Saturday, September 20, 2008

Red Rage

Ala'a watched the two cars behind her from her rear-view mirror as she waited at the traffic light. Two young mit7ajba women squeezed, giant 7ijab and all, in a red Porsche Turbo that seemingly wasn't their own by the way the were driving it. The woman in the driver's seat had flipped down the sun visor to check her bright red lipstick in the mirror, while her friend licked her vanilla ice cream cone, careful not to smudge her glossy pink lipstick.
The young men in the white Lexus next to them stared unabashedly, trying to get their attention. The woman driving the Porsche knew that people were staring at them - that was what she wanted. She puckered and pursed her lips in the mirror over and over again, knowing and not knowing that the men next to her were squinting their eyes and gaping with lust.
It was the next thing she saw that made Ala'a's stomach churn with disgust - the woman eating the ice cream cone turned to look at the men in the Lexus, unashamed and unaware of all the people that were staring at her and her friend. She then stuck out her tongue and proceeded to swirl it around the vanilla ice cream in the most seductive and suggestive manner she could, and then offered it to the men in the Lexus with a cheeky giggle.

Ala'a's jaw dropped in shock, not even realizing that the light had turned green a few moments ago. She drove ahead and turned to check in her rear view mirror, only to see that the men in the Lexus had, most likely in disgust, taken the nearest exit away from the girls in the red Porsche. Ala'a smirked at no-one in particular, and continued her way home.

'Is this what the women of our country have come down to?,' she thought to herself. Ala'a had recently started hearing more and more stories about Kuwaiti women throwing themselves onto men and degrading themselves in the process. Stories about girls following unsuspecting guys home; about girls leaving phone numbers and e-mail addresses on guys' car doors - the most recent one was of a girl getting the number of a guy she was eyeing through a friend who worked at Zain, and calling him at ungodly hours of the night, trying to seduce him.
Ala'a wondered - Do these women truly believe that any worthy man would respect them and their actions?

Nearing her home, Ala'a slowed down at the turn only to see the girls in the red Porsche behind her. They gained on her and swerved to the left side of Ala'a's car. The girl who was licking the ice-cream wrung her hands at Ala'a as if to say "What? Shtabeen?" and her mouth moved, angrily shouting inaudible words. 'She probably thinks I made the men drive away from them,' Ala'a thought. She rolled her eyes at the girls in the Porsche and drove off in her own direction, thanking God that she has a good head on her shoulders.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mbarak 3alaikum Il-Shahar :)

Reham hovered over the hot stove, stirring the thick 3adas soup and watching the heat bubbles pop. 7amad hated it when the thin vermicelli noodles clumped to the bottom of the pot, because he would always find pastey lumps in his soup.

7amad was never the angry kind - he was only very particular when it came to his meals. Especially now that they were married, 7amad longed for his mother's cooking. And it was not that Reham was a terrible cook - she could get by in the kitchen, but she was no match for Um 7amad. 7amad popped into the warm kitchen to see his wife stirring the soup gently, her dara3a hugging her womanly curves.
"Ya36eech il3afya, 7abeebti," he said with a smile. He was lucky to have a wife like Reham. All of his friends' wives had the maids do all the cooking while they went out and melted their husbands' credit cards shopping.
"Allah yi3afeek," she replied, grinning from ear to ear. Reham hoped to herself that he wouldn't come any closer - she smelled of vegetables and hot grease. 'Just a few more minutes and I'll head inside to shower,' she thought to herself. 7amad had gone inside to watch the last of the TV shows airing before Fu6oor.

Reham turned off the stove and hurried inside and upstairs as quickly as she could, trying not to leave a stench of "6baa5" trailing behind her. Her cousins always told her that though a Kuwaiti man likes a hard-working woman, he likes a hard-working woman that smells good even more.

In the bathroom, she slipped off her dara3a and started the shower. Steam began to fill their small bathroom, drowning the thick smell of grease. Reham let the hot water blast in her face, and she squinted, not wanting to get soap in her eyes.
She thought of the past few months she had spent with 7amad. He wasn't the most romantic husband in the world, but he treated Reham so nicely and spoke to her gently, careful not to hurt her feelings or raise his voice at her. They travelled whenever they had the chance, and he never left her alone late at night. Still, she missed the innocence they once shared - when it was hard to look him in the eye without blushing. The faint kiss he'd leave on her lips when they'd see each other. Being married to 7amad and living with him left Reham feeling deflowered at times, but having him this way was better than not having him at all.

Downstairs, 7amad flipped through the TV channels until he came across 3amr 5alid's show, Il-Janna Fee Beyootina. 7amad admired 3amr 5alid's way of speaking and his principles, so 7amad listened carefully about how emotional and sexual energy should be dealt with during the Holy Month of Ramadhan.
"All women have needs and desires, and as women are to fulfill the desires of their husbands, husbands are urged to do the same," 3amr 5aled spoke to 7amad, pointing his fingers and flailing his hands every which way for emphasis. 7amad smiled and drummed his fingers on the leather armchair, thinking about his dear Reham who worked so hard to please him. Many women like going the extra mile for their spouses, and though some husbands do what they can to satisfy their needs, how do they know that their wives are truly happy? He couldn't help but wonder, was he pleasing his Reham? Was this marriage all she had hoped for?

Reham interrupted his thoughts when she bounced down the stairs, her stringy wet hair flapping against her back. The call for prayer echoed throughout the streets of their fireej, and it was time for them to break their fast.

7amad scooted his chair closer to Reham than usual, and he ladled the viscuous soup into her bowl. Reham was taken aback by his chivalry, but appreciated it deeply.
"7abeebi, ana a7e6lik! Don't worry," she smiled, pouring heaping ladles of 3adas soup into his bowl.
"Tislam eedich, Rahoomti," 7amad took her hand into his, "Yalla, bismillah."
They drank their soup in silence, with the exception of 7amad's "mmm"s of delight. Reham lowered her head bashfully, only to find 7amad's spoonful of soup near her mouth. She looked at him with a shy smile, and immediately understood the romance he was trying to rekindle. She sipped the hot 3adas from his spoon, and before she could swallow, 7amad leaned in to kiss her lightly. The taste of the peppery lentils danced on his lips, and a wave of emotion hung over them like a joyous cloud.
They enjoyed the rest of their meal, and their beginning of a very blessed Ramadhan.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Longing and Belonging

Jana couldn't stand it. The way her mother acted, sometimes. It was enough to drive any normal teenage girl up the wall.
Jana's mother seemed to always be hungry for attention since Bo Fawaz left her. From family, from friends, from strangers - she always tried to flaunt herself and exaggerate her stories in order to make herself feel wanted. It broke Jana's heart sometimes, but at other times it became absolutely ridiculous and embarrassing. Um Fawaz had a way of talking - stretching out her words and babying her voice, and a way of dressing - wearing colorful high heels, tight jeans, and even tighter tops. Even when she'd go out to restaurants with her children, she'd make it a point for all the men to look at her. Jana hated more than anything being the daughter of divorced parents, and this was the exact reason why.

One summer night, Jana had fallen asleep late after staying up on the internet. Her mother barged into her room 15 minutes after she had dosed off and told her to take her to the hospital.
"3asa ma shar, Mama, shfeech??" Jana asked worriedly, springing up from her bed.
"Daggat galbi saree3a, madri shfeeni!" Her mother croaked in the dim light of Jana's room.
"Yalla, Mama, al7een awadeech," Jana wasn't in the mood to go anywhere at this hour, especially since she knew exactly what the doctors would say and what would happen. This wasn't the first time this happened. She slowly pulled her black Adidas sweater over her head and tied her hair up into a messy ponytail. "Are you ready to go, Mama?"

She peered into her mother's room only to find her mother getting dressed up in jeans, a long tunic, and high heels.
"Wain ray7een? Mo giltay binroo7 ilmstashfa?" Jana asked, sarcastically. It was 3 AM; there was no need for high heels and all that get-up, especially since she was so used to her mother throwing on an 3abaya for these instances.
"5al9eeni," her mother grumbled, grabbing her purse from the armchair, "Yalla."

The drive was quiet, except for her mother's loud breathing.
"Shfeech, are you ok?" Jana asked.
"Ee, ma feeni shay," her mother replied quietly. Jana raised her eyebrows, fed up with the silly charade her mother kept pulling.
They pulled into the parking lot of the hospital, and Jana's mother got down and teetered in her high heels towards the emergency room, Jana lugging behind her.
Her mother popped into the doctor's room, paying no heed to the people waiting in line before her. "Mama, fee nas gablich yayeen," Jana said, annoyed.
"Ma 3alaih," her mother replied. She began explaining to the Dr. M7amed about how she was in a deep sleep and how she suddenly jolted from her sleep because of her rapid heartbeats. She put her hand on the left side of her chest for emphasis. "Diktoor, madri shfeeni," she told him in a sad tone of voice.
"Ma feech illa il3afya, inshallah," Dr. M7amed replied, and proceeded to place his stethoscope along the lengths of her back. When he came around to put the stethoscope on her chest, Um Fawaz pulled the neckline of her shirt down, purposely exposing a little too much flesh. The doctor's face turned a deep pink, and Jana sucked her teeth and hid her face in shame.
Quickly, Dr. M7amed pulled away and said, "You heartbeat is normal. You might be just a little stressed out."
"Ee Dr., tadri ba3ad ilshi'3il wilbeit..," Um Fawaz began. Jana rolled her eyes in disgust. She knew there was nothing wrong with her mother; it was just a little act she'd create to make others pity her. Or to show herself off. Whatever it was, Jana was tired of it.
"I understand," Dr. M7amed smiled politely, and Jana and Um Fawaz made their way out of the doctor's room.

The drive home was quiet once again, untill Um Fawaz's mobile rang. It was Um 6areq, her best friend. Um 6areq was nocturnal - she would sleep for long hours during the day, and would stay up all night watching movies on MBC. "3alamich hal 7azza 6al3a? 3asa ma shar?" Jana could hear Um 6areq's loud voice from the phone.
"Ta3bana, walla, kint nayma chan afiz min ilnooma walagi galbi ga3d yidig bser3a! Madri shfeeni!" Um Fawaz repeated the story to her friend. Jana tried to stop herself from dozing off at the wheel, and luckily, they made it home in a few minutes time.
"Tabeeni anam 3indich?" Jana asked her mother, just in case she would have one of her incidents again.
"La, la, no need. Thank you, 7abeebti," she replied.

The next days went on as they usually did, with Jana waiting sourly for her mother's next performance.

Like Chai for Chocolate

Mishari was always so stubborn with his ways.
'He's so difficult! Mashallah 3alaih, rasa shino yabis!' his wife Nuwair would think to herself while clearing off the dinner table.
It was hard being a newly-wed wife. For Nuwair, it was harder being married to Mishari. Even though they married after a wild love affair of two years, it seemed as if all things between them related to romance had just about died since their marriage certificate was sealed. Some reminders of this included the half-full plate of food that she had prepared especially for him - she had slaved in the tiny kitchen of their apartment for at least two hours, baking the chicken lasagna that she had prided herself so much in learning. All Mishari could do was fork his food around the plate to make it seem like he had eaten, and made some quick excuse that he had to meet the guys at the diwaniya for the final football match between God-knows-who.
He hadn't even thanked her for the dinner.
"Mita bitrid?" Nuwair tentatively approached their bedroom, where Mishari was pulling his creamy white dishdasha over his head.
"Madri, laish?" Mishari replied flatly.
"Kint bag3ad wiyak shway..," she spoke softly and suggestively. Nuwair had recently gone on a shopping expedition dedicated entirely to lingerie - classy, flirty, downright sexy; she had bought every piece she liked without hesitation, and couldn't wait to try them on for Mishari.
"Yimkin at2a5ar," Mishari added quietly, feeling a pinch of remorse at leaving his wife at home alone. "A7awil arid imbachir. Ok?" he asked, walking towards her.
Nuwair nodded quickly and he kissed her head, grabbing his wallet and keys on the way out.

The next couple of hours were spent primping and preparing for a night of seduction. Nuwair was sure that Mishari understood her subtle hint, and that he would really try to make it home as soon as possible. She curled her hair into bouncy luscious tresses, and teased it to maintain it's puff. She even went as far as applying make-up, something she'd never do for a night of intimacy. Nuwair stood bare in front of her closet, greeted by the array of colored lace, chiffon, dantelle, and ruffles.
"Which one of you will I be wearing tonight?" she spoke aloud happily to her lingerie collection. She sorted through the hangers with her perfectly manicured fingers, and finally settled for a baby pink dantelle teddy.
The lace on the sides of the teddy hugged her caramel curves, and Nuwair tied each end into a neat satiny bow.
After a few persistent text messages to Mishari, he finally told her he'd leave the diwaniya and come home to be with her. Butterflies danced in her stomach as she drew a warm bath for the both of them, sprinkling in a handful of scented bath salt and watching it fizz and bubble. There was nothing left for Nuwair to do but wait. And wait she did.

She waited for what seemed like forever, trying not to lay down too much on her curled hair, in fear of flattening it into a teased mess. But she couldn't help her exhaustion, and the fact that she had clumped make-up on her eyelids made her even more sleepy. Giving in after realizing that Mishari wasn't coming home anytime soon, Nuwair fell asleep in her pink teddy, her curled mane, and her delicately made-up face.

An hour after Nuwair had fallen asleep, Mishari creaked the door of their bedroom open only to find his wife sleeping, beautiful, sad and alone. His heart winced at how she could allow herself to sleep before her husband was home, but when he saw the lit candles in the bathroom, surrounding the now cold aromatic bath, a thick wave of guilt swept over Mishari. He made his way over to their bed, where Nuwair was sleeping soundly. He felt a surge of excitement at the sight of her sexy lingerie, and the longer he stared, the stronger it became. But he knew it would be absolutely selfish to wake her and ensue what she had started. After all, it was his fault he was late.

So Mishari blew out the candles and drained the bath, turned off the dimmed lights and crawled into bed, snuggling next to Nuwair as if to make up for his negligence. Anyone walking into the room at that moment would had envied the perfect picture they created, but only a fly on the wall would know what really went on. The reality gutted Nuwair with gloom at times, and even in her sleep it scared her that she couldn't keep up with the battle with holy matrimony.
But in her sleep, she smiled, feeling Mishari's soft breath near the curve of her neck.
There was always another day, and always more lingerie.