“My parents? What do they got to do with this?” asked Nadia confused.
“If I got to convince your parents then nothing else will stand in my way” affirmed Mohammed.
“What about me? I told you a million times how I’m not ok with it! What’s the use of talking to my parents if you still didn’t get my approval?” screamed Nadia in disbelief.
“I know how much you want this” he said calmly.
“Want what? Can we speak clearly and start being specific about what we want?” she asked angrily.
“I want you to be mine. I want us to be together again.”
“How?” she asked sharply.
“By getting married!” he said finally.
“Mohammed, can you remember why we didn’t get married at first place?”
“Because I left the country. And you, yourself, said that it was a mistake”
“Yes, it was a mistake back then. But it doesn’t mean that I can do that now!”
“I understand. It’s not possible to come over there while I’m living with my wife and son. But, I’ve been considering moving back to Bahrain for a while!” he confessed.
“Oh no! What happened to that bright career that you left your whole life for?”
“It was the right thing to do seven years ago. People change..”
“This is a mess Mohammed. You are messing up your life!”
“You are absolutely wrong. I am being brave by trying to fight for a life that I’ve always wanted”
“Fine. Let’s say that you’ll quit your job and come back here. Then what?”
“We’ll have our own life. Me and you”
“And your wife? Your son?”
“I can be fair to you both. Reem is understanding. She will understand.” He said confident.
“So you want me to be your second wife and share you with another woman? You think that this is easy? First of all, it will cause me a lot of pain. Second, what will people think of me? The woman who stole a man from his wife? Don’t you hear about such stories every single day and how it’s affecting our community and the children?” she screamed.
“Can you stop screaming and discuss this like mature people do? Nadia, we are not old. We have our whole lives ahead of us. The examples that you are talking about are old men who waited for their children to grow up and for their wives to age to finally have the courage to move on! I am not like them at all. I am doing this right now because it’s easier to go for it now and not later when my children grow old” he explained.
“What is this mentality? Why does it have to happen? One woman is not enough for you?” she asked in disgust.
“It’s not that. I told you that I don’t love Reem, and that I am not happy. Sooner or later I will get fed up and move on. Fate brought you back into my life when I really needed you. How do you want me to let you go?”
“I will never live in peace being a second wife”
“But we will talk to Reem. We won’t do it behind her back like the normal scenario goes”
“Come on! Reem hates me just for the fact of me being your X. How do you expect her to approve this?”
“She wouldn’t want to lose me”
“That won’t make me any less of a sinner in people’s eyes”
“Why do you care so much about what people think? To hell with them!” he said in a high tone.
“Because it will affect my life in every aspect. My relations with others, my image, my new shop, it will all be affected!”
“You’re saying that your life will be miserable if we get married?”
“No, of course not.”
“Nadia, I need you to answer this question honestly. Aside from all this mess, do you want to be with me?” he asked sensibly.
Nadia stayed quiet for few seconds and took a deep breath, “Yes. I do”
“And there is nothing I want more in this life. So let’s try and work it out. We owe this a try. And if we fail again, we won’t have any regrets later for a life that we could’ve had”
“You are right. I get your point. But…”
“I know, you are worried about my son, my career, and everything that will have to change. But you know me more than that. I am responsible enough. You have to trust me. Be sure that I will never do anything that will cause you pain. Let me talk to your parents.”
“My parents are still in Munich” she said saved by a good excuse.
“Even better, I can go to Munich for the weekend.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes! It’s a 2 hour flight!”
“You’re getting me all nervous. What will you say to them?”
“I will explain our situation and convince them of my plan” he said easily.
“So you thought about it already!” she said feeling a twinge in her tummy.
“Today is Monday. You’re going on Friday?”
“Yes. I will book now”
“Then…I must be there too!”
“It will make things much easier, yes”
“I think.. it’s better if I go and talk to them first, before you get there” she said hesitant.
“If you have a visa you can go right away!” he said happily.
The next morning, Yara woke up early and headed to the studio. As relieved as she was that the debt was taken care of, she was certain that it was time to sell the studio in order to pay Fahad his money back. She passed by the café for her usual take-out skinny Latte and went to the studio focused and ready to face reality. “Good morning Madame” said Santosh as she entered.
“Hello Santosh. How are things?”
“Mr. George came yesterday and took his photos”
“Great. Are the ones we sent for framing ready?”
“Not yet. But I will go today and check”
“Ok. But before you go, I need to tell you something” she said as she walked to her desk and sat down. “There is a big chance that the studio will be sold soon”
“Oh! Sell it? Close the shop?” he said in an Indian accent.
“Yes Santosh. I am telling you so you can start looking for another job”
“Madame. This is sad. What will you do?” he asked concerned.
“Well, as a start, I’m getting married” she said now smiling.
“I know I know. Mr. Fahad right?” he asked in joy.
Yara laughed, “Yes”.
“Thank you. But, if you see Mr. Fahad, don’t mention anything about selling this studio. Please”
“Ok Madame.” He said and was about to go out. “Santosh, I can talk to Nadia and see if you can work at her new shop instead” she suggested.
“Yes Madame” he nodded in contentment and headed out.
Yara rested her back on the chair and stared at the place. It was her passion that was displayed on those walls. How can she let go of it? Fahad’s merger idea occurred to her suddenly. She thought about giving him the studio in return of the debt he paid. But knowing him, he wouldn’t accept it. He will agree and let her continue using the studio in addition to dropping the debt. There was no other option but to sell.
She heard the door open while she was facing the other way. She turned the chair around to see Dalal by the door. “May I come in?” said Dalal with her obvious blond highlights that showed more in her curls.
“Yes. Sure” said Yara surprised.
“How are you?” asked Dalal as she walked to her and kissed her.
“I’m fine. You?”
“I’m good.” She said as they both took a seat on the armchairs.
“Don’t you have work today?”
“I’m on leave”
“How can I help you?” asked Yara straight ahead.
“I.. actually came here… to apologize”
Yara let out a sarcastic laugh, “apologize? About what or what or what…”
“I know that what I did to you is unforgivable. It’s the worst thing that any friend could do to the other. But we never got the chance to even talk about it”
“And say what? You didn’t stop at a certain point. You kept on going and causing more harm”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I can’t think of an excuse, I meant everything I did. But I am sorry”
“So you just want my forgiveness?”
“Yes. And I hope that we can be friends again”
“We are not kids Dalal. It’s not like you broke a toy or something. You tried to break a relationship!” said Yara loudly.
“I know. It was big. But now I can see it. I can see how bad it was and I am really sorry”
“Are you sure? Or are you just getting lonely since you lost your friends?”
“Of course I miss you! And yes I am feeling lonely. But look at you now, you are getting married. You won over my bad intentions”
“Exactly, bad intentions. I can easily forgive you. But how can I be your friend again?”
“I understand, I really do. But why do we have to be out of each other’s lives completely? We don’t have to be best friends, but it would be nice to stay in touch and hang out from time to time. For the sake of the old days!”
“I don’t know. I feel like I will have to pretend to be fine while I’m not”
“I’m very happy that you and Fahad are getting married. I really mean it. And I do regret getting between you two. I am a human being and I make mistakes. Yara, I know that there are some habits that you don’t like in me. But this is who I always was and you accepted me that way.”
Yara stayed quiet staring at the floor.
“I really love you. You and Nadia were my whole life. And my life is just too empty right now. I’m really sorry” said Dalal as she got up, kissed Yara on the cheek and left the studio.
For a moment, she felt like she was pulling a Sajida on Dalal. All her life she dreaded the thought of growing old and becoming another version of her mother. She was sure that she never would though because of the huge difference between their personalities. But as she sat there on the armchair, she noticed that it really was starting to happen. Her dry and careless attitude with Dalal and how she didn’t even consider forgiving her was something that Sajida would do.
“Are you in the shop?” asked Yara as soon as Nadia picked up her call.
“Just asking. Last night I told you that Fahad’s family will finally come to propose but you weren’t the usual excited you.”
“I wasn’t?” asked Nadia distracted.
“Where are you?”
“Al Aali mall”
“Why are you questioning me? I need to buy some stuff!”
“You’re tensed. What’s going on?”
“Nadia, what is going on?” asked Yara again sharply.
“Come here. We’ll talk”
After one hour, Yara and Nadia met in Armani Café. “I’m, leaving to Munich tonight” said Nadia.
“WHAT?” gasped Yara in shock.
“I will be back before Tuesday. Don’t panic”
“Is your dad ok?”
“Yes. It’s Mohammed”
“What happened to him?” asked Yara scared.
“Nothing. Chill girl!”
“We’ll meet in Munich this weekend. He wants to..talk to my parents”
“HE’S PROPOSING?” screamed Yara and all the waiters turned around. Yara and Nadia were the only customers there.
“I don’t understand!” said Yara in total confusion.
“He wants to meet them and discuss our situation. If they are fine with it, he wants to move to the next stage”
“Wow! That’s big”
“And you blame me for being tensed”
“What about his family? His job?”
“He wants to work it out. He’s saying that he’s got a plan”
“And you’re ok with all that?”
“I don’t know. This time he didn’t give me a chance to object. He was pretty convincing”
“This is scary. Are you even ready to leave tonight?”
“Trying to do as much as possible. That’s why I came here”
“I don’t mean to sound selfish but I really need you here this week”
“I’m so sorry. The most important thing is that I’ll be here by Tuesday”
“I’ll go crazy planning everything with my mum” said Yara worried.
“She’s much easier now and even fun to hang out with”
“Oh well. I have no other choice”
Nadia traveled that night with a very vague idea about what was going on and what might happen in Munich. It wasn’t easy to believe that the reason she was traveling was to talk to her parents about Mohammed. It was something that was supposed to happen long years ago, but it never did. And now, after all what they have both been through, the time has come for that to happen? She was kind of sure that her parents wouldn’t accept it. But she believed that it was worth a try and that it’s not fair to fight any less than Mohammed was fighting for it. During her flight to Munich, she thought about all those things with her eyes wide open. Her parents were always understanding and supportive. But will they still understand that their own daughter could be a second wife? The only hope that Nadia had was the fact that she was divorced, and that could help in convincing her parents as divorced women have less chances of getting re-married to the perfect guy. It was the way the old generation thought and it was a good string to play.
The next morning, Yara and Sajida were supposed to go furniture shopping to change and maybe add some pieces in the formal sitting room. Yara was totally against the idea for financial reasons but Sajida insisted. She thought that their furniture was outdated and it won’t be appropriate for the proposal. They agreed that they would only change few pieces and home accessories within a budget.
Yara overslept that morning, and she only woke up when Fahad called at 11am. “Still sleeping?” asked Fahad as he heard her sleepy voice.
“What time is it?”
“It’s 11! Get up”
“Oh no! Why didn’t anyone wake me up?” she got off bed.
“Weren’t you supposed to go out with your mum?”
“Exactly” she said as she left her room looking around for anyone but the house was deserted. “Where is everybody?” she wondered upset.
“You sound like your house is always full of people!” joked Fahad.
“Tamara is in school but where is the queen?” she walked to Sajida’s bedroom and opened the door. Sajida was sitting on the floor next to one of her cupboards with heaps of clothes around her. “What are you doing?” asked Yara.
“What do I look like doing? De-cluttering!”
“What about the furniture?” wondered Yara with her phone still on her ear.
“You’re the one who just woke up” said Sajida folding a mustard yellow cardigan.
“You could’ve woke me up!” whined Yara.
“Too late. They close in an hour. We’ll go at 4”
“Ooooh” said Yara upset and left the room.
“What are you going to do now?” asked Fahad.
“I don’t know. I need my cup of coffee and then I will be able to think”
“Come to the café. Have your coffee with me and let’s chat a bit”
“I’ll probably have to pass by the studio. I’ll change and come” she ended the call.
“It’s been a while since we sat together and had a decent conversation” said Fahad sitting in the café with Yara.
“I know. Feels good!” said Yara and sipped her coffee in comfort.
“Many good days to come” he said with a smile.
“Inshalla. I want to fast forward all those formalities; the proposal, the melcha, and I just want to close my eyes and open it to find myself living with you in one place” she said dreamy.
“Why the rush? Enjoy all of those steps!”
“You know me. I’m not as patient as you are”
“I like that. Creates balance between how I am and how you are”
“Can I ask you something that’s been on my mind lately?”
“Sure” he said with his arm resting behind his head.
“How come Alia is still in good terms with you and the family?”
“Just because we got a divorce doesn’t mean that we have to be in bad terms” he answered casually.
“But..i don’t know..” she said puzzled.
“Are you jealous?” he teased.
“No. Of course not. But she is a very nice woman as far as I’ve seen and your family obviously loves her. How is it possible that she doesn’t want to become a mother?”
Fahad’s face expression suddenly changed. He looked nervous and looked the other way.
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. Can we not talk about this?” he said a bit upset.
“Inshalla” she obeyed in oppose to the doubt that was only increasing inside of her head.
Nadia and her parents were having tea in the lobby of The Mandarin Oriental in Munich. Both her parents were uncomfortable about meeting Mohammed and the whole marriage idea. They didn’t object, but they were a little agitated. Their mood didn’t force Nadia to make any changes on the plan. Mohammed was arriving to the hotel any minute and the three of them waited silently.
“What brings you all the way here son?” asked Nadia’s father right after he was introduced to Mohammed.
“I….” started Mohammed nervously.
“Nadia explained your situation to us, but I want to hear it from you” said the father calmly.
“I lost Nadia once before, and, I, can’t spare losing her again” said Mohammed with his white cheeks turning rosey.
Nadia’s mum sat quietly with her left hand folded on her chest and her head rested on her right hand while Nadia sat up cautiously with a straight back and her hands on her lap. It was a man-to-man conversation and both ladies stayed out of it and listened.
“But the situation was different before. You have your own family now and she’s a divorcee. Why are you wishing to complicate things for yourself?” asked the father still very calm.
“To be honest with you, I was never happy with my current life. I have got the career that I always dreamed of and I am settled. But..”
Nadia’s father was dark skinned and a bit chubby. His looks never failed to present his wise personality and high status. His big nose, that was similar to his wife’s since they were first cousins, was a trademark in the family. Luckily, Nadia didn’t get it. His first name, Salah, was representing his looks and personality very well. He was sitting facing Mohammed in his posh black over coat that gave the impression that he was ready to cut the conversation and walk out the hotel any minute.
“You think that Nadia will make you happy?” asked the father.
“Yes” answered Mohammed shyly looking at the ground.
“What about your family? Having two wives is never easy”
“My wife is understanding. And, if everything goes well, she will be the first to know about it even before it happens” said Mohammed politely.
“And why do you think that we will accept giving our only daughter to a married man?” said the father and took a sip of tea.
“I think, Nadia can answer this” he said turning his head to Nadia.
“The fact that Nadia introduced you to us proves that it’s what she wants too. But I want to hear your answer” said the father.
“I am sure that Nadia’s happiness is important to you. And the fact that her first marriage failed to make her happy will make you consider this”
“What are you planning to do?”
“Go back to Bahrain for good. If you grant me this, I promise that I will give Nadia everything that she deserves. And she knows it”
“Listen to me my son. Now that I listened to you I can tell you what I think.” Said the father with his hand holding his chin. Nadia’s heart started racing as she turned her body 90 degrees around to face her father nervously.
“No woman in this world accepts sharing her husband with another woman. If we accept and you marry Nadia, both women will suffer. This will only lead to you getting lost in the middle. Even if your wife understands and accepts this marriage, what about Nadia? Will she bear sharing you with someone else? Will you bear it? Since you said that you are currently not happy and you will find your happiness with Nadia, that means that you will favor Nadia over your wife. That will also complicate things for your son. It’s very complicated. Keeping one family standing is hard enough for a man, how about two?” he said and took another sip of tea while awkward silence covered the place. “I don’t want to stand between my daughter and what she wants. She is old enough to decide for herself. But at the same time I don’t want to grant her a complicated life” he continued.
“Baba, will you please allow us to talk about this? Me and him, privately?” asked Nadia in sudden courage.
The father took a deep breath, turned to the mother, “What do you think?” he asked.
“They should talk about it” she said nodding.
“Go somewhere and talk. You are both old and mature to know what’s best for you. Try to keep your emotions aside and think with your brain today” said the father.
“Thank you” said Mohammed as he stood up pleased.
“Be rational in your discussion today” said the father as Mohammed shook his hand, shook the mother’s hand, excused himself and left the hotel with Nadia.
Although it was three degrees in Munich that day, Nadia couldn’t think of a better place to have a quiet conversation with Mohammed other than the English Garden. It was sunny with some fluffy clouds moving along with the wind. She was wearing a baby pink woolen hat with her big waves falling over her shoulders, white overcoat that had huge golden buttons, and a beige pashmina with small embroidered flowers was wrapped around her neck. The wind was moving towards them as they walked through the garden and she found herself holding Mohammed’s arm tightly to survive it. They both laughed at their stupidity for coming to the garden in this freezing weather, till they reached a small bridge that overlooked a tiny waterfall. “Thank you” said Nadia as she turned around and faced him while they stood on the bridge.
“What for?” he asked smiling.
“For coming all the way here”
“You know that I’d do anything to be with you”
“What do you think will happen now?” she placed her hands in her pockets.
“We both know that we want this more than anything else. And I don’t think that your father’s words will change anything. Right?” he asked looking at her in the eyes.
“He made sense though. How will I stand sharing you with another woman?” she asked feeling the jealousy starting.
“I’ve been with another woman for years!”
“But you weren’t mine”
“You know that I loved you all the way” he said staring at the waterfall.
“Do you feel like you’re cheating on her when you’re with me?”
“I don’t know”
“Do you even care about her feelings?”
“In a way, yes. But it won’t stop me from being with you” he said looking back at her.
“My parents were not ok with the idea. They will need more time and more convincing”
“Leave that aside now. Are you convinced?”
“Am I convinced?” she asked confused as they started walking again.
“Before we came here you weren’t convinced. You were still fighting back”
“I thought that you knew that I was resisting for your own good” she looked at him with crossed eyebrows.
“I did. And that’s why I insisted” he said with a grin.
“I missed this smile..” she said staring at him and losing the resistance fight. He surrounded her with his arm in a side hug as their heads touched. There was nothing left to discuss.
“Hey Yara” said Alia as she walked into Crepe Café and headed directly to Yara’s table.
“Hey, thank you for agreeing to see me” said Yara as she stood up and shook her hand.
“My pleasure. I hope that everything is ok?” asked Alia concerned and took a seat.
“Yes everything is fine. It’s just some regular questions that the new fiancé has for the x-wife” said Yara with a smile.
“That should be fun” said Alia with a laugh as the waiter came with the menus.
“I know what I want. Nutella Crepe & Skimmed Latte please” ordered Yara.
“Tempting. Make them two but with a Cappuccino” said Alia.
“How is Fahad? Is he feeling better?”
“Yeah. It’s hard to keep him away from sweets though”
“He’s a stubborn kid that’s his problem…” said Alia and kept on talking about Fahad and his diabetes. Yara watched her as she spoke and her jealousy grew with every word. She watched her beautiful lips that were covered with red lipstick, her wide eyes and perfect long lashes that went up and down as she blinked. That woman used to belong to Fahad. Those lips, those eyes, and that thick black hair was Fahad’s.
The waitress came with the coffee cups and woke Yara up from her deep thoughts. “Tell me. What questions do you have for me?” asked Alia.
“Can you, tell me why you got divorced? Of course Fahad told me but I’d like to hear it from your side” asked Yara nicely.
“Yeah, I understand. We, women, look at things differently so I’m sure you’ll understand the situation differently from my side.”
“Yeah, men barely speak.”
“But let me tell you first that I admire how brave you are. You must really love Fahad”
“Because you agreed to marry Fahad knowing that he can never be a father!”
“Never be a father?”
“He told you that he is unable to, right?” said Alia….