Munthir’s Dilemma ———- Part 1
Posted by dshalabi in 19. Jul, 2013, under society, people, and life in Amman
It was a warm mid July summer night when this story began. The trees swayed gently in the light to non-existent breeze, and the sky had just turned a quaint shade of dark purple. The time was 8:00 pm when the first swarms of people arrived to the poolside reception.
Indeed, they were all beautiful people ,all dressed to impress. In true Amman form, the women, who were not veiled, wore tight fitting evening gowns that were sleeveless, backless, or any ‘less” for that matter. They garnished their bodies with fake tans, obscure Henna tattoos, long hair extensions, and 9 inch heels, while the veiled wore long skirts, tight sleeved tops, elaborate veils, and an abundance of makeup. The men all wore suits, colorful ties, shiny black shoes, and perfectly combed hair. It was an evening in which everyone looked their best.
Amidst the whiff of perfumes, waiters circled the crowd with trays of tall juice glasses raised high above their heads, and the elegant parents of the bride and groom stood at the foot of the stairway welcoming the gusts with smiles, kisses, and handshakes. Within crowded area, Munthir stood with his friends chatting about business. However, these talks were periodically interrupted by his mother, a close relative to the bride’s father, who kept rushing to him to whisper something in his ear. He would whisper a short reply back causing her to return to her husband’s side and the group of relatives she was talking to.
Following one of those mother-to-son intervals, Munthir looked at his friends and said, “This is why I hate weddings. They always turn into a show, where my mother comes up to me every few minutes to point out a girl she would like to fix me up with.” His friends laughed before Sadeq, his friend who was recently married said “And , why not Munthir? You know I met my wife at a wedding.”. “I am not interested in getting married this way.” Munthir replied.”Don’t tell me you want to fall in love?” Sadiq said. His other friend Amer interrupted ” Come on, Women you fall in love with are for relationships. You get the love issue out of your system with them and then you marry a woman your mom likes just to save yourself the trouble of the whole mother-in law scenario,” . “Do you love your wife” Amer asked Sadiq. “Of course I do, she is good, she doesn’t cause problems with my mom, she is pregnant with a baby boy. What more could a guy want?”. ” Where is she?” Munthir asked him. “She is with my mom” Sadiq replied as he pointed to a conservatively dressed woman chatting with two older women. ” if he loved her why is she standing with his mom and not with him,” Munthir thought to himself “,This is the typical convenient marriage she is good on paper he is good on paper so they got married”. Lost in his thoughts, his eyes turned to the steps just in time to see a young woman making her entrance. She was on her own.
Unlike the other ladies she left her dark hair down and she dressed in an elegant black dress and short jacket to match. She greeted the bride and groom’s parents before she stood in an empty space close to the corner of the poolside area. Seeing the waiter from afar, she signaled to him to come to her. When he arrived, she took from his tray a glass of lemon juice which she slowly sipped, as she eyed the crowd, and eventually her eye caught Munthir’s.
He looked at her and she nodded in acknowledgement, as she continued to sip her juice.
“Who is that girl?” Munthir asked his friend discreetly. “She must be the groom’s distant relative Amal” Amer replied, “P.S. she lives here on her own. Her parents are in Saudi Arabia. I hear she has a job in some big company, and she makes good money and she is living her life to the max, if you know what I mean.”
” Now see, she is relationship material not marriage material. I think she is around our age if not a bit older you know 35 to 36. you have fun with her, enjoy her flat, talk to her about important stuff, and when you are ready to get married , you marry someone your mom likes” Sadiq added, as he and the rest of the crowd laughed.
Munthir allowed his friends’ comments to fade in the corners of his mind, as he looked in her direction again, and then he looked around him at the other girls, and then back at her. He couldn’t help but notice how comfortable she was with being on her own. In fact she was the only girl in the crowd standing quietly alone. There was something delightful about her appearance. It wasn’t pure beauty but a certain charm he couldn’t define. Obviously she has not made any elaborate efforts to appear glamorous, but she did look classically but simply elegant.
Without prior notice, he left his friends and walked up to her. “Hi” he said as he extended his hand . “Hi” she replied, “I’m Munthir, the bride’s second cousin”. “I’m Amal , but don’t ask me what my relation is to the groom coz I lost track” she casually said. He laughed and then he asked her “Do you enjoy weddings?”. “Honestly, no! I don’t like the way they turn into a show of who wants to fix up whom”. “Me too” Munthir thought to himself. “I’m only here because my parents are not in town and the groom’s parents insisted I attend.” she added.
“I’m sure a girl like you, would have a million parities she can go to.” “Hahaha very funny, what do you mean a girl like me?” she replied. “You know an open minded girl living on her own no family.” he said. “Aha so you are one of those people who label others” she said. “Can I have your number?” he asked. “What?” she replied in shock. “Look I am sorry, I must have been out of line, so tell me what would you do if you were not at a wedding?” “I don’t know” Amal replied “I would go to wild parties, get drunk, and maybe invite a group of men to my flat. Isn’t that what you think?” she said and without giving him a chance to say anything else she said. “I have to go” as she went to another corner to stand.
“Amal” Munthir called out, “I’m sorry ” he said as he walked quickly after her, but Just as he reached her, the bride and groom made their grand entrance, accompanied by drums, horns, dancing men, and a crowd of relatives cheering them on. After the show, the music died down and the relatives from both sides went back to the hotel ballroom.
As Amal was making her way in, Munthir stopped her again. “Look I am sorry, I don’t know why I behaved the way I did. Can I make it up to you?”. “You don’t have to” she said “I mean we won’t meet again probably ever, so just think of this as a non-existent incident”. “But, I do want to meet you again” Munthir blurted out, and the truth was he did. There was something about her that was so refreshing. She was smart, she was respectable, and she wasn’t making too much of an effort to impress anyone. He never saw anyone so comfortable in their own skin and he was indeed intrigued.
“I’m not going to invite you to wild parties” she sarcastically said “I hate parties, and to me a good evening is a cup of coffee and a good conversation. In case you were wondering”. He smiled and said “No, I am not wondering. But, I am wondering this. If I hate weddings and you hate weddings, why should we go to this one. Why don’t we just go to the hotel lobby and talk.” “I’m here on a family obligation. Look you don’t have to feel guilty about what you said I forgot about it” she said.
“It’s not guilty. I mean I feel bad about it, I mean” Munthir said “I do want to get to know you. You are really interesting, and yes I will call you and we will meet for coffee one day. So, you can either give me your number here or I can ask for it from a relative of yours. What do you prefer?”
Seeing that he will get her number anyway she gave it to him, and then he gave her his. “I’m a very busy person” she said “I am not sure when we can meet for coffee, but for now let’s try and enjoy the wedding. ” walking ahead of him to the ballroom.
He went in behind her thinking to himself wow what a different girl, and she went in thinking, what a chauvinist. For the rest of the evening, Munhir spent his time chatting with his friends. He didn’t ask any girl to dance, and he kept looking at her. She sat at a table with an older group of relatives, and she seemed to be enjoying a conversation with two very old men. The night passed, and when she got home she found a message from him saying “You finished your family obligation, and I gave you the space to do that. Now, when could we go for coffee?”
Munthir’s Dilemma……..Part 2
under society, people, and life in Amman
For the next few days, Amal was spending a lot of her time at work. She was putting in 13 to 14 hour work days, determined to make the cut for a new managerial opening she had been eyeing for months. But, within her busy days she did manage to find time to open her mobile and read Munthir’s last message, not once but several times each day. She would catch herself sitting in her office alone smiling at the words, ” Now, when could we go for coffee?”.
In-between tasks, she wondered what it was about those words that got her in such a good mood. After all, she didn’t find Munthir particularly charming. In fact, she remembered very well that he had labeled her and insulted her, and she reminded herself that he was a chauvinist for doing so. Never the less, she admired his courage and persistence, but then she re-thought that notion, believing that he wasn’t even persistent. “If he was serious about seeing me, he would have at least tried to contact me again.” she thought. But, Munthir didn’t try to call. The days turned into a week, and the week turned into two, causing the initial sense of flattery from Munthir’s message to dwindle into nothingness.
With time, Amal just stopped wondering about him, In fact every time he popped to her mind, she reminded herself that there was nothing worth thinking about. After all, they had only met once, they fought and that was that. She decided to be rational and consequently to label their encounter as ‘Nothing important .” She even decided to shift the memory of him to the faraway place in her mind dedicated to weird life episodes that would never amount to anything.
But, on one busy afternoon life decided to give her an unexpected surprise. While typing frantically at her laptop, surrounded by heaps of papers to her left, and to her right her phone vibrated. She heard it vibrate, but she couldn’t find it , as it was lost somewhere under piles of documents. She stumbled through the documents until eventually she got to it. She picked it up. As she crouched over her desk, looked at the screen blinking at her, and she saw his name flashing before her. “He called” she thought to herself smiling, but the smile instantly turned into a frown as she remembered that he had waited over two weeks to call and to her that meant that he didn’t deserve an answer from her right away.
She decided that she will not pick up, besides she was busy and was not in the mood to talk to him when she was so stressed. So instead, she allowed the phone to ring as she went back to work, or so she tried.
The truth was that she couldn’t really concentrate on work, as she kept thinking how silly she was for ignoring his call. “I wanted to hear from him, and I had waited for that call, so why is it that when he did finally call me, I decided to ignore him “, she asked herself. The truth was that she hated playing games, and she hated carrying out any of those “Playing Hard to get” strategies she had often read about in women’s magazines. “Besides he was only proposing coffee, not even a date. It is coffee, and one can have coffee with anybody, it’s no big deal if I call back” she convinced herself, as she dialed his number.
When she did call, Munthir’s phone rang four times, but then he replied.
“Hello”, he said. “Hi” she said. “You didn’t tell me when we were going to have coffee, so when I got tired of waiting I decided to call you”, he said sarcastically “So how have you been?”. “I’m ok, been busy” she replied. “Well I am out now with friends, so I’m going to make this call quick, when can we go for coffee?” he asked.”You really want to have coffee with me, it isn’t like we hit it off the first time we met” she said. “Do you drink coffee?” he asked. “Yes I do?” she said ” Then, Let’s just say we are two people who drink coffee , instead of drinking that coffee alone let us just go and drink that coffee together. You women love to complicate things don’t you” he said and she laughed. “In the spirit of complicating things, I have a question for you .Why should I drink coffee with you?” she replied. “Let’s just say because this is the one cup of coffee that would change your life” he said . “Someone is sure of himself” she said. Interrupting her he replied “Let’s say Saturday 6:30 , I will sms you where, now I have to go goodbye” and he hung up.
“So, Saturday?” his friend Amer, who had been listening to his conversation asked him “Yes Saturday” Munthir replied. “I don’t understand you, do you seriously like her” Amer asked. ‘I don’t know” Munthir said “But she is now putting on the reserved hard to get act. I would love to see how long she is going to keep the act up, before she breaks down.”. Amer replied “And, I am sure you can have a lot of fun with her once she breaks down. But, remember as Sadeq said, she is only relationship not marriage material.”, and both men laughed.
Meanwhile, back in her office, Amal felt irritated “How can he dictate to me a time and date for coffee. I will change the day just to show him that he can’t boss me around.”
Munthir’s Dilemma …..Part 3
Posted by dshalabi in 02. Aug, 2013, under society, people, and life in Amman
The awaited Saturday finally arrived, and Amal was lost in her thoughts,! On the one hand she wanted to meet Munthir for coffee as she wanted to get the affair over with, but on the other hand she didn’t want to seem desperate. She didn’t even receive any confirmation from him about their date, and as the hours went by she started to get nauseous “Did he forget or did he change his mind? “She told herself “It’s kind of annoying to get rejected by someone you hardly know”. She wanted to message him and ask if they were still on, but then she feared the embarrassment of getting no reply from his end. She tried to go about her day normally but she found herself glancing at her phone time and time again.
To stop herself from obsessing , she put her phone on maximum volume, but it wasn’t until 6 pm that the silence was broken and Muntir called. “Hi” he said, “I’m sorry was busy all day and I didn’t get a chance to call you”. “It’s ok” she replied, “in fact I was busy too”.
“So shall we meet in 20 minutes for coffee, remember I did say we are meeting for coffee today right”.
Amal found those words infuriating, she wondered how he could possibly think that she was ready and waiting for his invitation, or better yet how could he just assume that she had no plans or no life and that she was only waiting for him to entertain her for the evening.
Even if this was the case, it last thing he should know, she thought to herself. So, she said “I’m sorry you didn’t confirm that we are meeting today so I made other plans. Can we make it tomorrow?” “Sure”, Munthir said, and they made plans to meet the next day at 6 for coffee at Crumz. “She wants to seem busy and important” Munthir thought , “so let her be.”
Later that evening, he thought of Amal again and wondered what those other plans could be. He wondered if those plans involved other men. He knew he couldn’t ask her and that bothered him. He decided that the next day would be the day he decides for sure how serious he is in his interest in the girl.
The next day, however, Amal was held up at work , so she arrived to the coffee meeting 20 minutes late. At the coffee shop, she found Munthir sitting in a corner reading a business magazine, and smoking. She saw him and walked up to him. On the way to his table she said to herself “He smokes, and I don’t like the smell of smoke”.
Hearing her heels, Munthir looked up from his magazine and thought “In daylight Amal has really dark skin. I don’t like girls with really dark skin. Anyway let’s get this over with.”
” Are you always late” he asked. “I’m sorry” she said” I was held up at work.”. “You work too hard, I hope they pay you for your hard work” he said. “Isn’t that kind of personal?” she replied “What they pay me I mean.” “I’m asking because I figure that you are a girl with an extravagant lifestyle. You were out yesterday and you are out today, and so you probably go out every day. You wear expensive clothes and shoes,” he said. “Oh but that is not my business”
“Oh right! I forgot you label people. Look at the time hmm I have to go” Amal said as she turned around. She was furious. She felt silly for caring about this meeting, for giving him a chance, and for even showing up. But, then he said “Listen, I don’t know what it is Amal. I always seem to say the wrong thing to you. I apologize. Can we start again?” He sounded sincere, and the truth was she found something charming about him which she couldn’t define. His jealousy was pathetic but endearing so she smiled and asked him “What are you reading” in an attempt to change the subject. “Before I reply, tell me what you want to drink”. “Caramel latte but skimmed make sure it’s skimmed.” she said, and he called the waiter to get her order “1 caramel latte please” he said.”Skimmed,” she interrupted “Yes skimmed please” he said, sending the waiter off. “I’m reading an article about social media and how it is the best business venture to invest in” and from that point their conversation went smoothly covering media, business, communication, books, careers, and after a few hours they both left feeling good about the meeting.
Back at home, Amal called her friend Suzan to tell her about her meeting. At that point, Suzan was the only person Amal had been sharing her thoughts about Munthir with. Her friend then asked “When are you meeting again? “ “We didn’t make plans” Amal replied. “Bad sign, “Suzan said “If he likes you he should make plans”. “It’s not like that” Amal said “I think he just wanted to make up for the awful things he said to me at the wedding.” “Maybe” Suzan said.
On that same evening Munthir also got a call from his friend Sadiq who told him about one of his wife’s relatives as a prospective bride. “I told you I don’t get married this way” Munthir said.
“Yes I know, I know” Sadiq said. “Come over for dinner tomorrow, if you like her you can go out with her as many times as you like.” Sadiq persisted and eventually Munthir agreed.
Munthir’s Dilemma————– Part 4
The next day, Munthir went about his day to day activities and so did Amal. however, Amal kept wondering why he didn’t make plans for an upcoming meeting. Suzan’s words kept ringing in her mind “If he likes me, he should set a next meeting”, she thought. The truth was that Munthir did want to set an upcoming meeting. In fact, he couldn’t get her inelegance out of his head, but ethically he felt strange about making plans with her while planning to meet a prospective bride. He even went home following their meeting with every intention of setting another date, but he delayed these plans following Sadiq’s call.
In his state of confusion, he called his friend Amer for advice, and Amer said to him after hearing the story of his encounter with Amal, “You are a free agent, don’t feel guilty about seeing the bride or her. You can see as many women as you like until you put a ring on a girl’s finger.”. Munthir replied “But this means she is a free agent too. I’m not sure I want her to be.”
Amer siad, “No with women its different, she should not see other men while she is seeing you. Anyway relax, women are emotional they don’t think of more than one guy at the same time.”. “But isn’t that kind of unfair?” Munthir asked.
Amer replied, “Remember she is girlfriend material only , not wife. Don’t be an idiot. No one wants a woman who knows as much if not more than him sitting in his home. Besides you have a bride potential waiting for you, it won’t hurt to see her. Sadiq is aware of the whole wife v’s girlfriend issue, and he would know how to pick someone who fits being a wife. If you ask me, I don’t know what you see in Amal she is older and she is not that pretty. “
Munthir replied “It’s not her looks, she looks nothing like the type of girl I would be attracted to. She is funny, smart, educated, elegant……but you don’t get it. Anyway, I will go to Sadiq’s house for dinner. I promised the guy.”
While entering his home later that evening, Munthir said “Mom, I’m not staying for dinner. Sadeq invited me to his house.” Peeping her head through the kitchen doorway his mother asked, “And just when were you going to tell me that you were meeting a bride?”. “I’m not meeting a bride mom, I am responding to a dinner invitation and there will be a girl there that Sadiq thinks I may like.” “Give up Munthir Sadeq’s mom told me everything. I am so happy,” she ran to him as she said,” I always knew you would come around. This love thing doesn’t make sense.” “I love how news travels fast in Amman” he sarcastically said. “It does,” his mother replied,” I also know you went out with that Amal girl you met at the wedding. Mama sweetie, she s not for you. 35?” .”Not for me, ” Munthir gasped, “How many kids is she going to have. She’s old. She loves her work, she won’t leave it. Who will cook for you? ” “Mom” snapped Munthir, “would you calm down! It’s dinner, my thing with Amal was coffee. Stop jumping to conclusions……..you know what ? That is why I don’t tell you anything.” he said has he went into the bathroom to shower, slamming the door behind him.
While showering he could hear his mother talking to his father, “This boy doesn’t know what he is doing. Um Sadeq told me everything about the girl, Sadeq invited for dinner. She is 24, she works as a teacher in a government school so she finishes around 1:30 max, and she is conservative, beautiful, she even showed me a picture. She is so beautiful white skin, brown hair, green eyes, and Um Sadeq also tells me she is a fabulous cook. What is he doing thinking about that Amal. Talk to him”, she pleaded with Muthir’s dad , “You have to talk to him. When is this boy ever going to get married.”
“Relax Layla, he is a grown man. I’m not going to tell him what to do.” said Munthir’s dad, “Now let’s eat. I hope we are not having leftovers from yesterday.” “Abu Munthir, you know better than that, I made you stuffed chicken and rise.”
Getting ready in his room, Munthir was infuriated. He didn’t want his mother to know ,as she will nag now about the bride and about Amal. “And what about Amal, ” he thought “What was it about this girl that he so wanted to know more.”. Determined to find answers he picked up the phone and called her. But, there was no reply. “what is she up to” he wondered. In fact, Amal was not up to much, she just saw his call late. Without saying a word to his family, he left the house and drive over to Sadiq’s houe.
Munthir’s Dilemma ————————–Part 5
On his way to Sadeq’s house Munthir tried to dial Amal’s number again. He needed some sign, any sign, that she was interested, but Amal never picked up. Her absence enraged him. He thought to himself “Here I am trying to contact this girl and I’m feeling guilty about seeing a bride, and here she is not even picking up.”. A few minutes later he sent her an SMS asking her if everything was ok, but there was no reply to that SMS either. “Probably she is out with other men. No one is too busy to pick up.” he thought to himself. In his state of anger, he made the feelings of guilt he had previously harbored vanish into nothingness, He decided that he might as well give the bride he seeing a chance.
15 minutes later and with a mindset of anything goes, he arrived to Sadeq’s house. Sadeq’s wife welcomed him at the door, saying everything that her mother taught her to say since childhood in the company of guests “We are so happy to have you”, she enthusiastically shouted. “our house now glows because you are in it welcome Munthir, we are privileged to see you here”.
“It is great to see you too Haneen.” Munthir replied. “I was thrilled when Sadeq told me you were coming to dinner.” she said, and Munthir replied “You shouldn’t have bothered yourself.”, “Oh it is no bother at all, how many times does our good friend Munthir come to visit us. Please do come in”.
Little did Munthir know that Haneen had fought with Sadeq the night before over this invitation being so short notice. In fact, she was hardly speaking to Sadeq due to their little argument.
Sadeq then came through doorway and welcomed his friend with a similar set of pleasantries as he ushered him into the main living room. Haneen followed the men and she asked Munthir, just as he was sitting down “What can I get you to drink.”, “Get him Red bull with lots of ice, and a slice of lemon, ” Sadeq said “I know your favorite drink Munthir”, and with this command Haneen obeyed.
As Haneen walked into the kitchen, Munthir couldn’t help but notice that she was well dressed. Although she was well into her pregnancy, she still managed to look attractive. She had flaunted her dark eyes with elaborate eye make-up, and the house looked cozy.
The air around them gave off an aroma of good home cooked chicken, combined with a scent of jasmine air freshener. The living room, was dimly lit with a golden hue . The glow came out of the light purple soft floating candles dancing in matching bowls on the side coffee tables.
Munthir thought to himself. “If I get married would my house look like that, and would my wife make me this happy. Haneen cooks, cleans, has a baby boy coming on the way, and Sadeq is a happy man. He is proud to be seen with her.” Then, his mind went back to Amal, he glanced at his phone and still there was no reply from her. “If I were to marry a girl like Amal would she give me all that? I’m sure she would be too busy. She might even make me do the dishes.”
Interrupting his thoughts, Haneen walked back into the room carrying his drink in a silver tray, and behind her stood a young curved girl dressed in a sleeveless dress that was the same color as the candles in the room. The girl’s hair was a golden to chocolate shade of brown, with an even
number of waves bouncing off both her almost bear shoulders. Her green eyes were made even greener with jade eyeliner, and her lips shined with the same shade of purple bouncing off of her dress and the candles. Her skin looked as if it was lightly kissed by the sun, and her toe and fingernails were purple too. On her feet, she wore silver sandals. “Compared to Amal, she was definitely prettier.” thought Munthir.
“I want to introduce you to Jana,” said Haneen and the girl shyly extended her hand.”Sadeq dear, can you help me in the kitchen.” she said, and Sadeq followed his wife out of the room, as he said to the two strangers, “Make yourselves comfortable.”
Now that the two were alone in the room, Jana smiled and said” So, what would you like to know about me.” Munthir replied “That’s direct, what do you want to tell me.” “I will tell you everything you want to know,” said Jana as she leaned closer to him,” I am going to be honest, I want to get married. I don’t want to date, and I work now as a teacher, but when I have kids, I may not work. So, I want a man who is responsible , financially able, and who will love me. So, we both know why we are here no need to pretend. Tell me about yourself. ” Munthir proceeded to tell Jana about himself, and she agreed to all his likes and dislikes, calling them her own. She even told him, she liked the same football team he cheered for. Little did he know that she had asked of this information from Haneen.
At dinner she even sat next to Munthir. She put food on his plate, and when he said he was full, she begged him to eat some more. For dessert, Haneen served a chocolate cake that she told Munthir Jana had baked herself. Jana then smiled at Munthir and said, “I’m a great cook in the kitchen and in any kitchen if you know what I mean.” causing him to choke in astonishment at her words. “Maybe she didn’t mean what I thought she meant,” he thought to himself, as he tried to wipe the look of shock off his face.
Within the next hour the four engaged in light conversation. During that conversation Jana managed to tell Munthir more about herself. She told him that she didn’t feel women should work long hours because their prime duty is to take care of the home, and that a woman must not get anything more than a bachelors’ degree in university as the man is the boss of the house. She poured him mint tea and told him it was fascinating that he was so knowledgeable. “I would never know half of what he knew,” but then again, you are the man. You should know more.”
She then excused herself at around 10:00 pm , making sure to say that she comes from a conservative family and that her dad would be very upset if she stayed out late. She covered her sleeveless dress with a sheer almost see-through cloak, as she said “I am really scared of walking to my car alone at night.”
Sadeq smiled at Munthir and said “Take Jana to her car.” as Jana wanted by the door.
Walking in the street at night Jana leaned closer to Munthir and said, “I’m a direct girl, and I just want to tell you I had a great time tonight. It was great meeting you. Here is my number,” and she handed him a piece of paper from her purse. Munthir couldn’t help but wonder why she had the number already written. However, she interrupted his thoughts and asked, “aren’t you going to give me yours?”
“Yes sure, sure I will,” he said “do you have a pen? ” “You are so funny”, she replied “just dial my number on your phone and give me a missed call”. Munthir had no choice but to obey. \
Back in Sadeq’s house , Sadeq said, “So don’t I know how to pick them?” Munthir replied, “She seemed a bit too direct, don’t you think ?” Haneen rushed out of the kitchen saying “No Munthir, you don’t understand. she acts this way because she is innocent. I know exactly what you are referring to. She didn’t mean the comment you heard, or you didn’t understand what she meant. I know her mom they are good people. And, she is beautiful, a cook, a good girl what more do you want.” “I will tell you what,” Sadeq said, “first meetings don’t mean a lot. See her a second time, try to call her on the phone. Let me give you her number.” “She gave me her number,” Munthir said. “I know,” Haneen interrupted, “We will go out for coffee all four of us next week. It couldn’t hurt. If you hate her by then, we will let it go.”
On his way home, Munthir finally got a call from Amal. As soon as he picked up she said “I’m so sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier. My cousin had a car accident and I was in the hospital with her.” Relieved at these words, Munthir said, “I hope she feels better soon,” and from that point they spoke laughed and commented about their days. When he told her about his day, he conveniently deleted the whole bride episode, as she made him laugh at episodes that happened to her during her day.
In his desperation to make some decision about Jana v’s Amal he blurted out “I need to talk to you, I need to see you tomorrow.” Delighted by his persistence Amal agreed, and so they both made plans to meet at Turtle Green.
In the meantime, Jana was having a phone conversation with Haneen, in which she told her that Munthir was perfect. He had the financial security she had always dreamt of, but he was too serious for her taste. Haneen asked, “So, would you like to meet him again ?” “Sure” replied Jana, “Since when does personality have anything to do with marriage. I know how to make him do what I want, the way I want, and exactly how I want it. It’s time I get the wedding and life I have always dreamed off. If it has to be with a serious guy like Munthir then so be it “. Both ladies giggled and Haneen said, “Ok then, do your thing.”
Meanwhile Munthir thought to himself, does a guy need to be with a woman who is a good wife or a woman who can make him laugh. He was determined to find out in his next meeting with Amal.
Part 6 coming up next Wednesday stay tuned.
Munthir’s Dilemma ————————–Part 6
As planned, Munthir was waiting for Amal at Turtle Green. For this meeting, she didn’t keep him waiting too long. She arrived on time, dressed in jeans and a black top that effortlessly highlighted her, not so slim but not so fat figure, and flat shoes. To her, it was a weekend after all, and she did dress casually when not working.
Her hair was up in a ponytail , which he thought looked nice on her. He even realized that when not formally dressed she really didn’t look her age. She smiled when she saw him, and with that smile he noticed for the first time that she had a slight overbite , but more to his delight she also had dimples. He thought to himself “Why had I never noticed her dimples before?”, and it then hit him that this was the first time he was out to understand her, and more importantly to understand himself.
He still saw that her skin was too dark, and he didn’t particularly like dark skin , but in her case however, there was something about her that even made her dark skin appear acceptable to his taste if not charming.
“I’m not late this time”, she said. “No urgent meetings?” Munthir replied.
“Come on it’s the weekend, and I don’t work on weekends.” she said.
“I thought you love your work so much, and you work for that big paycheck and title”, he replied .
As soon as the words came out of Munthir’s mouth, he realized once again that he was labeling her. To confirm his doubts she said “Here we go again!”.
“I’m sorry Amal. I don’t know what it is, I have been preoccupied lately. I have been thinking a lot about……. never mind. I’m sorry.”
“I don’t understand you ,” Amal said, “You call, you want to see me, you say it’s urgent, and the first thing you do is make another one of your assumptions. What is it Munthir? What? I’m tired of this. First you assume that I go to wild parties. Then you assume I want to get rich, and then you assume I live to work for a title and money only! Now if you see me as all these things and obviously they bother you why do you ask to meet with me?”
“I’m sorry Amal please let’s talk about something else. How was your day?” Amal, still upset, replied “Before I tell you about my day I want to make a few things clear. I work because I’m smart. I work because yes I care about my career. I don’t need to defend myself to you or anyone Munthir, so either you see these traits as acceptable to you or not. PS. I do like you, I’m not into playing games. This is your issue , please figure it out. Apart from now, my day was great.”
“What can I get you to drink?” Munthir asked
” Lemon Ice Tea” Amal replied as she pulled out her purse to give him the fee.
“No it’s on me” Munthir said as he got up to go to the counter.
On his way to the counter, he reproached himself. He really did not know why Amal’s success angered him. He thought her independence was charming, but he also knew that a girl like her would require a valid explanation for everything related to the house, the kids, and anything he would demand of her should they ever get married.
He was sure that she won’t let him be the only decision maker of the house. He didn’t necessarily crave being the only decision maker but then again he was taught that all men should want and be just that. He then remembered that his mother would not necessarily like her, given her age, her strength, and her mind, and he also knew that his mother would love Jana for her beauty alone and her sweet words.
He then thought of Sadiq’s wife Haneen . He remembered that their house did look beautiful the other evening thanks to her, and that her food tasted great. He wondered if Sadeq was upset about the fact that his wife doesn’t watch the news, read a paper, or know anything about his work. He wondered if Sadeq ever craved to tell Haneen about a work-related problem and have her attention ? He then glanced over to Amal at the table, and he wondered if she was seeing other men besides him. “A girl like her may feel she doesn’t owe me an explanation” he thought to himself, and with that raging thought he muttered to himself “Today I am planning to find out just how open minded this girl is.”
Back at the table he asked her “Where have you been going these days?”
“Aside from work, I went out a couple of times for coffee with friends, I saw a move, and I have been going to Fast Walk” she replied.
“Fast walk finishes late, and are your friends all girls?” he asked
“This is starting to sound like an interrogation” Amal sarcastically replied.
“I’m sorry, Munthir replied “I just want to know”
“Most of my friends are just girls Muthir, and let me make this easier for you, if you are wondering whether or not I am seeing someone the answer is no. If I was seeing someone, I wouldn’t be seeing you here today. Not necessarily for your sake but out of respect for the imaginary guy you are assuming I am seeing.” she lightly said, “Unless you are planning on having a normal conversation with me, I guess I will be going.”
Munthir liked her answer, it was a logical answer that made him gain her trust for the rest of the evening. From that point the conversation went smoothly, yet he couldn’t resist wondering why she was up on Facebook till 12 am two nights ago. He wanted to ask her, but he feared upsetting her, and he really didn’t want to upset her. He liked her sense of humor, and he did enjoy talking to her. The truth was that she enjoyed talking to him too, when he was not throwing strange accusations at her.
After 2 hours they walked to their cars, and he tried to subtly to hold her hand. She ignored his advances and pretended she didn’t even understand what he was doing. This gesture re-assured him further. He apologized again for the rocky beginning of their outing, leaving both parties feeling very positive.
On that same evening Jana made a call to her best friend Sarah, and she told her all the details about her evening with Munthir the night before.
Sarah asked her “So, do you like him?” .
“Not really” Jana replied, “but he is a good catch.”
“So, if I set you up with another perspective groom would you see him?” Sarah asked
“Are you asking this hypothetically or do you know of a perspective groom?” Jana replied
“My husband’s cousin,” Sarah said,” he is a family doctor. He is in his late thirties, and he has his own clinic. What would you say?”
“Well, I’m still a free agent, I don’t mind seeing all my options. Tell me more about him, and when can I see him ?” Jana asked.
For the next hour, she used her phone call with Sarah to learn everything about the new prospect including favorite color, favorite team, favorite food, and any other detail that would help her appear more charming. After all, she really felt she wanted to be married within a year, and with that resolve, the phone call ended, with a date set for a “Chance” meeting with the new perspective groom. Jana even ensured that the date wouldn’t overlap with the second date Haneen was setting up between her and Munthir.
The next day, Jana called Haneen and told her how eager she was to see Munthir again. After all, she wanted to make a rational decision as to who will qualify for the role of husband.
“You know I don’t meet that many men, ” she said to Haneen, “And, I would never go out with a guy alone. So, the only way this will ever work is if you set it up. Also, I did like Munthir, and I want you to give us another chance. I gave him my number but he never called.”
Touched by Jana’s innocence, Haneen set the date for the next week, and she told Sadeq to do whatever it took to convince Munthir to agree.
The truth was that Munthir was not too keen on seeing Jana. Following his last outing with Amal, he felt that he was more interested in her. From that day forward, they enjoyed long phone conversations. Chat sessions on whatsapp, two quick meetings on their lunch breaks, and an outing where she helped him pick out a wedding present for his newly -wed friends. He thought , she was someone he could be himself around, and he felt that she was being herself too. Therefore, he ignored Sadeq’s pleas to meet once again with Jana.
Frustrated by the predicament he and his wife would be in, Sadeq insisted on knowing why.
“It’s that Amal girl right?” Sadeq said
“Is that any of your business, we are getting to know each other and I like what I see.” Munthir replied.
“I will look bad !” Sadeq said.
“You shouldn’t have set dates up without informing me” Munthir replied
“Go on this one date, and then say it’s not meant to be.” Sadeq said.
“I won’t” Munthir replied, slamming the line in his face.
Annoyed by his behavior, Sadeq and Haneen paid a little visit to Munthir’s mom the following day, and they told her the details of what her son has been up to, and how he had put them in a bad position with Jana and her family. These words were enough to enrage Layla Munthir’s mother.
That evening, when Munthir walked into the door of his home, his mom met him at the doorway.
“When were you going to tell me you were seeing that Amal girl !” she shouted, “And, when were you going to tell me that you are refusing to see a beautiful , ready, and sensible girl like Jana, and for what.”
“I can’t lead her on Mom,” Munthir said” I just don’t like her”
“You did not see her except once,” she exclaimed, “you are refusing her for an old maid, a girl who didn’t find a husband? A girl who is too open minded? A girl who is probably seeing one million other men besides you? A girl who will probably not even give me enough grand children. You are going to see Jana, you are not going to break my heart. I will even tell your father ! ” she shouted, just before the tears started rolling down her eyes.
Munthir was just too familiar with his mother’s tantrums, and over the years he learned to walk away and not even reply to her. He ignored her tears and her shouts, and he went into his room and closed the door to talk to Amal.
His father also chose to ignore his wife Layla. He just felt she was causing too much of a stir over nothing. He believed his son was free to do whatever he pleased, and eventually the upheaval in their house died down for the evening and only temporarily.
The next day Layla was not pleased with her sense of defeat, so she picked up the phone, and made a few calls. She was on a mission to find Amal’s number, and eventually she succeeded. With a scrap paper in hand, she anxiously dialed the seven digits .As soon as Amal picked up she said, “I’m Munthir’s Mom, and I want to talk to you about your relationship with my son. Tomorrow meet me for coffee at 5, no is not an option, and if Munthir ever finds out about this call, I will never forgive you.”
Startled by the aggressive tone, Amal had no choice but to agree.
Next part will be posted on Sundar, stay tuned.
Munthir’s Dilemma——————Part 7
On the designated day, Amal set off to meet Munthir’s mom, and in her attempt to be discreet his mom suggested they meet in her own home. She gave Amal the directions and Amal had no choice but to obey. She really wanted to impress the woman, as she had admitted to herself and beyond all her better judgment that she had taken a liking to Munthir. She knew in her mind that Munthir was far from perfect, but there was just something about him she liked and that she couldn’t explain. She was not even impressed by his status or his finances, as her finances were just as good and her position at work was just as powerful. However, she loved the kindness he occasionally allowed to appear towards her like a ray of sunshine seeping its way through the layers of judgment making up his character. She even felt like a fool at times for subjecting herself to his judgment and even his mother’s rude tone on the phone. She wondered if he knew about this meeting but she did not dare to ask. After all, his mother was clear about not wanting her to tell him.
On that day, she wore an elegant pair of gray pants, and a lace white shirt. She even made sure that her hair was clean, and blow dried. She put on just enough make up to compliment her skin tone, and she wore an elegant pair of black shoes that made her appear a bit taller than she really was. She wanted to appear respectable, not too flashy, polite, yet sophisticated, and that is why she opted for a semi-formal attire. Knowing it was the first time she was planning to visit his mom, she even stopped on the way over to pick up a small box of chocolates.
Surely enough , his mother was alone in the house when Amal arrived . When she saw her she gave her cold handshake, barely greeting her, and she ushered her into the living room.
The minute Amal sat down, Munthir’s mom asked her
“How do you like your coffee?”
Not wanting to send the woman off to make it she said “please don’t bother yourself?”
“It’s a custom to serve our guests coffee and you are a guest, so just tell me how you like it.” Munthir’s mom replied,” We don’t need to exchange in this social custom of you pretending you don’t want coffee and me insisting that you have it. “
“Ummm… I,…….fine I will have it without sugar” said Amal, as it was then that she realized that the woman was not impressed by her, and that the words she had to say could not possibly be good ones.
Munthir’s mom then left the room, giving her a few moments to collect her thoughts and to observe the space around her. She noticed that the living room oozed with classic decor garnished by a dark brown and beige color scheme that only added to its seriousness not to mention the sinking of her thoughts. The seats had arched backs, set within a bulky wooden frame. The brown curtains let in no sunlight when closed, but Munthir’s mom was sure to keep them open just so she can get a good look at Amal. The wall had a verse from the Quran hung on. The verse was embroidered with gold calligraphy set on a felt background, and bordered in a golden frame. The dining room buffet had crystal glasses peering at her from its glass doors. Another wall had a big mirror on it, and the floors were covered with dark brown wall to wall carpets. Looking at the room, Amal could tell that Munthir’s family were rich as everything in the room was expensive and extravagant, but she could also tell that they had very traditional taste, as the room spoke of Arabism. “This woman is traditional” she thought to herself, “and she definitely is now going to tell me something only a traditional woman would say.”
Interrupting her thoughts, Munthir’s mom returned to the room, handing her the coffee cup in silence. She then sat opposite to her and took a sip from her coffee. Amal felt obliged to do the same.
“I’m going to be direct and get straight to the point, what do you want from my son?” Munthir’s mom asked.
“Nothing aunty, we met then we became friends, and I had never wanted but good things from your son.” she replied.
“Did you know that my son was seeing another girl. He is serious about her and is hoping to marry her?” Munthir’s mother said
“No I had no idea” said Amal as she felt her hands tremble and her heart sink to the pits of her stomach.
“Don’t feel bad Amal dear, after all this is an expected outcome. He will not want to marry a girl like you. He is my son and I know him.” Munthir’s mom said apologetically.
“A girl like me?” Amal asked in a low voice, with her eyes t the ground . She was unable to look up at the woman, as she felt her eyes water, and her heart sink to the pits of her stomach.
“Look. I think you are a nice girl but different from us and not for Munthir. Jana, the girl he is seeing is more traditional. It’s an unfair society, but really a girl your age should not expect much. I am sure you will find an older man who will accept you” Munthir’s mother said.
“I don’t believe you” Amal said, as she was trying to stop the tears from coming out of her eyes, “I saw him yesterday. He never spoke of another girl.”
“Maybe he didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” Munthir’s mom said
” I never forced him to talk to me, why would he talk to me if there is another girl.” Amal asked
“Maybe you were giving him the fun things another girl would not give” Munthir’s mom said while smiling.
“Excuse me, but I am not that type of girl. He got no fun from me I assure you, and if you are thinking along these lines I must say , you are out of line.” Amal said as she picked up her bag and stood up.
“Now look young lady !” Munthir’s mom said, “I would never ever accept my son marrying a girl like you. I will make sure of it, even if I have to tell your parents what you are doing with my son. You are not his type, not my type and I will not have him marry a girl like you.”
“If he doesn’t want to be with me let him tell me, and if he has another girl in his life he has to tell me that too. I will let myself out” Amal said as she went to the door , hearing his mom shouting in the background, “My son will never marry an older woman only after his money”
Amal got into her car and was unable to stop herself from crying. She was enraged with life, Munthir’s mom, and society but mostly she was furious with herself for letting her feelings for Munthir develop.
She picked up the phone and dialed Munthir’s number, but the minute he picked up she had no idea what to say. She wanted to break any ties she had with him then and there, just because he lied to her. But, then again part of her didn’t want to believe there was another girl in his life. She wanted him to tell her that his mom was lying, and that she was the one person he waned to be with. She could hear Munthir’s voice shouting through the receiver “Amal is that you?”, but she didn’t know what to answer him. In her moment of weakness she was not even sure if this was her, as she had never been so confused in her life. In an attempt to silence the sense of chaos erupting inside her, she slammed the line. She sat ins silence so that the words “A girl like you” resonated loudly in her thoughts. She wondered why she was automatically put in a class of girls not fit for Munthir. She cried, and she drove only to find herself driving to his office.
She hoped that the words would form themselves on the way, as she desperately pleaded with life to make all what happened with his mom appear as a misunderstanding.
Munthir’s Dilemma————————–Part 8
Amal stood in silence as she watched Munthir sitting in his office with a young lady. The two were laughing loudly, then in the middle of his laughter Munthir paused only to notice Amal standing pale in the doorway. “Amal?” he asked “Are you ok? You called but then you said nothing? is everything ok?” “, he said as he started walking towards her. The truth was that Amal was not sure what to answer him. Something told her that the young girl in his office was not a colleague. They were obviously not laughing about a business brief, and as much as she wanted to believe that Munthir was innocent, she couldn’t.
She glanced at the girl just long enough to see that she was dressed in tight jeans , a sleeveless shirt that was revealing a bra under it, and high heels. The girl had green eye-shadow matching the color of her shirt and her beautiful eyes. Suddenly, Amal was self-conscious about her own image. She then looked at Munthir’s desk and saw two coffees and a small box of donuts sitting there. “This couldn’t possibly be a business meeting” she said to herself.
Interrupting her thoughts, Munthir said, “Amal , please say something” , but after another long pause she only said “I met your mom, she told me about Jana. Is this her? She is truly beautiful” . “You met my mom?” Munthir asked, “Yes, she insisted I meet her?” Amal replied. Just then the young lady got up from her chair and walked over to the door and asked “Moodi, is everything ok?”, she then looked at Amal , and pulled out her hand as she said “I’m Jana”. With these words, Amal felt the tears welling up in her eyes, she looked at Munthir in pain and said, “I have to go”. As she left. Munthir ran down the stair after her shouting “Amal, Amal it isn’t what you think. She was in the area and had 15 minutes left for her dentist appointment, so she stopped by.” Amal kept walking, she didn’t want to show him how hurt she was.
Amal……….Amal” Munthir shouted , but it was too late. Amal got into her car and drove away. As she drove further and further away from Munthir’s office she felt rage erupting inside her. She wasn’t only angry at Munthir, but she was also angry at herself for allowing him to enter her life. More importantly, she disappointed in herself for allowing him to affect her so deeply. She was furious with herself for allowing him to enter her heart, and for trusting him so much. She knew she did the right thing by walking away, but yet she still didn’t feel great about it. She felt she couldn’t drive anymore, so she parked her car to the side of the road, and she put her head on the steering and she started to cry. Within the fog of her tears, she felt she couldn’t allow herself to act so impulsively. She felt she really needed to gain control of herself, so she picked up her smart phone and blocked him from Whatsapp, Facebook, and her contact list.
In the meantime, Munthir stood in the street in front of his office. He tried to call her , but he kept getting a busy signal. He tried to message her on Whatsapp but she was gone. In his loss he turned to go back to his office, only to find Jana in the doorway. At tat moment, Jana walked to him, leaned closer to his ear and asked “Is there a problem?” , he replied “It’s personal Jana , I think you should go”. “I will” she said, but then she leaned even closer to him and whispered, “If that girl was your girlfriend, then you shouldn’t have invited me to wait for my dentist appointment in your office, but you know, I am still going to our group outing with Sadeq and Haneen. It’s in a few days, as you were told. By that time, you really need to figure yourself out and decide if you are joining us or not. And, Moodi if that girl doesn’t accept your string of apologies, which I know you will be showering her with. I’m still available…If you will have me.” With these words she walked away, leaving the whiff of her perfume in his memory.
As he heard her heels echo in the distance, Munthir remembered the outing he agreed to go to with Sadeq and Haneen. He forgot the whiff of
perfume and instead remembered that he felt betrayed by his mother. He was also annoyed at Amal, as was not given a chance to explain himself to her . After all, he was sitting innocently in his office and Jana had just showed up at his doorstep. He wanted to tell Amal badly that throughout Jana’s silly giggles and mindless chatter, he realized that the girl was beautiful but that meant nothing to him. He wanted her to know badly that throughout Jana’s silly conversation, all he could think about were the intelligent remarks that Amal made to him. All he could remember was Amal’s dry sense of humor , which he could not help but laugh at even when she was making fun of him.
At that moment he felt his mobile vibrate in his hand, he looked at the screen hoping it was her, but instead he saw Haneen’s name flash before the screen. He answered , but before he could say anything Haneen shouted “How could you do this to poor Jana. How can you not reassure her when she asked you if the girl who came to your office was not your girlfriend. Don’t tell me its Amal? After all, she fits Jana’s description of ugly, dark, and shabbily dressed.” He replied “Haneen, what if she is my girlfriend?” Munthir replied, while trying to conceal the pain from his voice “What if you, Sadeq, and everyone I know including my own mom just ruined any chance I have for that girl to trust me. “. “She is not for you.” Haneen said, ” Sweetie, she acts too open mindedly for our culture.” “Excuse me?” Munthir shouted, “Amal is too open minded ? Amal ? Did you know that your innocent Jana was flirting with me all morning, and making moves. Did you know she even said she felt too hot in my office and removed her jacket, only to reveal a slave less , see-though shirt? Did you know, that she even told me to take her out dancing. Did you? I guess not, so don’t ever say anything about Amal’s manners because she did none of these things ever with me! Excuse me, I have to go find her”, and with these words Munthir hung-up and drove drove towards Amal’s house.
He rang the doorbell, but there was no reply. He then went to the garage and saw that her car was there. He then ran up the stairs to her apartment and rang her bell again. When there was no reply, he pounded on the door, but still there was no reply. He pounded harder, and harder until the door eventually opened. He looked up, and saw a strange woman at the door. “Hello, is Amal here?” he said almost out of breath. The woman replied “Are you Munthir? ” “Yes, please let me talk to her” he said, “I’m her friend Suzan, I came by because I was worried about her. She is not doing too well. I think you know why” said the woman. “It’s not what she thought!” he said, “Please give me a few minutes to explain.” “Look Munthir, I am sure you are a nice guy, but think about it. Your mom insulted her. Then, the girl comes to your office and sees another girl there. Not any girl but the girl your mom told her you were dating. Of course she wouldn’t want to talk to you. Look, “said the woman.”Please just tell her I’m here” he pleaded “Look, I can tell you are two very nice people and there is some misunderstanding somewhere. My advice is leave it today, and come back in a few days. Don’t talk about things when you are both angry.” said the woman. Munthir replied “Ok Suzan, but please tell her the girl came unannounced. I knew nothing about my mom’s invitation to her. And hell no she is not a girl I’m dating. Please. I will come back in a few days.” “Ok” Susan replied.
Munthir then drove home, and when he arrived he flung the door open and went looking for his mom. At that point, his mom was peacefully cooking in the kitchen, and was even startled by his sudden entrance.
“Why did you tell Amal to visit you” he shouted
“She needs to know her place, and I told her not to tell you. She will pay for that” his mom replied coldly.
“Mom, I’m not marrying Jana” he said
“Oh, and you are really not marrying Amal” his mom shouted
“Who I marry is not your business, you are not allowed to interfere in my life. This stops now!” he shouted
his mother started to cry, as she said “Oh my heart feels tired”
“Don’t blackmail me mom” he said, as he walked out of the house.
Back out on the street, Munthir didn’t know where to go, so he picked up his phone and called his friend Amr, and the two men met for coffee.
Meanwhile Jana, called her friend Sarah and told her about the events of the day. She made the phone call short, as she needed to get ready for another date with another potential groom.
Munthir’s Dilemma————————Part 9
Following that incident, the outside world to Amal seemed quiet, but the inner storms of her emotions were anything but. She spent the next three days rolling in a sea of why me’s, what if’s, how come’s and many more unanswered phrases that would not extinguish her anxieties! The familiar suddenly became insignificant to her. Everything she ever cared for seemed void of any purpose. She would be busy at work, slaving over a promotion she had always wanted, only to find a stream of uninvited tears falling down her cheeks. Such crying spells were often followed with an inner feeling of rage she couldn’t silence. The truth was, that she was not angry at Munthir, but more so at herself. She often reproached herself for ignoring his egotistical tendencies, for laughing off his judgments. She even threw herself into fires of fury each time she replayed her last episode with his mother. She felt silly for compromising herself in front of that particular judgmental lady . She emotionally whipped herself for allowing everything she ever believed in to fall under an old woman’s scrutiny. She felt foolish for trying so hard to win Munthir’s approval, and more importantly she felt sick to her stomach for losing herself in the pursuit of trying so hard to be everything he and his mother had ever wanted.
She would often think about Jana, only to find herself hating the entire society she is part of. She felt that she was part of a mus-understanding, cruel, cold, and harsh society that was asking her compete with a girl far less inelegant than herself, but maybe more attractive. She hated the prospect of not being with a man she cared for, simply because she was born on a certain day, a certain month, and in a certain year. Her better judgment told her to walk away now, with what little fragments of her pride she had left, but her heart was imploring her to find meaning in all the chaos of her life. Trying to find some meaning for all what she was going through, she often wondered if she even she even loved him? She asked herself that question many times, because she didn’t know for sure if she was feeling love. She was, however, sure that he was her one thought, her one heartache, and her one obsession.
She knew that what she felt for him was something she had never felt before. She also admitted against her own will that the pain caused by him, his mom, and Jana was more real than anything she had ever encountered in her life. She knew that if this was love, she wanted it to go away. She wanted to be the person who can concentrate on work, on the familiar, and who did not cry without warning. She wanted to be the girl who could sleep at night and wake up the next day without fearing the thought of him messing up her balance. Although forgetting him would be the ideal solution, she also knew that her life won’t ever be the same and she hated that. She knew that if she was going to fight to be with him, his family was going to fight him, fight her, and even fight everything she stood for. She felt trapped, because she also knew that walking away was not as easy as she needed it to be and her loss of hope, control, and composure made her cry so often.
At first she did decide to walk away. She was comfortable with her decision, not thrilled about it, but age was convinced it was for the best. She blocked him from all modes of communication and decided to work on healing herself. Her friends tried often to convince her otherwise. Her friend Suzan would often tell her that if she loved him she should fight his mom, his dad, and the whole world. She stressed on the importance of putting Jana in her place. She told her that she should even make him see that she was the only person worthy of being in his life. Suzan also reminded Amal how hurt Munthir had looked when he came to see her, confirming that no man will feel this amount of hurt if the girl meant nothing to him. Although these words gave Amal a momentary sense of satisfaction, she still knew that deciding to be with Munthir will be a source of pain scaring her of the battles ahead.
In her weaker moments, she wondered if he cared enough to be with her, but her friends reassured her that he did and that she should make him see how much he did.
In the meantime, Munthir was listening to his friends too. His friend Sadeq often told him that his mother had every right to be upset with his choices.” Amal is too old” he would say, “Your mom wants to see her grand kids”. His friend Amer added that Munthir had to forget the good conversations, the nice words, and the brains, he liked about Amal, as those not components that make a happy marriage. “Trust me, an unhappy mom would make your life hell and a career woman would act like she is your equal, making you choose between her and your family.” he said. “ Yes Jana can make your mom happy, and she can make you happy” Sadiq insistently stated,” Besides, who is prettier to wake up to in the morning her, or Amal?”
Munthir found himself often nodding to his friends, as he wanted to silence their nags, but in his moments of solitude, he still believed that Amal was beautiful. He loved how she made him laugh. He admired her strong will. yet he also found himself attracted to Jana. After all, Jana was young, bubbly, and she appeared willing to agree with everything he did and said just to make him happy. He remembered being touched when he saw her coming to his office with donuts and coffee, and he was almost speechless, when she removed her jacket. He reminded himself that never Amal made that effort, but yet he knew she didn’t have to. He was sure just by looking at her that she had strong feelings for him and that her feelings were more honest then any act any other girl would fake. He found himself in a dilemma like no other. He wondered, should he be with someone society wanted him to be with or should he be with the girl he knew was genuine.
He believed Amal cared even if she did not put on the same shows of affection like Jana and so he hated his mom and himself for every tear she had cried. He was angry at her though, because she didn’t let him explain his position when he really needed to. He just wanted to tell her the last day he saw her so badly that Jana showed up randomly to his office, but in the middle of his thoughts crept the words of his friend Amer who told him on many occasions “Don’t explain, you don’t owe her an explanation. You are free to see as many women as you like!” Munthir also remembered that he would feel just as upset if the roles were reversed, but then he would think back to the words of his friend Sadeq who would say “Men and women are different, women should not date more than one man at a time.”
While Amal and Munthir lived through their states of confusion, Jana was anything but confused. She was clear about her wishes in life. She wanted to be a rich man’s wife before the end of the year, and accordingly she had met four other men in the last two days, all of whom were prospective suitors. She would go home and talk to her friends about her meetings, explaining just how unlucky she felt. One man she met was too old for her taste, another was bald, the third was more religious than she would have liked, and the fourth wore a tie in the middle of the afternoon. “Although, Munthir is not exactly perfect , but he is good on paper and the best around, so I guess he is the one I need to pay most attention to.” She told her friend May one evening, “But that Amal character, he is so hung up on her and I need to get her out of the picture. Maybe I can call him and get him to change his mind. ”
Contrary to her friend’s advice not to, she did just that. She called him from a private number. He picked up the phone and she said with no introductions
“I was so worried about you”
“How is Amal”
“I don’t know, I hope she is ok”
“Look, I like you but if you love her, I am willing to help you win her back”
He felt sorry for her
“No, this is something I need to figure out on my own” he said
“I’m sure you need someone to talk to, would you like to meet so that we can talk?”
Needing a woman’s perspective and in his state of desperation he agreed to meet her the next evening at 6 and with this arrangement the phone call ended.
Jana was happy with the outcome of the call, she knew she came across as the compassionate girl when he was venerable and she knew that that was the perfect environment to win someone over.
Meanwhile, right before Munthir put his phone down, he saw a whatsapp message blinking before him. He then saw the words
“I know I didn’t give you a chance to explain. I blocked you, I’m sorry. These days have been awful. And, I know your mom may not like me and she may think Jana is better, but I really want things to work out. If you feel the same way please meet me at six at the café we usually meet at tomorrow. If not, I wish you all the best. I don’t want to have a conversation with you in whatsapp so I will block you until tomorrow at six when we meet face to face. hope you are ok Amal”
The truth was that Amal wanted to be with Munthir she couldn’t imagine being with anyone other than Munthir, she knew he was right for her and she was deciding to act far from social norms and against all social judgment.
Thrilled to hear from her, Munthir instantly tried to change his appointment with Jana, but she refused saying it was either at 6 or never. She was not a girl who took ultimatums from a man. He didn’t want to change his appointment with Amal because he wanted her to know how eager he was to make things work, but then again even if he had wanted to she had blocked him, putting her own ultimatum to the situation in her own unique way.
Munthir’s Dilemma Part 10
The next day Munthir woke up to the sound of his phone ringing . He looked at the screen hoping it was Amal, but unfortunately fate had another story to tell The name he saw flash before him was Jana’s and he really did not want to hear from her that early in the day. Muttering under his breath he hit the reply button only to hear a loud and bouncy “Hey!” coming from the other end. “Hi” , he replied while trying to hide the sleepiness in his voice.. In fact, he was even making diligent attempts to hide his sentiments for being awakened from his deep peaceful sleep. “Oh! you were asleep?” she said. “No…. no I was not” he replied in a tone as polite as he could master. “Look” she said “I know you wanted to meet an hour eelier than six” . These words instantly woke him up. “Yes!” he cheerfully replied “I do!”. “Well…. I can manage meeting you at 5.” she slowly said ,” I figured I don’t need to make your life too hard, especially that I am not interested in you romantically.” “Thank you ! You are amazing” he said. “Not as amazing as Amal I guess. ” she sadly said, “Anyway I have to go, bye”. ” bye” he said.
He felt elevated, happy, and even a few years younger. He took this morning wakeup call as a sign that the universe was suddenly giving him another chance with Amal. Still feeling lucky, he tried to dial Amal’s number, but he was met with the instant busy tone. “She still has me on the reject list” he thought to himself, “But, that’s ok. I only need to talk to her and to make things right ! “
Meanwhile, Amal was reminding herself of every word she wanted to say. She was telling herself that if she and Munthir were ever going to end up together she needed to dispense with her ego and pride. She needed to talk to him honestly and openly and to tell him how she wanted to be with him, and how Jana was not right for him. These thoughts , however, were interrupted by a deep sense of sorrow. The more rational side of her felt that there was no fairness in the fact that she was fighting for a guy who she understood, spoke to openly, and who literally turned her life upside down. She felt that in perfect world, she shouldn’t compete with a girl like Jana , as she knew that her competition did not even care to know anything about Munthir. Jana’s only advantage was that she was right in society’s standards.
She knew that this was the society she was part of, and if acting like Jana and looking like Jana was what it will take for his mother to consider her, she would do it. “I’m a woman, and all women can play dirty when forced to!” she said to herself. But, whenever she found her mind engaging in that train of thought, she would stop herself instantly. Her voice of reason would come back to her shouting that this was not right, and that she should could not and will not be dishonest just to win a guy. After all, if she resorted to dishonesty to be with Munthir then he was not worth it. This of course was what her mind was telling her, but her heart was telling her otherwise, and it was that very heart that she was fighting to silence.
However, she did make more efforts than usual to look her best for this meeting. She straightened her hair, did her nails, and even invested in a new eye-lash enhancing mascara. However, she refused to follow her friend Suzan’s advice and get a new hair cut. Sizan said to her that men were shallow and all they cared about were looks. “You make me sound like the ugly duckling” she told Suzan, the last time she tried to convince to invest in appearances. To Amal’s comments Suzan replied “No dear, you look beautiful, but guys don’t like girls with brains. Not in the beginning at least.” Amal replied “I am not going to fake anything. This is who I am and it is either enough to win him over or not. This should not be a competition”. “It is a competition” Sizan replied “It is sad but true, we women are always in a competition with the girls we know and the girls we don’t know, and even the girls we still did not meet. The sooner you learn to deal with it the better.”
Amal thought of Suzan’s words as she was getting ready for her big meeting with Munthir. She wondered if what Suzan was saying was true. She wondered if she was being to hopeful and too idealistic, but yet she thought that Munthir was not like other men and he should see the wisdom in choosing her. Suddenly she paused, as she found herself coming face to face with an overwhelming fear of defeat and loss. She found herself nervous at the very thought of him choosing to be with Jana and it was then that she felt she really loved him. She looked at her watch and realized that it was Five pm. so she went over what she was going to say to him one more time, and she told herself that today was the day she was going to get to be honst about her feelings.
Meanwhile, Jana, a girl who believed whole heatedly in the power of faking, went to her five pm meeting with Munthir. True to form, she was looking her very best, and her most revealing. When Munthir arrived he was delighted to see that she was not late. He thought to himself “Great, I will explain to her my situation and I will tell her gently that Amal is the girl for me.” Seeing him from across the room she smiled and waved to him. He smiled in response and walked up to her. “You look amazing,” she said to him, and naturally he was flattered by the compliment not to mention the whiff of perfume that came from her. “Amal will be a fool not to want to be with you.” she said. “Amal is not a fool,” he replied, “My mom upset her and then the girl came to my office, found you, and jumped to conclusions.” “She loves you, I know that. But she seems like a fool who doesn’t know how to act. If you ask me. ” she calmly said. “I didn’t ask you!” he said,” Look, I came to tell you that this conversation is over. You can’t keep seeing me, or talking to me. You are an amazing girl, but I don’t see us working well together. ” he said, proud of himself for making his declaration fast into their meeting.
Jana smiled at him and said, “Ok ! As you wish. But ask yourself this, why does this girl who seems so great not trust you?” . “This is not your business.” he said in anger. “I agree it is not. ” she replied, “Trust me, I am not telling you this for my sake. I have nothing to gain from this conversation remember ? However, I did agreed to help you, I am doing you a favor by pointing out the questions you forgot to ask yourself. This is not about me at al. If you are thinking I am trying to win you over, relax. I don’t consider men who don’t want to be with me. So, you are right it is not my business. ” and with these words Jana motioned to get up from her seat, but Munthir stopped her, “No wait, look I don’t have much time left, but tell me what do you mean she doesn’t trust me?”
Jana smiled, and then she put her hand gently on his and said, “Don’t you think that she should have known you were not cheating? Even if she didn’t know, shouldn’t she have at least waited for you to explain. She was so sure you were cheating when she walked in your office, that she didn’t even stop to ask you. If she loves you she should care about saving the relationship and she should at least ask you right?” with these words, Munthir glanced at his watch and saw it was ten minutes to six. He knew he had to move if he was to make it to his meeting with Amal, but yet he was so intrigued by this conversation, so he sent her a message saying he will be 15 minutes late. “If you are sending this message to Amal remember she blocked you, so she won’t get it.” Jana said. “How did you know I was sending the message to Amal.” he said. “A guy wouldn’t be so eager to send a message unless he really loved a girl, and your whole face lit up when you sent it. If only she knew, but she was so fast to judge you. If she loved you as much as you loved her, she wouldn’t judge you. ” Munthir smiled, there was something charming about Jana’s intelligence. He then asked her, ” What would you do if you were in her situation?” Jana whispered, “If I was with a great guy like you and I cared about not losing this great guy, I would make sure I asked before I reacted. Maybe she doesn’t have experience, but then again, she is not young and she meets a lot of men. She should know how to act. But if you ask me she is a sweet girl, but I don’t think she is too set on making your relationship work.”
After a few more causal conversations, Munthir left his meeting with Jana at 6:45. He was feeling good about himself. After all, Jana, a girl who can have anyone in the world was calling him a great guy. He went to the cafe where he was to meet Amal but on his way he wondered to himself why Amal did not believe in him as much as Jana did. He arrived at the cafe at 7:00 pm, only to find out that Amal had already left. On his way out the waiter asked him, ” Are you looking for someone?” Munthir replied “yes”, right before giving him a full description of Amal. The waiter looked at him in horror said, “A girl with this description was here. She wouldn’t order, as she kept looking at her watch. Then out of sheer embarrassment I think, she orderws a coffee to go around ten minutes ago, and she left looking very sad.”
Munthir thanked the waiter and got into his car, He drove to Amal’s house just in time to see her leaving her car and entering her building. He ran after her and said, “I was late! ” but then he looked at her and felt that he didn’t even owe her an explanation. “Our appointment was at six, I thought you were not coming.” she said smiling. “Yes as usual you don’t trust me!” he replied remembering Jana’s words, “If you cared, you could have waited, but you don’t care. You only care about being right. Even back in my office, you blocked me and you didn’t allow me to explain.”
Shocked at his outburst, she replied, “You were with another woman, Jana, and your mom told me you were planning to marry her. But, it doesn’t matter. You are here now let us talk.” “I want to discuss this in your apartment,” Munthir firmly said while looking up at her apartment window, ” I don’t let men into my apartment.” she replied, “See, I told you, you don’t trust me. ” Munthir shouted.
“It’s not that I don’t trust you, it is just that I don’t think it is appropriate to let men into my apartment.” Amal said. “What do you know about appropriate !” Munthir shouted, “You live alone, I am not the first man you know. You have trust issues. No wonder you are old and not married. No one will marry a girl like you. But I’m giving you a chance, and If we don’t have trust, we don’t have a relationship.”
“It is not about trust,” Amal said with tears in her eyes, “I do trust you, but you know how society is.” “If you don’t let me in your apartment to talk, we don’t have a relationship.” Munthir shouted. Amal looked at him crying , and said ” I’m sorry.” . “If I am not the man in this relationship, I can’t do it. Not everything has to be your way.” “Munthir, you are here, there is a cafe nearby let us go talk there please.” Amal said. “You know what, I don’t need this. Many girls are killing themselves to be with me. I don’t need this from you.” Munthir shouted. “Munthir?” Amal called trying to hide the tears in her voice, “Why are you doing this.” , but Munthir walked away., leaving her standing at her building door listening to the sound of his car driving off.
Trying to make sense of his outburst, she dialed his number ten minutes later, but his phone was busy, so she unblocked him and waited patiently for him to call her back.
From that night, the minutes turned into hours, and the hours turned into days of defining silence. Amal attempted to call Munthir on more than one occasion but she was met with no reply. She told her friend Suzan, “I just need to understand why he left so suddenly. If only he would tell me.” Her friend replied “Understand what dear, he dumped you. He doesn’t feel he owes you an explanation. Maybe you feel he does, but he believes otherwise. “Amal said “But, that’s so not like him!”, Suzan replied “Maybe you didn’t know him as well as you thought”
Amal believed in the logic behind Suzan’s harsh but honest words, but it took her a long time to get over the pain. Above all she was angry at herself, for allowing her brain to give way to her heart. She was also scared, scared that she had conducted a fatal mistake that drove Munthir away.
She would often find herself lost in her own thoughts, trying frantically to re-play each and every conversation, outing, look, or gesture they shared. It wasn’t so much about nostalgia. She had no desire to reignite a relationship with him, she just refused to believe that a smart girl like herself was unable to solve the riddle of his sudden disappearance. However the universe has its ways of revealing the missing pieces of any puzzle in life. After the passing of exactly three months and week on his sudden departure from, all her questions were answered. On one unassuming morning, as she was picking up her coffee on the way to work, she accidentally bumped into one of his friends. Ignoring the burning questions she had inside her, she opted to do the respectable thing. She shook hands with his friend and decided to engage in idle chit-chat about the weather, the traffic, and the news as she waited for her order and he waited for his.
After ten minutes the waiter called for her order, she grabbed her coffee to go saying “It was nice seeing you Sadeq”. However, she did not predict what she was about to happen next. Just as she was on her way to the door, Sadiq said to her “You know Amal in an ideal world he should have gotten engaged to you. Munthir should have asked for your hand in marriage, but this is not an ideal world.” Hearing these words, Amal felt the earth slip from under her feet. She froze at the door, turned back and said while trying to conceal any emotion from her face “Me and Munthir are good people who want different things. If we wanted the same thing then the relationship would have worked. Tell him I say congratulations. Bye” and she reached for the door again, but this time Sadeq went after her and said, “I owe you both an apology. I introduced him to Jana. I saw him with you and I saw him with her, and he was……..” “Jana is a fine choice for him” Amal interrupted him saying, “Please don’t be sorry, I know now that it was not meant to be. He and Jana will be happy together” and with these words she got into her car and drove away.
She fought the urge to cry that day and the many days that followed, and as the days went by her pain, her desire to find out what he was up to, and her reminders of him began to gradually evaporate. On some days she would remember him and on others she would go about her life engaging in any distraction that would steer her far away from his memory. Then, on one evening , while she was on her way to meet her friends for a movie, she realized that it had been three weeks since she last thought of him. She realized that she was slowly forgetting the features of his face, the sound of his voice, and that she couldn’t even remember how he liked his coffee. A part of her felt sad for forgetting small details about someone who had once meant so much to her, but another part of her felt relieved that she was no longer hurting.
Being in a city where people like to talk, Amal, against her own will kept getting snap shots from Munthir’s life sent to her in the form of gossip from friends. She learned that on the night she called him and his line was busy, he did plan to see Jana. In fact, on that same night he told Jana how he realized Amal was not for him and that he wanted to give his relationship with her a shot. On that same evening he went home to his mother and told her “I will do what you want mom, who said marriage has to be for love.” “Son , I’m so happy to hear that, Jana is a great girl for you.” his mother said. “No mom, she is a great girl for you, for dad, and for the family. She is not a great girl for me, but I will learn to love her.”
On the night he left Amal confused in her own drive way, he too did not sleep. He knew that what he did was wrong and that he was wrong to ask to go up to her apartment. The truth was that he saw both girls on that evening, and he knew that Amal will be at constant war with his mother. His friends won’t approve of his choice, and that battling an entire society was not something he was up for. After each outing with Jana, he felt compelled to call Amal just to ask her how her day was but h stopped himself from doing that. He longed for the days where she would challenge him, laugh with him, and even give him advice. Jana , was cheerful, agreeable to everything he wanted, and she knew how to make him feel like a king. But, at times he did not want to feel like a king, he wanted to be human and to be accepted as a human with all his human imperfections. However, he knew that Amal was not to his mother’s liking and that he would be creating more problems than peace if he married her.
Opting not to waste any more time, he asked for Jana’s hand two weeks after leaving Amal. He figured that his marriage wasn’t based on love, and everyone liked Jana, so why wait . From that day forward he was sucked into wedding plans, house decor, and decisions about honey moon packages, amongst the many other issues he couldn’t care less about. Every day he spent with Jana from that day until the wedding was spent either looking at flower arrangements, center pieces, napkin holders, furniture, or carpets. He had to be there with her, as he was the one paying for it all. Whenever he told her to make whatever arrangements she liked she would reply, “Sweetie it is our day. This is the most important day of my life. I want you to share this moment with me.”
The wedding was turning out to be so much larger than he had thought, and in his moments of solitude his mind would wonder to a time he and Amal discussed weddings and how they both had expressed their hatred for elaborate wedding ceremonies. Finally, one week before his wedding he bumped into Amal by chance. She was alone working on her laptop in the cafe where he met her for their first date. He paused, and smiled to himself, as he remembered how much he liked her simple pony tail, and the small hint of lip gloss she puts on her lips. Deciding that life was too short he walked up to her said, “You always sit at this table. You told me once that it has just the perfect amount of sunlight. How have you been?”
Munthir’s Dilemma Part 12 The Last Part
Looking up at him from her laptop, she replied “I’m ok, how are you?” “I’m ok too.” he replied. “Can I sit down?” he asked. Feeling that she can’t be rude to him she said, “sure”. When he sat down, she said “Congratulations, I wish you all the happiness.” He smiled and said “Do you mean it?” She smiled and said ,”I’m trying to mean it…. byt, if this is what you want, I do hope you are happy.” . Munthir said, “Amal, I am sorry for ….” , Amal replied “Please don’t be sorry. I don’t want this conversation to be any more awkward than it already is.”
“Amal, I just want you to know that it wasn’t my choice. It was going to be so hard. You know how things are.”. he said. Amal smiled and said “Munthir it was your choice, for you to say it wasn’t makes it so much worse. It was your choice to do what society expects you to do. I respect that. But, to say you marring the girl beyond your free will is kind of is an insult to my intelligence. Let’s not go there. Please let’s talk about something else. I’m fine it has been 8 months, I am over it all. In fact, I moved on.” With these words, Munthir’s phone rang. He glanced at his screen and said “I have to go, pick out a wedding cake. Remember how we used to laugh at these people, now I’m one of them.”
Amal smiled, “It was good to see you Munthir” she said, and then she went back to her work and he went on his way. She glanced out of the window to take one look at him as he left in his car and she smiled to herself. Something inside her told her that he was not thrilled with himself, and this was all the closure she needed. Something inside her knew that she and him have different mentalities, and while she was attracted to him, she knew that it would have never worked out between them.
Five months later, she bumped into him again at a family wedding, but this time, she was not alone. She had with her a tall man, who was not Arab. She met him at a convention she had attended for work, and they both bonded over a shared love for books, music, coffee, and art. His name was Jason, and not only was he willing to give up his mother’s interferences , he was willing to change his religion for her. Seeing how happy she was with him, her parents didn’t object to their engagement. The rest of the family, however, kept whispering to each other about her choices in life. She did not mind it. She always opted to choose her happiness over the happiness of a society. She was even shocked at how fast she and Jason developed feelings for each other. Shortly after she met him, she knew he was the one, and she finally knew more than ever before why things did not work out with Munthir. That evening, she introduced him to Munthir and his wife Jana, who now was two months pregnant and wearing a hijab. She found that strange, as Munthir , was closer to being an atheist than being religious.
She spent her evening talking to Jason and her friends, while Munthir spent his evening talking to his friends, while his wife was at the other side of the room sitting with his mother and their other female relatives who were busy giving her pregnancy advice.
Later that evening, Munthir saw Jason standing alone, he went up to him, introduced himself and said “Amal is an amazing woman, she is like no other woman in this room.” Jason smiled and said “Yes I know , to me she is not like any other woman in the world, and that’s exactly why I’m marrying her.”