Archive for July, 2016

Day 14

As I turned the last page of the book, I felt empty inside. The story’s characters had been my only companions for the last two weeks and even though I was trying so hard to slow down, it all still came to an end. I leaned back and rested my head on the seat’s neck, trying to stay with the characters for as long as my mind allowed me.

“What book are you reading?” The man sitting beside me suddenly interrupted.

“Oh, it’s a book called Rainbows. I just finished the last chapter.” I replied, putting it out for him to see.

“Rainbows?” He repeated without looking at it. “Have you ever seen one?”

Normally, I would have wanted to end the conversation, especially that I was still not over the ending I had just read. Yet something about him, and the way he wasn’t making eye contact after any of his questions, made me want to keep going.

“When I was 14 years old, I almost saw one.” I answered, in all honesty.

“Almost? Well, I have almost seen a lot of things, too. Tell me more.”

“I had just finished arguing with my mom over something so trivial. I locked myself in my room because I was so angry at her, though I now realize she was only speaking out of love. A few minutes later, she knocked on the door I had so harshly slammed in her face, and softly told me there was a rainbow outside my window. She wanted us to go out and enjoy the scene together; she wanted to make it up for me. But I said no, and refused to even take a peek from my window. She ended up going on her own, and I never got to see one again.”

I had no idea why I was blurting out the details of such a personal story to a stranger on the train when I could have simply replied with a no. I felt a pinch in my heart as we sat in silence after I was done. He wasn’t trying to comment, and my thoughts were getting too loud. It was the first time I had noticed the correlation between the book I was reading and my story.

“I never even got around telling her I was sorry,” I continued. “She died on her way back.”

The sound of the train’s engine grew louder, and I wasn’t sure if the man was even listening anymore. I waited, but there was no reply. So I rested my head back again and my eyes shifted to the view. I missed her, but I wasn’t ready to start feeling guilty about it all over again.

It had been a long time since I had last allowed myself to sit back and do absolutely nothing. I was excited about finally getting to see my brother’s new baby, about feeling like an an aunt, about the whole camping trip and staying the night in tents. I knew I probably wouldn’t have decided to join them if he hadn’t sent me the train’s ticket and forced me into it. Just like I am forced into almost everything in my life.

“What was her name?” The man interrupted my stream of thoughts once again.

“What was whose name?” I wondered.

“Your mom?” He still wasn’t looking at me.

The question sounded a little weird, and the whole conversation was starting to irritate me.

“Nora.” I answered, nevertheless. He still didn’t show any signs of paying attention to my words.

“You know I almost saw my mom?” He said after a few minutes of silence.

“What does that mean?”

“The minute I was born, she was taken to the intensive care straight away before I could even feel her arms around me. That is what I have been told. She was so sick. I was sick, too. She eventually got better, I did not. There was a problem with my eyes and the doctors had no way of fixing it. Before I was allowed back to her, I had completely lost my sight.”

I felt my heartbeats hitting hard against my chest. The man was blind? It didn’t even occur to me. The world suddenly stopped and I could feel nothing but the pain of this man through my every vein.

“I almost saw her. But I did not.”

His words continued to ring in my head. I was so shaken that I couldn’t do or say anything that would make him feel any better.

“I remember nothing about her,” He shortly added. “She gave me up when I was two. Left no address, no number I could reach her through. Only a story that continues to haunt me, and a heart that has never been able to forgive no matter how much it still tries to.”

I still couldn’t reply. It seemed much clearer now why the man had stayed silent after I had told my story. What was I waiting for him to say? I’m sorry? Don’t be sad? What could have possibly made the noise inside any less disturbing?

Sometimes you hear stories that make your insides feel too heavy; it just gets hard to follow them by other words. Sometimes silence is their best reply. And sometimes you just have to meet a man like this, one who knows how to lead such an intense conversation off the title of a book he wasn’t even able to see, in order to appreciate it all.

He sat back and closed his eyes. I knew he understood my silence. I knew he felt how much I wished I could put my arms around his and hold him while he cries. So I just did nothing of that, and continued to stare at the breathtaking view instead, wondering how many broken hearts were on board that train while their constant attempts to bring themselves together continued to fool everyone around.

I wondered how many hearts had lost their loved ones, and how many of them continued to see their faces every time their eyelids met. I wondered how many hearts had been separated by distance, while they continued to pretend it doesn’t hurt them anymore. I wondered how many hearts were suffering from rejection, how many hearts were suffocating because of all the words they never got the chance to say, and how many hearts were caged behind fierce walls that had been built between them and the world after every heartbreak.

Most importantly, I wondered how we never learn anything about that, yet continue to allow ourselves to judge people and deal with them according to our own assumptions of who they are on the inside. How we give ourselves the right to act in a certain way, but deny others this right because they don’t seem like they have been through what we claim to have experienced. How we tend to be harsh with them, only until we really hear their stories. And we hardly ever get the chance to do that with everyone we meet.

We read book and we so much relate to their characters, not completely realizing that every other person who reads them would probably relate in their very own way, too. Not completely realizing that these characters in fact exist all around us, everywhere, but we still tend to hide with them in books and feel empty whenever we part. For no one will ever show us who they really are, the way writers make sure their characters do. Even then, you are never completely sure.

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Day 13

It’s been too long since I’ve last felt the kind of feeling I used to feel with no one else but you. It’s been too long since I’ve last poured my heart out to you, and it hurts to know you’re still always there to listen while I unconsciously keep pushing you away. I miss you.

I miss the smile that used to break through my face every time something spontaneously happened and I realized no one could’ve ever had it planned this way but you. I miss the tears that used to stream down my face every time I strongly believed you’d help me get through something, only to realize you’ve went beyond helping me and actually taught me a lesson I’ll never be able to forget. I miss the warm hugs I used to get every time I knelt down to ask for forgiveness after every stupid sin you knew I’d shortly be doing again in a few more hours, yet continued to believe in me. I miss being able to feel your presence through each and every minute, even if you had been completely silent all through the day.

It hurts to realize you’ve been distancing me from people just to bring me back to you, while I continued to look for other replacements on my way. It hurts to realize you’ve been there through every hardship, even those that I’ve been through without once remembering to open my arms and ask for your guidance. It hurts to realize you’re always willing to forgive no matter what wrong I might have done, while I’m sometimes never that forgiving myself.

Every time someone leaves this world, I can’t help but wonder if I’m ready to meet you if I’m chosen next. Death does sometimes seem like a really comforting end to this demanding world and its people, but when I think about how you’ll eventually have everything I’ve ever done written up there and thrown back at my face, my heart feels so heavy. I so want to meet you, but now I know I’ll probably never be ready to.

Day 12

“I knew it! I knew this wasn’t normal. Oh God, WHY US?”

Ali picked up the notebook again to read the final pages, as he tried to grasp the conclusion he so much didn’t want to reach.

I no longer have any idea who the person I stare at in the mirror everyday is. I no longer recognize her. She’s growing into something I’ve always secretly despised. Someone who’s merely a source of pleasure to her husband, a nutrition machine to her baby, a nanny to her children who will shortly grow to blame her for everything they’ll turn out to be, and a number on the citizens list of a country she’s contributing absolutely nothing to. When did I become this person? When did my dreams fade away? Did anyone ask if this is what I wanted? Does anyone even care?

I do. I swear I do. He squeezed his eyes really hard and imagined her standing right in front of him, as if that could really bring her back and put an end to the mess that was taking place.

I no longer want to be part of a world that gives me no choice to be who I want to be. More precisely, a world that’s getting me stuck in a cycle which makes me forget who I originally wanted to be. They say it’ll hurt them to grow up without a mother, yet they don’t realize it will hurt their mother a thousand times more to continue watching them grow in a world she absolutely hates.

“But it’s not fair!” Ali shouted at the top of his lungs and dropped the notebook on the floor. “It’s not fair to leave without hearing all what my heart has to tell you! It’s not fair to leave without knowing how much it will continue to hurt us everyday!”

Tears started streaming down his face upon recalling that scene he’d been unable to stop re-watching in his sleep for the past two months. His wife, in their bathtub, completely knocked out, with blood flowing down her face, while he stood there helpless; watching the love of his life parting the world. Everyone had been trying to convince him it was an accident since then, and a test that God has particularly chosen him for. Yet something about it just didn’t feel right. He knew there was more to it than just an accident, but he couldn’t really tell what it was.

She had been acting very weirdly before it all happened. She would spend several nights at their children’s room, and simply explain the next morning that she fell asleep while waiting for the kids to. Turns out she was avoiding sharing beds with him all along. She would have dinner ready for him every night, yet refuse to sit down and eat along; blaming it on a diet she never even followed. Turns out she was also avoiding sharing conversations with him. She would spend weekends at her parent’s house, knowing it’s the only time Ali stays home, always coming up with excuses about an illness her mother never even suffered from. Turns out she wanted Ali to get used to taking care of his kids when she’s no longer there to do it herself.

He thought she only needed some space. They were both used to frequent phases of distancing themselves from the other, just to get some space. He wanted her to have that, and he was patiently waiting for her to come back. But she never did. Instead, she left him all alone, blaming himself for not being there to save her, while she already had it all planned. She wanted to leave the world, and she did not even think he had the right to have a say in that. She just did. He couldn’t forgive her for that.

He only happened to find out about it all after two months of searching, through a diary she didn’t realize she had left behind. Or maybe she did.

Ali was angry. He was angry because he loved her. More than anything in the world. He was angry because he hardly ever showed that love to her when she needed it the most. He was angry at himself, more than he was angry at her.

He was angry for he would never be able to tell their kids the truth; their mother had killed herself. Their mother had killed herself, and in the process, she had painfully cut the only part inside him that was ready to help them face this cruel world together. She had killed herself, and he had been slowly dying ever since.

Day 11Meeting with Mr. James. Call to get client’s approval. Visit to the site. Dinner with Jacob. What an energy-draining day!

Lara tried to make mental notes of all the things she had to get done that day, in a attempt to get ready for all what was ahead of her. She completely despised days that were full of human interactions, but with a job like hers, she often had to go through long weeks – if not months – of those.

A sales person, what was I possibly thinking? She would ask herself every morning after struggling to get out of bed.

With her coffee in one hand, she slipped off her bag with the other to get through security checks.

“Morning!” She smiled at the security guy who didn’t even look back at her.

It’s okay, my voice must have been too low for him to hear.

It normally wouldn’t have been that much of a problem, only that her voice seemed to be too low for him to hear it every single day. She wished she could stop greeting him every morning when he was apparently so inconsiderate, but the awkwardness of those few silent moments when she would be waiting to grab her bag always unconsciously pushed her to.

“Thanks!” She would still shout out every day when her bag was out, still with no reply.

Just three more minutes before I get to the office. Three more minutes. I can do this.

She pressed the elevator’s button and impatiently waited to get on. From the side of her eyes, she could spot a figure standing close to her, also waiting for the elevator to arrive.

Can’t I just, for once, get on the elevator alone?

She looked to the side, and spotted that one person she considered the most intimidating; Maura. They had both attended the same college a few years back, and had so many mutual friends, but they never really got the chance to talk. It irritated Lara so much that she never knew if it was okay to say Hi when they supposedly didn’t know each other, or just continue to ignore each other’s presence when they both still knew that they do. Maura was too focused on the message she was typing, and so Lara simply looked back at the elevator, preferring to let it go.

Ting!

The elevator finally arrived. As they waited for everyone to get off, Maura quickly put her phone back in her pocket with a frown on her face and walked closer to where Lara stood. She got in first, clicked the 9th floor and stepped back. Lara entered, clicked the 11th, yet didn’t realize Maura had already done the same.

“What floor?” she hesitantly asked, trying not to make eye contact.

“Oh, I’ve already chosen mine.” Maura coldly said. Laura looked back at the keys and noticed that their two floors were so obviously selected.

Ugh, what is freaking wrong with me?

The doors closed, and it was just the two of them. Silence filled the place.

As the elevator approached the 6th floor, they both heard an alarming sound and felt a slow shake. They waited, but the elevator’s screen suddenly turned off and they realized electricity was out. They were stuck.

Oh my God, no. Lara still didn’t try to make eye contact.

“Oh God!” Maura finally said out loud. “This place needs serious maintenance.”

Lara didn’t respond.

“Did this happen to you before?” Maura directly asked. Lara looked at her, still not uttering a word, and shook her head. “Oh well, it’s actually the third time it happens to me. Must have something to do with my usual bad luck!”

Lara still couldn’t get herself to say anything. She didn’t understand what was going on. Small talk was something she was starting to get really good at, though she hated it. Yet, out of all the clients and business people she had to deal with every day, she still could never do anything similar with Maura. She was beyond intimidating.

“I’m Maura, by the way,” she said after realizing she wasn’t getting any replies. “Seems like we’ll be stuck here for some time.”

Seriously? “I’m Maura, by the way”? Does she really not realize we know each other?

Flashbacks of all the awkward moments they had experienced quickly played through her mind. The times when she would be hanging out with a friend and Maura would show up out of nowhere to say Hi to that friend without even acknowledging Lara’s existence. The times when they would make randomly eye contact, and Lara would slowly start smiling before she realizes Maura has already looked away without paying any attention to her. That one class they actually took together during her senior year where they sat side by side, yet every time they had to work in pairs, Maura would always look to the back and bond with whoever was sitting behind, while Lara struggled to find another partner. No one really noticed those kinds of moments, but they still so much troubled her.

Now Maura was pretending to have never noticed her existence before, while they have been working in the same company for the past 6 months.

“Oh, I know.” Lara heard herself saying. Oh God, no, no, no.

“We have met before?” Maura asked with a puzzled face.

Why? Why, Lara? What was so hard about one short “nice to meet you”?

“Oh, no, not really. I just remember your face from the senior yearbook.”

“We went to the same college?”

“Yeah. American University, right?”

“Oh my God, yes. What an awesome coincidence!”

Coincidence? Lara realized Maura had really no idea who she was. She wasn’t pretending, it was for real. After almost four years of trying to avoid her, she turned out to have never really noticed Lara’s existence before.

“So, what do you do here?” Maura asked after a few moments of silence.

“I work for Mr. James at the Marketing and Sales department. What do you do?”

“Oh, I do audits. Accounting department, I mean.”

Silence.

“So boring I know, but I happen to enjoy it.” Maura unnecessarily added.

“Oh, no, no, not boring at all.” Lara quickly replied.

“Haha, don’t worry, I won’t be offended. There isn’t a single person I know that doesn’t find what I do boring.”

Lara had no idea how to respond.

“As a matter of fact, I was just texting my boyfriend a few minutes ago for the exact same reason. He was supposed to be driving me here, but turns out he just wanted to talk about that other job offer he had for me somewhere else that he thinks I’d be more suitable for. No one really gets how much this is important for me. So I was trying to find a better way to phrase my “could you please keep your nose out of my career plans?” thoughts, but miserably failed. It’s really causing so much pressure.”

Lara continued staring at her for a very long minute. She couldn’t believe this was happening. Maura was letting her in on one of the dark sides of her life, while she had secretly disliked her all those years, not realizing she was just as human as everyone else.

“Oh I’m so sorry. I have no idea why I’m bothering you with all this. You probably think I’m such a weirdo.”

“No! No, no, no.” Lara couldn’t think of anything better to say. “I mean, no, not at all.”

Please keep talking, please. Please.

“Do you love him?” Lara abruptly asked.

“Who? My boyfriend?” Maura was taken aback for a moment. “Well…” She paused.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to get too personal.”

“Actually, you’re not. I think I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me this question for such a long.”

“Why is that?”

“We’ve been together for more than seven years now. My parents are madly in love him, though I don’t get along with his parents quite well. But, you know, I feel like I’ve just gotten used to him being around. It’s starting to be more of a habit than a preference. They’re seven years though, and I don’t have a good reason to just end things at this point. We don’t usually fight, unless it’s about my career of course, but he’s always trying to make me happy. Everyone secretly envies me for having him; every girl would actually love it if we break up just to get a tiny chance with him.”

Lara turned silent. What Maura didn’t know was, before Lara met Jacob, she too had been watching them from a distance and wishing for pretty much the same thing. Her question wasn’t at all random.

“Why don’t you talk about it to a sibling or a friend?”

“I’m an only child, and, well, none of my friends would really understand. They already think I’m too spoiled, and if I talk about this, I’d get lectures on how much of an ungrateful moaner I’m turning out to be.”

Lara couldn’t believe she was having this conversation with the one person she thought she would never get the chance to talk to, not in a million years. She was only intimidated by how successful Maura seemed to be on everything. Graduating with a GPA of 4.0, being popular among probably every circle on campus, having the perfect boyfriend, shortly finding a job after graduation, and basically every other aspect about her life. A part of Lara wanted to be like her, and she hated how she always felt uncomfortable around Maura’s naturally charismatic persona. It would have never crossed her mind that Maura even had any dark sides.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me; spilling out all this to someone I’ve just met for the first time. I deeply apologize. Wasn’t planned for, I promise.”

Before Lara could reply, they both heard another sound and the elevator was moving again.

“You have no idea how much I needed to have this conversation with you.” Lara finally said before the elevator stopped again.

“You did?” Maura asked, surprised.

“I’ll need to get your phone number to explain.”

“Well, here’s my card. Please feel free to call anytime.”

Ting!

“Thank you for listening, really,” Maura said before getting off the elevator. “Next time you’ll do all the talking!”

Next time?

Maura Jackson was officially inviting her for another conversation, and Lara was completely out of words.

Day 10You stare at my expressionless face, wondering how wide the flow of emotions lying behind it might possibly be. You stare at my silent face, trying to understand if the moment when I finally break the silence would ever make it through. You stare at my face, making up stories in your head of all the things you think I might want to say. You stare at my face, and wonder why I’m not letting any of it out though it shows all over my face. You stare at my face, trying to imagine the amount of hurt you must have brought along, for those eyes to turn this cold. You stare at my face, wondering if being able to read my mind could make it any less worse.

You continue to stare, and your mind shifts back to the very first time when your eyes met mine. You continue to stare, and remember how badly I wanted you to look away then while you were completely oblivious about all that was yet to happen. You continue to stare, wishing it was humanly possible to rewind back to a time you wish you could’ve forever lived through. You continue to stare, but you’re no longer able to see through me the way I’ve always allowed you to.

I turn around, and your eyes fall back to your feet, watching them as they struggle to move. I walk away, and you mentally rage against that helplessness you feel. You wish it was still possible to run after that figure that was fading away, tap its shoulders, then open your arms and effortlessly watch as it falls back inside. But no, it just doesn’t work this way.

If only you could stop wishing it did.

Day 9

“Are you sure you want to do this?” The bearded old man looked at my somewhat hesitant face and then to Ahmad, who looked back at me. His hand held more tight onto mine.

I was never sure of anything in my life, and this one decision was already too hard for me that I couldn’t handle having anyone make me doubt it.

Ahmad’s calm eyes met mine and they got locked for a few seconds, while everyone was at the edge of their seats, waiting for my response. My mom was sitting right in front of me, her facial expressions wanting so bad to hear a no, and her mind was jammed with millions of what would the people say? Her only daughter was willingly asking for a divorce, and she was already planning ways through which she can make it clear to anyone who would ask, that it was Ahmad’s fault not mine. Ahmad’s mom was sitting next to her, yet her looks were filled with See? I told you, she was never the one for you. Oh how I hated existing around such mindsets.

I love Ahmad, with every tiny piece of my heart. I still love him more every day, but it was impossible for us to spend the rest of our lives together. I miss him, and the way he particularly held onto my hand like he was while we sat there, almost about to end everything. His chubby warm fingers filled every empty space between mine, and he pressed his finger tips hard against the back of my own hand, knowing well that it’s going to be the last time we’d ever be allowed to hold hands this way.

No one really understood what was going on. Two couples who hadn’t even been married for more than 7 months, and who, despite everything, still seemed like they were madly in love, were suddenly asking for a divorce. They wouldn’t understand. Not even if we tried to explain.

I looked back at the ma’zoun, who was still staring back at me.

“Yes, sir,” I smiled, “We’re sure.”

Ahmad slowly let go of my hand and placed his on the two sides of my face. He moved closer, slowly planted a kiss on my forehead, and whispered, “I’ll always love you, remember that.”

I’ll always love you, too, Ahmad. Always.

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Day 8

He used to want to read her, yet she was left back on the shelf right after the first page.