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.