I arrive at Rashed’s house early. He’s not there. I walk over to the couch we had chosen together once upon a time on a trip to High Point. It was soft white, adorned with dozens of cushions in varying shades of blue. My grandmother’s bohemian chandelier catches the light and dots the ceiling with flurried specs of red and yellow in obscure shapes.
I glance over at the family photos innocently placed on the coffee table, countless pictures of my children with tiny feet and big smiles. In the corner, I spot a single photo of our wedding. Two people gazing into the horizon as per the photographer’s instructions at the time. Me wearing an embarrassing amount of eyeliner, and Rashed with the world’s most unflattering haircut. Cheesy, clueless, utterly false. Still, we looked happy.
I jump at the sound of keys clanking. “You made it,” Rashed says. “I’m here to talk,” I answer. Rashed darts from one corner of the room to the other, coffee? A snack? What can I get you? He was nervous, that makes two of us. “Soo…”, “So” I chuckle. “Ahla oo sahla.” A common phrase Rashed would use whenever he was not excited about people coming over.
He sits down and reaches for his glasses. “You wear glasses now?” I ask. He’s in no mood for small talk. Typical Rashed, get to the point, khalseena. I ask him what he wants, I ask him if he’s changed, I ask him for guarantees, then I blurt out the question that has been haunting me for far too long. “Shoo sar?”
Rashed finally speaks. The answer was not at all what I had expected.
“You stopped caring about me, about us. For years I watched you slip away, infatuated with work and social engagements, shopping, and other people’s lives. At times I’d look at you and could not even recognize you. I know you think that I forced you to walk out, but you had already left ages ago.”
In my months of anger and constant blame, I never once thought to see things from his perspective. Rashed was never the needy type, or was he? I decide to apologize for whatever part I played in the divorce. “Noor, it takes two to tango,” he says. I let out a small laugh, mish ma3oul shoo adeem.
I have one more question before I make up my mind. “What about that young brunette?”
“Sama? I told you that is over,” he barks.
“I suppose we could get back together, on a trial basis.”
“Lazem katb ktab right away!”
“Rashed, I don’t think I could handle a second divorce.”
“Why would you say that Noor?”
He’s right, why would I even think that?
To catch up on Chapter 5, click here.