Sameera and the Forbidden Fruit (VII)

A continuation
Summer also turned out to be a bliss with Alberto, except towards the end of their vacation. They rented a flat-hotel close to Nikki beach in Mabella, and made a daily routine to go and lay lazily on the beach-beds listening to none-stop music all day. The music at the beach started with hip-hop during midday and ended with romantic melodies. Brazilian girls with glistening tans, under the mid afternoon sun, danced everywhere. Some even danced over the bar counter, between glasses and bottles of alcohol that circled around the DJ. During those hours, everything went crazy, people, especially rich Arabs, shook Champaign bottles and opened them to splash all over the people who were in proximity, on behalf of any female figure that moved. Sometimes it got loud and annoying, but in general it gave a sense of celebration that everyone on the beach seemed to enjoy. Sameera didn’t care about the world so long she was in the company of Alberto. She wasn’t even attentive, unlike her usual self, if there where some familiar faces. By now she was determined to tell her family about Alberto as soon as she got back, and had no scruple whatsoever. But Alberto became like a watchful dog, paying attention to anyone who seemed, even unintentionally, to be making a pass at Sameera, without directly admitting it. Yet, jealousy was all over his face, and dictated his mysterious attitude, especially when Arabs cramped the beach. But those occurrences were not too often, and just before the Sunset, where the couple got closer to each other while they lied supine, listening to the most romantic and soothing music the DJ played, made it impossible for the couple to seek other beaches.
They only had one meal a day; dinner, where they chose different restaurants in town, but they made sure to have each other as appetizer before changing for their night that started with that meal. They also nibbled all day on assorted cheese and fruits with frozen bottles of beer on the beach all day. Best days were when they woke up relatively early, in those days they easily found some vacant beds in the area that Lowie was serving. He was their favorite, for he knew exactly what they wanted and got the couple their order without even asking them. Their nights were usually spent in nightclubs, where they danced to the small hours of the morning. Otherwise, they just strolled bare-footed on the cool sands of the beach under bright silver moons.
Only one time they went to the casino for the heck of it, and they had great fun, laughing all night at the naivety of Sameera at Blackjack. She almost made a stupid move, if it wasn’t for Alberto who rushed to her rescue at the last moment, begging her to pass her turn while she wanted to draw one more card. The table was alert to her next move, tension was apparent especially at the face of a gambler sitting directly next to her, whose chips were piled to form several mountains, while she only had two five-Euro chips. One wrong move from her side, and the rich, poor old gambler was bound to loose a fortune. Luckily for him though, she listened to Alberto. And this became their anecdote while they drove around in the sport, convertible BMW M3 they rented after leaving the casino. And under the open roof, Alberto taught her the basics of the game and how it’s team oriented. Similar, in that sense, to koot bo sitta she used to play with her friends, especially in long Ramadan nights before she met Alberto.

On the blackjack table that night, a handsome, nicely built, tall Arab guy, who appeared to be in his late twenties, grinned at the couple several times while they were arguing. A young blond girl stood behind that guy who seemed to be his girlfriend.
Next day at the beach, and while they were enjoying the craziness of the dancers, the Arab guy and his girl were two beds away. While he was splashing Champaign all over his girlfriend, some of the liquid showered Sameera. The guy came and apologized to Sameera, but Sameera replied that she didn’t mind, and commented about Champaign being good for her tanning. Alberto, who was jolly all day, suddenly became quiet and after less than fifteen minutes he rose and left. Sameera thought that he was going to use the washrooms. When sometime passed and he didn’t show up, she called his mobile and found out that he was in the hotel claiming that he had a headache.
Sameera gathered her beach stuff and rushed to the hotel to find Alberto in bed. “What was that all about? And why did you leave me at the beach without telling me that you were coming back to the hotel?” Sameera dashed at him angrily. “ I thought you were enjoying your time with your own people, so I wanted to give you some space” Alberto’s voice trailed between the pillows. And so a fight started between them and ended with each sleeping on the opposite, far side of the king size bed. At dinnertime, Alberto got closer to Sameera and apologized for his stupidity, but he also mentioned that this coupling may be wrong, for Sameera might be better off with someone from her superior social class. When she heard him say that, she burst into laughter, assuring him that this nonsense was only inside his head. And since that night was their last night together, she let the incident pass, but she knew that she had a problem that she had to deal with later.
To be continued

Sameera and the Forbidden Fruit (VI)

A continuation
Christmas was knocking at the door, and its jingling bells in Roberto thoughts persuaded him to take the opportunity and introduce Sameera to his family, especially that his sister, brother and their families, who lived in different cities of Italy, were also visiting the parents for the occasion. But Sameera received his suggestion with a somewhat cold attitude. And that was her way of responding to such circumstances when she was lost for words. First she did not plan to take the two weeks off from her job. And if she did that, she would have to shorten the long vacation she was planning to take in summer. Second, what was she going to tell her family? She was used to traveling abroad all the time, but all her trips were business oriented. And when she traveled with friends it was either to London to visit her friend Tahani, or to other close areas of the Gulf region or Lebanon, but she had never been to Italy, nor knew anyone there to use as an excuse. But that was not the only thing that bothered her.
“You don’t seem to be very excited with the idea!” Alberto mumbled. “It’s not that, it’s my family, I don’t know how they’ll take this,” she replied. But Alberto continued his persuasion, “You know how important this is to me, don’t you? My family was waiting for this since last summer, and I wouldn’t want to go there without you. This trip means a world to me, there are so many places I want to show you, and so many things that…” “Why is it always about you? Why don’t you for once think about me and what I have to go through?” Sameera found herself bursting with anger that she even surprised herself. Alberto who was taken aback by her sudden reaction replied with ease “ok, ok, cool down, it was just a thought, I will go alone then.” Alberto knew by now that when Sameera was in this mood, she usually had other things on her mind that she didn’t want to talk about, but he also knew that when this happens, she’d better be left alone, for soon she’ll come back to her senses, and would eventually talk about what’s troubling her.
And he was right, when Sameera saw Foziya for lunch the day after, her friend chided her for her reaction “ I think you over reacted, this to Alberto means official engagement, this is the way it’s done in the West, you have to think Easterner when you deal with your family, and Westerner when you deal with his. This is not like taking a casual vacation, you know.” “ But what am I going to tell my family, I’m so sick and tired of lying all the time, besides, I don’t know how to meet his family, I haven’t done that before and I don’t know how it would turn out, how would they receive me, I’m so nervous” Sameera finally confided in her friend. “So that’s your problem then?” Foziya glanced at her friend for an answer, but when she didn’t get any, she added “ what would be a better opportunity than this one to know what you’re getting yourself into? Don’t forget that you may have to leave with him one day and live in his country,” and then, as if in a stage play, she raised her hands in the air, saying teasingly “just imagine all the gorgeous Italian girls that he might run into while he’s alone there” “get out of here” Sameera dashed, tapping her friend’s shoulder jokingly.
And although Sameera was still hesitant about the trip, but she sought to take her friend’s advice, and reluctantly went ahead. But nevertheless, she arranged and rearranged her suitcase more than four times with thousands of questions on her mind; what clothes were proper for this occasion, and what weren’t, and may be more than ten calls a day to Alberto to confirm her choices. But the trip turned out to be more beneficial than she thought, other than the fact that she had the best time she could imagine in Tirano.
The family was more than hospitable, and the mother was a darling. She even gave the couple the main bedroom in the house, which was hers, and seized every opportunity to make the couple comfortable. She seemed very happy to meet Sameera, and voiced her appreciation and gratitude to Sameera for making Alberto happy. The mother never liked Alberto’s ex-girlfriend, she was well aware that he’s been used by her, and down in her heart, she always wished that they’d break up. And that added some salt and pepper to the ladies’ gossips, when they were alone. Yet, Sameera didn’t miss how religious the family was, especially the mother who took her to church the first Sunday she was there. And although Alberto objected at first, but he eventually gave in, when Sameera herself insisted. Sameera was more than happy to accept the mother’s invitation. To her, God existed everywhere, in the church, the temple or the mosque. But Sameera never ceased to make a mental comparison between her own family’s attitude and Alberto’s; She even dreaded thinking of the day when Alberto had to meet her family.
Sameera could never forget that early December day when Alberto took her to a wonderful lake that was frozen at that time of the year. Actually, they never slept the night before when they spent it in making love several times. The area was close to the border with Switzerland, and Alberto hugged her by that lake and told her about his dream of their future house. The place was heavenly; one could see the other side of the boarder with its cottage-like houses amidst bare trees. The very same image she had always fantasized herself in, as a kid, every time she opened Swiss chocolate boxes that she received as gifts. She knew that she would love to live in such a peaceful place, only if she could accommodate herself there, and the only way she could think of, was to start her own business. What would she do if this marriage didn’t work? Or if, for some reason, Alberto wasn’t able to provide for her? She had to make sure that she wasn’t going to loose everything then.
She had a property in Dubai in which she invested several years back. The property was rented and was paying its own mortgage. She could easily sell that property and start a business in Italy, but she had no idea where to start, and the language was another barrier. Sameera, who had started to learn Italian online for few months, and who practiced with Alberto on occasions, was baffled when Alberto communicated with his family. Several times she thought that they were fighting while the family was just having a normal conversation, and she wondered if Alberto had gone through the same with her people. But she thanked her stars that the family spoke English because when she tried to use the very few words she learned with the natives in the surrounding villages, she was completely lost for words.
When she came back she was more relaxed, she had made few major decisions, and she thanked her friend Foziya for persuading her to take this trip. The only other problem that remained pending was her family, and she was not ready to tell them yet. Not before she took the summer vacation with Alberto alone, to Spain in summer.

To be continued

One Life to Live

Days are ambiguous
And nights are young
Let’s have our wine
And forget the sun

Let’s enjoy
Each other tonight
When tomorrow comes
Let tomorrow run

Where we came from!
No one knows
Not even Phoenix
From the ashes rose

Pray, sip my lips
And let me sip yours
For this is reality
That we both know

Who came!
Who’s gone!
Who cares
Why mountains grow?

How fragile we are
Is indigenous
And life is just
Ignis fatuus

A Special Dedication for Sameera

Dear, dear friend

Marriage is a watermelon
Crack it open
And that’s what you get
Red flesh! Pink!
Orange! yellow!
Or white!

Some are sweet
And some are bitter
While others like mine
Have no taste
Nor color

I hope yours is as the red,
Vibrant crimson skies
And as sweet as
Honeydew melon

Sameera is getting married soon; wish her the best for she is the best.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly started with the Greeks

Remember the movie “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding” when the father of the bride kept saying throughout the movie, “the root of every word is Greek”?

Well, he wasn’t joking. It’s not only the root of every word, but also the origin of everything in our contemporary lives traces back to the Greeks. And this is what Simon Goldhill elaborated aesthetically in his book “Love, Sex & Tragedy/ How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives”.
greek.jpg
Most history books tend to be lengthy and, most of the times, boring. But Goldhill’s story-telling style makes this 321p book a page-turner although each page is loaded with valuable information. It kept me awake for nights and I loved every part of it.
The author dwells into Arts, literature, theatre, poetry, athletics, politics, democracy, philosophy and science, medicine, status of women in the society and the concept of human rights, ethics, schools of education, entertainment, heterosexuality and homosexuality, the way we perceive human body and how we idealize it, culture integration (Western) and religion roots, all meshed in history through the lens of the present day. And unlike most books of the kind, Goldhill displays facts taken from history books, and compare those to contemporary acts and events, but he leaves a huge space in the mind to reflect and analyze all our belief systems today, and how it was integrated from the ancient world, and this is the beauty of this book.

And talking about the ancients, I would recommend the HBO series of “Rome”, the first season is already out in the market and the second season should be out sometime early August.

Sameera and the Forbidden Fruit (V)

A continuation

The mother, who was now broken hearted, did not stop cursing her luck for not being able to raise her daughter properly, as was constantly reminded by the father. Few days after Eid, Sameera was in for another surprise. The mother, who spent the Eid holidays in Syria with her sister, came to Sameera and gave her some holey liquid in a jar and asked her to splash it on her body, in three consecutive baths. The mother apparently went on this trip especially to see a Mullah; a holly man who was famous for his miraculous powers in the Moslem community around her. She mentioned to Sameera that the Mullah saw how bleak was Sameera’s future. The mother also claimed that the Mullah told her that Sameera had been bewitched and as a result is living in sin with a foreigner, and she will never get married unless she uses that liquid and then goes to Omrah.
And of course Sameera guessed that the mother had made up the last part concerning “ the foreigner” in the story, she remembered that she once met Alberto in Marina Mall to give him some CDs and little Alia was with her. And she figured that the mother was only saying that to drag the truth out of her mouth, like what she (the mother) must have done with her sister. And although Sameera was taken by surprise at first, and denied any relationships, but she did not object, instead she took the liquid and thanked her mother for her concern, only to throw it in the garbage on her way out.
“Can you believe that my mother would go to that extend?” Sameera voiced her outrage to her friend Foziya later on, while having coffee at Starbuck Albede . “ I can’t believe that this witchcraft is still going on”, she added. “ Don’t forget that witchcraft became authentic because of its mention in Quran, and it became an essential part of Moslem’s belief and ritual as a consequence, if you want to see the source of all our troubles, it’s always the Quran” her friend replied disgustedly, then added mockingly “ I wonder what Alberto would think about this!” “Are you kidding, I would never tell Alberto, he’d most probably think that we’re some type of perverts, and I want him to respect my family, no matter what” Sameera dashed objectively. “He’ll find out soon enough” her friend closed her sentence with a wink.
But the real problem between Alberto and Sameera was the conversion issue. Alberto had to convert to Islam to be able to marry Sameera as per Shareea law. His friends advised him against it, since it is a one-way street, as they warned. Which meant that if he ever changed his mind and decided to convert back to his religion, he’d be sujected to execution where Mullahs and Mofti’s gave themselves the right to make his blood halaal. This also meant that anyone in the street who has nothing to do with him is encouraged to kill him to go directly to heaven, and Alberto considered this a sacrifice.
Other than that, Alberto was born and raised in a Roman Catholic household, and although he was not much of a religious person himself, but his parents were. And his conversion would mean a disaster to his religious, church committed mother, even if that was just on a piece of paper that meant nothing. But nevertheless, he was willing to do that for Sameera, especially when Sameera herself told him that she didn’t care for his conversion if it was not for her family and the society, besides being the only way for them to get married. But nevertheless he never stopped reminding her of the sacrifice that he’s willing to make for her sake. And so Sameera found herself torn apart between her lover, who was demanding in her opinion, and her parents, who made it hell for her at home.
Deep in her heart, Sameera wished that her marriage contract followed the rules of the civil laws of his country, seeing her married female friends unjustly suffer the consequences of bad marriages in courts of sharee3a was frightening. And so she told Alberto to include her right to break the contract (divorce) in the marriage contract, and Alberto agreed. But nevertheless; considered it another sacrifice for her sake.

To be continued

Sameera and the Forbidden Fruit (IV)

A continuation

That night was the first time Sameera’s father laid a hand on her. And since she was grouchy that day because of the start of her period, she preferred not to reply to his threatening words, so that she won’t say something that she’d regret later. She just went straight to her bedroom, while her father continued his yelling at her and everything that came his way. When she was about two meters away from him, he dashed closer to her and slapped her on the face with such a strength that made her left ear ring all night. He also kicked her several times, in different places of her body until the mother came between them begging “ for God’s sake take refuge in Him from Satan the outcast”, but the father who was drawn by his anger, kicked anything that came his way, including the mother and little Alia; Sameera’s little sister.
Inside her room; Sameera hugged her pillow in despair, and cried her eyes out, not wanting to hear the noise outside. And at the same time, her heart went out to her mother and sister, but she did not dare open the door, in hope that this would ease the tension when she temporarily stayed out of the way.
Sameera’s father then left the house to the mosque and the mother came knocking at her door carrying a tray with food. When Sameera opened, the poor mother whose eyes were puffed by now, placed the tray on the floor, and sat beside her daughter’s bed when Sameera refused to touch her food. And after few moments of persuasion, the mother took out a box of empty birth control pills asking Sameera “ can you tell me what is this?” And after few moments of hesitation, Sameera found her tongue and said, “it’s birth control Pills”, but seeing the disappointment in her mother’s eyes, she promptly added “ the doctor prescribed them to regulate my period”. And as soon as she finished her sentence, she noticed how the muscles relaxed in her mother’s face while she uttered words blaming herself “ it’s all my fault, my nagging drove your dad insane tonight”. But instead of feeling better, Sameera felt even more disgusted with herself, when one lie led to another.
Next morning, Sameera felt so exhausted and did not feel like accomplishing any job at her office. But luckily, she did not have much to do. It seemed like everyone was as grouchy as she was, and no one wanted to work in Ramadan. And when Tahani came online, Sameera was delighted to chat with her friend. She needed someone to talk to, and Foziya was nowhere to be reached.
On the messenger, Sameera told her friend about her situation, not missing to announce her disgust at herself for creating lies that got worse with time. But to her surprise Tahani said, ” lying is not sinfulness, as a matter of fact, sometimes it’s necessary, it all depends on the situation”, and she added, “ for example, if I were in trouble and you had to lie to save my neck, would you do it? Or would you tell the truth and have me killed?”, and here Sameera started having a shift in her perception as she replied, “ of course I’d lie, some things have more priority than other things”. And here Tahani wrote triumphantly “then shut the F#&! Up”.
Sameera, who felt much better now, started thinking all day of what Tahani had said, and what she herself replied. There were things in her life that had priorities, and she was not going to ruin them by giving in to less important things. She knew that she was doing the right thing, and that it was not time to tell the family the truth, because they simply would not understand. It was not as if she’d continue this course of action; someday, when the time is right, she promised herself, she will tell her parents the truth. But until then, she had to be more careful, at least for her family’s sake. She also decided to get closer to her mother without letting that affect her relationship to Alberto. As for her father, she was too shocked to even think of what became of him. Religion was supposed to make a better person of one and not create a monster, at least that was what she learned while growing up. She knew that her father’s intention was to provide the best for her, yet, she was convinced that whatever he thinks is right, is not necessarily so, and that was the whole issue at hand. She also realized that all her life she was playing the role of a victim, and it was time for her to change; she had to be the one in control of her life, and not anyone else.
Half way through Ramadan, her mother came to Sameera with her version of great news “your dad’s cousin Bu Mansour is coming to see us tonight, he hinted to your father that he’s interested in you” she mouthed the surprise excitedly. “Bu Mansour is as old as my father, and he’s married with six kids” Sameera said objectively. “You’re not in your twenties Sameera, and this is your only chance to get married, and besides, his wife is sick and she can’t perform her marital duties” her mother reassured. And after a huge debate between the two, Sameera agreed to what seemed like the parent’s plot to marry her off, on one condition.
Sameera knew that Islam forbids the marriage of the second wife without the first wife’s consonance, as per some interpretations. And she plotted to use that to her advantage despite her mother’s objection. Sameera did not want any of this for sure, but she knew that the only way for her to get out of this dilemma was to communicate with her mother in a language she understood. And of course the poor wife did not know about her husband’s plans, and Bu Mansour wasn’t going to let her into this, and so he didn’t accept her condition, which was a more reason for the mother to loose all hope.

To be continued

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