|Steps to Paradise
Author: LilyWolfe PM
Khalila barely has a moment to scratch her scarf covered head and yet beneath that innocent Hijab lies a lot of good times, bad times...UGLY times and general tugging in all directions. Life has changed somewhat but she's still right in the middle of it!Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Romance - Chapters: 31 - Words: 180,545 - Reviews: 140 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 23 - Updated: 07-12-11 - Published: 05-15-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2807180
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A/N - This is the part two of the Scarfy in the Middle story (although there have been a couple of related one-shots between) and while reading it would grant you a certain insight, it is not essential to this story. New readers and Veterans alike, don't be afraid to ask me questions if you're stuck or confused...I love PMs and REVIEWS! (hint hint) Now...enough delay...read on!
All The Parts of a Body.
So imagine you're standing in a long concrete tunnel and in front of you can see a huge vat of sharp, smelly and ugly objects ranging from scissors to a giant movable cut out of Freddy Kruger. Now imagine a great big fan on one end, pulling all those things you see towards it via you! This tunnel is 'life' and in 'life' all you end up doing is dodging various hurtful paraphernalia and trying to avoid the crap coming straight for your forehead while trying to retain your dignity.
It's not all doom and gloom, sure the Tunnel of Life is grey from start to finish but it's got a few magical windows! Windows that show you green fields and blooming flowers, windows that fill you up with joy and contentment. The magic of these windows is not only their transporting powers, their ability to help you escape the monotony by letting you see, feel and be anything but a person in a tunnel dodging butchers knife and flying lions. The magic is that they only work when you get close enough. Almost like a short-sightedness, you can only see true happiness if you let something guide you to it. Everybody finds strength in different things, different people, but for me there is no better guide than the all-knowing, all-seeing, omnipresent God.
I am Khalila Saqr, 27 year old Syrian-Egyptian, London born and bred, elder sister of four fabulous guys; the nifty nineteen year old, Sami. The serious seventeen-ager, Karim, Ahmed was the forgetful fifteen year old but the family genius and lastly Jalal, the youngest at thirteen...but more about them later...have no doubt about that. Having them and the oddest but most loving couple I've ever known as my parents, I grew up to be a happy woman and wife to my gorgeous Adam. You see they were all the windows of my tunnel, pulling me to my journeys into happiness and keeping me there.
That isn't to say that I haven't had the smell of sewage linger on me after being unable to dodge it on its way to the fan...just like everybody else. I made mistakes, I still do. Sometimes I get away with them having quietly learned the lesson and sometimes I don't and instead of peering into a window and galloping away in beautiful La La land, I'm stuck with scrubbing out the strains from my Hijab. That is my Islamic Headscarf, the Scarf that made me a 'Scarfy' and damn proud!
"See? She does this all the time! Off in her own little world and probably imagining riding on a unicorn or something!"
Ok, not a unicorn per se but a very pretty magical horse.
"I'm sorry for wanting to escape your repetitive whinging," I replied hurtfully but only because I was offended. I was a scriptwriter damn it, I had to be dreamy!
"Guys, this is a marriage counselling session. I want you to both be honest but please refrain from attacking."
Marriage counselling! I shook my head sadly. Never thought I'd be here. I mean Adam and I have only been married for just over two and a half years! I let out a sigh, wondering where the years went. How quickly they flew by! Over three years since I got engaged to Adam, two years and a half since we'd gotten married. Damn. Where did the time go?
"Sorry," I apologised knowing my comment was uncalled for. It was just I'd been teased about being a daydreamer one too many times and it just grated on my nerves.
"Thank you Khalila, that is very mature behaviour and exactly what feeds a marriage. After all you are in love with each other, you have just let the problems that every couple goes through get bigger than they actually are!"
That much was true. Adam and I did not have one disagreement during our engagement but I was scared about it rather than pleased. I thought he was harbouring secrets and simply pretending to be the person I saw everyday and that the 'true' him would come out after marriage when it would be too late to change my mind or escape. Luckily for me, he was as honest as the day is long and the fights that resulted after marriage were not due to a personality clash but rather a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Poe-tay-toe, Poe-tah-toe, you know?
That isn't to say it's been rose petals and hazy romance, I mean those fights were bad. I was acerbic, he was incommunicable and all good sense left the both of us. I discovered parts of him I didn't know existed and he did me. It was the rough learning process all couples go through and all newlyweds suffer from after convincing themselves that it would be a honeymoon forever. It wasn't horrible, it was just realistic and it made the good moments we had that much more satisfying.
"I'm not being unreasonable and telling her to stay at home and spend all hours of the day thinking up ways on how best to serve me. All I want is to come home from work and find her here. Is that too much to ask?"
"But you knew I had a demanding job before you married me. I try and come home on time as much as I can!" I defended myself. Adam never, hardly ever, complained when I worked late. In fact he encouraged Eden's Paradise, which took up most of my evenings, to no end, so why was I hearing these comments?
"People are supposed to change, we're supposed to grow together but we're not. We're glorified roommates, isn't that right Doc?"
"Well, a lot of happily married couples lead separate conjugal lives-"
"Yeah but I'm not talking about other couples. I'm talking about me and Khalila and the fact we've been at the same stage since we met! She can't seem to get passed it."
"Excuse me for wanting to keep things as beautiful as they were then!" Honestly! I'd never heard such self-deprecating nonsense in all my life. How was this going to help anybody?
"Guys, please remain calm. We will not get anything sorted if we get hysterical."
Was hysterical really the right choice of word? I mean, I wasn't hysterical...but being called it, I was tempted to be.
"How can I be calm when she's packing her things!"
"Come on, you can't use that!" I argued, still packing. Yes I was packing but it wasn't because of any argument. "I have to be at my parents' in a bit."
"Oh, your parents! I'm always having to deal with your parents and your brothers! A marriage is between two people not two families!"
"No, it's not." I turned to the marriage counsellor. "Adam and I had this talk before we got married and we both agreed that marriage was more than the union of a man and woman, that it was the merge of both our families. This is an unfounded comment."
"Fine, discard it but it's a Thursday! Hardly the right time to pack up and leave!"
Normally on a Thursday evening we'd stay at home, Adam would prepare for whatever site trip he had to make the next day and I would prepare for work at Rewind.
You see, my script, Eden's Paradise, had been picked up by them shortly after completing my first film Ode to New Mexico. It'd been more than two years since and we were still in pre-production. Granted two films were being made, one in Arabic and the other in English, which meant there had to be two perfect scripts, which meant I couldn't do it alone, which meant hiring an Arabic scriptwriter to work with me, which meant getting to know each other and our working habits, shakily at first and then eventual friendship. Which still didn't help us get out of preproduction any quicker but that's another story.
This whole situation reminded me of the scene in the middle of the film when Eden and her fiancé Raj have an argument and decide to separate...amicably. Man, Eden could handle situation much better than I could.
A jangle of keys could be heard from downstairs and then the shutting of the front door. Light footsteps sounded from each step and my smile grew in anticipation.
"I want a divorce. She has another lover."
"Oh shush!" Nancy giggled, no longer 'the counsellor' but back to her normal self just as Adam swung the door open, smiling at the three of us.
"Hello ladies!" He greeted his sister and Jess, crossed legged on our bed and red-faced from her role as my disgruntled husband. Adam held my hand and pulled it up to his lips, kissing the back of it. "Hello my lady."
"You see Nancy? I told you to get someone else to play my wife. She's too loved up to pretend to be in a counselling session!" Jess muttered loud enough for both Adam and I to hear, breaking our little greeting. "She's not that great an actor!"
"I think she did ok," Nancy said with a chuckle, putting her notes that were spread out in front of her into a tidy pile, no longer the pubescent 17 year old I first met. She still had beautiful long dark hair and brown eyes that glowed, she was essentially the same just without the teen puppy fat.
"Besides you're a newlywed Jess. What could be more loved up?"
"Nah, I'm awesome like that," Jess said with her trademark modesty.
Sarcasm aside, she really was awesome and Jess and I have been best friends since we were 11 so I knew it the best! We met when I was assigned to show new girl Jessica around school and became friends that same morning in our school's assembly when she noticed me fiddling around with prayer beads instead of listening to the thought of the day by the head of maths. We stayed with each other all seven years of secondary school and sixth form, decided parting would be too painful and went to the same university too and even marriage couldn't part us.
"You guys hungry?" Adam said, moving over to check through the bag I'd packed for the both of us.
"No thanks, Lils made us some food earlier! You're going to die when you eat it!" Jess said, clutching her stomach. I frowned, not realising how much she liked my food. She never showed any appreciation before.
"Uh huh, you'll eat your fingers after it!" Nancy agreed and I smiled proudly.
"Hey, maybe I am getting good!" I said happily, folding the scarves I wanted to take with me. Scarves were my biggest expenditure by far. As a Muslim woman wearing a Hijab, it wasn't without its uses. I used to be pretty sensible before, having a pretty scarf that could be used for most of my outfits but since I got married, Adam encouraged the monster within and I've ended up with two big drawers filled to the brim and couple of scarves for each outfit!
"We're only taking a week's worth of clothes right?" Adam asked, seeing the number of scarves I'd added to the pile.
We were due to stay at my parents' house for almost two weeks to look after my younger brothers while Mama and Baba were away for Hajj. The plan was to take a week of stuff at a time, come home on the Saturday between and exchange the dirty for more clean clothes. I'd have enough work to do with the boys' laundry without adding mine and Adam to the list!
"First of all, some of these are Mama's and I have to return them before her nagging burns a hole in my ear and secondly, most of this stuff here is yours mister! You have no idea how much space formal clothes take...look at mine!" I pointed out my two pairs of slacks and small pile of blouses. Lucky for me a scriptwriter at Beeline, where I worked four days a week on a comedy TV show called The Amazing Adventures of Letti and Other Minor Characters, didn't need to wear professional clothes. They tried to encourage creativity by allowing us to wear whatever we felt comfortable in. Ben, my co-writer, and I found it to be one of the greatest perks.
"Oh poor little Leeloo," Adam teased, giving me a kiss on the top of my head and twirling a finger through one of my honey blonde ringlets. "She has to wear cool t-shirts to work!"
"Take notes Nancy," Jess whispered. "Make sure you write down all your feelings of disgust at the sight of a couple in sickly love and memorise them until you're desensitised. You don't want to suffer from projectile vomiting during your exam."
"Please! Have you seen what you and Ben are like?" I scoffed. One word; Ew! Yes, Ben. The same Ben I wrote Letti with. They met through me but I can't take the credit for setting them up together, I had the greatest dislike for Ben for the whole of the first season of Letti, it only really improved after filming my first movie, Ode to New Mexico. I say improved and not disappeared for good reasons.
"Speaking of husband, I should be getting back," Jess announced, smiling happily and I pulled her up into a hug. Somehow that pretend marriage counselling session made me appreciate Adam a whole lot more than I normally did and it made me love Jess more than was humanely possible. I needed to show it. Doc Nancy said a couple should always show their loving emotions.
"I love you too wifey!" she whispered in my ear, chuckling.
"How awesome am I?" Nancy said with a gleeful face, turning to Adam. "Dude, I should get a Nobel prize or something!"
"Shouldn't you graduate first?" Adam asked her, amused.
"Matter of time," she said confidently, smiling up at Adam. I knew she was running rings around her tutor with her masters' research project so it really wasn't that farfetched. I just selfishly wished it wouldn't keep her from us, I liked having her across the road but with her away at university it was tough, imagine a Nobel!
"Stick around for a minute Jess, we'll drop you off on our way," Adam said, zipping up the bag. I nudged Nancy over with a tilt of my head and she scrambled off the bed with her books under her arm, grabbing her jacket and screaming out shotgun all the way to the front door. She was actually a shy girl around everybody else.
Arriving at my parents' house shortly after, I gave a tentative look to Adam at the sound emitting from the kitchen that I heard as soon as Ahmed swung the door open. Nancy chuckled at some private joke with Ahmed and the two went into the living room ahead of us, as if they weren't aware of the shouting.
"This doesn't sound good," I whispered to Adam, searching for his parents on my way to the kitchen and not seeing them in the living room or the conjoined dining area. His parents were due to fly out to Mecca on the same flight as my parents and I expected to see them but I only caught onto their two small suitcases in the overhaul that once was my parents' glistening living room.
"Do you think it's your aunt again?" Adam whispered back hearing my mother's agitated cries. I let out a sigh and shook my head.
"Mama's muttering Japanese," I told him knowing exactly when and why my mother chose to revert back to the languages she grew up with and coming to a conclusion about it. "If it was my aunt it would be in French, that way my dad could understand it too."
You see my Egyptian mother had an unconventional upbringing; she had spent half the year in Osaka and the other half in Paris, every year for the first 20, which was when she got married to my dad after a totally serendipitous meeting at an airport and on a plane. The aunt we were referring to was Fairuz, the eldest of the three I had. All from my dad's side and all older than him. We never really had any problems with them until I got engaged to Adam, which Fairuz wasn't too happy about and eager to make it known. Family dramas, eh?
"Hi Madre!" I cried out chirpily as I entered the kitchen where she was sitting with Jalal in front of her and Karim on the other corner, acting as a peaceful mediator or witness. Karim was always the calmest out of us, he took life, and his education for that matter, far more seriously than any of the rest of us and was reaping the rewards. His face lit up in a smile at my entrance, all my mother gave me was icy glares and Jalal -blank stares.
Usually I craved days at my family home, missing them and the feeling of being a daughter and a sister, not a wife. Mostly I liked that despite the responsibility I would always carry for my family I was still pampered, though there'd be no chance of that when my mother was pissed beyond reason.
"Leeloo, Adam! Have you heard what your brother has done now?" Mama said, relieved to see Adam. No glare for him, just a look of pleading and liberation. "Jalal here has blackened my face with shame. He has dragged my name through gutters and hellfire!"
"He had told his Arabic teacher, in a not so nice way, that he had made a mistake. He was right but the teacher in question was embarrassed at being shown up by Jalal's arrogant way and took it to heart and announced his refusal to teach Jalal," Karim informed us when my mother trailed off in pain at the humiliation. I let out a sigh and turned to Jalal, who was frowning as he watched Mama slap her thigh in melodramatic agony.
"Mr Tariq, his head teacher got involved! He is my peer at the Islamic school, the head of Queen Dalia Academy for boys!" She explained though we already knew who he was and what he was to her. She was head of QDA for girls and had to work closely with Mr Tariq to help maintain the levels of the school and push both up to higher levels. "He pleaded with me to restrain Jalal or he'd have to expel him and if it was not courtesy for a colleague he would have done Jalal, don't be cocky! You've gotten into trouble way too many times now!"
My mother was rightly furious of course, being shown up in front of colleagues was enough to drive anyone angry but on the day before she was due to fly out for two weeks. It couldn't have gotten any worse. Whether Jalal was correct in his rectification of the teacher's lesson or not, it was just not right to address a teacher and adult that way. None of us condoned that kind of behaviour and while I didn't want to encourage him, I couldn't stand seeing him flinch under my mother's rant.
"Khalila, it's your fault he is the way he is!" she exploded in reply to my murmur.
I covertly rolled my eyes and controlled my sigh from escaping, I always got blamed for spoiling Jalal. Karim buried his face in his book when the shouting escalated a level. The smart thing for me to do would have been to leave, possibly hide in my dad's study...but you see I never did the clever thing. I always did the right thing. Right only in terms of moral duty and definitely not in terms of personal welfare.
"Khala," Adam said in his soft and calming voice. Aunt, though she was actually his mother in-law. When we got married, we couldn't decide on what to call each other's parents. At their suggestion, we called them by the same names as before.
I was glad he spoke up, you see my mother's weakness was Adam, especially when he put on his soft velvety voice. She was used to him, complimenting and charming the wits off her without it ever being false and more than that she trusted his opinion and common-sense, even more than she valued mine. It worked both ways, I was respected a little more with his parents. I think it was because neither set had seen all the crap and bad habits of the in-law like our own families had, we were always seen in our best behaviour. Adam looked at me from the corner of his eye and pursed his lips, a secret signal meaning 'keep quiet' and I did.
"I'm seriously considering cancelling this trip, I just can't burden you with this!" Mum said, turning to face him and looking like she was at her wit's end. Jalal furrowed his eyebrows, feeling guilty at seeing Mum so frazzled but in too deep to do anything to make it better.
"No Khala, Hajj is a duty of Islam and Allah has blessed you with the opportunity you can't refuse it," Adam comforted her. "And it's not a burden in the least, right Leeloo?"
"Right!" I agreed with a nod.
"If you were in my position what would you do?" My mother asked us, I frowned at how broken she looked and turned to Adam to hear his reply.
"To be honest, I think maybe the problem's not with Jalal or the teacher. Maybe it's that the school isn't right for him?" he said with a shrug.
Jalal's eyes widened, he really liked his school and didn't want to leave it despite all the drama he went through in Mr Tariq's office.
"Maybe being in a studious and well-achieving environment is putting pressure on him. It might be a good idea to consider an easier school?"
"Perhaps," my mother said, eyes flashing to Adam. She had gotten the gist of his plan, the reverse psychology...the two were more alike than I cared to admit.
Jalal looked at me for help and I blinked in understanding. I'd jump in to his defence but I'd let him sweat it out a little. I shot a look to Karim who returned it with a raise of his eyebrows and a sigh. Poor guy had to live with this every day.
"There's a school near where I work," Adam said tilting his head from side to side and then shrugging again. "It's not the best school but they say it's up to the student to achieve and not the teachers right?"
"He's a lost cause anyway," my mum said putting the convincing act up another level. "I'd be surprised if he even finished school with qualifications!"
Jalal opened his mouth to object and I shot him a warning look. Anything he could say would come out offensive, no doubt about it.
"Jalal, what do you say going to the other school? It failed its inspection last time but it's progressing!" Adam said, serious as ever, I had to hold back my smile or else I'd ruin it. Karim on the other hand was grinning safely behind his book.
"No, please!" Jalal said worried. Oh the ache it brought, I knew my mother felt the same way but was more steadfast when it came to their futures. I was somewhat of a pushover so long as they were happy. "I promise I'll control my mouth! I won't say anything ever again, I'll be so good and so quiet you'll think I was Karim!"
Karim peered at him from behind his lowered book.
"Mildly insulting but I'll take it," he muttered, only loud enough for himself. I heard it too because strangely since my eyesight began to fail me in the last year or so, my hearing more than made up for it especially since I refused to wear my glasses most of the time.
"You've said it all before," Mum said with a sorry shake of her head.
"I promise!" Jalal pleaded.
"No," she said with a sigh. "I know now that this is what is best for you. I'll have to postpone my trip until next time Allah wishes, it's important to sort this out now, put you in that new school."
"I promise Mama! Wallah!" Jalal said in a panic. It our house saying 'Wallah' or swearing to God was very serious and only said in extreme circumstances – when you really meant it.
"Mama, he's old enough now to know that he has to stick by his promise," I said and Jalal let out a sigh of relief. "He's a man and he must keep his word, I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt. He won't betray it."
"Exactly, I won't!" Jalal said, inching closer to me.
"It's not enough, I need it in writing and signed," Mum said and I saw his face screw up in horror.
It was my mum's most powerful weapon. Whenever each of us did something really bad, where normal disciplining didn't work, she'd make us write a confession and a promise and sign it. Later, when we would inevitably do it again she would brandish it before us and we'd have to pay some sort of fine in return for betraying the contract, usually in the form of community or family service. You don't know how many times I had to reorganise the storage cupboards and help out at community events!
"Fine," he agreed after battling the urge to refuse it. He looked at Adam and sighed when my mother turned to get a paper and pen, whispering, "Good cop, bad cop...that's how it is Bro?"
Adam smiled and ruffled his straight blonde hair playfully, knowing he hated it.
"That's nothing," he whispered, shooting me a look. "Wait until Leeloo gets a hold of you later. She's going to bend your ear so hard you're going to wish you were van Gogh!"
Jalal looked at me and gulped. Yes, yes I would.
With the written confession signed, dated and put in a safe and secret location, the family were back to their usual happy, hyper selves. Order restored. Adam, Nancy and Jalal were sitting side by side, in front of the television playing some videogame where they had to fly around everywhere and kill loads of people. Meanwhile Karim, Mum and I were in the kitchen chatting and waiting for my Dad and Adam's parents to return from their last minute dash to the pharmacy.
"I can't believe Sami!" Mama complained tutting and shaking her head. "His university isn't that far and if Nancy came home then surely he could! I mean they live in the same house! How could he forget?"
"I'm sure he's just really busy with coursework. You know he'd be here if he could," Karim said soothingly, smiling at Mum until she returned it.
Karim's arm was wrapped around my shoulders and drew me in closer as if to reassure himself about what he'd told our mother, we both knew Sami was having too good a time at Uni to consider coming home. I wrapped my arm around his waist and squeeze to comfort him, looking up to see grey eyes smiling at me.
Everybody always said we looked alike, same soft, curly, honey blonde hair and facial features - the only different was that his eyes looked a little bluer than mine did. Since his growth spurt last summer, nobody has said anything about me when I stand next to him. Karim was, mashallah, amazingly gorgeous and just the right height tall without being overbearing, just like Adam. He was really growing up, not just physically. Ever since Sami left home he picked up on his responsibility and was very much the pillar in our family.
"Leeloo, all the girls are asking about you. When are you going to show your face at the lectures?" Mum asked moving on from Sami and reminding me of a promise I'd given her a while ago. There were a series of Islamic lectures being conducted at her school, after hours and for the local community. I really did want to go but was always tied down at work or something.
"I'll try to come to when you return safely inshallah," I offered. God Willing, to both my plan to go to the lecture and to their safe return.
"You don't need me there to hold your hand anymore Leeloo. You're a grown woman!" She said and I scoffed at it.
"There is no way I'm going to a community event if you're not there too!" I reminded her. I don't know how many times I've told her that without her there it just doesn't feel right and everybody gets on my nerves, even if they don't do anything.
When we heard the front door shut, we all thought it was my Dad and Adam's parents.
"Salam Baba!" I screamed out excitedly, running to jump on him in greeting but I was shocked to find Sami hanging his jacket on the banister instead.
I buried my face in his shoulder and held back the tears, I hadn't seen him since Christmas holidays, months ago! Sure I was angry at him for being so bad at coming home but I missed him so much more! 19 years old, his most prominent feature were his gorgeous blue eyes that were powerful and beyond his years. When he was younger he knew how to use them to get away with whatever thing he did that landed him in trouble, now, it was the centre of his soul, the window to his balanced and sensible mind, if a little inconsiderate of his family's personal feelings.
"Hey Lee," he chuckled, running a hand through his overgrown straight brown hair when I let go of him and giving me a smile that crept up higher on one side of his face.
"I told you to visit more often," Ahmed chimed, standing behind us and leaning on the doorframe, watching interestedly at my failed attempt to control emotion. Sami chuckled and hugged me tighter as I wept.
"Nah, I like it when she cries at seeing me," he joked. "Makes me feel all special and loved."
"Sami?" I heard my mum cry out questioningly from the kitchen, recognising his voice.
I broke my tears and smiled, letting a chuckle calm me down again. There was a tight bond between Sami and I despite the eight year age gap, especially in the last few years when he matured, early in my opinion but it was somewhat expected in the Saqr men, early puberty, early manhood. I was grateful nonetheless. I loved all my brothers but Sami was like my comrade, I didn't have to be such a sister to him, I could just be a friend.
"I missed you," he said, kissing my cheek and giving me one last squeeze before Mum came in her dramatic way, arms flying this way and that, mouth agape and tears ready to spring from her eyes. For a second it hit me, did I look like that too? "Salam Mama."
I smiled at the insult that was her reply and stepped back to watch him charm her into forgiving her for not visiting for the last month with expert ease. Why did I never get forgiven that quickly?
"I couldn't let you leave without seeing you," Sami said charming her senseless. "To ask for forgiveness and for your prayers Mama."
That's why. I was never that eloquent and charming, vocally. I could write it sure, but actually say it on the spot? Nope!
Nancy bundled over and smiled, seeming pleased with herself almost as much as she was with Sami's return, and I understood she must have bugged the hell out of him to come back.
"Look at you! You've lost weight? Ya Omri, nobody there to feed you," Mum went off on one, taking the role of the affectionate mother now.
"How comes he's always spoiled like that?" Nancy asked quietly, probably trying to come up with som psychological theory. "Khala Neel always say 'Ya Omri' this and 'Ya Omri' that."
"My mum has nicknames for all of us that made us feel extra special," I explained, wondering why she hadn't realised it yet, those nicknames where always flung around and coincidentally they were closely attributed to our personalities. "Sami is her life because without him, it was all too stressful for her. You know how he has the most amazing ability to calm the boys and tell them what to do without them getting angry or upset and vice versa?"
"Oh yeah, he could bring up a mutiny if he wanted." Nancy nodded in agreement. "What's Karim?"
"He is 'Ya Ayouny'," I said, starting us off into a slow walk back to the living room where I heard the boys all greeting each other happily. My eyes, she called him that because despite his quiet disposition, he had the eyes of a hawk. "He can scan a room in one second and be able to recall all the fine details, the colour of the curtains, which side a girl's parting was, whether someone was wearing odd socks or not and how they had their shoelaces tied." Peculiar.
"No, I remember now," Nancy said, holding up a finger for emphasis. "Ahmed is 'Ya Albi'?"
I nodded, he was her heart, because he was always concerned with her wellbeing and emotional state. He hated it when she was angry or upset and would always try to cheer her up after. Like how a heart would regulate the body, Ahmed regulated my mother's emotional and physical wellbeing.
"Jalal is 'Ya Rouhi' because he is her soul. No matter what trouble he brings, and he brings a lot, she is never truly happy unless he is nearby."
"I remember when you took him with you to the set for a week and she looked so miserable," Nancy said, chuckling quietly. "Whatever anybody has to say about how spoilt the youngest child is, they are definitely the soul of the family."
"Yeah you would say that," I laugh, nudging her playfully before finding my husband's side just as he'd finished greeting Sami who had Jalal hanging off his back. Before a real conversation could begin between the two of them, my mother dragged Sami off to get her fill first, before she had to fly off.
"Quite the homecoming huh?" Adam said with a laugh.
"You should've seen what we used to do when he used to come home from Uni!" Nancy added light-heartedly. I could imagine, they did the same to this day and we only lived across the road to them!
"I wonder if you'll be like that with our kids, Um Bendicto."
It was the nickname he'd given me since our honeymoon and two and a half years later he still was using it, despite the fact we hadn't had any kids yet.
"I'd smother them," I told him dramatically, with only a hint of honesty. "Lock them up when there is even the slightest chance of them leaving!"
"Locks on their rooms from the outside and boarded up windows," he said, running with the joke. I smiled and shook my head. I had been ready for kids about two years ago but Allah had not granted us any. For a reason only He knew, I accepted the fact I'd have to be patient and I was on my way to dealing with the possibility that I might not have any...not quite yet...but another year and I'd have to cash in my chips and face reality.
"Ya Bitti!" My mum called out. My daughter. Ah, my nickname...while not a part of her body, I was special indeed, her only daughter. It might not mean much to a whole lot of people but it meant a lot to me. No, I would not trade these moments and all the drama that led up to them for the world.
A/N - Woohoo! Me again! So? how was that? (hope it wasn't to boring to the Veteran readers, I assure you there won't be that much repetition for the rest of it!)
Also, exam time at the moment but I like to be regular with my updates so it'll be every saturday (until further notice)...tune in and review (mustn't forget to do that).
PS. Thanks to all that reviewed on the teaser! It was so humbling to read all that and I loved them all! Every single one!
Adelfi (if you're reading this..)- Thank you! You guessed right! It's humbling to read that you think that, you make it worthwhile to post, trust me!
WB - Hello again! (I do wish you'd sign up already so we can PM each other!) Sorry for the heart-and chocolate-break. :D I live to tease! Happy to have made your day! You made mine!