I was back from my trip and overall things were alright. I no longer felt the need to scream bloody murder at the sight of Rashed, and he seemed less interested in being fundamentally terrible to me.
In any case there was a new bully in town. My pre-teen daughter had transformed into one very impassioned little, and I do say this with much love, zinkha. Every single minor inconvenience in her life was my fault; an unannounced pimple on her forehead was because I was a toxic cook, a missed party invite was because I didn’t buy her those 500-dollar sneakers, and her Baba not picking up the phone after one ring was because I was a horrible wife who made him run away. That last comment stung the most. I had never thought that the divorce was in any way my fault. I tried to talk to my mother about my delinquent child, she told me I didn’t know how to raise her, so, “Tab3an, her behavior is your fault,” she confirmed while rolling stuffed grape leaves to feed her starving grandchildren.
Unlike my daughter, my phone had been quiet, it was pretty clear that people wanted little to do with me and my new status. I was lonely. I try not to use that word too often, lonely is not something I wanted to acknowledge lest it stuck.
Then one day I receive an invite to a ladies lunch. I send a confirmation immediately. In the past I had always fared well at these sorts of engagements, yet this time I knew I had to be brilliant. I contemplate what to wear. I’d never been one to go for the banal blazer and nude pumps look. I opt instead for a pink Saloni skirt paired with a champagne sweater.
As I enter the venue, it takes me all of four seconds to notice that something is off. Instead of being welcomed by “friends” my shy smiles were met with averted eyes. A few others waved from their seats and mouthed that their tables were full, sorry sorry habibti, kisses, so good to see you. I began to panic.
Two more minutes passed. The host swoops in, her De Beers jewelry, furs, and hair extensions bouncing about, she tells me I’m sitting with her. Tansheehom.
On the drive back home, I’m torn between crying and laughing at the High School Musical I had just survived. My daughter had visited her father earlier that day and is now waiting for me in the living room, she wants to hear all about my big lunch. I lie and tell her it was so much fun. Later, I would need to call the host and tell her the same thing, mish ma’oul shoo inbasatna. My daughter seems convinced. She kisses me on the cheek and heads to her room carrying a shoe box from her father.
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