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“Madri wainhum Yazzy o Ebrahim laykoon ‘6a3ow?” “Shda3wa Reeno 9ij Yazzy im’9ay3a bas Ebrahimo edalee…akeed fil 6ireej yayeen.”
We sat in the restaurant waiting for them to show up so we could order. My head turned to the…

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[30 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 24: Italia | 1 views]

Awal shay sorry I haven’t posted in a while, bes I’m the kind of person who can only write when I really feel inspired o hal cham yoom 9ayra 7ail BLAH fa mabi akhareb il story by writing something crappy just for the sake of writing. O ba3dain elyoom legait nafsii inspired with a new idea, fa it’s a huge TWIST out of the original plot bes stick with it, i’m not planning on going tooo OFF-TOPIC.


Zeina threw herself onto the couch beside her mother letting out a loud huff.

“Eshfeech ba3ad? 9arlich yomain mu 3ala ba3thich” her mother spoke to her without removing her gaze from the television. This was the third day and Manaf still hadn’t called her back, she had left him two texts and a missed call and wasn’t planning on trying again anytime soon. She knew she had to explain what had happened these two weeks but she couldn’t bring herself to say it.

“Manaf, the love of my life died..” Those were words no man wanted to hear from the woman he loved, especially one who had been hurt badly in the past by another woman. There was also the issue of Dalal and what was going on between them that needed clearing up; if only he’d pick up!

“Youma malait madry shfeeni karha il dinya”

“Weeh ya7afeth yanaitay…7emday rabich bes…” her mother began lecturing. “…o ba3dain laish ma safartay?”

“CHAN ZAIN!” Zeina whined remembering the fact that she hadn’t made any plans thinking that chilling in Kuwait would have been much better. “Ana adry ina 9aifi be9eer chithee?”

Zeina’s mother shot her a glance, trying to figure out if Zeina was referring to what had happened to Faisal or not. Her mother was more than relieved to see her daughter back up on her feet and smiling and was worried that if she didn’t keep her distracted at all times that she might fall back into depression.

“Tabeen etsafreen ya3ni?” Her mother finally asked. As much as Zeina had complained about the boredom she hadn’t actually considered a place to travel to. She began thinking it over, why not? It’s not like she had anything to look forward to now that Manaf wasn’t coming back and Sara was still far away vacationing.

“Negdar? Mata2akhrna wayed?” Zeina asked referring to the bookings and flight plans that needed to be done.

“Etha legaina laish la2, bes intay tabeen? Mu etro7een mukan 7ag esboo3 wetgooleenli malait mithel akher mara ib London” Zeina’s mother threatened her tone changing slightly. Zeina remembered their last trip to London, not being a great fan of travelling Zeina always ended up locking herself in the hotel and complaining about how many days were left before they were supposed to go back to Kuwait. But that was always because she had much more going on for her in Kuwait and she was always dying to go back; but this time she experienced just the opposite. She was dying to leave.

“La hal mara wala ma asawii salfa…bes enroo7 ana weyach o baba?” Zeina asked referring to the fact that everyone else had travelled leaving her and her parents alone in the house.

“Hatha etha yabee esafer ma3ana..” Her mother replied, Zeina’s father was busy with work and didn’t always make it on their trips with them which angered Zeina’s mother at times.

“Enzain wain enroo7?”

“Madry, khalatich ib London tabeen nel7ag’hom?” Her mother suggested. Summer in London? With all the Kuwaitis?

“Hmm…” trying her best not to sound like she didn’t like the idea Zeina tried suggesting another place “…mafee amaken a7la?”

“3indich Aspanya bes mafe a7ad ihnaak en3arfa o el 9ara7a ana etha basafer abi il yam3a …ee ana agoolich sharm el sheikh!” Her mother’s face brightened with the idea. Zeina could list a few of her relatives that were already vacationing there as well as a thousand other Kuwaitis, especially the single-male variety. Zeina needed to stay as far away from Kuwaiti boys as possible.

“La mabi sharm…” and then it hit her and a wave of excitement jolted through her spine “youma I6ALYA!”

Her mother began thinking for a few seconds, “khal akalem ibooch wenshoof, mu akeed enzain la testansain wayed yemkin manelga 7joozat!” And with that her mother turned away towards the television.

Zeina bounced up and skipped to her room, picking up a small bowl of grapes on the way. She began munching on them as she Googled locations in Italy. She had been there a few times before but only when she was much younger and so she didn’t remember much of her trips; she would love to go again now at an age where she could better appreciate the country.


Zeina’s large suitcase lay open and flowing on top of her bed. She had stuffed almost everything she had in her closest into the first suitcase and was using the second one for the leftovers. Her mother walked back and forth between her room and Zeina’s picking up things she needed and giving Zeina others to put in her bag.

“Nagaitay sheno ibtalbeseen 7ag el ma6ar?” She asked her daughter. Without replying Zeina pointed at one of the few remaining outfits in her closet, it was a pair of white pants and a turquoise sleeveless top, Zeina would cover herself with a light cardigan until she got to Rome. “Enzain yala ebsir3a ibooch bewadee lejna6 o yasbigna el ma6ar”..To Zeina’s mother’s delight her husband has agreed to join them on the trip. Zipping up her bag she began dragging it off of the bed and shoving it barely outside her door before slamming it shut. She hurried to get into the shower; she was always known as being the one to delay her family when it came to elsifar o she didn’t want this time to be like the rest.

Finishing up from the shower she hurriedly plugged in the hair dryer and began running her fingers through her hair. Twenty-two record breaking minutes later Zeina was completely ready and skipping, like she had been doing since she heard the news of her trip, down the stairs.

“Khala9tay 7abeebti?” Zeina’s mother asked in between giving the maids and driver directions for when they were away. “Gefaltay ghorfitich?” she reminded her when she had finished. Zeina opened her palm to reveal her room key, her mother took it and put it into a small chest under the television.


“Please fasten your seatbelts we will be landing shortly. The current time in Rome is 5 in the afternoon, the current temperature is 44 degrees Fahrenheit we hope you enjoyed your flight and look forward to having you again soon.”

Zeina’s stomach began doing flips as she fastened her seatbelt, her father sitting next to her beamed and leaned in to kiss her head, “men ziman ma sheftich chithee mestansa” he laughed at his daughter who was practically bouncing giddily in her seat. When the plane had finally stopped moving and many of the passengers were taking off their seatbelts and standing up Zeina removed hers and jumped up hitting the seat in front of her and falling back into hers. Her dad chuckled and took her hand “ge3day ge3day taw enas” he mused slowly unfastening his seatbelt and waking Zeina’s mother up, who had slept through most of the 5 hour journey. Zeina slipped off her cardigan and stuffed into her gray cross-over LV bag. She pushed her way through the aisle leading the way as her mother and father followed her out of the plane. Once outside the airport she inhaled deeply shutting her eyes and taking in her first few breaths of changed air. She vowed to forget everything that had caused her pain or sadness in the past month or so while in Italy. Manaf and Faisal didn’t exist here.

As they got out of the cab and made their way inside the hotel Zeina linked her arm into her mother’s smiling broadly and looking around at the guests. She tried to spot any Kuwaitis but hard as she could they all looked like foreigners. “Youma baroo7 ag3ad an6erkom” Zeina said glancing over at a sofa in the center of the lobby; her mother followed her father to the counter and stood in line to check in.

The black leather sofa felt good against Zeina’s bare shoulders and back as she sunk deep into them; her hand itched her to check her mobile for messages but she fought the urge. This wasn’t Kuwait, she wasn’t going to sit and wait for Manaf to decide if he was going to message or not.

“Ciao” A voice spoke to her from behind, she twisted her neck to look at the person who owned the voice and there behind her stood a man that would knock any girl off of her feet. His white t-shirt over his knee length shorts rippled over his firm but not so muscled chest. His hair, slightly longer than she was used to on men was pulled back with a rubber band-like thing that she had seen often on European soccer players.

“Hi..” Zeina let out a small shy smile as she tried to adjust her hair, she knew that it couldn’t look too good after the flight. The man made his way around the leather sofa and stood in front of her hands in pockets; he was completely shaven revealing an extremely tanned face.

“You speak English?” He asked

“Yeah…I do” Zeina replied her American accent perfected from years of attending private American schools.

“Mano..” He smiled extending his arm to shake hers; his hand was large and enveloped hers nicely. He continued to look down at her and smile.

Just as Zeina began to say her name another Italian man joined them and began speaking loudly and quickly to Mano, who replied just as loudly back.

“I’m sorry, I have to go…you’re staying here?”

“Yeah” Zeina replied

“Good, maybe I’ll see you again” He smiled and with that he turned his back to her and followed his friend out, shouting at each other in the process. Zeina remembered the stereotype of how all Italians spoke as if they were yelling and laughed to herself. Zeina spotted her mother waving her over just then and she made her way to them, her father handed her the key to her room and directed the bell boy to follow her with her luggage.

“Enshoofich ba3ad ni9 sa3a enroo7 enta3asha” he told her and made his way with her mother in the opposite direction. Zeina smiled at the bell boy and handing him the key slowly followed him to the elevator and towards her room. Not being able to hold herself any longer she stuck her hand into her bag and took out her mobile, her heart began racing as she saw the icon of a new a message, but to her limited disappointment it was from Sara. She texted back telling her that she had arrived safely and that she had just seen the cutest Italian boy. Sara immediately recommended a fling which Zeina sighed at “kelish mu nag9a” she told herself. It seemed that Manaf was fling enough for this summer, and for the next three to come a9lan.

Once inside the hotel she sat down on the corner of her bed and flipped the TV on; hotel rooms always gave her a rush. She associated them with romantic getaways with mysterious men who after an eventful day and romantic night would always lead her to the hotel room where they’d enter an entirely different world. It always felt like the things that happened in hotel rooms in foreign countries could be erased whenever the person came back home; even though Zeina knew that wasn’t always the case, yet she clung to the idea.

Running a comb through her hair she tied it up, it was hot and humid outside and she wanted to be as comfortable as possible. She quickly pulled her top over her head and threw it onto her bed before unzipping one of her two suitcases open and rummaging through it for a pink Junk-Food t-shirt. She slipped it over her head and grabbed her bag taking out her mobile and texting her mother; “khala9t ..wain alageekom?” Less than a minute later she received a text from her father, “ne6reena bil lobby 5 minutes”

She grabbed the hotel key and threw it into her bag before making her way downstairs. Deciding to ignore her dad about waiting in the lobby she headed outside the hotel, the doorman greeting her with a polite nod as he opened the door for her. Outside the hot breeze hit her and wove its way around her neck and through her hair. Across the street a small coffee shop filled with people and Italian music caught Zeina’s attention, she leaned on a railing and stared at the occupants, table by table. Finally her eyes rested on a table of young men, each one handsomer than the first, until finally she made out of the face of the last one to be Mano’s. Maybe just maybe a fling is just what she needed, she thought naughtily to herself. She could vaguely hear them conversing in Italian, loudly in fact for her to be able to hear them all the way from across the street.

Suddenly a beep from her mobile distracted her from her thoughts, assuming it was from her father she opened it not removing her eyes from Mano’s table.

“Hi” she glanced over the two letters in the message; this couldn’t be from her dad. Glancing up at the name her heart gave a little jump, it was Manaf. Finally.

Relief washed over her as she glanced over his name for the millionth time, she clicked on the reply button and began typing “hala..” before immediately erasing the message. She’d make him wait a little, she didn’t want to seem too eager, especially since he hadn’t been too eager to reply to her. In fact, he’s probably in Ma9er, bored and lonely and now he thinks of me, she thought to herself. Her phone rang in her hand and she picked it up to her father’s inquiries, “wainich?”

“Bara 3ind il bab” she replied, her father hung up and less than thirty seconds later he and her mother joined Zeina outside.

“Yala wain taboon nakel?” He asked the two women asking the doorman for a cab. Zeina glanced one more time at Mano’s table only to see to her disappointment that they had left. The taxi cab stopped in front of them and Zeina’s dad got into the front seat, opening the back door for her and her mother first. As her mother got into the cab Zeina picked up on someone speaking in a Kuwaiti dialect behind her, glancing behind her she noticed two Kuwaiti guys talking to each other while walking towards the entrance of the same hotel Zeina was staying in.

“Slaimano…” One of them shouted at someone behind Zeina, she glanced in the other direction to see who they were speaking to, the only two people that were coming in their direction were Mano and the friend who had dragged him away from Zeina when they had met in the lobby. Mano met up with the two Kuwaiti guys and kissed them once on the cheek just like Kuwaiti guys did back home, “shabab hatha weld khalty Giovanni” he said pointing to the man next to him before turning to him and rambling a bit in Italian. Giovanni leaned in and shook their hands.

“Zeina…yala!” Her father’s voice shook her and she stumbled into the cab.

“Eshga3da et6al3een?” Her mother asked leaning back.


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[29 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on Once upon a Beep in Bahrain.. pt 19 | 5 views]

Sorry guys been away for few days.. thanks for waiting for the new post.. hope you love it.. ———————————————————————————Dana hardly sat on her seat, she looked up every 5 minutes to see how far they…

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[23 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 23: Two Weeks Later | 0 views]

This post is dedicated to 6alal … happy birthday ;p


It had been two weeks since the funeral and Zeina had spent a cumulative of two hours outside her bedroom. On the day of her final exam, having not picked up a book or attended a class since, she made her way to the classroom, tried her best to answer the questions, and then hurried back to her car before Manaf could look for her around campus. She hadn’t answered any of Manaf’s calls or messages during those two weeks and couldn’t bring herself to call him yet.

Her days were spent in bed barely moving, she would only eat when her mother brought food up to her room and force-fed her. Whenever Zeina felt like night had fallen she’d reach into her drawer and pull out the box of Panadol Night…taking two she waited for the drowsiness to come and make her forget the pain. She had stuffed Faisal’s sweater and his pictures in the back of her closet not knowing when she’d be able to look at them again without breaking down.


As the effect of what seemed to be the hundredth sleeping pill Zeina had taken began to wear off she sat up in bed. This was the first morning since the incident that Zeina had thought of her phone and so she began looking for it. Not remembering what drawer she had stuffed it into she began rummaging through them all one by one. Finally she found it between a bunch of socks in her third drawer, pulling it out she found it to be lifeless, she hadn’t bothered charging it over the past two weeks. As she attached it to its charger and waited for it to switch on Zeina made her way to the bathroom to wash up. The pain she had been feeling lulled today and formed into a relaxing numbness and when Faisal popped into her head she suddenly felt no wetness on her cheeks realizing that maybe her tears had dried out by now.

When she picked up her phone she found the usual missed call from Manaf who had routinely called her once in the morning and once at night every single day since he left her the day of Dalal’s barbecue. Zeina had never picked up during any of his attempts but that didn’t seem to stop him from persisting. Nervous she found his name on the list and called him.

“Aloo” he replied after several rings, his voice was groggy, obviously filled with sleep. It was then that Zeina realized she had no idea what time it was; glancing quickly at the screen it hit her that the sun hadn’t come out yet. Zeina realized it was 4 am.

“Aloo, sorry ga3adtik?” She whispered guiltily.

“Zeina? Shfeech? Feech shay?” Manaf asked panicking, she could hear him sit up in bed and a click of a lamp made its way through the phone speaker.

“La mafeeni shay, I’m so sorry ini 7agartik..” she began.

He kept quiet for a few seconds before replying, “it’s okay…esh9ar feech?”

“Ma 9ar shay…I’ve been in bed.” She replied looking around her room. It looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in weeks, which it probably hadn’t since Zeina hadn’t given the maids a chance to come in. The only person who dared enter was her mother who even after a while had stopped trying to get Zeina out of bed and had instead just left plates of food on her bedside table.

“Aha…wal7ean you’re…better?” He asked her, trying to choose his last word correctly.

“A bit, ee…I’ve uhh…missed you.”

“3ayal ana shagool…mate9awarain how worried I’ve been” he told her.

“wala jad asfa…it’s just been rough o taby il 9ij I don’t want to talk about it. Solifli how have you been?”

“Wala Zayoon I’m good, listen 7abeebti ana ma agdar a6awel…ana mu bil kwait tara…” He let the words out slowly.

“Wainik” Zeina asked shocked

“Dubai..emsafer weya il rabi3…I’ve been trying to reach you to tell you bes maradaitay…”

“Ah okay..sorry..meta ibtirja3?” She asked him a bit disappointed.

“Mani raje3..bag3ad ihnee shwaya then baroo7 seeda ma9er…I’m sorry”

Zeina’s disappointment increased massively as she understood that she wouldn’t be seeing Manaf anytime soon. Suddenly waves of sadness engulfed her as the urge to cry became so powerful she had to get off the phone.

“Enzain akhaleek 3ayal…” she barely choked out.


And without giving her a time to call back or telling her when he’d next talk to her Manaf hung up. Zeina badly wanted to crawl back into the hole she had been in the past few weeks but instead decided to head downstairs.

“Ma a9aadeg!” her mother shouted gleefully as she saw Zeina coming down the stairs; Zeina let out a small smile and hugged her mother warmly. Her mother immediately dragged her to the dining room table and sat her down beginning to fill a plate up for her. Zeina dug in, realizing just then how hungry she really was….her mother didn’t leave her side staring intently at her every bite.

“Tabeen ne6la3?” She asked her, hovering, as she followed Zeina to the living room. Not wanting to ruin her mother’s lovely mood she agreed.

“Wain ma tabeen mama” she smiled when she saw her mother’s face light up.

“Khala9 ana badeg 3ala wa7da min refeejati mayta tabi te6la3 9arlaha fatra, ne6la3 kelina gahwa eshrayech…”

Zeina agreed and began flipping through the channels, her mood getting better with every minute.

A few hours of reruns later Zeina’s mother informed Zeina it was time to get ready for afternoon tea; without asking any questions she made her way upstairs and got dressed in as simple an outfit as she could. Jeans and a black top with black sandals; she went light on the makeup and pulled her hair into a messy bun.

“Shaklich eyaaanin” her mother gushed as she made her way downstairs again; Zeina knew her mother was trying to keep her in as good a mood as possible so that she would avoid shutting herself back into her room again. “entay etsogeen?” Her mother asked her; whenever Zeina had gone out with her mother in the past that specific question had not been necessary because Zeina always drove, but in light of the recent events Zeina’s mother wasn’t sure just how much Zeina was up for.

Smiling at her mother’s increased concern she nodded, “6ab3an youma…I always drive”

“Ee madry gelt yemkin elyoom malich khelg” she replied smiling and getting into the passenger’s seat.

“Wain aroo7?” Zeina asked pulling out of the driveway.

“Avenues…” Her mother replied taking out her ringing phone, “..hala Um Jassem, hala wala..eee e7na 6ala3na al7ean bel darb…yala khosh akalmich lai we9alna”.

It was at this point that Zeina’s heart flipped for the first time that day; nausea overtook her, and she fought the urge to scream with rage. Just her luck, the day she finally pulls herself out of bed and decides to get some fresh it, it had to be shared with Um Jassem, and without a doubt her nosy daughter who wouldn’t pass of an opportunity to piss Zeina off.

“Dalal betkoon mawjood?” Zeina asked through clenched teeth.

Her mother didn’t pick up on her tone and instead answered cheerfully “ee 7abeebti…” Zeina knew that her mother thought she was doing her a favor by inviting Dalal along and she hadn’t gotten around to telling her that she disliked Dalal; but even if she had wanted to she couldn’t tell her it was because of Manaf since her mother still had no idea what was going on between them.

Zeina’s mother controlled the conversation for the rest of the ride obviously trying to keep Zeina as busy as possible, asking her a million meaningless questions about what things she wanted to buy soon, if her car needed to be fixed, whether she liked to buy the new Chanel bag she was asking for, and many more. If Zeina’s mother wasn’t asking questions she was talking about the many women in Zeina’s family who had just given birth and who was vacationing where this summer. Zeina enjoyed the fact that she didn’t have to talk because the closer she found herself getting to the Avenues, the worse her mood became.

Eventually Zeina pulled her car into one of the empty parking spots in the yellow colored section and followed her mother, who was on the phone with Um Jassem, inside the mall. She could hear the word Starbucks coming from her mother as she grabbed her phone to check if there were any messages…there wasn’t.

“Ohma ib Starbucks..” Zeina’s mother told her as she headed up the escalator.

“Okay…” Zeina faked a smile.

When they made their way into Starbucks Zeina’s attention was immediately caught by a pair of daringly red lips; they were naturally, Dalal’s. The color of the devil, Zeina thought to herself. She plastered her fake smile on her face once again and began her polite pleasantries with Um Jassem and her devil daughter. Zeina longed to see Dana’s comforting face right now like she had at the Shalaih but she had no idea where Dana was right now and couldn’t bring her over to Starbucks no matter how much she longed to.

The first part of the hour was dedicated to listening politely as Zeina’s mother and Um Jassem talked about what was new in Kuwait and who was engaged to who, Zeina’s mother relisted the names that she had told Zeina off in the car, of all the women who had recently given birth. They began arranging their calenders in order to attend all the estiqbalat and funerals together.

“Youma..abi atisawag” Dalal whined finally interrupting the conversation.

“Waay bismilla tawna ga3deen 7abeebti…” Um Jassem replied turning back to her coffee and beginning to discuss a new topic.

“La7tha..roo7aw entay o Zeina..” Zeina’s mother insisted to Zeina’s great disappointment.

“Ee yala Zeina goomay please..” Dalal innocently pleaded with Zeina. It was obvious this is what she wanted, and Zeina began to dread what Dalal had to say to her that needed to be done in private and not in front of the mothers. Unwillingly, but not wanting to be impolite, Zeina got up and followed Dalal out of Starbucks and towards the first store.

Dalal went on and on about a type of dress she was dying to have and that she had seen it on some girl who had told her she had gotten it at the Avenues. Zeina kept quiet during most of the conversation, limiting herself with words but trying to be as polite as possible when doing so. Finally, as they left their first store Dalal began talking about what Zeina was worried about…Manaf.

“Tathkereen hathak Manaf eli ma3ana bil jam3a?” She asked innocently, not meeting Zeina’s eyes. Zeina glared at her, she didn’t have the energy for Dalal’s mind games and wasn’t interested in anything she had to say.

“Ee..” Zeina muttered back, unfortunately she had to play along with Dalal since she couldn’t really run out of the Avenues like a mad man, although she longed to very much. Instead she kept following Dalal from rack to rack of clothes and focusing all her will power on not strangling the devil girl in front of her.

“Tadreen ina al7ean bel emarat?” She smiled. Zeina was taken aback by the statement, it was not what she had expected to hear and had no idea how Dalal would know something like that.

“Wetha?” Zeina asked her, what she really longed to ask was ESHDARACH, but she knew she couldn’t.

“3adi agoolich serr….kent a3arfa ana ..3adil..” Dalal smiled slyly.

“Laa?” Zeina asked her. She was being dragged into Dalal’s nasty battlefield whether she liked it or not. She knew that whatever Dalal had to say would have little truth to it but it would nonetheless kill Zeina with curiosity and jealousy.

“Ee…bes please latgooleen 7ag a7ad…entay mithel ekhty watheq feech…” Dalal lied shamelessly… “bes yatna fatra wakharna 3an ba3ath. Now shway shway ga3d yerja3…et3arfeenhom il reyayeel masra3 ma yolhoon. Dagli gabil la yroo7 edbay o el 3ayar ga3ad egooli eshtabeen min ihnaak o madry shino eratheeni” Dalal let out an overjoyed giggle, beaming with delight.

Zeina’s stomach felt as if it had been kicked. No way it couldn’t be true, Dalal was flat out lying. But could she really be that low? She knew Zeina would find out she was lying eventually, would she really put herself in that position? Zeina’s questions were answered almost immediately as Dalal picked up her mobile and began flipping through the inbox.

“Shoofay….el message ili daza..” she held out her mobile to Zeina and her hand shaking Zeina took it and glanced at the screen. There in fact was Manaf’s number on the top of the message and beneath it the words “…khala9 etha tabeen shay goleeli.”

“ya7laila..” Zeina gasped out turning her face away from Dalal. This was exactly what she didn’t need on her day out. She regretted the second she had gotten out of bed and wished she was under her covers that very second. Dalal eyed Zeina intently as Zeina contemplated what to do that very second; Zeina considered things from slapping Dalal, to beating her with a bunch of hangers but finally decided to do something Dalal would not expect.

“hold on to him 3adil Dalool, layroo7 min eedich, good guys are hard to find” Zeina forced her biggest smile, “ta3alay tawni athker abi leggings, 3adi nazreg na5ethli?” And with that Zeina led the way out of the store smiling broadly and made her way to H&M to pick up leggings she didn’t need. Dalal walked after her speechless. After getting the leggings Zeina faked having dinner plans and told Dalal they needed to head back to their mothers so that she could leave.

Zeina practically dragged her mother out of Avenues, her mother tried complaining and getting her daughter to explain but Zeina insisted there was nothing wrong and that she was too overwhelmed with the za7ma and wanted to relax at home.

“3ala ra7tich…” her mother finally gave in, staring at her daughters face questioningly as she got into the car.

The drive back was silent, Zeina’s mother didn’t try to make any conversation as Zeina fumed behind the wheel. Once the car was parked Zeina stormed back upstairs to her bedroom and began dialing Manaf’s number…he didn’t pick up.

Zeina got into her PJs and threw herself in front of the television for the rest of the day, her mobile never leaving her lap. Manaf didn’t call back, instead he sent her a message at one in the morning “el shabab ma3ay bil ghorfa magdar adeg, akalmich bacher tesbi7een 3ala khair.”

Zeina turned off her phone without replying.

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[23 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on -One- | 4 views]

” I can’t take this anymore..”

“I’m gonna burst!”
“Hpht! Yalla! Ma 9arat..”

“Come on, COME ON !!” 
“SHDA3WA 3ALAIKOM! YALAAA”  I thought to myself.
Just then I started to panic. I couldn’t take it anymore ! I could feel my features slowly growing more and more tense by the second. I took a look to my left and realized the two elderly women who have been standing by the door since I walked in were glancing at each other. Next they started to look me up and down, and give me quizzical looks. This was too much, I couldn’t stand still! Without second thought I walked out trying to think of a new way to solve my dilemma. I looked around and strutted past the elevator. I then froze and slowly my brain started to tick.
Could I ? 
I could be quick. 
No one would see me ! 
I could dash in and out. 
I slowly walked back and stood before the elevator doors and looked at my own reflection. 
“Yallah?” I asked the person looking back at me.  
I quickly pressed the elevator button and ran in when the doors opened. I pressed 1 and held my breath as the elevator got to the first floor and the doors opened. I popped my head out and started to glance around. 
No one. 
The coast was clear ! 
I quickly dashed into the hall and started to look around. 
BINGO ! ” There it was! I quickly walked in.  In a matter of minutes I was more than relieved. I was overjoyed actually. I couldn’t remember last when I felt so at ease ! I washed my hands and pulled my dress down and tried to fix myself. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and laughed at my self remembering how frustrated I was a few minutes ago! All because I simply needed to PEE !
I opened the door slightly, peering out making sure no one was there to see me. When I was sure the coast was clear I slowly walked out heading back to the elevator. I could hear the music from downstairs clearly now.
“A7eb ElBar welMazyoon..
A7eb ElBado welAw6aan ..
A7ebek Gabl Ma Yadroon
Ahle Wahlek Wala el Jeeran..” 
I quickly got excited !  Repeatedly pressing the elevator button, not wanting to miss out on dancing to the song! I unknowingly started swaying to the song, until before I knew I was fully dancing to it like an idiot ! 
“Ding” The elevator had arrived, the bell interrupted my dance. My head shot up as the elevator doors were opening and only then did I notice the figure standing behind me. I quickly turned around gasping ! All I could see was a set of teeth beaming at me. I felt faint. I ran into the elevator and quickly tried to close it. Pressing every button there was, it was as if I had forgotten how to work an elevator. I felt like the short elevator ride was an eternity. I felt mute ! I couldn’t speak or think! I walked back to my seat next to my cousins.
“Shfeech 6awaltay?” asked Reem. 
“Noor, Shfeech?” asked Rawan. 
They looked back at each other and shrugged and went back to watching the girls who were dancing. 
It was as if my brain had paused at that moment. That disgusting moment. 
Ah. The embarrassment. 
& just like that.. elKhayala enters the blogsphere :)


[22 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on Once upon a Beep in Bahrain.. pt 18 | 1 views]

The tides crawled shyly and tickled Dalals bare foot; she smiled but didn’t move an inch. She covered her eyes with her hands as she enjoyed the stinging warmth of the sun and the tag game the lazy sea was playing with her. she was in no rush. A hand…


[22 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on Once upon a Beep in Bahrain.. pt 18 | 1 views]

The tides crawled shyly and tickled Dalals bare foot; she smiled but didn’t move an inch. She covered her eyes with her hands as she enjoyed the stinging warmth of the sun and the tag game the lazy sea was playing with her. she was in no rush. A hand…

Friends, LOVE, Relationship »

[21 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on Once upon a Beep in Bahrain.. pt 17 | 2 views]

12.30 am“JoJo.. ““hmm” Jory was half asleep, she was consumed after the disturbing dinner at Reems house..“ta3bana..?” “shway.. day5a.. min el9ib7 ga3da”“tabeen a5aleech..?” Fahad was waiting all night for her to come, he doesn’t …

childhood »

[19 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on HOYA’s Flash Back | 3 views]

VSYesterday, my friend & I were chatting about cartoons we used to watch as kids.I still remember “Sally”, the sweet little girl who lost her parents and her money, ‘n’ then was forced 2 work as a maid at the school she used to study at, just to su…

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[18 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 22 | 5 views]

Zeina tugged at the sleeve of her black 3abaya, staring intently at her colorless nails and the wad of stuffed tissue between her fingers. She refused to raise her head up, refused to let her eyes look at the mourning women around her. She focused all her thoughts on counting the breaths that were coming out of her constrained chest. The air hurt her deeply as it moved up through her swollen lungs and out of her reddened nose, and she swallowed deeply as the next gust of air made its way down her throat. She had spent the night before screaming hysterically, so much that she couldn’t speak now, even if by any miracle she had finally found something to say.

Her hands were no longer part of her body as they fidgeted by themselves playing with the crumpled up moist tissue, moving it from one hand to the other, then tearing it into smaller pieces. Her eyes, in fear of meeting the gaze of one particular person, managed to remain focused downward and blurred to the extent that she could barely make out the shape of her hands or their color. Her feet, like concrete, surrendered themselves leaving only the chair she was sitting on to hold her up. And her heart…her heart pounded softly inside her chest; but every few minutes, Zeina would remember the image or the voice of the person she would no longer see again, and it would stop beating for what to Zeina felt like an eternity, instead it began to stretch itself until it felt like it was beginning to tear right through the middle. It was during these moments that Zeina using whatever power she had left would stifle a scream of agony. It was the repeated tearing of her heart that had kept her up all night.

A hand touched Zeina’s arm then found its way to her waist raising her up slowly from her seat.

“Goomay 7abeebti” A voice spoke at her side, Zeina continued looking down as she was dragged towards a woman, a woman who maybe was one of a handful that was in more misery than Zeina. She didn’t look up as she gasped for breath between cries. She would raise a hand holding a tissue in it and would spread it across her face wiping her eyes and nose but in no way reducing the tears, as more poured down to replace them.

Zeina bent down to kissed the older woman’s forehead shaking as she tried to gain control of herself. As they made their way out of the crowded room a young woman made her way towards them. Her face registered more shock and confusion than anyone in the room; it was as if she was horrified by the people around her and was about to make a run for it. She hugged Zeina tightly and Zeina heard her let out a sob as she reached for her hand and pulled her into another room. Zeina, who was unable to force her body to do anything let herself be dragged wherever the woman wanted her to be. Once in the other room the woman bent her beautiful face down and began to cry openly as she bent down to pick up a large black bag. She lifted it up hugging it tightly, more cries escaping her and pushed it against Zeina’s body. Zeina hugged it back feebly still not meeting the woman’s gaze.

The same arm as before put itself around Zeina and led her outside to a parked car; the door was opened for her and she was pushed slightly into the seat. She sat there motionless; the bag unopened her in lap. Zeina had no idea how long the car ride had been, she had no idea what time it was or what she was wearing underneath her black envelope of death. Once the car had come to a stop, the arm came out and guided her back inside; Zeina hugged the bag to her chest as she made her way upstairs to her bedroom.

Sliding the door opened she looked inside, things were thrown everywhere, things she had broken in her hysteria from the night before were moved and the bed was somewhat made. Her mother finally let down her arm and tried to look at her daughter’s face but Zeina concealed it turning away. She knew that if her mother saw her face she would start to cry and that was a sound Zeina could not hear right now. She walked to the edge of the bed and sat on it, staring down and hugging the bag rocking slowly.

She heard a soft click as the door of her bedroom was shut leaving her alone in the dark. Sliding off of the edge and onto the floor she began opening the bag slowly pulling the first thing out of it.

It was Faisal’s University of San Francisco sweater; it was what he would wear whenever he had a big business meeting to prepare for, he had said that it reminded him of his university years when he crammed for exams. Zeina stared down at the gray piece of clothing, running her fingers over the letters. She lay it down slowly onto her lap and looked deeper into the bag pulling out a large envelope, ripping the top off she poured its contents out on top of the sweater; dozens of small pictures of her and Faisal scattered over it. They included some of the few pictures Zeina and Fai9al had taken together along with some of him by himself. She refused to look at any of them directly and began to push them aside reaching her hand back into the bag. She touched nothing but air realizing slowly that the bag was empty.

All she had left from Fai9al were the things scattered around her. She slowly reached for her mobile and began dialing a number and within seconds she heard it ring, “Hi it’s Fai9al, I’m not in the office right now, please leave a message…” The machine in his office spoke to her.

This was how she would hear his voice for the very last time.

Uncategorized »

[18 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on BahStralian Jungle Part 10 | 4 views]

* Yasmeen *

I watched as Shereen turned her bag upside down, letting all the stuff fall on her bed. “Shoo yalsa tsaween?” Maytha asked as she popped her head around Shereen’s bedroom door. “She’s packing! Shoosh wallah chinich yaditty…

Uncategorized »

[17 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 21: The Barbecue | 2 views]

Walking out of the shower Zeina checked her mobile for the time: 4pm, this meant she had two hours before she needed to be at Dalal’s house for the barbecue. Un-pausing the Desperate Housewives episode that was frozen on her TV she hit the volume on max and sat herself down in front of the mirror, hair dryer in hand. She had thought of a million ways to style her hair over the last 24 hours, the conclusion she had made at this point was that she was going to curl it into light waves before deciding where to go from there. Hair dryer in hand she tossed her head forward and began drying it, running her fingers through it as she did.

Once it was dry enough she grabbed the curler and began arranging it into waves; midway through her last curl her mobile rang, Manaf’s name blinked on and off:

Zeina: Hala Hala…

Manaf: 7abeebti, hala feech, ha tesaba7tay

Zeina: ee I’m doing my hair, 3indi wagt 9a7?

Manaf: ee bu sa3a, ana bamor wa7d min il shabab bawadeeh mukan o then bayeekom fa yemkin etkoneen ihnaak gabli..

Zeina: La ayshay Manoof asti7i..

Manaf: laish mama laish…entay ray7a as Dalal’s friend nesaitay. Ehya ra7 etkoon mawjooda mara7 etkoneen ebroo7ich

Zeina: I guess, bes lat6awel please

Manaf: I won’t 7abeebti don’t worry. Yala akhaleech etkhal9een ana bara bait refeeji

Zeina: okay see you soon 7ayati

After she had hung up she pulled open one of her dresser drawers to rummage through the dozen bottles of nail polish she had lying around; she was searching for the perfect shade of purple that would match the purple Marc Jacob flats she was going to wear. Finding the bottle she shuffled to her bed and plopped down on it beginning to paint her nails, double coating them when she had finished. As she waited for them to dry her mobile beeped with a message, she glanced at the screen and saw Dalal’s name. Dalal had been more than friendly over the past two days, on the first day they’d met she had sent her the address to her house and earlier that morning she had called to make sure Zeina was still coming.

After her nails had dried she flipped open her mobile and checked the text:

Dalal: Lama to9leen man6aqatna degeeli 3ashan adaleech in case you get lost

Zeina felt herself getting a bit more comfortable; she was nervous that it’d be awkward when she arrived and Dalal would be too busy hosting leaving, Zeina alone amongst God knows how many people she didn’t know, but the fact that Dalal was thinking of Zeina up until the last minute comforted her slightly.

Zeina: Enshallah ;* ..

Zeina made a quick call to Sara to ask how she had been the past few days, “esh9ar 3ala Faisal” she asked immediately.

“walla madry 9arla cham yoom mayrid 3alay shakla busy” Zeina replied.

She still hadn’t told Sara what was happening between her and Manaf and decided to wait until she was back in Kuwait to tell her face to face. Zeina wrapped up the conversation when she glanced at the time and found it to be almost six. She hurriedly threw on her white Chloe dress and slid her feet into the flats; when she had finished dressing she went back to the mirror and began working on her makeup. Deciding to leave her hair in its place, falling in wavy layers across her shoulders and back, she began filling up her clutch with what she thought would be the essentials: lipstick, small perfume bottle, and her car keys. When she finished she began texting Manaf:

Zeina: Bamshi now, enta wainik?

Manaf: Weya refeeji, shway wareda il bait. (He replied immediately).
The closer Zeina got to Dalal’s house the more nervous she was; so nervous that once she found her street she slowed almost to a stop and considered heading back home. Before making her way to Dalal’s house she had made a quick stop at one of her favorite bakeries to pick up a cake for the gathering. Trying to ignore the butterflies in her stomach she drove on until she found the house number she was looking for. Dalal’s house was on the corner with a large drive-in garage, Zeina stopped her car at the entrance and began dialing Dalal’s number. She could see inside the house a large garden on the right that curved to the side and disappeared behind the house, lights filled the entire garden allowing Zeina to see several tables laid out. The house itself was bigger than all of the neighboring ones with large arcs that stood at both side of a large brown door with huge gold knobs. Inside the garage three cars were already parked, several more were parked on the left side of the house.

“Aloo, Zeina?” Dalal picked up, Zeina could hear people talking noisily in the background, her butterflies began dancing in her stomach.

“Hala Dalool, tara ana bara..” She said nervously into the phone

“Sef6ay dakhel 7abeebti ana 6al3atlich..” and with that the phone disconnected.

Zeina did as she was told and parked next to the third car on the right. Zeina noticed the big brown door slide open slightly and a tiny figure emerged, it was Dalal. She was wearing a flowing black dress with gold flats, her hair this time was pulled back in an elegant bun. Grabbing the cake box Zeina slid out of the car, instantaneously Dalal took the box out of Zeina’s hands and kissed her on both cheeks. Grabbing her clutch before locking the car Zeina began following Dalal inside.

“3asa bes ma the3tay?” Dalal asked her as they began walking towards the entrance.

“La your directions were good” Zeina replied, she was extremely uncomfortable and felt totally out of her element.

“Zain el7imdila, Manaf still ma yah o Sulaiman ba3ad he’s going to come later. Om o ibo Manaf are inside ba3arfich 3alaihom now, o omy o iboy o khawati Deema o Durar, Durar kubrich tara…” Dalal trailed on. Just then a maid came out carrying an empty tray, “Dalal, mama calling..” She told her, Dalal nodded handing her the cake and guiding Zeina with her arm inside. Zeina realized the gathering wasn’t going to be as large as she had expected but this made her even more uncomfortable; the gathering was so close knit that she was bound to stand out!

Inside Zeina led her from one living room to another one; everyone was gathered in the one overlooking the garden: “Mama, baba, 3ami, khalty, this is Zeina Al Flani refeeejti…” Zeina blushed severely lowering her head and mumbling a hello. Just then two more girls entered the room, they looked like copies of Dalal but in different sizes, one of them was extremely tall and thinner and the other one the complete opposite, tiny and extremely petite. Did any of them come in an unpleasant size? Zeina thought to herself.

The two families were sitting against the large glass doors that were opened wide revealing the barbecuing grills and tables set up outside. Dalal pulled Zeina aside and took her towards her sisters, “Deemo, Durar, this is Zeina” she smiled introducing her to them, from their reaction to her Zeina could tell that they knew about her and Manaf which made her slightly uncomfortable. What made her extremely uncomfortable was the fact that Manaf was so close to these three beautiful women, obviously spending large amounts of time at their home.

Dalal excused herself to answer a phone call and Durar pulled Zeina down to sit beside her, “Eshtishribeen?” She asked as one of the maids passed by. Zeina declined a drink for now and began answering Durar’s infinite questions about where she studied, what she studied, and what she did in her free time. She knew what Durar was doing, she was trying to make Zeina feel as comfortable as possible by keeping the conversation going no matter what. As Zeina was telling Durar about what new things she had spotted in the Avenues from her last visit she overheard mens’ voices coming from the front door. She immediately recognized Manaf’s voice as one of them. Seconds later they appeared in the living room, Manaf surveyed it quickly resting his eyes on Zeina who was stuck to Durar’s hip. He smiled at her presence, among his family and closest friends, and turned to say hello to everyone else.

A taller man followed Manaf into the living room, Dalal clinging to his arm; Zeina figured that was Sulaiman. He looked very much like Manaf only much more mature with a thinner build.

“Esh’hal mofaja2a il 7elwa” Sulaiman said looking around at everyone, when he met Zeina’s eye he smiled gently, making her blush even harder, he then looked up at Manaf and winked.

After kissing his aunt’s head Manaf made his way to the couch and sat next to Zeina, leaning in to say hello to Durar. Durar replied with the comfort of a relationship that was lifelong “ana I’m good, you?” She asked not bothering to look at him, as if seeing him around was more than ordinary. “Tamam, ha 3ayal ashofich you met Zayoon” He nudged Zeina’s shoulder with his as he said that. Durar smiled at Zeina’s reddening cheeks and leaned over smacking Manaf on the arm “lata7rijha maskeena, ba3dain mara7 tabee teyeena mara thanya!” She laughed patting Zeina’s shoulder lightly before getting up to answer to her mother who was calling out to her.

“Shaklich eyanin” Manaf immediately whispered when she was out of earshot. Zeina knew there were no more shades of red available for her cheeks and lowered her head.
“Esta7aina?” He sing-songed obviously enjoying teasing her. “Salamtay 3ala omy?” He asked her finally talking normally.

“Ee, you look exactly like her…” Zeina managed to say becoming a little more at ease.

“Ba3teriflich ib shaghla…” he told her, “tara tadry 3anich. Sorry wala bes ma3aref akhish 3anha shay…”

What little ease Zeina was beginning to feel immediately disappeared as looked up at Manaf’s mother who at that very second looked up and met Zeina’s eyes. She smiled slyly and looked away, making Zeina feel like she would burst with humiliation at any second. Deciding to move the gathering outside everyone got up and headed past the glass doors and began making their way to the two large tables pushed together. Dalal who had run upstairs to get something came skipping back looking for Zeina.
“Zayoon wainich?” She asked looking around before spotting Zeina, “yala benroo7 bara, ashwa 3abali khalooch ibroo7ich” she laughed when she noticed Manaf next to her.

By the time Dalal, Manaf, and Zeina followed everyone outside they were all seated. Dalal immediately took her place next to a seat Sulaiman had saved for her, Manaf picked up two chairs and placed them next to each other between Sulaiman and Deema. He pointed at one of them and Zeina took a seat.

“7ayallah min yana” Dalal’s dad spoke up looking at Zeina, she blushed again and replied with the appropriate response.

“3ayal ma gelteelna Zeina, shino tadriseen?” Manaf’s mother asked smiling tenderly from Zeina to Manaf and back again at Zeina. Clearing her throat Zeina began answering his mother’s questions, first about what she studied, then how old she was, and finally about where she planned to work when she finally graduated. Zeina answered all of them politely, glancing at Manaf every once in a while; he was beaming at her, not taking his eyes off for a second. From the corner of her eye she noticed Sulaiman nudge Dalal with his elbow and nod his head at the two of them. Zeina realized just how much everyone was staring at her and Manaf even as they tried their hardest to pretend they weren’t.

A while later the men gathered around the grill arguing over who knew how to barbecue the best, reminiscing over older gatherings when each of them had burnt something. Zeina found herself sitting with Dalal, Durar, and Manaf’s mother talking. They politely included her in their conversation, at times making sure that the majority of it revolved around her.

When it was time to eat Manaf sat himself once again next to Zeina picking out pieces of meat for her that were tender enough for her to cut. When she had trouble cutting off a piece of fat she leaned in helpfully with his fork and knife and did it for her. She would have felt self conscious if it hadn’t been for Dalal who had made Sulaiman cut up all her meat for her. Both mothers doted over Zeina, filling up her plate every time it came near to empty.

The weather was perfect, warm and not humid at all. When they had finished dinner dessert was spread out at the table and everyone got up to serve themselves whatever they wanted. Sulaiman and Dalal went inside to watch something on TV and Deema had disappeared. The parents were deep in conversation about something Zeina wasn’t paying attention to.

“Tabeen etdisheen dakhel?” Manaf asked her after she had refused dessert. All the food they kept serving her had stuffed her and there was no room for more.

“3ala ra7tik..” she replied looking back at the parents who weren’t paying them any attention. He led the way inside and she spotted Durar sitting talking on the phone in one corner, Dalal and Sulaiman were sitting in front of the TV watching some Arabic program, Dalal busy texting on her phone and Sulaiman trying to annoy her by pulling the phone out of her hand. Manaf kept walking and Zeina followed him into the second living room which was empty. He flipped on the TV in there and began scanning the channels as he patted the couch next to him.

“3adi..?” Zeina asked, referring to the fact that they were sitting alone together.

“Ee 3adi, mu imsakreen 3ala nafsna ib ghorfa” he told her not moving his eyes from the TV; Zeina sat down next to him.

“9ij Zeina tara shaklich eyanin” Manaf repeated this time looking at her and giving her a grin. Zeina’s heart melted; he was wearing a white dishdasha and had pulled up the sleeves, his arm muscles bulging from under them.

She couldn’t help noticing how close he was to her; the heat emanating from his body crawled up her skin sending silent shivers up her spine. All she had to do was move half an inch and they’d be touching. When he looked over at her, his face was so close to hers that she caught her breath. With his intense gaze, which Zeina was nowhere near getting used to, Manaf forgot about the TV and began flickering his eyes instead across her face taking in feature by feature. He was concentrating so deeply that Zeina, not moving her eyes from his, was afraid he might lean in and try to kiss her.

“Zayoon..” he whispered, finally resting his eyes on hers.

“Hala..” She gasped back, her body rigid

“Matadreen eshkither entay ga3da et3athbeeni…” He whispered, his voice turning husky. Zeina tried to swallow as she looked away, his gaze won over hers, and she had to look away with defeat. Not saying another word Manaf looked back at the screen and began flipping through the channels again. They sat in silence for a few minutes before the ringing from Zeina’s mobile made her jump.
“Bsmila 3alaich” Manaf said putting his hand gently on her arm, Zeina let out a laugh at her reaction.

“Khara3ni..” she laughed fumbling through her clutch for her phone.

“Meno?” Manaf asked the second she glanced at the screen

“Madry raqam ma a3arfa.. Mo mohim” she told him silencing it and throwing it back inside. Manaf smiled at her raising his hand and making circles with his finger against her arm; Zeina shivered slightly as goose bumps covered the places he had just touched.

“Okh…” he whispered to himself staring at the goose bumps then running his fingers delicately over them.

“Manaaf…” Zeina found her voice, pulling her arm away from under his hand and putting it in her lap.

“Sorry 3omri…” He said moving a little back on the couch making the space between them bigger. Zeina gave him a small smile. Minutes later Dalal, Sulaiman, Durar and Deema joined them, carrying plates of cake and mousse.

“Ma taboon shay?” Sulaiman asked gazing at their plate-less hands.

“La Zeina matabi o ana mara7 akel etha Zeina mara7 takel” Manaf pretended to be genuinely upset with Zeina not eating. Deema and Durar laughed.


Zeina glanced at her mobile checking the time, it was 10:15… time had flown by when they had gathered in the living room. Sulaiman turned out to be hilarious; him and Dalal told Zeina stories about their childhood including, to Zeina’s delight, several embarrassing stories about Manaf in his day’s way back when. She was genuinely enjoying herself and almost didn’t want to go back home.
“Manaf lazim amshi tara…” Zeina whispered to him. He glanced at his wrist watch then looked at her pleadingly.

“Yala 3ad bes shwaya..” He complained.

“Wala magdar mabi omy et3a9eb 3alay…” She told him. He nodded then got up with her.

“Dalal, it’s getting late ana lazim amshi…” Zeina smiled politely. Dalal unwrapped herself from Sulaiman’s arms and got up. After several attempts at trying to get Zeina to stay had failed she led her to the garden to say goodbye to the parents. She thanked Dalal’s parents and told Manaf’s parents how much of a pleasure it was to meet them. Manaf’s mom got up and kissed Zeina goodbye hugging her and whispering “khanshoofich 3ad” before pulling away. As they headed back to the first living room she saw Manaf still standing, “ana bawa9elha el sayara” he told Dalal.

“Okay..” she told him “7ayach allah any time ha Zayoon” Dalal said hugging her lightly.

“Allah y7ayeech mashkoora wayed tara I had a great time..” Zeina replied, “o kel 3am wenta eb khair Sulaiman” she said turning to him. He raised a hand in acknowledgment as he tried to swallow a large chunk of cake he had stolen from Dalal’s plate. Deema and Durar said their polite goodbyes and Zeina and Manaf headed outside. The front of the house was silent and Zeina couldn’t spot a single person there.

“Estanstay? 9ij Zayoon…” Manaf asked as he opened her door and she leaned against her seat. The door was now shielding them from view, and Manaf took an extra step forward covering what little space was left between them.

“Ee wala I did..” Zeina whispered back her voice croaking. Manaf was once again so close that she could practically feel his body against hers. She realized now as she stood inches away from him that if she raised her head her lips would barely graze his chin. He raised his right hand and grazed his fingers across hers, then slowly up her hand and glided them up to her elbow, he let his fingers rest there for a second staring at her, she noticed he had sucked in some air and was not exhaling.

He was holding his breath.

His fingers began moving again this time up her arm and began playing with the tips of her hair, finding their way slowly up to her cheeks. He put a strand of hair behind her ear and touched his fingertips to her warm cheek. She glanced up finally meeting his eye, he was staring down at her motionless, his eyes once again taking in all her features, glancing from her eyes to her nose, then down to her cheeks where his fingers lay and finally to her lips. She sucked in whatever air she could as she felt his body lean in towards hers, his hand brushing past her cheek and cupping her chin, pulling her head slowly towards his.

As the gap between their lips began to decrease Zeina’s heart began to race, his lips were finally less than centimeters in front of hers and Zeina closed her eyes bracing herself. She felt his warm breath against her cheeks and lips but instead of feeling his lips on top of hers she felt his breath moving slowly up towards her nose and then warming her eyes before finally she felt his lips on her forehead. Slowly but firmly he let them rest there for a few seconds before pulling back.
Just then her phone beeped with a message, Zeina broke their locked gaze as she fiddled with her clutch trying to get it open; she was flustered and could barely feel her fingers. Manaf’s hand brushed back across her arm and then rested on her lower back he looked down at her as she took out the phone and smiled feebly.

“Lazim amshi..” she told him opening the message without seeing who it was from.

“Okay 7abeebti” he told her stepping back. Zeina smiled, getting into her seat. She glanced down at the phone in her hand and skimmed the message. It wasn’t long but the three words jumped out of the screen stealing Zeina’s breath. The world began to spin and the color drained from her face.

She re-read the message making sure she had gotten it right:

3atham allah ajrich ..

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[16 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 20: Manaf’s Mystery Girl | 1 views]

Throughout the night Zeina tossed and turned, waking up a total of five times. The last time she awoke was an hour before her alarm was supposed to ring; deciding it was pointless to go back to sleep she pulled herself up in bed and hugged her pillow tightly. She looked around her room for something to keep her busy but there was nothing. Nothing else but the internet available to her at this hour she grabbed her laptop and logged into her MSN account, Faisal rarely got on msn but she hoped on this rare occasion he’d be online and she could get him to call her. To her disappointment Faisal’s messenger icon was dark meaning he wasn’t, she opened chat boxes for the few people she could find online and began chatting randomly about anything that popped into her head.

As she began to wash up and get dressed she wondered if Manaf would call her before he headed to class like he always did; and as time slowly went by and Zeina began making her way to her car she began to realize that it wasn’t likely he’d be calling her.

Her phone didn’t blink until midway through her class:

Manaf: Ta3aleeli il gahwa after class bakalmich.

Zeina’s heart pumped in her chest; ‘so he was the face to face kind of guy’…She thought to herself not knowing why she was feeling more nervous than relief. She had always thought people should deal with their issues by talking it out directly to each other and not hiding behind texts and msn, but the thought of Manaf with his burning black eyes and acid tongue waiting for her made her reconsider the texting idea. She could ignore him and say that she had been too angry at his behavior last night to meet with him but she knew that was cowardly and he’d see right through it so she began bracing herself for the confrontation.

Zeina was excellent at confrontations, she was always calm, diplomatic, and managed to get straight to the point. She had always been able to do damage control among her friends whenever a minor misunderstanding occurred and she was always considered the mediator between many of her friends when they needed to work things out. Zeina’s theory about this was that even if it didn’t work out she could just walk away and never speak to the person again, but that idea caused a heavy tug on her heart. If this went wrong she didn’t want to walk away from Manaf and never speak to him again.

‘What if he was planning on ending it with her instead of talking it out?’ The thought hit Zeina like a truck and just before the panic could wash over her entire body the professor signaled that the class was over by walking out of the room. Zeina took more time than was necessary to gather her one notebook and adjust her top. Her hand beginning to shake she grabbed her bag and began making her way to where Manaf was waiting for her, a million negative thoughts went through her head as she thought of the worst case scenario possible.

Taking a deep breath she walked over to Manaf’s table, he looked up at her but didn’t smile, instead he looked back across the table and spoke at someone Zeina couldn’t see. As Zeina made her way through the crowd she began getting a clearer look at Manaf, he was sitting at a table for four, across from him the gorgeous girl from the Avenues sat; legs crossed, coffee mug in hand, she glanced over her shoulder at Zeina and gave her a tight indefinable smile. Zeina could feel the sound of her heart over the music that came from every corner of the place, for a second she contemplated turning around and making a run for the parking lot but she had already lost control of her legs and was walking like a zombie towards Manaf’s table. When she was standing right in front of them she opened her mouth to speak but no words came out.

“El salam 3alaikom” the girl gave Manaf a careful look before turning to face Zeina. She picked up her bag, which to Zeina’s great annoyance was another Hermes Birkin from the seat nearest to Zeina and pushed it out for Zeina to sit in. Tentativeley Zeina sunk into it still unable to speak, she continued to stare at her, throwing a few glaring looks at Manaf.

“Zeina, this is Dalal….Dalal, Zeina..” Manaf spoke finally gesturing from one girl to the other and then back again before leaning back obviously done talking.

“Awal shay lat3a9been…” the girl spoke directly at Zeina now, after Manaf had given her a nod of approval to talk, Zeina noticed that her voice was more delicate than any other woman she had ever spoken to, it was almost childlike but in an adorable way. “…bes tara Manaf gali 3anich o gali 3an ili 9ar bainkom. Manaf mithel ekhoy le9gheer o mosta7eel aftha7a aw aftha7 eli ye7ibhom fa nobody is going to know about this conversation..” She smiled at Zeina in a very sisterly way and Zeina felt herself loosening up at the words “ekhoy le9gheer..”

“okay…?” Zeina said finally finding her voice..

“Iboy o bu Slaiman rabi3 min 3omor o e7na we were practically raised together..” she turned to give Manaf a smile, his face didn’t change expressions. “o Manaf methil ekhoy, o ib nafs il wagt Manaf soon enshallah bekoon ekho rayli…” She beamed at the last statement.

Zeina immediately understood, this was Sulaiman’s fiancé. She could feel her cheeks redden with embarrassment which was immediately replaced with rage.

“Tara you could have said that min il bedaya…” Zeina snapped turning to Manaf who was smirking back at her now; the rage from within her began to rise until she felt tears stinging her eyes.

“Sorry es7ibich all the way here, all I wanted was an explanation..” Zeina turned to Dalal and spoke shyly.

“O by the way, hathy el Dalal il wa7eeda ili akalemha” Manaf added leaning in and staring at Zeina seriously, she gave him another nasty look and turned back to Dalal.

“Mabrook, I guess” she let out a nervous laugh not knowing what else to say to the stranger in front of her.

“alah ebarik ib 7ayatich wel faal lich inshallah” she said turning to Manaf and giving him a meaningful smile as she said the last part, Manaf laughed and turned to face away obviously men7irij by what she had said.

“anyway, kenna ana o Manaf ga3d enkhali9 some last minute stuff 7ag Sulaiman lana it’s his birthday 3igub bacher o bensaweela barbecue ib baitna o that’s the main reason I’m here. Dagaitla ams o kan 7ail met’thayeg o yoom sa2alta what happened gali ina fe wa7da shafita weyay o tethayigat o estaghraabt 7aaail …” her voice dripped dala3 as she spoke “ma la 3ada Manaf yehtam ib hal swalif. No3a ygool bel 6agag o yamshi, fa ana gelt akeed hal yedeeda hathy special..” she winked at Zeina and patted her hand gently, “fa if it’s not too uncomfortable with you I was wondering if after all this was cleared up etha you’d like to come to the barbeque, eta3arafain 3ala ahal Manaf o me ba3ad, ma abee we get off on the wrong foot, kha9atan bacher bel mostaqbal inshallah we’ll need each other to deal with Manafo o ekhooh il de3la.. I can’t handle them all by myself” she giggled teasingly.

Zeina felt herself blush at Dalal’s constant hints of the future; had Manaf already talked to her about marriage?

“Mashkoora wayed Dalal..” Zeina began not knowing how to answer her invitation, luckily she didn’t have to, Manaf did for her.

“Ra7 etyeen…” He told her, his mood had gotten better and a small smile was plastered on his face.

“Umm..okay, enshallah…” she smiled at Dalal, Manaf stretched his arm out and touched his hand over Zeina’s squeezing it for a minute before pulling it back to his lap.

“Heeyyaa..” Dalal clapped quietly smiling at Manaf and Zeina.

“Khala9 mu za3lana?” She asked Zeina, obviously caring if she was upset or not.

“La wala I’m not, o walla sorry for all of this Dalal, I feel bad for dragging you into this please la ta5theen fekra mu zaina 3ani…”

“Ubay bel 3aaaks..” Dalal interrupted her, her eyes widening with shock, “latgoleen chithee, your practically family o law mu elyoom chan soon we would have been introduced to each other fa its better we got it done sooner.” She said. Right then her phone began ringing, “weeh it’s Sulaiman, 6ayart’hom ew9alat!! Baroo7lihom el ma6ar..mara7 etyey?” She asked quickly standing up.

“embala dgeega wal7igich..” he told her.

“It was GREAT seeing you Zeina…” she emphasized, her words running together, “please please khal enshoofich bil barbecue okay!”

“Enshallah see you..” Zeina smiled as Dalal rushed out the door answering her fiancé with a squeal as she disappeared around the corner.

Manaf turned to Zeina and stared at her for a few seconds, Zeina couldn’t read his face.

“Za3lana?” He asked after a minute of silence.

“La2…bes the way you acted el bara7a sucked!” She told him pouting slightly and turning away. She wasn’t going to let him off that easily, Dalal had done all the work for him.

“Ee ams tethayagt ana min shaghla thanya, shaghla we need to talk about..” He told her. Zeina immediately knew what the shaghla was.

“Adry…I called him katha mara bes lail7ean ma rad 3alay. Awal ma he does I promise I’ll do it..” Zeina told him, her shoulders loosening. She hadn’t realized how tense she had been during Dalal’s presence.

“Law raad 3alaich chan sawaiteeha wela la2?” He asked her staring intently into her eyes. His gaze made a hole right through her and no matter how hard Zeina forced herself to stare back into his eyes, she could only manage to do so for a few seconds before the tension they caused became too forceful for her to handle.

“Of course..” she said shredding the napkin Dalal had left under her drink in front of her.

“Okay..” he replied.

“Wenta met’thayeg?” She asked him even though she knew she shouldn’t, she wanted to make sure there were no hard feelings before they left.

“La, bes ra7 atithayag if you don’t come to the barbecue..”

“Ee about that..” Zeina began, “eshbitgool 7ag ahalik?” She asked him.

“Bagoolihom ili tabeeni agoola, ana ma3indi mani3 I tell them the truth o introduce you 3adil, bes etha mayray7ich hal shay Dalal will say inich refeejat’ha o yaya 3ashanha..”

“Ah okay…” She told him, this made a lot of sense, and gave her no excuse to reject the invitation.

“Entay eshtabeeni agoolihom..” He asked her.

“Umm..refeejat Dalal please..just for now” she told him. She was too uncomfortable with being introduced as his girlfriend, at least not yet.

“3ala ra7tich” he smiled and touched her hand one more time. “7abeebti ana lazim amshi al7ean ahali tawhom wa9leen..” he grabbed his cell phone and began getting up, Zeina followed suit.

“garat 3ainik..” She said picking up her bag.

“Eb wayh nebeyich..” he replied opening the door for her and walking her to her car.

“Adeglich ba3dain okay 7abeebti” he told her closing her car door behind her.

As Zeina began adjusting her seatbelt her mobile buzzed with a message, Zeina couldn’t recognize the number.

991xxxxx: “Hi it’s Dalal, save my number 7ayati o I’ll send you 3inwan baitna now ;*…”

Zeina sped towards the Avenues to shop for an outfit her jaw hurting her from the wide smile on her face that wouldn’t go away.

Friends, LOVE, Relationship »

[16 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on Once upon a Beep in Bahrain.. pt 16 | 5 views]

7.30 pmBeep: am outsideBeepBeep..BeepBeep: coming..!!!!!!!!Dalal ran downstairs, she passed the living room where her parents were sitting watching TV. “3ala ween Baba??” her dad asked in genuine concern”kill my self in like you do in the garden every …

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[15 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 19: Confrontation | 2 views]

Zeina’s mother woke her up at around 10 in the morning.

“Goomay youma, yala benterayag” she told her lovingly patting her shoulder. “thab7ich hal telifon! Mu zain et7i6eena yamich cham mara agoolich…” Her mother instantly began nagging over the phone that had fallen near Zeina’s head after her last conversation with Manaf.

“Youma, khaleeh…mafeeha shay” Zeina muttered groggily trying to open her eyes and take the phone out of her mother’s hand. After her mother left and shut the door Zeina made her way to the bathroom to wash up, already beginning to go over the conversation she was going to have with Faisal later on in the day. Just before heading down for breakfast she called Manaf, he answered immediately.

“Haaa?” He whined on the phone.

“Affaa..chithee yridoon 3alay?” Zeina replied looking for a hair band to tie her hair with.

“sheno? Meno?” He asked obviously confused. Zeina didn’t answer him smiling at the way he got so disoriented when he woke up. She could imagine him tied up into his covers, his eyes closed tight, trying to put sentences together while half of him was still deep in sleep.

“Zayoon?” He said after a moments silence.

“Ee…akhaleek etkamel noomtik?” She said, not really asking him.

“Tabeen shay?” he asked

“La salamtik, call me lama teg3ad okay?” She smiled and as he gave her an incomprehensible grunt she hung up. She dialed Faisal’s number next, it was turned off. Not wanting to lose her nerve she found his Kuwaiti number that he took with him everywhere and called it as well…it was off as well. Feeling a bit relieved she made her way downstairs and asked for French toast, something she had been craving since the night before.

After finishing her breakfast she got a call from one of her friends telling her about dinner at the Avenues. Zeina agreed, already bored with the shalaih. As time went by Zeina couldn’t help noticing that Manaf didn’t call her. Soon it became lunch time, and after lunch it became time for her to leave the shalaih before the sun set and he still hadn’t called. Zeina contemplated calling him and finally as she got into her car she dialed his number; it rang with no answer.

Zeina began wondering what he was up to that was keeping him so busy he had forgotten to call her but couldn’t come up with anything. As she drove back home alone in the car she decided to try Faisal again, taking a few breaths to calm her nerves she dialed his first number; still the phone was turned off. She tried his second line, it was still off too. Knowing Faisal she knew that this wasn’t something normal and a wave of nausea washed over her. Where could he be?

Eventually she made it to her house, pulling up to the driveway she grabbed her overnight from the back seat and made her way inside throwing it at the bottom of the staircase before running up it and into her bedroom. She tried Manaf one more time but he didn’t reply.

“Wainik?” She texted immediately throwing the phone on her bed and hitting the shower. When she came out she checked her phone revealing no missed calls or new texts. She decided to keep herself busy and called her friend asking her what time she should be at the Avenues, “Ba3ad sa3a o ni9…chithee..” her friend told her. Zeina knew that in Kuwaiti time, this meant at least two hours from now. She sat herself in front of her large mirror and took out the curler and began tackling her hair. In the background Mtv was playing the best of the 90’s and a chorus of some boy-band’s love song filled the room.

“Alaah, ayam il boy bands..” Zeina laughed to herself. As she finished her hair and moved to her makeup she couldn’t help but glance at her phone which had remained silent all day long; she began to feel uncomfortable and didn’t know who was causing the majority of it Manaf or Faisal. Remembering that she hadn’t texted Faisal she grabbed her phone and wrote out “Call me please..” before forwarding it to both his numbers not knowing anymore which one he was using.

A little over an hour later she was done, she had picked out her outfit and laid it out on her bed. She stared one more time at her phone and fought off the urge to call Manaf one more time. She threw her laptop onto her lap and began to waste time surfing the internet. A while later her phone rang, her heart soaring, she made a grab for it and stared at the screen hoping to see Manaf’s name; it wasn’t however, instead it was her friend.

“Yala 6el3ay..ana ib 6ereeji” her friend sing-songed. Zeina told her she’d be on her way in a minute and began to change hurriedly, running out of the door within minutes. She began making her way to the Avenues, texting her friend every once in a while asking her where they’d be sitting.


Zeina glanced at her phone for the hundredth time; in front of her sat four of her friends all chattering animatedly about the newly released Twilight movie. Zeina had read the book and was borderline obsessed with it and would have loved to join the conversation but the fact that neither Manaf or Faisal had answered her all day was making her so nervous she didn’t have the energy to speak. Instead she kept her mouth busy with tiny bites of Chocolate Bar’s Mini Cake, licking the white icing off of her lips with every bite. Her eyes barely left the screen of her phone and if she was forced to make eye contact with one of the girls she made sure that some of her attention was given to the side to be able to catch any sudden bright lights coming from her phone, unfortunately the phone remained lifeless on the table all through dessert.

“Yala banat ana asta2then, waray ga3da bacher o omy ebtithba7ni etha ma ga3adt weyaha gabil la anam..” one of the girls spoke getting up from the table.

“Salmay 3alaiha..” “Way ya7laila” the girls chorused after her. Zeina attempted a huge smile as she realized that the night was coming to an end and still no Manaf or Faisal. The other two girls excused themselves right after the first, stating they needed to pick something up from one of the stores before leaving.

“Ee ta3alay Zayoon, ana abi shay min the new Avenues..etyeen ma3ay?” The last girl sitting turned to Zeina. Not wanting to head home and be alone with her thoughts Zeina agreed. They began walking across the mall, tiny groups of men and women noisily chattered around them; some of them rudely crashing into Zeina but she didn’t care this time. She was too deep into her thoughts. She realized she was more upset with Manaf for not calling but more worried about Faisal. Eventually they made it into the new phase; “Ay ma7al tabeen?” Zeina asked her friend.

“Paul & Joe” She replied, Zeina followed like a zombie listening half-heartedly to her friends story about one of the arguments she had had with the salesman from another store. Once Zeina’s friend had finished picking out an outfit from Paul & Joe they headed out of the store; just then a man’s profile grabbed Zeina’s attention. He was a handsome man, standing a few meters in front of her, covered slightly by the moving crowd around him; he was staring down at his phone reading something. It took Zeina all of two seconds to recognize him… it was Manaf. Zeina’s eyes didn’t move from him as she watched him there standing alone looking around, as if searching. Suddenly his eyes met the object he was looking for; a tall, slender, beautiful woman. Her hair cascaded in thick honey brown layers to her back, her face shifted into a huge smile as she spotted Manaf and began walking towards him. Her features were perfect, big doe-eyes perfectly outlined with black kohl, red puffy lips, and the clear white skin of a baby. She wore skinny black jeans, a white top with a black vest over it, casual yet she still looked like a model. Delicately slung on her arm was the black Hermes Birkin bag; the one Zeina was dying to have. This bag was just the cherry on top of the huge sundae of dismay that Zeina had in front of her.

Her breath stopped midway up her lungs as she saw Manaf smile back and greet her. They were face to face now laughing and talking, completely comfortable with each other; a few seconds later Manaf led her towards one of the stores around the corner.

“Zeina shfeech!” A hand shook Zeina slightly but Zeina was too dazed to reply.

“Sheno? Mafeeni shay” She muttered, the lump in her throat was too large to allow her to saying anything else.

“Akeed, wayhich abyath!” her friend continued worried.

“La mafeeni shay, faj2a shab 3alay ba6ni madry laish…” she lied feebly beginning to walk in the opposite direction from the one that Manaf and the girl had taken. Her friend followed not knowing what else to do; they continued to the parking lot in silence, her friend glancing at Zeina every few minutes nervously but decided not to say anything. Zeina said goodbye as politely as she could as she headed towards her car and once she was safely inside she began breathing heavily trying not to hyperventilate.

This time she couldn’t call Sara.


11:45 pm

Zeina checked her phone, Manaf had called twice but she hadn’t picked up. She knew she should confront him but what if he told her something like “it was my sister..” and it wasn’t? He could easily lie to her and tell her it was someone he knew. No matter how much she wanted to trust Manaf, she kept remembering the warnings she had received about him, all aside from Dana who had defended him. But what if Dana was wrong too?

Zeina dialed Manaf’s number deciding she’d figure out what to tell him once she started talking to him.

“Hala bil ga63a..” He answered on the second ring.

“Hala feek..” She replied her voice lacking any kind of emotion.

“Shloonich..” He asked her, she could tell he was fiddling with stuff.

“Zaina, you?”

“Ana zain…shloon yoomich meta 7adartay min il shalaih?” He asked her not noticing her tone and Zeina was thankful for it. But suddenly an idea hit her.

“Ba3d el ghada beshway…enta shino sawait elyoom?” she asked him, this was his chance to confess.

“Mako, re7t avenues a5eth shaghla o ba3dain el dwaniya shwaya.. entay eshsawaitay?”

“Re7t avenues weya rab3ik?” She asked him ignoring his question.

“Yup.” He replied. Zeina’s heart sank.

“Ana kent ib avenues ilyoom ba3ad Manaf..” She told him fighting off the tears, it was at this point that her voice failed her and began quivering.

“La, sh3indich ehnaak?” He asked her, his voice had changed as well, it became alert and careful.

“Ta3ashait…o sheftik ihnaak, refeejik mashallah wayed jameel, china bint!” Zeina snapped letting go of all of her sense. Manaf paused for a second and took a deep breath.

“Zayoon..mu chithee il salfa..” He began but he was stuttering and obviously was at a loss for words.

“La shakelha chithee il salfa o akthar ba3ad…Manaf ana feeni il noom o banam. Bye”

“Zeina eshda3wa…khal entifaham.” He told her, but then kept quiet offering her no explanation.

“La o tabeeni adeg 3ala Faisal wagoola maykalemni ha! Wenta min waray cham wa7da ga3ed etkalem?”

“Zeina mu ga3d akalem ghairich..” he began, “o min ye6la3 Faisal?” He asked then immediately understood, “ah hathak..”

“Ee HATHAK…” Zeina’s voice rose considerably as she felt fury build up, she kept imagining the beautiful woman with him and the jealousy, like a monster inside her, began to grow. “O ashwani ma getla ywakher wela chan…”

“Sheno..” Manaf interrupted her, his voice had turned from stuttering to poisonous, “ma kalamtee lail7ean?” Manaf’s rage was unlike Zeina’s, he was quiet and collected but she could feel the venom dripping with every word he said.

“Laish agoola, ka enta ga3d etkalemli Dalal o te6la3li ma3a madry mino..” She continued, his sudden reaction to her last statement caught her off-guard, she hadn’t expected him to get angry she was prepared to be the only enraged person in this conversation.

Manaf didn’t reply for a few seconds but she could feel his angry breathing as he tried to regain control of himself.

“Momkin a3aref laish ma dagaitay 3alaih?” He asked her speaking through his teeth.

“taby taglib il salfa 3alay ana?!” Zeina defended herself, “eshrayek etgooli enta laish you’re lying to me o mino hal banat eli ib 7ayatik when you’re telling me I’m the only one. La o foog hatha taby etkoon the only one in my life ba3ad!” Big helpless tears began falling down Zeina’s cheeks as she tried to control the sobbing out of her voice.

“Zeina, rasi y3awerni baroo7 anam.” Manaf whispered into the phone.

“Fine” She muttered back disconnecting the phone; she threw herself onto her pillow and covered her face with her blanket then cried herself to sleep.

Dinner, Friends, party »

[15 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on Once upon a Beep in Bahrain.. pt 15 | 3 views]

Dedicated to Deewe have 2 days holiday and I promise I’ll post more 2moro, enjoy, waiting your comments ;)———————————————————————————If there was anything special about Dalal, it was her ability to …

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[14 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on BahStralian Jungle Part 9 | 2 views]

* Yasmeen *

I pressed the button on the intercom and sang as soon as he answered, “Ya Mo7ammed ya salam ya salam ba6il il baaab ya Mo7ammed…”
“3alaich ib 9oot Yasmeeno” and I heard him buzz us in. “Ma 3inda thoo8 hal insaan”

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[13 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on Did you know? [Part 2] | 1 views]

1 year, 6 months Earlier:

“Faj2etich ??? men meta 7a6a eb rasech tabeen tadreseen barah rayoona?” was the dreadful sentence Um-Nawaf had told her daughter while setting the dinner table. Um-Nawaf was an old-fashioned mother. She married her first cousin, and still complains about the Iraqi war. “Saddamo allah ekhesah” was the beginning of almost all of her conversations. Rayah was her youngest and only daughter after Nawaf. “Mama, 7ayati, sem3eeni” she said trying to butter her up.. “6oul 3omree 3aysha bel kwait yuma, derast hnee, 9ayaft hnee, o la safart, wain re7t? Dubai?? mama wedy ajareb el 3eesha barah, wedi ajareb a3temed 3ala nafsy for once” pleaded Rayah. After a long conversation, Um-Nawaf agreed to talk to Rayah’s father, and that was the little smidgen of hope that made Rayah run to her small room and dial the number she had dialed over a thousand times..”Barrak, Ga3ed?” she breathed into her phone, hoping he was…”Ee roro, shfeech?” his tender voice gave her Goosebumps.”Umy, qana3t’ha! el7ean el7ean ga3da etkalem uboy! mestaw3eb???” she whispered lying back on the fluffy pillows on her bed. “9ej walla??! enshalla yertha, goolay enshalla!” he chuckled. She can hear the happiness in his voice, and that made her happy.Barrak and Rayah had been in the same high school, for two years. Rayah was a year younger than him in school, but 3 years younger than him in age. She was 16 when he came into her life, he was 19. They hadn’t noticed each other the first year, but his senior year was different. All he could see was her; all she could think of was him. He cared for her in the many ways her father or any other man, for that matter didn’t. And when he told her that he had to study in the states, little Rayah promised to follow him when she graduated without thinking twice. She trusted Barrak, and she knew that she wanted to be with him..

[Naïve much? Rayoona, you should have known better 7abebti.. Men are pigs. You’re probably wondering who I am, you can call me the narrator, but that’s sooo grade 10 English class. You can hear me as an over-voice like the suicidal on desperate housewives, but for now, let’s just say I’m someone who can say “I told you so” later on…]

Rayah said her goodbyes soon shut the phone, afraid Nawaf would barge in and see her talking and get suspicious. Yes, Nawaf was the Overprotective kind of older brother. She laid her head softly on the pillows too excited to sleep. For soon, she’d be off to the states with the only person she wanted to be with, and not stuck in this little old bedroom with no privacy at all.

And, for the first night, in 17 years, little Rayoona slept with a light heart and a heavy head of thought…

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[13 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 18: Manaf’s Question | 2 views]

Ya nas whom I love very much .. sam7ooni 3al post leg9eer bes i’ve had a long day o mafeeni shada aktib akthar min chithee … enjoy ;*


Zeina tried to concentrate on her mother’s story as she glanced for the thousandth time at her mobile screen checking the time. It was a little past ten and she could barely keep her eyes open and she knew she’d have to wait another few hours for Manaf to get home and call her but she began to think that it wasn’t going to be possible. Excusing herself she said goodnight to everyone and headed to her room. Getting into her warm pjs and tucking herself under the covers she adjusted her ringtone on the loudest possible level so that it would wake her up when he called and closed her eyes to rest.

When she opened her eyes it was because of a noise blaring against her ear, startled she began fumbling with her phone to pick it up:

“Aloo..” she practically shouted into the speaker

“Hala..” Manaf’s voice spoke back, slightly taken aback by her tone, “shfeech nayma?”

Zeina glanced quickly at the screen it was 1:36 am, “la mensad7a” she replied throwing her head back against the pillows with a sigh, her heart still pounding from the sudden loudness of the ringtone that had jerked her awake.

“ah okay, shlon yoomich?” he asked. Zeina told him about having guests over, but left out who in specific, and raved about a new dessert she had tried vowing to try to make it for him sometime.

“laish te6bikheen?” he asked.

“la2, bes you’re going to eat it and like it” she laughed.

“qa9bin 3alay a9lan ..” he joked back, “enzain Zayoona mama, ana we9alt il bait khal abadil wakalmich ok… mu etnameen mani im6awel”

“Enshallah” she replied and disconnected her phone, she sat up to avoid falling back to sleep but Manaf didn’t give her a chance to fall back, within minutes he called her back.

“Mmmm…” he murmured instead of hello, the sound of the sink tap being shut off filled the background followed by a door slam.

“Mmm yourself..” she slid herself back under the covers and hugged an extra pillow she had lying next to her. “you wanted to ask me a few questions..” she reminded him.

“Ee I did…” he told her, the sound of ruffling cover sheets filling her ear as Manaf got under his own covers, a second later she heard a click of a lamp being turned off. “awal so2al?”

“Yala go ahead…”

Zeina closed her eyes hearing ever so loudly the silence of the shalaih which was now full of sleeping people, she smiled at an old line she had heard in a song once, ‘when at night everyone is asleep, only the lovers lie awake’ and thought of how it couldn’t be more true. Manaf’s voice was so clear in the silence and her imagination so powerful in the darkness surrounding her that if she closed her eyes and concentrated it was almost as if he was lying right beside her. At that moment she felt a wave of emotion so strong she couldn’t remember ever experiencing it before. She realized that the past few weeks had been spent in a bubble that held only her and Manaf; she had survived on him and him alone; if someone she had only just met was able to fill the voids in her life that belonged to Sara and Faisal, two people who took years to come into hers, what would happen when she spent a year with him? Ten? A lifetime.

She realized at that moment that when it came to Manaf, it would be enough for her just to listen to the sound of his breathing.

“Can we be honest with each other? Mahma sa2alna ba3ath, can we?” He asked her. Zeina understood where this conversation was going; they were about to lay out their cards. Admit to their pasts and discuss their future. Zeina had went through the exact same process with Faisal, except with him she had let him take the lead, tell her how he’d like things to be, and she was happy with whatever he had to offer her. This time Zeina wanted to do it right, she had decided to take a risk with Manaf and she wanted to be honest with him from the start. If he can’t handle it then maybe he wasn’t as great as she was building him up to be in her mind; but as she told herself these words of encouragement a tiny lump formed in her throat.

“I can, can you?” She asked him trying to sound confident.

“I can and I will…and to make it easier for you I’ll go first ba3ad. Bes only if you want to hear it…”

“I do..” she whispered, preparing herself for whatever was to come.

“Shoofay mara7 achatheb 3alaich, ana kalamt min gabil o 7abait. O eli 7abait’ha kent misti3id atizawaj’ha bes ma3a el wagt ektishaft ina kethir ma ana kent a7ebha kanat t7ib ghairi. 3a6ait’ha el for9a enha te5tar baini o baina o ma a7taj agoolich mino e5tarat…min ba3ad’ha ta3araft 3ala wayed banat o marat ydishoon galbi, bes wela wa7da feehom gdarat etnaseeeni 3an hatheek. Awal yoom sheftich feeh bil Office kent tawni shayefha o darait ina hathak ma khathaha, o e7tarait akthar lana bil nihaya ili saweta feeni 6ala3 7ag wela shay. Il mohim sheftich ihnaak o adry ma bayantlich 7azat’ha bes 3ajabteeni 3ala6ool bes a6la3 7mar itha 7awalt at3araf 3alaich 3igub il qahar ili shefta min hatheek. Kelish mu nage9ni ana. Bes ma3a il wagt kelshay taghayar, the more I knew you the more el anger seems to go away. Bdaal la afaker feech waqarnich feeha mithel baji il banat, 9ert afaker feech wansaha. O lately I’ve been wondering etha entay 3indich a7ad ib 7ayatich now…teradadt as2al lana it was none of my business. Bes now I want to make it my business o abeech et3arfeen ina I’m not talking to any other girls mithel ma atmana inich mu ga3da etkalmeen ay a7ad ghairi.”

Zeina tried to take in everything he said at once.

“What do you want me to tell you now?” She asked him, not knowing where exactly she should start.

“Adry inich 7abaitay min gabil Zayoon…bes abi a3aref where you stand right now when it comes to your old relationship and when it comes to me…”

“Manaf, you promise you won’t get mad and you’ll keep an open mind about everything I’m going to tell you 9a7?” She asked him fearfully.

“I do, abeech etgooleenli il 9ij no matter how bad you think it is..”

“ee 7abait.. o it ended a long time ago. Taqreeban min sena… bes the truth is reja3…”

“Raje3 yabeech ya3ni?”


“Wentay? Tabeena?” Zeina could feel the pain in his voice as he said this. How many times would he have to ask the women he loved this very question?

“I was confused for a while. Bes now…no ma abeeh.”

“Etkalmeena? On the phone ya3ni?”


“And what are you going to do about it?” He asked her. She was shocked at how diplomatic he was being about all of this; she had expected him to trick her into confessing then using it against her but he seemed to really want to talk it out; Zeina suddenly realized that this sounded like a negotiation, the one that adults got into in a civilized way.

“I’m ending it 6ab3an, I planned on doing so minziman, gabel la we have this talk, bes ihwa imsafer o I wanted to wait until he gets back”

“Uhaa…” he kept quiet for a second, “momkin a6lib minich 6alab?”


“Can you end it bacher?” he asked her. “3ashani.”

Zeina kept silent for a second thinking about what he had just asked. He had every right to ask it of her and she wasn’t going to do anything she hadn’t planned on doing in the first place.

“Enshallah.” She answered finally.

“Mashkoora..” He whispered.

“you’re welcome…” She answered immediately beginning to feel nervous about the conversation she was going to have with Faisal tomorrow. “mafee any other questions?”

“Embala two more…the one I’ve waited so long to ask” he laughed.

“Ee ee .. yala ask!” She started giggling, she was relieved to know now that the question wasn’t something she would be nervous talking about since they had gotten everything out in the clear now.

Manaf took a deep breath and Zeina paused in the middle of hers waiting for him to continue.

“Et-hagain ra7 tegdireen et7ibeen akthar minah?”

“Yeah…I think so..” she replied, honestly believing her answer. “So2al ghareeb..”

“I’ve never thought I could love anyone kether’ha .. until I met you…fa I know how hard awal 7ob is to get over. I need to know you can..”

“I can…and I have already Manoof..” Zeina told him confidently.

“ekhli9…9ert Manoof” He chuckled.

“Ee laish mamnoo3?”

“La bel 3aks…”

“Enzain sheno so2alik el thany?” She asked him blushing.

“Is it too early to start buying you gifts?” He asked. Zeina’s heart fluttered at the unexpected question.

“Ee..enta hadeeti o you’re more than enough” She told him.

“Khaleeni ana I decide what’s enough for you ha mama” Manaf replied.

They spent the next hour talking before Zeina began to doze off mid sentence…

“Yala namay Zayoon o kalmeeni awal ma etgomeen ok..”

“Mmmm…” Zeina mumbled in response.

“O please Zayoon…la tensain what you have to do bacher ha?”

And with that Zeina promised him again to do the one thing he had ever asked from her and shut her phone off immediately drifting off to sleep.

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[12 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 17: Dalal’s Story | 1 views]

Zeina awoke to find the one missed call from Manaf, not knowing if she was relieved he had even called or disappointed because it was just once she threw her phone to the side and threw her pillow over her head muffling her cries of frustration. Should she confront him? Tell him she had overheard him talking to a girl? But so what? He wasn’t her husband, he didn’t owe her any explanations! He hadn’t promised her anything to betray her trust! And that Dalal! “Stupid, stupid Dalal!” Zeina muttered taking her head out from under the pillow before she suffocated.

It was the weekend and she would be heading out to the Shalaih soon, her mother liked going first thing in the morning instead of the day before. Getting up she threw her overnight bag on the bed and began thinking of what to wear. She knew it was a day for over-sized sweaters and ice cream. She wondered what Manaf would be doing today, and she began to consider calling or texting him; she knew though that she shouldn’t, and more importantly that Sara would crucify her if she did!

Buy why would she ignore him? He hadn’t technically done anything wrong! But he was interested in her wasn’t he? He wouldn’t be doing all this if he wasn’t! All this time spent together and all this attention?

“If only this relationship was defined!” She muttered to herself wiping her wet face with a small towel. Just then it hit her, maybe it should be defined! She needed Manaf to tell her exactly what he wanted out of this! Then she could confront him about anything she wanted to. But how was she going to get him to do that?

“Hi Manaf 9aba7 el khair, listen quick question….do you love me?” She muttered sarcastically to herself as she threw her largest sweater into the bag. Just as she was tossing her Crocs in her phone began to ring; it was Manaf.

“Okay, you’re going to answer him, you’re going to find out by the end of this weekend if he’s in it for a relationship or not, and Sara is never going to find out!” She told herself before answering the phone.


“9aba7 el khair” Manaf answered her groggily.

“9aba7 el noor” Zeina noticed that she was much less cheerful than usual and as hard as she could she knew she couldn’t go back to being normal with him. She continued to walk around her room, rummaging in one of her drawers.

“Esh’hal z3aaj, what’re you doing?” He asked her turning in his bed, something crashed on the floor. “a77777…” his voice became slightly higher.

“Sheno hatha?” Zeina asked stuffing the last of her clothes in her bag and zipping it up.

“3oodi” He muttered back.

“Oh..” Zeina was left breathless for a few seconds; she snapped out of it the minute she heard her mother calling for her, it was time to go.

“Manaf, ana baroo7 el shalaih al7ean omy na6ratni..” she told him.

“Okay..” he answered fiddling with the 3ood.

“enta sheno betsawee?” She couldn’t resist asking.

“madry ma qarart, tabeeni agoolich lama I do?” He asked her, his voice had gotten lower and he was obviously nervous.

Caught off guard Zeina didn’t know how to respond, so she responded the best way she could…stupidly.

“Umm…madry…laish? mu ela!” She stuttered.

“Madry gelt yemkin tabeen et3arfeen wain akoon ana?” He tried explaining.

“Enta taby etgooli?” She asked him.

“Ee abi… o ham abeech entay itgoleenli” He murmured skeptical about the way she was going to react.


“Okay, I’ll tell you if you tell me..” Zeina teased.

“I’ll tell you…always” He whispered relieved.

Zeina’s mother called out to her one more time.

“Enzain Manaf I really have to go now ..”

“Okay take care..” and with that they hung up. Zeina grabbed her overnight back, her hand bag, and a hair tie before running down the stairs. She was wearing a light purple half sleeve juicy training suit and a large dark purple bag to go with it. Pulling her hair up in a pony tail she threw her bag into her back seat and got into the car waiting for her mother to get into the passenger’s seat.

“Ma abi at2akhar..” Her mother began saying as she fought with the seat belt, “3azma nas 3al ghada…”

“Meno?” Zeina asked

“Khaltich so3ad o banat’ha, Um Nasser Al Flani, Khaltich Maryam, o Um Jassem o banat’ha” She told her. Zeina immediately hit the brakes, both their bodies lurched forward then crashed into the seats behind them.

“Bsmilla shfeech!” Her mother asked leaning to see outside the window at the street.

“Um… my shoe slipped off..” Zeina muttered thinking on the spot, she began driving again chewing nervously on her lower lip. The rest of the drive was filled with Zeina’s mother’s chatter as Zeina tried to suppress the jealous rage that was building up inside of her; from the corner of her eye she saw her mobile blink with a new message but didn’t dare touch her phone while driving in front of her mother.

Twenty minutes later Zeina pulled into her family’s shalaih and parked in front of the door, her mother got out of the car amid screams of greetings from Zeina’s little cousins; Zeina took this opportunity to check her message, like she had hoped it was from Manaf:

“Zayoonti, ana baroo7 atghada bara weya weld 3ami ;*”

Zeina couldn’t help but smile at the message, she felt a warm sensation fill her entire body; she wanted Manaf badly, and she wanted him all to herself! This was a good step forward in their relationship, maybe the next one will come up soon. Stuffing the mobile in her front pocket she made her way into the shalaih. She made her rounds saying hi to everyone, kissing the people she needed to kiss, then threw herself on the couch facing her family. A little less than an hour later the guests began arriving, luckily for Zeina, Um Jassem and her daughters were the first to arrive. Dalal, naturally, sat herself next to Zeina the person she knew the best out of the rest, even though she barely knew her.

“Shloonich!” Dalal began talking immediately about one of her cousins’ upcoming wedding describing her dress and the way she wanted to style her hair. Zeina nodded and said “alaah” at all the right times but deep down she couldn’t help but fume. She’s so fake, she thought to herself. O her dress isn’t going to be nice! She tried to make herself feel better although she knew Dalal had a great style when it came to fashion and whatever she picked would probably look stunning. That little fact didn’t help Zeina as she tried to hate the woman sitting in front of her.

Just then, just when Zeina had thought up a good excuse to allow her to get up and head to her room for a while, Dalal mentioned the name that made Zeina’s entire body freeze with fear, “ta3alay, shlon et3arfeen Manaf Al Flani?” She asked her. Zeina racked her entire brain for a good answer to that but she couldn’t think of anything; in fact she couldn’t even remember her name anymore.

“Umm..ma3ana bil jam3a..” she attempted feebly.

“Ee adree..bes 7ag 9aifi 9a7?” Dalal asked, she looked completely cool and collected and Zeina had no clue how she could have managed.

“madry wala..” She mumbled toying with her mobile.

“Ashoofich weyah bil jam3a, kelyoom teg3idoon ma3a ba3ath..” Dalal continued innocently but Zeina knew she had an agenda.

“Ee wetha?” She shot back, it was time she ended this conversation, the way it was headed was making Zeina umcomfortable.

“deeray balich minnah..” She continued not meeting Zeina’s eyes.

“Laish?” Zeina took the bait foolishly and allowed Dalal to continue.

“Kan ykalem wa7da a3arfha… he cheated on her. Y3aref 7ag il banat ihwa, bes ebsir3a ymil.. fa na9ee7ti wakhray 3anah gabil la ymil minich” She said slyly this time meeting her eyes. Dalal’s eyes were filled with rage, even more rage than Zeina could have mustered up herself.

“Eli yesmi3ich ygoool ini akalma..” Zeina replied faking a laugh.

“Tabeen il 9ij, it looks like you do” Dalal smiled innocently before getting up to pour herself some tea. Zeina didn’t wait for her to return she grabbed her phone from her lap and stomped to her bedroom. Tears stung her eyes and she had no idea why she was crying; she had thought Dalal was the victim in this whole thing when Manaf had left her, but now it was so obvious that Dalal was marking her territory which meant that there still was something between her and Manaf and considering the way Manaf had run away when he saw her coming that day on campus, Manaf didn’t plan on ending it with her anytime soon.

A knock on the door interrupted Zeina’s thought, she quickly wiped a tear from her cheek and turned to face whoever was coming in. It was Dana, the eldest daughter of Zeina’s aunt Maryam; Dana was also bent khalat Dalal. She was a little bit older than the two of them at 27 years old, she was married and had just had her second kid.

“Hala Dana shloonich” Zeina smiled politely. They would talk from time to time, and Zeina had confided in her once or twice, seeking her advice. Dana was the perfect mix of a young woman who knew what life was like for people their age in their generation, and at the same time had the wisdom of an older woman who was married and had more experiences then her.

“7abeebti e9eer akalmich..” Dana whispered shutting the door behind her.

“Ee sure..” Zeina answered sitting in bed and patting the empty spot beside her, she tried her best to fake a smile.

“sema3t Dalal etkalmich 3an Manaf Al Flani…” Dana began looking straight at Zeina trying to read her reaction.

“Ee..she was warning me..” Zeina replied curiosity filling her up.

“Goleeli eshgalatlich bil thab6 7abeebti..” Dana said patting Zeina’s shoulder in a motherly way. Zeina felt the tears begin to rush back, she loved the way Dana always made her feel comfortable and how she could always trust her. Immediately Zeina repeated everything Dalal had told her just minutes ago. After she had finished Dana dazed off deep in thought then took a deep breath and turned her focus to Zeina.

Hal 7ayah…” she muttered, “Zayoon 7abeebti.. entay sam3a 3an ili 9ar bainha o bain Manaf 9a7? Eshlon kanaw i7ibon ba3ath ba3dain tarak’ha?” She waited for Zeina’s reply. Zeina nodded her head, pulling her knees up and hugging them protectively around her body. She didn’t think she could handle another lecture about staying away from Manaf, especially if it came from Dana.

“It’s all a lie..” Dana continued, Zeina’s eyes widened with shock but she didn’t dare interrupt her, “ekhta refeejti 7ail o 9adgeeni that’s not how it happened! Manaf 7abha o hal 7ayah ga9at 3alaih! Adry inha bint khalty bes wala hal bint ma3refaw ishlon eraboonha. Kanat etkalem 2 guys ghaira tadreen! O yoom wa7d minhom qarar yatrik’ha gamat ga6at nafs’ha zyada 3ala Manaf 3ashan et7ira, lain il walad maskeen 9adag’ha o khaf yakhsir’ha o aqna3 ahala yakh6iboonha lah! Gam hathak reja3laha yoom dara…o el ghabiya hadat hatha Manaf o ra7atla raketh! 6ab3an she got what she deserved hathak had’ha ba3ad shahar o kha6ab bent 3ama. Matat ila shwaya Dalal! Rja3at 7ag Manaf tabchy wetirajah..bes ahala ma khalooh yerja3laha! Gamat hathy o khalty alah yhadeehom e6al3oon 7achy 3an il rayal o 9arat Dalal il maskeena il mathlooma! 7ayah wala!”

Zeina tried to swallow the lump that was forming in the back of her throat as Dana told her the story.

“Ma a9adeg” she whispered when Dana had finished.

“Ee ekhar3oon! Bes ihya laish kalemtich al7ean? Goleeli il 9ij Zeina entay itkalmeena?”

Zeina thought for a second, trying to word her answer in a right way.

“La technically I don’t, I mean we’re friends o we’re getting to know each other bes yoom sema3t salfat Dalal kheft akhaleeha it becomes anything more than that..” Zeina replied. It was a good balance of the truth without admitting that she was in love with the man and wanted a relationship with him.

“Shoofay, ihya etha 7asat ina bainkom shay ra7 ye7la eb 3ainha again o hal maynoona alah yaster minha matadreen what lengths she will go to. Deeray balich 3ala nafsich o 3ala sem3itich…no guy is worth your reputation ha sweety” Dana said holding Zeina’s hand between hers. “Bes il rayal khosh wa7d, I would know…o ma3alaich min kalam il nas. Just please be careful” With that Dana got up and began making her way towards the door.

“Dana..” Zeina called after her getting up from the bed and following her, “Mashkoora wayed” She hugged her tightly.

“el 3afo 7abeebti…I knew a Dalal once in my life, o kharebat shay wayed zain 3alay. Anyway I have no regrets, I have my husband now. Enshallah you’ll be as happy and as settled down as I am soon. Ma3ina it doesn’t get any easier…” Dana laughed and Zeina joined her. They began walking out of the room together and joined the rest of the family and guest at the table for lunch. Dalal didn’t remove her eyes from Dana or Zeina, who shared secret glances and smiles, during the entire meal.


As it got darker and some of the guests began to leave Zeina went to retrieve her phone which she had forgotten in her bedroom since her long talk with Dana. Picking it up she found a missed call from Sara and a message from Manaf.

“Eshda3wa Zayoon nasyatna ilyoom” It said. She dialed his number immediately.

“Hala Hala..” Manaf answered on the second ring.

“Ana ansaak Manaf? 3aaib 3alaik..” She teased him.

“La wala nasyatni… goleeeli mino le7mar ili imlaheech 3ani khal a6iga” Zeina laughed before asking him where he was.

“Shway o baroo7 il dwaniya” he replied, “wentay eshga3da etsaween?”

“Wala nothing, kent ga3da weya ahali dashait akalmik o barja3lihom ba3d eshway…”

“Enzain ra7 akalmich elaila?” He asked her; it was unusual for him to ask, usually it was her asking him.

“Ee akeed, laish feek shay?”

“La bes kent abi as2ilich a few questions..”

“Ask me now” she told him, already too curious to wait.

“La abeech etkooneen fathyatli o ba3dain ana lazim amshi soon, fa elaila a7san..”

“Khala9 3ala ra7tik, by the way is one of the questions going to be the one that you’ve been waiting so long to ask?” She asked him.


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[11 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 16: Manaf’s Past Becomes His Present | 1 views]

Later on that week at around midnight Zeina began getting ready for bed, she changed into her comfy pjs and washed up throwing herself into her bed and turning on her TV; she would curl up with a DVD for a while. It had become habit for her and Manaf to speak every night and she no longer had to ask him if he would be calling. Having already somewhat memorized Manaf’s schedule she knew that today he’d be calling within the hour. As if on cue, twenty minutes later her phone began to ring; muting the DVD she glanced at its screen…It wasn’t Manaf. Her heart pounding she read the long number blinking, she recognized the area code; the call was from London.

Her hand shaking she picked it up ready to answer, she hadn’t spoken to Faisal since he had left…she had avoided messaging him and was relieved when he didn’t attempt to message her. She knew however that eventually she’d have to face him, and the time had finally come.

“Aloo..” she answered trying to sound casual.

“Hala.” His voice was obviously upset.

“Hala feeek…shfeek are you okay?”

“Yeah fine, you?” He was forcing the words out of his mouth and Zeina noticed his tone; he was enraged but trying to sound calm.

“Ana zaina, bes adry ina feek shay tell me” She knew what he was about to say, she knew he was upset that she hadn’t called him but in her own defense she had nothing to say to him yet.

“Chinich mu im9adga 3ala Allah ini safart o khalaitich” He snapped at her, Zeina wasn’t in the mood for a fight and she really had missed him and hated to upset him or hurt him.

“Wala it’s not like that Faisal…bes I’ve been really busy with summer classes”

“Mmm..” her murmured unconvinced and Zeina didn’t try to defend herself anymore. “Enzain what have you been doing?” He asked her, his voice becoming gentler.

“Wala mako, jam3a o el bait…sometimes I go out..”

“Wain etroo7een, akeed you’ve been bored with Sara out of the country 9a7?” He said and she could feel a smile forming on his face, she began to realize how happy he was to be talking to her.

“Ee wala I miss her wayed! Bes it’s a chance for me to see some of my other friends…enta shakhbarik? How’s London and work?” Just then her phone beeped with Call Waiting, glancing at the screen she saw Manaf’s name; he let it ring twice before hanging up and a knot began to form at the pit of Zeina’s stomach.

“Wala tabeen il 9ij not good, ga3d yakrifooni ihnee o ma3ini a7ad. Ryoogi, ghaday, o 3ashay ibroo7i ib hal findiq” Zeina could feel the depression in his voice, it was obviously hard for him being there all alone with nothing but work to wake up for and an empty hotel room to return to. He had probably spent every night waiting and expecting a call from her, trying to hold out as long as he could before calling her.

He was licking his wound now, trying to tell himself that it was all in his head and that she really was busy and hadn’t forgotten about him. Guilt took over her entire body and she pushed the plan to get him off the phone as soon as possible to the back of her mind, she would stay on the phone with him for as long as he needed her, she told herself.

About an hour later, amid a heated debate over whether London’s weather was nice or not, Manaf called again. This time he let it ring once before hanging up and the knot in Zeina’s stomach grew bigger and tighter, she knew this didn’t look good but there was nothing she could do about it.

Thirty minutes later Faisal wrapped up the conversation by telling her she needed her sleep. “It was great hearing your voice Zeina, please la teg6i3een..”

“Enshallah Faisal” she promised him, vowing to text him at least once a day even though she still didn’t know what she would be doing about their issue; whatever she decided to do however shouldn’t stop her from giving him her shoulder to lean on when he was alone and out of the country. She glanced at the time as the call disconnected, it was a little past 2 am. She was sure Manaf was sleeping by now and she had no idea what to do, finally she decided to send a simple text:

“Sorry, my friend dagatli min Amreeka 3indaha problem. See you bacher.”

She felt guilty for lying but there wasn’t anything she could do. The minute Faisal was back she would clear everything up with him and she wouldn’t have to lie to any of them anymore. With a heavy heart she fell asleep.

The next day it was Zeina’s alarm that woke her up and not Manaf’s call, disappointed she checked her inbox to find zero messages and there weren’t any missed calls either. She dialed his number and waited for him to pick up but he didn’t, so she got up and began washing and dressing for class, if he didn’t answer her call he’d have to face her on campus she told herself trying to feel better. Minutes later however her phone rang and she ran out of the bathroom to pick it up, to her relief it was Manaf.

“9aba7 el khair..” he said groggily. So he hadn’t ignored her call, he was just sleeping she told herself comfortingly.

“9aba7 elnoor..” She replied, pulling open her closet door. “Ha 3indik anything special planned for today? 3ashan a3aref shalbis”

“Nope.” He replied shortly. Taken aback Zeina didn’t know what to reply; was it in her head or was his response a little dry? Manaf didn’t give her a chance to reply anyway and told her in the same tone as before “ana mabi at2akhar lazim agoom abadil” and with that the phone disconnected.

Zeina worried the entire drive to the university and had no idea what to tell him when she saw him, deep down she was kind of upset, he had no right to get pissed at her because she was on the phone all night and had ignored him. Maybe it really was an emergency, and she had every right to talk at all hours of the night if she wanted to! She prepared her little angry speech as a wave of nervousness hit her when she saw his white car parked in front of her. She parked a few cars down and got out. She began walking to class not wanting to call him first and praying he’d call her before the class started; he didn’t, instead he texted.

“Zeina, an6erich bel gahwa when you’re done.” It said. She couldn’t tell what his tone was like since it was a text and decided to wait and see for herself. Shockingly though, when she got to the gahwa he was waiting and smiling, maybe it’s all in my head? She thought to herself returning his smile nervously and taking her regular seat in front of him. Every day since their first day at the coffee shop Manaf had surprised her with a new drink and she eagerly took a sip of the one in front of her; it was lemonade. She smiled approvingly and leaned back.

“Ha enshallah gedartaw et7iloon moshkilat refeejtich” He asked innocently. Zeina cursed herself for freaking out, 9ij ina when you’re guilty you feel like the whole world knows your secret, she told herself.

“Ee el7imdila, it’s not that serious though bes ehya daloo3a shwaya” Zeina lied. “So how was class?” She quickly changed the subject. He didn’t ask anymore questions but began fidgeting with his pocket to take out his ringing phone. Usually he answered his phone in front of her but this time he silenced it and put it upside down on the table to hide the screen.

“Tegdar etrid 3alaih” Zeina told him politely.

“La 3adi, it’s not important..” and with that he gazed away for a long time. “Mabi il 9aif ykhali9 et9adgeen”

“Wela ana…ra7 etrid ma9er?”

“Ee, last semester” He smiled proudly. “Ra7 tolheen 3alay etha re7t?”

“Laish mara7 akalmik?” Zeina asked panicking, embarrassingly the shock registered in her voice and face. Manaf laughed at her reaction.

“La akeed ra7 etkalmeeni, bes mara7 ashoofich kether ma ana abi, ebroo7a al7ean ashoofich kelyoom o ma ashba3!”

“Oh” she lowered her face in embarrassment; she was never one to hide her reactions well.

Manaf’s phone rang again and he silenced it one more time. Behind Manaf, Zeina spotted a girl waving at her, it was one of her old friends asking her to come over, “Manaf dgeega warja3lik ok?” She told him getting up slowly, he glanced back, spotting her friend then nodded understandingly.

Zeina walked over to her friend and hugged her, “Zayoon minziman 3anich!” Squealed the girl, “Esh’hal 9edfa we’re both taking 9aifi! Shlon your classes?”

“wala tamam, and yours? Zain shefnach!” Zeina tried her best to be polite and not sound hurried.

“Ana il 7emdila ib khair o my classes are great. By the way Zayoon 3indi natharatich ib sayarti nasyat’hom 9arlich almost shahar! Ta3alay e5theehom I’m going there now.” Nodding Zeina followed her to the parking spotting Manaf’s eyes on her she lifted her index finger gesturing that she will be back in a minute. Zeina chatted the whole way to her friend’s car, took her glasses and began heading back.

As she made her way to the coffee shop she saw that Manaf was making a call, slowly creeping up behind him as to not make any noise she heard what he was saying, “Dalal, mama, have I ever given you a reason to doubt me? Getlich I’ll get it for you, elyoom aroo7 il 9al7iya.” He paused for a few seconds listening, “enzain..Dalool, ana weya il shabab al7ean etkhaleeni adeglich awal ma a6la3?” And with that he hung up. Zeina immediately walked up to him trying to shake the shocked and hurt look off her face.

“Sorry re7t ayeeb shay min sayart’ha” she said in a weak voice.

“La 3adi, meno hathy?” He asked her smiling as if nothing had happened.

“Wa7da kanat ma3ay ib class last semester. Warak shay? Do you have to leave?” She asked him suspiciously.

“La2..” he said, his eyes were no longer on hers, instead they were looking behind her, squinting as if trying to make something out clearly. Zeina glanced behind her, what she saw choked her up, it was Dalal, Um Jassem’s daughter walking across the campus towards the coffee shop. Manaf’s eyes didn’t leave her as she got closer and closer.

“Actually Zayoon, I just remembered, 3indi shaqla lazim asaweeha, adeglich soon okay?” He hurriedly got up. It was the first time since she met him that he didn’t offer to walk her to her car. Zeina mustered up a smile but didn’t reply, and Manaf didn’t wait for her to…he began walking briskly making his way out of the coffee shop with large strides straining himself not to run.

Zeina didn’t know how she should feel, was everything that has been happening a nice little dream that was about to burst? Was she now about to see for herself how much of her mother’s words about this man were true? Had she just betrayed her best friend, her mother, and the man madly in love with hers’ trust? Zeina began to take a sip of her lemonade before it reminded her of Manaf, no longer craving it she pushed it aside and got up out of her seat tears beginning to sting her eyes. She’d need to get out of there before Dalal spotted her and came over to speak with her, she was too afraid of her reaction to allow that to happen. She almost jogged to the parking lot and began heading towards her car.

Once inside her car the silence made her thoughts turn into screams; she wondered if he was on the phone with her right now. Manaf had always not only walked her to her car but also called her the entire drive back or in some cases texted but today he had done none of those things. Her hand shaking slightly she began to dial his number, she held the phone to her ear waiting…
“The caller has another call..” The recording said.

A low sob escaped Zeina as tears began to flood her eyes. Could it be? Was Dalal back in his life? Maybe her mom had it wrong, maybe they got back together but Um Jassem hadn’t told her mother. A million thoughts raced through Zeina’s head as tears began to fall down her face. She wiped them away violently trying to gain her sight enough to at least see her way back to her house. Once she was in her garage she tried to calm her reddened eyes and nose pushing down the hysteria as much as possible. Sara would have been the first person she would go to in such a situation, but she was halfway across the world. The second person she could go to was her mother, but she would kill her if she found out how long this had been going on under her nose, and especially with a guy she didn’t approve of.

Trying her best to look natural she made her way into the house and excused herself to go upstairs and change. Zeina nervously thought of how to act when Manaf called, should she confront him? Should she pretend nothing happened? Should she ignore?

Finally her emotions became too strong for her to endure and she dialed Sara’s number; it was time she was honest with her friend. Sara only needed to say “aloo” for Zeina to burst back into tears. The comforting sound of her best friend opened the flood gates and Zeina poured her heart out confessing to every single 7arf that took place between her, Manaf, and Faisal. Sara listened quietly without saying anything; Zeina knew Sara wanted to yell at her, to tell her she deserved it. She had warned her that the guy was no good, that she was making a mistake, and by the time she realized it she’d be too deep in love with him not to get hurt. But Zeina’s tear filled voice broke Sara’s heart and she couldn’t bear to yell at her, especially with the fact that they were so far apart from each other.

“Zayoon, I know this is hard, but you know what I think you should do? Khala9, wakhray 3an Manaf, if you don’t want to ignore him faj2a without an explanation just tell him you’re busy and start pulling away slowly or that the amount of time you’re spending together is inappropriate. Rej3ay 7ag Faisal, y7ibich o shareech! Work things out these few weeks and when he comes back start planning your wedding together. He’ll make you forget about Manaf soon enough” Sara told her softly.

Twenty minutes later, Zeina was somewhat less hysterical and her phone call with Sara came to an end.

“Salmay 3ala khalty” she said to Sara as she hung up. She wondered what she would tell Manaf when he did call back, but as more and more time went by she began to fear him not calling her at all. According to Manaf’s usual schedule he should be home and in bed now getting ready for his afternoon nap, which means that he’s either going to sleep without calling her which was unusual, or that he was out and wasn’t planning on taking a nap.

Not bearing the silence in her room Zeina grabbed her phone and contemplated who to call; finally she decided on Faisal. She had after all vowed to speak to him every day.
“Zayoonti” He answered her, happiness obviously filling his voice, “you kept your promise”

Her mind only half with Faisal she listened as he told her about his office stories and talked about the Stock Market, something he was passionate about but which Zeina understood none off. She agreed with everything he said as part of her waited exasperatedly for a beep to inform her of another incoming call.

None came.

Manaf did eventually call her that day, but not until a little past 1 in the morning; but by the time he did Zeina had already cried herself to sleep.

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[10 Dec 2008 | Comments Off on 15: Lesson #1 | 1 views]

Zeina opened her eyes to a noise coming from behind her, turning in her bed, she glanced groggily around for the source; seconds later she found it, it was her phone vibrating. Lighting up what little space it could, Zeina squinted, picking it up without reading the name on the screen, it would hurt her eyes too much to stare directly at the light.

“Aloo” she said sleepily.

“Goomay…” a man’s voice answered her, immediately she knew it was Manaf; his voice was filled with sleep more than hers was.

“Gawim nafsik awal” she joked burying her head under the sheets, she was too sleepy to wake up. She had spent the entire night on the phone with Manaf and he had promised to make sure she’d be awake for her class.

“Laish, mat7iseeni im9a79e7” he joked back moaning deep into his pillow, “abee anaaaaam…golay 7ag il shams etwakher!”

“Wakhray …wakhray..” Zeina whispered falling back to sleep.

“Heyy…Zeina… Zayoona…gooomay!” His voice got louder and Zeina jolted up from the noise.

“Enshallah, enshallah” she said pushing the covers aside, “enta ba3ad goom, lat6oofik mu7athartik..”

“Et6oofni mu7atharti kaifha…bes mat6oofni Zayoon” he said pulling himself up in bed. Zeina beamed at what he said, she was beginning to realize just how hard she was falling for Manaf, and she couldn’t help the fear that settled in her stomach the more she fell in love with him. The more she got attached, the harder it would hurt if something bad happened.

“Degeeli lai rekabtay il sayara..” he told her before hanging up. Zeina ran to the bathroom, Manaf hadn’t given her enough time, girls got up much earlier for classes than guys did, they had way more to do before it, and Manaf had woken her up at boys’ time!

Pulling out several jeans from her closet she began contemplating her outfit; picking out the lightest pair she had and matching it with a pink Juicy t-shirt; she wanted to go casual for whatever Manaf had planned for her, not wanting him to think she was a girly-girl who had to get dressed up for everything. Putting on white Chanel ballerina shoes and grabbing her white bag from the day before she ran out of the room, seconds later she ran back…she hadn’t even looked at her hair. Quickly running a comb through it she began to think of her options, finally she decided to complete the look with a tidy pony-tail; when she was done she ran out of the door for the last time. She didn’t wait to get into the car before dialing Manaf’s number, which she had memorized already.

“Ahlan ahlan…” He spoke into the phone, obviously expecting her call; she could hear a car’s radio in the background, he was already on his way.

“Haa wain we9alt?” She asked him her engine beginning to purr, she turned the AC on to the highest, “7ar moot..” she muttered. He chuckled and Zeina smiled to herself, his laugh made the butterflies in her stomach dance.

Minutes later she pulled into the university parking lot looking for his car, finding it she parked near it and they got out together. Manaf was wearing black training pants and a red polo; he was holding a large 5-subject notebook like it was as light as a sheet of paper, his mobile and car keys in his other hand. Zeina waited for him to catch up and they began walking towards the entrance, as they walked Manaf leaned over taking her textbook out of her hand and holding it for her. At the center of the campus they split up, Manaf telling her he’d wait for her in his car when they finished, she nodded and headed to class.

A little over an hour later Zeina rushed out of class and made her way to the parking lot, strands of her hair had come loose from how much she played with it during class; she was very nervous and didn’t have anything else to play with. Manaf was in his car, music blasting, car seat pushed all the way back so that he was in lying position; Zeina knocked on his window and he shot up in his seat. He adjusted the seat and pressed the unlock button at the same time,and Zeina got in the car, leaving the door open; Manaf lowered the volume of the radio and smiled at her.

“Bas2ilich so2al..” he told her.

“Hatha el so2al ili getli 3ana? Eli betkhisha 7ag ba3dain?” She asked him.

“Laa yuba eshda3wa Zayoon, khair shar magdar as2ilich shay ya3ni?” He argued, Zeina laughed and waited for his question.

“Goleeli shetkhafeen mina?” He turned his body towards her and placed his hand on the steering wheel gazing intently at her. Zeina paused to think..

“Umm..sharks, I guess. And heights…o umm, wayed ashya2..”

“Sharks…Heights..” he whispered to himself nodding and staring at the steering wheel, “o ba3ad?”

Zeina paused nervously, not knowing if she should tell him what her biggest fear was, she decided to go ahead and do it, her relationship with Manaf was unlike any other she had had and she had decided to take risks this time, even if it failed. She would at least look back at this 30 years from now and say that she tried to have an unconventional relationship with a new and mysterious man, with no walls around her, no more playing games or keeping secrets.

“I’m afraid of having my heart broken..” she whispered. Manaf’s head shot up and his eyes were filled with shock at her statement…it was obvious he wasn’t expecting what she had said. He stared at her, not looking away for a long time and Zeina stared back. The hot air touching the back of her neck from the open door mixed with the cold air hitting her face and chest from the blaring AC in front of her, it sent a shiver up her spine and she shuddered slightly. Not moving his gaze from her face and immediately picking up on her shiver he navigated his fingers toward the AC button and switched off, eyes still on Zeina he leaned past her body and shut the door behind her.

“Shfeek Manaf..” she asked fearfully, the silence had gone on too long and she was starting to think she might have offended him with what she had said.

“How bad was it?” He asked her this time looking down at his hands.

“Bad was what?”

“The first time you got hurt.” He looked back up at her. Zeina paused with horror, she had not meant for the conversation to turn in this direction and she had nothing to say to Manaf on this topic.

“Manaf..don’t ask me hal as2ila” she whined turning away.

“Khala9 enshallah, I’m sorry” he collected himself and replaced his hands on the wheel, “enzain abee awadeech mokan… bes please lat7iseen ina I’m pressuring you in any way. Tegdereen tel7igeeni ib sayartich or you can ride with me…ili yray7ich” He told her.

Zeina thought for a few minutes, “Sorry, bes 3adi al7igik? Mu 3an shay wala…”

“Laaa!” He interrupted her, “la you don’t have to explain, ana abi ili yray7ich… khaleech close behind ok, I drive fast” he smiled and winked at her. When she was sure she hadn’t offended him she got out of his car and into hers, pulling out and following him out of the parking lot. Zeina had to be home for lunch which was almost an hour away and she had no idea where he was taking her, she hoped it wouldn’t take long although she wanted to spend much more than an hour with him.

Manaf wasn’t lying about his driving, Zeina tried her best to follow him as he weaved in and out of streets, from lane to lane, speeding at some parts then hitting the brakes heavily at others where she knew there were cameras eventually though she found herself on Gulf Road. He called her then and she picked up, “Tara we’re almost there ha…bes mu tekhtar3ain! O tara mu 3gaidi okay bes this is the only place bil kwait for this..unless 3adi 3indich etsafreen ma3ay?”

“Umm..I’ll settle for the thing bil kwait thank you..” Zeina replied laughing, “and what is the thing by the way?”

“Al7ean itshofeen yala yemeen..” He told her hanging up and turning his right turn signal on, Zeina copied him and turned into the lane next to hers, the only thing in front of her was Shi3ib park.

OH MY GOD – NO WAY! Zeina thought as Manaf’s car pulled into the Amusement Park’s entrance. Horror began to fill her entire being, how could he bring her to this place?! He parked his car and Zeina, still in shock parked next to him. Should she bolt? Should she tell him she had to go home urgently? In three huge strides he made his way to her car and opened her door.

“Mara7 ten7ashain” he told her grabbing her arm; it was as if he had read her thoughts.

“Manaf, what are we doing here?” She asked him, letting her shock and horror show in her face and voice. He reached over her, grabbed her bag and with a gentle pull she was out of the car, he led her back to his car, opening the trunk and placing her bag in it, “Telephonii..” she said as he closed the trunk.

“Ma te7tajaina..” he told her and began walking to the entrance.

“I wore jeans for this??” She asked him, he was still holding her arm and half dragging her.

“For part of this…one part..” He told her glancing around. Zeina let him lead her through the park, it was beyond empty, and eventually she was facing the thing he was guiding her towards; the large bungee jump ride that she had seen so many times from the streets as she drove past the park. Zeina slowly lifted her head up to see where it ended, but it took her a long time before she was able to see the top of it.

“Mosta7eeeeeeeeeeel” She told him pulling her arm out of his grasp and beginning to walk away, Manaf, without moving his feet leaned back, grabbed her from each side of her arms and half lifted her, half dragged her back to her original spot. He put his arm around her waist to stop her from running away as he began to talk to the man that ran the machine, he nodded something then pushed open a tiny gate ushering them in.

“La la ..tekfa Manaf” Zeina’s voice began to turn hysterical and she could feel tears forming behind her eyes, she was deathly afraid of a third floor balcony, and this ride’s height was something beyond death! Manaf kept quiet as she begged him to turn around and leave, his arm remained firmly around her waist keeping her from walking away. He waited a few more seconds before he began to tug at her body to follow him towards the ride, Zeina tried to plant her feet as hard as possible into the ground but her weight was no match for Manaf’s arm even, let alone his entire body. She began sliding forward, by now letting him carry her entire weight as numbness began to form in her legs from the fear.

“Manaf you don’t understand, wala akhaf.. I’m not joking, this isn’t fun kelish” She pleaded with him putting her hands on his chest and pushing him back, trying her best not to burst into tears and embarrass herself. Manaf took her hands into his one empty hand and looked down at her,

“Zayoon, it’s going to be okay don’t worry. Fe ashya2 lazim etjarbeenha mara ib 7ayatich 3al aqal.. Oo I’m with you…”

“We’ll DIE!” Zeina tried to instill some fear in him. He laughed at her desperate attempt..

“La fe cham shay I have planned for us to do before you can die..” He chuckled dragging her the last few steps before the entrance of the ride. Zeina’s heart began to pound and her throat got too dry for her to beg anymore; she let Manaf guide her into the center box and dress her up with the suit that was placed hanging. She closed her eyes as the sound of her heart began flooding her ears, she feared losing consciousness soon. Manaf stroked her back gently getting in beside her and strapping himself in, “this is nothing, don’t worry..” he told her soothingly.

Once they wore both strapped in the man got off the ledge and headed away, within seconds a noise filled Zeina’s ears and something tugged their body upwards, immediately Zeina let out shriek. Manaf burst into laughter beside her, “bsmilla Zeina! Ne6ray 3al aqal..my feet are still on the ground” he laughed at her. Looking down, Zeina realized he was right, only her feet were off the ground. The ride began and their bodies began moving backwards higher and higher into the air; Zeina grabbed Manaf’s hand and held on to it with as much strength as she could, tears began flowing freely.

“It’s okay” He whispered into her ear holding her hand tighter. Eventually they made it to the top, Zeina began feeling dizzy and spots of black clouded her vision. Manaf’s hand gripped hers tighter but Zeina was too numb to feel anything. With a sudden pull and a loud whooshing sound Zeina felt herself plummeting; it was a feeling so scary she would not be able to describe it. Her heart felt as if it had dislodged itself and was crawling up her throat and for a few seconds she felt herself suffocating. She closed her eyes tightly not wanting to see the ground coming towards her. Soon she felt herself beginning to rise a little after the long fall, then she began to fall again, this time a shorter distance than the first.

“Zayoon..” Manaf’s voice came in clearly for the first time she had been strapped in.

“Na3am..” She whispered her eyes still closed tightly.

“Khala9na tara.” He told her touching her cheek lightly; she opened her eyes and sure enough she was back on the ground and Manaf was unstrapping her. Wobbling she tried to gain her balance enough at least to walk off the platform; she failed miserably however and had to be dragged off by Manaf. They walked out of the park in silence, Manaf’s arms still around her.

By the time they reached her car an appropriate amount of rage had come back to her and she turned to him, “How DARE you..” she yelled, but before she could continue her sentence she burst into tears. Manaf, even more shocked at her reaction than she was, rushed forward to hug her.

“Laa laa, latabcheen Zayoon! Waaaih..” he said beginning to wipe her tears with his fingers.

“I- I’m S- Sorry..” Zeina sobbed.

“It’s okay don’t cry…you want to go back on the ride?” He teased.

“No!” Zeina shot back, wiping her face with the back of her hand like a little child. Manaf was very amused by this display and began to chuckle, wiping a tear away with his thumb.

“Are you okay now?” He whispered.

“Ee..” She answered him trying her best to smile, “sorry, it was scary..”

“Enta sheftay shay 3ashan etkhafeen? Kentay imqamtha” He told her playfully nudging her arm, “ne6reeni dgeega” he said and made his way back to his car to get her bag. He handed it to her and she reached in for the keys, she unlocked the car and he opened the door for her; still feeling shaky she let him help her up into the car. Holding the door open he stared at her in silence for a few seconds, “are you sure you’re okay?” He asked again. Zeina nodded smiling. “Mu za3lana?” He asked, this time the worry and guilt was more than evident.

“Wala I’m not, thank you a9lan .. you made me try something new.” She said trying to make him feel better.

“Good..” He smiled relieved, “wain betroo7een al7ean?”

“El bait..ghada” She told him, pulling her legs into the car and turning it on, “enta?”

“Bait..noom..” He laughed…

“Call me when you wake up?” She asked him, tilting her head to the side and smiling questioningly.

“Sooner” he promised shutting the door behind her; Zeina watched him walk away. She couldn’t help noticing the way he walked with such great confidence, he clicked the car button and his Bentley blinked twice, without looking back he opened the door and slid gracefully inside and within seconds its engine came to life; not wanting to be caught staring Zeina immediately backed out of her spot and sped away.

As she walked up the front steps of her house Zeina’s phone beeped with a message, taking it out she smiled at Manaf’s name on the screen;

“Aren’t you glad we tackled one of your fears today?” It read…Zeina paused at the door to reply,

“ee I am..”

“Next week enshallah we’ll try out the next one..” He replied almost immediately,

“Which one?” Zeina asked, she had no idea what he was talking about..she turned the doorknob and pushed her way in as she opened the newly received message.

“Sharks ..ba3ad what else?”

Zeina’s face froze in shock, the colors draining from her cheeks.

“Haaaw shfeeech!” Came her mother’s voice from inside as she saw the look of fear on her daughters face.

“Hala yoma..la wela shay..” Zeina stuttered and took a deep breath closing the door behind her.

“Enzain yala ghada ebsir3a” she told her daughter who nodded and made her way upstairs to wash up.