I’ve made up my mind: an early dinner with Ghazi, followed by Chinese with my ex and the kids. This is going to be a bad idea.
Ghazi arrives at six on a motorbike to pick me up, was he joking? I gesture that my emerald green Galvan and gold sandals do not go with two wheels. He attempts to change my mind by revving his engine and I am thankful that my parents are in a land far away. “I have to meet my children afterwards,” I tell him, and follow him in my car to a restaurant I had never heard of.
The place is dark and humid with the faintest scent of, was that cardamom? Ghazi chooses a small table in the corner and slides into the seat next to me. He is close, too close, and I realize that I am way too old for this. For his sake I play along, we talk about our childhoods, favorite dishes and movies, and life. I cannot help but notice that he hasn’t asked me a single question about my kids. I try to mention them randomly. “Noor, I love that you are a mother, but tonight I want to get to know you. Just you. Tell me, what makes you happy?” I try to think of an answer but cannot think of anything charming to say. “I promise I’ll tell you next time,” I offer (why on earth did I say that?) and run to make my second engagement of the evening.
I arrive at Bonsai and Rashed and the kids are beaming. The entire venue is lit with candles, dinner is served immediately, and my son and daughter take turns telling me stories about how Baba fought with the cake place when they got the order wrong. The evening couldn’t have been more perfect.
My phone beeps, Rashed glances at the name. “Meen Ghazi?” No one. I can tell he’s upset. “A new hire, haram, he’s always stressing about work.” I lied. Rashed was not convinced. I reach over and touch his arm, “Let’s enjoy this beautiful night, please?” He relaxes a bit.
He walks the three of us to my car, I thank him for dinner. “Noor istanni,” I stop and look at him, Rashed, my ex husband, the father of my children, the one I never quite got over.
“I hate that you’re driving off with the kids to your parents’ house.” He pauses, “You should be with me. Enough already. What is it going to take for me to fix this?” I knew he meant it, and for the life me I could not think of anything profound to say.
“I promise I’ll tell you next time,” and drive off.
To catch up on Chapter 3 , click here.