By Alawiya Abdallah
She does not say anything for a minute, and then she says
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Ya Allah Ya Karim, how stupid was I last night?? Osman saw me, and I cannot stop beating myself about it! WHAT A STUPID STUPID MISTAKE
I can rectify this, I know I can. I will just have to convince him that he was hallucinating, Yes that is it. I would tell him that the fever MUST have gone to his head, I chock back a giggle thinking about it
I was not even gonna mention it, but when I woke up this morning he kept looking at me like this all the time ufff I prefered it when he was mean and rude. This awkwardness is killing me
He ACTUALLY called me Shaimaa for the first time since I came here! That is NOT good. Like right now, he got up and went to the toilet and came out with his hair full of gel
I guess he attempted the spiky hair look that everyone seems to be obsessed about, but it just looks wrong! It looks like mini dreadlocks and YES I know what dreadlocks are, Egyptian boys are so into it now!
Why is he doing this all of a sudden? He is so vain and arrogant. So, if he did not see my face he would have still treated me like dirt?
I refuse to be superficial, I refuse to be just a face where people can post OH WOW YOU’RE SO GORGEOUS on Facebook! Yes_ I know what Facebook is, I live in Egypt Cairo not the Sahara Desert! You know what? Even people in the Sahara know what Facebook is!
Anyway back to the point! He thinks I’m gonna be all giggly and shy just because he is noticing me now? I REFUSE to be a degrading name in his cell phone
I leave the room for him, I only came to check if he was alright and he seems to be doing just fine he is even texting. So I make my way out of the door and_____
What on earth??? He is blocking my way!! My worst nightmare has come true! This time I am gonna fight till I die if that is what it is goning to take
Sneaky sneaky sneaky__ little miss goody two shoes I have to hand it to her, she fooled me! She completely put a blind fold over my eyes.
But not anymore, I know your secret MUAHAHAHA, MUAHAHAHAHA MUAHA___OK I’ll stop it now!
Why would someone so beautiful hide their face like that? I instantly noticed her black eyes. The lamp on my bedside table was on, so I could clearly make out her features.
She had black eyes, her eyes was pitch black and not a hint of any brown. I was told by someone as a child that no person has totally and completely black eyes, it has to have a hint of brown. I never bothered to actually look it up, but that is what I was told.
Funny thing is I was always a blue eyed or green eyed type of guy. I did not care if they were lenses or real, just loved them on women.
BUT NOW, black eyes are my new favourite colour. Walah girls with black eyes are so underrated, so unappreciated. Not to worry girls, Osman is here to spread the word and appreciate you
She is beautiful and she reminds me of someone, but I cannot put my hands on it
Ever since I saw her face, I have this puppy eyed look on me. I can tell that she is not happy with it, but I cannot help myself
When I woke up this morning I felt A LOT better than I did the night before. I figured that Shaimaa was looking after me ALL day, she stayed by my side from morning till night nursing me to health!
I feel so indebted to her, the woman has saved my life TWICE. If I did not see her face, I was gonna feel this way ANYWAY. OK the face thing helped a LITTLE, just a little though
For the first time in my life, I met a wonderful person. She selflessly helped me even though I have been nothing but rude to her.
I even stopped calling her ninja, and I started using her name WHICH was so hard to recall. I always found it hard to remember people’s name.
I saw that I was shirtless as well! That must have meant that SHE took it off, cheeky cheeky But as I was day dreaming and fascinating about Shaimaa, I notice that I have 40 missed calls from Kevin and Amber.
My tummy does back flips as I spot Kevin’s name. I really do not want to have to deal with this right now I have to come up with something to get off talking to him.
And an idea pops into my head! I can just tell him that I have Swine Flu! Yes, that will scare him from having any contact with me!
I send him a text explaining my situation and hope for the best. A few seconds later a message pops up saying that, he wanted to discuss the matter of paying me for my job that is all. He would contact me in a couple of days to check on me.
I do not want your stupid money fool, I want out! I leave the message unanswered.
I was busy with my text, when I noticed Shaimaa leaving the room.
“Wait” I stand at the door to keep her from leaving because I have SOO many questions.
She seems shocked and kind of scared So I put an arm on her shoulder to try and calm her down
“Look I just want____” I never get to finish what I was about to say because
SHE JUST BOXED ME IN MY STOMACH
Hey did I just get boxed? Yep I can feel it as I crouch on the floor
“I didn't wanna have to do that, but you left me with no choice” She explains politely and looking concerned at my status.
“What the hell was that for?????” I ask her as I get up from the floor
“Well, you were going to attack me and I was merely protecting myself” She replies feeling embarrassed and arrogant at the same time
“ATTACK YOU? You THOUGHT I was gonna attack you?? What made you think that?” I ask her puzzled
“Why would you be blocking my way if you weren't going to hurt me?” She asks confused
“I just wanted to ask you questions that’s all” I answer her holding my hand on my tummy.
“Oh! well then. This should be a lesson to you for future reference. If you must know I don’t feel so great about it, So I apologize” She says it even though it pains her to say it I can hear it in her tone
“You’re forgiven I’d like to ask you a couple of questions if you don’t mind” I start after I sit down on the bed.
“What do you want?” She tells me sharply
“Look I can’t talk to you when you’re like next to the door and holding the handle and giving me your back like that ” I tell her my concerns
“There. Are you happy?” She tells me and turning around so she can face me
“You see, I can’t talk to someone who’s standing up. I feel intimidated” I'm finding it really hard not to laugh out loud
“Osman. WHAT DO YOU WANT? I have no time for your nonsense?” She says it impatiently.
“Ouch! All this shouting is giving me headache *cough* *cough*” I pretend to be coughing??
“When people have headaches they don’t cough by the way” She reminds me
“Oh yeah!__WOMAN JUST SIT” I order her.
“Excuse me? Are you just ordering me about?” She asks shocked at my outburst.
“Of course I am. I'm your husband” I tell her while standing up puffing my chest to confirm my status.
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA” She bursts out laughing at me
“Fine I see your point. But would you just sit down I need to ask you something. Please” I ask her politely this time
She sits and folds her arm impatiently.
“First of all. I wanna ask you. Why did you take my shirt off? I'm feeling quite used ” I start my question.
“Your dad took it off, cuz your temperature was 40 degrees” She tells me in a low voice and leaning towards my way
“Well played! Now I have a mental scar image of my dad undressing me. OK, moving on to the next question. Why__” I could not finish the question cuz she INTERRUPTS me AGAIN
“Excuse me. Since you’re interrogating me and all. Am I gonna be given the same privilege as well?” She asks.
“It depends on what you wanna ask me” I reply cautiously
“Fine. I’ll say the same thing to you. I’ll just answer No comment, if I don’t feel comfortable with your questions” She threatens to boycott this really fun questioning
“Alright deal. I’ll answer everything you ask me truthfully, and you should too. Deal?” I ask her.
“Deal” She replies.
“Back to the question. Why would you hide your beauty underneath that butters thing you wear” I ask her the one thing that is bothering me.
“Butters?” She asks confused.
“It means yukky, hideous, eeughh,__” She interrupts me by saying
“I GET IT”
“It’s nobody’s business why I choose to wear my clothes. Do I have to walk around semi naked to please everyone? I thought this was the land of democracy! Why does it bother them too much?” She replies furiously.
“It represents everything that is wrong in the world. It’s a sign of oppression, I thought we have passed all that nonsense. Women are independent here, not being forced to wear something they didn't want!” I explain my theories to her.
“So you think I was forced to wear this? let me tell you, I wasn't I chose this from my own will! If some women can wear revealing clothes and not be judged, why do we have to penalised for covering up. Why don’t we get the same respect? It’s just a piece of clothing! Why is it so threatening??” She asks furiously.
“OK, I don’t do big talks and I don’t like it when people use big words and all that so I'm gonna pass that question if you don’t mind!” I really do not know how to answer her, but I add “But I see your point”
“My turn. Why are so against your religion? Why don’t you pray? What do YOU want from life? What is Osman’s goal in life?” She fires the questions at me, has she not been listening to me
“That’s a lot of Whys and What questions. I TOLD YOU I don’t do multiple questions” I remind her, to dodge it as I am afraid to face up to the answer.
“Alright. Why don’t you pray?” She asks.
“Do you really wanna know?” I give her one last chance to take that question back.
” I really wanna know” She leans forward in interest.
“It’s because__well__I don’t believe in Allah” I cannot believe I blurted it out finally
“Do you believe in another religion?” She asks and looking quite calm given my shocking admission.
“No, I just don’t believe in God period” I reply to her.
“What happened to make you think that?” She probes me further with such kindness in her voice that I feel myself relax.
“Well. When I was young I used to go to Chiwu (a place where you go to learn Quran and Arabic) and everything. Like every Barawani child did. Our teacher always held a grudge towards me somehow, he was always making snide comments about my wealth status” I take a second to breathe before I continue and she does not interrupt me.
“I used to ignore him because I was popular and the kids liked to hear my jokes. One day, he was talking about destiny and how everything is written about how our lives is gonna turn out. I raised my hand and asked him”
“If everything is written about our lives, why should we bother doing anything? And the whole class laughed”
“He just flipped! And he grabbed me to the front of the class and ordered me to open my hands. He took this wooden ruler and started hitting me” I shudder as I think about it.
“I was trying not to cry from the pain. He just kept hitting and hitting. If I cried everyone was gonna laugh at me, I was only 8 years old. Eventually I cried from the pain and that’s when he stopped”
“He looked at me and ordered me to never EVER mock him again in front of his students” I finish recalling the story and I look at her to see what she thinks.
She does not say anything for a minute, and then she says
“Subhanallah, I asked the same question to my RE teacher in Egypt but he never did that. He actually said that he doesn't know the answer to that question but he’ll ask a Sheikh for me. Did you tell your parents what that man did?” She asked.
“That’s the worst part! When I told my mum, she said that she’ll tell my dad and that he’ll deal with that horrible man” I recall.
“And did he?” She asks anxiously.
“I remember eavesdropping to find out what my dad is gonna do about it. Guess what he said?” I ask her.
“What?” She replies curiously.
“He told my mum that I should be man enough to handle that, that it would do me good. It would teach me to toughen up. My mum informed him that she’s gonna take me out of that Chiwu” I remember the day I started resenting my dad.
“He told her that I was gonna end up being a sissy boy, and that he doesn't want that kind of son in his life” I feel very emotional at the memory.
“That’s when I decided that I'm gonna show my dad how bad I can really be. Nothing will impress him anyway so might as well” I feel my resentment surface with full force.
The room falls silent for about 5 minutes. None of us say a word to each, we seem to be lost in our thoughts.
“Do you wanna know what the Sheikh said to my teacher?” She finally breaks the silence.
“What?” I ask her not interested because I do not believe she has the answer that will satisfy my curiosity.
“About fate and destiny there are a few things you should keep in mind” She starts.
“Allah is the creator of all things, including our actions. Belief in Allah’s power, knowledge and control of all things is one of the six articles of faith in Islam. This is called Qadar (Divine Destiny)
Secondly, a person has the freedom and the choice to do as he/she wants. We have no control over the outcome of those choices” She continues
“And finally, the outcome of these choices is our destiny. Only Allah knows what this destiny is” She finishes explaining my question.
“I still don’t get it” Even though I might have a clue of what she is trying to say, but I want to learn more about this.
“For example, say for instance you decide to go into business for yourself. You do all the necessary research. You consult others in the field. You draw up a sound business plan and line up multiple investors. You do everything possible to ensure that your business is a success”
“Does any of this guarantee that your business will be successful? Not at all. The economy may falter. You may have miscalculated certain expenses. A natural disaster might wipe out everything you own” She explains further.
“But by believing in Qadar (divine destiny) it prevents us from becoming too arrogant or walking with our noses up in the air. When tragedy strikes us, we must understand that it is the will of Allah, for it to happen. That way, we learn to accept it with patience and humility rather than despair and frustration” She finishes her explanation.
“So let me get this straight. We can actually choose the path we walk in but Allah knows the outcome of that path?” I ask her.
“That’s right. But the reality is, even the most successful individuals face some hardships at some point in their life. one may become saddened or upset about unfortunate events in their life. We are only human and it is natural to react a certain way when faced with tragedy”
“This does not mean that we are forced to walk upon a certain path, or that we have no freewill. This only means that Allah is already well aware of all actions that we will take, and the outcome of those actions. Do you get it now?” She asks in a sweet way that makes my heart flutter a little bit
“Yes. I didn’t know it was that simple to be honest with you” I confess
“And about believing in Allah, I wanna tell you an Ayah that will make you think for a minute” She stops and then starts reciting.
“أَفَلَا يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ. فَذَكِّرْ إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ مُذَكِّرٌ لَسْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ بِمُصَيْطِرٍ”
(Do they not look at the Camels, how they are made? And at the Sky, how it is raised high? And at the Mountains, how they are fixed firm? And at the Earth, how it is spread out? Therefore do thou give admonition, for thou art one to admonish) (Sûrat Al-Ghasyha verse 17-21)
She finishes reciting the Ayah, and I feel something hit me right through my heart. This Ayah is so powerful, that I find myself fascinated by its meaning. When She translated it to me in English, something happened in my heart and I do not know what that means
No words comes out from my mouth, as I try and digest all these information in my tiny brain. She seems quiet and sad at the same time, I know that sadness. I have seen it a couple of times.
“What is it?” I ask her.
“I have a confession to make. I should have told you this before you agreed to marry me, I feel like such a hypocrite giving you a lecture about fate and destiny when I withheld an important information from you” She tells me while looking down.
“What is it?” I ask her anxiously.
“I was___I was__something happened to me a week before you and your dad visited us with that proposal” She starts.
“There was this guy. His name was Ayman, and he was rich and his family was well known in our area. Everybody in the area knew that he marries girls in secret for fun and then when he’s done with them, he divorces them just like that. His marriages normally lasts for a week”
“Each girl that he married was convinced that she was gonna be the one who makes him settle down, but sadly that wasn’t the case” She says it while looking out of the window.
“No one dared to stand up to him. None of the girls’ families that he used were able to do a thing, as he was well connected with the police and they were poor people. They just give up and live or die with heartbreak for their daughters’ shame”
“Anyway, one day he decided that I should be his next target. He kept asking and asking and offering me money, so I would say yes to his indecent proposal but I refused each time”
“One day, our manager surprised us by asking us to stay behind to do stock take in the store because the owner of the shop was visiting and asking for the store accounts”
“I protested that it was getting late and that it was dangerous in our area to walk home at such hour. He threatened to fire me if I didn't stay with the rest of the girls so I had no choice”
“We so badly needed the money as that week, my mum got ill and she didn't go to work so they were depending on my salary”
“We finished the stock take at 11 O’clock and I couldn't take a taxi because I didn't have the fare, and it was far away and he would take like half of my salary. I took the bus route home”
“It was fine all the way. I was so close to my house, I could actually see it from where I was walking. And then all of a sudden I felt someone grab me from waist and drag me to secluded corner” At this point she clenches her fists and closes her eyes, to make her voice steady.
“He really took me by surprise, and he was really strong. He pinned me down to the rough floor with such force that I couldn't escape his clutches, even if I wanted to fight back. It was a lost battle” Her voice choked up and full of pain.
She takes a moment to say
“I'm not gonna cry, I'm not gonna cry. I'm fine” More to herself than me
“He__Took off my scarf roughly that I was wearing with a pin, so the pin slashed my throat. That’s when I completely froze still! I just thought to myself that this is the end of me” Her tears came thick and fast, I do not even think she realized it.
“That’s when it happened. I just prayed to Allah that he doesn't kill me afterwards, because I had to take my dad to physiotherapy the next morning. That’s what I was thinking when it was happening” I feel so much anger that I have not felt before, hearing what that scum did to her
“When he was done with it, he zipped himself up and threw money at me and told me to get an abortion just in case” She finished recalling the incident and she curled up into herself at this point.
“Why didn't you report it to the police?” I ask her feeling angry that he wasn't punished for what he did.
“No way, you don’t call the police! It’s a scandal and no one will believe me over him! He has connection in the police force, and it would have been a lost case from the word go. Plus my family wouldn't have survived the humiliation and the shame” She explains how rape victims are treated over there.
“That’s when I decided that I'm gonna wear the Niqab, I cannot bear to look at myself. At least that’s how it started, but I fell in love with it. No one judges me based on my looks, and it keeps the creeps away too” Her voice steadies as she starts talking about the Niqab.
“And as bad as this seems, when you guys came with the proposal. I took one look at you and I thought to myself, a spoilt little rich boy who won’t question me about anything because if I don’t perform my wifely duties, he’ll find it elsewhere.”
“I was fine with it, because at least this way I’d be married then divorced. Better than the truth coming out and breaking my parents’ heart. I never for one minute thought that you might need to know” She turns away in shame.
“Before I came here, I had to do blood tests. That’s the law there, so I was relieved that I wasn't pregnant or had HIV. You have no idea how relieved I was. I left his money where it was when he threw it at me”
When she finished, I did not know what to do. Normally I would go over and hug a girl if she was crying. But I could not break her principles, and the way she is. Plus she might take it the wrong way, so I say the first thing that comes to my head.
“Look Shaimaa, you have done NOTHING wrong here. I feel honoured that you chose to tell me this huge secret, and I still 100% respect you. And the fact that you hid this from me before we got married is acceptable to me too. It’s not like I wanted to get married! The fact is I wanted my share of the inheritance and that’s all that mattered to me at the time” I try and make her see that she has nothing to be ashamed of.
“Really? You don’t think it was deceitful of me to do that?” She asks and wiping the tears from her eyes.
“OF COURSE NOT! If I ever come across that creep, he better hide that’s all I can say” I feel angry that I cannot do nothing about it, if he was here in London I would track him down and beat him up over and over again.
“Please don’t tell anyone about this. I don’t even know why I told you! I guess it’s been eating me alive all this time and it was gonna come out eventually” She says it regretfully.
“I really don’t mind. In fact if you need anything just tell me. Can I suggest one thing though” I ask her.
“What?” She asks back.
“Since you’ll be staying here for a whole year, can you be comfortable enough to take your Niqab off. Walah nothing sleazy from my part, you just can’t stay wearing it all day and night. I’ll stay in the guest room from now on. Plus I'm legally your husband and even Islamic ally right?” I ask her hoping she would accept.
“I don’t know” She replies hesitantly.
“Look, I like you as a friend. Plus you’re my wife and you need to be comfortable in your house. And you need to see a counsellor too by the way, and that’s not a request” I tell her with a smile
“I suppose I can. But YOU have to do something for me too if I have to do that” She says suddenly.
“What? Anything” I answer her proudly.
“You have to let me take you to the Mosque and help you learn about Islam” She informs me of her plan.
“Easy. I don’t mind at all” I say it confidently, I mean how hard can that be
“ANYTHING I ask?” She emphasizes her request.
“OK, when you say it like that it seems scary” I tell her jokingly.
“OSMAN!” She yells at me
“Fine. Now friend. What do you wanna do at this minute and this second” I ask her.
“Do know what I really really want?” She asks in a low voice.
“What?” I ask her in an equally lower voice.
“I REALLY WANT EGYPTIAN BREAKFAST MAN” She yells suddenly, and then laughs when I jump!
I wasn't scared I really was not she just took me by surprise
“I know exactly where to get the shopping from” I inform her.
“Really? There’s a place where you can buy Egyptian beans? Does it have eggs, honey, olives, Feta cheese and Launchen meat too?” She asks enthusiastically
“OK, that sounds like a recipe for food poisoning!” I say it suspiciously
“You just wait until you taste these combination, and you’ll so eat your words” She says confidently
“Well then, shall we make a move on?” I ask her.
“Yipee, can’t wait! No more plastic tasting cornflakes” She is practically jumping from joy.
I cannot believe I just told Osman about the rape. It literally came out of nowhere! And he has been nothing but sweet about it.
I knew there was some goodness in him, but not like this. I really misjudged him as a person, he might be a rich boy but he is just lost that is all. All he needs is guidance, and I am going to work my hardest to show him the way Inshallah
We agreed to be friends, and to be honest when he suggested I take off my Niqab at home I was apprehensive at first. But his words makes sense, I AM his wife after all. No one forced us into it, nobody put a gun over our heads and told us to say yes!
Even if our intentions were not genuine, we both agreed to be married to each other right? Plus it is really hard to wear it all the time at home, so I agreed.
But I will still wear it outside and in front of other people, but I will take it off at home Inshallah. I will still wear my Hijab though! Just not the Niqab.
We are at this Turkish store, which is located at the town centre. It had EVERYTHING that I needed to make the breakfast
This is so gonna be my favourite hang out from now on! We pay for the stuff and we head home.
I go to the kitchen, and I do not find Magdalena! I think she said something about working here 2 days only or something? I do not really remember, or she could be ill or something.
Anyway, Osman was sitting watching TV when I decided to start making it.
I smell the food that I am cooking because I cannot believe that I am seeing it with my own eyes
When I finish making it, I lay them at the dinning table. Osman smells the food and says
“WOW, this looks like food! Is this what home cooked meals look like?” He stares at the food.
My uncle comes down at the same time and says
“Am I smelling Fool (Egyptian dish made of beans)? Is that boiled egg and Feta cheese? Olives? Launchen meat? Am I in Egypt??” He asks amazed.
“Yep, Let’s sit down and eat REAL breakfast” I say it proudly.
So we sat down and started digging into the selection of dishes that I have put together, and I must say my tummy is finally happy
I look over at Osman and my uncle and they look busy munching away When we are done with it, Osman says
“This is the best breakfast I have ever tasted. I'm sorry but you’re gonna have to repeat it tomorrow”
“I don’t mind! Just wait till I cook lunch Inshallah” I daydream about what am I gonna do for lunch.
“Then I’ll come over to lunch from work too” Adds my uncle
I am glad that breakfast was a success, Osman helps me with clearing the dishes and then I wash them.
After that we sit down to watch the news on TV. As we put it on there was a video being shown of a Niqabi hitting someone! How very strange
This scene looks familiar! My tummy starts turning as I realize that the Niqabi in the Video is ME!!!!!!!!!!!
THAT IS ME HITTING THAT GUY WITH THE FLIP FLOPS
After they finished showing the video, the newsreader says
“If you know this person. Contact the police or you can contact us @ITV.com/news”
I look over at Osman and he looks back at me, and then my uncle joins too
Why do they want to know who I am??? I did not do anything wrong!!!
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