it really worth all this? You both love each other and make each other happy. Why let it go?” she said lovingly and caringly.

“It’s better this way. It will get easier with time” said Yara politely.

The landline of the house rang. Sajida stretched to reach for it and picked it up, “Yes?” she answered sharply.

Salam Alaikum. Is this Tamara’s mother?” said a woman.

“Yes. Who is it?”

“I am her friend Fatima’s mother. I’m sorry to disturb you but is Fatima around? I’ve been calling her since morning but she is not answering”

“Fatima? I.. don’t know.. this is a bad time..” said Sajida and was about to hang up, “who is it?” asked Yara while getting up and grabbing the phone off her mum’s hand, “Hello?”.

“Yara?” asked the mother.

“Yes. Are you Fatima’s mother?”

“Yes. I’m really worried about Fatima. Is she and Tamara around?”

“Give me a minute, I will check and call you back” said Yara as she ended the call and rushed to Tamara’s room. She didn’t find anyone there.

“When was the last time you’ve seen her?” asked Yara questioning the maid.

“Morning. Their friend’s driver picked them up from here” said the maid.

“Which friend? Did you see the car?”

“No Madame”

“Her mobile is off” said Sajida dialing her number continuously and walking back and forth around the hall.

Salo ala el naby. She’s a teenager and she’ll suddenly show up ” said Um Fahad but they were too worried to give her any attention.

“It’s 7pm! Where would they be since this morning!” wondered Yara.

“Last time this happened we found her in Amwaj!” complained Sajida.

“But she learned her lesson. She’s been taking permissions every time she was late!”

 

“Fahad, Tamara and her friend are missing since morning. They are very worried now and I think that you should help” Um Fahad called him when she was left alone.

“Where are you now?” wondered Fahad.

“Their house. They can’t reach them on their mobiles and they have no idea where they could be. I think that you should come..”

Fifteen minutes later:

“I called my friend, he works with the police. He will look for their names in hospitals and police stations and let me know as soon as he finds out” said Fahad as soon as he reached Yara’s house.

Twenty minutes later:

“Names not found..” said Fahad tensed putting his phone down..

Chapter 19. Reality

Nadia’s dream of owning a shop was coming true at the wrong time. With all of what was going on with her and Mohammed, her family being abroad and Yara’s issues, she didn’t have the time nor the mind to give this shop any attention. On top of that, the location of the shop wasn’t as practical as she thought when she decided to rent it. It was the perfect place for a shop that stood alone in a street, but it wasn’t one of the safest locations in Bahrain as it was a common area for protests and riots during that period of time.

She decided to delay the opening of the shop till things got settled for everyone. It was almost ready with most of the items in place. Being in Munich for few days was a good chance to buy some missing pieces for the shop.

On Sunday morning she passed by the shop to drop the things she bought and arrange some items.

“There you go” said Yara handing her a takeout sandwich from Starbucks.

“Thank you. I don’t know what’s wrong with my appetite. Always looking forward to food!” said Nadia taking the sandwich gladly.

“Eat! It’s the only guaranteed pleasure in life”

Nadia laughed, “Someone is upset!”

“I feel like I’m at war with my own self. I couldn’t sleep last night”

“Still can’t make up your mind?” asked Nadia taking a bite.

“No, and having a limited time to think about it is putting me under pressure” said Yara annoyed.

“You are the one who told him that you only need a day or two to think!”

“Yes, only because it won’t be appropriate to delay the proposal again. This time it’s either we go for it or we just forget about it” said Yara playing with a pen that she picked up from the counter.

“I don’t agree with you. Take all the time you need and delay the proposal if you have to. If they delayed it last time then you have every right to delay it this time!”

“Not only that, I don’t want to live in this confusion for long. I have to make up my mind and move on”

“Just think of what made you be together in the first place.”

“Not enough. When I try to accept the lying part, I think about the risk of not having children.”

“I thought that it won’t be a big deal to you”

“Me too, but now I realized that it is. When you love someone you want to have a family with him”

“So if you find out, in any way, that he is able to give you children, will you go for it?”

“It gets confusing when you put it this way. Because I see him as a liar now and maybe we’ll face some trust issues” said Yara jumping on the counter to sit.

“I feel this wall is a bit empty. Would you care to get some of your photos here? For decoration and selling too!” suggested Nadia while staring at the wall behind the counter.

“Sure, I’m selling the studio anyway”

“Don’t think about the studio for now. Get back to it once you’re done with this complicated proposal that is taking forever” said Nadia being sarcastic.

“Maybe it’s a sign! When things don’t go smoothly, it means that it’s not meant to be”

“But I see you trying which is really good. You called Dalal! That was big. Shows how much you want to fix this”

“Dalal is not a big deal. I’ve been feeling guilty since she came to the studio to apologize that day. She was right, she made sense when she said that we don’t have to be best friends but we don’t have to stay out of each others lives either”

“Yeah that’s right. I don’t want to be close to her again too. Respecting limits is always the best solution” said Nadia while arranging some little books on a shelf.

“Did I make a mistake by going to her and telling her about it?”

“No, you needed to do that and it’s ok since you’re close to the family after all. But I wouldn’t tell her about Mohammed”

“Yes, you shouldn’t”

Nadia’s phone rang. She put down the little books and rushed to her phone.

“Hello” she answered.

“Hala” said Mohammed.

“Hi” she said happy to hear his voice.

“I have some news for you”

“What?”

“I’m moving back to Bahrain next week”

“Next week? How? That fast?” she panicked.

Mohammed laughed, “Why so nervous?”

“You’ve been away for years. I thought that it will take you much longer to move back”

“I resigned today. It’s a one-day notice only so I’m already out of work. Will need a week to finalize everything else and that’s it”

“Too much to digest” She said shocked.

He laughed again, “You’re so scared”

“No, not that but what about Reem?”

“She knows that we are moving back. I told her so she could arrange herself. But I will talk to her about you today”

“And that is the hardest part. Please choose your words carefully”

“I will try my best” he said promising.

 

It was lunch time in Yara’s house. The dining table was set with a long plate of Safi fish and another one, just as long, with steamed rice on it. There was a tray with a jug of lemon juice and three transparent purple glasses. Just when the maid came carrying a bowl of salad, Yara entered the house.

Yalla we barely have time. We have to go get the chocolate and I want to pass by the tailor” said Sajida walking towards the dining table.

“Is Tamara back from school yet?” asked Yara walking straight ahead to the dining table.

“Not yet, but we have to eat now and leave. I don’t have time to waste” said Sajida sitting on her usual chair with her hair rolled with few rollers.

“There is something that you should know” said Yara casually as she sat down.

“What?” asked Sajida while pouring herself some juice.

“There is a chance that this marriage won’t happen” said Yara while picking up a fish by its tail.

“Not a good time for jokes” said Sajida and took a sip of the juice.

“If I go ahead with it, there might be a possibility that you won’t become a grandmother until Tamara gets married” said Yara while putting some rice on her plate.

“What the hell are you talking about?” said Sajida putting the glass down and sensing the seriousness of the topic.

“What I just said! I’ve found out some things recently and now I have to reconsider” said Yara still very casual while cutting the fish.

“What do you mean by a possibility?”

“He couldn’t with Alia” said Yara filling her mouth with rice and fish.

“And why is this new to you? How come we didn’t know before?” asked Sajida in disbelief.

“I have to make up my mind now. To take the risk or not” she said looking at her mother’s face for the first time today.

Laish? Laish ya rabby laish? Just when things got better for us! What will we do now! What will we do!!” wailed Sajida.

“Calm down. I didn’t say that I changed my mind. I’m still thinking about it”

“Are you crazy? This is a big risk!” screamed Sajida.

“Yes, but you know how much I love him and how good he is. If I’m still confused it’s only because he lied and didn’t tell me about it”

“This can’t be real. I need my Xanax. Where are my pills!!” panicked Sajida while getting up and rushing to her bedroom without having a single bite.

Yara’s careless mood suddenly switched to depression and anxiety. She stopped eating, took a deep breath and rested her head back on the chair.

 

Mohammed and his little family were spending the afternoon in Harrods’ kids section on the 4thfloor. They bought some children books for Khalid and then headed to The Diner for lunch. He kid was busy with his books, turning the pages and staring at the colorful pictures.

“Did you contact the shipping company?” asked Mohammed.

“Yes, I’ll need a few days to pack up so I asked them to come two days before we leave” said Reem.

“That’s better. I have to pack all the books for shipping too. We’ll have a lot to do this week!”

Reem looked away hesitant for few moments and looked back at Mohammed, “Say it..” she said.

“Say what?”

“I know that you have something to say to me. Just say it!”

“You know me too well” he said avoiding eye contact.

“What’s this all about? Moving back all of a sudden? You’re no longer frustrated and annoyed as you always were. You’re calm. I know for sure that something has come up”

“You are right and I was planning to talk to you about it today.”

She stared at him anxiously, waiting for the bad news to hit her.

“I…am…getting married” he said carefully.

She didn’t blink an eye and kept staring at him with her eyes fixed on his.

“I’m so sorry. I am so so sorry..” he leaned a bit closer.

She breathed heavily, with words getting lost between her lips. She tried to say something but she ended up mumbling some unclear words in a failed attempt to speak.

“Let me explain to you, please” he tried to hold her arm but she pulled away.

“You don’t have to consider my feelings…my feelings…were never considered. I’ve always given you the freedom to live your life with no obligations. But…what about this boy? Doesn’t he deserve to be considered?” she said shaking.

“I thought about it. Of course I thought about both of you. Nothing will change, we will still be a family”

“Do you think that I’m a machine or some robot with no heart? No dignity? How on earth are you believing that nothing will change?! You made your decision and you expect me to be completely fine with it? How selfish of you! How disgusting!” she screamed and the boy stared at her frightened. She patted his head and he looked back at his book.

Mohammed was taken aback with her reaction. The dragon inside of her was unleashed and she was speaking up for herself for the first time.

“Is it Nadia?”

“Yes” he answered calmly.

“Obviously!” she said sharply.

“She tried hard to refuse just for the sake of you and Khalid. But..”

“You never got over her..” her eyes started getting wet.

“I tried. You know how much I tried..”

“And I left everything behind and moved here with you.” she said shaking her head.

“Reem, you are an understanding person and that’s why I am not doing this behind your back. I decided to be honest with you because I was sure that you will understand like you always did.” He said sweetly.

“Are you listening to yourself? It is impossible, impossible to continue living with you..”

“Don’t say that! You’re angry now..”

“The day you marry her will be the day we get divorced!” she stood up, gathered Khalid’s books, carried him and walked away. He waived to the waitress to get the bill and called Nadia right away.

“How did it go?” asked Nadia as soon as she picked up the phone.

“She asked for a divorce!”

“I told you..I told you from the very beginning.. this was a bad idea!!” she said in guilt.

“I felt an anger that was locked up in her for years. This only triggered it. Don’t blame yourself, it was going to happen sooner or later” he said patting his sweaty forehead with a napkin.

“No matter what you say, I will still blame myself for this”

“The only person that should be blamed is me”

“So what will happen now?”

“I’ll give her some time to calm down. But if she insists, then let it be..”

 

Sara was parking her car in the garage when Fahad was heading out of the house. She opened the window:

“Where were you?” he asked.

“Out with the girls. Why?”

Bas. No one is home and I’m going out”

“Never mind. Any updates with Yara?”

“No..”

“You are getting what you deserve! I warned you about lying but you just keep on doing so! I’d do the same if I were in her shoes! And imagine if someone did that to me, won’t you be upset?”

“Ok, enough. Did Osama call you today? He said he needed something”

“Nope. What does he want?”

“I don’t know.” he said staring at his phone screen.

“Ok! Bye.” She said closing the window.

 

One week later:

“We are here today to propose to your daughter..” said Um…..