Chapter 22. Finale

Yara was lying on her bed with a book in her hand. The TV was on but her full attention was on the novel that she was reading. Jane Austin was her usual companion when she felt down, but this time the classic British drama won’t help. Her depression was bigger and deeper and she related it more to Turkish drama. That’s how the novel that she was holding succeeded in taking her to another world. The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak.

Her mobile rang, but she didn’t care to cut off the sentence that she was reading to pick it up. The caller had to wait and the phone kept ringing before she finally put down the book and reached for the phone. “Yes?” she answered annoyed.

“Hi Yara” said Alia.

“Hi!” she sat straight.

“How are you doing?”

“Fine..” she answered puzzled.

“Is this a bad time to talk?”

“No. Tell me”

“The other day.. when we met.. maybe I wasn’t clear enough about what I had told you”

“Did Fahad ask you to tell me this?”

“No, I just felt that..maybe.. what I had told you caused this separation..by not explaining the situation as it is..”

“Alia did Fahad ask you to call me and tell me this?”

“We discussed it and we agreed that, maybe, I should’ve said it in a better way..”

“What is it that you want to say?”

“We both had problems. And it wasn’t right to hide my issues and speak as if he was responsible for the whole thing”

“It doesn’t matter really”

“It does. I know it’s too late and I’m sorry, but I really hope that you think about it and…” she said and Yara interrupted her, “it’s not that. Not just that. Thank you for explaining but this wasn’t the only issue..”

“Fahad is a great guy. I’m not saying that I meant to do that, but a small part of me must’ve been jealous.” Admitted Alia.

“Thank you. Appreciate your honesty..”

After ending the call, Yara thought about Alia’s words for a while. Was it possible that Alia was still in love with him? And after all the problems that they faced, does she still have hope to win him back?  It sounded impossible from Fahad’s side. But what about Alia’s feelings? She shook her head, kicked the thoughts away and went back to her book.

 

Sajida ordered the maid to move a plastic table and some chairs to the so-called garden in the house yard. There wasn’t any grass or any flowers in it. None of them were really interested in taking care of it. But the weather was lovely and Sajida was in a very bad state of mind. Staying home was choking her and she didn’t feel like going out in public and seeing people. That bare “garden” was her only getaway.

“It’s like I’m suddenly realizing that my life was always worthless” said Sajida while sipping tea with Nadia and Yara in the garden.

“But what made you think that? Why are you blaming yourself for what happened to your daughters?” asked Nadia.

“What kind of attention was I giving them? Every mother loves her kids, we can’t argue about that. But my attention was always focused on other things. Things that seemed too valuable to me.” Confessed Sajida.

Yara was very nervous to hear her strong, unbreakable mother sounding so weak. She remained quiet to make sure that Sajida had all the space that she needed to open up.

“Remember my reaction when you told me about Fahad? I only started considering him when you talked to me about his well-known family and what they owned” said Sajida.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.” said Nadia sweetly.

“I think that I’ve been through this before. This feeling that I’m feeling today, the guilt and the depression. It’s exactly what I felt when I lost my husband.” she said moving the cup of tea in her hand as she spoke.

“But we wanted you to get out of that mood back then. Even if you went back to being who you were, we accepted it because it’s just who you are” said Yara finally.

“I could’ve lost my daughter easily. I blame myself fully for what had happened to Tamara. All those years I had no idea where she had spent her time or who she was with”

“But I did and this still happened. It’s no one’s fault” said Yara comforting her.

“It wasn’t your responsibility. Which makes it worse! You were always like a mother to her more than I was”

“It’s never too late. She is still young and you are still here for her” said Nadia patting her hand.

“I can’t bear seeing her like that. She’s scared to leave the house and can’t sleep alone in her room.” said Sajida.

“I really think that she needs professional help. Let’s get her a psychiatrist. We shouldn’t ignore it” said Yara.

“I don’t want to put her under any pressure” said Sajida refusing.

“We can introduce her to him or her as a family friend or something and she won’t even notice” said Nadia.

“I don’t know. I think that she needs to get out of this country for a while. It’s hard for her to get back to her normal life. She needs a change” said Sajida.

“A trip maybe?” said Nadia.

“Longer than that. A long getaway that will make her forget this incident” said Sajida.

“What do you have in mind?” asked Yara worried about Sajida’s wild ideas.

“Boarding school” she fired.

“WHAT? THAT’S CRAZY!” screamed Yara.

“Why not? My Kuwaiti friend sent her daughter and she is doing really well. It is what Tamara needs right now.” said Sajida coldly.

“You have any idea how much that costs? You’ll have to sell the house!!” said Yara still not believing it.

“Let it be. We sell the house, me and Tamara move to Switzerland and you marry Fahad” said Sajida.

“Nadia, say something!! I think menopause is driving her insane!! Look at how she jumped from feeling guilty to going back to being the typical Sajida!!” screamed Yara.

Nadia laughed, “aunty that can’t happen. Maybe we should be realistic for now” said Nadia nicely.

“And I am not going back to Fahad just so you fulfill your dreams!! A couple of minutes ago you were crashing down about all the times that you wasted by not giving us any attention!!”

“It’s for your best at the end of the day. You won’t have to worry about taking care of us!” said Sajida.

“And you really think that you can manage a whole life by yourself? You call me even when you want to order food delivery!!” said Yara.

“I want to make it up to her. I want to fix this in any way possible.” Said Sajida insisting.

“And you want to go to Switzerland! Your old dream of living in Europe still exists I see..” said Yara.

“It’s not wise to sell the house. It’s the only thing left for you” said Nadia.

“Yes. You are right.” Said Sajida finally convinced.

“Leave if you want to, and if you can. But don’t force me to go back to Fahad for that!” said Yara still hurt.

“You are old enough to know what’s best for you. Maybe you can come with us too and find a job there” suggested Sajida.

“No. None of that will happen. Please stop dreaming mama. Please! We have enough to deal with right now and the last thing I need is you going overboard with your dreams.”

“Here is a good change of subject. My shop’s official opening is going to be next Wednesday. And I need you both to help me.” Ordered Nadia.

“My love, I wish I can. But you know how..” said Sajida but Nadia interrupted, “I know and that’s why I’ll be forcing you to work with me. You need to get your head out of this”

“I’m good at nothing” said Sajida and let out a sarcastic laugh.

“Yes, you are. I need your help with the flower arrangements.” Said Nadia.

“Your mother can do that”

“I like your taste more. And you can’t say no to me” said Nadia as she got up and kissed Sajida’s forehead.

**

“How are you feeling?” asked Mohammed as he sat on the opposite side of Reem in her parents’ house.

“Free!” she said clearly upset.

“You don’t have to keep treating me this way you know?”

“I can’t control it!”

“Reem, we have a son. For his sake we have to remain in good terms. As his parents!” he said maturely.

“Let’s just get done with this” she said not caring about what he said.

“Fine, as you wish. I will pick him up every Friday morning and bring him back by the evening. That would be fixed as a family day. Anything else that comes along we can deal with as it happens”, he said.

“You won’t be able to see him during the week. He sleeps early and you work late” she said now calmer.

“I’ll get to know once I settle down with a job”

“And please, I don’t want that woman to be close to him.” She said rudely.

“He’s just a kid. You can’t put limits between him and people around him. And Nadia is a nice woman and she will be good to him” he said in an assuring tone.

“How would you feel if I got married and your son got attached to my husband?” she asked straight forward.

“What kind of a question is that? The kid knows his parents very well and I see no need to get into these useless arguments!” he said as he got up.

“Easy for you to say! Put yourself in my shoes, and see for yourself how a woman feels to see her family breaking apart” she said hurt.

Mohammed took a deep breath losing patience, “where is he? I want to see him before I leave.” He said while walking out.

“He’s not here. My brother took him out” she said walking him out.

“Take good care of him Reem.” He said heading out.

“He’s my son too, remember?” she said as they stared at each other’s faces one last time. He turned around, put on his sunglasses and left.

**

Yara walked into the café in slow steps. She took off her sunglasses and looked around for Fahad. He was sitting in his usual spot flipping a sports magazine with no interest. She smiled to the waiters and waitresses a sad smile with her head lowered down. Their faces brought her so many good memories of all the times that she had spent there either with her books, her friends, or with Fahad.

“Hi” she said as she stood in front of him.

“Hi” he said smiling.

“I’m sorry to call and ask to see you so suddenly” she said sitting down.

“Don’t apologize. You know that I was hoping that you’d call” said Fahad still smiling. She didn’t react but looked down with her face expression unchanged.

“What’s the matter? Is everything OK?” asked Fahad concerned.

“Yes, I just came here to give you this” she said opening her handbag, picking up an envelope and handing it to him. He took it confused and opened it. “What is this for?” he asked staring at a cheque.

“It’s the money that you paid to cover the debt. I promised you that I’ll pay it back” she answered seriously.

“Yara!” he said upset.

“Please, it’s your family’s money and you can’t argue about it”

“Where did you get the money from? Is it from the sale of the Studio?” he asked angry.

“Yes”

“Why did you sell the Studio? To pay me back?” he kept questioning.

“Part of the reason, yes”

“You sold your career Yara! You know what that means? What are you going to do now?” he asked shocked.

“We needed the money and this is your share of it. I will find a job, no big deal”

“This was always your problem since I first met you. Your pride came on top of everything else!” he said in anger.

“That is who I am. But, I want to thank you for all the times that you stood by my family’s side. We really appreciate it, all of us” she said deeply.

“Why are you saying this now?”

“Because, this is goodbye”

“What do you mean? You left me a while ago!”

“Yes, but it’s only getting harder with our families in between and we being in touch whenever something comes up. All that must stop in order for us to be able to get over each other easily.” She explained sadly.

“A strong relationship was formed between our families and you can’t just cut it off”

“It was only formed because we were together. And now, It has to stop!”

“This is Bahrain, Yara. No matter how far we get, things will always bring us back to each other in different ways”

“But we have to try. We have to stay away from each other” she begged.

“Then you will like what you’re about to hear” he said hurt.

“What?” she said turning her head to him with sudden attention.

“I might move to Dubai for a year or so” he said with no face expression.

“Why?” she asked shocked.

“Our office is starting up a new branch there and a family member must work on that to give it a strong kick”

“That’s big…”

“Yes, but just like you said, we need to stay away from each other” he said getting back at her.

She took a deep breath, picked up her bag and stood up, “Just, stay safe..” she said from the bottom of her heart and walked away, leaving him behind in the place that brought them together. He stared at her while she walked away quietly with so many words left unsaid stuck in his throat. But what was the use of speaking now? The long, separate ways that she asked for, started at that very moment..

**

“I still don’t understand why you sent him an invitation!” said Yara upset while sitting on the floor in Nadia’s shop.

“How can I NOT invite him? It won’t be appropriate!” said Nadia holding a lace ribbon.

“You’re inviting him as who? Someone who I was planning to marry?”

“You’re so selfish! Just because you broke up with the guy you can’t ask us all to cut contact with him so suddenly!” said Nadia while cutting the ribbon.

“You all did because we were together!” said Yara playing with her shoelace.

“Doesn’t make it any different. And you have to get used to seeing him around and dealing with him in a mature way” said Nadia making a bow with the ribbon.

“I don’t have to if he’s moving to Dubai!” she said acting careless.

“Even if he does. You’ll still see him around and hear his news. You have to know how to deal with that” said Nadia sticking the bow on a small wrapped box.

“I hope that he doesn’t come. I think he won’t!”

“I think he will. He’ll think that it won’t be appropriate if he doesn’t” said Nadia holding the box and staring at the bow.

“Don’t you think that it could be hurtful for me? Seeing him around?” asked Yara raising her head up.

“No, I think it’s a good exercise. Will you get up and help me with the boxes please?” said Nadia handing her the scissors.

“A part of me is sad that he might leave Bahrain. It will be easier for us though. But, I don’t know. It’s just sad that he won’t be around” said Yara getting up and reaching for the ribbon.

“I have a total opposite situation to deal with. My husband to be has a son and I have to form a relationship with him” said Nadia folding her arms.

“He’s just a kid”

“Yes and that’s the problem. I know it won’t be easy for Mohammed too, to be a good father to a son who’s not living with him. And I have to make it easier for him too” she said worried.

“You’ll be fine. You’re sweet and loving by nature” said Yara with her full concentration on the box that she was working on.

“I have this fear of becoming the evil woman who stole his dad from his mum”

“As long as Reem doesn’t plant that in his head then you won’t be” said Yara finishing her first box.

“I need to focus on the launch now. Tomorrow morning the arrangements will arrive and we’ll have all the final touches completed. For now we have to finish these giveaways and arrange that shelf with all the frames” said Nadia heading to it.

“What about my photos?” wondered Yara concerned.

“You said Santosh will come and hang them tomorrow morning!” said Nadia confused.

“Right! I think I’m losing my mind” she said picking another box.

“You think your mother was serious about the boarding school?” asked Nadia with a laugh on her face.

“Yes, of course she was. It’s typical of her to think of such crazy ideas”

“It’s a good idea if you can afford it” said Nadia arranging the frames shelf.

“I don’t think that Tamara should live away from us. She needs us. And a boarding school in Switzerland will only make her cold and too serious”

“You have a point. Let’s just focus and finish so we could rest for tomorrow” said Nadia.

**

“I don’t think that it’s a good idea for him to leave” said Fouzia.

“But why? I think there are many reasons why he should” said Sara while playing with her hair, wearing a jalabia and spending the evening with her mum in the living room.

“But not even a year has passed since he got back from the States!” said Fouzia sadly.

“I know that it’s hard for you and you want him to be around. But think of his career and how that will add a lot to his experience.”

“Nothing is worth living away from home!” said Fouzia reaching for her mobile and going through her messages quietly. “This is a reminder about Nadia’s shop opening tomorrow. Shall we go?” asked Fouzia staring at Sara.

“I don’t know, don’t feel like it. But we should. Even if we pass by for few minutes it will do”

“I hope that your brother won’t go” said Fouzia concerned.

“Why? To avoid seeing Yara?”

“Yes. I want him to get over her quickly”

“Then why don’t you want him to work in Dubai? He will be away from her for a while and getting over her will be easier.”

“That’s right, but I’m being selfish. I want him to be near me”

“It’s only Dubai mama, he can come every weekend”

“Once he settles there he will barely come and visit” she said certain.

“We can visit him then. We all need an excuse to go to Dubai” said Sara.

**

The day has finally come. Nadia was running around and arranging many last minute details in the shop. She was fully dressed with her make up on and her hair styled in big waves. The traditional floral short dress that she was wearing was being sold in one corner of the shop and her gold plated Turkish-style earrings encrusted with a Fuchsia stone was also being sold there. The smell of Bukhoor was covering the place and some workers were arranging the flowers that Sajida chose by the entrance of the shop.

“Sorry to be late” said Yara approaching from the parking.

“I’ll kill you. Get in quick.” Said Nadia nervous.

“I was stuck in traffic. How do I look?” asked Yara walking into the shop.

“Good, good” said Nadia without paying much attention.

“My pictures!” said Yara happily as she stared at the wall behind the counter. She selected five framed photos of her last year New York collection since she had nothing new to display. Two colorful photos were taken in Central Park and the other three were random street photos that screamed New York.

“Write the prices of your photos on those labels quickly, we’ll need to stick them now” ordered Nadia handing her a sheet of labels and a pen.

“Is the Shaikha arriving on time for the opening ceremony?”

“I don’t know but we better be ready on time.” Said Nadia.

Once all the formalities and the headache of the official opening were over, the crowd felt more relaxed and the ambience became more casual. People started to mingle and look around the shop without having to put on a fake smile or an act for the media photographers. Fairouz was singing some chill out classics in the background.

“Congratulations. You turned this location into a wonderful place! The touches are just amazing” said a tall woman with rectangle black framed glasses and a boy cut hairstyle.

“Thanks aunty. Means a lot” said Nadia and was pulled by another woman from the other side who also gave her a similar comment.

“You must be tired too ha? But it’s almost over and we’ll all get some peace of mind. Just writing the invitations list got me all stressed out” said Nadia’s mum to Yara, who wasn’t paying much attention and had her eyes fixed on the entrance. Fahad didn’t show up yet. And as much as she wished that he doesn’t come, she wanted him to walk into that door so badly. But he didn’t.

“Dalal! Nice to see you. It’s been a while” said Osama holding a long glass of orange juice and wearing a tight Ralph Lauren Polo that showed off his muscular arms.

“I know! I’m fine. Nothing new” she said excited.

“You look different. What did you change?”

“A nose job?” she said teasing.

“Hmm no, no.” he said observing her face.

“My hair is not blonde anymore”

“Oh, right” he said finally noticing.

“Needed the change”

“It looks better this way” he said nicely.

“How are you? How’s the new business?” asked Dalal.

“It’s doing well. The market is picking up and I started expanding around The GCC”

“That’s great! Need to employ someone? I’m getting sick of banking and been looking for a job for a while” she said with one hand on her waist and another carrying her Miu Miu.

“Well, I currently have few staff and we’re not hiring at the moment. Plus, your major and experience are totally in a different field”

“Yup, I’m stuck” she said nodding her head.

“But you can pass by the office and see how things work. Maybe it will inspire you to find out what you want to do next.”

“That would be nice! I definitely will”

“OK. You have my number. Call whenever you can make it”

 

“Look at those two! Are they finally getting along with each other?” wondered Nadia staring at Osama and Dalal.

“Is he that desperate?” said Yara.

“You’re mean! What’s with the mood?” asked Nadia fixing her hair in one of the for-sale mirrors.

“Why didn’t he come? To avoid seeing me?” wondered Yara with a hurt look on her face.

“Don’t put it this way. You know what you mean to him! And I thought that him coming was a bad idea?”

“I just can’t stop thinking and wondering…..” she said but suddenly stopped talking while staring at the door. Nadia looked around to find Fahad, Sara and their mother walking into the door. “I really wish that you wished for a one million dinars!” said Nadia and headed to greet them by the door.

Yara got nervous. She didn’t know how to react to seeing them. As happy as she suddenly got, his appearance with his family made her feel embarrassed for some reason.

“Hey, how are you?” said Sara approaching her.

“I’m ok. Missed you” said Yara quietly as she hugged her back.

Ahlan. Shloanech?” said Fouzia nicely as she followed Sara and kissed Yara, “Wain Sajida?” she asked.

“She left. She still doesn’t feel like being in public so she came before the opening ceremony and left” said Yara nervously as Sara and Fouzia moved on with their greetings to the rest of the crowd and left Yara and Fahad alone, face to face.

They stared at each other awkwardly for few seconds, too hesitant to even smile. “Are you upset?” she asked quietly and slowly.

“No, I’m not” he said and smiled. She smiled back nervously.

“We could’ve been here as a couple, and now we are standing in front of each other like total strangers who are trying to make conversation” he said putting on a sweet face that failed to hide his frustration about it.

“It’s not meant to be..”

He looked in the other direction and was about to walk away but he stopped, “I am moving to Dubai tomorrow” he said dryly.

She stared at him in shock, “So soon?”

“Yup. It’s happening..” he said without displaying any emotions.

She kept staring at him, her face and eyes were fixed at his. The crowd around her didn’t exist at that moment. As crowded as the room was, no one existed for her except for him. Little waves of moistness started appearing in her eyes. And he was about to take a step forward and hold her hand, ask her not to cry, and tell her that everything is going to be fine like he always did. But he didn’t. He couldn’t cross those barriers and limits that she’s been building.

“Not every love story has a happy ending..” she said with tears finally streaming down her face.

“Goodbye then, Yara..” he said adding a smile after saying her name. He turned around and disappeared between the crowd.

 

“Look who’s here! This is aunt Yara” said Nadia holding little Khalid’s hand. “What’s wrong?” asked Nadia noticing Yara’s tears.

“It’s over. It’s really over” said Yara devastated.

“What do you mean? What happened?” asked Nadia waving at Mohammed to come and take Khalid.

“He’s leaving.. tomorrow.. what will happen to me now? What will I do? How empty will my life be, without a job, and without him..” she said getting hit by reality.

“Yara, this is what you wanted and what you asked for! Didn’t you think about the consequences before?”

“I lost him..” she said with a miserable face expression.

“He’s still here Yara. Go and talk to him before it’s too late!” said Nadia trying to look as normal as possible not to make a scene.

“I have to leave. I’m sorry. I can’t stay here” said Yara heading to the door.

“I’ll come as soon as I’m done” said Nadia concerned. But Yara was in a world of her own. She rushed out of the shop like a ghost, trying to disappear without being noticed.

**

One month later:

Nadia’s house was getting busier by the minute. The huge tent that was set in the garden was buzzing with loud music, white light bulbs and dressed up guests walking in and out. Nadia’s mother was supervising the waitresses in the other corner of the yard about the buffet and greeting people at the same time. “Please don’t exhaust yourself. The night is young!” said Sajida approaching her in a short tight black dress that revealed the shape of her waist. The sleeves were long and there was a silver brooch right under the v-neck.

“I’m too excited I can’t relax” Said Nadia’s mum happily.

“Tell me, how can I help?” asked Sajida patting her shoulder.

“Go check on the bride. I’m sure that she needs supervision” said Nadia’s mum. Sajida nodded and made her way to Nadia’s bedroom upstairs.

 

The classic Zaffa finally started and electrified the venue. All the ladies had their eyes fixed on the entrance of the tent, waiting for the new bride and groom to walk in. Both mothers were standing by the entrance proudly trying to clear the way for the newlywed. Nadia walked in and took every woman’s breath away. She was more beautiful than usual in a very classy beige off-shoulder dress. The moment she stepped in, she took two steps to the left and turned around, making way for the bride and groom to walk in…when finally, Yara entered the tent in a long sleeved white lace dress, holding Fahad’s hand….

Fouzia couldn’t stop her tears when she saw her son in a traditional Thoab Bishit. She got closer to him proudly and hugged him while he kissed her forehead. Yara was extremely nervous, hating to be under the spotlight and not believing that after all, it was really happening. Nadia was asking her to smile while fixing her dress every now and then.

“So..not every love story has a happy ending?” whispered Fahad in Yara’s ear with a huge smile on his face while they stood on stage and endless cameras were flashing at them.

“Not ours, at least” she said raising her head up so he could hear her with all the loud music on.

“You happy?” he asked staring at her.

“About facing the world hand in hand? I think I’m more happy about getting the studio back” she teased him and they both laughed. It was a natural, full of love laugh that all ladies who were staring at them adored.

Sajida walked up to the stage proudly pulling Tamara who was too shy to go up there. She kissed Yara dryly in a typical Sajida way but then kissed Fahad warmly and he kissed her head. “You brought life back to the family” said Sajida holding his arm.

Yara was staring at Tamara happily, it’s been a while since she saw her dressed up and laughing. The four of them stood close to each other for a photo and then Fouzia, Sara and her father joined.

The guests moved outside for the buffet while Yara and Fahad started walking around the tent casually chatting with friends and family. Nadia approached Yara and handed her a glass of water that she requested earlier. “Yalla when is your turn?” asked Fahad excited.

“We’re not rushing since we won’t go through all that typical process that you’re going through” teased Nadia.

“That’s the Bahraini way!” he said defending.

“We’ll cut that short since it’s the second time for both of us. Melcha and marriage will be at the same time. So we’ll have to get fully ready with all the preparations” she explained.

“It’s my second time too but I am a classic person” he said proudly. Yara offered him some water after drinking half of the glass, he took it gladly and drank the rest.

“I asked Osama to pass by but I don’t see any sign of him!” said Fahad looking at his watch.

“He’s on his way!” said Dalal joining them. The three of them stared at her confused. “He is helping me with my career. We are.. friends.. now” she explained. They nodded smilingly and Yara and Nadia stared at each other laughingly. “Told you. Desperate!” whispered Yara in Nadia’s ear and they both laughed.

Yara  and Fahad walked hand in hand to a random empty table in the tent. They sat down and she took a deep breath, “can I take my shoes off? It’s killing me! Can’t stand high heals” she whined.

“Wait for few hours! It’s just one night and it will pass!”

“Fine” she obeyed annoyed but happy.

“Last night you were saying that you didn’t forgive me 100%”

“Yeah?”

“Today you are officially mine in front of Allah and the entire world. So is it still less than 100% or….?”

“Honestly?” she pretended to be serious.

“Honestly”

“The moment they told me that the signing was completed and that we officially belonged to each other, I forgot everything..” she said looking at his eyes lovingly.

“And we’re as good as we were back in Beirut?” he asked staring back at her eyes.

She nodded, “Better…”.

He picked up her hand and kissed it, “And it will only get better”..

 

THE END.

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…..

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…”