Saturday, 16 October 2010

THE BOOK: Undecided Chapter Number


“Ouch!” One of the Emiratis winced as I slammed close the door. “Sister… Be nice!”

It was an accident, so I made no apology. I blinked and looked around the SUV, inundated with the scent of the laundry detergent from their freshly pressed t-shirts for the clubs, and different Arabic colognes, heady with musk.

I bundled the widely flowing sleeves of my abaya onto my lap, crunching the black chiffon fabric nervously with my hands.

“I’m used to beat up old Toyotas if I have to hold up my skirts to climb in.”

The Emiratis stared blankly at me, and the shortest one laughed.

“Sis… This is no Toyota.”
The other two echoed his amusement awkwardly in the lamplight of my driveway.
Mystery looked back at me from the driver’s seat.
“Everyone, Anna.”
We smiled.
“Anna, Majid.”
The shorter one who’d already spoken to me nodded his head in ascent, and Mystery continued his string of introductions.
“Khalid-” the biggest on smiled- “and Faisal.”
Faisal was one of those men who is perfectly in proportion and reserved in his smile, who women would naturally find attractive on a first impressions basis, and the name shook me.
My heart quivered, not for him, but for an old pain. He looked alot like my Faisal, same soft doe eyes and long lashes.
Faisal the Emirati held out his hand for me to shake and when it was just left hanging there in the space between us with me staring blankly at him he looked back at the others from M’s Thailand crew, like, ‘who is this chick and why is she with us?’
I got over it as Mystery pulled out from my drive and doubled back through Shatti.
I kind of glared at Mystery while we drove. I kept thinking of the guys saying that I had been trying to make it with Mystery while Majnoon was in Thai, and I really didn’t want anyone seeing me arriving with him at a nightspot to give credence to the gossip, even if I did suspect it all stemmed from Celeste or Mystery. Even if I got Majnoon to defend me, and insist to all the guys that he was the one that got Mystery to drive me in the first place, the guys would just chuckle that Mystery had it made.
Majnoon had an impression with the guys as this naïve innocent, and I was the one who’d ditched Khaleel for Majnoon in the first place after all, as soon as something better came along. I had a feeling Khaleel and Mystery would be the only ones who’d believe me, and I was pretty sure Mystery would do little to correct the guys’ impressions.
“Where is Majnoon?” I asked Mystery, while we stopped for petrol and phone cards to up our credit for the mobiles, wishing to hide from any of the guys that waved at our car as they drove by, recognizing Mystery. I didn’t want any of them to recognize me as Majnoon’s girl in any ride manned by Mystery.
“He’s gonna meet us at the Intercon.”
It was a short drive from there to the Intercontinental hotel, but being Friday night, the park between the coffee shop and Al Massa mall was packed with guys in their gleaming just-been-washed cars, identically dressed in white pressed dishdashas, or in cool, stereotypically ‘hip’ printed cotton t-shirts like my guys. It took us forever.
When we finally pulled into the Intercon. park I felt like I was a slave about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, fighting with the snaps of my abaya while Mystery battled for a parking space in that giant gas-guzzling white monster SUV with Dubai plates. That is how it had always felt when I’d come here as an innocent young girl with my mother, all those years before. The feeling of being submissive to the place lingered. I didn’t like the memory, so brushed it off with solid jump from our stylish ride, hitting the pavement, my feet, and my abaya. Majid handed the black folded fabric to me so I could stow it safely inside before the guys locked our gear up.
The breeze was cool but the air was hot and humid, a perfect Muscat night.
Mystery laughed at me as I hugged myself, feeling naked without the folds of my abaya. We walked away from the hotel, towards the steps up to Trader Vic’s. He knew I always wore abaya, and my only exceptions to that rule were made for Khaleel, and, he suspected, Majnoon.
The Emiratis did not know, and probably thought of my cold aloofness as strange. Any girl who rolled ‘with’ Majnoon had to be the DJ’s sister or the stereotypical party/good-time girl and in my modest long beige skirt, tucked in white cotton button-up blouse, and with hair perfectly coiffed to fit under a slanted snow-white beret, not a single strand visible, I didn’t look like I understood the concept of ‘night-club crowd’ very well.
Well, lucky for me, neither do many Omanis and Expats.
Really, half of these people would never get let into a nightclub back home!
Besides one Osama Bin Laden look alike, one Jesus look-alike, and one cowboy, I also saw a woman wearing chop sticks in her hair, and one red vinyl mini dress resplendent with silver sparkle stripper shoes (like Santa’s naughty little helper). For Majnoon and I, it is half the fun of clubbing in Oman.
For those who have never been, Trader Vic’s is a Polynesian themed bar with a live salsa band that ensures a populated and pulsing dance floor. It is not to be judged by its patrons, including Stripper-Elf, Cowboy, and Jesus.
Mystery greeted the bouncer with a player's “salaam” and they chit-chatted while the Emiratis and I stood back, Majid already grooving out to the music coming from indoors in a bid to get all the rest of us all hyper.
Mystery gave us a wave and I followed like a puppy at his heels, nervous without Majnoon, and-because of my Emirates experience-not one hundred percent on yet with the Emiratis we were hosting.
Not that Mystery exactly gave me confidence. If any from their Omani-set spied us, I knew I’d hear from Celeste (or Khaleel) that Mystery and I were having ‘a thing’ behind Majnoon’s back, or even right under his nose, if they heard that Majnoon had asked Mystery to pick his Anastasia up.
But honestly, if I were a different kind of girl, the cheaper kind, the kind they took me as simply by the fact that they thought I’d hooked up with Khaleel and that I am Western, I’m not one hundred percent sure I would trust Mystery with me either, so I don’t blame the guys for wondering, really. They got the wrong impression of me from the very beginning.
An impression I was trying to ‘right’ with Mystery still, and to establish with the Emiratis.
But still, Mystery and the Thai crew were better than the dishdasha- clad Omani men pasted to the curving bar who had eyes that could devour a woman’s soul, I swear.
We didn’t get very far though, before security called us back.
Security spoke in Arabic to Khalid, the big one, and Khalid came forward to ask me if I would mind being so helpful as to give the man my ID card. After establishing that I was over and above the required age for entry into a licensed establishment in the Sultanate of Oman, we took to follow-the-leader again, with Mystery at the helm, and me by his elbow.
All the Omani men at the bar eyed me as we squeezed with difficulty through their masses aimed to this purpose, taking in first my covered body and the absence of any visible hair on my head, and then my face, my cheekbones as they are, and eyes the smoky gold shadow lining eyes the color of Sharqiyah wadis after rain. It was impossible I knew, to determine where I was from or what opening could be used to gain admission to the circle I occupied, as Mystery maneuvered us to what I now understand to be ‘our table’, a booth beside the balcony outside facing the dance floor and salsa band but tucked away from the main bar crowd in the corner.
As we sat, Khalid and Majid pulled out my chair, and Mystery leaned towards me as the pretty waitress dressed in a floral forties-style dress with a hibiscus flower in her hair sat down our drinks menus.
“They thought you were fourteen.”
It was hard to talk over the pumping salsa music.
“When I went with Khaleel-“ I shouted towards Mystery in confidence “-they asked him why he was bringing an ‘under-age’ girl to Copa.”
Mystery laughed, and waved the waitress over while the Dubai set, perusing the drinks list, confided that they were all, in fact, actually brothers, Majid oldest, then Khalid who I was seated next to, and the youngest, Faisal.
Mystery ordered for them after a brief consultation then looked to me. Mystery knew that I, like Majnoon, did not drink alcohol.
“Try the pineapple,” he suggested. It was what Celeste always drank when she came with their Indian-Uni Omani set here.
I bit my lip nervously. I didn’t bring any money with me as I never had a chance to spend it when I was with Majnoon anyways, so if Majnoon didn’t show up before we moved on, I wouldn’t have the funds to cover. That is not something you want to admit to a guy like Mystery, that an Omani man usually paid for a girl in anything [that would be an equivalent in Muscat to admitting to sleeping with his friend, and even if nothing had ever gone down it would be like saying it would someday to an Omani guy, and the status of Majnoon’s relationship with me was still undisclosed publically], so I nodded sure and hoped that Majnoon would show up before the bill.
Mystery went and ordered for me and the guys chatted in Arabic. I spoke a little to Khalid, and Majid goofed off, pretending to salsa dance all by himself, which made the petite little blonde salsa singer smile.
Majid’s personality was one of those infectiously delightful ones, so that you couldn’t help but like him immediately. It took very little effort for him to break down any walls of awkwardness, for he was much like a socially adept child relishing being center of attention.

When the band took a break from their set it got a lot quieter and the five of us were able to hear each other better, and the pretty blonde salsa singer sat at the table one-up from us on the diagonal, glancing back at us every once in a while.
It was obvious to me that she was entertained by Majid, as we all were, him drumming away on the porcelain log-mug his drink was served in with two extraordinarily long plastic straws.
Every now and then a group of plain-clothes Omanis from their Al-Khoudh/Mubhela set would saunter up to Mystery, who, like Majnoon, seemed to know everyone here in Muscat.
I sat back protected by my Omani/Emirati ‘brothers’ safe in the corner, sipping my tropical pineapple fare and suppressing an itch worse than a Muscat beach Mosquito bite to dance with the same childish abandon as Majid, playing the ice princess I was costumed as.
I longed for Majnoon to arrive, so I could drop the screen I used to protect myself with. I was safe in the reputation of his interest and amusement, and I knew he wouldn’t abuse my reputation to further his social status like the rest of the guys Khaleel had accidently set me out with.
The bar is laid out in the following: the entrance had a way to go off to dining or a way to hit the bar. Choosing bar, pass the washrooms, go up two steps. Lining the bar, Omani men in dishdashas and other Arab expat male with girls seated at tables across from the dishdasha crowd. Just past, some Philipino shop-girls sit together with some expat Western women taking a break from Salsa steps. Coming to the edge of the bar as it snakes around the corner, Western men who like salsa dancing (or just watching it) are mixed by the occasional Omani friend in Western clothes, and here is the dance floor and the band. At the edge of the dance floor are some tables and two booths along the window on the balcony that goes back to the dining area behind the band. This is where we sat.
Cowboy and Santa’s Naughty Little Helper were nearby, to our amusement, and when I went to the bathroom, I found the door difficult to open as I found Chopsticks girl passed out on the floor.
I always want to dance. Some people (like Mystery) need to buy drinks to lose the inhibitions that guard their movements.
I don’t.
I get drunk on a DJ, high on dancing off of someone else’s moves.
As Majid danced by himself, I wanted to join on along, but pinched myself to wait for Majnoon, who was late.
Mystery and I had texted him but to no reply, and the Dubai guys needed to have some fun and see more of Muscat nightlife, so Mystery wanted to leave.
Over my empty pineapple juice glass I smiled at the blonde salsa singer, and I wonder if simultaneously we both had the same thought: how did we both end up with our lives in this Muscat bar? How did she end up singing here, in this particularly quiet Gulf country, and dressed as I was, how did I end up surrounded by Omani guys and Philipino waitresses in Hawaiian print dresses carrying beers and cocktails?
Seeing my glass was empty, the youngest, Faisal, offered me a try of his. Mystery snickered.
“I don’t drink,” I commented off-hand to Faisal, and for the second time that night he gave his brothers a look of ‘who IS this girl?’.
Mystery, who was ready to jet, had asked for the bill, and told me to call Majnoon and tell him we’d meet him at the Hyatt. Helplessly, Mystery paid for my drink without a bequest from behalf, half to my relief, half to my devastation.
“Job of Omani men,” he winked and I just kind of sat there dumbly, aware of how easy it is to be absorbed as a conscious Muslim-woman here in the Gulf, like water by a dirty sponge. I tried not to think too much on it. The more power I gave their stupid social conventions and suppositions, the more they’d rule my life, and my world-my culture- was different than theirs. ‘I can move between worlds’ I told myself. ‘Like Audrey says, they are stuck in the box, and they didn’t make a box yet that could fit the woman that I am.’
I wouldn’t be defined by hypocritical Omani social stereotypes.
Recovered, I rolled my eyes, pressed open my Monsoon clutch with a deft “click”, and put one hand to my ear, and with the other clutching my cellphone, slid from our table, leaving the boys to settle the bill and say “see ya’ll” to their Al Khoudh/Mubhela set that I had none to do with.
My floor length silk skirts swished as I passed the dishdasha crowd, trying my damndest to appear haughty, cold, and proud.
Outside in the heat of the evening air, I rang Majnoon, only to be answered by an audible ringtone I recognized, and footsteps on the stairs.
We always seemed to meet with me standing, waiting, on the precipice of some great height.
Stairs always seemed to play a role in our seduction.
I turned, cellphone still pressed to my ear.
Majnoon smiled wide. He was wearing a white printed t-shirt, faded jeans, and designer sneakers as he came up the steps. He smelt like soap and sun and rain, even from a distance.
He had never seen me in anything but a headscarf before so I tilted my hatted head up so he could see my eyes under the slant of the beret as he drew closer.
Seeing my face up close, he paused as if struck, because I know, if I paint it the right way, I can be strikingly lovely.
Small bee-sting lips with cocoa-colored lipstick, grey-green eyes shifting to violet in their depths if I am so bold as to overwhelm them with thick black mascara…
I used to paint portraits with oil on canvas, and make-up is an easier art to master.
I blinked back at his wonderment, knowing I was the same girl underneath.
I’d always played my beauty down with Faisal and Khaleel. Majnoon liked me better free so I could do as I please. Not to say that I’d ever let Khaleel control me, or that Faisal had ever tried to, but when you love somebody, what makes them happy makes you happy. Majnoon loved me just for me. Every impulse of mine made him happy, so I drifted so naturally back into myself, the two of us like children, twins, our own natures ruling the dictates of the relationship, so that there were no dictates at all, no thinking.
My simple waterfall diamond earrings cascading from underneath the snowy white beret cast a glimmer onto his round, freckled cheek.
He smiled then, as if he’d remembered something he’d forgotten.
“You look so pretty- lovely, Honey.”
Enchanted, his hand reached out to cup my face, but then, remembering that people were watching us, withdrew, and took my hand instead. He held it with most of the strength in his as if he were afraid I were a mirage that would disappear. I was so giddy I almost started laughing, lost as I was in my Jane Austen world.

I squeezed his hand back to break the spell, his honey-colored eyelashes blinked twice, and his brown eyes laughed with me at the busy-bodies watching us.
A group of guys in different coloured dishdashes, off-white, mustard, and baby blue, stared without apology, at our exchange.

“Come,” I said. “You’re already late. Mystery is thinking to steal your guests and ditch you, you’re so late.”
Busy-bodies take note of my good comprehension and use of the English language, please.
He nodded, “Yes, yes,” and followed my lead through the bar to our table.
Dishdashas noted who I was with, whether or not he was Omani (which some find hard to determine), my smile, my new way of walking, that if the way became congested I would rather brush my body softly against Majnoon’s before I’d touch any other male accidently.
Majnoon shielded me to our table, waited until I was seated, then hugged Mystery and his Emirati friends, them exchanging greetings in Arabic in turn, and then, in English, he informed us Birdman was waiting outside.
“Birdman dances?” I asked Majnoon, fascinated by this news as is not something that I would have pictured. Having lived with Birdman for three days, and knowing that he waded out through a flood during a hurricane to pray his salat in the Mosque, I had trouble picturing him in Copa.
“He does in Thai,” Majid grinned at me with a playful wink as we went to go, and I smiled as we passed the cropped blonde salsa songstress who watched our depart.
I was practically skipping all the way to the car, where I switched from the Emirati’s ride, to Majnoon’s green 4x4.
Faisal and Khalid swung off with Mystery for the drive to the Hyatt, and we (Majid, Majnoon and I) met Birdman in Intercon. park.
Birdman and I exchanged our polite and semi-reserved “salaams” [a lot of personal things get shared when you are locked up in one house during a hurricane and you end up with a kind of respect and understanding for another person when you get a view into their life that otherwise, you might have trivialized into a superficial impression] and Majid laughed at me as I enthusiastically swung myself right next to Majnoon on the passenger side of the front seat, making certain no one else had a chance to cry shot gun.

Majnoon and I were singing all the way to Hyatt, down the highway, music blasted, and my hand out the window as he drove, making waves, oblivious to the world beyond that night.
Hyatt was always the same, fountains lit up, and bouncers knowing Majnoon, never checking our IDs or asking for cover.
I tucked myself between the guys typically, holding Majnoon’s hand. We took over a blue-lit table near the dance floor from another couple and the guys waved to everyone that they knew.
By now, the itch for dancing had burned through the soles of my shoes, so I kicked them off and tugged on Majnoon’s hand, begging, “Come dance with me!”
He laughed at my impatient bare feet, which I displayed en pointe, extending them gracefully and kicking up the hem of my long skirts for flourish.
“For sure, Hyati. Let’s show them how it’s done.”
If Faisal had wondered what I’d come for, he, and everyone else there knew it by the end of the night, because nothing is like dancing off of Majnoon’s moves, even in an extraordinarily predictable nightspot like Copa.
Majnoon, like me, got drunk on DJs and strung out on skillful sets. When there was a song that we loved we forgot everything but how to move to the rhythm and beat of the set, and when play became art, each other.
As I told Khaleel, I am not a particularly skilled dancer, but I have the benefit of purely loving to dance, and not caring what anybody else thinks of me.
Most men (and some women) only come to a nightclub come to drink or to flirt. Majnoon comes to dance, so how we ended up paired as we were was quite by accident, with Celeste saying it was safe to dance with Majnoon all those months ago at Trader’s before Canada.
Majnoon is a good dancer. I remember watching him and Celeste that first night out in Muscat, and how dance between those two was fun and a show, nothing to do with hormones and heat.
So I had agreed to dance. But I knew that I was not safe with Majnoon from the very first set we ever danced, from how he looked at me and moved around my body, and though I had let go of my body to the music, I had held my personal in, and held it very tightly.
Mystery knew this, as from, and because of Khaleel, it had become nigh legendary with the guys, the reason I had been 'stolen' away. Mystery knew more though.

Majnoon’s hands fit perfectly closed around my waist. My thigh is the size of his upper arm. This always moved me as primevil as that is for a fluffy female brain.
I was easy for him to move about out there on the dance floor. It was easy for the pair of us to look impressive on the dance floor, once we learnt to stop bopping heads, and merge our disparate styles.
I am more the Irish ballerina who likes flamenco and Arabic styles, and he is the hip-hop free styler with an attempt at Cuban salsa flair, but people would often come up to us and compliment how well we looked together on the floor.

Honest, I liked the compliments, because to me, I was dancing the way that I paint, not for sex or for show, but for art.
So I know, covered as I was from head to toe, any evil out there came from the hearts of others’, but still, for a Muslim woman, what I did, was not very modest, and not accepted by our society as an excusable act at all.

Never mind the many Omani men in dishdashas drinking it up (an actually STATED sin), flirting and dancing the night away.

Thus the resultant conversation between Majid, Faisal, Khalid and I.

Majid: “You are a good dancer.”
I had both my elbows on the bar, and Majnoon had gone to the other end of the counter to get me a Red Bull and a bottle of water, which we’d share.
“La!” I laughed, ‘no’ in Arabic, “really I am not. I just like to dance.” I wiped the sweat from my brow with the wool of the beret very delicately, before taking a swipe of the water as Majnoon came to my side and hugged me
Khalid: “You should take Anna to Dubai,” he suggested happily to Majnoon. “She says she’s never been to a nightclub in UAE.”
Faisal and Majid echoed encouragement for this plan in Arabic.
“After Ramadan, maybe,” Majnoon looked to me, knowing how much I hate UAE, and knowing it was unlikely as I wore niqab there as a rule.
Khalid paused to look to me.
“Do you understand what we are saying?”
“Not really,” I laughed. “I understand only a little Arabic, and most of that is Fusha, you know, from Qu’ran. But I know a few Omani words.”
The three brothers regarded me like I had shocked them.
“But I bet you have cooler clubs than this. I bet you don’t have Emirati guys done up in their kandoura to go clubbing,” I told them.
The five of us sniggered at the dishdasha sausage party milling around, ogling the scant female crowd already engaged on the dance floor by braver Omani male souls, all sans dishdasha.
“I don’t get why they can wear their dishdashas in but I can’t wear my shayla and abaya!”
Majnoon hugged me, “But you look so pretty tonight.”
I didn’t feel naked with his arms around me, but if he weren’t with me, I’d feel exposed and unprotected. Mystery and Birdman waved at us from the velvet ropes where they mingled with the bouncers they knew or were cousins with.
“An Emirati girl in the bathroom said I would be the prettiest woman in the club if I left my hat and scarf off.”
“Sometimes I am ashamed to be Emirati,” Majid broke in. “Sometimes we wish we were Omani.”
Majnoon let me go to hug the guys. “You are from Al Ain! That means you are as good as Omani!”
Right after that, proceeding, a man from the same tribe as Majnoon in Sharqiyah came up to me to tell me how good Majnoon’s character is, and if anyone says anything ill of him, they are a liar.
He was very drunk though, so Majnoon told me not to give the reference any serious credence.
After we finished our drinks we all danced together, like the bedu do sometimes in Oman, in an almost line, like a circle, men and women together but nothing wicked between.
An Arabic song played and I jokingly danced an Emirati hair dance which amused Faisal and Majid a great deal, as I had no hair to swing about to make the dance a success.
Majnoon and I danced one last song together and then our party made our exit.
In the parking lot the Dubai brothers tried to convince me to visit their city again for the nightlife but I declined.
“Really I can’t. I know too many people in UAE. I don’t want to be a bad example. I am a bad enough example of a Muslimah as is. And I don't want to run into any of my friends' brother in laws or husbands in the nightclubs there.”
Majid stopped as he unlocked the Dubai plated SUV, my things on his arm, absolutely shocked.
“You’re a Muslim?!”

The fact that it wasn’t obvious made me feel absolutely horrible.
“A bad example of one, but yes.”
Faisal’s eyes were apologetic, and Khalid was quiet.
I took my abaya from Majid’s hands and slipped it on. It dawned on them. It was why I didn’t drink or shake hands with men and why my clothing was loose and covered and why my hair was under wraps.
Majid want to say more but I never gave him the chance.
“Anna!” Majnoon called me.

“Coming!” I yelled with a soft smile over my shoulder. Back to Majid and his brothers, “Anyways, gotta run. It was a pleasure to meet all of you.”
I did my faux curtsey and we exchanged our “yalla masalama, hayakallahs” and I bid Birdman to send my “salams” to his family, and I thanked Mystery for driving me and buying my drink.
“Ma mushkila-no problem,” he grinned, eyes shadowed by a Muscat-beach-life confidance.
I ran off down the parking lot to Majnoon, the silver edged wings of my chiffon abaya trailing in the wind while the Hyatt’s fountains trickled, and Omani guys loaded their tipsy friends into Jeeps and Mercedes. Orange and white painted taxis honked to signal they were free for a ride.
I climbed into the passenger side beside Majnoon, and finally, we were still. He smiled at me.
“So.” He shrugged his shoulders looking at me.
“So.” I smiled back into his warm eyes.
“Ya Majnoonah, what did you think of my friends?”
He started the engine, and reversed to pull out.
“I liked them,” I said when he looked back at me, before we pulled back again. “I liked them more than I generally like Emirati men.”
“Mmmhmmm.” We laughed together and drove.
“I missed you,” I admitted. “I miss you a lot.”
“I know,” Majnoon was quiet. “I wish I wasn’t busy. I miss you too… My friends, they liked you. They said you were a good girl but fun and they think you are a good dancer.”
Thoughtful, I mused, a distance growing between Majnoon and I that I didn’t know how to bridge or to fill.
“They… didn’t know I was a Muslim.”
That was something that should have been obvious. Looking at Majnoon and I, I didn’t know what I knew anymore, because I had changed all the rules to move through their world, a world that was once my life, and who I was, but I wasn’t sure if I fit there anymore. I didn’t know if I wanted anything from that way of life other than Majnoon and my own ability to live as I saw fit.
Why did I want Majnoon?
As he drove us down _____ Street towards my home, I knew I loved Majnoon because he loved me for who I was, and I knew I loved Majnoon and wouldn’t change a single thing about him or his life or ask anything from him, and just wanted to be with him, but I also wanted a real life.
And nightclubs and camping and festivals were just play.
We could say “I love you” and “I miss you” but neither of those phrases had a meaning without a real action behind them.
It would be so easy for him to not miss me anymore. He’d just have to marry me.
When you are in love, really in love, this is an easy thing, even if it is difficult. I know I’d charm his family. Most Arab ladies love me, as Birdman can attest. His job, we could sort that out for sure, but easy, if you really love. Because when you really love someone, seeing them happy, and being with them is the most important thing to you in this life.
Like becoming a Muslim; when one believes in the message of Islam, that there is only One God, it is very easy thing to do, as it is the truth. Living, saying, doing anything different is a lie to one’s self, for a believing Muslim. The difficult part is dealing with your friends, your family, the laws of your country, that are against what it is you believe in to actually practice it.
Maybe that is why I didn’t accept what I already knew then.
That Majnoon didn’t really love me, or know how to really love, even though he thought he did.
And my Islam… It was and would always remain the truth to me, as Truth is a pure form that cannot be altered. So I had forgotten in the difficulties, that my religion was also easy. As easy as knowing it was the truth.
If you put a gun to my head and said, “Say that this is not the truth” of Islam, it would be very easy for me to say to you, “Pull the trigger, inshaAllah my Lord will know me and receive me, saying I believed in only One.” But put on a song and show me my love, make me choose between Majnoon and Islam the way I could choose between Islam and my life, I become confused in the choice that I am sure of.
If truth is more important than life, love that is true is worth the same [we are not accounting for souls, just this world, in the equation].
But if love is only true for one person, not both, does it cease to be the truth then? Or can it be, as my father believes of love and religions, that there is more than one truth?

I watched the shadows and the light pass Majnoon’s face as we drove and I wanted to cradle that face in my hand and take away the difficulties, smooth out the creases he saw in marriage, iron it like his cotton t-shirts, smooth as my love.
Like the truth, real love is easy, but because of that, it is also difficult.
I paused in the car before going out to the green and gold wrought iron gate of my villa. We didn't peck eachother's cheeks like we usually would, but I grasped his hand and held it tightly, and didn't want to let go because if I did, I knew my world would change.
Because it already had.
I looked behind me as I closed the gate, my body reduced to a pillar of salt like Lot's wife in Sodom and Gomorah. And yet, as fractured as I was, my body broken into a thousand primsed shards of different hopes and dreams, shards of conflicting convictions and desries, I continued to exist as he drove away.
He could have stayed.
But he didn't.
Yet still I was fixed.
When love is true, it surpasses the practical, and exists in everything.

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