“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..”
“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.
“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?”
“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.
“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?”
“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..