There were no words to describe the rage I felt inside. Rashed was dating. Shoo bakrahoh.
I stare at her pictures on my phone. One of my “I don’t judge” friends had been generous enough to send me several. Here’s the thing that infuriated me the most, he didn’t go for someone a decade younger or wildly different, so why couldn’t he have tried harder with me?
Growing up, no one takes the time to explain post-divorce etiquette. He used to be mine, which means I had every right to call him and ask. Or did I? It would be terrible if he confirmed the relationship, it would be terrible if he denied it.
I call my new friend instead. She told me that I was living my life too. I told her I was running away from it. She tried again, you’ve been out on dates, stop being such a hypocrite. Did she not understand that he put me in this situation? This is not how I imagined my life would be.
She was determined to win this argument, “Ya Noor, don’t you think enough time has passed?” How do you even measure that? I hung up. Shoo barkrahha.
In the movies, the woman always seems to win. After several unfortunate encounters she bumps into someone wonderful, someone who teaches her how to love and be loved. The ex watches her move on, grows a beard and a belly, and is miserable. This never happens in the Middle East. Never. Without a man I had lost. The feminists would disapprove.
I tell my mom Rashed found someone. She is silent for a painfully long time. She then tells me it won’t last. She was tough, how I wished I took after her in that department. Mama’s done talking about it. She suggests we take the kids out for ice cream.
We pile into the car, the kids are ecstatic to be out on a school night. They have no idea we’re celebrating their father’s new girlfriend. Unless, god forbid, they already know.
They order their favorite flavors and ask for sprinkles. I watch them eat, silent but happy. They are so small, it makes my heart melt.
My son gets up for a napkin. “Hey cute stuff!” A pretty brunette gently runs her hand through my son’s hair, she then whispers something to him, he giggles. I can’t tell if she saw me, that doesn’t matter. I see her. Sama in her Lululemons and a ponytail, eyes the same color as her name, carrying a takeout tray with two scoops.
My son runs back to our table and tells me that’s Baba’s friend, “Sama is so funny!” he gushes. My daughter mumbles something barely audible. Mom looks away.
I smile, a little too enthusiastically, and I pray that my children do not notice the melted dark chocolate chip trickling down my trembling hand.