I never knew a… Was there anytime when this woman never laughed? Or didn’t have a contagious silly grin favor her face? After the initial shock from standing outside in sweltering heat only to suddenly be enveloped in freezing sweat from the full impact of numbing AC Yasin ushers Sahar to her seat, ruffling her hair in a manner he knew would annoy her as he sits across from her. Surprisingly she keeps silent as she raises one of her brows, beating her fingers on the gleaming plastic maroon table cloth. Noticing the little glass vase before her she grabs for one of the faux yellow flowers, placing it behind her ear. She sways her head to the Yanni tune being played over the dining couples, oblivious to the stares given to her, and Yasin could only watch, being quite used to this, only adding on more to why he adored her. A young waiter with a brusque outfit and temperament asks for their order as Sahar grins back at him.
– How do you like this flower ….. ?
She waits for him to introduce himself, her grin widening.
– Mohamed…. Flower?
– ayyy… this flower that I have behind my ear…
– err.. it’s pretty…
– I know mosh? But here’s a little secret… I stole it… from your restaurant…
She points to the vase with a grave look. Yasin is still silent but almost lets out a snort because her expression was far too serious. Mohamed gives up in trying to be unsmiling so he laughs quietly and loosens his demeanor.
– To be honest, it looks far better on you than in that vase
– Shookran ya Mohamed… its Sahar
– And what would you like to drink Sahar?
– Coca-cola… bil gazaz
– Inty zaman al gazaz! We only serve the plastic bottled
– Goodness… al worood and now my Coke? No No this wont do!
– If you’d like I can have one of our boys get you some…
– naa fy dookan across the street… and I need fresh air, this atmosphere is too frigid for my bones.. need anything Yas? Smokes?
Giving her a wretched look he shakes his head. She winks to the waiter as she makes her way to the exit. Automatically reaching for his pocket while giving his and her order without thinking twice, knowing what and how she liked. Patting uselessly at his empty pockets, trying to give up the habit in vain for Sahar, but thinking about what he needed to say… Damn I need a fag! He finally lets nervousness gnaw at his guts, chewing his thumb nail, slumping in his chair letting all air of confidence deflate from his body, moodily staring off to space. How to arrange words of ardor for the minx…
Have you ever felt a feeling so profound, so vast, that time slows down? Having caught sight of her midway the henna party, each second that struck, time disowned me. The dancing bodies, clapping hands, shifting vibes, leisurely dimmed down to a pulsing beat playing out in my head, that escalated with each step that I unintentionally took, and she has this signature move… immensely enjoying herself she gives this smile, a shadowy dimple on her right cheek, her foot tapping, eyes glazed with sheer wonder, so… I block her view and extend my hand. Her iris’s snap into focus, and for a moment expand to surround me, and if I wasn’t disoriented before, now I was unquestionably lost… but lets not confuse this for ‘Love at first sight’, come to think of it, it wasn’t even a ‘Lust at first sight’… Song ends and I’m still standing waiting for her to accept… and she stares back and also waits, but never, even to this day, takes my hand…
Startled from his daze Yasin finds Sahar tapping her fork on his plate, already having finished half of her meal.
– Seriously… whatever it is that your on… share the love!
Silently he unfolds his napkin, having lost all taste from the overpowering need to confess…
– Uh-oh… I know that expression… chix problems
-… I …
– Look Yas, surprisingly I have an appetite this afternoon… and I don’t wanna lose it with all those baby girls that you be dropping whenever you’re pms’ing.. which is… All the Time!
Giving a sigh of satisfaction after the lunch she stretches her slim body, patting her stomach as she lazily looks across to Yasin, who with both elbows on table, rubbing at his shaved jaw, keenly observes her. Smirking she reaches over to try to place the faux yellow flower into his hair, and when he makes the mistake of brushing her hand, she flinches and drops the flower into his plate. It was unspoken but treacherous, and Yasin didn’t know how to approach, respond to it. Staring at the faux petals now soaking up the oils on his plate, yellow into an unnamed orange, he motions for the waiter for the check, masking his confusion with a chuckle, putting his declaration in a deadlock… unsure if he could handle rejection… even acceptance.
Try # 2
My hearts dictionary defines you… Leaning against the metal pole, hands in his pockets Yasin quietly observes Sahar perform her ma*3rib prayer in the front 7oosh of her fathers house. Peace of mind was what he had always sought, and without even realizing, the daily scene of seeing her pray for however minutes, cumulated into a solid thing that he could take out, be in awe of, and relish. Tinted skies outlined her form, setting her feet in a more comfortable position as she begins whispering to her fingertips. It had been a while that he had let the wisdom of Allah’s words console him.
You got a stunning broken smile was the first compliment she had ever given… she sitting languidly across from me as our mutual friends chatted it up, me inhaling on my cigarette butt, eyes squint. It was a warm evening as I recall, a year and half ago to be exact, just beginning to get to know the eluding vixen, and she had this amused expression on her face as she unhurriedly studied me, which honestly internally shook my knotted gut. And from that opening statement we haven’t stopped speaking since; hours passed, friends left, lights dimmed, me not even thinking of even having my hourly fix of a smoke because I was transfixed on the shape of her mouth as she painted out the evening with her luminous words that seriously I kid you not… outshined even the roundly pregnant moon. Radiant was she that night, even now…
Looking away, Yasin frowns. He doesn’t know whether to pull out speakers, blow out the systems with ‘The Light’ from Common, or sit this one out, let this rush pass so as to continue void but unscathed on this forlorn voyage. He steps away from the pole with a determined look as he is about to reach for Sahar’s shoulder. Completing her du3aas Sahar finally opens her eyes. A hint of a something makes her turn around only she finds nothing, just the empty 7oosh with the outside gate slowly closing.
Try # 3
He should be celebrating, keeping things in order, make sure that everyone is happy, and aside from the fact that tonight was his best friends wedding, Yasin struggled through the evening when all he wanted was a moment, a split second just to let it out. Yet he stood through it all, the two hour picture shoot, him numbly shaking guest hands with a frozen grin, pointing out to the waiters who still needed a plate or a drink, and still he knew exactly where Sahar was, mingling and conversating, a vision in a simple elegant dress, and it killed him. As the bride and groom danced among the beaming crowd, Yasin walks out unnoticed, finds a quiet deserted side of the naady and finally lifts his face to admire veiled stars.
Cradling the book on her Indian style crossed legs, she silently reads. Once in a while she would look off at nothing in particular but then this expression would cross her face… I don’t know if its sadness, regret or disappointment, but it always brings a frown to her brows, which is highly rare because this woman is always smiling… There are moments of words with her, and then there are moments of stillness, and never have I felt the need to say… nothing, yet still feel that I’ve said Everything.
Leaning his arms against the railing he blows out another cloud of smoke. Yasin feels a presence near his shoulder and without looking knows its Sahar. Her back to the railing, she folds her arms, nodding her head to the continuing party that has grown even louder.
– I thought you quit…
Inhaling, he holds his breath, and rather than looking at her he gazes at the glowing butt. Lazily flicking the cigarette, they both watch as some of the ashes make their way up to the blackened cloudy skies.
– Those clouds aren’t too pretty… just like your mood these past few days… Yasin…
-… tell me
Taking one last drag he straightens, smashing the butt with his shoe. It only took him an instant to realize that he was terrified. Letting the nicotine calm his nerves he releases the last curls of smoke through his nose, chin to his chest. Yasin finally looks at Sahar.
– I’ve fallen… pretty damn hard Sahar
Her eyes widening Yasin doesn’t break his gaze.
– … oh
– I’m not good… with speaking.. saying what’s most important to me, because honestly no words, no saying can come close to what I’ve been, am, feeling right now… days… even years ago
– … oh ….
– I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out how to lay it out to you… and I’m…
– … what I’m trying…
– … Need to…
His shoulder grabbed quite roughly Yasin is swung to face one of his friends who quickly explains that a thunderstorm was coming and all the equipment of the fanan had to be immediately packed and removed before they were damaged by the coming rain.
– Shit… Sahar?
The spot where she had stood was empty. Not given time to look for her Yasin is dragged to find the naady in total chaos as everyone is trying to pack away the dishes, tablecloths, tables and chairs, the Koosha designer folding her designs, bride and groom being rushed off to the waiting car as drops could already be felt. Calmly guiding everyone under the sheltering roof of the naady, Yasin escorts the elderly to the waiting cars, using his jacket for cover from the increasing rain. It was when he was walking back to help a mother with her children that he notices Sahar. A sight she stood serenely off to the side, dress, hair, soaked, and even with running makeup, she could stop a man at his tracks. Ever poised, she rises on her toes as if to offer a peck to the cheek of the stormy weather, enjoying herself, being herself. Yasin makes his way to her but she holds up a staying hand. An expression that he knew but never understood crosses her face as she looks over her shoulder. Staring back at him she smiles and widens the distance. Making sure she made it safely to her car, Yasin Stands long before she had driven off, hands gripping the insides of his pockets, erratic heart beat not lessening, bewildered at why he hadn’t insisted… hell even chase after her.
When a man loves a woman
Can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else
He’d trade the world
For a good thing he’s found
If she is bad, he can’t see it
She can do no wrong
Turn his back on his best friend If he puts her down
Snorting Yasin stills his fingers from drumming on the window pane, turning to his driving friend with an unamused look.
– … Amin …
– What? You think I called the radio to play you this song? That’s just gay man… I’d play you Whitney Son… sing it for you…
Shaking his head Yasin motions for his friend to pull over to the side off of shari3 al Neel. Getting out before the car made a full stop he rakes his fingers through his hair, letting the palm of his hands rest on his eyes. Just before his vision would spark into a dizzying dazzling blinding white light he draws down his hands to find himself standing at the banks of the Nile. These past few weeks had been tiring; the unruffled exterior, smooth intonations, careless mystifying look he’d render, yet she was with him. From a social gathering, to a party, wedding, 7enna she was right there with him, just left of, two inches and a couple breaths to the center she dwelled; tormenting, teasing, and Yasin comes to the realization that the pain in his heart was not because of her silencing rejection but of his expanding chest: valves, veins snapping, outgrowing his hallow chest, seeking room in all the spaces, invading, overtaking, traveling from the tips of his toes to the crown of his head she resided… and he was blessed.
It never occurred to me that a day would come I would stand in my fathers place, be the backbone, wear the face of courage, and it hit me when I was shaking and accepting condolences on his behalf, taking every chance to look over at my mothers shrunken grieving form and it scared the shit out of me that at any moment this façade that I was carrying, this farce of a man I was playing would give… would collapse into me crying and demanding God to just give him back. Instead I was rained with al baraka feekom, Allah yadeekom al sabr, Allah yahdeekom, hakatha 7al al donia… and I would think what kind of ‘7ala’ is this? When the moment came that I was ready to just rip and subdue my heart, the gentlemen’s hand I was shaking form moved and there she stood. Through the cluttered room, atleast a dozen of bodies between us, I remember the shade of blue of her scarf, hair braided to the side, even through the continued lines of hands that I continuously shook, all of it just ebbed away. It was my moment of despair yet she managed to barge in and carry me, her face a breath away from mine she looks up at me and instills this peace of mind. A sharp tug and the nonexistent nearness becomes the couple of feet that had always stood between us.
– … Turn his back on his best friend If he puts her down!!!
– … Amin …
– When a maaaaaaaan loves a womaaaaan!!!
Fed up Yasin is about to turn away when Amin steps infront of him.
– Yasin… I know I may be a jokester lakin I know when I need to be a friend and that moment is now
– You… Serious? Doesn’t suit you
– The girl turns you down! *7alas that’s a fact, it happened, you grow and you move on. Now this broad clearly meant… means something a little extra to you cause I haven’t seen you mope this long for any chick…
– … you really feel for her don’t you
Turning his face away Yasin watches the tides snake their way down the length of theNile as far as his weary eyes can see.
– If she’d asked for a couple of decades for me to wait… I’d take them without a fuss
– Then it’s simple… Call her
– I cant
Grabbing for his phone Amin shoves it at Yasin.
– Call her
– It’s not that simple… you weren’t there to see the expression on her face…
– Was it disgust? Revulsion?
– … no
– Then rayi7nee and Call her!!! I’ll make it easy and feed you the first few lines… ‘ Hallo… I don’t know what I’m feeling lakin lets spend this lifetime and the next tryin to figure it out *insert girls name here*’ ya dig?
– It was her eyes Amin… she shut me out
– So you give up? You thought to give her space by not calling.. and now it’s been what? Three weeks? You call her and you tell her, remind her Yasin… She wants to be chased? You Outrun her. She wants to be wooed? You pamper the daylights out of her. She wants you to reconfess? You shout it out for her.. and it all starts with calling…
Looking down at the cellphone held out by Amin, Yasin exhales and reaches for it. A short conversation follows. Ending it he calmly returns the cellphone, then walks up to the dormant water, hands in pockets.
– aha What did she say?
– … that was her cousin… Sahar isn’t home
– Cool… call later
– … that wont be happening for a while
– Why the Hell not?
– Cause the Gods are laughing Amin… by now she’s boarding the plane
Brassy vibrations underneath her feet Sahar holds onto the leather handle above her head, body swaying to the momentum of the bus as it turned away from the terminal. Looking once more at the unfinished text she sniffs in disgust, dropping her hand. Two sisters played patty cake, one with braids and stiff ribbons, wholly focused, the other with a fro of bouncy curls making funny faces, while a mother gave a sad performance of a lullaby to her finicky newborn, patting and hushing, every few breaths drawing him higher and higher on her shoulder, an old man sat near the doors with elbows drawn in, chin resting on his 3okas watching the darkening pavement, his 3ima shifting, falling apart like the peel of an apple, and right next to Sahar stood a chattering giant of a man, a good friend of her parents meant to keep an ‘eye’ on her on this trip, teeth strong and white as he frequently smiled, shirt in pants tucked and belted above his semi-round belly, inching closer and closer that soon it all became a symphonic polyphonic air to her ear as the pace of it picked up to revolve around her pulsing head, whether she should call Yasin or text him or tell him or laugh at him or ask him or; it all came to a jolting stop as doors unfastened with a hiss and all the passengers headed out towards the stairs near the screaming jets.
Two figures could be seen at a distance, laying on a batch of grass, watching the stars make their appearance. One was flat on her back, her hands waving back and forth before her. The other was sitting with his knees drawn up, arms before him, hands loosely clasped, uninterested in the view above him but to the one next to him.
– We climb these rungs of life to reach the heavens in vain, and even if we should get close to grasping it, we’re let go to fall and break into a million little pieces, and then they’d point you out and say ‘What a mess you’ve made!’, remold you and make you fall again and again…
Pausing, the figure lets her hand drop to the side as she aimlessly begins picking at the grass blades.
– Only I realize there was a crack in me long before I started falling…
Plucking a small flower he lets it twirl slowly between his fingers.
– naaah I wouldn’t remold you… I’d scoop you and scatter you…
Having shredded the flower, he stands up, cups his hands and gently blows at the bits and pieces. Straightening he points up to the glittering skies.
– …up there… where you belong
She was the last to step out, the sound of the jets deafening as her hair wildly flew across her face, yet the giant man kept conversating, stuck to the length of her upper arm. A line was formed as the passengers steadily climbed but Sahar still stood, her carry-on at her side, looking down at her shibshib, she wiggles her toes and drowns out the sounds with her rising pulse. Lifting up her face she dons a relief of a smile as she steps out of her shibshib to scoot the two pairs with the tip of her toe behind her, placing both feet firmly to the ground, exhaling so that her body would loosen, Sahar stretches her arms and almost lets out a giggle. Coming to the climatic point of his story the giant looks down at his companion to give the punchline only his face falls. Her shibshib and carry-on remained but Sahar was gone.
The aroma of shai bil laban coupled with the perfect evening left Yasin for the first time truly undisturbed, not necessarily from his state of mind, but the constant naggings from everyone who always required, demanded something from him that it barely left time to even daydream anymore. About to dip his gargoosh into the steaming shai the front gate of the house crashes open, bouncing off of the wall making a metal clanging sound that causes Yasin to jump off of his seat only to watch a good portion of his shai spill onto his jalabeeya. Hissing in annoyance and pain he thrusts the half empty cup onto the table, trying to hold the stained material away from his skin, huffing. Looking up he glares at the trespasser, ready to let out a line of curses. Choking, he gapes at the newcomer.
– … what the hell… Sahar?
With a determined look she makes her way across the 7oosh to stand right before him, looking a mess. Hair windblown, feet muddy, a dirty spot on her nose, clothes in disarray, eyes glowing, not a hint of makeup she looked alive. Yasin doenst know whether to sit back down to admire and not bother this hallucination, or just embrace it.
– Sahar you okay? What happened? Why aren’t you on that damn plane? Sahar… ya bit!
Wanting to reach for her shoulder she shakes her head, stepping back. Clenching his hand midair, he lets it uselessly drop, tightening his jaw.
– YASIN?!? Da mino da? Kasarlay al baab!
Looking over his shoulder he calmly responds, asking for a minute of privacy. Looking back at Sahar, still standing with that unwavering look, Yasin realizes he is weary.
– This silence is too deafening ya Sahar…
Slowly she extends her hand. Yasin stares down contemplating the gesture.
– I’m… obnoxious, vain & unreasonable… Yasin…
Pausing she looks away, biting at her lip, and to his surpise Yasin realizes that Sahar was nervous. She was visibly shaken and for the first time, vulnerable.
– …you had me peeking behind stagnant objects at that 7enna party, even before you came to introduce yourself! And you know what? My heart… my heart stuttered at the sight of you…the way you walk, your style, your dress! See I’m even quoting Hill on this!
Bringing back her gaze she takes a closer step.
– I did not accept your hand that night, all these years, because they were clammy, unsteady, plain disgusting…I didn’t wana freak you out…
Gently reaching for his hand, she enfolds hers within his.
– … but tonight, I don’t give a damn
Removing his hand from hers he steps back, shaking his head.
– That’s not good enough Sahar
– … huh… taib
Cupping her hands over her mouth she leans back and bellows;
– I LOVE YOU YASIN ABDEL-HAMID HASSAN!
– la 7awlila… dy mino bit 7ibak dy ya Yasin! Into janaito wala shino?? Al shari3 7asa kolo 3ari…
With a satisfied grin on her face Sahar wiggles her eyebrows. Searching for the handle of the chair, Yasin hoists up his jalabeeya to sit. Starting from the pit of his stomach, to the under groves of his heart, traveling through his vocal cords he begins laughing, genuine pure-hearted, belly aching laughter. Sahar shocked by hints of an oncoming giggle points at his stained jalabeeya, sits on the ground and resting her forehead on the palm of her hands in disbelief starts crying. Overwhelmed, speechless, they are incased in relief as they stare and admire, continuing to laugh, cry and recognize the beauty, ingenious, completeness, beginning in all of it.